Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Times UK: Meet the Food Bloggers: Dorie Greenspan

From Times Online

April 21, 2009

Meet the Food Bloggers: Dorie Greenspan

Dorie Greenspan loves sharing recipes with her readers and knows the best people and places for a pastry in Paris

Nick Wyke

7. Blog: Use Dorie Greenspan

What inspires you to write a food blog?

Inspiration comes from everywhere – from the surprises of daily life; from the mundane stuff, too; from the excitement of travel; and, most especially, from my readers. I started my blog shortly after my last book, Baking From My Home to Yours, was published and I discovered that there were bloggers around the world baking from it, posting pictures of what they'd made and sharing stories about their kitchen adventures. I loved that a community had grown up around my recipes and I wanted to be part of it, so I began blogging.

What sort of posting really gets your readers excited (good or bad)?

Recipes and stories about life in Paris are probably at the top of my blog's hit parade. Oh, and posts that provide a peek behind the scenes at Paris patisseries or a preview of the season's newest sweets. Lots of my readers like to play around in the kitchen, so if I give them just the hint of a recipe, more of a sketch than a full-fledged formula, they'll jump on it and come up with fabulous ways to build on the idea.

For example, I wrote what was really just an outline for a recipe based on hollowing out a pumpkin and filling it with bread, cream, onions and herbs – it was something a French friend had told me about. My readers loved the idea and came up with all sorts of variations. I'm delighted by experiences like this.

Which cookbook can you not do without and which chef is your hero/heroine?

I no longer have one go-to cookbook or one I can't live without, but I have so many that I treasure, among them Lenotre's Desserts and Pastries, Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts, Richard Olney's Simple French Food, Simone Beck's Simca's Cuisine and Pierre Herme's Secrets Gourmandes. I hadn't realised this before, but as I look at this list I see that the books that I love are each an author's first work.

I've got two culinary heroes and I was lucky enough to work with both of them: Julia Child, who'd never allow herself to be called a chef, but who encouraged millions of Americans to get into the kitchen, cook and enjoy it – she was the personification of joie de vivre; and Pierre Herme, the Parisian pastry genius, who defined the new wave of French pastry and who never keeps culinary secrets. In addition to being talented and imaginative, I think that for chefs to be worthy of herohood they have to be generous and to actively pass on what they know to the next generation. Both Julia and Pierre get gold stars for all 
they've done to inspire and train others.

Share a seasonal recipe with us ?

Since I consider chocolate an ingredient that's right for any season, here's my recipe for Classic Brownies (adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours)

Makes 16 brownies

2 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (according to your taste)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped walnuts

Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet and keep the set-up at hand.

Set a heatproof bowl into a pan of gently simmering water. Put the butter in the bowl, top with the chopped chocolates and keep over the simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients are just melted – you don't want them to get so hot that the butter separates.

Remove the bowl and whisk in the sugar. Don't be concerned when your smooth mixture turns grainy – it's normal. One by one, whisk in the eggs. Add the vanilla and give the ingredients a vigorous whisking before gently stirring in the salt and flour; stir only until the new ingredients are incorporated. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the chopped walnuts. Scrape the atter into the foil-lined pan and level the top.

Bake for 30 to 33 minutes, or until the top of the brownies is dull and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the brownies to room temperature. When completely cool, peel back the foil and cut into 16 squares.

...and a tip for a local restaurant?

When you're looking for a fabulous steak or an outstanding burger and fries, skip the famous places and the ones owned by star chefs, and go to T-Bar Steak and Lounge at 1278 Third Avenue in Manhattan. The steaks are terrific, the service is great and all the non-steak dishes are A+. Even vegetarians like this place!

Tell us something about food from your part of the world?

Since I live in both New York and Paris, I'm never really sure where my part of the world is, but both cities are wildly cosmopolitan and home to food from every part of the world. I think is especially true of New York, where one day you can have Thai food and the next Italian, Ethiopian or Greek, and it will all be top-class. And there are extraordinarily good French restaurants. Whenever I eat at Daniel or Le Bernardin (which is never as often as I'd like), I'm amazed that President Sarkozy doesn't insist that the chefs return to French soil. The only thing I can think of is that he understands what good ambassadors they are.

What would you eat for your last supper?

I'm not sure about the savoUry part of my last supper, but for sure I'd have ice cream and cookies – lots and lots of both.

Which other food blogs do you read regularly?

I love reading David Lebovitz and Alec Lobrano, both Paris pals. David is funny and smart and has a delightfully quirky take on Parisian life, and Alec is wise and gracious and knows everything there is to know about the Paris restaurant scene and generously tells it all. And there is never a time when I read Michael Laiskonis's blog that I don't come away with something fascinating to ponder. Michael's the pastry chef at Le Berardin in NYC and his writing is as elegant as his desserts.

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