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Caroline’s Cooking is a food and travel blog run by Caroline, a food writer and recipe developer based in the US. The blog features a variety of recipes from around the world, with a focus on healthy and flavorful meals that are easy to prepare at home. Caroline draws inspiration from her travels and her passion for exploring new flavors and ingredients. In addition to her blog, Caroline has published a cookbook and writes for various food publications.
In an interview with food detactive.com, she shares her suggestions for beginners to focus on what works for them, trying new dishes alongside familiar ones and using marinades and sauces to add flavor. She advises following a trusted recipe when trying something new and not cooking to impress but to enjoy the process.
Through her blog, she hopes to inspire readers to explore different cuisines and learn more about ingredients and cultural dishes. To improve cooking skills, Caroline recommends practicing, picking up tips from various sources, and learning from both successes and failures in the kitchen.
Read our exclusive interview with Caroline now!
What follows is an interesting interview with the Cooking influencer.
1. Please tell us a little about yourself and how you got into cooking.
My name is Caroline and I grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland and now live in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the US. I got into cooking from a young age, helping my mum in the kitchen. I feel like I started with baking as stirring ingredients in a bowl was an easy introduction, plus my mum let me lick the bowl if I helped!
My grandfather was also a keen bread baker so I made bread with him when I went to visit, which was often as he lived nearby. He’d let me loose on a piece of dough that would become my roll for lunch, so I’d often braid it or make an animal shape. I loved the whole process, and the surprise of what my roll would look like after it was baked.
Over time, I helped more and more with the everyday cooking, from small tasks to making meals by myself. By the time I was a teenager, I made multi-course meals for us now and then and have been cooking ever since.
I was lucky enough to travel quite a lot with my parents and then also studied languages so lived overseas both while studying and after. Learning about the different cuisines has always been a big part of the experience for me, and so when I started food blogging, it was probably no surprise that I ended up focussing mainly on global cuisine.
2. What are your favorite types of recipes to create and share, and why?
I’ve always had a strong sense of wanderlust, no doubt kicked off by traveling as a child. As an adult I’ve visited even more widely and lived in a number of different countries. I make a point of trying to learn about the cuisine wherever we go. I’ve taken a few cooking classes in different places and we’ve done some food tours, too.
I think some of my favorite dishes to create are based on meals from traveling or living elsewhere, as it brings back all those great memories. I like to try to make cultural dishes as authentic as possible, though may adjust for ingredients that are particularly hard to find or cooking methods that aren’t practical at home.
3. What is your favorite ingredient to work with and why?
So hard to choose just one! I love the different qualities of different ingredients, like how lemon can work in both sweet and savory dishes and adds that wonderful fresh brightness. The way chicken is such a versatile protein for adding different flavors to.
One I might at least say is in the running as a favorite, though, is eggplant/aubergine as it’s so often under-loved, but can be so tasty, whether in comforting moussaka, all smooth and smokey in baba ghanoush or packed with umami flavor roasted with miso.
4. What is your favorite type of cuisine to cook and why?
I suspect I’d answer this differently almost every day, if I could even try to answer! I love so much about a whole range of cuisines and go through phases where we’ll have more from some than others. We tend to eat relatively seasonally so sometimes certain dishes and cuisines feel more of a fit at a particular time.
5. How do you approach creating a menu for a special occasion?
I start by thinking both about the occasion and who will be there – are there any special foods associated with the occasion, or does the time of year mean a style fits better, like comfort foods or grilling? Do I have any dietary needs to think about for those who will be there, or is there anything I know they particularly like or don’t like? Then I try to build from there.
Often the main is the starting point and build sides around that, but now and then sides I particularly think will be good push the main in a certain direction. I also think about timing, especially if we have guests. It’s fine to have things in the oven, but I try not to be cooking or preparing too much when visitors are there. Make ahead desserts can be great for those times, too.
6. Can you share any cooking tips or techniques that you think are important for beginners to know?
I’d say developing your cooking skills isn’t something with a set order of what to tackle, or milestones you must achieve – it should be what works for you.
I’m a big fan of using marinades and sauces as a way to add flavor to dishes without it being a big chore. Both are great for beginners as there isn’t that time pressure right before you serve.
Mix in trying new dishes with ones you know better so you don’t overwhelm yourself. If you are trying something new, I’d recommend you start by following a recipe from a source you trust at least once, then adjust from there.
Don’t make things because you feel you should, but make foods you think you’d enjoy eating. Work up to more complicated recipes and have plenty time when you try something new so you don’t feel time-pressured. Get to know what flavors you like, and what goes together, then have fun.
7. How do you balance traditional cooking methods with modern twists in your recipes?
Personally I still like to make dishes largely from scratch, as I like to know what’s in there and it makes it easier to adjust the flavors, if needed. And they often simply taste better. However tools to help speed things up are definitely fair game!
My food processor and blender get a good amount of use to help mix up sauces, pasta dough and much more which makes things that bit quicker and easier, but with just as good end results.
8. What is your favorite dish to cook for friends and family?
For friends, I’m not sure I have any one dish, and in fact I tend to like to make meals with a few components so people can mix and match. Things like tapas and meze are great for this as they give people choices, but also work well together.
A meal I made for friends last year which we all really enjoyed included stuffed grape leaves, Lebanese chicken and rice, fattoush salad and spinach fatayer, with some dips and bread on the side. So lots of tasty flavors, but you could skip things you were less sure about.
For family, it’s probably Thanksgiving dinner as these days we have our firm favorites that we all look forward to, like homemade cranberry sauce and a rutabaga, date and bacon stuffing I’ve been making for a number of years.
9. What do you hope people take away from your blog, and how do you want to inspire them in the kitchen?
I hope to encourage others to explore different cuisines, just as we love to do, hopefully without feeling intimidated by things that are new. I’d also hope they take away a bit more knowledge about ingredients and the background to cultural dishes and feel inspired to try more and more.
I love getting comments from readers who have made something new and both had success and enjoyed it.
Especially when they share what led them to try it, such as they had an unusual ingredient and wanted to try another way of using it, or had someone coming over from a different country and wanted to make something from that culture, or simply they had heard of a dish and were curious to try it.
Plus when people tell me a dish brings back happy memories, it’s always so wonderful to hear.
10. What advice would you give to someone who wants to improve their cooking skills?
There’s a lot that is just practice, but you can also pick up tips from a whole range of sources, too. I always try to include some tips, especially for parts that may be tricky, in my blog posts, for example. And you can often pick up things from books, cooking shows on TV or friends.
You never know what might give you an “aha” moment about a technique, process or something else that clicks next time you give it a go.
To sum up, Through her blog and cookbook, Caroline hopes to inspire readers to explore different cuisines and learn more about ingredients and cultural dishes.
She believes that cooking is a fun and enjoyable process and encourages her readers to not only focus on impressing others but also to enjoy the cooking process.
Where you can find me…