We recently had the chance to speak with Marnely Rodriguez-Murray, from Cooking With Books. As a chef turned blogger, she gave us the inside scoop on her favorite food, cooking tips and what culinary trends she is loving most right now.
Q: You have an interesting background starting out as a chef and becoming a food blogger. Tell us a little bit more about yourself and how you ended up where you are now.
I’m originally from the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean island filled to the brim with great food. I grew up watching my mother bake on an almost daily basis. After attending college back home, I traveled to upstate New York to study Baking and Pastry Arts at The Culinary Institute of America. A quick two years of schooling led me to a job on Martha’s Vineyard, where I met my chef husband and we traveled to Vegas. That Vegas trip was what catapulted the blog since I craved a space of my own to share all of the food we discovered!
Q: What inspires your recipes?
I’m inspired on a daily basis when reading other food blogs and industry magazines – all my print magazines are dog-eared whenever I find something interesting. Living on Cape Cod, I’m also inspired by the local farms and food artisans on Martha’s Vineyard.
Q: What is one of your secret baking or cooking tips you’ve learned from working in various kitchens?
- Clean as you go – you can never be too clean in a kitchen.
- Wash your hands after cracking eggs!
- One thing we do in the restaurant that we now do at home is keep a small bucket in the freezer for vegetable scraps (peels, ends, mushroom stems, etc.) After a couple weeks, it all goes in a pot with water, a bay leaf, and peppercorns for homemade vegetable stock!
Q: What health benefits do you seek when making recipes with quinoa and other ancient grains?
I love the fiber that I get from eating whole grains. As a chef we constantly spend entire days just “tasting” recipes and food. But the satisfying moment of sitting down on our day off and enjoying a quinoa vegetable bowl or a wild rice paella makes it all worth it!
Q: Are there any new techniques, popular dishes or trends you are focused on right now?
Currently, I’m loving the appearance of herbs and savory components in desserts. Not just the tired old bacon or sea salt in desserts, but basil in strawberry ice cream and coriander in cakes – I love it!
Q: You have made recipes using Ancient Harvest products before. How did you find out about the brand and what drew you to it?
I’ve been using Ancient Harvest products for about four years after discovering them in a local store. My favorite product to use is the polenta, because it can be turned into a variety of recipes, quickly and easily. Whether sliced and seared to serve alongside grilled fish, or blended up with cream and butter for a delicious bowl of comfort, the Ancient Harvest Polenta is my all-time favorite.
Q: What do you hope readers can takeaway from Cooking with Books?
My blog has a little bit of everything – travel, books, food – that’s basically what my life is about, so I don’t ever want to be a “niche” blogger. I want readers to come for restaurant style recipes that are easy to make at home, and to hear about the latest products in the market, like my New This Month section.
Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Marnely’s passion for food and flavor started at a young age, which ultimately led her to New York to study Baking and Pastry Arts at The Culinary Institute of America. From there, she ended up on Martha’s Vineyard and is now dedicated to continuing writing about her food journey on Cooking With Books, which provides a variety of easy-to-make, restaurant-style recipes, as well as resources for the latest trends and products in the market.