Peppermint Tea Lemonade

Peppermint Tea Lemonade // Not Without Salt

I’m in denial that summer is nearing an end. I’ve been here before and I know myself enough to know that it happens in a moment. One moment its tomatoes and the next it’s apples, warm drinks and pumpkin everything. But that moment hasn’t happened yet so I’m still planning on repeated pitchers of this peppermint lemonade.

This was our lemonade of choice this summer. It’s what we sold at the stand and has been the perfect drink to chase away the heat. I love the lingering cold feeling that peppermint leaves on the tongue especially on a particularly hot day, of which we’ve had many. And I’m hoping for several more.

Although I’ve yet to try it, I imagine a splash of vodka or gin would go quite nicely here as well. Cheers to a bit more summer!

Peppermint Tea Lemonade // Not Without Salt
 

Peppermint Tea Lemonade // Not Without Salt

 

Peppermint Tea Lemonade

Originally the idea here was to create a Peppermint Arnold Palmer of sorts but it ended up being more like a flavored lemonade. You can add more water to the tea base if you’d like to go with my original plan but this is how I made it again and again. Also, I leave the tea bags in until the pitcher runs dry. By the last glass the peppermint flavor is intense and incredibly refreshing. Feel free to add in more tea bags from the get-go if you like it real minty.

1 cup hot water

1 cup sugar

3 peppermint tea bags

1 cup fresh lemon juice

2 cups cold water

fresh mint leaves (optional)

Stir together the hot water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the peppermint tea bags and let steep for at least 10 minutes.

In a large pitcher combine the peppermint syrup (I keep the tea bags in) with the lemon juice and water. Taste and adjust to your liking.

Serve over ice with fresh mint if you have it.

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Roasted Apricot Stracciatella

Roasted Apricot Stracciatella // Not Without Salt

I sit in my office doing the internet version of twiddling my thumbs; bouncing from Facebook to Instagram scrolling through the feeds until my thumb aches and my mind is overwhelmed with images and updates that leave me feeling depleted. I have only a couple more hours to work and yet I can’t focus and am losing motivation in the midst of the scrolling.

“That’s it.” I say to myself. “I need to get out of here.”

So I jump in the car with a simple plan of going to the market and seeing where that leads me. Once there I see crate after crate overflowing with stone fruit. Nearly black plums with a hint of red underneath which tells me they are perfect; mostly sweet with a good sour bite. Next to them, small Italian plums covered in a soft dust that wipes off easily to reveal a deep purple skin. And apricots the color of a late evening sun and the star of so many of my favorite summer recipes.

Immediately I grab several pounds of plums because two days before I heard a lovely story on NPR about a pastry chef who stood at her stove sobbing at the site of this German Plum Cake. It was the first time she had made it since her mom died and just the site of it; familiar like a dear friend, made her lose it in her kitchen leaving her staff a little clueless as to why chef was looking at the stove dripping tears into a plum studded cake (that’s actually a bit more tart than cake). I needed to make this.

Then I grab the Italian plums and my mind turns to stewed prunes. The resulting dish is actually much more appetizing than the name suggests. They are so good in fact that I keep my oven on for an entire day in the midst of a crazy heat wave just to dry out the plums so I can make the very best version of stewed prunes when a winter’s evening demands a taste of summer.

Roasted Apricot Stracciatella // Not Without Salt

 

Roasted Apricot Stracciatella // Not Without Salt

Finally I reach for apricots. My usual response to apricots is pie or jam but today I dust off the ice cream maker and decide to roast a batch for ice cream. I need something cold to counter  the temperature in the house after the oven has been on all day.

I roast the apricots with a bit of sugar because it’s only after roasting that apricots reveal their magic. They succumb easily to a gentle pressing with my spatula to turn into a sort of puree, intentionally left a bit rustic as I imagine the pleasure of biting into a piece of apricot on top of an ice cream cone. The puree turns the creamy base into a pinkish orange hue, enough to catch the attention of Ivy who is immediately drawn to anything pink. While it churns I melt a bit of chocolate and drizzle that in to the ice cream just as it looks like soft serve. Ivy licks the chocolate bowl clean.

The result is a sweet ice cream, softly tart and rich with speckles of bittersweet chocolate and more importantly for me, an end to my twiddling of thumbs and an awakening to the day in front of me with all its possibilities.

 

Roasted Apricot Stracciatella // Not Without Salt

Roasted Apricot Stracciatella

base recipe from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

1 pound apricots, halved and pitted

2 cups milk

1 tablespoon +1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 cup heavy cream

1/3 + 1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2  tablespoons light corn syrup

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

3 tbsp. cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped)

1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Place the apricots in a cast iron skillet or small baking dish along with 1/3 cup sugar. Roast for 40 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Remove the apricots from the oven and gently smash them with a rubber spatula to make a craggy and rough puree.

Set aside while you prepare the base. In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup milk and the cornstarch; set slurry aside.

In a 4-qt. saucepan, whisk together remaining milk and the cream, sugar, syrup, and salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 4 minutes; stir in slurry. Return to a boil and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Place cream cheese in a bowl and pour in 1/4 cup hot milk mixture; whisk until smooth. Then whisk in remaining milk mixture.

Fold in the apricot puree and lemon juice. Set a bowl inside of another bowl that is filled with ice water. Pour the base into the top bowl. Let sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very cold.

Pour mixture into an ice cream maker; process according to manufacturer’s instructions.

While the ice cream is churning, melt the chocolate with the coconut oil (quick 15 second bursts in a microwave, stirring in between heatings, until melted) until smooth.

When the ice cream looks like soft serve, slowly drizzle in the chocolate and let the process of the churning break up the chocolate into small bits.

Transfer ice cream to a storage container and freeze until set.

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Salmon and Chickpea Salad

Salmon and Chickpea Salad // Not Without Salt

I didn’t intend to post two salmon recipes in a row but I did intend to tell you about this one as quickly as possible.

This is the salad that has balanced out the burgers and ice cream. It’s the one that has put me back on a healthful track when the weekend’s activity were filled with less-than-healthful things. Good things but the sort that need me to reset. And it’s the one that is getting me to eat salmon (along with the sandwich from the last post) because I live in Seattle so I feel it’s part of my duty to consume a lot of salmon.

Salmon and Chickpea Salad // Not Without Salt

 

Salmon and Chickpea Salad // Not Without Salt

I love this salad for its brightness, the briny pop from both olives and capers and the way in lingers in the fridge until the next day. Because this is the sort of season that I need food to linger in the sort of satisfying way when the work of one meal carries on to the next and then the next.

As with most of my recipes feel free to tweak this one to suit your tastes. Another green, in place of the arugula would be fine here too. I just happen to have a garden bursting with the peppery green.

Salmon and Chickpea Salad // Not Without Salt
 
Salmon and Chickpea Salad // Not Without Salt

Salmon and Chickpea Salad

Serves 6 (or more as a side)

 

2 salmon fillets

salt & pepper

3 teaspoons dijon

2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 medium red onion, finely diced

1 cup halved kalamata olives

1/4 cup capers

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup chopped dill

1/4 cup chopped basil

3 cups arugula

 

For the Salmon:

Preheat your oven to 350°F

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper then cover with the dijon. Roast on a parchment lined sheet tray for 20 minutes or until just cooked through.

