Reader Interview: Gwen Kosak and Mushroom Crostata

Flickr Photo Recipe: Faruk's healthy salad (1/18)
Image by kurafire via Flickr

Please welcome Gwen Kosak, mom of two teen daughters, for today’s reader interview.

  1. Location: Northeast Connecticut, USA
  2. What do you remember about family meals when you were growing up? Traditional including goulash, shepherd’s pie, etc. We always had junk food in the house unfortunately I didn’t learn good eating habits. But my dad was a grill master so we loved eating from the grill.
  3. How is your cooking style different from your mother’s? After she passed away from cancer a few years ago it was a wake-up call. I started to focus on eating healthy, and more fruits and vegetables.
  4. How did you learn to cook? I picked up a few things from my mother, even though she really didn’t teach me. Since then I have really gotten into cooking from watching the food network. (I love Grill It with Bobby Flay, Giada, etc.)
  5. What is the biggest party or meal you have hosted to date? I have done Thanksgiving at my house. I didnt realize how well my mom put it together until I did it myself.
  6. Can you share a typical daily menu? Weekly menu? I try to grill as much as possible, everything from pizza to most vegetables and fruit. I also love making this summer type dish but I make it year round with chicken, zucchini, summer squash, canned diced tomatoes, fresh minced garlic, fresh basil, white wine, olive oil and then fresh parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and bake. It’s delicious! We also like to make smoothies in the morning with fresh fruit, then add in spinach or carrots to make them healthier.
  7. How has your cooking style evolved over the years? From fast food to healthy crammed with as many veg’s I can put into something.
  8. Can you recommend any cookbooks, tv shows or websites that have inspired you? Well of course you!!!!!! Then the food network is on 24/7 and I also love the cookbooks from a restaurant we used to go to all the time up in Provincetown on the cape when we were growing up called Ciro & Sal’s – I have a bunch of their Italian cookbooks – incredible!!!!!!!!!
  9. What posts on cm have you enjoyed? I have enjoyed all, love recipes because I print them out to try and also share on my Facebook page with friends because many of them love to cook too.
  10. What is the most unusual dish you’ve ever made? I have actually successfully made pita pockets, which was fun.
  11. What is the oldest item in your kitchen? The newest? I have many of my great-grandmothers cookbooks, baking pans etc. which I love having. The newest would be the Magic Bullet which we make the healthy drinks (smoothies) with.
  12. What would you like to change about your cooking style in the coming year? Just continue to focus on healthy recipes.  I am trying to have my girls learn good eating habits, focusing on incorporating lots of fruit and vegetables in their day as well as cutting canned and processed foods. They’re not crazy about it, but I’m trying to make them aware of the benefits of eating healthy. I would love to go vegan but I grew up with burgers on the grill so it’s hard to cut out meat.
  13. Please share a favorite recipe and cooking tips that work for you. I love making a mushroom crostata which is really easy maybe not completely light and healthy but very flavorful and presentation is impressive! I just buy the pre-made pie crusts in the refrigerator section and roll one out on a baking pan, then saute fresh mushrooms, garlic, onions, red peppers, basil, olive oil. You can add or take out things if you want. Then I place the ingredients on the rolled out pie crust and just pull up and fold over around it about an inch all the way around and bake for 20 minutes or so. It looks really nice and so easy to make!


  1. The Mushroom Crostata sounds yummy, I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks!

  2. The crostata sounds like a great idea. I’ve got some filas dough in the freezer, I’m going to give it a try with that instead of pizza dough.

  3. Thank you for setting up the interview Hannah and Gwen for reminding us of the benefits of healthy food.