Originally from Christchurch, New Zealand, Zo Zhou started Two Spoons as a student who suddenly found herself having to cook her own meals. Initially, the blog was a place to share inexpensive cooking, but, as Zo’s addiction to food blogs flourished, hers developed into a celebration of fruits and vegetables, a resource for those interested in the growing “real food” movement, and a refuge for the odd sugar craving.
We talk to Zo about creativity in the kitchen, her lazy version of gratin, and getting her hands dirty in the name of "real food".
What has food blogging done for your kitchen confidence?
The greatest thing about blogging is the constant inspiration from the hundreds of food bloggers who I now follow, and people who comment on the blog. Since many food bloggers aren’t professionals, I often feel far more relaxed about trying blog recipes, tips and tricks. That’s what got me so excited about cooking, really – suddenly it was an act of creativity that came from something that used to be a chore. Making my own bread, stock, and ice-cream all became second nature – without a bread machine, extra freezer or ice-cream machine.
Talk us through your grilled-in-the-frypan gratin. What is it?
The gratin is totally the result of me not being a chef – I think the shortcuts would probably horrify some professionals! It was born out a desire to turn an otherwise dishes-intensive and patience-testing meal into a one-pan meal that still ticks the “delicious, creamy baked cheese dish” and “comfort food” boxes. I made it on a fairly cold and miserable night as a pick me up – so even though I’ve called it a “weeknight” dish, any time you need something rich, creamy and cheesy, it’ll come through for you in no time.
You joined a community garden upon moving to Sydney. What, aside from fresh picked produce, do you enjoy most about it?
Getting to meet other lovely people who care about their food and where it comes from. They also happen to be a wealth of knowledge – about great local places to score the best ingredients; gardening and growing; and simple yet wonderful ways to enjoy the bounty. I love that everyone is willing to get their hands dirty, too! It’s a testament, I think, to the fact that we are all about real food that is accessible, nourishing and at its peak freshness and taste.
Are you the sort to try any food once? What do you tend to shy away from on restaurant menus?
Absolutely! I am that annoying person who responds to statements such as, “I don’t like cauliflower” with “Have you tried it tossed in a little melted butter and roasted?”. There’s not much I avoid when eating out; I think if the chef puts something risky on the menu, it's usually there for a tasty reason! That said, I have had my trust betrayed with a raw octopus dish I won’t forget too soon.
Share with us three recipes you’ve recently featured on the blog.
My overnight oats with amaranth flakes has turned into an endlessly adaptable breakfast go-to, which I entitled “super powers for breakfast”, because I haven’t been sick once since I started eating it almost daily!
Variations of this crunchy, green and more-ish potato salad is a regular feature at home for lunch or dinner, since I love dill! It’s great with mint and/or parsley in place of dill too.
Lastly, if you’ve never savoured burrata cheese before, this super simple pasta dish with pan-seared broccoli and cauliflower is a great way to let the freshness of the cheese shine.
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