 

Salad:

In a large bowl combine the garbanzo beans, red onion, olives, capers, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cherry tomatoes. Toss well and taste. Adjust to your liking. This can sit for up to an hour if need be.

Just before serving add in the herbs and arugula. Add the salad to a platter and top with the room temperature or just warm salmon that has been broken into very free form pieces. Finish with a few more bits of herbs if you have them.

Serve right away.

Leftovers, however not as pretty, do keep for a couple days in the fridge. You can hide their tired look in between a couple pieces of butter toasted bread.

 

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Plank Grilled Salmon Sandwich

Plank Grilled Salmon Sandwiches // Not Without Salt
Plank Grilled Salmon Sandwiches // Not Without Salt

Judging by the bug bites, dirt under their nails and their olive skin deepening to a color much like browned butter I say that we’ve been doing summer right; according to the unwritten rules of childhood summers. They’ve spent evenings camping (with more to come), sat out by countless fires, had their (almost) fill of s’mores, shot bb guns at magic hour, plucked peaches straight from the tree then consumed them until more dirt clung to their sticky hands and faces. And that was all just last weekend.

While my coffee sat brewing this morning, before the 4 minute timer signaled the time for the plunge, I stood at the fridge with pen in hand eager to mark off the items on our summer to-do list. “Only three items to check off?! But we’ve been so busy.” At first I felt a tinge of disappointment for the paintings I’ve yet to paint, the swim lessons we’ve yet to complete, the water taxi to West Seattle we’ve yet to take and the meals I’ve yet to teach the kids. But then I stopped myself because first of all, although the PR pitches and Back-to-School sales announce the impending start to school season and subsequently fall, it’s only the beginning of August which means there is much more summer to be had. More importantly I refuse to let some unmarked boxes on a to-do list that I created when I had very little idea of what the summer had in store determine the success or demise of these sun-filled days. The list was created not as a religious chart of must-do’s but as an idea generator on those days when we feel a little lost. It was to give our summer direction. But I don’t need a list to tell me (or not tell me) that we’ve done and are doing summer right.

I’m not much of a planner but having three kids has taught me that planning is no longer something I can caste off because it doesn’t come naturally to me, oh no, we have no choice but to plan. But whenever possible I still like to hold those plans with open hands free to alter them slightly or throw them to the wind if the day asks for it. I do love the satisfaction of marking things off of the plan, so much so that sometimes I’ll write things on my daily to-do list that I’ve already accomplished just so I can put a big gratifying check next to it. But I refuse to let that satisfaction rule the success of our day. I don’t want to say no to something because it wasn’t on the list. Life doesn’t work that way.

 

Plank Grilled Salmon Sandwiches // Not Without Salt Plank Grilled Salmon Sandwiches // Not Without Salt

 

There are still things that I’d like to do that sit unmarked on our list of summer to-do’s but I’ll use them as motivation rather than law. Today I’m thinking we’ll cross off “have a lemonade stand”  but if a picnic to the beach seems a better way to spend the day then we’ll do that instead. Maybe at the end of the summer I’ll write a list of all the things we did do then with great joy check off each and every box next to the item.

No matter how we choose to spend this day, I’m feeling incredibly grateful for these days, I know they are a gift and I intend to treat them as such.

As promised, I have the second in a series of three grilling recipes and videos to share today. I’m so glad there is much more summer left so you have time to enjoy these plank-grilled salmon sandwiches. There’s a bit of grilled bacon in there too, along with a red onion relish that is sweet, tart and tangy with briny capers tangled in between the purple lacy onions.

Enjoy the video and recipe then head on over to Porter & York to order your salmon and have it delivered right to your door.

Plank Grilled Salmon Sandwiches // Not Without Salt

Also, while you’re clicking around the internet I wanted to point you in the direction of One Kings Lane and the stunning (I almost said beautiful but I used up that word in the salmon video) sale they created around our trip to Charlotte, NC. It’s only available for the next couple of days so go there quickly. (There’s also a video and in it I attempt to play golf. It’s okay to laugh, I do it often.)

Plank Grilled Salmon Sandwiches

Serves 6

 

2 1/2 pound fillet of King Salmon (available at Porter & York)

salt & pepper

2 heaping tablespoons dijon mustard

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

12 strips bacon

2 large avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced

3 cups arugula

6 brioche buns, halved

1/2 cup mayonnaise

 

cedar plank, soaked for at least an hour

 

Preheat your grill while you prepare the salmon.

Set the salmon on the soaked plank then season with salt and pepper. Spread the dijon on top then finish with the dark brown sugar.

Grill the salmon for 20 to 30 minutes or until the flesh is firm when touched and flaking.

After 10 minutes on the grill lay the bacon directly onto the grill and cook until crisp on both sides, about 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

Remove the salmon and bacon from the grill then let the salmon rest while you prepare the burgers.

Slather the brioche buns with mayonnaise.

Cut the salmon into 6 or so burger-size pieces. Place a piece of the salmon on the bottom bun then top with avocado, arugula and bacon. Finish with the red onion relish and then the other half of the bun.

 

Red Onion Relish

1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoons dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons red wine

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

¼ cup drained capers

 

In a medium pan over low heat, add the olive oil.  Add the red onion and salt and saute for 15 minutes or until very soft, stirring frequently until done.

Add the sugar, wine, thyme leaves and vinegar. Cover and simmer for 8 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for 5 minutes or until the liquid is syrupy. Fold in capers. Cool, then store in a jar in the fridge.

*Thanks to Porter & York for sponsoring this post and letting me create whatever I wanted with their gorgeous meat.

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Spicy Garlic Dip for Fresh Vegetables

 

 

 

Spicy Garlic Dip // Not Without Salt
Avery Island, LA // Not Without Salt

Avery Island, LA // Not Without Salt

I had the best intentions of sharing these photos from my trip to Louisiana right after I arrived home in March. But you know life sometimes alters the best laid plans and to be honest I’m still finding my rhythm with this space after being away from it in a scattered sort of a way. I poured all of my creative energy into the book last year and it left little to be shared in this space because my desire was to make the book a reflection of the best of my work at this time in my life. I am pretty damn proud of what I, and a team of great people, created but we’ll talk a lot more about all of that soon. For now let’s travel back in time to when I fell in love with Louisiana.

The wispy moss gracefully dangling from the trees, the smell; fresh and damp, the fire engine red platters towering with crawfish and the mayonnaise with TABASCO for dipping, the slender older gentleman who smiled with his eyes and forced me out of my seat and my comfort to get up and dance – I’m so glad he did, and the passion and history laced throughout the long life of TABASCO. I went on this trip with preconceived notions of this product coming from a seemingly large corporation what I found was a pride that has been passed through the generations in the same way the original recipe has. With its prolonged aging in wood barrels, the particulars with the type of pepper grown and the fact that the CEO tastes the mash (mix of aged mashed pepper and salt) from every barrel, every morning, you can understand why this product has thrived for generations and why this family is a passionate and interesting bunch.

tabasco Untitled

oysters
crawfish1
I realize that a vegetable platter with such a simple dip as this is an odd way to mark such a bountiful and southern experience but like I mentioned in the last post; if it gets made again and again I feel a certain bit of duty to come and tell you about, no matter how delayed I am.

