Tell us about your blog and how you got started:
Well, my blog is called Baking and Mistaking, and as you can guess it focuses 90% on baking and desserts. I always loved making desserts and cookies and cakes and all sorts of sweet things, and I would constantly take photos of everything I made and send them to friends. One day my friend said "why don't you just start a blog!" and the rest is history. Now I've been blogging for a little over three years, including a 6 month stint in a pastry course at the Jerusalem Culinary Institute!
Wow, sounds exciting how you decided to attend the Jerusalem Culinary Institute and what was it like?
I'd always had a semi-professional interest in food because I work as a food writer and journalist, and the timing was right for me to take the course so I figured, why not! We learned a lot of different techniques and recipes and traditional pastries from laminated dough for croissants and bourekas to pulled sugar for decoration and of course tackling the classic French macarons. I definitely have some great base recipes to turn to for inspiration and a starting-point for innovations, though I don't make any of the very complicated stuff on a regular basis. For now I'm not working in a professional kitchen, rather I'm still an editor and food writer, for places like The Jerusalem Post, the New York Jewish Week and a variety of websites, but anything is possible in the future!
What is your earliest cooking memory?
Hmm, I'm really not sure. I definitely have vague memories of cutting out and decorating cookies at home when I was little. I remember one time when I was about 5 and I went with a summer camp to visit a challah making factory of some sort - and of course we got to make our own little challahs and take them home. Otherwise I'm pretty terrible at childhood memories!
What is your favorite kitchen implement / utensil / gadget?
Well, I have a digital scale which is really crucial to great baking results. I also love my whisk, and my microplane grater for zesting citrus fruits. Having a stand mixer makes everything easier but I've created some pretty impressive things in some seriously lacking kitchens, so just know that it isn't a necessity!
What's your favorite kosher dish to cook?
I'm a sucker for a great potato kugel. I have a very favorite recipe, which I am able to find in the cookbook since the page is so warped and dirty with food and dried out stains. The book opens right to it. But as long as it's extra crispy on top and bottom and smooth and creamy in the middle - I'm sold.
Who is your cooking inspiration?
I definitely don't have just one or even just 10. I have a stack of cookbooks about my height that I love to flip through, plus tons and tons of blogs I read every day for inspiration, and I even love watching the Food Network and Cooking Channel. Plus I get a whole bunch of food magazines - basically, I take inspiration from anywhere!
Please share a favorite cooking tip or trick with our readers:
Ah, where to start. Well, first off, make sure you have all the ingredients and tools you need for a recipe before you start. I'm sure you'll roll your eyes at that one, but I've definitely dashed out to the store or a neighbor mid-cooking for an ingredient. Plus - as I said earlier, definitely invest in a microplane grater. It's perfect on any kind of citrus fruit but it's also great for putting a little bit of freshly ground ginger, nutmeg or cinnamon on anything.
Which recipes are you sharing with us today?
I'm sharing a recipe for Pink Lemonade Bars, which is a really delicious cookie bar with a jam and lemon filling that is a great way to have a taste of summer in the middle of winter. The other recipe I'm sharing is for a classic Linzer Torte, with a butttery dough made from ground hazelnuts and almonds flavored with lemon, cloves and cinnamon before becoming the base for a sweet slick of jam. Both very tasty options!
Amy is a writer, blogger, reporter and kitchen entrepreneur. I love to bake, I'll try anything once, sometimes even twice if I'm feeling a spurt of patience (rare, but occasional) and I make plenty of mistakes along the way. Check out my blog, BakingandMistaking.com