A food bloggers nirvana – invite a few of your all time favorite bloggers to share a Sunday night dinner with you. The challenge, we all live in different cities. The next best option was to host a virtual pot luck. The invites were sent and I couldn’t be more honored than to have had this group of ladies join me for a night of foodie fun as they sampled recipes from Taste This! The Delicious Sequel. While I hate the expression “It’s a win, win!” I do believe this is just that. Here’s why. Each of us made a dish to share for this virtual dinner party. Those that feasted on a new recipe enjoyed the spoils (WIN), those of you reading this post get sneak peak at a few more recipes from my new cookbook (and new wine pairing suggestions) along with the chance to win a copy of the cookbook (WIN). Add it up and you’ve got the recipe for a WIN WIN. Now let’s get down to business >ahem, I mean cooking!<.
MENU AND BLOGGER (Note: each blogger has book to give away, to find out how to win take a gander at the links below)
Cocktails- Cuban Mojito blogged by Illina Ewens
Appetizer- Gorgonzola Cheese Ball & Olive Tapanade blogged by Ana Picazo
Wine- Carmenère, Malbec, and Sauvignon Blanc Pairing Selections blogged by Stacy DeFino
Main Course- Peruvian Minestrone blogged by ME/see below
Dessert- King’s Cupcakes blogged by Stacy Libby
I’d like to introduce you to the faces behind the blogs.
The recipe I made for my special group of friends is one that my dear friend from Peru, Rosa, made for me many years ago. While the shopping list for this recipe is a bit longer than many of the recipes in Taste This! The Delicious Sequel it is worth the little bit of extra time it takes to make this dish.
4 cups basil leaves, stems removed
¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup ricotta or Queso Fresco
salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 cups (13 oz) pasta (penne, rigatoni, fusilli or bow ties)
½ tsp garlic, crushed
2 lbs top sirloin, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 TBS olive oil
10 cups water
1 cube beef bouillon
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup carrot, diced
1 ½ cups green cabbage, chopped
½ cup leek, cleaned and chopped
½ cup peas
1 cup zucchini, diced
2 large cobs of corn, cut into 1 ½ inch sliced rounds with cob included
2 medium white potatoes, diced
Blend together all pesto ingredients until smooth.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and sprinkle with olive oil. Mix well so that it does not stick together while the rest of the dish is being prepared.
In a large pan, sauté garlic in oil, and brown sirloin. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large soup pot, over high heat, add water, beef bouillon, sirloin, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil, cooking meat until tender. Turn heat to medium and add all vegetables EXCEPT potatoes and corn.
Add potatoes and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add corn and cook an additional 5 minutes on medium-high. Before serving, add pasta to warm it, approximately 2-3 minutes. Finally, add pesto and season to taste.
Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top.
Note: To save time, a ½ cup high-grade store bought pesto sauce can be substituted in place of basil, olive oil, salt and pepper.
While serving corn rounds in the soup is the tradition for Peruvians, some diners are uncomfortable reaching into the soup with their fingers to eat the corn. If diners are up for the challenge, encourage them to eat the corn last, allowing it to cool. Alternatively, substitute fresh corn kernels cut off of the cob, as opposed to frozen or canned corn, which tend to be too soft.
Thank you Ilina, Ana, Stacy D. and Stacy L. it was so much fun having dinner with you this past weekend.
Last month I was invited to participate in a fantastic blogger summit hosted by the Yahoo! Mother Board. It was the first conference of its kind that I have attended since I started blogging. There were a number of things that were unique about the event that impressed me. The agenda for the sessions was targeted, relevant and robust, the bloggers were hosted by the organization which brought together a lot of wonderful thinkers/writers who may not have otherwise have had the opportunity to travel to this summit. While I was not alone in the food blogging realm of attendees, I was amongst the minority that comprised this collective group. You may wonder why I attended? Well, as a former writer for the Silicon Valley Mom’s Blog (which recently closed down its operations)- I was there to learn more about what Yahoo! had to offer me in terms of an alternate place to post my content.
