Our family, like other families I know, has a blog. My brother created our blog, www.familyrecipeswap.blogspot, so each family member could post favorite recipes for the entire family to access whenever needed.
I had thought a food and recipe blog was a unique idea until I began searching for recipes online. I realized there are thousands of food blogs, each with a unique perspective and purpose. One of my favorite foodie blogs, www.coconutlime.blogspot.com, has become one of the top 20 food blogs in the country. It receives thousands of visitors a day, and all recipes are original creations of Rachel Rappaport.
Rappaport was kind enough to correspond with me through e-mail and even share a favorite recipe. Here are some questions I asked her:
Q.: Do you have any culinary training or background that helps you do what you do?
A.: No, I took home economics in middle school, but that was it. Basically it is just practice, practice, practice.
Q.: Where do you get the inspiration for your recipes?
A.: I like to create recipes using seasonal ingredients. Farmers markets are a huge inspiration to me. I also like to recreate food I've had in restaurants or read about in books. I also get inspired by my own kitchen; trying to make something exciting out of what I have on hand is always a rewarding challenge.
Q.: How do you find time to experiment with ingredients and create all these wonderful recipes?
A.: I work from home, so I do most of my cooking during the day. When I was working outside the home, I had to cram it all in the evenings and weekends, which was tricky. The good thing about having a food blog is that you have to eat — it's just a matter of coming up with something new and interesting each day.
Q.: Do you take the beautiful photographs on your blog?
A.: I do, and on a fairly low-tech camera to boot. The trick is lots of natural light.
Q.: Is there a particularly special recipe that is your favorite?
A.: This one — intensely dark chocolate icebox cookies — is my husband's favorite and it was a very popular one with readers as well.
Intensely dark chocolate icebox cookies
You can find photos and more information about this and other recipes on Rappaport's blog. Yield: about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
Note: This must be done a minimum of 2 hours before you want to bake the cookies.
Combine butter, sugars and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add espresso, eggs and mix. While mixture is beating, add cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until incorporated.
Using a spatula, scrape dough (it will be very thick and rather sticky) on a large piece of plastic wrap. Shape into an approximately 2-inch-thick log. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough until it is firm (about 2 hours) or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap dough and cut into 1/4 inch slices using a serrated knife (a bread knife works well). If dough begins to soften as you cut, return it to refrigerator to chill until it is firm again, normally about 5-10 minutes.
Arrange slices on cookie sheets about a half-inch apart. Bake about 12 minutes or until they are just starting to brown on the bottom and sides are no longer shiny.
Note: You can actually keep dough refrigerated for a week or so, slicing off as many cookies as you want to eat at a time.