Coast Monthly sits down with local cooks and food lovers for a chat.
Raini Cunningham’s interest in food began in the 1970s in the garden, where she grew herbs and looked for interesting ways to use them, often aided by a 200-plus cookbook library.
Cunningham, who has lived in California, Oregon, Louisiana, Idaho and Utah before retiring to Galveston in 2010, has had various careers, including as an administrator of two small airlines, working in the travel business for American Express and then owning a garden pottery business importing from around the world.
In addition to cooking, Cunningham enjoys gardening — she’s both a Master Gardener and a Master Naturalist — traveling the world, kayaking and a good historical novel.
While living 8,000 feet above sea level in Silver Fork, Utah, with a busy career, she found little time to meet neighbors, who also had to brave the 35-foot winter snows.
She and her husband stay connected with neighbors by having them over on Sundays for cocktails and appetizers. She calls the gathering “Small Bites.”
My favorite dish is … marinated garlic lemon Gulf shrimp.
My favorite kitchen gadget is … a sharp knife.
My guilty pleasure is … anything involving chocolate
Sweet or savory … savory.
I’m addicted to … dark chocolate-covered caramels.
My favorite restaurant is … depends on my mood.
The dish I can’t live without … fresh asparagus.
Olive oil or butter? Both.
Celebrity I would most like to cook for … it would have been Julia Child.
My biggest food pet peeve is … double dipping.
Red or white? I tend to go for white when it’s hot and red
when it’s cold.
One thing I would never eat … never say never … insects.
My favorite ingredient to work with is … herbs.
My favorite condiment is … wasabi.
My last meal on Earth would be … grilled steak or rack of lamb, garlic mashed potatoes, arugula salad with blue cheese dressing, grilled asparagus and dark chocolate/caramel ice cream.
Cunningham shared this recipe:
Marinated Garlic Lemon Gulf Shrimp
4 pounds peeled, deveined, large Gulf shrimp cooked al dente
1⁄2 cup olive oil
4 lemons, zest and juice
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried dill or 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less)
Combine all ingredients and stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Cunningham usually makes this several hours before serving to allow the flavor to meld.