Dip your chips into tasty ba­con snack

Food blog­ger shares her joy through 125 recipes for ev­ery­day eat­ing and videos for new­bies

Windsor Star - - NEWS - LAURA BREHAUT

Even dur­ing a global pan­demic, diet cul­ture man­ages to dom­i­nate.

Look no fur­ther than the “quar­an­tine 15” memes — al­ter­nat­ing pho­tos of chunky cats, plates of pasta and rip­pling mus­cles — and tools that sup­pos­edly cal­cu­late how many pounds you’ll gain in lock­down.

A health cri­sis hasn’t less­ened our weight ob­ses­sion, and for some, it may be all the harder to ig­nore.

“It’s so loud and it’s so un­nec­es­sary,” says chef and au­thor Gaby Dalkin.

“The diet in­dus­try has had many dif­fer­ent looks and it re­brands it­self every once in a while. But the bot­tom line is that the noise these peo­ple are cre­at­ing for ev­ery­one is not help­ful.”

For Dalkin, de­pri­va­tion has never been the name of the game — and in her third cook­book, Eat What You Want (Abrams, 2020), her ethos of en­joy­ment is front and cen­tre.

“Food is sup­posed to bring us joy,” she says, “and I re­ally wanted that to come across in the book.”

A re­flec­tion of her Los An­ge­les life, Dalkin’s sunny style per­me­ates its pages.

She de­vel­oped the 125 recipes with ev­ery­day eat­ing in mind and as with What’s Gaby Cook­ing — the blog she launched more than a decade ago — her so­cial me­dia and other cook­books, ap­proach­a­bil­ity is the com­mon thread.

“I don’t want any of the recipes to feel (out of reach) no mat­ter what level of ex­per­tise you have in the kitchen,” she says. “That’s how I started think­ing about the recipes that would go into this book: what in­gre­di­ents did I want to fea­ture, what cook­ing tech­niques did I want to teach ev­ery­one.”

Dur­ing lock­down, traf­fic to What’s Gaby Cook­ing has tripled. First, there was a flood of in­ter­est in bak­ing and pasta recipes, Dalkin says.

But now the pull of com­fort food has ebbed, and peo­ple’s affini­ties are run­ning the gamut once again.

“I feel very lucky that my recipes are res­onat­ing with peo­ple,” she says, “and hon­oured that (they’re) look­ing to me to help them through this.”

Dalkin is in reg­u­lar cor­re­spon­dence with many of her read­ers. She gets a cou­ple thou­sand visit per day across her so­cial me­dia plat­forms, emails and blog com­ments.

Rec­og­niz­ing early on in the pan­demic that some of those com­ing to her for ideas were new to the kitchen, she started a video se­ries fo­cus­ing on the ba­sics.

“My hus­band luck­ily pro­duces all of the video for my site. So very quickly we were like, ‘Let’s do this. We can do it su­per low bud­get, just the two of us,’ ” says Dalkin.

“We’re shoot­ing on my phone, no light­ing. I’m lit­er­ally wear­ing py­ja­mas for half of the episodes, but that’s what ev­ery­body’s do­ing right now. So I think it’s re­lat­able and ed­u­ca­tional, which is al­ways the key to cre­at­ing good con­tent.”

Dub­bing it the What’s Gaby Cook­ing Culi­nary School, she turned to her old binders — which she had stashed away since she went to culi­nary school in 2009 — for in­spi­ra­tion.

The re­sult­ing 30- to 60-sec­ond videos cover knife skills and vegetable prep tech­niques, like how to cut an onion, and sim­ple recipes such as sweet po­tato hash and wilted greens.

Her life has al­ways been about eat­ing, Dalkin says, and she cred­its her par­ents for in­still­ing a bal­anced ap­proach from the start.

Grow­ing up, bak­ing with her dad on the week­ends was trea­sured fam­ily time. She ded­i­cates sev­eral recipes in Eat What

You Want to him, in­clud­ing his spe­cialty, grilled cheese (French onion or ba­con, ched­dar and tomato con­fit ver­sions are in the book), sun-dried tomato, Parme­san and roasted gar­lic-herb bread, and kitchen sink cook­ies.

“The love he puts into his food has re­ally stayed with me,” says Dalkin. “Even when I go home and visit now, I’m per­fectly ca­pa­ble of making my­self a grilled cheese. But there’s noth­ing as good as how my dad makes it — how he cuts it and all these things. So it’s re­ally cool to hon­our him in the book in var­i­ous chap­ters, be­cause he’s played a huge role in my love of food.” Recipes reprinted from What’s Gaby Cook­ing: Eat What You Want by Gaby Dalkin (Abrams, 2020).

PHO­TOS: MATT AR­MEN­DARIZ

“It lev­els up any sort of onion-sour cream dip you’ve ever had in your life,” blog­ger Gaby Dalkin says of her ba­con dip. This recipe is fea­tured in Dalkin’s new cook­book Eat What You Want.

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