All throughout the month of May, members of our Cookbook Club have been cooking through Julia Turshen's Small Victories and our Baking Club members have been busy baking up a storm from Uri Scheft's Breaking Breads.
Read on to see photos of the dishes club members have made from both Small Victories and Breaking Breads as well as responses from Julia Turshen to member-submitted questions. She answers everything from how to keep pasta from sticking together while it cooks to how social media has impacted how she writes recipes.
Laura McDonald: What are the three recipes in your book that you personally make the most?
Julia Turshen: Great question! Aunt Renee's Chicken Soup, Turkey + Ricotta Meatballs, and the Chopped Chickpea Salad.
Mallory L. N. Johnson: How does your process differ from other authors you’ve worked with? Did you pick up any good/bad/interesting/bizarre habits from your collaborators?
Julia Turshen: I would say a big difference is that I start working on recipes by writing them first before I get into the kitchen. I imagine how I would prepare something, write that down, and then edit the document as I cook it (rather than take notes while I cook). I have definitely picked up caffeination habits from lots of people I've worked with...
Jolene Correll: If you had the opportunity to collaborate with anyone on a cookbook, who would it be?
Julia Turshen: If I could turn back a few clocks, I would say my maternal grandparents, whom I never got to meet and who ran a bread bakery in Brooklyn. For someone still with us, the first person to come to mind is Dolly Parton. Can you imagine how great her stories would be??
Chrissy Francis: How do you cook orecchiette without them sticking together in the pot? Oil and constant stirring hasn't worked.
Julia Turshen: Oh I'm sorry that's been tough! My biggest piece of advice with orecchiette, or any pasta for that matter, is to have a LARGE pot of boiling water. Like whatever is the largest pot you have. A lot of folks, myself included, usually use too small of a pot and all of the starch from the pasta gets mixed into that small amount of water and the whole thing becomes a little impossible to maneuver. Also, the larger the pot and the more water, the more space the pasta has to move in, which is always a good thing.
Mallory L. N. Johnson: I adore the "7 things" lists in the back of the book, which remind me of BuzzFeed headlines. Has social media or digital media impacted how you write and present recipes?
Julia Turshen: Thanks! So glad you like that section. This is such an interesting question. I think in some ways the casualness of social media does impact the way I like to offer recipes. For that section, I just imagined how I would answer my dad if he emailed me asking what to do with a can of chickpeas.
Dave Webster: I think Small Victories is just about perfect as cookbooks go. Just the right amount of folksy talk, helpful tips, added variations, plenty of pictures, and even metric weights. Do you think you could do Vol. 2, Vol. 3, Vol. 4, and Vol. 5 ?
Julia Turshen: Thanks so much Dave! Really appreciate this. Love your idea about a whole library! I'm currently working on a new book which will hopefully strike the same balance. While it's not so much a volume two, it is definitely in the same family. Will keep you all posted!