From the hometown favorite to the cook across the pond, your next great recipe is closer than you think. Here are five seriously delicious food blogs to follow in 2014.
It doesn’t take much to start a blog. Maybe it’s an idea. Maybe it’s a passion. Maybe it’s long days and too little to do. Plenty of sites offer blog services for free, and the process is generally simple enough for even the least tech-savvy folks in the bunch. According to the Nielson Co., more than 180 million blogs exist on the Internet today, but most lay dormant for months at a time, and few make it past the first year. So it doesn’t take a lot to start a blog. But it does take something special to keep one going.
When it comes to food blogs specifically, the interwebs are crawling with amazing talent, delicious recipes and beautiful photos, and we’ve assembled a list of our favorites, many of which I’ve come to love through my own food-blogging journey. From a hometown baker to a budget-conscious gourmet to an L.A. videographer-turned-foodie, your next great recipe is just a click away.
Splash of Something
When I started blogging back in 2010, I was a recent college graduate with a newfound zeal for cooking and probably too much time on my hands. After four years of undergrad followed by a year and a half of grad school at the University of Missouri, I’d grown pretty comfortable with life lived on deadlines amidst piles of books and writing assignments. Without college, my computer was all too silent, and I needed a new creative outlet. Besides, I was watching way too much TV. So I decided food blogging would be a fun experiment, and more than three years later, Splash of Something is a labor of love that just won’t quit. In addition to the goings-on of our family and a DIY project here and there, the site largely focuses on the happenings of our kitchen, which includes plenty of pasta, loads of breakfast and far too many cookies.
Easier to make than it looks, this bright and zingy dessert is as pretty as it is delicious. (Adapted from Martha Stewart | Serves 4 to 6)
For the crust:
• 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
• ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
• ⅓ cup sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
For the filling:
• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
• ¼ cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• zest of 1 small lemon (or ½ large lemon)
• 1 ½ to 2 pounds strawberries, hulled and cut in half
• ¼ cup apricot preserves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To make the crust, put the flour, butter, ⅓ sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse for about a minute, until moist crumbs form. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom, or divide it evenly among four 4-inch tartlette pans.
Press the dough evenly into the pans and up the sides (you can dip your fingers in flour beforehand to keep them from sticking). Press the dough firmly into place, and freeze the crusts for about 15 minutes, until firm.
Use a fork to prick the crusts all over. Then bake them until golden, about 18 to 23 minutes for tartlettes, 25 to 30 minutes for one large tart. Check on the crusts occasionally during baking, and press them down gently with a spoon if they puff up. Cool completely.
To make the filling, mix together the cream cheese and ¼ cup sugar until smooth. Add the lemon zest and vanilla, and mix to combine. Spread the mixture evenly on the bottom of the baked crusts (still in the tartlette pans). Then, starting from the outside edge, arrange the strawberries, stem side down, in tight circles on top of the cream cheese.
Heat the apricot preserves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until liquid. Gently brush the strawberries with preserves, and let them set for at least 20 minutes. Chill the tartlettes in their pans for at least 1 hour. Remove them from pans just before serving.
Bake Your Day
Jefferson City local Cassie Laemmli turned a love for food and gathering in the kitchen into a website filled with approachable recipes, delectable photos and enough inspiration to get anyone cooking. Laemmli focuses on living well, particularly through the food she creates. Her dishes run the gamut from healthful snacks and vegetarian meals (the balsamic Greek veggie bowl and quick Israeli couscous salad are two of my favorites) to creative spins on favorite desserts (think cinnamon maple toffee monster cookies). All things in moderation, right?
This buttery, stovetop-popped popcorn adds a Tex-Mex twist of cilantro, lime and salt. (Serves 2 to 4)
• 4 cups popped popcorn
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
• sea salt and olive oil
• 1 tablespoon lime juice (1 lime)
• ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For stove-popping: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. (I use grapeseed; you can use canola, vegetable, etc., but just not olive oil because burns easily.)
Add a few popcorn kernels, cover the pan and let it heat up. When one kernel pops, add 1/3 cup of uncooked popcorn kernels and cover the pan. Shake the pan a little to spread the kernels into an even layer. Let the kernels pop for several minutes until the pan is full and the popping slows down; shake the pan often. Remove from heat and transfer popcorn to a large bowl.
While the popcorn pops, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the lime juice and cilantro, and stir well. Remove from heat. Add the popcorn to a large bowl, and pour on half of the butter/lime/cilantro mixture and shake to distribute. Repeat with the rest of the butter mixture. Add the salt and shake again until well mixed.
Nick Livermore, the face behind the budget-friendly blog Frugal Feeding, is a blogger from across the pond who takes a cost-effective and seasonal approach to the food he prepares. “This blog isn’t about eating as cheaply as possible,” he says on the about section of his site. “It’s about eating good, well-sourced food as economically as possible.” In addition to a detailed recipe box filled with numerous categories and dishes, Frugal Feeding features a page of “Frugal Tips,” with advice for cutting costs without sacrificing quality, flavor or interest.
With lentils, bay leaves and golden ale, you won’t miss the meat in this cold-weather favorite. (Serves 4)
• 15 dried red chilies, soaked overnight and roughly chopped
• 3 onions, roughly chopped
• 2 green peppers, roughly chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
• 3 tablespoons oil
• 4 bay leaves
• 3 teaspoons cumin, freshly ground
• 1 500-milileter bottle of golden or pale ale
• 20 grams dark chocolate
• 2 tins of plum or chopped tomatoes
• 1 teaspoon tomato puree
• a generous handful of red lentils
• 1 tin of kidney beans
• 1 tin of chickpeas
• 1 teaspoon of salt
Gently fry your chilies, onions, peppers and garlic in oil for around 10 minutes; set aside the water used to soak the chilies. Add the cumin and bay leaves, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour in the chili water you set aside followed by the ale, chocolate, tomatoes, tomato purée and lentils. Cook for 1 hour to thicken before adding the kidney beans, chickpeas and salt. Serve with rice or flatbread.
Cannelle et Vanille
Cannelle et Vanille is a beautiful site, even before you delve into the recipes and writing. Although now a published cookbook author (Small Plates and Sweet Treats, published in October 2012), Basque ex-pat Aran Goyoaga, the food stylist, writer and photographer behind Cannelle et Vanille, continues to use the blog as a journal of sorts, where she documents her work, travels and recipes (all of which are gluten free). There’s a sweet, nostalgic feel to every dish on Cannelle et Vanille, and each photograph is as carefully styled as the cuisine it features. Goyoaga also periodically teaches food styling and photography workshops around the country and in Europe (details available on the site).
The Kitchy Kitchen
Like most favorite food blogs, The Kitchy Kitchen regularly delivers delicious recipes and fun photos, but what really sets this site apart are its truly mouthwatering videos. In addition to doing food writing and photography, The Kitchy Kitchen creator Claire Thomas works as a commercial director in L.A., and her professional skillset often comes into play on the blog. Thomas also hosts a series of short videos entitled “10 Second Living” in which she demonstrates various recipes and cooking techniques, and her first cookbook is due out in summer 2014.