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Haylie Duff turns talent to the kitchen

Elizabeth Pudwil, Houston Chronicle
Updated 11:22 am, Thursday, November 14, 2013

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  • "The Real Girl's Kitchen," by Haylie Duff Photo: Book Cover
    "The Real Girl's Kitchen," by Haylie Duff Photo: Book Cover

 

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'The Real Girl's Kitchen'

By Haylie Duff

Razorbill, 240 pp., $19.99

Page 1 of 1

Haylie Duff is 28, an actress and, now, the author of "The Real Girl's Kitchen," a combination guide - with healthful eating tips, recipes and a personal journal. Reading through it, you get a sense of her personality, her life.

Asked if she thought she was young to be a cookbook author, Duff giggled a little and then shared that a few years ago, neither cooking nor writing were on her radar. But over the past couple of years, Duff has grown, she said.

"There comes a point when you just have to stop all of the clubs," she said. "I love to entertain, and I moved into this new house and wanted to throw a dinner party."

Her culinary progression is chronicled in her blog, realgirlskitchen.com. You can read about where she's been and where she's going, what she's eating and how she lives a healthy lifestyle.

Haylie Duff and her actress-pop-star sister Hilary Duff, star of the tween hit "Lizzie McGuire" and other movies, lived in Houston before they moved to California with their mother to pursue acting careers.

For the novice, the young actress suggests starting with what you like.

For example, she likes to eat fish, so she wanted to learn different ways to make it. She also urges new cooks to start simply, learn techniques and then move on to more complicated dishes.

Duff insists that she is not a "perfect" cook. In her book, she is adamant that her readers cook intuitively, changing ingredients to fit their tastes. Change a vegetable if you really don't like the one suggested. "Also, the amounts are not perfect," she writes, "if you like more salt, then add salt, or any other seasoning."

Duff's confident that her book style has an untapped market to reach.

"I get all of these messages out there from young girls that have never cooked and are using fennel, which can be intimidating. They read my blog and want to try it."

Her market uses Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram to communicate, and Duff does, too.

"If I see an interesting vegetable at the farmers market or have a really good-looking dish at a restaurant, yes, I will Instagram it," she said.

The author has chosen chapters on soups, eggs, salads, sandwiches and has even devoted a chapter to her favorite food, kale. Some recipes are styled after dishes she tries in restaurants, such as the Lime and Cotija Corn recipe here. The book is beautiful to look at, and every recipe has a color photo.

The book is fun and has stories of her and her girlfriends, the foods they love and what they talk about. The reader will not only gain recipes but will also get to know a savvy young woman.

Lime and Cotija Corn

From THE REAL GIRL'S KITCHEN by Haylie Duff. Published by arrangement with Razorbill, a member of the Penguin Random House Company. Copyright Little Moon Entertainment, Inc., 2013.

2 ears corn

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Pinch of cayenne red pepper

¼-¹⁄3 cup finely grated Cotija cheese, to taste

1lime wedge

Instructions: Husk the corn and slice the kernels off the corn cob. Heat a skillet to medium-high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil and corn to the skillet.

When the kernels turn a toasty color, add the mayonnaise, cayenne and Cotija and mix. Transfer to a bowl, squeeze with lime and enjoy.

Note: You can substitute Parmesan, Romano or Feta cheese for the Cotija cheese.