Cooking anchors me to reality. Last week, after attending Cibo a Regola d’Arte, I was reflecting once more on the reason I started blogging. Well, it is simple, and the most obvious: I’ve always loved cooking. I am curious, and the blog helped me to feed this curiosity.
Cooking saved my life and gave me a good reason to work harder to reach my dreams. After eight years cooking is still my safe harbour, my playground, my therapy and the one of the most rewarding activities in my life. I started my blog because I wanted to share the recipes I was fond of, to keep trace of experiments, to get in contact with like-minded people.
Every time I write a blog post, every time I test a recipe, fiddling with quantities and cooking times, I have you in mind.
There has been a time when I used this blog for a second purpose. After a few months of friendship, of short trips to the mountains, countless dinners and cinema nights, I fell in love with this guy who had been my friend for a while. You might know him now, his name is Tommaso. I am quite shy, but written words never gave up on me, they actually have always given me strength, they made me braver. When Spring unexpectedly lighted up my heart, which had been frozen for quite a long stretch of years, I began writing longer blogposts, pouring myself into them, adding more details than usual, revealing fears, hopes and dreams more than I had ever done. I knew he was reading, and in my heart I hoped he could read behind the lines.
It became a vital habit, and when I could finally open my heart to him, when I did not need written words anymore, the blog posts remained my private moment with you, the recipes my offer to our friendship or the easiest way to introduce myself on our first encounter.
My aim after eight years is to know you better, to give you always better recipes, which suit your habits, your preferences and your expectations. So, who are you?
I am a thirty-something Italian woman, I usually cook for two people, occasionally for a larger family of six. I live in the countryside, I prefer quick meals, with lots of vegetables. I tend to avoid sugar and refined flours, though I appreciate a sweet treat once in a while. I shop at the farmers’ market and at the supermarket, we have a summer vegetable garden and I favour seasonal produce and local meat. I’d love to eat (and cook) more fish. Eggs and good quality canned tuna are my saviours when I don’t have time to prepare dinner or when I totally lost track of time. I worship good extra virgin olive oil. I despise fresh coriander.
I cook three meals a day (yes, I consider breakfast a proper meal) and I usually cook traditional Italian food, though I have my good share of cookbooks for when I want to indulge myself with a Middle-Eastern, English, French or Japanese meal. I search inspiration for my meals reading blogs on line, perusing cookbooks and eavesdropping conversations at the market.
Now what about you? Who are you?
Where do you live? How old are you? How many people do you have to feed? Where do you find inspiration for your meals? Do you follow a recipe dutifully or do you like to improvise?
Where do you buy your food? Is there an ingredient you are particularly fond of? Which is your main meal during the day? How much time do you have for cooking?
Do you use a scale? Would you need help in your meal planning or do you prefer single recipes to add to your routine?
Do you prefer daily homely recipes or ideas for special occasions? Would you love an insight on the Italian ingredients I use?
Are you interested in foodie guides of Tuscany and short explorations of the region?
I would be enormously grateful if you could tell me something more about who you are, feel free to add any details, as I am so curious to discover who’s behind the screen, who is reading and using my recipes. Needless to say, I will use this data just for my personal use, to provide you with tailor-made recipes and stories. Answer in the comments, via email at juls[@]julskitchen.com or filling up this questionnaire if you want to keep it simple and anonymous.
Olive oil and rosemary cake
To thank you for your time, let me offer you a recipe, a homely breakfast olive oil cake. It sums up two of my favourite flavours: the tangy fresh lemon zest and the humble rosemary, an unmistakable Tuscan aroma.
It will follow you through the week: have it plain with a steaming Earl Grey tea, smothered with butter and pear jam, drizzled with honey or accompanied with a cube of dark chocolate.
- 1 organic lemon
- 4 medium eggs, at room temperature
- 180 g of cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 180 g of extra virgin olive oil
- 250 g of spelt flour (you can substitute with all purpose flour)
- 15 g of baking powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- Rosemary flowers
- 2 tablespoons of cane sugar
- Zest one organic lemon and scrape the grated peel in a bowl with the sugar. Add one tablespoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary. Stir to infuse the flavour and let it rest for one hour.
- Whip the eggs with the aromatic sugar until foamy and white. Add the olive oil and the juice of half a lemon, then whisk gently.
- Sift the spelt flour, baking powder and salt and incorporate delicately into the batter.
- Butter and dust with flour a 22cm round baking tin before tipping in the batter.
- Heat the oven to 190°C and bake the cake for about 35-40 minutes, until it is golden brown and cooked through.
- Cool completely before turning into a plate.
- Crush the sugar and the rosemary flower in a mortar to release the rosemary essence and sprinkle over the cake.
Link Love – What I am reading and cooking in these days
What have you been reading or cooking recently? Share links in the comments!
- One of the best blog posts I have read recently, Valeria’s Almond semolina cookies
- A recipe with the same aromas of today’s cake. It’s not the icing on the cake: Ruby Tandoh’s cakes that don’t need embellishment. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a fine, flavourful cake must be in want of icing, right? But I’ve seen cupcakes where the sponge has been all but lost under blousy swirls of buttercream, wedding cakes styled after Liberace and even Victoria sponge cakes – usually so perfect in their simplicity – mummified in American-style frosting. As someone with a very sweet tooth, I understand this compulsion to ice cakes, but as a baker I can’t condone it. I totally agree with her!
- I am reading now Cooking for Mr. Latte, A Food Lover’s Courtship, With Recipes, written by Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser. But I will tell you more about the book in the next post.
- Speaking of recipes, I really enjoyed This Is Why You Should Still Buy Cookbooks In 2017. Why in the world would you bother with a cookbook in 2017, anyway? Here’s the short answer: because just like TV didn’t kill the radio, online recipes have not rendered cookbooks obsolete. In fact, they have made them better.