While there are an ever increasing number of conferences for bloggers to attend, what I find has changed over the past few years is that the level of ‘experts’ that I am engaging with at these shows has greatly shifted, as has the overall content, which remains skewed to the entry level blogger. Those who might have been considered experts a few years may no longer be the best spokespeople, nor are these sessions the most relevant for me. This was far from the case with the Yahoo! Mother Board Summit. While I do realize that that I was presented with predominantly Yahoo! focused content, I found their business acumen approach to be worthy of my time. Yahoo! has realized that to best work with the blogging community, to expand their digital voice and footprint, they must also invest in educating their constituents about their products. Refreshing! I am constantly approached for various types of corporate projects and on one hand I do feel honored to be exposed to these various opportunities, I am very aware that many of these come with a specific expectation. I am not a stalwart writer or investigative reporter- I blog to celebrate food and fun (and occasionally technology). While I remain unconvinced that I want to make blogging or cooking my full time career, I adore keeping this world as my coveted hobby/passion project. I maintain this space because I like to be here. I like to talk to you..whomever you are…and some-days I even think someone may be listening to my random thoughts on fun and food. I am not convinced that my site is about advertising revenue, or that I want to blog daily, but I do want to curl up on my sofa with my laptop and share some words and thoughts and engage with this exciting frontier of cyber space.
While I debated just telling you about the content presented, which ties closely to my professional comfort zone, I did think we could meet half way and I could share with you my new favorite recipe with PURPLE INGREDIENTS (the same color as the famous Yahoo! logo) in appreciation to the folks at Yahoo! Mother Board for having the vision and foresight to assemble such a stellar summit. And for those whom wish to know more about the summit, scroll down to the bottom of the post for a few more insights.
Now time for foodie fun- purple food! Cherry Clafoutis or clafouti (pronounced kla-foo-TEE) is a rustic looking French country dessert from the Limousin region that has become very popular in North America. Traditionally it was made with the first sweet cherries of the season, and the cherries were left unpitted so their kernels could release their delicate almond flavor as they baked. It is a bit of a pudding of sorts, with the sweet cherries covered by a thin pancake-like batter and baked in a hot oven until the batter has set with nicely browned and slightly puffed edges. The clafoutis should be served immediately with a dusting of confectioner’s (powdered or icing) sugar. Et voilà! Cherry Clafoutis
1 TBS unsalted butter, softened
4 TBS powdered sugar, plus a sprinkle
1 TBS + 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups (about 3/4 pound) mixed fresh Bing (or Rainier) cherries; stemmed, rinsed, drained on paper towels, pitted, and left whole (frozen pitted cherries are an easy alternative to use as well)
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
4 large eggs
6 TBS flour
5 TBS unsalted butter, melted
2 TBS sliced almonds
1 TBS honey
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 TBS kirsch (optional)
1 cup creme fraiche (optional)
Preheat over to 400 degrees. Center a rack in the middle of the oven.
Rub approximately 1 TBS softened butter over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch oven-proof glass pie pan. Dust with 2 TBS powdered sugar, then about 1 TBS granulated sugar and tap out any excess; set aside.
Arrange the cherries over the bottom of the prepared pie pan.
In a blender or food processor, combine the half-and-half, eggs, flour, butter, the 1/4 cup granulated sugar, almonds, honey, vanilla, salt and kirsch (if using). Process until it forms a creamy, smooth batter.
Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake approximately 30-35 minutes, until the custard is golden brown around the edges and puffy yet firm in the middle.
Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the top with 2 TBS of powdered sugar. (It will deflate as it cools). Eat warm or at room temperature.
Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche.
Adapted from Bay Area baking expert Flo Braker’s latest book is “Baking for All Occasions” (Chronicle Books).
And if you need a bit of reading while devouring your dessert, I shall continue to tell the tale of the Yahoo! Mother Board…
The Four Seasons in Palo Alto was the backdrop that kicked off this lovely roof-top cabana clad event. The cocktail party was well done and as people arrived from their flights they filtered into the location creating a fun filled room of both conversation and tweets. While the after party migrated downstairs to the main bar, and few other room parties took center stage things didn’t run late into the night as we all knew that the morning would come early and we wanted to be well rested.
The summit topics ranged from services like how to optimize your SEO, Social product offerings, utilizing your network, Flickr to a powerful session on Online Safety that showed a tragic video of cyber bulling gone horribly wrong. There was so much content that my mind was spinning, I’ve only provided a glimpse of the topics broached. Hats off to Jeanne Moeschler and Amy Heinz for acknowledging the value of bloggers and for Elisa Steel, Mother and Yahoo! CMO, for being brave enough to personally speak to this audience – it’s not easy talking to a group of bloggers who hardly look at you when you speak amidst the laptops and cell phone tweets and blog posts. That said, no one is better suited to talk to a group of people that appear not to be listening than a mother!
