Stephanie Stiavetti from The Culinary Life

by Maureen Shaw

Stephanie StiavettiMeet Stephanie Stiavetti from The Culinary Life.  She’s a cookie who knows how to promote herself and her blog.  In just a few months on Google+ she’s made her name a household word over there.

If you’ve followed Stephanie on Google+ or Facebook or Twitter or have seen a notice about her new book, then you know this was an easy interview to write because she does so much.  She agreed with me about being busy but her work is her passion so it’s good that she loves what she does.

To keep up with everything she uses online calendars (with reminders) so she doesn’t forget anything or anyone and she works to a schedule.  (I can hear some of you saying, “I need to do that” and I’m right in there with you!)

Located in San Francisco, Stephanie is a food writer, recipe developer, cooking instructor and a culinary media consultant and she’s got a brand new book coming out in October 2013  titled Melt, The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, and it’s available for pre-order through Amazon.

Melt, the art of macaroni and cheese

The book took her almost a year to write and recipe test the entire book.  Many were tested four or five or even eight times!  While that’s not uncommon in cookbook writing, Stephanie was lucky to find volunteer recipe testers (she lovingly calls them “Melters”) who really helped.  She was able to tell which recipes were hits from the first go and which ones needed some polishing.

You know her blog and  you’ve seen her around and now you know about her book but what I like BEST about Stephanie is how helpful she is to other bloggers.  On Google+ she asks good questions, offers support and assistance and always seems to look for ways to compliment another food writer.  In the greater community people like that are rare but the food blogging community seems to attract those wonderful rare people, don’t you think?

Stephanie has done things I wish I’d thought of – like sending out surveys to over 1000 people.  I asked her if she gets good response because I always wonder if people will take the time to answer a survey.  She said that she was encouraged by many responses and the replies she received have helped her to hone her strategy.

Although she’s a web consultant who can do everything, there are bits of her job that she farms out to experts like designing.  A lot of her time is spent researching blogging, both trend and technology because she’s convinced that if she doesn’t, she’ll get left behind.

Stephanie has been blogging since 2007 which in blog terms is a lifetime.  I asked if she’s ever taken a break and she said:

“I’ve taken a few breaks. I filed for divorce a few years ago, threw everything I owned in storage, and ran around Europe living out of a backpack. I had a laptop so I was able to post occasionally, but the blog became secondary to what was most important at that point: finding a new flow in my life. Then of course I had to wind down my blogging while writing Melt, because that consumed so much of my time. But I never *stop* posting. I try to post at least once a month, even when life tries to take me away from my site.”

She’s not a sandwich person so my question asking her for the best sandwich nearly fell flat but she told me a recent turkey, cranberry sauce, poppy seeds and stuffing sandwich she had recently was awesome.  You know what’s funny?  That is my ALL-TIME favorite sandwich.  ever.  I wait for Thanksgiving just so I can have this sandwich the day after.  Maybe we’re twins a generation apart?

When I read her reply to what is her favorite food holiday – again we’re in sync.

“Thanksgiving, here in the U.S.! It’s a day that’s about being thankful for the bounty you’ve got, and how can I not love a day where we celebrate by consuming mass quantities of turkey and stuffing? I make a side dish that I still swoon for every time I taste it: shredded Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon fat, then tossed with dried cranberries, toasted pecans, and a touch of sea salt and black pepper. Sometimes I throw in some chopped persimmon instead of cranberries to change it up a bit. Dangit, now I’m hungry!”

Even though I live in Australia, I would never miss Thanksgiving dinner.  Americans around the world all feel the same.

Here’s my favorite recipe from Stephanie’s blog at The Culinary Life – Shortbread Thumbprint cookies.  She found a recipe for Mürbteig, German shortbread cookies and made thumbprints with strawberrie jam out of them.

thumprint shortbread cookies

Traditional Shortbread Recipe (Mürbteig)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A buttery shortbread cookie that can easily be made into a thumprint cookie filled with your favorite jam.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: German
Serves: 20
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, from one large lemon
  • 2½ cup flour, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, chilled, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 teaspoons white wine (or milk will work just fine)
  • Flavorful jam of your choice – tart strawberry works well, as does marmalade
Instructions
  1. Place sugar and lemon zest in a food processor and blend for 1 minute.
  2. Add flour and salt, process for 10 seconds.
  3. Set butter chunks all around the surface of the flour mixture and process for 20 seconds, or until the butter and flour are light and powdery.
  4. Add yolks and white wine (or milk), processing for another 45 seconds, until the dough comes together.
  5. Scoop dough into walnut-sized portions and roll into balls. Use your thumb to push an indentation in each cookie, making sure to not poke through to the bottom.
  6. Place the cookies on a plate and freeze for 20 minutes. 45 minutes in the refrigerator will also work.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F
  8. Set rack to center of oven.
  9. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  10. Remove cookies from the chiller and bake for 20 minutes, removing them just as they show a hint of browning at the base and edges. Do not over bake!
  11. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, then remove to cooling rack. Allow to cool completely.
  12. Just before serving, spoon jam into the divot on each cookie.

 

Stephanie has just updated her blog and she’s working out the kinks that seem to creep in during a major overhaul like this.

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Maureen Shaw
Maureen is the owner of OrgasmicChef.com, EasyRecipePlugin.com, Fooderific.com and shares FoodWriterFriday with Helene Dsouza from MasalaHerb.com. She loves to cook and really loves to eat and entertain. She's on a quest to prove there ARE recipes better than sex. She's come close a time or two so she's still searching.
Maureen Shaw
Maureen Shaw
Maureen Shaw
Maureen Shaw

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