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.
BURNING DOWN THE KITCHEN WITH ISABELLE FROM CRUMB:
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.
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?
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.
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/
Another favourite is the post I wrote about my childhood summers and my mother's gaspacho (http://www.crumbblog.com/
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*
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Line your cookie sheet with parchment.
- In a large mixing bowl combine your flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, pistachios and chocolate. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl combine water and vanilla. Mix. Add eggs. Mix again.
- Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and mix well. It should form dough that is slightly crumbly.
- 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.
- Now roll it out until you have a 1 inch thick slab.
- Transfer carefully to the baking sheet.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until slab is firm and dry.
- Remove and cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.
- 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.
- Turn them all over and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Remove and let cool.
- 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