This dip was born out of a request to bring a “crudite platter” to a dinner party. At first I balked at its simplicity, wanting to contribute more than just vegetables but then I slowly wandered through the market looking for lesser known vegetable tray fixings and came up with something that made me *gasp* at the beauty and be reminded that food, on its own, with little or no manipulation from me is enough. More than enough.

Spicy Garlic Dip // Not Without Salt
Spicy Garlic Dip // Not Without Salt
Spicy Garlic Dip // Not Without Salt*My trip to Louisiana and this post were sponsored by TABASCO. As always, the words and recipes are mine.

 

Spicy Garlic Dip for Fresh Vegetables

1 cup (8 ounces) creme fraiche or sour cream

1 garlic clove, finely minced

2-3 teaspoons Green Jalapeno TABASCO

2 tablespoons finely minced fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley, mint, tarragon and dill)

salt and pepper

 

Combine the creme fraiche, garlic, TABASCO, and fresh herbs in a small bowl. Season to taste.

 

Use whatever is in season. So many vegetables, when thinly sliced, can be eaten raw and taste sweet, fresh and bright. Beets add an unmistakable color as do radishes. Fennel is sweet and fun to dip its floppy tendrils into the spicy dip. I love endive; bitter and crisp as well as pea shoots which taste faintly of sweet peas, a bit grassy and also fun to manage its vibrant leaves into the creamy bath.

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Flank Steak Tacos

Flank Steak Tacos // Not Without Salt

I’m not one to repeat recipes but when I do I take notes and then come right here to tell you about it. Because a recipe repeated is a special one in this house.

This summer has been one of meals so simple they leave more time for us to be outside, enjoying the sun and making sure our summer to-do list, which includes; clam digging, camping, reading Little House in The Big Woods, and cooking an entire meal with each of the kids, can have a big satisfying check by it.

While the cast iron pan pre-heats I think about complicating the steak but dusting it with cumin, maybe a bit of chile powder, garlic and such but my instinct tells me to stick with salt and pepper so that the flavor of the steak itself stands out. Like so many other times, I’m glad I go with my instincts. While the steak sears to form a thick, crisp crusty exterior I dice a pungent onion, sliver some radish on my mandolin and run a frilly bunch of cilantro under a running sink. As the steak rests I warm corn tortillas in the same pan as the steak cooked so they could soak up a bit of the meatiness still left in the warm pan.

Flank Steak Tacos // Not Without Salt

 

Flank Steak Tacos // Not Without Salt

Flank steak can be a bit tough but it makes up for it in flavor. To counteract the toughness, cut against the grain of the meat and cut the steak into small pieces between 1/4-inch to a 1/2-inch. This way it will be easy to chew as it’s wrapped warmly in a tortilla.

Avocado makes a nice addition as would a garlic-laced cream sauce but on their own they show off their simplicity by being greater than the sum of their parts. Since it is grilling season or my personal favorite; cooking over the fire season, I’d suggest cooking the meat that way, if possible. Any way you cook it this meal will be one that gets made again and again.

Flank Steak Tacos // Not Without Salt

 

Flank Steak Tacos // Not Without Salt

Flank Steak Tacos

Serves 4-6

 

2 tablespoons oil

1 lb flank steak

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

8-10 small corn tortillas

1/4 cup white onion, finely diced

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

3 radishes, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado, roughly diced

1/4 cup cotija or other favorite cheese

lime wedges

 

Sprinkle the steak with salt and pepper and allow to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Add the oil to a cast iron skillet and heat over high until smoking. Add steak and sear, untouched, for 5 minutes on either side for medium.  Let rest 15 minutes before dicing into ¼ – ½ inch size pieces.

Warm corn tortillas in the same pan over low heat.

Top warmed tortillas with chopped steak, onions, cilantro, radish avocado and cheese. Serve with a wedge of lime.

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Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks with Parsley, Celery & Blue Cheese

 

Grilled Rib-Eye with Parsley, Celery and Blue Cheese // Not Without Salt

 

I dipped my toes into the crisp water of the puget sound today. I needed the biting cold relief from the water to cool me down from the heat. Standing next to a good friend we soaked in the moment, reveling in the sun wishing, for a moment, that every day could have the sun, picnics, fresh-picked raspberries, burgers and ice cream that today had. But then we both quickly stopped the fantasizing because we realized that one wouldn’t be as sweet without the other. I need the gray skies to appreciate the blue ones.

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”  John Steinbeck

When the days are dark and the skies are gray it’s hard to imagine a time when the windows remain open all day and dinner is outside; simple and cooked over the fire. If I wasn’t living in the city and fearful of infuriating my neighbors with all the smoke I think I’d cook every summer meal over the fire. There’s just something so freeing about breaking cooking down to its most basic elements. Food. Fire. Dinner.

Grilled Rib-Eye with Parsley, Celery and Blue Cheese // Not Without Salt Grilled Rib-Eye with Parsley, Celery and Blue Cheese // Not Without Salt

I’ve been so eager to share this post with you. It’s actually the first in a series of three grilling videos that I created with my brother, Chris Baron, along with Porter & York; a local company that offers hand-cut meat delivered to your door within 48 hours of ordering. We’ll release the other videos throughout the summer but for now, there’s rib-eye.

I say it in the video and I’ll say it here too; when you have good meat there’s really not a whole lot that needs to be done to it in order to turn it into a great meal. Here the meat is seasoned with just salt and pepper before it hits a very hot fire. It’s grilled just long enough for a nice, thick crust to form on the exterior while the interior stays pink. On top fragrant blue cheese left to melt under the heat of the steak and a salad of parsley and the sweet, tender hearts of celery. My awkward mouth-full of food says it all; I’m a big fan of this recipe.

Grilled Ribeye with Parsley, Celery and Blue Chesse from Gabriel Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Grilled Rib-Eye with Parsley, Celery and Blue Cheese // Not Without Salt

Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Parsley, Celery Salad and Blue Cheese

2 bone-in rib eye steaks (you can order the meat at Porter & York and have in to your house in just a couple of days)

2-3 teaspoons coarse sea salt (such as admiralty which you can purchase from The Meadow)

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

 

Parsley & Celery Salad

1 ½ cups chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

1 cup thinly chopped celery, the innermost parts and leaves

juice from half a lemon

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

salt & pepper

3 ounces great quality blue cheese, crumbled (such as Rogue River Blue)

 

For the steak:

Season the steaks generously with salt and pepper. If you can, season the steaks at least an hour in advance. Even better if you season and then let them rest, uncovered, in the fridge overnight.

Cook over low flames and hot coals for 5 minutes per side for medium-rare

Let rest for 15 minutes.

