Hey folks, I’m sipping an Angeleno in Venice Beach (I just had lunch with my Uncle Jerry in Santa Monica, so figured: “why not?” Also: I have to return a plant we killed) and would like to take this time to answer YOUR QUESTIONS. Cooking questions, life questions, organic chemistry questions (well maybe not that). So have at it and I’ll tackle your queries in the comments. Don’t be shy!
53 thoughts on “I Answer Your Questions!”
What is the one thing that you gives you the most anxiety about running a successful food blog?
Well when the food blog became my primary source of income (around 2007), keeping the traffic up–and making the food blog profitable–without sacrificing quality (or my own integrity) has been the most anxiety-inducing part. Generally speaking, I have lots of fun doing it (and if I didn’t, there are better ways to make money!) but making sure I’m going to make enough to keep it going as a career is the hardest part. Thanks for your question!
How is the weather in LA right now? I want to be so green with envy right now.
The weather in L.A. has been unbelievably HOT. Not in a good way, but in a “whoa: I didn’t realize L.A. could be this uncomfortable” kind of way. Thankfully, this isn’t normally the case at all… but right now, it’s “stay inside” weather.
Ouch. I send my sympathies. I’m in Texas and I’m dying (and drowning) a slow death.
Adam, do you have any suggestions on ordering new and interesting things when you are at a restaurant? You always seem to be ordering great dishes, and I remember from your first book when you went out with Ruth Reichl that you should take the advice of the chef, but that doesn’t seem possible in most places. Is your palate just more expansive than most peoples?
When I go out to eat, I study the menu carefully and look for interesting items (“Turtle Soup?? Never seen that on a menu before!”) or unusual ingredient combinations (“coffee powder, orange syrup and Melba toast flan? How intriguing.”) The key is finding the stuff that strikes your fancy the most (maybe you’re craving red meat and there’s a red meat dish that calls out to you) without playing it too safe. Another strategy: order a weird/unusual/possibly risky appetizer, and a safe/comfortable/familiar entree. Happy eating!
Do you ever visit the midwest? Your blog feels like it is written about life on another planet, since you stick to the coasts. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Maybe I’ll quit my day job and be the midwestern voice of food blogging.
Well, I once went to a wedding in Ohio and blogged about it (does that count as the midwest) but, generally speaking, I don’t have any friends or family based in the midwest, so haven’t had a reason to go. That said, I’d love to drive cross-country someday and that would be a perfect opportunity. (Also: my friends Patty and Lauren, who are regular blog fixtures, just moved to Michigan…so I may be visiting there soon. Does that count?)
I feel about as connected to Ohio as I do to California. But, Michigan counts. You should make your way to MN and WI some day. There is a lot of good food and great culture not to be missed. Wisconsin has the finest cheeses in the land, and our food, music and art scene in the Twin Cities is amazing. Minneapolis is often called the “Minni Apple.” Or for pete sake, at least go to Chicago!
In the meantime, we midwesterners have Marilyn Hagerty all to ourselves! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marilyn_Hagerty
I’ve lived on the East Coast my whole life, so I haven’t had much experience in the mid-west, but I WILL second how amazing Minnesota is. I spent the 4th of July weekend with my husband’s family outside of Minneapolis, and I was not only impressed by how friggin gorgeous that city is, but how much excellent food I had. I experienced my first cheese curds and a Juicy Nookie burger in one day alone, I’m still recovering.
Julie! You went to the Nook!! That is just blocks from my house. Imagine having it within walking distance. Depending on where you live in the Twin Cities, people have different allegiances to their favorite place to get a Juicy Lucy. Matt’s Bar, The 5-8 Club and the Blue Door are all good, but you had the best by far at the Nook. I hope you were on one of our beautiful lakes for the 4th.
Adam! I just moved to LA – what is your number one restaurant recommendation?
#1?!?!! That’s so hard! I would say Pizzeria Mozza is my #1 favorite place because it takes things that I love—salad, pizza, dessert—and produces totally unique, stunning versions of those things. It’s really a chance to experience Nancy Silverton’s magical touch, both in how she constructs salads (the little gem is my fave), how she flavors dough (the pizza has the most unique crust I’ve ever had; the salt is amazing), and how she brilliantly balances desserts (the butterscotch budino is the stuff of legend). The best part there are always new things to try; last time we went, we went in spring and had a pea dish that had us raving. I love that place.
@Liz Adam is spot-on, it’s my favorite place too. I’m biased though…I used to work there.
Sounds amazing!!!! Thanks!
As a new food blogger, how many posts a week are good to start off with to ward off fatique and overwhelming feeling you get from trying to do too much too soon?
