At The Table With...Stephanie Wise of Girl Versus Dough

Interview with food blogger Stephanie Wise of Girl Versus Dough | www.paperplatesblog.com

Today we're chilling with Stephanie Wise, the 27-year-old blogger behind Girl Versus Dough, a baking blog that's celebrating its fifth birthday this week! Perhaps it's no surprise I'm drawn to Stephanie because she, like me, has been a newspaper reporter and food blogger. (I'm still doing both, but who knows? I may need to turn to her for advice one day.) Girl Versus Dough features a lot of delectable recipes that I find approachable, probably because Stephanie is a self-taught baker. Unlike cooking, baking can be really intimidating and I like learning from others who've taught themselves. There's a whole lot of sweet — plus some occasional savories — at Girl Versus Dough, and I think you guys will like it.

Read on to get to know Stephanie!

What is your all-time favorite book?

This answer changes constantly, but right now The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert is currently at the top of the list. It's a book about a man who decides to live completely in the wilderness — definitely eye-opening, humbling and fascinating.

What meal do you love to cook?

Anything I can bake. ;) That is to say, enchiladas are one of my favorite go-to meals — with extra guacamole on top, please.

What is your favorite food scene from a book?

I love the food stories in Ruth Reichl's memoir, Tender At The Bone. If you haven't read it yet and you love food, drop everything (yes, even that cupcake) and go get a copy.

Tea or coffee?

COFFEE! Sorry about the shouting. I've had some coffee.

What is the last book you abandoned?

I should have abandoned Gone Girl, but I powered through it because everyone said it was so good. Now that I've finished it, I have to disagree.
At Girl Versus Dough, Stephanie makes things like these S'mores Pretzel Hand Pies. Wow.

At Girl Versus Dough, Stephanie makes things like these S'mores Pretzel Hand Pies. Wow.

Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order?

I'd love to meet Elizabeth Gilbert. I'm not the biggest fan of Eat, Pray, Love, but I love her other books (I'm currently working on her new novel, The Signature of All Things) and I've seen/heard her interviews before. She just seems like a warm, kind, interesting person and I'd love to enjoy margaritas and share a plate of nachos with her.

Where do you go to find new recipes?

I find inspiration everywhere — other blogs, Pinterest and food magazines are my primary sources.

Where do you go to find new reads?

Either I'll get a tip to a book from a food or lifestyle blog that I read, but more likely I just browse the bookstore and find one (or five) books that sounds interesting. I could spend all day, every day in bookstores. With my drink of choice in the question above.

Tell us about your blog — the inspiration for it, why you blog, and your favorite aspects.

My blog is primarily a baking blog, and it all started as a personal challenge to bake more homemade bread. In the five years since, it's become about so much more, but at the heart of it it's just a running story about my intense passion for creating food and sharing it with those I love. I love the recipe creation and writing aspects of blogging, but my absolute favorite aspect of it is the relationships I've developed through the site with readers and other food bloggers. It's so fun to know there are other crazy food people out there like me who shamelessly post photos of their breakfasts on Instagram.

What are your favorite blogs, and why?

Ahh, this question is always so tough to answer because I follow like 200 blogs (I'm not even kidding)! Right now, my biggest blog crushes are Blogging Over ThymeClimbing Grier MountainThe Law Student's WifeThe Moonblush Baker andHow Sweet Eats — their photography and recipe ideas are just bonkers. But that really just barely scratches the surface of great food blogs out there.

Connect with Stephanie: Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Google+


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"The Silkworm" by Robert Galbraith (AKA J.K. Rowling) & Creamy Tomato Bisque for One

The Silkworm weaves mystery into publishing, which can be a lonely world. Warm it up with our creamy tomato bisque.


Perhaps what is most interesting about J.K. Rowling’s second book under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith is her exploration of a topic she knows too well: the world of writing and publishing. In an intricate whodunit tale, Rowling capitalizes on all she knows of her industry, depicting writers both terrible and successful, and the treachery within their profession. 

In the latest volume of the Cormoran Strike saga, the detective is on the case of a missing author, recently accused or writing a libelous, “fictional” piece of work about his publisher and a fellow author, among others. Owen Quine, the author (and a strange man who frequently wears capes and absurd hats), seems to have angered everyone in the publishing world. 

Through this case, Rowling explores modern avenues of self-publishing, blogging and self-promotion. By questioning the merits of these forms, as well as the roles of agents, publishers, and fellow authors, Rowling touches a deep nerve in the writing community — the very structure of the system that determines what is worthy of being considered “literature” or at the very least, an example of quality writing and an art form. The title too is a nod to the pain that a silkworm suffers to produce silk —  a reference perhaps to the process of writing, thereby producing great works of art. 

