Tastemakers: Haylie Duff Gets Real in the Kitchen
One day, actress Haylie Duff was bored on a film set and started a blog with a recipe for turkey meatballs. A cookbook followed. Then came her own food show, The Real Girl's Kitchen, which begins its second season on Cooking Channel April 25. Duff takes this stuff very seriously, in a Lucy Ricardo sort of way.
Your show is informative yet goofy and surprisingly epic. What's with the cast of thousands?
I have a lot of friends! This is a very aggressive program–lots of locations and crazy adventures, made extra interesting because I'm pregnant throughout the new season. There's a date-night episode coming up where a friend of mine–one of those guys whose idea of cooking is drinking beer and ordering takeout–lies to this girl and claims he's a great cook. So there I am in the kitchen, secretly making their romantic meal and trying my best to hide.
Are your pals starting to get competitive?
The men, especially. I'll get a text saying, "Hey, I hear you made brisket on your show. How come I was on the vegetarian episode?" And I really hear about it when we do something decadent. "Why did I have to make a salad, then I find out you did a beach party episode with lobster?" You can't win.
Your own start as a cook was a bit rough, wasn't it?
I'm no chef. I'm a self-taught home cook who started out making lots of mistakes and destroying three different microwaves. My mother says I can't follow directions–in life or in the kitchen. So that means I am a disaster at baking. But I intend to conquer it. [Laughs] Maybe in season 3?
What in your mind is a "real girl"?
Someone with a zest and passion for life who doesn't put pressure on herself, someone who is comfy in her own skin. That's me, and I want to connect with other people who feel the same. The greatest compliment I can get–the one that makes me cry–is "When I watch your show, I feel like we're friends."
"This is the most amazing combo of sweet and salty," Duff says. "It's simple yet elegant, and so gorgeous on a plate."
RUSTIC STRAWBERRY JAM CROSTINI
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 orange
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
1 baguette, sliced thick on the bias
Place all jam ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir frequently, so the jam doesn't stick to the pan, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Let cool. For the crostini, mix butter and honey until combined. Spread the mixture on both sides of the baguette slices. On a hot skillet, toast both sides of the bread until golden brown. Top the warm bread with the jam.
The Real Girl's Kitchen, Season premiere: Saturday, April 25, 1/noon c, Cooking Channel