8 mouthwatering food blogs tried and tested by a Chattanooga foodie

Being stuck at home has turned even the most kitchen-phobic into home cooks. And those of us who have long loved cooking have wanted to try new recipes and techniques during the coronavirus pandemic.

If, like me, you’ve found yourself experimenting with recipes you may not have found tempting before – beet and cherry salad, fennel and olive salad, and ketchup cake, for example – keep reading for some of my favorite cooking blogs to help you expand your culinary horizons.

Some of them can be recognized – household names in the food blogging world – and some are lesser known. They represent five states and three countries; several are centered on vegetables; and many focus on seasonal foods.

But they all have one thing in common: simple, easy recipes and clear instructions.

*****

Shake kitchen

Deb Perelman is the grande dame of food bloggers. She started her blog while cooking in a Manhattan apartment with a tiny kitchen — “a whopping 80 square feet” as she described it — and avoiding “overly picky foods.” No truffle oil, pink Himalayan salt or single-origin chocolate, she promises.

His food is unpretentious and his commentary is sassy and entertaining.

Try that:

> Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette

It’s easy to make but looks like it came straight out of the checkout of a fancy French bakery. He always impresses. In all honesty, I made this for Thanksgiving just because I knew it would stand out from the same pans.

> Salad of minced fennel and crushed olives

I was skeptical about this recipe because, as Perelman points out, “fennel is divisive. Olives are divisive.” But this salad is refreshing and a bit addictive.

*****

Two red bowls

This beautiful blog is the creation of Cynthia Chen McTernan, a lawyer and cook in Los Angeles. She describes her recipes as “easy comfort food, with occasional Asian influences from my Chinese background and my Korean mother-in-law, and a southern twist here and there from my childhood in South Carolina.”

Try that:

> Miso Glazed Scallops

All kinds of umami are found in this recipe with sweet-salty-tangy miso and caramelized scallops. Not your typical seafood recipe.

> Citrus Rosemary Bundt Cake

The combination of lemon zest and rosemary makes for fragrant cooking when this rich cake bakes. McTernan describes it as “lively and lively, not to mention wonderfully moist”.

*****

What is Gaby cooking

Another biggie in the world of food blogging, this blog is written by California cook Gaby Dalkin.

Check “Master List” section of the Dalkin website for recommendations on kitchen gadgets, appliances, cookware and food products.

The only annoying thing about this site is that Dalkin mentions Trader Joe’s a lot, a reminder that Chattanooga doesn’t (yet).

Try that:

> Blackberry and Pineapple Smash Cocktails

This lovely drink is the perfect antidote to sticky Southern evenings. Plus, you don’t have to feel too guilty about having a cocktail because you also get a serving of fruit.

> Poblano Stuffed Peppers

These cheesy smoked peppers are made with quinoa, black beans and, believe it or not, canned tuna.

*****

ice cream every day

South African foodie Saaleha Idrees Bamjee describes her philosophy as follows: “I am not advocating for anyone to eat ice cream every day, even though in a distant, perfect world every meal of mine would be in the form of ice cream. “

In addition to exotic desserts, it serves main dishes and has a section on DIY crafts. But I’m here for the food.

Try that:

> Quick curry with coconut milk

This dish hits the senses – it’s amber from turmeric and milky from coconut, and it smells like a spice market. Recipes call for strips of steak, but chicken or vegetables could easily be substituted. Or you can leave out the meat and add extra aubergines (aubergines).

> Chocolate cake with tomato sauce

This is made with ketchup (known in South Africa as tomato sauce), ground coffee and cinnamon. I agree that sounds like an awful mix, but this cake somehow works. Bamjee promises “not a hint of tomato, just rich, spicy chocolates,” and this recipe delivers.

*****

Cookie and Kate

This vegetarian and comprehensive blog is run by Kansas City-based Kathryne Taylor, aka Kate. Cookie is her adopted pooch, a schipperke/dachshund/Australian koolie mix.

Taylor’s philosophy is solid: “I believe in eating whole foods, which are as close to their source as possible. I’m also a big believer in occasional indulgence.”

His recipes are accessible and healthy.

Try that:

> West African Peanut Soup

The key ingredients are peanut butter, tomatoes, and collard greens – which may not sound like an appetizing combination. You’re gonna have to trust me here. This soup is perfect for a chilly fall evening.

*****

Original dish

Kayla Howey, creator of this blog, has an impressive foodie resume. She is a Chicago-based chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America who honed her cooking skills in Napa at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro.

Try that:

> Mashed potatoes garnished with bacon and parmesan

My husband says bacon makes everything better. If you agree, you’ll love this side dish.

> Zucchini fritters with lemon yogurt sauce

These pancake type donuts and hot sauce are a nice change of pace.

*****

The Fake Martha

Minnesota-based Melissa Coleman named her food and design blog after Martha Stewart.

His recipes are simple with traditional ingredients. “I’m a purist at heart. Butter, cream, milk, eggs, and flour (especially wheat) all have their place in my kitchen,” Coleman writes.

Her blog also has sections focused on minimalism, design, and the Minneapolis home she built, which is so pared down it made my lived-in home look a bit jumbled up.

Try that:

> Acorn Squash Risotto

The scent of thyme, sage, cloves and nutmeg will permeate your cooking as you stir the risotto (hopefully with a glass of wine in hand). Autumnal delicacy.

> Pumpkin Swig Cookies

Coleman describes Swig-style cookies as producing “a dry dough, producing a large disk of a cookie type crisp on top, crackled on the edges, and chewy in the middle”. Adding pumpkin makes the cookies slightly doughy. And they’re covered in cream cheese frosting. These are a better fall alternative to pumpkin spice lattes, I promise.

*****

Canned Tomatoes

Jacqueline Meldrum blogs from her kitchen in Scotland. Her recipes are vegetarian and some are vegan. She named her blog Tinned Tomatoes (what we would call canned tomatoes in the US) because “they bloom, are tasty and convenient,” she says.

In addition to food categories by meal, Meldrum has a section on baby and toddler foods and one on Scottish recipes.

I tend to try Scottish recipes because they are so unfamiliar and because she won me over with this description: “Traditional Scottish cuisine, the type passed down from generation to generation, tends to be It’s because of the often gloomy weather, where at any time of the year it can get dark and dry with lots of rain.”

Bad weather demands good food, indeed.

Try that:

> Staffordshire Oatcakes

This dense and healthy pancake-pancake hybrid can be served sweet or with a savory filling as a meal. The recipe originated in Staffordshire, in the West Midlands of England, where housewives set up bakeries in their homes and served these cakes out the window. Workers bought them from “holes in the wall” to eat on the way home at the end of their shift, according to the blog.

>> Fun fact: The English town of Stoke-on-Trent celebrated Oatcake Day in 2010, according to the BBC.

*****

This last recommendation is not a food blog and does not list recipes and ingredient quantities. This is the Instagram account of a Charleston chef and restaurateur, Brooks Reitz. To verify @brooksreitz for his “Brooks Cooks” videos on how to make simple meals. Be sure to try these: Strawberry and Tomato Salad, Beet and Cherry Salad, Roasted Carrots with Smoked Blue Cheese (yes, he calls them “roast”), and Clams on Garlic Toast . Reitz is charming in these unpolished videos filmed in his home kitchen by his wife, and the food he cooks contains lots of fruits and vegetables. I haven’t tasted one of his dishes yet that I didn’t like. It also gives recommendations on food products and tools.

Bon appetit, all of you! Good food.

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