Food Bloggers Have The Best Recipes (Luisa’s Potato Focaccia, Molly’s Chocolate Granola)

May 7, 2008 | By | COMMENTS

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Newspaper recipes don’t excite me.

With their perfect margins, their definitive type, their antiseptic language, I very rarely open the Wednesday Food Section of The New York Times, read a recipe, and run home to make it. Perhaps it’s a function of old media vs. new media, in that the old media feels creaky and irrelevant whereas the new media–by which I mean food blogs–are fresh and accessible and offer real recipes by real people with real personas that aren’t whitewashed or edited, but vivid and alive.

Take Luisa, The Wednesday Chef, who you met in last week’s FN Dish. Her site is a simple conceit. She takes newspaper recipes–dry, humorless newspaper recipes–and tweaks them in her own way, writing about her adventures (and misadventures) and keeping a steady online journal so that we, her fans, can know whether Luisa recommends a recipe or not. Her results are often complex; for example, this week she celebrates Rancho Gordon’s giant white lima beans but laments the environmental impact of shipping them across the United States. Her pictures, though, are so luscious you almost think it’d be worth destroying the earth for one bite of that dish.

All of which is to say, a few weeks ago I had a hankering for something I vividly remembered reading about on Luisa’s site: potato focaccia or “Focaccia di Patate.” (See her post here). The beautiful puffed dough, the galaxy of cherry tomatoes on top, a veil of gently scattered oregano: it was a work of art and I had to have it.

And had it I did. After returning from the farmer’s market with broccoli rabe, I decided to serve the focaccia with a side of sauteed broccoli rabe and garlic. It was all very simple. The focaccia dough took a few minutes to assemble (though a few hours to rise); the broccoli rabe I quickly blanched in water and then sauteed with a ton of garlic. The end result was stupendous–look at the focaccia as it came out of the oven:

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And for that we have Luisa, and new media, to thank.

And for this chocolate granola, we have to thank my friend Molly, Orangette:

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Again, because I know and trust Molly, when I read one of her recipes it pops in a way that a newspaper recipe doesn’t. Here, in this post, she tells of the chocolate granola Brandon (her husband) used to eat in Paris and how she attempted to recreate it at home. I’m not really a granola guy, but for some reason Molly’s storytelling skills, recipe-writing skills and picture-taking skills compelled me to the corner store at 11 at night to buy oats and honey and almonds and coconut to make a late night snack. And boy am I glad I did. Chocolate granola makes normal granola look like, well…granola.

In conclusion, when it comes to reviewing restaurants and writing about food politics and the machinations of the food world in general, I think newspaper food sections still have a place. But when it comes to recipes, I prefer food blogs. It’s the difference between having dinner in a conference room vs. having dinner at the table of a trusted friend. In that battle, food blogs take the cake.

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Categories: Bread and Pizza, Recipes

  • http://www.helengraves.co.uk Helen

    That sure is one fine lookin focaccia! I agree with you about the media thing. I subscribed to a food mag last year and I’m still receiving it but I never cook from it, I just look through and put it down. If I want to be excited by recipes, I’ll get the personal touch from my favourite food blogs.

  • http://hungrybruno.blogspot.com Adrienne

    Eeeeep! Ok, yes, that was me squealing. I made Luisa’s Focaccia a couple of months ago and it was SO amazing. Now I will have to make it again. Thanks for reminding me!

  • http://amysahba.blogspot.com/ amy

    I do love Luisa’s blog – and I particularly love that potato focaccia. I’ve made it 3 times since she posted the recipe and i’ve even tested it with 1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat flour. It turned out great!!

  • http://artichokeheart.wordpress.com Christina Grillo

    This focaccia is great! I made it for the 2nd time this weekend, and I’ve been eating it for lunch all week. But I have to say that lately I’ve enjoyed some of the NY Times One Pot recipes as well.

  • http://artichokeheart.wordpress.com Christina

    This focaccia is great! I made it for the 2nd time this weekend, and I’ve been eating it for lunch all week. But I have to say that lately I’ve enjoyed some of the NY Times One Pot recipes as well.

  • june2

    I do have a nostalgic love of finding a good recipe in the newspaper, (and the NYT’s has regular winners), and I love the personal touch of the blogs. I love it when bloggers try out the newspaper recipes and share all the details with photos the best, like Louisa often does. That was the original idea of her blog. It’s really helpful and also fun, like were all cooking together in one big kitchen.

    Blogging together from the same recipe is just fun, that’s why I love blogger groups like The Daring Bakers for example. In conclusion, therefore, I’ve decided that I still love both, and that they each enhance the other. Thank you for giving me cause to think about it.

