It may come as a surprise that food bloggers like to get to know…other food bloggers. Who else can relate to the frustration of food photography, keen interest in food trends and a generally obsessive interest level in, well, food?
I love getting to meet other food bloggers, and a few weeks ago I had the chance to sit down at NYC’s midtown Macaron Café (a favorite spot of mine, and not just because the macarons are delicious and kosher) with fellow food blogger Liz Rueven of Kosher Like Me.
What was the inspiration for starting to write Kosher Like Me?
Not everyone keeps kosher quite the same way. Many Americans keep “kosher like me,” meaning, they will eat in non-kosher restaurants, but only strictly vegetarian dishes. And so I wanted to share the research I was already finding about non-Kosher restaurants that had vegetarian-friendly dishes and menus. In the past I would tell waiters at restaurants that I was vegetarian. But when I wrote this blog, I didn’t want to write about being vegetarian – I wanted to write my “Kosher Like Me” truth. About one third of my readers are vegetarian, also looking for veggie-friendly restaurants and recipes; one third of my readers are “Kosher Like Me” eaters; and one third are just health-conscience people.
What has been the most exciting thing to occur as a result of blogging?
Last year I was invited to speak on a panel at the Hazon Food Conference. It was exciting to be surrounded by people passionate about about kashrut and food grounded in Jewish tradition and a sustainable approach to the land and animals.
What has been the most surprising thing about writing your blog?
I never expected to encounter so many personal stories about kashrut and food, especially in unexpected places. Restaurant chefs often have a story that surprises me, including the owner of Macaron Café. When I met her I asked, “why did you make your macarons kosher?’ She explained that when she first had a business it was located in the garment district of New York City, where a lot of Orthodox Jews also work. She had many requests to make her Parisian macarons kosher, and so she did.
What is your favorite NYC-area restaurant that you keep coming back to?
Like-minded eaters have the easiest time facing a menu where all is fair game, and that means any of the great vegetarian restaurants in NYC. Candle Cafe is close to my apartment so we order in from there or I eat at the counter if I am solo. I love Dirt Candy for Amanda Cohen’s more refined and innovative treatment of veggies, too. I also love Hangawi, which is Korean and vegan.
My favorite non-vegetarian restaurant is Rouge Tomate on the Upper East Side of New York City. The food is always inventive and exquisitely plated but be prepared for smaller portions. They have plenty of vegetarian and fish choices and most often use veggie broth . The waiters are well trained to answer honestly and patiently when questioned about ingredients.
Got any advice for someone who wants to start their own food blog?
If you are thinking about starting your own blog, you should start by reading the blogs that interest you regularly and consider why you admire them or find them useful. Ask the editor of one of those blogs if you might contribute. Suggest a few ideas or an area of that blog’s content that you would like to add to. Editors are always looking for content and will likely welcome your inquiry. It’s a great way to check out what a blogger’s world is really about.
What’s on the horizon for Kosher Like Me?
I am on the verge of re-designing the blog in order to make it more user-friendly. After two and a half years, a lot has changed about what I want to share with my readers!
You can read more about Liz Rueven here and check back tomorrow for her recipe for hearty lentil soup.
This past Sunday, The Food Network aired a special “The Big Waste,” which featured chefs Alex Guarneschelli, Ann Burell, Michael Symon, and Bobby Flay. The chefs were challenged to compete against one another to create a meal for some 100+ foodies, bloggers and other food personalities using only ingredients from farms that would have otherwise been thrown out.
It was definitely an interesting watch (I believe it will be airing another few times this weekend), and perhaps the most disturbing moment was when some of the farmers brought the chefs to see their compost piles: the camera scrolled across piles and piles of beautiful-looking produce, that was considered unusable because it did not appear “perfect” by the average American consumer.
I hate wasting food, and try to do everything I can to use my leftovers in creative ways, so I loved seeing the top-notch meals the chefs put together using discarded tomatoes, chicken and ricotta cheese, among other ingredients.
In the meantime, here are two of my go-to recipes that I use almost weekly in order to make the most out of stale bread, and vegetable peelings. Would love to hear your favorite waste-not tips!
Shannon’s Waste-Not Croutons
- 3 Cups leftover bread, cut into cubes
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together parsley, garlic powder, salt, pepper and olive oil (also add the cheese if you’re making the croutons dairy). Toss mixture over the bread cubes, and lay out on a cookie sheet.
Bake bread cubes around 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle over your favorite salad, or serve on top of your favorite soup.
- 4 quarts water
- 3 whole carrots
- leftover carrot peels
- 2 whole celery stalks
- leftover celery stalks
- 1 whole onion
- leftover onion peels
- 3 whole garlic cloves
- leftover garlic peels
- 2 whole parsnips
- leftover parsnip peels
- leftover tomatoes
- fresh parsley
- whole peppercorns
- 4 Tbsp salt
Other vegetables you can throw in: asparagus stalks, brussel sprout leaves, sweet potato, bell peppers, mushrooms and zucchini.
In a large stockpot, add leftover vegetables, parsley and peppercorns. Fill the pot with three quarts of cold water, and cover pot with lid.
Bring soup up to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for one hour. Pour soup through a strainer into a large bowl, discarding vegetables and herbs, then season stock with salt.
Freeze vegetable stock in plastic containers or ice cube trays for up to 6 months.