It’s hard at the start because nothing’s worse than feeling like you’re blogging out into the ether and nobody cares (see: the frittata post I posted this morning). At the beginning, I’d do a few a week, making them all VERY different, trying lots of things to see what sticks. If you have lots of success with one kind of post, do a few more like that until you get into a groove. After 3 months or so, see where you’re at. Are your numbers good? Are people engaging? At that point, do more posts a week until–hopefully–you get to a point where it becomes a source of income and then figure out how your time is better spent: crafting fewer higher quality posts a week (like Smitten Kitchen or 101cookbooks) or shooting out lots of posts a week to see what takes (like me). Good luck!
What is your #1 way to locate good, interesting restaurants when you’re in a city for the first time?
Well I’m spoiled: because of my blog and my Twitter following, I usually just do a post or a Tweet seeking suggestions and really listen to what people have to say. Since that’s not really an option for most people, an excellent option is to use Chowhound—which is still around after all those years and offers up quirky, idiosyncratic suggestions from passionate food people about where to eat (Jonathan Gold, L.A.’s premiere critic, uses it as a resource). I also like to Google generic things like “Best Place to Eat in ___” to see what comes up; the results may surprise you. I don’t trust Yelp, so rarely use that. But if a blog shows up that looks well-made, I often defer to that. Or sometimes I look in the New York Times Travel section to see if there’s an article about that city; there usually is.
Are you and Craig planning on a long engagement or are wedding bells ringing soon? I’d also love to know what food you’d serve at your dream wedding reception!
Oh Marcy Marcy,
It’s looking like “The Five Year Engagement” may be in our future… it’s not that we’ve fallen out of love, it’s just that neither of us wants to plan a wedding and we both have very different visions about what that wedding might be. Me? I’d be happy with close friends and family at City Hall, going out to dinner, and then celebrating with more friends at a bar. Craig wants the party of the century. So stay tuned! And if I start looking like Jason Segal with a beard, it may be time for an intervention.
I love cookbooks and have a huge collection of them. The ones I USE most often are Marcia Clark’s two latest books solely by herself, The three Silver Palate Cookbooks (actually, just first one and The New Basics), The Pressure Cooker Gourmet by Victoria Wise, The two 60-Minute Gourmet books by PF and CC, and Sunday Suppers at Lucques. Have been delving into the mammoth Essential New York Times Cookbook lately, for fun. So my question is, what are your 10 most essential cookbooks right now, the ones that deliver perfect results and have the most interesting recipes?
Hi Agent Strong,
This would be easier to answer if I were home, but maybe it’s more useful to do this off the top of my head. I like that you said “right now” because it changes all the time. Off the top of my head: 1. Staff Meals by David Waltuck; 2. Sunday Suppers at Lucques (it’s really one of the best; I can’t wait for her new book); 3. Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook (I love their desserts; no-fuss, but terrific results); 4. Franny’s (less for specific recipes and more for the general inspiration of cooking with seasonal ingredients); 5. Lidia’s Italy (I think that’s what it’s called; it’s the blue and white one and mine is falling apart); 6. Cooking For Mr. Latte (even though it’s a book of essays, it has as many recipes as most cookbooks, all of them terrific…especially the almond cake); 7. The Chez Panisse Cookbook; 8. Those Melissa Clark books are pretty great; 9. All About Braising by Molly Stevens and the Daniel Boulud Braising book; 10. APRIL BLOOMFIELD’S BOOK may be my absolute favorite of the moment. Unbelievably good.
Ooh, I love this question.
I know what to do when life hands you lemons, but life handed me limes. Recipes utilizing fresh lime juice needed! Please.There are so many.
My first thought: Margaritas! Because you can use up a lot of lime juice. Second thought: lime sorbet! It’ll keep for a while. Third thought: lime curd. That’ll also keep for a while. Other ideas: key lime pie, lime tart, lime jam, or any Asian recipe that involves coconut milk and lime juice (see some of Susan Feniger’s recipes). Pucker up!
Awesome. I love the lime curd idea!
Mmm, mint limeade is my most favorite thing to do with limes. It’s amazing with some good Mexican food. My favorite recipe is here: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/mint-limeade-10000001054824/ (although I usually lower the sugar a bit… it’s quite sweet!)
How do you get your blog to stand out when there are so many other excellent food blogs?
What a question. Nowadays, I really have no idea… it says a lot that I haven’t discovered any new food blogs in the past year or so that I’ve continued to read. Maybe that’s a function of there being so many, but my instinct is that it also has to do with form: so many food blogs copy the same format, they all blur together. My advice is to break out of the form of a food blog. Change what it means to blog about food. How? That’s the hard part. But if I only did posts with a pretty picture of food, a short essay and a recipe, I’d be toast (and not the good kind). I shake it up all the time and I think that helps keep things going. Be brave, be creative, be persistent. Good luck!
