Cook to Follow: Danielle Kartes aka RusticJoyfulFood
You’ll love this cookbook author and food stylist’s simple, soulful approach to cooking — and to life.
About me: I’m Danielle Kartes, 38, a food stylist and cookbook author, and I live in Redmond, Washington. I have a blog at rusticjoyfulfood.com.
Why I love cooking: I felt such joy as a kid when people liked to eat what I made. These days, cooking is absolutely a form of therapy for me.
Who I cook for: My darling husband, Michael, and my sweet boys, Noah, 9, and Milo, 3.
My philosophy about cooking: I want people to get fast, delicious results far more easily than they once thought possible. I’m all about cutting out steps if I can, and having a good time. I like to make real food—simple food that makes you happy.
Best holiday food memory: The first time I made my very own prime rib, we packed about 25 people into our tiny apartment to eat it. We sat on the floor with paper plates, au gratin potatoes, and a prime rib that felt like it cost more than a month’s wages at the time.
Recent cooking success: My 9-year-old started eating onions and cilantro on his street tacos. This made me proud!
Food discovery that changed my life: Turkish lahmacun, this crazy-delicious flatbread pizza. When I was 15, I traveled to Romania to work in orphanages and AIDS clinics. The trip changed my life. In Holland, on the way home, I walked among the canals and saw a pizza place. I walked inside to find this pizza being wood-fired with no cheese. It seems so silly, but when I ate that pizza, it was like I grew up in just moments! It was oily and chewy and had such wonderful spice.
A fact few people know about me: I can sing! I used to want to be a singer.
Obsessions: I am oddly obsessed with business. And foraging for fruit or veggies. They have nothing to do with one another. I mean, it’s more like urban foraging. If you have a fruit tree, I will absolutely knock on your door with my own basket and ask to pick some!
My favorite things to cook: Braises, tacos, and grandmother-style desserts like crumbles or sheet cakes. I love bruschetta on chewy bread, with all of the seasonal goodness and grassy glugs of olive oil and balsamic. A cheese plate for people I love, to be eaten in a messy house, in cozy clothing.
Kitchen tool I can’t live without: Tongs! I use this cheap, plastic set of tongs for just about everything.
Bucket list: To visit the French and Italian countrysides with my family. To own a little farm with fruit trees. And to host Saturday Night Live. Not joking.
Rare talent no one will pay me for: I absolutely have a future in stand-up comedy. Ha!
My books: I’ve written seven children’s books and three cookbooks. My latest is Rustic Joyful Food: Meant to Share. All my books tell stories alongside beautiful recipes.
"I love to reimagine classic dishes. The addition of tender ribeye here takes the French onion soup you've always known to a new level. Garnish with more fresh thyme sprigs." —RusticJoyfulFood