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The Blog: Jennifer Farley shares her love of cardamom, grains and other ingredient obsessions at Savory Simple.
I noticed you recently cooked with amaranth, an underused grain. How do you like to use it?
There are so many fabulous grains available and I get slightly irritated that quinoa and brown rice get all the attention. My pantry is overflowing with an assortment of whole grains such as farro, kamut, sorghum and amaranth. For me, there's something weirdly nostalgic about amaranth, which is why I love using it in recipes. When I tried it for the first time last year it immediately reminded me of hot breakfast cereals from my childhood, such as cream of wheat and oatmeal. It develops a creamy texture when cooked and has a relatively neutral flavor that makes it a perfect candidate for healthy breakfasts. Apparently, you can also pop it like popcorn but I haven't tried that yet.
I've seen a lot of coconut and chai-type spices on the blog. Are those new obsessions or perennial ones? How do you like to use these ingredients?
I go through phases with specific ingredients or certain types of dishes (soups, cookies, etc.). People sometimes tease me about how often my recipes include cardamom. I think I've recently been gravitating toward chai recipes because that particular spice blend is so warming and we've had a pretty brutal winter this year. I believe coconut also is considered a warming food. I've only recently discovered the wonders of coconut butter. Everyone should keep a jar in the pantry.
What dishes or ingredients are you most excited about for spring?
I'm so excited to get my hands on fresh asparagus! One of my favorite spring breakfasts is steamed asparagus dipped into soft-boiled eggs. I'm also counting the days until I can get my hands on cherries and peaches.
What are some of your favorite restaurants in the DC area?
Right now I'm very excited about Range, a small plates restaurant that recently opened down the road from me. It has various food stations with specialties such as seafood, pasta, breads, charcuterie and pizza. Everything I've tasted so far is stellar and I love the creative flavor combinations I see on the menu. Great service. Two of my other favorites are Kaz Sushi Bistro and Mandu. I could eat nothing but good-quality sushi and dolsot bibimbap every day and be a very happy gal.
What blogs are you most excited about right now?
There are so many wonderful blogs so it's a bit hard to narrow down the list. I'm drawn to sites with exceptional food photography and unique recipes. Some of my recent favorites are Reclaiming Provincial, My Name is Yeh, Drizzle and Dip, Adventures in Cooking, Top with Cinnamon, Une Gamine Dans La Cuisine, The Beeroness, Pineapple and Coconut, Vanilla Bean Blog, Call Me Cupcake and Local Milk. These bloggers inspire me every day and I'm constantly in awe of their talent.
Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.