By JAMI FARKAS
Todd Porter and Diane Cu Front cover of Bountiful: Recipes inspired by our garden
‘White on Rice Couple’ writes first cookbook.
Diane Cu and Todd Porter have spent the past few years traveling, photographing cookbooks or taking pictures for national ad campaigns for major merchants in the food and hospitality industries.
In the course of their work, the Southern California couple, who started the enormously popular White on Rice food blog five years ago, turned down offers to write their own cookbook.
“We just didn’t know what to write,” said Cu, a native of Da Nang, Vietnam.
But all it took was a long look at the fruit trees and seasonal vegetables at the home they share in Costa Mesa, Calif., to find the focus of their cookbook: recipes they had created from the bounty produced by their garden, their urban sanctuary.
The result is “Bountiful: Recipes inspired by our garden,” a 304-page cookbook (Stewart, Tabori and Chang) filled with about 100 recipes and dozens of stunning photos taken at their home.
Book Tour Schedule
Tuesday, Oct. 15: Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 16: Seed: Peoples Market at The Camp, 2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 6 p.m.
Oct. 22: New York City
Oct. 25: Seattle
Nov. 16: Salt Lake City
Visit their website at http://whiteonricecouple.com/cookbooks/bountiful-cookbook-video-and-tour/ for additional tour dates, locations and particulars of each event, such as reservations.
“It’s personal, but at the same time inspiring to other people,” Cu said. “The garden was basically the idea that was sitting in front of us all the time.”
With their idea solidified, Cu and Porter got to work on “Bountiful.” They used what they grow – their vast garden includes plums, persimmons, mangoes, blood oranges, varieties of lemons and exotic Asian fruits, such as dragonfruit – then developed and honed their recipes. They did everything from cooking to washing the dishes by themselves – key to their recipes.
“We made it for everyday people,” she said. “We are everyday people. Our everyday life with Todd and Diane is very simple, very uncomplicated.”
Thanks to the Southern California weather, Cu and Porter can grow some fruits that people elsewhere might not have at their disposal. The book takes that into account. When a recipe calls for a blood orange, for instance, the authors will tell the readers just when a regular orange will do.
In fact, Cu said one of the best compliments they have received was a letter from someone who followed their recipes who said she was so happy to see that their ingredients were easily attainable.
“We take that under consideration,” she said.
Porter said that even novices can have success with some traditionally tricky recipes, such as pastries.
“It’s not overly technical,” Porter said. “The average person can have a dough that … is real tasty.”
Their favorite recipes from the book? For Porter, that depends on the season. Blueberry Frangiplane Tarts is among them when blueberries are at their freshest. This time of year, it’s Butternut Squash Crumble.
Cu said she enjoys sharing recipes for spring rolls and Vietnamese salads to show they aren’t difficult since Vietnamese cooking can intimidate some. But any recipe that highlights the fresh produces of the garden thrills her.
“Those are my favorites because they are so personal,” she said.
Tuesday launches a book tour for the couple; they will be in Los Angeles County that day and Orange County the next. After the book promotion winds down, they plan to travel, taking photos and video along the way, all while continuing their blog and their national photography.
Another cookbook in the works?
They will enjoy this one for now.
“It’s been really wonderful,” Cu said. “We made an effort to take our time and work on it together. It’s like an extension of the blog, an extension of how we live our life. We really enjoyed making it.
“Making things, sharing things, is something we’ve always loved.”
Todd Porter and Diane Cu
Front cover of Bountiful: Recipes inspired by our garden