Lilly and Audrey Andrews, known as the Twin Chefs throughout Sonoma County and beyond, have turned their passion for cooking into most people’s dream by the age of 13. The twins recently published their first cookbook and completed a book tour across the country.
Lilly and Audrey are from Sonoma, and while they’re identical twins with a shared passion for cooking, they couldn’t be more different. Lilly’s hobbies are running and writing while Audrey enjoys playing volleyball and leadership classes.
Even though they both have a strong interest in cooking, their taste in food is different. Audrey’s favorite ingredient to cook with is fennel, using both the root and pollen. She loves picking the wild fennel that grows in the field behind her house. On the other hand, Lilly’s favorite ingredient is salt, pointing out that when used in moderation salt is one of the most important ingredients in cooking.
What they both agree on is that different types of salt are not the same when cooking. They both agree that their favorite salt is pink Himalayan, which, they say, has a lower sodium content and higher amounts of other minerals to give it a smoother taste.
Despite their differences, their shared passion for cooking led to the release of their first cookbook last fall. Their book We Heart Cooking is comprised of “85 of their babies” according to Lilly. The cookbook has recipes that range from a banana almond butter French toast sandwich to a chopped salad with buttermilk dill dressing.
In October, the twins went on a two week book tour with stops in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. During this time, they had the opportunity to appear on numerous television shows including “Good Morning America”, Hallmark’s “Home and Family” Channel and several LA morning TV shows. However, for the Twin Chefs, nothing topped their appearance on ABC’s “The Chew” where they made Goblin Minestrone Soup for the Halloween themed episode with famed chef Mario Batali.
The two chefs are enthusiastic about their new book, turning their dream into reality. “We’ve been wanting to do a cookbook for a very long time. It was something we really wanted because we love reading and we use cookbooks for a lot of our inspiration, so having one of our own was awesome,” Audrey said.
“It was really fun to have our recipes in solid form. We have a website we put recipes on, but it was cool to have something you can hold in your hands,” said Lilly. The Twin Chefs are ecstatic that their book is in nearly every bookstore, even a remote one on an island off the coast of Canada.
The book, published by Oxmoor, is cobranded with Cooking Light. “Working with Cooking Light is what we were doing – healthy foods – so it’s a good combination for us,” Lilly said.
The book took the twins more than two years to complete. “It was a whole effort by all of us to make it – that’s why it’s so close to us,” Lilly said explaining how the whole family pitched in and some of the pages have recommendations from their parents. Both twins admit that while their older sister, Kathryn, doesn’t share their passion for cooking she enjoys tasting and always gives them honest feedback.
“Audrey and I wanted to make the recipes and choose the style of the book,” said Lilly. And they did just that. The girls wrote all the side bars and headers making sure everything was step by step and the book was educational. They choose the fun and kid-friendly look the book has while also making it accessible to everyone, including adults and families.
In addition to working on the book, they created and tested most of the recipes over one summer. To be sure of the quality of every recipe, each one had to be tested six to seven times. After this, the recipes were sent to the publisher, replicated in a test kitchen and sometimes sent back to be modified – although the modifications were small, such as a ½ teaspoon of sodium, to keep the integrity of the original recipe.
The test kitchen was in Alabama and some recipes had to be modified for ingredients that weren’t easily accessible in other parts of the county. “We were really surprised to see some of the popular ingredients you can find in Sonoma County like baby kale that you can’t find elsewhere,” Audrey said, “this really opened my eyes.”
Both Lilly and Audrey are aware of what they eat on a daily basis. “Healthy food is important to us. You can make really delicious healthy food. Healthy doesn’t have to mean a bran muffin,” Lilly said.
They are open to trying new food, including the occasional less healthy option such as calamari. “We like to try new things in moderation. You have to know how to eat healthy most of the time, but treats are okay,” said Audrey.
In addition to getting fresh food at their local farmer’s market, the Twin Chefs grow their own garden twice a year. One of their favorite things to grow is heirloom tomatoes, and they cultivate around 12 plants each year. With all the tomatoes they enjoy many salads with mozzarella cheese and basil because they believe this is one of the freshest ways to eat tomatoes. They also enjoy putting the same combination on baguettes as well as making sauces with the tomatoes.
The Twin Chefs have learned a lot about growing a garden through practical experience as well as visiting local farms to see how others do it. “Farming is not easy. You don’t just put it in the ground and water it whenever you remember,” Lilly said.
“The amount of agriculture in Sonoma County was amazing for them to grow up in,” said Tina, the twins’ mom who also understands the importance of local food and agriculture as well as educating her children about making healthy choices and where their food comes from.
The Twin Chefs have always enjoyed working with the Sonoma County Farm Bureau in the past and are excited about attending the upcoming Ag Days in March where they will be giving educational demonstrations. “Ag Days is our thing now,” Lilly and Audrey agree.
We Heart Cooking can be found in your local bookstore or by visiting the Twin Chefs website www.twinchefs.net.
Ranch-Style Potato Hash
There are more ways to make hash than there are stars in the sky. (Okay, we’re exaggerating a little.) But no matter what ingredients you use, the key to making awesome hash is to dice everything to roughly the same size, and cook it all until brown.
Hands-On Time: 12 min. Total Time: 40 min. Serves 6 (serving size: about ¾ cup)
- 1½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes
- ½ fennel bulb
- 1 small onion
- ½ orange or red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cups organic vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 2 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (about ½ cup)
Prepare vegetables: Cut potatoes into ½-inch dice. Set aside. Trim off root end and any feathery fronds from fennel bulb half. Cut fennel into ½-inch dice. Finely dice onion and bell pepper. Set aside.
Cook vegetables: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat pan. Add potatoes and fennel. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown evenly. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and salt. Cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth and thyme. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 25 minutes or until liquid has evaporated and potatoes are tender.
Add cheese: Sprinkle cheese over hash and turn off the heat. Let cheese melt for 3 to 5 minutes, then serve.
Don’t let the fennel scare you! Even though it might look a little strange, with its rounded, greenish-white bulb, green stalks, and feathery fronds on top, there’s nothing weird about it, we promise. It’s used a lot in Italian cooking, and when paired with potatoes, fennel is out of this world!