How can I bake cookies that are crispy ? My cookies tend to taste flat
Crispy cookies have to do with the ratio of butter to flour. If I were a baker, I could tell you what that ratio should be; as it is, I’d search recipes online that specifically describe the cookies as crispy. If you make a crispy cookie recipe and the cookie doesn’t come out crispy, not sure what else to tell you!
A friend just recommended Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi. Are you familiar? I have just cleaned out my cookbooks and am being very selective. Will take recommendations for “Mediterranean” cookbooks.
I have JERUSALEM and really enjoy it, though I haven’t cooked a great deal from it (a lot of people have, though; there was even a New York Times article about supper clubs built around that very book). I find with Ottolenghi books, you can’t take the proportions too literally; you have to season to taste with however much salt you think it needs, rather what he says. As for other Mediterranean books, Paula Wolfert is the expert on that. I’d buy one of her books.
How can I promote my little food blog and attract readers? A measly few visitors click on new posts, and I want to be able to grow my site and interact with other bloggers and blog readers.
If you do something truly original or inspired or well-executed, those readers will come. What you can’t do is just an every day recipe post and expect people to get excited about it. So think to yourself: “What kind of post can I create that, if I saw it on a food blog, I’d immediately subscribe?” That’s part one. The other part is promoting yourself effectively. The wrong move is to harass food bloggers and ask them to link to you. The right move is to create a Twitter profile and to start building an identity online; make your Tweets personal, quirky, give yourself a really unique voice and grow that voice. Connect with people based on what they’re Tweeting about, not promoting what you’ve created. Really hone that voice and the readers will come. If it’s generic, no one will care.
What are your favorite food blogs or websites on food and restaurant trends (not recipes)? Non-state/city specific, if possible. Thank you!
Well, Eater has really cornered the market on this and I’m a big fan. I have Eater National in my Google Reader and really, there isn’t really another blog quite like it. Grub Street is ok, but that’s more specific to New York. Hope that helps!
Did you celebrate Rosh Hashana? I`m interested to know what you ate, and if you eat gefilte fish over there in the states? Shana tova!
I was a bad Jew yesterday and even though I intended to buy a chicken and some apples to make a Rosh Hashana inspired dinner (I was going to make an apple salad), time got away from me and we wound up at a Vietnamese restaurant where I ate a brown rice bowl with chicken. That said, I may make that Rosh Hashana dinner tonight…so stay tuned. And Happy New Year!
What would be your top recipe(s) when throwing a dinner party? Dietary restrictions aren’t a consideration. I tend towards beef bourguignon since it gives me the ability to drink wine and engage in important topics with my friends (such as “Which Muppet would you want as your best friend?”)
Can I answer the Muppet question first? (Janice!) As for dinner party food, that’s been on my mind a lot lately since I started The Clean Plate Club and have been hosting a dinner party every week for the past 6 weeks. Like you, I prefer things I can make ahead and heat up when everyone gets there. So casseroles (that baked ziti was a real gem) and braises (it was pork stew this week) are the way to go. You can even make those a day ahead and heat them up when everyone’s there, and they’ll only taste the better for it. Then I just make a simple salad to start and a tasty dessert, and your dinner party is pretty much set. Muppetly yours, Adam
Any suggestions on how to make a cheese sauce based dish
that will reheat without the sauce breaking? My mac n cheese and potato au gratings always break!! Thanks!
Haven’t really encountered this, but my instinct is to say reheat it at a low temperature for a longer period of time? Seems like your best shot!
With so much food and good drink, how do you keep your weight down??
I don’t snack on junk food, I watch my portions, and when I can, I have a salad or sushi for lunch. That said, I love dessert (and cookies for a snack) so I try to limit myself to one sweet a day. And no soda or sugar drinks, except sometimes I put sugar syrup in my iced latte. Eat breakfast, so you don’t gorge at lunch. And exercise, when you can. Preferably somewhere with a TV so you can zone out.
Hope you’re still answering questions. My friend went to a shop at the Farmer’s Market on Fairfax and brought me a tin of Fennel Pollen. I googled it and it said that it’s a “miracle ingredient” but I havent the faintest idea how to use it. Have you ever used it? Also baking here. Can’t wait for the weather to break. And didnt know there’s a muppet with my name.
Fennel pollen is, in fact, a wonderful ingredient. It has an incredibly potent fennel aroma and is terrific sprinkled, as a garnish, on pasta (I’m thinking a ragu made with fennel and onions and lamb) or chicken (there’s a recipe with fennel pollen and chicken in my cookbook). But start by doing this: buy some goat cheese and sprinkle fennel pollen all over it. (I’m pretty sure Mario Batali does this in the Babbo cookbook.) Drizzle with olive oil and serve with good bread and you’ll be hooked.
All right, folks, I’m closing the thread. Thank you for your questions!