Yet surrounding all these hefty topics remains Rowling’s undeniably entertaining thread of characters and plot twists. The novel feels like a traditional British crime tale, albeit set in the modern day (in fact, it sometimes surprised me that characters used computers, iPads, the internet). Like a well-worn tale from a bygone era, The Silkworm carries a sense of nostalgia for what writing used to be, and for what books have meant. 



Although Strike is reminiscent of a certain genre of detectives, he also surprises. It is through him that Rowling mulls over the complexity of fame, the disappointments of marriage and relationships, and the increasing rarity of privacy. 

Knowing Rowling wrote the novel did make me more forgiving of the times when the plot seemed repetitive or when the book seemed to go on too long. But remembering that Rowling writes under this pseudonym also reminds me as a writer that this is her exploration of traditional form in a modern context, and that in itself is something I can always appreciate. 

Transient


As I read The Silkworm, I couldn’t help but think of Cormoran Strike’s nights alone contemplating case after obscure case in his office and accompanying attic apartment. This tomato bisque is just the thing for a light dinner alone (paired with toasty grilled cheese sandwich, of course). Like the book, it is layered with subtle flavors and hints of just what might be lurking behind the seemingly obvious surface. 


CREAMY TOMATO BISQUE FOR ONE

Ingredients:

(May be doubled, tripled, etc. to serve more than one person) 

  • 2 tomatoes on the vine, halved
  • 1/4 onion 
  • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic (skin on) 
  • Basil (fresh or dried) 
  • Italian seasoning 
  • Salt 
  • Pepper 
  • Olive oil 
  • A piece of crusty bread 
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions: 

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease a baking sheet or pan.

Place halved tomatoes and skin-on garlic cloves on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil. Place onion on the same baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 20 minutes (until roasted).

Remove vegetables from oven and peel garlic cloves. 

Blend roasted garlic, onion, tomato, and seasoning (Italian, salt, pepper, and a bit of olive oil) in blender or food processor until smooth.

Add water as needed to adjust thickness of bisque, if desired.

Pour bisque into a bowl. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and a crushed piece of crusty bread (I used French bread) over the bisque.

Serve immediately, but if you want to make more than one cup or save some for later, this soup can also be refrigerated and then reheated on the stove or in the microwave as needed.


Transient

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The TBR List: Ice Cream Season

Peach pie ice cream with snickerdoodles | www.paperplatesblog.com

If you're ever stuck with leftover pie filling, I implore you, turn it into ice cream. I shouldn't have to talk you into this, but I will. If you prepare fruit for pie, as I did for this peach crostata, you have to mix it with flour. It gets weird to eat raw after that. Sure, you could cook it down and turn it into jam. But it's August! Why would you miss any opportunity to turn in-season fruit into ice cream?

That's right. You wouldn't. Here's the recipe:


PEACH PIE SNICKERDOODLE ICE CREAM

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 small snickerdoodles (ground to a powder in food processor)
  • ¾ cup peach pie filling (pulsed into mush in food processor)

Instructions

In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup heavy cream with sugar and salt until dissolved. 

In another bowl, combine heated cream mixture with remaining cream, milk, snickerdoodles crumbs and peach pie filling. Place in refrigerator until chilled.

Once chilled, churn ice cream in ice cream maker according to machine's directions. Transfer to cold container and place in freezer until frozen through, several hours or overnight. Serve and enjoy the delicious.

Adapted from She Wears Many Hats and this crostata recipe


And now, the links! (You didn't think I forgot, did you?)

This tweet really puts the spotlight on how important and wonderful libraries are.

- This awesome couple in Iran turned their taxi into a mobile library.

Bahn Mi-inspired breakfast sandwiches?! Holy...

- People have figured out how to hack junk food.

- The best literary references in one of the best TV shows: Friday Night Lights.

- I would definitely rock the Chicago version of this water bottle.

This butter knife is the stuff of my nightmares.

- Apparently I'm not alone in my need to put my hair in a topknot before cooking.

Malala Yousafzai by the book: Her favorites contemporary authors are Khaled Hosseini and Deborah Ellis.

- This app merges Instagram with charity. Finally! Your food photos could do some good.

Latte art animals aaaaand emoji!

- So this is how Julia Child conquered the world.


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At The Table With...Sana Khan of Chai and Pie Co.

Interview with Sana Khan of Chai and Pie Co. | www.paperplatesblog.com

Today we're curling up with Sana Khan, a baker who recently moved to Chicago from the Bay Area and started a custom pie company, Chai and Pie Co. I met Sana last weekend when she hosted a pop-up shop at Bow Truss Coffee Roasters in Lincoln Park (see above). Though we tried to arrive early, Shiraaz and I just managed to get the last two slices Sana had left. I invited her to do this interview as we sampled the rosemary plum galette and chai chess pie because, well, she and her pies caught my attention. Chicagoans, check out Chai and Pie Co.'s menu and place an order here

Read on to get to know Sana!

