When I had kick started my Food Blogging career, I was new to everything that is connected to the blogging world. I knew a few food blogs back then and I was absorbing the written words, glaring at the pictures with excitement and cooking up recipes eagerly. It was exhilarating to learn all the skills to run an interesting food blog. I was looking up in particular to Sandra’s food blog, Sandra’s Easy Cooking.
At first I was quietly following her posts every week and then I came out of my cocoon and finally left a comment with excitement. Since that Sandra and I have been friends, enjoying each others food creations and I especially have been inspired countless times by the Asian food diva. Asian food diva? Yes! Sandra is an enthusiastic lover of North Eastern Asian Cuisine and she has been introducing us in an easy to understand manner the difficult and exotic ingredient names techniques and dishes, just as if she had pure Korean blood in her veins!
Yet, Sandra grew up in Belgrade South Eastern Europe, in the formerly known country Yugoslavia and moved later on to the US and now she is a happily married mum of 3 gorgeous kids. Her family is a foodie family but she thinks that she is the biggest one of all just like her late grandmother was. Sandra’s husband was the one to encourage her to start her own food blog and her son was the one to explain to her what a blog is. The younger generations are sharper then we used to be at their age!
Sandra found a new love in food blogging with photography, styling and at the same time creating dishes from all over the world in a simpler way with the ingredients affordable for today’s economy. Food Photography is definitely her forte! After 3 years of blogging, Sandra confessed that she went through many fails and many posts are still in draft waiting for a redo because she didn’t like the pictures, but with that being said, she explains…
When you love something you try to push yourself to learn more, study and observe what other big people in the industry or food blogging community are doing and that’s how you become better and better each day, and that’s how I learned.
As I suspected it, practice is the key to beautiful appetizing pictures! Sandra further explained and advices that editing is a major part. So, if you want to have a great picture other than adding props with beautiful backdrops, you need to practice editing too. She personally uses and prefers Adobe Lightroom 4. Also observing and learning from others can help a newbie turn their pictures into the next pin sensation.
Read, ask, try different styles until you find your own.
We all use little tools to help us with the food styling and I am always curious about what others have in their tool kits. Sandra’s styling tool kit includes her favorite tools such as a smaller dental wax spatula, toothpick, small pain brush and chopsticks.
Sandra noted too that she made many mistakes at the beginning, which she has been fixing in the last year on her blog. She has been busy setting the blog again, by recoding, switching pictures and rewriting. But the main thing is to have fun and enjoy, because if you don’t, pressure will start to build, and Sandra believes that that’s how people quit blogging.
She has been studying everyday about food photography and the learning never ends and now she maintains and manages her blog all on her own! She even takes care of things such as the page HTML, although she dislikes that part and she calls it a “pain in the ***”. Also for Sandra it is important that recipes are explained in detail, especially if you are a food blogger who doesn’t do pictorials in every post, because some visitors unfortunately can’t cook so she will explain as best as she can.
What I gained beside some knowledge is great friend/s!
Often I wonder how much time other food bloggers invest into lengthy detailed perfect looking recipe posts and I had been wondering for a very long time how Sandra was managing her posting activities at Sandra’s easy cooking. Some of her posts don’t take her longer than 3 hours but all that of course depends if she had cooked the recipe a billion times before, otherwise she take about 5 hours in average from buying the ingredients to hitting publish. Yet some of her recipes do require taste testing, so she would develop the recipe properly by cooking it at least two times before posting it. The latter recipes can take about 3-4 days some even a few weeks!
Sandra’s absolute favorite comfort food is instant ramyeon noodle soup. If she would allow herself then she could enjoy this soup every single day, even on hot days. Apart from that, Sandra goes crazy for some homemade Tiramisu dessert.
The recipe that Sandra is sharing today is her all time favorite childhood snack or even a quick lunch or dinner. Traditionally the Phyllo dough potato pie is made with homemade dough that is ever so thinly rolled- that you can almost see through. On the other hand Sandra failed so many times that the easy way out was just to use fillo dough. There are many versions, but Sandra likes to include fresh vegetables over processed seasonings such as Vegeta. It is still her favorite but since she has her own kids that don’t eat veggies as much as she would like them to, Sandra just sautes in dishes like this. Fillo dough could be filled with cheese and eggs, ground beef and onions and of course spinach and cheese. What ever combination you use it’s always a favorite amongst children and adults too!
- ½ pack of Fillo Dough(Phyllo)
- 2 Potatoes, large, peeled and shredded
- ½ Yellow Onion, shredded
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Carrot, Shredded
- 1 Celery stick, thinly sliced
- ½ Teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
- Salt to taste
- Pinch of Red Hot Chili Pepper-Optional*
- Oil for brushing, sauteing and oiling the baking pan(about 11/2 Tbs.)
- Preheat the oven on 400F(200C)
- Defrost Fillo dough if it's froze-it will take about 15-20 minutes on the room temperature.
- In a meanwhile put about ½ Tbs. of oil in the pan (saute pan or small frying pan would be fine), put shredded onion and minced garlic and saute for minute or two on medium high, then add shredded carrot, celery and potatoes. Stir for 3-5 minutes just to get the flavors together and at the same time the potatoes will be softer and easier to bake.
- Add salt to taste (1/2 tsp or so) and Ground black pepper, Red Hot Chili pepper if desired; Stir! Turn off the heat and cover until ready to be used.
- If the Fillo dough sheets are defrosted, carefully open the bag and take it out. Put two sheets at the time on counter top/working area and fill them with potatoes-take about 2 Tbs. of potato mixture and just toss evenly all over the sheet and roll, about 2 inches before the end fold in the sheet on both end and roll over so the ends are closed. Make sure that you cover the other sheets with clean kitchen towel to prevent from drying while you are rolling.
- Oil the baking pan, and this is optional because you can keep filled fillo dough strength and line them one next to each other in the rectangular baking pan OR like I did use circled pan and make slight curves until you fill the whole baking pan-from outside working the way to inside.
- Brush with bit of oil and bake until golden brown but 3 minutes before taking it out spray just a little water on them like if you would wet your hands and just flick the water off(not much water). This way they will be moist, soft and crunchy at the same time.
- Serve this with any kind of meat, and/or salad and cheese.
So what is coming up next at Sandra’s Easy Cooking? Maybe videos, but she hasn’t been completely comfortable in front of the camera. Maybe more Giveaways and she has plans on educating people about healthy benefits of herbs and fresh ingredients. To stay tuned with Sandra’s Easy Cooking connect with her via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest!