There’s something so intimate about being let in on other people’s family recipes. Pair those meals with effortless styling and moody, soulful photography and you have a food blog that most certainly makes us swoon. We’re talking about fellow 2016 Saveur Blog Award winner’s namesake site, Betty Liu.
A wedding photographer by trade, Betty began her blog as a way to catalogue her mama’s mouthwatering, home-cooked Shanghai dishes like shao mai, mung bean soup and red-braised pork belly. She now shares those classic recipes — the type of authentic Chinese cuisine you might find at your favorite food trucks — alongside her own east-meets-west creations and culinary adventures. Below, read about Betty’s most-craved and most-made meals and help yourself to her her white cheddar and apple mini pie recipe, a decadent dessert perfect for Valentine’s Day.
NAME: Betty Liu
PROFESSION: Wedding and food photographer, and workshop host
PHILOSOPHY ON FOOD? Food is more than just a dish — it’s about the microstories told, connecting us with where the ingredients came from, who cooked this meal, and what meaning it could have.
A LITTLE ABOUT THE RECIPE YOU’RE SHARING WITH US? White cheddar apple mini-pies!
COOKING MAKES ME FEEL… Excited and hungry.
BRIEFLY, HOW YOU CAME TO DO WHAT YOU DO: Before becoming involved with anything food related, I was (and still am) a wedding photographer. Photographing people, examining light on the go and solving problems has always been my passion. When I started my blog, my main goal was to document my mom’s cooking, which was not really recipe-based, so that I could reference these dishes later on. Food photography quickly became a passion, and now I can’t imagine life without it.
ESSENTIAL KITCHEN TOOL? My hands!!!!!
THREE INGREDIENTS YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT? Good sea salt, scallions and mushrooms.
QUIRKY FOOD HABITS? I put scallions in almost every savory dish I make.
BIGGEST SINGLE INFLUENCE ON YOUR COOKING STYLE? I learned cooking from my mom, and that meant no recipes were allowed. Cooking was instinctive, based on taste and experience, and to this day, I like to experiment on the go, refining when putting the experiment into recipe form later on.
MIDNIGHT SNACK? Ramen.
BEST SOURCE FOR FOOD AND RECIPE INSPIRATION? My mother.
I CAN NEVER RESIST… Duck or pie.
THE RECIPE OR MEAL YOU ARE KNOWN FOR? My mother’s Shanghai-style red-braised pork belly — it’s my most made and searched recipe.
MOST SWOON-WORTHY RESTAURANT? O Ya in Boston.
THEY SAY YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT — WHAT ARE YOU? Kitchen-sink fried rice.
RECIPE YOU GREW UP EATING THAT YOU MOST CRAVE? Shanghai shao mai — open-face dumplings stuffed with sticky rice and shiitake mushrooms.
FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY TIP YOU’VE PICKED UP ALONG THE WAY? Light is everything!!! No matter how well you style your scene or compose, without good light, no amount of editing will fix the photo. Study light and learn how to manipulate it.
TOP TRAVEL DESTINATION? New Zealand!!!!
WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON FOR BETTY LIU? I’m looking forward to more food photography workshops in 2017. I’ll be headed to New England, California and Greece, to name a few, to teach retreat-based workshops!!!