Today's Q&A is with Maggie Hoffman of the delightful food blog Pithy and Cleaver, which she co-writes with Shiv Harris. Like all of my favorite blogs, P&C is lavishly photographed and always seems to feature recipes I want to rush off and try immediately. Even if I am at my desk at work. It's a constantly reliable source for menu inspiration. In addition to the blog, Maggie also writes about craft beer, wine, and (mostly) vegetarian food for Serious Eats and is a book designer by day. Here, she shares her favorite chili recipe, love of fruity desserts, and why progressive dinners are her preferred way to entertain. Thanks, Maggie!
1. Name, occupation, and city
Maggie Hoffman. Book designer by day, beer/wine/food writer by night. I live in Manhattan in a teeny apartment with my husband, Matt.
2. When was the last time you threw a dinner party, and who was invited?
These days, I tend to entertain a few times a week. (No way we can taste all that beer ourselves!) Recently, Robin and Jim from Caviar and Codfish came over, along with my editors from Serious Eats and another friend. We sat outside on our balcony, tasting beers for an upcoming article and eating crab and avocado salad, homemade chipotle black bean salsa, and a chorizo-and-chickpea dish inspired by the new Stonewall Kitchen Appetizers book.
3. What is the best menu you've ever made for company?
My favorite dinner parties are low-maintenance. I love progressive dinners sitting out by the grill, where each course gets grilled and eaten while the next one cooks. I'm addicted to grilled garlic scapes and can't wait till they're in season, and we have a fantastic butcher near us that makes kielbasa, and I love to grill eggplant and lamb kabobs, too.
4. What's your preference: wine, beer, cocktails?
Can't they all just get along? I am a huge fan of craft beer AND a huge fan of good wine. We got married at a vineyard, but the day before all our friends met up at a brewery.
5. What's your favorite dinner party soundtrack?
A little Etta James, a little Sam Cooke...
6. Some friends are coming over for a last-minute dinner. What do you make?
Chili is easy, cheap, and satisfying. My mom's recipe is fantastic. I love to make fruit cobblers, too. The key to entertaining is to make things which scale well--no individual portions, no fussing.
7. Do you usually cook everything yourself, or do you have help?
I'm a bit territorial in the kitchen. I love when friends bring appetizers and bread, though. And my husband tends to handle the grill, which makes for many relaxing summer nights.
8. Do you ever buy store-bought food, or is everything on your table made from scratch?
Pretty much made from scratch.
9. What do you like to serve for dessert?
Pumpkin pie. Peach and blackberry cobbler. Whatever baking experiment I've tried for the blog.
10. If you could invite anyone over for dinner (living or dead), who would it be?
Oh, I wish I could have my parents and my brother, sister-in-law, and little niece over to our place for dinner. My folks live in Oregon, my brother's family is in St. Louis, and I live in New York, so we don't get to just have dinner together very often.
[Photo credit: Nataliya Cole]