What is your all-time favorite book?

I have a few as each book is associated to a defining point in my life:

The Secret Garden, the theme and inspiration for my garden wedding ceremony in California (I had a Jane Austen Library/Tea Party Bridal Shower!)

Little Women, the root for my love of reading, the classics, and femininity.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz is a brilliant author and storyteller. I grew up instantly reading his book.

The Namesake, it's my parents' love story in a nutshell. I never cried so much after reading a novel.

What meal do you love to cook? 

The easy answer would be pie, but the real, honest answer is pancakes. Pancakes are so fluffy, cute, and delicious! There are also many types and styles of pancakes which make it fun to experiment with. I recently visited Amsterdam and learned how to make and bake the Dutch Baby (pancake). I get way too excited when the batter puffs up and even more excited to eat it.  

What is your favorite food scene from a book? 

The description of Gatsby’s weekend routine in The Great Gatsby which we would call in today’s terms, a “farm-to-table experience.” I’ve dreamed about dining or simply drinking tea at Gatsby’s home, each sip would be a soothing and magical experience. 
‘"Every Friday, five crates of orange and lemons arrived from a fruiterer in New York — every Monday these same oranges and lemons left his back door in a pyramid of pulpless halves. There was a machine in the kitchen, which could extract the juice of 200 oranges in half an hour, if a little button was pressed 200 times by a butler's thumb."

Coffee or tea?

Coffee, extra hot, always. My rule is only drink iced coffee after first having a cup of hot coffee. I’m a pretty big coffee snob to the extent that a café or coffee shop is always on the itinerary when I travel. I even went on a neat coffee tour around a plantation with my husband during our honeymoon to Costa Rica
However I do love masala chai and Kashmiri chai and recently developed an appreciation for Chinese Gong Fu tea due to my husband’s passion for making it. He’s the Chai to my Pie.  

What is the last book you abandoned? 

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. I literally abandoned it because I accidentally left it in California when I moved!
Chai and Pie Co's sweet cherry pie. (Photo by Sukoon Creative)

Chai and Pie Co's sweet cherry pie. (Photo by Sukoon Creative)

Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order? 

Zadie Smith and Sophie Kinsella. Zadie and I would walk to the Altab Ali park on White Chapel Road in East London after meeting for some chai and banoffee pie. Sophie Kinsella and I would go window shopping in Soho and grab burgers and milkshakes at Shake Shack.   

Where do you go to find new recipes?

Usually from my collection of recipe books, a huge notebook filled with my mother’s recipes, newpapers, magazines, and various blogs. I enjoy visiting local farmer markets to pick up fresh, organic produce and re-creating traditional dishes with unique ingredients or often making my own recipes from scratch. I recently made a yellow daal (lentils) with heirloom tomatoes and arugula, it's now my new favorite comfort food. 

Where do you go to find new reads?

Usually independent bookstores and local libraries. I enjoy reading the staff recommendations and going from there.  In fact, in addition to cafés, I love exploring bookstores and libraries in new countries and cities. I'm not the type who gets recommendations online; I usually have to hold the book in my hand. 

Tell us about your company — the inspiration for it, why you bake and your favorite aspects.

Chai and Pie is a space where my passion for home-style cooking, explorative travel, and wholesome living come together. I’ve always enjoyed baking, cooking, and crafting since a young age, learning the majority of the techniques from my mother and elder sister. When I met my husband, who is a vegetarian and an authentic foodie, I became even more adventurous with my cooking and expanded my culinary knowledge as well. We’re big on supporting local businesses, discovering new places (restaurants, bookstores, cafes, scenic spots), and sharing ideas to encourage a healthier, wholesome lifestyle. I started Chai and Pie Co. as part of our efforts to build and support communities through creative alternatives like new vegetarian-friendly recipes and menus, off-the beaten path travel tips, and simple yet unique craft and décor ideas.
I also love how food can bring families, friends, and communities together in one space where ideas and good conversations are exchanged. What could be better then sipping on spiced Chai and eating homemade Pie?
I make and bake pies with organic and natural ingredients from local farmer’s markets and our home garden. Enjoying food is a natural thing, and bringing smiles on people’s faces by baking fresh pies is natural to me. Its all about quality pie time! 

What are your favorite blogs, and why? 

The first blog I used the recipes from and still continue to is Smitten Kitchen. I’m a huge Food52 fan and can spend hours exploring all the recipes and links shared there. 

Connect with Sana: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest


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