 

For the salad:

While the steaks are cooking prepare the salad. Combine the parsley and celery in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

While the steaks are still hot and resting top with crumbled blue cheese. Finish with the Parsley & Celery salad.

Serve alongside grilled vegetables or tuck slices of the steak, the salad and blue cheese into a split baguette for a killer steak sandwich.

 

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Honey Sweetened Frozen Yogurt

 

Honey Sweetened Frozen Yogurt // Not Without Salt
Aspen Food & Wine Classic // Not Without Salt
Aspen Food & Wine Classic // Not Without Salt
Aspen Food & Wine Classic // Not Without Salt
Recently I spent a few days in Aspen eating and drinking my way through the Food & Wine festival. Go ahead and take a moment to roll your eyes at that last sentence. I totally would.

The food was great, I mean really great; buffalo milk soft serve with olive oil and flaky salt, salted chocolate popsicle with tequila, duck meatball sliders with bacon and Greek yogurt jam, blue cheese powder (really, it’s a thing and quite frankly it’s going on everything) and anything that the guys from Animal and Son of a Gun made was pretty much my favorite. (If you want more to see more photos of all that  food check out my instagram).

As amazing as the food was in Aspen the people who I shared the weekend with were even better. It’s really always about the people, right?

I found my people; the ones who happily eat a burger in a hotel room bed while watching, Catfish on MTV with no shame and the ones who like to hang out in the corner at parties. I like to call us; Cornervoires. We talk about things beyond the weather, we point out the bites not to be missed and we call it a night around 10 pm because the quiet hotel room is calling us home.

 

Aspen Food & Wine Classic // Not Without Salt

 

Aspen Food & Wine Classic // Not Without Salt
Aspen Food & Wine Classic // Not Without Salt

I came home eager to cook in my own kitchen after eating so much food made by and learning from some of the best in our industry (did you know Jacques Pepin pan fries his deviled eggs?!). Basically I was spoiled by incredible food and inspired to spoil others in the same way.

This frozen yogurt pulls inspiration from a number of places and tastes from the weekend. It’s softly sweetened with honey so it’s fragrant and floral without masking the bright tang from the yogurt. I use full-fat or as close to full-fat Greek yogurt as I can find then whisk in honey, a pinch of salt to round out the flavors and finally just a bit of vanilla extract. You could add a pinch of cinnamon or cardamom or use vanilla bean if your pantry isn’t bare like mine. I came home to the markets loaded with berries and my currant tree bursting with fruit so I topped the yogurt with golden raspberries, red currants and mulberries.

I find it’s best to serve it straight from the machine so it has the consistency of soft-serve.

I do so hope your ice cream base is already in the freezer because if so you are about twenty-five minutes away from frozen yogurt.

Honey Sweetened Frozen Yogurt // Not Without Salt
Honey Sweetened Frozen Yogurt // Not Without Salt


Honey Sweetened Frozen Yogurt // Not Without Salt

*This trip was sponsored by Chobani and is the reason you’ll see a lot of yogurt inspiration on the blog in the coming months as I came home inspired by many of the amazing tastes that Chobani served over the weekend. The photos and words are all mine.

I’ll be working with them to create a “Lookbook” based on all the great food and trends we saw in Aspen. I will be sure to tell you more about that when it comes out.

 

 

 

Honey Sweetened Frozen Yogurt

Serves 4-6

 

24 ounces plain, full fat Greek yogurt

1/3 cup honey (or up to a scant 1/2 cup)

pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fresh berries for serving

 

In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, honey, salt and vanilla extract. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

 

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Green Rice Salad with Nectarines and Corn

Green Rice Salad with Nectarine and Corn // Not Without Salt

 

Green Rice Salad with Nectarine and Corn // Not Without Salt

 

Green Rice Salad with Nectarine and Corn // Not Without Salt

The window was cracked open just enough so I could smell the ocean and hear the squawking seagulls outside. It was March so I also had the fireplace blazing to offset the chilled air coming from off the water. I was alone, in a hotel room for two nights with the primary mission to finish the proposal for what is now almost a real book.

Somewhere between the marketing plan and the recipe list I got an email from Kimberley Hasselbrink of, The Year in Food. She was asking for a bit of advice on how to write a proposal. At that point (and possibly this point too) I felt in no place to be giving advice but I gave her what I got and needed from my husband and close friends throughout this whole book-making process – a cheerleader. Someone to say, “you got this! Keep writing. It’s going to be amazing!” Because I think that maybe genius is maybe more like 1% inspiration 69% perspiration and 30% cheers, hoots and hollers coming for your cheering squad standing right beside you. I’m sure Thomas Edison would agree.

Well, Kimberley it is amazing. Your book, Vibrant Food, is full of inspiration. You have me both running to my camera to work on taking better images and into the kitchen to whip up one of the many recipes that I’ve already creased the corner of the page. Girl, you did it and you did it real good.

Green Rice Salad with Nectarine and Corn // Not Without Salt

 

Green Rice Salad with Nectarine and Corn // Not Without Salt

This salad sits right next to another in the book that I can’t wait to try but this one went first because I had all the ingredients already in the fridge and cupboards. It’s simple to make, bright and full of flavor and screams summer from the corn to the nectarines. Also, it tastes great even after a night in the fridge, which scores big-time salad points in my mind because good salads that keep are hard to come by. Somehow it’s both hearty and light and since my mind is still on picnics I think this salad would make a mighty fine picnic addition.

Green Rice Salad with Nectarine and Corn // Not Without Salt

Green Rice Salad with Nectarines and Corn

recipe from Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink

Serves 4-6

 

Green Rice

3/4 cup brown basmati rice

1 1/4 cups, water plus 1 to 2 tablespoons more for the sauce

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped

Zest and juice of 1 small lime

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

fine salt

 

Grilled Corn

2 small ears fresh corn, husks and silk removed

Extra-virgin olive oil

Fine sea salt

1/2 lime

 

2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus more for garnish

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish

2 medium-ripe nectarines, pitted and thinly sliced lengthwise

1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco (I used Feta)

 

In a small saucepan, combine the rice and water, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Let the rice stand for a few minutes, then fluff. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Preheat the broiler.

To grill the corn, lightly oil both ears of corn and place in a small baking dish. Broil about 6 inches from the heat, turning every few minutes, until golden and blackened in spots, 10 -15 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside until cool enough to handle. Using a large, sharp knife, cut the kernels from the cob to yield about 1 cup. If you have more than this amount, save it for another use. Transfer the kernels to a bowl and toss with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime. Set aside.

Transfer the rice to a large bowl. In a blender, combine the cilantro, parsley, jalapeño, lime zest and juice, olive oil, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon water. Blend until smooth. Add up to 1 more tablespoon of water to thin the sauce if it’s too thick. Spoon the mixture over the rice, scraping any remaining sauce out of the blender with a spatula, and mix until the rice is evenly coated.

To finish, add the corn and additional parsley and cilantro to the rice. Toss to combine. Transfer the rice to a serving platter. Sprinkle the nectarines and queso fresco over the rice in even layers. Garnish with additional parsley and cilantro. Best served immediately. Can be made up to a day in advance;bring to room temperature before serving.

