Burning Down The Kitchen with Isabelle from Crumb while making her Brownie Biscotti


Hi folks.

Welcome to another edition of Burning Down The Kitchen. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this series or new to the blog, this is a weekly series where I make another blogger’s recipe then interview them. It’s just a light-hearted, fun way to get to know other bloggers. It’s also a way for me to work my way through lots of bookmarks I’ve made doing my other series Lunatic Loves These Links. I hope you enjoy this.


I am so excited about today’s edition. Today I get to share someone with you who is not only a fellow blogger but a fellow Canuck as well. Isabelle is also from Ontario and lives about 4 hours from me. I am planning on meeting this lovely lady this summer during a trip to her area. I do not get to meet other bloggers often so this will be such a treat for me. Not only a fellow blogger but a Canuck, not only a Canuck but a Canuck blogger I adore to bits. I am beyond excited to meet her.

Most of you know Isabelle from her wildly popular blog, Crumb. She’s been blogging for quite some time and has been mentioned by countless sites for her outstanding recipes. She was named Best Weblog for Food and Drink in the 2011 Canadian Weblog Awards. Saveur has bestowed their Sites We Love upon her. You can read about all her accomplishments on her Press page. You can read more about Isabelle and her love of food on her About page.

I started reading Crumb about 8 months ago. I think I initially knew Isabelle through Foodbuzz, which is a foodie site we all share recipes and buzz on. We chatted a bit on twitter, and stopped by each others blogs on occasion. It took me awhile to comment. I tend to get shy when it comes to commenting on the “big dogs”. I read them but rarely say much. I get intimidated easily I suppose. What I came to learn with Isabelle is there is no need for that. She is down to earth and friendly. We became more friendly after she got assigned my blog for The Secret Recipe Club. I was beyond stunned she got my blog and did my Killer Spicy Pizza Dough. She not only made it but kicked butt with her Spicy Pizza Dough. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was that Isabelle from Crumb was making over a recipe of mine. I think I did the happy dance at the barn when I saw it on my phone.

Isabelle does some absolute knock out recipes you all should check out. I am going to make her Lemon Cherry Hot Cross Buns this weekend. They look so good. I love her Rainbow Ravioli so much. I’m determined to try that and have mini-me try some different pastas. Such a cool idea. Her All American Pie is incredible and I loved the photo of her in that post. The video that accompanies it is fabulous, Aunt Myrtle would be proud. Isabelle did Chocolate Eclairs with Earl Grey Cream for a Daring Baker Challenge that are incredible. There is a Smoked Brisket Burger with Spicy Onion Jam recipe that will rock your world. She did Mini Tourtieres that are remarkable. I am dying to try her Balsamic Roasted Carrots. Her Nutella- Banana Ice Cream looks absolutely scrumptious. Her Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Marmalade made me weak in the knees. Plus this lady Poached Figs for crying out loud. Isabelle blows me away with her talent and I hope you all enjoy getting to know her a little better.

Isabelle from Crumb

Rapidfire Q & A with Isabelle from Crumb:

1. How did you get started blogging?

I’ve been blogging for over 10 years now, believe it or not!  I started my first blog when I was in my early 20s, though it was really just an online diary of my twentysomething angst mixed with some creative writing and such. It’s kind of hilarious/embarrassing to go back and read some of those posts now… I could be such a drama queen sometimes! :)
Anyway, I eventually got bored of talking about myself and decided to start blogging about something more interesting. The Boy (whom I’d been dating about a year at that point) suggested a food blog, since I always talked about food almost non-stop and had some interesting recipes to share.
The rest, as they say, is history. My sixth blogoversary is coming up in June!

2. What do you love most about food blogging?

I love the amazing community in the food blog world… I’m just thrilled to have connected with this bunch of talented, awesome, food-obsessed people who don’t think I’m weird for taking photos of my food or for constantly talking about what I’m going to make for dinner. Whenever I’m feeling uninspired, I just need to check out a few of my favourite blogs to get myself back on track.

3. Is there any downside to it for you?

None of my clothes fit properly any more! :)
But seriously… it’s tough to find time to blog, especially when my regular day job gets busy – when work gets stressful, all I want to do when I get home is order some bad Chinese takeout and crash on the couch to watch something inane on TV, even though I know that I need to get my butt into the kitchen to work on a blog post instead.

