“Make sure it’s something that you really love doing,” Meet Izy Hossack

At nineteen years old Izy Hossack has done more than most. With a multi-award winning blog under her belt, over 220K followers on Instagram, and her second cookbook on the way you could say that she’s somewhat of a rising star in the food world but then again she’s already pretty close to the top already…

Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself:
So at the moment I’m a second year Nutrition student at the University of Leeds. I’ve been writing my food blog called Top With Cinnamon since 2011, so it’s been about 6 years now, and have just published my second cookbook.

How did your journey into cooking begin?
I’ve grown up in a really food centric household. Both my parents love to cook, my mum’s Italian -American so she taught me how to bake loads of different things when I was really young – I started baking for myself when I was around 10-ish.

What was your approach to your blog in the beginning?

I think it was a baking blog primarily because that was what I was interested in. I mean I could cook other things but I wasn’t really that confident exploring things myself, whereas with baking I had a lot more experience… and obviously I was a young kid who wanted to make and eat cakes.

So what age did you start the blog?

When I was fifteen… (cue our gasps).

You’ve been making yourself – unknowingly or knowing – into a business from a very young age, what advice would you give to other people?

I think you have to make sure it’s something that you really love doing otherwise it can turn from a hobby into something you hate. Something else – and it’s a really boring thing – but get an accountant because otherwise I’d be completely lost.

How do you manage to keep your creativity flowing?
It definitely go through stages and you definitely do get burnt out after a while especially after doing a cookbook. I find looking at other people for inspiration is the way to go, so eating out at restaurants or talking to your friends about what they’ve been coking recently. Then also just looking at the seasons. I always get inspired by seasonal food – I’m always googling ‘whats in season now’. Most of the time foods go together when they’re in season together so that’s always a good way to plan a recipe.

Tell us about your new book? 

So this one was inspired by my time at university, as I said before I’d cooked a few things that I was confident with but when you go to university you have to budget and make sure you’re eating healthily every day as well as not getting really bored by cooking the same recipes over and over again.

So I started to learn what it really meant to cook. I started to to look through recipes and write recipes down on my meal-plan every week and it was kind of that base collection that inspired this book.

So what recipes can people expect?
So they’re all vegetarian; there’s lots of grains and vegan adaptations if you need to cook yourself or if you have friends coming round and you need to cook for people who have different dietary restrictions. But also it’s not kind of any weird ingredients either. I just stuck to store cupboard essentials, the only two less accessible ingredients are miso and tahini but you can definitely find them in the super market. It’s just simple good food really.

What are your favourite recipes from the book? 
One of mine is the ricotta gnocchi because I just use a whole tub of ricotta and it makes enough for two people. Or if I’m just making it for myself then I freeze a batch and eat it straight from frozen and it’s a really simple. quick meal. And they’re actually really simple to make rather than traditional potato gnocchi which takes a few hours, whereas I’ve made the whole thing start to finish in half an hour. So it’s very easy & you can change the vegetables according to what season it is so in the summer I’ll use courgettes whereas in the winter I’ll use cauliflower or broccoli so its very versatile too.

Is that sense of making the most of every meal important?

Yes definitely, it’s not just from a budget aspect, which is obviously important but also a huge thing for me and the reason that I cut down on meat and became flexitarian, is for environmental reasons really. Anything I can do to help the environment I want to do.

What are your tips for people to cut down on meat and waste?
I think that if you’re not comfortable cooking vegetarian recipes at first, look at other people’s recipes who are vegetarian chefs, I meal Anna Jones is a good example, or my book *laughs* is quite a good example and see how they put together recipes.

Also I have a thing in my book called ‘clear the fridge’ which is how you make meals with stuff you have left over.

As soon as you look at how people build meals around vegetables rather than a piece of meat the habit becomes second nature. So you know you’ll need a bit of grain, some texture in here, I need a protein source so chickpeas, an egg or tofu or whatever else and I need a dressing or something like that and some leaves and you’ll have some templates in your head for what you need or what season you’re in.

What would you say is your essential cooking items?
Miso is definitely one for me because I always use it in vegetarian cooking as it has that umami flavour which gives that meaty layer that you get. I always have frozen peas and pesto cubes that I make in bulk in the freezer – my go-to meal when I have nothing is frozen peas, pasta and my pesto.

Do you have any other time-saving food hacks? 

I always like to prep some kind of food at the beginning of the week – I don’t mean whole meals but if you can make some bread, some grains, a salad dressing or roast some vegetables to keep in the fridge for when you get home and can’t be bothered to cook anything.

Meal planning is definitely a good thing to do if you can get into the habit of it because it helps you decide what you make for the week so you don’t faff around and know what to buy rather than panic buying things and sticking to your budget.

Izy Hossack Interview

You’re so involved in the Instagram community, what accounts have caught your eye recently?
@evakosmasflores from My Adventures in Cooking. She’s great and always cooks using really seasonal food with lots of fruit and vegetables so that’s really inspiring.

@ohladycakes – she has loads of great baking stuff and really nice photography so I’m always going there, she’s really funny too.

@yossyarefi – I just saw her in New York, she bakes lots of pies and fruit desserts so that’s really inspiring to me because of how she’s using different fruits in different ways. Sometimes when I buy something I don’t know what to do with, I’ll look to her.

What’s your favourite restaurants in London & Leeds?
So in Leeds it’s Bundobust, which is all vegetarian Indian street food and it’s really cheap, casual and really, really good food, so that’s a firm favourite.

In London I love Nopi, obviously, for vegetable based stuff so that’s definitely one of my go-to.

Best coffee shop hideaways?
In London there’s a bakery called Fabrique bakery and I am obsessed with their cinnamon rolls as they do it with Swedish spelt and also have REALLY good coffee. I’m quite often in Soho I’ll always try and take a detour there.

Then there’s a place called Sheaf Street Cafeteria in Leeds, I did a brunch pop up there with my friend who has a bakery called Noisette Bake House and she sells her baked goods there but they also do brunch and just have a really great set up with nice interiors and dinner party supper clubs. Just definitely a place to keep your eye on.

You say you did a pop up with your friend, you’ve done a lot of collaboration over the years, why do you think that’s important? 

I think it’s really nice to do a collaboration with someone else because you get to create ideas together and work together on something, It kind of gets quite lonely when you’re working by yourself so it’s nice to share ideas.

You’ve done all the photography for the book yourself, what are your top two photography tips?

If you’re shooting with your phone, always shoot overhead because it doesn’t really work well with angles.

Always use natural light, I think that that’s an area where people can always go wrong; make sure you’ve turned off all the lights, shoot at a time of day where it’s not too sunny so you’ve got nice diffused light, shoot in somewhere that you have a window – I like to shoot where light is coming from behind or the side, so unidirectional.

Finally, tell us what’s in your khoollection?

I collect ceramics a lot. It started out that I needed to get stuff for my blog but now it’s the reason I go into shops. My mum also does ceramics so she’s started making things for me so I have so many in my house.

If you want a chance to win a copy a The Savvy Cook, enter this week’s competition.

 

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