 

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A Picnic Primer + Oatmeal Pecan Cookies


oatmeal pecan cookies // not without salt

On a recent trip to Charlotte, North Carolina I had the pleasure of sitting down to a picnic while learning the origins of informally dining outdoors and the proper picnic etiquette. We sipped chilled white wine; crisp and light, in the humid heat of the south while our instructor, Carl Libonati (the etiquette guru at the Ballantyne Hotel) taught us about what one would wear, how we should sit and what we eat on a proper picnic. But most importantly he taught us that it’s really not about us at all but whoever you are dining with. That the goal of etiquette is not to be overwhelmed with the rules but to put the focus on others and make them feel comfortable.

I remember reading somewhere that people don’t often remember the specifics of meeting you but they easily remember how you made them feel. As I bit into an oatmeal cookie; soft, warm and dotted with pecans, I let his words hit me with a bit of conviction.

So often I allow my own insecurities and the concern about the impression I’m making overwhelm me that I completely overlook who it is I’m trying to impress. In my head I’m berating myself for the things I’m saying or not saying rather than focusing on who is in front of me and making them feel good. It’s nearly impossible to make someone else feel comfortable if all I’m doing is thinking about myself.

oatmeal pecan cookies // not without salt

 

Lucky Leaf Gardens Microgreens that are grown for the hotel. Microgreens are nutrient dense sprouts of vegetable seeds that are intensely flavorful. They are used in salads and as a delicate garnish.

 

oatmeal pecan cookies // not without salt

Carl taught us to:

 

“Never miss a chance to learn from someone else.”

 

“Always think to add.”

 

“The main idea of etiquette is making the other person feel wonderful.”

 

So in attempt to make my family feel wonderful once I returned home, I packed my idea of the perfect picnic and we headed to the park.

oatmeal pecan cookies // not without salt oatmeal pecan cookies // not without salt

 

oatmeal pecan cookies // not without salt

There was cheese; one soft and creamy the other pungent and crumbly. Cured meats laced around the cheese and soft bread and salted butter sat next to that. Watermelon slices were left to mingle with red onion, fresh mint and a salty feta. There were cubes of feta-less melon for the kids who tend to be a bit particular.

We ate a salad of quinoa, chicken and pea sprouts dressed with a bit of mustard, vinegar, olive oil and salt. A touch of honey softened the vinegar bite and diced red onion and smokey pimenton added a soft heat.

For dessert, for those who ate their quinoa (I had three servings) there were cookies. Kelli Fayard’s favorite oatmeal pecan cookies to be precise. Kelli is the pastry chef at the Ballantyne Hotel and she graciously shared her recipe for these cookies that are soft, spiced with cinnamon and clove (although I put nutmeg in mine) and loaded with chopped toasted pecans.

If kind words fail you, I find that a cookie does wonders to make any guest feel wonderful.

A picnic is not meant to be fussy. In fact you could very easily have a picnic with a few cheeses, meats, fruit and a bottle of wine quickly snatched from the store on the way to the park. The point really is about creating the space to enjoy a meal or hefty snack in a beautiful setting along with people you care about.

oatmeal pecan cookies // not without salt oatmeal pecan cookies // not without salt

 

oatmeal pecan cookies // not without salt

*This trip was paid for by The Luxury Collection and One King’s Lane. Check out The Luxury Collection on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

 The sale is now LIVE! Be sure to check out our video and inspiration from Charlotte. 

Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

 

2 dozen (or so)

 

This recipe was provided by Kelly Fayard, the pastry chef at The Ballantyne Hotel. It’s her favorite and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a soft cookie with a subtle bit of spice. She chose cinnamon and clove but I’m more partial to nutmeg. I also added chocolate because I can’t help myself. They really don’t NEED it but when it comes to cookies I find that chocolate always helps.

 

1/2 cup butter, soft

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon whole milk

1 large egg

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (or 1/8 teaspoon clove)

1 1/4 cups oats

1 cup chopped, toasted pecans

1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (optional)

Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla. Mix until well incorporated.

Add all the dry ingredients, including pecans and chocolate and mix until combined.

Scoop even size balls of dough (about 1 tablespoon size) on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 325°F for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

 

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Pickled Grapes

Pickled Grapes // Not Without Salt

 

Pickled Grapes // Not Without Salt

“Real life, I’ve finally learned, is created by stacking normal days, one on top of the other, for decades, and living each of those days as fully as possible, embracing whatever each day brings.” Richard Dahlstrom

With pen in hand and frustration flowing like ink, I wrote in my journal a couple months ago about how I was like a hamster running around in a wheel going nowhere. The second I finished writing the last ‘e’ I looked at the word and was struck by how wrong I was. This is where I get stuck over the details and wonder how many of them are necessary but bare with me because there is a point and I think somehow I can get it back to pickled grapes. We’ll see.

I’ve lived much of my life moving from one goal to the next and somewhere in there when I was working hard on the current goal; getting out of our tiny townhouse into a slightly bigger home, I failed to see the successes of our normal days and only saw my own failings because I had not yet met the latest goal.

Dreams are good, goals are good but not when they cast a shadow over our every days. Not when I determine I’m going “nowhere” or doing “nothing” because I’ve yet to meet that particular goal. You know what would happen the second I met that goal? I’d come up with another one and feel  like that hamster in a wheel all over again.

I’m paying more attention to our normal. Giving more notice to the every day and adjusting my attitude to gratefulness rather than longing. I’m enjoying this day and then stacking it on the next one amassing a pile days filled with end of the year parties, first bike rides, playing UNO in the sun, eating Tacos at Essex, ballet recitals, movie nights with the kids, popcorn and far too much candy and movie nights with girl friends who love a good feast.

And this is where the grapes come in. It seems sort of strange, right? Pickled grapes. But if you’ve been around here for long you know that I tend to pickled just about anything (Peaches, green beans, cherries, scallions, etc.) so you shouldn’t be too surprised. I was going to let these go unnoticed but then I started to realize that this is the sort of recipe that has been a part of the stacking of days. These were a hit at a friend’s gallery walk and played a role in our movie night last week.

I prefer the grapes to be lightly pickled. The apple cider vinegar is cut with a bit of water and I tend to start eating them after only a couple of hours in the brine. They still taste of grape but there is a pleasant tanginess and a soft warmth. They sit beautifully on a cheese plate especially when left on the stem (just be sure to let people know they are pickled). They are also lovely alongside grilled pork or chicken. However you like to eat them they are just the recipe to help embrace whatever the day brings.

Pickled Grapes // Not Without Salt

 

Pickled Grapes // Not Without Salt

 

Pickled Grapes // Not Without Salt

*One more thing before you go. Gabe and I had such a great time teaching Food Photography at Aran’s studio and the response was so lovely we decided to do it again this October. Check out Aran’s blog (Cannelle et Vanille) for all the details. It’s an inspiring two days that includes a trek around Pike Place to gather ingredients and take our cameras out to the streets. I’d LOVE to meet some of you there. Registration has just opened. Thanks!