Yahoo! Mother Board Factoids:
– Yahoo!’s has grown its network from 16 to 80 smart, savvy, influential women bloggers
– On Friday, July 16th, it took less than an hour for the 62 summit attendees to have two trending topics on Twitter—Elisa Steele (proud mom and CMO keynote speaker) and #ymotherboard
– Attendees at this summit cover topics ranging from living a vegan lifestyle to the impact of political issues on moms—from across the U.S. and Canada
– This summit was dubbed “the mother of all conferences”, conversations were sparked between the 62 attendees and Yahoos from Shine, Flickr, Yahoo! Safely, Yahoo! for Good, Yahoo! Green, Social Products, Yahoo! Editorial, Yahoo! Accessibility and Ad Products.
A few photographic outtakes to bring this experience into color!
Vanessa Druck, Jessica Rosenberg, Lindsey Krolik, Gina von, Jennifer Perillo
Gina and Ilina Ewens finally meet!
Gina and Stacy Libby
Other great posts from this summit. (And a picture of the rice krispie treats with purple M&Ms)
Have I stumped you yet? What on earth could I be talking about now? It all starts with an invitation to lunch at an adorable restaurant in Palo Alto called Vino Locale. The proprietor is the seventh son of a seventh son and had quite a personality. While the restaurant is typically closed on Monday, this colorful gentleman played host to a group of ladies serving his finest savory and sweet nibbles. The event was the then upcoming release of Just Let Me Lie Down – the necessary terms for the half-insane working mom – written by Kristin van Ogtrop, the editor of Real Simple.
The food-side chat not only gave great insight into her book, which is wonderfully witty and ironically realistic, she was kind enough to want to learn more about my first book and help me plan the next one! She had some great professional insight and ideas into the marketplace and now has me laser focused on book #2. Speaking of food, (go figure right? how unlike me- not!) one of my favorite excerpts from Kristin’s book Just Let Me Lie Down is a recipe…
Recipe for disaster: Things you believe you can accomplish in the kitchen during those deluded moments when you think devoting an entire day to cooking actually works with your schedule and lifestyle. Including, but not limited to, osso bucco, cassoulet, and pavlova. (She is a woman/mother after my own heart.)
And Kristin even manages to encapsulate my mobile dependency when she writes about Technical bipolarism: When you wake up in the morning and can’t imagine how you would get through life without your BlackBerry, but by bedtime, you want to strap a bomb to it and blow it to smithereens. (Heck yeah!)
I’ve selected this recipe from my treasure trove just might fit the bill- easy to make and allows time for the cook to ‘just lie down’ and take a nap. It makes a nice side dish or light stand alone meal. It is one of my favorite summer recipes taught to me by my Zia Maria Rosa when we spent some time one summer in La Maremma, Italy. The weather there is so hot in the summer that the dinner meal is typically prepared at breakfast when it is still cool enough to turn on the oven. This recipe can easily be modified to include most anything yummy in your fridge or pantry — the possibilities are endless, have fun with it and know that in some way this reflection of my time spent in Italy ties back to my chance meeting with Kristin to celebrate her new book and our discussion of my upcoming cook book – it’s really all just ‘Real Simple’.
Maremma Rice Salad
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup dry mozzarella, cubed
1/2 cup peas, cooked
1/2 cup pearl onions, cooked
6-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
3 TBS red wine vinegar
2 TBS mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
Cook rice according to package directions. Set aside to cool. Slightly under cook peas and onions and drain and set aside. In large size bowl, mix all prepared ingredients together. Then add Parmesan cheese olive oil, vinegar and mayonnaise.
Special thanks to my good friend Stacy Libby for all of her photos from the luncheon. For a great blog-time check her out on Laptop TV Mom at www.ltvmom.com. And thanks to the Silicon Valley Moms Blog for the wonderful opportunity to meet Kristin. You can order Kristin’s book on Amazon.
