Interview with a Foodie - Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary
We’re discussing all-things grub with some of our favourite foodies, getting them to dish up where there cooking love affair started, their all-time favourite dishes, handy kitchen hacks and loads more!
First at the table is award-winning food blogger Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary! Originally hailing from Canada and now calling the Shetland Isles her home, Elizabeth fell in love with food at an early age, and the passionate ex-pat has been besotted with making top-notch food ever since. Read on for more…
Where did your love of cooking begin?
I remember being around 14 when my mother was gifted a cookery book for Christmas. I flipped through the pages, fascinated by all the things you could do with food. My mother was a very basic cook - I was raised on baked meats and mashed potatoes (any vegetables might have come out of a tin!), so it was quite the eye-opener to me to read a cookery book for the first time.
It wasn’t until I had children of my own and wanted to learn how to feed them properly that I really expanded my culinary skills.
How have your recipes changed since you first started developing them?
When I first began blogging in 2011, it was mostly recipes with slight adaptations from their original versions. The more I cooked, the more I learned about flavour combinations and the basic formulas for key recipe techniques. Once you learn the basics, you can embellish as desired. Recipes are only guidelines anyway, as my father used to say!
What's your go-to dish?
Definitely a comforting fish pie with plenty of locally-sourced salmon, haddock, prawns and boiled eggs topped with creamy mashed potatoes. Clean plates all around whenever I make this dish!
How do you find time to balance meal preparation with everyday life?
It’s a fine art! Time management and forward planning are key, but also having a stockpile of quick 15 minute dishes helps as well. I also batch cook, utilising my slow cooker if needed, and freeze for use at a later date.
What's your top hack for cooking?
My top hack would be to use local, seasonal produce in your cooking and change with the seasons. Utilise what your local producers are growing, which is good for both the environment and the local economy.
Where is your favourite place to dine out?
My favourite place to dine out would have to be Burrastow House in Shetland. The chef, Pierre, cooks local seasonal produce and there’s no menu to choose from. He just cooks what he feels like cooking that day from what he can source, and the seafood is extraordinary!
Where do you find inspiration for your food?
My weekly local veg box inspires me – it’s like Christmas morning every time one arrives. I like the challenge of preparing unique dishes with the vegetables they send.
Which foodie accounts do you recommend for those new to cooking?
I would definitely recommend The Hedgecombers, down in Cornwall (she’s just launched an Amazon TV foodie programme too!). Kate from Veggie Desserts has an inspiring collection of vegetarian recipes, while Bintu from Recipes from a Pantry has a brilliant UK/African fusion thing going on – ideal for those who like a little spice. Then there’s Claire at Foodie Quine, she does proper Scottish comfort food and it’s always delicious.
Where do you source most ingredients and are there any unusual places you would recommend?
I try to source as much as I can from the Shetland Islands, Scotland and then the UK if possible, but I do enjoy coffee, chocolate and vanilla, which have to come from afar.
As far as unusual places, I would say Shetland! You’ve got to try our Reestit mutton!
Are there any dishes you have yet to perfect but want to in 2020?
I am terrible at making chocolate ganache! It’s something I would really like to perfect this year.
What kitchen gadgets could you not do without?
I moved to a new house in July of last year and significantly downsized. I’m a bit old-fashioned in that I like mixing by hand, kneading bread by hand and baking from scratch. I do love my Breville HeatSoft mixer though, perfect for creaming butter and sugar together for bakes when I’ve forgotten to take the butter out of the fridge to come to room temperature.
Do you have a favourite season for recipes?
The summer, definitely. My veg box is bursting, the long daylight hours mean there’s plenty of opportunity for food photography and the good weather lets me build up a hefty appetite after adventuring in the hills!
How do you factor in healthy eating into your recipes?
We don’t eat a lot of meat, and we try to eat seafood 2-3 times a week, plus there’s always a veg box to get through, so there are loads of vegetables served at every meal.
What is your top food trend for 2020?
I believe there is a discernible shift to the idea of sourcing ingredients locally, from an environmental perspective.
Huge thanks to Elizabeth for taking the time to answer our questions! We hope her responses have inspired you to try something new in the kitchen, tinker with some old favourites or maybe even take a trip to the Shetlands to experience her recommendations first-hand! And, if you’re looking for more recipe tips and kitchen ideas, you’ll find the full range of Breville products, whatever you’re in need of, on our homepage.