4. How do you balance blogging and life, any time management tips for fellow blogger?

Honestly, it’s mostly about being disciplined and forcing myself to work on the blog even when I’m not feeling quite up to it.  It really feels like having a second full-time job sometimes.
I try to spend at least an hour every night working on the blog – whether it’s making and photographing recipes, processing photos, or even just visiting other blogs to leave comments and check out what other people are making.  It helps that I love cooking and photographing and writing, so it doesn’t feel like a huge chore once I push through the don’t-wannas.
It’s hardest in the winter, since the days get so short and there’s so little light… I’ve been known to get up early on a weekday just so I can set up my shots before I leave for work, since that’s the only time of day I’ll be able to get some kind of natural light. 

5. We’re both from Southern Ontario, so I’m curious if you find it difficult to cook with local fresh foods given our winter climate? How do you balance the menu over the seasons?

Fresh and local goes out the window in the wintertime… unfortunately, there’s really only so much potatoes and turnips and rutabaga a gal can eat, know what I mean? :)
I do try to buy seasonal as much as I can, though.  It means I buy citrus in February, asparagus in May, strawberries in June, tomatoes and peaches in late August, and squashes in October.  I can easily buy any of those things year-round, but they just don’t taste as good if I buy them out-of-season and they’re usually twice as expensive to boot… so why bother spending a fortune on a hothouse tomato in January if it’s going to taste like cardboard?
It helps that I preserve quite a bit in the summer and fall, when the local produce is plentiful and cheap. Last year, we had a stash of rhubarb, blueberries, peaches and oven-roasted tomatoes in our freezer to get us through the winter, plus a whole pile of homemade jams and pickles in the pantry.   This year, I’m planning on making even more – I’m hoping to freeze roasted red peppers, blanched green beans and lots of homemade pasta sauce.

6. If someone were visiting Toronto which places are on the “must eat at” list?

Toronto has so many great places to eat, I could probably go on and on for days. :) I’d say this is a good start, though:
– Dim sum at Lai Wah Heen
– Dessert and cocktails at Campagnolo
– Neapolitan-style pizza at Libretto
– Charcuterie and cheese at the Black Hoof
– Honey balls and spanakopita at Athens
– Banh mi in Chinatown East
– Grilled hot dog with all the fixin’s from a street vendor
– Ramen at Kenzo
– Smoked meat at Caplansky’s
– Brunch at The Stockyards

7. What’s your go to meal when you’re in a hurry?

Breakfast for dinner!  Eggs sunny side up or an omelet with toast and some fruit always hits the spot. 

8. What’s your favourite childhood memory associated with food?

My grandmother used to make these Portuguese codfish fritters that were to die for.  We’d hand around the kitchen whenever she’d make them, so that we could gobble up the fresh fritters as they came out of the oil.
Salt cod tastes like childhood to me. I still go ga-ga for codfish fritters when I find them, but so far I haven’t run into any that are nearly as good as the ones my grandmother made. Someday I’ll work up the nerve to try making them for myself and see if I can re-create her recipe.


9. What’s your favourite holiday meal?


It’s a tie between classic French-Canadian tourtiere with chunky ketchup, or roast turkey dinner with all the fixin’s.


10. If you had to pick one post you’ve done that truly represents you as a person and cook which post would that be?


Gosh, that’s a tough one. It’s kind of like asking a parent which kid they like the most, don’t you think? :)   I really like the posts where I talk about recipes that are tied to particularly meaningful parts of my life somehow, because there’s such a strong association between food and memories in my mind.
I really like the post I wrote to celebrate my fifth anniversary with The Boy, which has a kick-ass paella recipe to go along with it ((http://www.crumbblog.com/2010/05/five-years-and-counting-seafood-paella.html).
Another favourite is the post I wrote about my childhood summers and my mother’s gaspacho (http://www.crumbblog.com/2011/08/endless-summer-classic-gazpacho.html), which feels rather appropriate given that we’re headed into a long, hot summer according to the latest forecast.


11. Are you a messy cook or a clean cook?


My old blog URL was messycook.blogspot.com…. need I say more? 


12. When you’re not blogging what are you doing?


Now that it’s summer, I’m either in the garden yanking out some weeds, taking a meandering bike ride, or out on a patio someplace soaking up the sun with a beer. (Oh, and I get some work done in between those things.) 


13. Milk chocolate or dark chocolate?


Dark! The darker, the better.