Gina von Esmarch, Kristin van Ogtrop & Stacy Libby
It was a week ago that I spent my entire day at BlogHer Food09 at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco. Since that time numerous articles have been written about the the event and I realized from the moment I had “planned” to write my post that I would be at risk of not having anything new or news worthy to say – then I realized that my take on things would inevitably be different than everyone elses because I like to let my thoughts simmer (pun intended) – that’s just my style.
THE CONFERENCE: self revelations
I was truly excited about this conference because as someone relatively new to the Foodie blogger label I have grown up a foodie and yet it is a part of me that I have frequently denied- my restaurant heritage. When you grow up with something, and opt out of this career choice you never really imagine that some how you will back in the tangent realm of food. Now to you, the devoted reader, that may be obvious, I wrote a cook book and I talk about food, ergo I am very in touch with my inner cook. Well, I can be a bit stubborn in allowing myself to acknowledge this is my passion. But I believe the day has arrived. With that acknowledgment comes responsibility- or isn’t that what I am supposed to say? I generally avoid doing or saying what I am supposed to say so let’s move away from that lame concept.
SPONSOR IMPRESSIONS: those that tried and those that won
Not to boar you with the fine little details but my take on the sponsors is that there was a good mix of sponsors to address the mommy blogger crowd and the more au natural food blogger gang. That said, the event may benefit in the future from holding two days next year to provide insight to these two distinct groups. That’s not to say that there isn’t cross-over, there certainly is but then I think I may be amongst the few to ADMIT to toggling the line. For example, I love to cook with fresh local ingredients but I also like to include items like Campbell’s Soup in some of my quick meals because I don’t always want to make my onion soup, nor do I have time to do this, when blending this flavor into my dishes. (This goes back to the fact that I am a person with limited time and resources and yet I often prefer to cook then to go out to eat but I don’t usually have 5 hours to splurge during the week to whip up my grandmother’s typical five course meals.)
Another sponsor was Bertolli Frozen, they took a few hits at the show for not knowing their audience and while I adored the Bertolli team that was kind enough to include me in their Friday night festivities at St. Supery (which I viewed as a big success), I have to confess that there might have been a better way to showcase their products at the luncheon and I say this from the view point of someone who has done numerous events and is open to the idea of incorporating their high-end alternative to cooking products into a meal — offering a pasta bar of their featured foods or having a tasters plate blended with other fresh local veggies and/or breads might have featured their product in a slightly different light. This is where Campbell’s won the prize in my mind, they hosted the cocktail party and they used all recipes made from their product line and it was done on the veranda on a gorgeous city night and the compliments were flying – it was tasteful and anything but a hard sell and it worked.
Scharffen Berger Hosted the afternoon break demonstration with acclaimed chef, Elizabeth Falkner and these wonderful chocolate boxes filled with chocolate glob and salty and sweet and spicy treats — and well you had to wear a glove to get a bit but it was creepy and fun all at the same time. Personally, I loved the creativity behind it and the experience. They were showcasing their upcoming Chocolate Adventure Contest and had a great follow-up invitation to this afternoon on two fronts – they participated in the post-party deserts showcase and a cooking webinar a few days later. This sponsor showed they knew their audience and took extra steps to solidify and leverage this event to meet their end results. From a marketing/sponsorship/communications viewpoint this was well executed – another win!
Gina and Jennie Tasting Divine Chocolate Glop in Scharffen Berger Box
Two fun video clips taken with the Bertolli Flip during the closing key note with Ree Drummond, David Debovtiz and Elise Bauer (L–> R):
Developing Your Visual Voice- 5 things to think about
(there were 7, I choose 5) 😉
1) Be inspired by others
2) Think about photos in context
3) Understand what you are shooting
4) Think about the type of shots you are after
5) The workflow is important
Bottom line- there are no rules. Take as many or as few shots as you like, have fun with it and be bold.
Your Blog is Great… now what?
Use this as your yardstick when opting to provide your work for free:
People will always want your work for free and if you give it away then you hurt others in the business. For example, one person in the audience shared that she used to get $1,200 to write a piece and now the market will only pay her $300 for a piece. Where can you go to learn the value of your work? Your local food society. Ask them what the going rate is for what you’ve been asked to do for free.
Remember your recipe is the MEAT of a piece and the photos are the DRESSING.
Advice from the professionals:
– Helen: where each opportunity will lead you – who knows? But why not try it. If someone tells you NO it is not NO FOREVER it is NO for right now.
