Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The Joy of Writing a Great Cookbook: Interview with Kimberly Yorio

If you want to be a food writer, I highly recommend that you read Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob, but if writing a cookbook is your goal, you’ll also want to check out The Joy of Writing a Great Cookbook by Kimberly Yoirio. This no nonsense book takes you through every step of the process with tons of examples. Yorio has been a cookbook publicist, agent and co-authored several books, so she speaks from personal experience. From building your platform to proposals to social media this book really covers it all. 

Ready to go? Use the book as your guide, then enter to win a cookbook contract, sponsored by Page Street Publishing Co. Contest ends 8/1/15

I spoke with Kim about cookbook publishing and here’s what she had to say:  

Is it just my imagination, or is cookbook publishing experiencing a boom right now? 
It’s not your imagination at all.  Cookbooks are selling really well right now and more and more publishers want to get into the business of making them.  Cookbooks are one of the few categories (like illustrated children’s books) that aren’t impacted by digital books.  Although there have been some brilliant e-cookbooks produced (I like Nancy Silverton and Tyler Florence’s), most people still want to buy and own (and occasionally cook from) real books, hard or soft-cover.  Also, cookbooks can sell for years—so they make a good business for publishers.

What trends do you see in cookbook publishing at the moment?
Oh you mean outside of the zillion or so Paleo cookbooks on the New York Times bestsellers' list?Celebrity chef cookbooks continue to sell well, baking books are a safe bet, as are cookbooks written by bloggers with big followings.

What is the best advice you can give to first time wannabe cookbook authors? 
Work hard to develop your unique voice.  What makes you and your cooking different and special?  Just because you take pretty pictures and your friends like your recipes, doesn’t mean you will be a best-selling cookbook author.  In addition to your voice, you need to develop a platform to prove your marketability. 

How long does an author typically have to turn in a manuscript once the contract is signed? 
Delivery times TOTALLY vary depending on the author.  An average is one year, but it can be as short as three months if you are a hot commodity and the publisher wants to get your book into the marketplace as soon as possible.

What are the best reasons to write cookbooks? 
They can be validation of a life’s work, a snapshot of a great moment in culinary time or even a historical record.  They can be highly personal or highly academic. Folksy or scientific.  At the very least they should be a fantastic collection of recipes that work time and time again, in every kitchen around the country. 

Disclaimer: I received this book as a review copy and this post includes affiliate links. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post on Cooking with Amy. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Michael Mina at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival

I am just back from the 34th annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival which is the longest running food and wine festival of its kind not just in Maui, but in the country.  

It started out as a wine only event but morphed over the years. Today food is a big part of it with celebrity chefs, classes and tasting events. I got a chance to attend a lunch cooking demo class with Chef and restaurateur Michael Mina and was pleased to see RN74 Executive Chef Adam Sobel acting as right hand man. 

Michael Mina and Adam Sobel 
Here are some learnings from the event--

- Mina said the biggest mistake home cooks make is not tasting or not knowing what you’re tasting for. Following a recipe is not enough, you must taste. Ingredients are not consistent, they are different all the time and you need to adjust your recipes. 

- The four elements he considers most important? Acidity, spice, sweetness and richness, but not all dishes have all four. 

- When plating he said, put the pot down! You are going for control. If the pot is on the counter you will have more control of the spoon in your hand. 

Chilled Thai spicy lime vinaigrette with purple basil
- When it comes to cooking squid, he recommends that you cut squid then poach it for more tenderness than poaching whole. 

- When making a vinaigrette, he lets it sit for a day before using, so the flavors meld better. 

Tomato and cocoa powder dusted seared ahi with fried cauliflower, uni aioli and calabrian chiles.

- This dish had caponata an Italian vegetable dish that Mina said goes with everything--fish, chicken, seafood, etc. 

- When crusting fish or chicken, be sure to season on all sides before crusting, and season the crusting too.

Brioche banana custard brûlée
- For the French toast style dessert, the brioche was soaked a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour to allow the custard to fully hydrate the bread, then cooked in plenty of butter.

- Toasted flavors of caramel, nuts and brûlée banana complement the richness of the custard.

Thanks for the tips chef! 

Disclaimer: My thanks to the Outrigger Kapalua for hosting me at this wonderful event. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post on Cooking with Amy. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cauliflower with Chorizo, Tomatoes and Tahini Sauce Recipe

I love how sometimes seemingly random ingredients come together. This dish of roasted cauliflower and chorizo with fresh tomatoes and greens and tahini sauce was created based on what I had on hand. But it was really tasty and something I would make again.