14. Coke or Pepsi?


Pepsi!  I’d get my status as a former Montrealer revoked for saying anything else. 


15. Soft serve ice cream or hard?


Hard! Preferably home made… I’m spoiled like that.


16. Chips or candy for snacking?


Chips!  I have a massive salt tooth. 


17. Smoked meat or pastrami?


Smoked meat all the way, baby! (See above re: former Montrealer) 


18. Apron or no apron when you cook?


It’s about 50-50.  Depends on whether I remember to put one on (and whether I’m making something that might mess up my outfit)


19. If you could have dinner with three people from the past who would they be and why?


Julia Child, because she seems like she’d have been a hoot to cook dinner with; Marion Cunningham, because she has such a no-nonsense approach to cooking (and to life, based on this beautiful post David Lebovitz wrote about her); and James Barber, because I owe my entire slapdash approach to cooking to the many afternoons I spent watching The Urban Peasant on CBC after school.


20. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Is food blogging a big part of that picture?


Gosh, I hope so! Even if I was to give up blogging for whatever reason, though, I’d certainly never stop cooking and creating recipes… that’s just part of who I am, really.


Dare Portion of Burning Down The Kitchen:


This part of the interview is optional. Some people do them, some do not. I invite people to do 1 they like. Occasionally some folks do more which always makes me happy. Isabelle did 2 of them so hope you enjoy this glimpse into her world.


Dare #1: Take a photo of you at the farmer’s market!



Dare #3-  Show us your kitchen mid baking spree!


Thank you Isabelle for doing these dares. I am always fascinated about the day-to-day of other bloggers. It’s such a treat to get a glimpse into your life and kitchen.

I picked Isabelle’s Chocolate Brownie Biscotti to make. It’s just so wonderful and I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I’ve never made biscotti before. So this seemed like perfect timing. I omitted the coffee as I am not a coffee fan. And I swapped out pistachios for the walnuts. Come on now folks, you know my love affair with pistachios makes me do these things. I cannot be held accountable. The cravings are too strong when it comes to the pistachios. I like to call it the undisputed queen of nuts. *giggles*

Isabelle’s Chocolate Brownie Biscotti. I love how she puts it on the coffee cup. So clever!




I just had to put pistachios in mine. It’s like an obsession at this point.

Chocolate Brownie Pistachio Biscotti
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
So delicious you will not be able to stop at one!
Recipe type: Dessert, Chocolate
Serves: makes 2 dozen
  • 1¾ cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup chopped pistachios
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line your cookie sheet with parchment.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine your flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, pistachios and chocolate. Set aside.
  4. In a small mixing bowl combine water and vanilla. Mix. Add eggs. Mix again.
  5. Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and mix well. It should form dough that is slightly crumbly.
  6. Now take the dough and turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it about 8 to 10 times. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky at this point.
  7. Now roll it out until you have a 1 inch thick slab.
  8. Transfer carefully to the baking sheet.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until slab is firm and dry.
  10. Remove and cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.
  11. Cut with a serrated knife into ½ inch thick slices (I did mine thicker for mini-me) and place the pieces back on the cookie sheet. Return to oven for about 10 minutes.
  12. Turn them all over and cook for another 10 minutes.
  13. Remove and let cool.
  14. Serve with a big old chocolatey, crumb-y smile!



This biscotti is amazing. I cannot believe it took me until now to try making my own. Huge thank you to Isabelle for sparking a new obsession. No doubt there is some lunatic’d versions of this in the future.

I would like to thank Isabelle for allowing me the privilege of interviewing her. It was so much fun to learn more about her. She has a kick ass sense of humour so obviously she is now my new bbff (best blogging friend forever). Isabelle I look forward to meeting you this summer. I hope we get a chance to go for some smoked meat and pepsi’s. Growing up I spent hordes of time in Montreal with family who lived there. I’m assuming my huge love of pepsi developed there. And don’t even get me started on Montreal Smoked Meat. It’s a passion. Once you have the real deal there’s no going back. It will change your life.

I hope all my readers enjoyed getting to know Isabelle better. Head over to Crumb for some wonderful recipes. You can find Isabelle  on Twitter and Pinterest. She is also a member of Food Bloggers of Canada. If you’re a fellow Canuck you should join. It’s a great organization. Now get your butts over to Isabelle’s blog and try out all her recipes. Right now people. You will not be sorry.

Toodles and smoochies! xx

Get More Updates!