– Amy: Food is a competitive business and it is not always pretty. But usually it is friendly and passionate. Blogs open up the door to new opportunities but the deal is sealed in person.
– Jaden: Treat your blog as a business and get advisers to provide perspective, ask a more well recognized blogger if you can be an intern, write a yearly business plan and stretch beyond your blog to be a leader in food.
The Meaning of Identity and the Value of Voice in a Crowded Foodblogging World
Garrett: Blogging is VERY “I” focused.
Garrett: A good rule is not to say anything on your blog that you wouldn’t say at a cocktail party. (Ree asks,” After how many drinks!”)
Susan: How you deal with criticism is up to you but you have to let a lot go, as long as it doesn’t get personal.
Ree: I will often spend between 1-5 hrs on a post but not all at one time, because sometimes I am herding cattle.
Dianne: I had trouble finding my ‘Me” voice. It is important to define your voice for your readers, as a journalist we were not accustomed to doing this.
Photo Taken by Stephanie Im/KQED for Bay Area Bites
WHAT TO HOPE FOR NEXT TIME: my suggestions
I think there is a big opportunity to look towards some tracks that appeal to the every-day blogger that struggles to post even once a week. Talking with the celbs of this micro-mondo are good but I did find that left me wanting even a bit more practical every-day advice. Some tracks I would vote for on the foodie front:
The Economic Hangover/Cooking Less- Getting More
The proposed session looks at how we can get the most out of our limited available time to maximize our efforts and food dollars to recover from our manic lives in this economic hangover. The discussion would be focused on how to spend less time in the kitchen but arrive at getting more – the more being healthier meals, meals in reserve and stretching and leveraging your budgetary dollars.
Social Media Food For Thought or Stirring the Pot of Social Media Flavors
As your resident tech-geek gal, I’d like to see a bit more social media in the mix in terms of branding and promoting. Some of this was touched on but not in a structured presentation with solid take-aways which a gal like me would appreciate. Food for thought, if you will!
Unspoiled- The Future of Food Blogging
With so many social media outlets emerging do Foodies really have time to stir the pot to create and/or maintain a successful blog – Twitter, Facebook, Alltop, Del,icio.us, Ning groups and the ingredients list drones on like the who’s of who knows what. Can Foodies get lost in the shuffle and burn themselves out of creating compelling blog posts? Where are food blogs today and which should be at the top of your list? If you spend more time on some outlets will your audience migrate?
(Relevance/My sidebar: seems to me that with all of the new social media outlets, some food bloggers are having a hard time keeping their blog audience, they may drift away from their blog to focus on twitter, or perhaps newbies want to learn how to create a food blog in these times of the social media craze. Should be a solid panel.)
I am forever bemused that true chefs and the more famous variety of cook book authors (Rocco DiSpirito, Ryan Scott, Elizabeth Falkner) are always a bit surprised that the rest of us DO know how to cook. It is a kind of high-brow/low-brow dichotomy and I say it not to paint a divide but to point out a new observation. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not versed in all of the fancy smancy terminology but where good flavors are in the mix I can be trusted. I had the chance to eat dinner with Rocco, and he is an adorable dream, but he too was surprised by the questions of the ladies at our table. And if that wasn’t fun enough, I was invited to come up on stage and help Ryan Scott, Top Chef contestant and chef, cook his frittata and he complimented me on how nicely I cut mushrooms (supplied by sponsor The Mushroom Channel) – I of course laughed and said thank you, he too was quite a charmer even with his girlfriend by his side.
And Elizabeth Falkner on the Scharffen Berger webcast, unless I was imagining it, responded to my questions with an approving nod. So you see…bloggers are cooks too and the rest of the world is about to find out. (well maybe).
Thank you to the folks at BlogHer for taking this inaugural step to host the first blogger foodie show- I hope you will take on the challenge again! I look forward to the Second Annual Event in 2010.
And thank you to the sponsors for believing in the blogger foodies as a viable audience.
Special thanks to the after-party hosts that put on a top notch event – Elise, Jaden and Ree! Great music and OF COURSE great eats!
Anna Lingeris & Chef Elizabeth Falkner
Please note that I had an great video to share from the Bertolli dinner featuring Gaston and Rocco but the video exceeds the YouTube length by one minute and I am unable to post. If you have any suggestions on another site I can use, please do email send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.