 

Pickled Grapes

Serve these on a cheese plate or tuck inside a picnic basket for a refreshing bite. Here I’ve paired it with a beautiful Parmesan that was sent to me by Italy Terra.

 

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

3/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon whole coriander

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

pinch salt

1 large bunch of red grapes

 

Combine the apple cider vinegar, water, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, brown sugar, and pinch of salt in a small sauce pan and bring to boil. Turn off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Submerge the grapes in the hot brine and let sit until cool. You can pluck the grapes off the vine and place them in jars and then top with the brine but I like to present the grapes on the stem.

Refrigerate the jars or the whole pot once cool.

Pickles are ready to serve once chilled or will keep refrigerated for up to one week.

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Watermelon and Peach Fresh Fruit Cake

Fresh Fruit "Cake" // Not Without Salt

IMG_9096

The passing of May marks the end of birthday season for us. There was parties, way too much sugar, new photos taken and time spent in the memories of the old ones.

And there’s reflection.

“You’ve been a mom for 8 years!” Someone reminded me when I told them how old Baron is. Eight. Years.

I want so badly to be able to put into words what that means. To be able to offer up some intensely wise parenting advice that my younger self would have soaked up in the midst of tear filled days, from both baby and myself. But every word seems to fall short. Maybe it’s like the time I tried to paint a photo of Gabe in one of my watercolor classes in college. He ended up looking more like a monkey than the handsome man he is. My professor could see my frustration. “It’s hard to paint what you are too close to.”

I can’t sum up much of anything relating to parenting because I’m still very much in the midst of it.

There may no longer be diapers but there are scraped knees from just learning how to ride a bike. There are tears from the frustration of homework and so many tough questions and decisions that come from parenting three very different little people.

I do know that parenting is the best kind of hard.

Fresh Fruit "Cake" // Not Without Salt

Fresh Fruit "Cake" // Not Without Salt

Fresh Fruit "Cake" // Not Without Salt

The sort that makes you better. In an uncomfortable, awkward and painful sort of way.

It’s heart bursting joy and gut wrenching sadness. Quite often those polarizing emotions are felt at the same time.

I have my children to thank for teaching me how to be vulnerable. To be okay with pieces of my heart existing outside of my body. Is this a good thing? I think so. I can’t fake that I have anything in control. They keep me humble and make me proud.

I love better. Deeper. Both myself and these little people.

They’ve led me to grace time and time again.

Being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve done (am doing) and yet when a dear friend texts a picture of her new baby I melt into a puddle of joyful tears because it’s the best kind of hard.

Fresh Fruit "Cake" // Not Without Salt

Fresh Fruit "Cake" // Not Without Salt

Watermelon and Peach Fresh Fruit Cake

I almost didn’t post a picture of this “cake” on Instagram. I didn’t like the light, or the background, or the angle, or… But the response warranted this post and reminded me not to fear imperfection. A lesson I’m learning again and again.

When I asked Roman what he wanted for dessert he said, “watermelon and peaches.” His desire for fresh fruit and my desire for a tiered cake birthed this sort-of cake. He and his friends ate it with the same sort of abandon they would have had it been chocolate.

 

1 small watermelon (for a 6 to 8-inch cake)

2-3 peaches, thinly sliced

1 cup fresh blueberries

 

There really isn’t much of a recipe. The size of your cake depends on the size of your watermelon.

Cut four 3/4 to 1-inch layers and ran a knife just on the inside of the rind. Stack the layers on top of each other and trim up the edges to make sure they are the same size.

In between the layers are thinly sliced peaches.

Plunge a skewer through it all so the layers hold together and sprinkle with fresh blueberries.

I wouldn’t be opposed to vanilla ice cream or some sort of sorbet served alongside the slices but really the kids didn’t need it.

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Dating My Husband: Foraging

Chilled Avocado Soup with Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

“I want us to be a family that forages together.” I told Gabe.

“That’d be fun.” He responded not really knowing what that means or looks like but eagerly jumping on board as he often does when I come up with yet another lofty dream.

So we have a few books on our shelves that identify edible plants through scientific illustration, I’ve been out mushroom hunting once, and we’ve talked about taking the kids for hikes but that had been the extent of our foraging experience until one Friday afternoon in April.

Gabe and I were invited to choose a curated date through the site HowAboutWe for Couples. In their own words, “HowAboutWe is a company that helps people fall in love and stay in love.” In my own words, “it’s a company that helps couples such as ourselves plan fun dates because we are too overwhelmed with the idea to do it ourselves.”

We dropped off the kids at school then headed east and into the woods with local foraging expert, Langdon Cook. Along the three-mile path he identified miner’s lettuce, fiddlehead ferns, huckleberries, salmon berries, wild raspberries, Oregon berries, and stinging nettles.

Being in those woods was familiar. I grew up with the pacific northwest forest as my backyard and spent my days snacking on huckleberries and cursing the stings from nettles.

Wispy moss hung low on the trees casting a soft shadow on the green carpet below. Small buds appeared on a wild plum tree just starting to open up as the warmth of spring had just hit.

“Don’t even bother trying to get those plums.” Langdon told us. “The birds will beat you to them.”

Near a trickling stream he brushed aside the grass to show us the tightly curled sprouts of a lady fern.

Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

 

Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

“This is what you are looking for.” He said as we watched him clean off the brown outer layer to reveal a citron colored fiddlehead fern. After the first one he pointed out to us we continued to see them along the path and cried out with excitement with each spotting.

Our time in the woods with Langdon was about learning what to look for and quite frankly just about enjoying the time outside, being with my husband and away from work.

At home I wanted to take a bit of what we found in the woods and make a date night out of it. So I grabbed some gardening gloves, a few bags and took the kids to the park  after school.

“We’re looking for nettles.” I told the kids.

“Why?” They asked in fearful protest.

“Because I want to make something for dad for date night.”

It wasn’t long before the adventure felt like a treasure hunt and when we happened upon our first patch, lush with the bright green frilly leaves of stinging nettles, we all shrieked with delight.

I donned the gloves and for the first time in my life I picked stinging nettles. My childhood was about avoiding them and now I was gathering them for dinner.

Roman was eager to join in the harvesting until the nettles somehow stung him through the gloves. I was very empathetic when I dropped a freshly plucked branch on my sandal clad feet.

Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

 

IMG_8186Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

 

Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

We carried on, quickly filling a bag and happily recounting our plans for pesto to the curious passers by.

Sure there had been a few stings but we did it. Well on our way to becoming a foraging family.

With the gloves still on I plunged our foraged treasure into a large pot of boiling water. I remember Langdon assuring us that after 20 seconds in a hot bath the nettles will lose their sting.

In our garden I foraged some mint and blended that along with the nettles, pine nuts, Parmesan, lemon juice and olive oil to make a grassy pesto to stir into our avocado soup.

I love that Gabe doesn’t think I’ve lost my mind when I take our three kids into the woods to gather stinging nettles for dinner. Or that he doesn’t laugh at the idea of learning how to distinguish deadly mushrooms from the delicious ones. In fact he not only encourages this sort of behavior in me, he comes home from a date in the woods then immediately signs us up for a membership to the mycological society and gets downright giddy at the idea of putting the membership sticker on our car.