A lot of times when I interview chefs and cookbook authors, I ask how they come up with recipes. I have to admit, I don't usually get very satisfying answers. But recently I met cookbook author Anna Jones. Her book, A Modern Way to Eat has a really cool graphic to explain how she puts together dishes. It goes something like this:

Hero Ingredient
How Shall I Cook it?
Supporting Role?
Add an Accent
Add a Flavor
Add an Herb
Add some Crunch
Season and Finish

Her formula has a lot of components and is designed to add layers of flavor and texture to a dish. Do you have a formula that you use or can you deconstruct a dish according to elements? It's a fun exercise and can lead to some interesting new combinations. My formula for this dish was was hero ingredient+salty+green+acid+creamy.

Cauliflower with Chorizo, Tomatoes and Tahini Sauce
Serves 2 - 4


1 Mexican chorizo sausage, about 1/3 cup sausage meat
3 cups cauliflower florets, any color you like (I used golden)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Greens (I used spinach but you could use anything you like)

Tahini sauce
2 Tablespoons tahini
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch granulated garlic


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large skillet crumble the chorizo and cook until beginning to brown. Add the cauliflower and the olive oil and continue to cook until the meat is thoroughly cooked.

Transfer the cauliflower and chorizo to a lined baking pan and sprinkle with salt. Roast until cauliflower begins to turn brown, about 40 minutes. Arrange the cauliflower and chorizo on a platter with the tomatoes and as much greens as you like.

Make the tahini sauce by stirring together the tahini, lemon juice and granulated garlic. Stir in enough water to make a thick creamy sauce, about 2 tablespoons. Season with salt and drizzle the sauce over the salad.


Disclaimer: This post includes an affiliate link. I was not paid to write this or any other post on Cooking with Amy

Friday, June 19, 2015

Unforgettable: Bold Flavors from a Renegade Life

I'm a big fan of Paula Wolfert. She has an amazing talent for a kind of culinary cultural anthropology, exploring various cuisines, digging in deep, learning and documenting recipes like nobody's business. I have relished my time with her, especially at her home in Sonoma and subsequently in a class. I love hearing her stories, getting her career advice, not to mention having her cook for me. So I couldn't be more excited to learn of the plan to document her extraordinary life, along with some of her most important recipes. Leading the charge is former Food & Wine editor and cookbook author, Emily Thelin. The top team also includes photographer Eric Wolfinger and my friend, Andrea Nguyen who is acting as project manager.

I was planning to run this interview with Andrea in hopes of encouraging you to support the project and help it to meet its goal. Fortunately the initial goal has been reached. Now it's time to s-t-r-e-t-c-h and make this project even more special by lending your support to help reach the next milestone. Visit the kickstarter page to learn more. 

1. How did this project come about?
Andrea Nguyen: Last year, my friend Emily Thelin (formerly of Food & Wine) told me she wanted to write Paula’s biographical cookbook, and that Eric Wolfinger had offered to be the photographer. Eric had also suggested that they publish it themselves as an experimental project, true to Paula's renegade spirit. Emily told me she saw parallels between Paula's and my immersive approaches to our books. Given my experience writing and publishing four cookbooks, she asked if I would help.

2. Who is publishing the book? 
AN: We’re self-publishing Unforgettable. 

3. Why did you decide to go the kickstarter route?
AN:Crowdfunding this project allows us to do meaningful, small-batch cookbook publishing. It has its challenges but it hasn't been as hard as we thought. We're lucky to be pros in our respective areas and plucky enough to get this going. Knowing people like you is invaluable.

4. What is the process for the book? Are you cooking all the recipes with Paula? 

AN: Incredibly, we’ve met our minimum funding goal. If we’re lucky to reach our stretch goal of $80,000 we’ll be able to double the print run and comfortably cover costs. From now until July 11 when the campaign ends, it’s full tilt boogie to garner community backing for Unforgettable.

Paula wrote nine cookbooks and as you can imagine, can come up with a recipe off the top of her head. A group of folks familiar with Paula’s work will work through roughly 100 select recipes to find ones that are most suitable for the book. Vivid, doable, compelling recipes that speak to Paula’s life journey are what we’re aiming for.

Once we’ve got our short list, we’ll cook through many of them with Paula at her home. Those sessions will enable us to convey the connection between food and memory, the savors of life.

Right now, with the campaign just having been launched, we’re focused on making it super successful. With everybody’s support, we’ll cross the finish line with the ability to make a stellar publication.

5. Paula has greatly changed her own personal diet since her diagnosis, how many recipes will reflect this? 
AN: Many of them will but not all of them. It’s hard to pin point a number because making a book is a fluid process. We do want to incorporate recipes, ideas and techniques that speak to Paula’s current lifestyle. She has ironically been ahead of the curve for most of her life. This time, she has a few companions with her.

Thanks Andrea!

Now please do watch the video above if you haven't already, and head to the kickstarter page to support this project (yes, there are thank you gifts!)