This month Brooke spoke with Krystal Gray, a long-time client with a long-time gift: the gift of cuisine. You can’t beat good old-fashioned comfort food during a dreary winter.
For Krystal, cooking is a family gift. Everyone in her family can cook; siblings, parents, aunts and uncles. She has a brother who is just awesome on the grill, especially with ribs. The grill takes patience; you have to turn the ribs over and over to get them just right.
Like a lot of great cooks, Krystal Gray did not get any formal training (though she has been thinking about going to school for some of the fancier stuff). Instead, she learned everything by doing and watching and helping her mother.
Starting off with breakfast, Krystal perfected scrambled eggs as a kid, and has, over time, graduated to become a master of many things: the height of which is probably her famous macaroni and cheese.
Once upon a time, her mother was the best at it, but now that distinction has been passed on to Krystal (she’s too humble to say that – we just knew it to be true! Plus, her husband Calvin is a former client and we know he would agree).
Here’s the story on Krystal’s signature dish…
The first time she made her famous mac and cheese was in 1995, shortly after her mom had passed away, and she was hosting a big Thanksgiving dinner. She talked to her mom while she was making the mac and cheese, and it seemed like her mother was directing Krystal, coaching her on all the little details you need to get just right. It turned out perfectly.
There is a lot that goes into making this specialized macaroni and cheese dish. First, you must get the texture and ingredients just right. You have to use different types of cheeses and they have to be high quality – like Colby, cheddar, jack, mozzarella, provolone, and the different kinds of cheese have to melt well together. Not every kind of cheese melts well.
“You have to melt it all down really good – otherwise the mac and cheese will be pasty. There has been a lot of trial and error with this.” Brooke told her that she likes it when the cheese is burned on top. She laughed. She said that lots of people like the cheese a little burned on top – it makes a nice crisp part on top.
What about dessert? Krystal laughed and said she doesn’t have the patience for baking. But, she wants to learn and will probably go to culinary school to for this - she really wants to learn to decorate cakes and pastries.
After perfecting many home cooked dishes. Krystal started her own catering business called “It’s a Family Affair” because she uses a lot of recipes from her family. Plus, she likes to include other members of her family in making the food. She does her own cooking, specializing in home cooked favorites - potato salad, mac and cheese, candied yams and other home-style type cooking. Her kids have helped her with prep work, but she does all the cooking on her own.
Krystal with Husband Calvin
We couldn’t get Krystal to divulge the secrets of her famous mac and cheese (she would have to kill us), but asked her about some recent favorite dishes she had come up with or was working to perfect - here’s one that sounds great and is so new it doesn’t even have a name yet…
It’s a crab dish made with croissant rolls. Krystal uses muffin pans and puts the croissant in there tight, then fills it with the crab ingredients. She uses a mixture of crab meat, cheese, red onions, mayonnaise, red peppers, Worcestershire sauce, parmesan cheese, and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. She then fills the muffin pan and the biscuit with the dip, puts it in the oven and bakes it all for 20 minutes.
Krystal made this new recipe for Thanksgiving this year and her family raved over it! It’s like a crab and cheese cupcake. There isn’t even a name for it yet – maybe Croissant Crab Delight? Or Croissant Crab Cupcakes? Whatever it’s called, it sounds delicious and we hope you can order it soon from It’s a Family Affair!