When I say I want to write a cookbook he goes and gets my half-written proposal printed and turned into a book in order to push me closer to my dream. And when I talk about wanting to move our entire family to Italy for a season he fills out the paperwork for the kids’ passports so we’ll be ready to go on a moments notice. When I mention I want to start painting more there’s suddenly a little watercolor kit on my desk. He not only supports my dreams, he takes the first step before I do. He’s the one, quietly in the background pushing me, encouraging me and inspiring me to keep on coming up with ideas like taking our family out into the woods to gather the ingredients for our dinner together. Without him I’m not sure I’d be so brave.

We make a good team, he and I.

Chilled Avocado Soup with Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

*This post was sponsored by HowAboutWe but the words, as always, are mine. I was eager to jump at the chance to tell you about this company because it’s a service that Gabe and I desperately need. We’ve got the dating at home thing down. But when it comes time to go out and enjoy our incredible city we are overwhelmed with the possibilities. HowAboutWe for Couples (they have a singles site too)  is all about wonderful experiences, tailored for two. Members browse the curated collection of local dates, pick the ones they like, and go.

There are dozens of dates to choose from. I was tempted by the tastings at local distilleries and beekeeping workshop and honey tasting but in the end the foraging trip won out.

Right now, HowAboutWe is located in NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and LA. But if you sign up even if you aren’t in one of those cities, they will email you as soon as they are in your area.

If you sign up to become a member you automatically get great deals on some really creative date ideas in your area.
Go ahead and give it a try. See HowAboutWe’s collection of free dates here. Any company that gets couples to spend more time together doing fun things is good by me.

Chilled Avocado Soup with Mint & Nettle Pesto

 

Serves 2

 

1 avocado

1/2 small shallot roughly chopped

1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

 

Combine the avocado, shallot, broth, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a blender. Blend until smooth adding more broth if you’d like a thinner soup. Serve right away or cover and refrigerate for one day.

Mint & Nettle Pesto

Langdon uses nettles wherever you would spinach – in pestos or nestled in between sheets of pasta along with ricotta. He says it is one of the most protein-rich plants and freezes beautifully so you can enjoy this taste of spring all year long.

I realize that many of you don’t have access to stinging nettles like we do. Feel free to substitute arugula, basil or Italian parsley for the nettles.

 

1 cup blanched, drained and chopped stinging nettles

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1 clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup firmly packed grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup olive oil

 

Combine the nettles, mint leaves, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, Parmesan and salt in a blender, food processor or mortar and pestle. Mix until pureed then pour in the olive oil. Blend until it just comes together.

Use right away or cover and refrigerate for up to one week.

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Coconut Date Shake

Coconut Date Shake // Not Without Salt

 

Coconut Date Shake // Not Without Salt

There are some recipes that just seem too simple to share. Some, that for one reason or another I’ve deemed unworthy of a snapshot and a spot on these pages because of their ease and well, because they seem too ordinary.
I think about this as I make these so-called “humdrum” recipes again and again and again. Then I realize, these are the very recipes that should live here because they are the ones that feed our days. They aren’t set aside for celebrations that mark the passing of a year, the birth of a baby or ones that are tinted with twinkling lights on a pine scented tree. These are the ones that are consumed in the rush to get out the door for school. The ones that silence the 3 o’clock “I’m huuuuuungry” moans. The ones that get made again and again because it’s good not because it heralds many ingredients, is covered in chocolate and touts the latest in seasonal feasting. It’s the very sort of recipe that I want to share so you too will have something to fuel the spaces in your everyday. There’s room here for those too.

Coconut Date Shake // Not Without Salt

 

Coconut Date Shake // Not Without Salt

Coconut Date Shake

These were born after a recent visit to Palm Desert, more specifically Shield’s Date Garden. There I shared a date shake with my mom under the filtered shadows of palm branches. They use ice cream but I wanted something that had a bit more heft and less sugar because well, I wanted to drink it for breakfast. You know I love my ice cream but I was thrilled that here, I didn’t miss it at all. Use the freshest, softest dates you can find. If there are a little tough it may require more time in the blender.
Serves 2

1/3 cup creamy peanut or almond butter
5 pitted, soft medjool dates
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cups ice
pinch salt

Combine everything in a blender then blend until completely smooth.

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Spring Chopped Salad

Spring Chopped Salad // Not Without Salt

Spring Chopped Salad // Not Without Salt

Spring Chopped Salad // Not Without Salt

Spring Chopped Salad // Not Without Salt

I’m trying to give more thought to our table.

I put an actual tablecloth on it. I haven’t done that since we’ve had kids and quite honestly, I’m not sure I did it before then.

Pink petaled tulips sit in the middle of the table. Their slender stems bend slightly to catch the last bit of sun. I’ve pre-filled the MATCHING cups with water. The plates, however, are mismatched and the napkins are paper but hey, there’s napkins! And I’ve set the forks on them just like my mom taught me.

I’m not looking for Martha’s approval here. The point in setting the table is not for me to capture the perfect Instagram shot to garner as many “likes” as possible. I’m setting the table to mark this time. To remind myself and my family that when we gather around the table, together, over an elaborate meal or a simple one, it’s sacred. I want my kids to see me honoring this time so hopefully, they’ll feel the same way someday.

Sure, I can tell them how much I love sitting at the table with them. But sometimes words can only go so far. Sometimes creased napkins tucked under the plate just so and ruffly tulips leaning over our dinner or an expensive cloth draped over our dinged up table says more about the importance of our time around the table then my words ever can.

Spring Chopped Salad // Not Without Salt

Spring Chopped Salad // Not Without Salt

Spring Chopped Salad // Not Without Salt

Spring Chopped Salad // Not Without Salt

Spring Chopped Salad

Serves 4-6

 

This salad has happened many times in the last couple of weeks. The produce changes depending on what’s in the fridge or what looks good at the market. There’s always salami, specifically Finocchiona, sharp cheddar and a bright, shallot-laced vinaigrette that brings it all together.

Use this as a guide. It’s really the sort of meal that does a grab job of using up the leftover bits in the fridge. That’s actually how this salad came got its start.

 

5-6 cups cut, cleaned greens, cut in 1-inch ribbons (I used romaine & treviso)

1 cup blanched fresh (or frozen) peas

1 cup chopped fresh herbs (chives, mint, parsley)

4-5 radishes, chopped

1/2 avocado, diced

1 cup garbanzo beans

1 cup chopped sharp cheddar

1 cup chopped salami such as finocchiona

1/4 cup toasted pepitas

 

Other options:

cucumber

red onion

scallion

blanched green beans

asparagus

pickled peppers

olives

Shallot and Cider Vinegar Vinaigrette

6 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

pinch sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Combine everything in a medium bowl and whisk.

Add all the salad components to a large bowl then toss with the dressing. Serve immediately.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Fresh Mint Buttercream

Chocolate Cupcake with Fresh Mint Buttercream // Not Without Salt

 

Chocolate Cupcake with Fresh Mint Buttercream // Not Without Salt

 

Chocolate Cupcake with Fresh Mint Buttercream // Not Without Salt

 

I’ve written in this space long enough to have mentioned cupcakes a number of times. At first I thought, “I can’t post yet another cupcake recipe, can I?”

