… there’s a mouthful if ever there was one. As food bloggers we’re often advised to keep the title of our posts short and snappy. Don’t be clever or too wordy. Get to the point and leave the floral wordsmithing to the main body of the post… it’s got something to do with algorithms but don’t ask me the hows, wherefores or whys. I try to stick to some self-guided rules but it’s hard to know what to include in the title of the post as you want to lure the reader in with the subtleties of the food you’ve spent an age to make yet you also need to be clear and this can be where the confusion lies… but for any new bloggers out there I can offer you a few prawns of wisdom about writing a recipe blog which i’ve gleaned over the years and should you wish to take note, here they are…
1. try and find your own voice and style … don’t copy others directly but if there’s a blog you like the look of think about why you like the look of it, there’s so much more than just the photography… is it the layout of the page, the clear instructions, the humour in the prose or could it be that you just like chocolate…
2. once you’ve found your formula, stick to it… of course we all change over the years, if you look back at my first year of blogging you can clearly see i’m all over the place but I have gently toned my blog into a simple formula of photo, snappy paragraph, photo, recipe title, description, ingredients list, itself followed by the method… this is my style and I try to stick to it when I can. It means the ready knows where to go to find the recipe itself and not have to read the waffle should they chose.
3. be clear and correct with your recipe… there is nothing worse than reading a recipe and method only to find out you’ve got to go two steps back to do something because the author didn’t list the ingredients in order of use. Another tip is to include as much of the method in the ingredients list as you can, so if you list onions, then follow this by ‘sliced’ or ‘finely chopped’… this will save you bucket loads of work during the method writing and gives the ready the cues to prep the food as they go.
4. be part of your community… blogging is so much more than writing the words and sitting back, hoping they’ll come to you. There is a wonderful and in most parts, sharing community of bloggers out there and if you comment on other blogs and play nicely with them, they’ll do the same back to you. Yes, it can take a lot of late nights but it pays off in dividends in the end.
5. don’t listen to others… now you may be thinking… ‘hang-on, he’s giving us his advice but then tells us not to listen… WTF?‘ Do it your own way. There are many out there who would suggest that we all follow one particular set of rules. This is a load of bullshit. As long as you don’t steal from others and if you do borrow a recipe, offer clear links back to where you found it, you’re not harming anyone. If you can seek permission to reprint others recipes then do it but if you can’t then add your spin on it and be good enough to acknowledge where you got your inspiration from in the first place.
6. don’t do it for fame and fortune… this is the quickest way to failure I know. Do it because you have a passion for food and because you want to share that passion with like-minded people. If you think you’re going to get loads of freebies and culinary trips to the orient then think again. There are very few food bloggers who do it as a living.
7. be wise with the brands you chose to write about… once you’ve been doing it for a while and you start getting those dreadful press-releases and offers of samples to review make sure you don’t say yes with wild abandon to them all, however tempting they may be. Remember you have a style that you’re nurturing and you should stick to your principles… have a look around at all the other blogs you know, I think it’s really dull when suddenly 10 bloggers are writing about the same product. Be brand-wise.
caramelised onion, polenta and oven-roasted tomato tart
I was in a tart making mood today and with an excess of pastry, onions that were in sore need of using up and a hot oven, I took advantage to whip up this surprising easy tart… not quite a quiche as I didn’t use my usual mix of cream, sour cream and eggs… instead I threw in some polenta which has given the tart filling a denser consistency which i’m loving…
for the roast tomatoes
1 tub of baby plum tomatoes – cut in half
a dash of cider vinegar
a dash of balsamic vinegar
a drizzle of olive oil
as much fresh herbs as you can find – I used a twig each of rosemary, thyme and oregano but whatever you’ve got with work
salt and pepper
for the tart filling
3 large onions – halved and finely sliced
a pinch of sugar
olive oil and butter
2 large free-range eggs
1 small pot of single cream
1 portion of shortcrust pastry, recipe found here… make your pastry first and place it in the fridge wrapped in cling film for at least 30 mins
pre-heat your oven to 170C
place the tomatoes cut side up in a roasting tray, sprinkle with the fresh herbs and season well and then drizzle with plenty of olive oil and sprinkle over the vinegars and roast for 20 mins or so until they begin to darken, don’t go too far as you want them to hold their shape on top of the tart
roll out your pastry and blind bake it with baking beans for about 10 mins, then carefully remove the beans and pop it back in the oven for another 5 mins to turn golden, then remove and set aside to cool slightly whilst you make the filling
in a large pan melt some butter and olive oil and gently saute the onions with a little sugar and seasoning… this can take up to half an hour before they start to turn a glorious golden colour but it’s worth the wait as this colouring will add a delightful sweetness to the final tart
beat the eggs and then beat in the cream and the polenta with plenty of salt and pepper and pour this into the pastry case
gently pour the onions on top and shimmy them around in the cream then place the roasted tomatoes randomly on top. Bake for 25 mins until gloriously golden
eat and of course, enjoy!