Libbie Summers is the brains and beauty behind her food-inspired brand and lifestyle. She’s also the author of two cookbooks: The Whole Hog Cookbook and Sweet & Vicious: Baking With Attitude. Today this talented lady is opening up to us about her success, advice for breaking into the food blogging industry and her mouth-watering summer sandwich.
Image: Chia Chong
World’s Best BLT Recipe from Libbie Summers’s The Whole Hog Cookbook (Rizzoli 2012)
“If you’re traveling to remote places, a red tomato is sometimes hard to find. Surprisingly, I’ve found that a green tomato isn’t. This revelation still upsets my sensibilities, but I have learned to embrace it. When I worked for yachting clients around the world, I made my BLTs using green tomatoes. Each time I made them, I’d hear the same thing: ‘Libbie, this is the best BLT I’ve ever had.’ Thus its name was earned.” — Libbie
- 2 green tomatoes, cut into 8 slices
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups ribbon-chopped green leaf lettuce
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 8 slices sunflower bread, grilled
- 1 cup homemade mayonnaise (recipe below)
- 12 slices bacon, cooked crisp and drained
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
Heat a grill or grill pan to high heat. Brush green tomato slices with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place tomatoes on the hot grill and cook until brown marks form on each side (approximately 3 to 4 minutes per side). Remove and set aside.
Place chopped leaf lettuce in a medium mixing bowl. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and lemon juice over. Add salt and pepper. Using tongs, toss greens to coat. Set aside.
To Assemble Sandwiches:
Spread a thick layer of homemade mayonnaise on one side of all 8 slices of bread. Top 4 slices with three pieces of bacon, two grilled green tomatoes and one quarter of the dressed greens each. Place the 4 remaining bread slices (mayonnaise side down) on top of each sandwich.
Add egg yolk, vinegar, lemon juice, dry mustard, cayenne pepper and salt to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk until well combined and bright yellow (about 1 minute). Whisking constantly, add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil a few drops at a time (it’s important not to rush this part — each drop of oil must be fully incorporated before the next). This step normally takes about 5 minutes. Still whisking constantly, gradually add remaining 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in a slow, steady stream until mayonnaise begins to lighten and thicken (usually 8 to 10 minutes). Mayonnaise will hold for 2 days when covered and refrigerated.
How did you get started in food blogging?
I first recognized how fun it was to have conversations online about food with tons of wonderful people when I helped launch and held the position of Senior Food Editor for a celebrity website.
Since I believe that food inspires all aspects of my life — not just what I put on my table — I launched Salted and Styled with my favorite photographer, Chia Chong. Chia and I really enjoy working together and share many of the same sensibilities about food and how it informs fashion, art and design. On Salted and Styled, we also celebrate the growers and makers.
In addition to Salted and Styled, I also blog on my own site about how I personally live a food-inspired life. It’s all me — my recipes, my style, all the things that I love told through my singular voice — off-color commentary and all.
What has been your favorite part and biggest surprise since starting your blog?
I LOVE working with creative women that help bring a crazy thought to life. The surprise is how much work/time it takes to do a blog successfully. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I can’t imagine the hours that go into making Glitter Guide so wonderful.
Image: Anna C. Heritage
You also have two of your own cookbooks! What has been the most rewarding part of that endeavor?
I’m so very proud of both, and I’m a cry-baby sentimentalist about them. They represent the talented people involved in making them, as well as the characters in my stories. A book really does take a village, and my publisher, Rizzoli, has been the best. I also love reaching for the books when I need a to-die-for recipe!
What advice do you have for those wanting to start their own food blog?
You don’t have to blog constantly, just blog consistently. Also, success doesn’t happen overnight. You have to continually put out good work and stay on brand with your unique voice and self. Don’t worry about monetizing your site, or how many comments or likes you get on a post. Just do authentic work. Then, when it’s all said and done, you have something that is truly you and something to be very proud of. Someone will eventually recognize your good work; it just takes time.
In addition to this BLT, what are some of your other favorite summer recipes?
I swear, I have two personalities in the summer. Part of me eats healthily — lots of greens, fruits, vegetables and grains. And then there’s the other side (the one I love most) that has a super sweet tooth. The sweet side does a ton of summer baking, and probably eats more ice cream in three months than the rest of the year combined. Heck, I bet I had one root beer float the entire winter — and I just had three over the 4th of July holiday weekend!! The plus side is that I’m more active in the summer, so I can work it off.