  • june2

    Of course, I read the newspapers online… :D

  • Sandro

    I’m surprised at the universal praise for the focaccia. To me, it looks awful. Way, way too thick and bready. Not nearly oily enough. And what the heck are those stupid tomatoes doing there?

    If one loves real focaccia, one should buy an $800 RT ticket to Genoa on Alitalia. There, beginning with at the airport, you will get focaccia that will blow away anything I’ve ever had Stateside.

    Focaccia should be made in a rectangular pan, cut into rectangular pieces. It should be approx. half an inch thick. It should be shiny from being slicked with olive oil. And a potato focaccia should have just potatoes on it as a main ingredient.

    Where are the people from the focaccia consorzio when you need them?

  • http://TheRecipeGirl.blogspot.com RecipeGirl

    I adore Luisa’s writing and recipes. And I follow Orangette through her column in BA.

    I agree… food bloggers do choose the best recipes :)

  • http://TheRecipeGirl.blogspot.com RecipeGirl

    I adore Luisa’s writing and recipes. And I follow Orangette through her column in BA.

    I agree… food bloggers do choose the best recipes :)

  • Dennis

    Bittman humorless? His recipes sound like a conference room? Please dont use “In conclusion” anymore. You tend to use it a lot. If you can cross it out and it doesnt change the meaning the words dont belong. Unless you’re getting paid by the word.

  • http://www.thewednesdaychef.com Luisa

    Sandro – the focaccia recipe is from Puglia, so of course it’s quite different from the one from Genoa. The potatoes in the dough and the tomatoes on top are just as they should be. I’m so glad everyone has had such success with the recipe!

  • http://digestmag.umn.edu/ Melinda

    I completely agree with you about blogs being a better delivery system for recipes. For me as a young foodie, they make recipes more approachable because you have somebody with experience standing behind it.

    Check out our student food recipe blog at

    http://blog.lib.umn.edu/digestmg/recipes/

  • http://digestmag.umn.edu/ Melinda

    I completely agree with you about blogs being a better delivery system for recipes. For me as a young foodie, they make recipes more approachable because you have somebody with experience standing behind it.

    Check out our student food recipe blog at

    http://blog.lib.umn.edu/digestmg/recipes/

  • http://digestmag.umn.edu Melinda

    I completely agree with you about blogs being a better delivery system for recipes. For me as a young foodie, they make recipes more approachable because you have somebody with experience standing behind it.

    Check out our student food recipe blog at

    http://blog.lib.umn.edu/digestmg/recipes/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14357995131662848398 DocChuck

    As a retired “educator” who enjoys traveling and eating (as my more than ample girth attests to), I used to be an avid reader of many food (and travel) “blogs.”

    While I agree that they are a rich source of (generally) good recipes, I have found the heavy-handed moderation policies on most food blogs very hard to swallow.

    It didn’t take long to figure out what their (the blog operators) game was about. And when I informed some of the shillers of my opinion, I was promptly “kicked off” the website. I have been “kicked off” RoadFood.com for questioning the “moderators” motives (including the Stern’s fortune-telling operation).

    I have also been excommunicated from “Serious Eats” and the “Amateur Gourmet” for criticizing obviously biased and inaccurate posts (not to mention how I raised their hackles when I warned about food imports from CHINA— BEFORE such warnings became fashionable in the mainstream media.

    Although I have over thirty “reviews” on TripAdvisor, I was banned after criticizing the Applebees chain . No matter that I am a “Premiere” member of the Applebee’s Frequent Guest Club, who has spent thousands of dollars in their restaurants.

    I applaud Amateur Gourmet for their reasonable moderation policies. And excellent recipes, of course.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14357995131662848398 DocChuck

    As a retired “educator” who enjoys traveling and eating (as my more than ample girth attests to), I used to be an avid reader of many food (and travel) “blogs.”

    While I agree that they are a rich source of (generally) good recipes, I have found the heavy-handed moderation policies on most food blogs very hard to swallow.

    It didn’t take long to figure out what their (the blog operators) game was about. And when I informed some of the shillers of my opinion, I was promptly “kicked off” the website. I have been “kicked off” RoadFood.com for questioning the “moderators” motives (including the Stern’s fortune-telling operation).

    I have also been excommunicated from “Serious Eats” and the “Amateur Gourmet” for criticizing obviously biased and inaccurate posts (not to mention how I raised their hackles when I warned about food imports from CHINA— BEFORE such warnings became fashionable in the mainstream media.

    Although I have over thirty “reviews” on TripAdvisor, I was banned after criticizing the Applebees chain . No matter that I am a “Premiere” member of the Applebee’s Frequent Guest Club, who has spent thousands of dollars in their restaurants.

    I applaud Amateur Gourmet for their reasonable moderation policies. And excellent recipes, of course.