The term “California cooking” conjures up farm fresh vegetables, seasonal eating, and lots of avocados. That isn’t totally inaccurate, but according to blogger, recipe developer and chef Gaby Dalkin, it can also be so much more.

After releasing her first cookbook, Gaby decided it was time to really jump in with both feet and left the world of private dining to be a full-time content creator with her blog and second cookbook, “What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food.” She says, “I figured it was now or never… and I never looked back. Granted, I had some incredible clients that I cooked for, and I’d still do a big event or party for them if they called today!”

Gaby shares more below *and* is sharing the recipe for her Poblano Scallion Queso, which is the perfect dip to bring to any Fourth of July party (just invite us, please!) Get the recipe in the slideshow!

In your words: what is “California” cooking?
California cooking means keeping things easy and carefree. It’s always having something tasty to eat, thanks to handy and delicious pantry staples (coconut oil! quinoa! limes! dark chocolate!), super-fresh market treasures (whether from the grocery store or the farmers’ market, there’s nothing more California than a pop of color from in-season produce), as well as an arsenal of simple recipes. It’s having a rotating stock of double-duty sauces and dressings on hand (like Basil Vinaigrette and Lemon and Garlic Hummus) to drizzle, dollop, and dip. And it’s definitely not spending all day in the kitchen.

What’s the biggest misperception people have about California cooking?
California isn’t fussy. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my time out here, it’s that perfect is overrated — unless you’re talking about the perfect day to get outside, breathe in some fresh air, and hang out with friends for a few rounds of rosé and whatever’s coming off the grill. It’s relaxed and low-key and pretty much anything is fair game.

This is your second cookbook. Was it old hat at this point or were there unique challenges with this book?
This was a totally different experience than my first book. I already knew how to develop recipes and put together a cohesive recipe list. But working with my publisher this time around was a dream. I got to be super involved with the creative design of the book which was awesome! One of the main “problems” we had was trying to narrow down all the incredibly beautiful images we shot for the book, which is not a bad one to have!

Now that you’ve finished “Everyday California Food,” what’s next for you?
Who knows?! We’re working on six new products to add to my Williams Sonoma collection for next year. We might do another book sometime in the next few years. We’re working on developing some show concepts that I’d love to pitch to Netflix, Amazon or Hulu. And my husband and I are heading out of town for a few weeks this summer on an epic adventure!! But other than that… unsure! Things are always evolving in the media world so I’m excited to see what new opportunities present themselves in the next few months/years.