Sign up to get exclusive updates & tips!


  1. says

    OMG, Kim… I am blushing like a madwoman right now from all the nice things you wrote. You are just the sweetest ever.

    PS: I am soooo not a “big dog”.

    PPS: When you come to Toronto, I’m totally taking you to Caplansky’s for a smoked meat sammich – it’s different from Montreal-style, but I love it anyways. And I’m pretty sure they have Pepsi, too. :)

    PPPS: I’m glad you liked the biscotti. I bet they’re amazing with pistachios… must try that sometime.

    PPPPS: Seriously, you are the sweetest.

    • Kim Bee says

      Thanks Isabelle. I loved doing this with you.

      ps: Are too!

      pps: Whoo to the hoo!

      ppps: I did and you must!

      pppps: Aw shucks, thanks. You are too!

      ppppps: I using way to many of these (!!!) things today!

  2. says

    I love this feature! It makes me happy inside, especially to see two fellow cooking Canucks! I’m definitely going to have to check out Isabelle’s Smoked Brisket Burger with Spicy Onion Jam… just the name alone makes me hungry. Great job on the biscotti!

    • Kim Bee says

      Thanks Jeff. I love my fellow Canucks so much. You must try that burger, it looks wickedly good. Biscotti rules. It’s not overly hard to make, just time consuming. I thought it would be hyper difficult. Who knew?

    • Kim Bee says

      Lol Kristen. Wth, did you have a cocktail before you commented? Didn’t anyone tell you not to drink and blog visit? *falls down laughing*

      I seriously can’t stop laughing.

  3. says

    Crumb is a fabulous blog 😀
    Great interview my friend!

    And this biscotti is oh.my.god worthy – biscotti brownie? Come to me now 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  4. says

    Oh, how i love this weekly feature…your questions are fabulous, Kim! As is your chocolate biscotti…they would make my morning so much better. How fast can you send me some???? Isabelle, I’m off to check out your blog (I have a feeling I’ve visited, but am long overdue to return).

  5. says

    This was a great read, I always like to find out more things about fellow bloggers. There are some good tips in here and it does get you to thinking!
    As far as the biscotti, I never envisioned it to have a rich flavor just due to the nature of the texture I guess. Now I see the word “brownie” tied to it which really puts a delicious spin on my original thought. Yummy and creative-great post.

  6. says

    I love Isabelle and am also looking forward to meeting her this summer! Her recipes and photos are always outstanding and leave me digging through my kitchen late at night for something to gnaw on. 😀

    I love seeing old friends and meeting new bloggers on your burning down the kitchen series! 😀

    • Kim Bee says

      How cool you’re meeting her too. Are you coming to Canada Kita? I’d totally meet you somewhere if you are.

      Thanks. I adore this series. It’s so much fun to do.

    • Kim Bee says

      Thanks. I know right. It’s fun to poke around in other people’s heads a bit. I love doing this one.

  7. says

    Wow, these sound amazing, and funny enough, I’ve never made biscotti either but have been meaning to – these look like the perfect place to begin an obsession! I loved this interview, Isabelle sounds so fun and open, and the first picture of her is just fantastic.

    • Kim Bee says

      I adore that photo of her, it’s so cute. Biscotti are fab, I am so glad I picked this recipe. So thankful to Isabelle for lighting the way to biscotti bliss.

  8. says

    PS…you are now a Food Stories Award Nominee…I love the way you write!!! See my watermelon sorbet post for the details~

  9. says

    I just love Crumb! I’ve known Isabelle for such a long time and she’s always been such a sweetheart! Love seeing this interview with her =)

  10. says

    Hi Kim and hi Isabelle – nice to meet you! I just checked all your posts since I last visited. Sorry I have been MIA. I always love this series and I enjoyed reading Isabelle’s interview. I have never had Chocolate Brownie Biscotti before. Looks yummy!

    • Kim Bee says

      No worries Nami. I’ve been out of the loop myself this week. Life gets hectic sometimes. You must try this, so good.

  11. says

    I love your interview! So happy you turned me on to her blog, its look de-licious!

    And those biscotti look killer! I have this horrible habit now that EVERY time I go out for a coffee… I have to buy a biscotti…its sooo good, these brownie ones look amazing!

    • Kim Bee says

      You will love Crumb and Isabelle. She is outstanding.

      I’ve never made my own so this was great. It’s super easy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.