About Time You Met: Izy Hossack, Recipe Writer and Food BloggerBy Alicia Grimshaw
With over 200k Instagram followers, three cookbooks, and a food blog, Top With Cinnamon, Izy Hossack is certainly a rising star on the food scene. We sit down with the expert baker to chat about her latest cookbook, cutting down her meat consumption and new recipe ideas:
Where did your love of cooking and baking first begin?
I started helping my parents in the kitchen when I was very young. My whole family is really into cooking and my mum taught me to bake. It was the baking that really got me into food because come on, who doesn’t love a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie?!
Who and what inspired your cooking?
I have to say that my mum has been my main inspiration! She taught me the basics of what I know and still helps me come up with recipe ideas. She’s the one who showed me that food blogs existed all those years ago and, after reading them, that’s when I started my own food blog!
How did your blog Top with Cinnamon first get started?
I’d been reading food blogs for about a year and they spurred on my baking. I was trying different recipes and developing my own, but I kept losing the pieces of paper I’d write the recipes down on. I thought I should just start a food blog myself as a way to document them in a more easily accessible way, just for myself.
Did you ever think the blog would grow as much as it has when you first started out?
I really didn’t consider it being a possibility at all. I had always thought I’d end up being a scientist (although I guess I kind of did as I’ve got a BSc in Food Science and Nutrition now). I’ve been doing working with food for so long, I don’t see myself ever leaving the food industry.
Tell us a little bit more about your cookbook, The Savvy Cook – what recipes can people expect?
When I started uni I was, for the first time ever, cooking for myself every day. Even for someone who loves cooking as much as I do, it was very intimidating and kind of overwhelming thinking about it. The main thing that helped was when I started doing meal plans and writing down all my recipes I was making. Those recipes formed the basis of the book.
Before going to uni I considerably cut down my consumption of meat for budget and environmental reasons. Therefore, The Savvy Cook is completely vegetarian. The recipes are all about flexibility so I have suggestions where you can swap ingredients around and tips for using up leftover ingredients from other recipes. They’re interesting recipes but not too ‘fancy’; for example a savoury porridge topped with a fried egg, mushrooms and rocket. Eggs are a hero ingredient for me – so versatile, packed with nutrition and cost-effective, great for students and families.
You recently graduated from Leeds Uni – how did you manage to study, blog and write a cookbook?
I’m not going to lie, it was tough, and I basically had little free time outside of those 3 tasks. That’s just the reality of it! There’s no magic secret to it, it’s just a LOT of working on weekends and evenings but I love what I do, so it’s all good with me.
Your Savvy Cook book focuses on vegan and veg-led recipes – how can people reduce their meat consumption?
I think using meat as a flavouring, rather than the focus of the meal helps a lot. For example, pasta carbonara has little meat in in, just the pancetta/bacon, and the rest is some egg and cheese. If you’re the type of person who *has* to have meat in a meal, try making a low-meat meal once a week and see how you like it. You can chop up a couple of sausages and stir them through tomato sauce and serve with pasta, or you can use half kidney beans and half ground beef in burgers and meatballs. Little swaps like that can make it pretty easy to eat a lot less meat without really noticing. If you like meat as a quick dinner option, try using some eggs instead – you can poach or soft boil them and serve with some roasted vegetables and cooked grains for a really simple, versatile meal.
What’s your favourite recipe?
I’ve just created some recipes using British Lion eggs for a campaign called #EggsMyWay. My favourite has to be the sweet potato ‘falafel’ baked eggs; you bake sweet potato, saute onions with cumin, coriander, chilli and lemon, fry some halloumi, tip the mash into a frying pan, making four wells to crack eggs into (a bit like a shakshouka) and bake in the oven for 15-20mins and then top with the halloumi and a dressing of tahini, lemon and garlic. It’s my go-to midweek dinner at the moment.
What advice would you give to people who are looking to start a food blog?
Stop hesitating about it or worrying about what other people will think and just DO it. Invest some time into making your blog look nice and setting up all the social media accounts for it. Also get to know other food bloggers by commenting on their posts: it’s a great way to make friends with other people and build your community.
Do you ever find it hard to come up with new recipe ideas?
I go through phases of having loads of ideas and then having a complete inspiration block. I find Instagram and pinterest amazing sources of inspiration though and I love eating out at restaurants for that reason too. Whenever I have a recipe idea, I write it down on a note on my phone so I always have a backlog of possible ones to make.
Favourite bakery in London is:
Today Bread, Walthamstow.
Favourite place to eat in London is:
Shawarma Bar, Exmouth Market.