Of course I can. Because one can never have too many recipes for a rich and perfectly textured chocolate cupcake and this frosting really needs to be brought to your attention. While my boys may not appreciate the little green flecks covering their cake I sure do. I love that there’s a nod to spring. A fresh taste that’s not astringent or harsh. It’s soft, grassy and light – definitely mint but not toothpastey as some extracts can be. The flavor is all in the leaves, which right now is the only thing popping up in my little garden besides chives and the straggly looking kale left over from last season.

The other reason why I bring up cupcakes is to mention that I’m helping Jennifer Shea, the owner of Trophy Cupcakes here in Seattle, launch her book tour. I’ll be joining Jennifer at Williams-Sonoma this Saturday. While she whips up cupcakes and teaches us the art of the buttercream ruffle, I’ll be serving up Rhubarb Cream Soda. Hope to see many of you there.

Chocolate Cupcake with Fresh Mint Buttercream // Not Without Salt

 

Chocolate Cupcake with Fresh Mint Buttercream // Not Without Salt

 

Chocolate Cupcake with Fresh Mint Buttercream // Not Without Salt

 

Chocolate Cupcake with Fresh Mint Buttercream // Not Without Salt

Chocolate Cupcakes with Fresh Mint Buttercream

from Trophy Cupcakes and Parties! 

Makes 2 dozen (although I actually got 3)

 

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups cocoa powder

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

3/4 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 3/4 cups sugar

1 cup boiling water

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Combine the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and dry ingredients. Blend at low speed, then increase the speed to medium and mix until the batter is completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the stand and add the boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon, carefully so that it doesn’t splash, until the batter is smooth again. It will be thin. Let the batter rest for 15 minutes and stir gently before using.

Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full and bake until the tops of the cupcakes are firm and a cake tester inserted in the center of a middle cupcake comes out with just a few crumbs, about 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes in the pans before removing to cool completely.

 

Fresh Mint Buttercream

I find that this frosting is best made the day you plan to eat the cupcakes.

 

4 ounces cream cheese, soft

2 sticks/ 8 ounces unsalted butter, soft

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely minced

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups packed powdered sugar

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment combine the cream cheese, butter, salt and mint leaves. Beat on low until well combined. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula then mix on medium low for one minute more.

With the machine on low add the powdered sugar. Once combined, increase the speed to medium high then beat for three minutes, until light.

Frost the cooled cupcakes then top with a sugared mint leaf if you’d like.

 

To make the sugared mint leaves, I chose pretty, fresh leaves that used my fingers to coat then in lightly beaten egg whites. You could use a pastry brush if you’re more civilized than I. Then I dipped then in fine sugar (regular sugar pulsed in a blender or food processor works well). Place the leaves on a plate to dry for 24 hours or so.

 

 

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Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Cake

Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Cake // Not Without Salt

 

Here are my tips for having THE best 32nd birthday:

Celebrate at least four times throughout your birthday week and feel no shame about it. Sure it’s only your 32nd birthday, not 30th or 40th but still, if you want to celebrate you celebrate.

Have the sort of friends that surprise you with an evening of Karaoke because they know you love the feeling of a mic in your hands and the chance to sing until your throat is numb and you sound like a frog. Make sure that the long list of songs include Katie Perry, Dave Matthew’s Band, Garth Brooks, Madonna and Will Smith. Also, it’s definitely not a bad idea to end the night with SexyBack because watching the words, “let me see what you’re twerking with” come out of your friend’s mouths is enough to make you realize how much you love your friends.

Park yourself at the back corner table of your favorite neighborhood bar, in our case that’s Essex, and tell your friends you’ll be there all night. Also, tell them to bring a copy of their favorite book because you’re never too old for a book exchange. Don’t forget to take a moment during the evening to see half the bar filled with people you love, drinking the Ashley’s Sazerac (yes, I go there often enough to have a drink named after me, my mom is so proud), eating great food and a large pile of books running down the center of the pushed-together tables.

Stay hydrated.

Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Cake // Not Without Salt

Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Cake // Not Without Salt

On your actual birthday I recommend a quiet day with the family. If possible, ride a ferry to an island just outside of the city. Eat a pile of fried potatoes with avocado at a diner then spend the afternoon in the park so the kids can run through trees, smell the early blossoms of spring and find the perfect walking stick. In the evening curl up on the couch with your husband then fall asleep at 9:30 pm while watching Seinfeld.

Finally, make yourself this cake. Or you could ask someone else to make it for you. It’s the sort of cake for those of us who don’t really like cake because there’s no cake in it. In its place there are deeply toasted oats and walnuts, a butterscotch that begins with browned butter and a very tart rhubarb cap. The long list of ingredients may seem daunting but I assure you that it comes together between the time the kids have been fed dinner and when you said you’d be at Essex (which is roughly 1 1/2 hours). It’s the sort of cake that heralds in Spring even though you may be a touch early, but it’s your birthday and if you say it’s Spring, it’s Spring. Of course you could make your own ice cream (mascarpone or creme fraiche ice cream would be nice) but it’s your birthday and store-bought is perfectly acceptable.

 Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Cake // Not Without Salt

Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Cake // Not Without Salt

______

A couple things that I wanted to say before you get to the recipe. First of all Gabe and I just did an interview on Rain Coast Creative Salon. In it we talk about our schedules, how we manage two creative careers and three kids and the things we’ve figured out along the way. It’s sparked in me a future post, I think, because I feel so passionately about us living out who we were created to be and not who we are told to be or think we ought to be. There’s more there and I’m hoping to write through it enough to share more with you all here.

The other thing is like pinch-me-exciting. I love the computer screen but I REALLY love the printed page so you can imagine how thrilling it was to see my recipes on the pages of this month’s Food & Wine. I created four quick and easy pasta recipes for them and in turn they made my face into a cartoon. So I have a cocktail named after me and I’ve been cartoon-ized. My work here is done. Not really, but it’s pretty cool. Pick up the April issue if you don’t have it already.

 Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Cake // Not Without Salt

Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Cake // Not Without Salt

Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Cake

Serves 10 – 12

 

Brown Butter Butterscotch

 

1 stick/ 4 ounces unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Toasted Walnuts and Oats

 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup rolled oats

1 scant cup walnut halves, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

 

Roasted Strawberries and Rhubarb

 

1 pound strawberries, sliced

3 stalks rhubarb or 2 cups/300 g sliced

1/2 cup sugar

 

Whipped Soured Cream

1 1/2 cups cream

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

2 –  1/2 gallon (1.75 quarts) containers vanilla ice cream

For the browned butter butterscotch: Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Continue to let the butter boil until it smells nutty and when you carefully swirl the pan you can see speckled milk solids on the bottom of the pan turning golden.  Add the sugar and cream then boil over for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove the pan from the heat then stir in vanilla and salt.

Let cool or refrigerate until ready to use.

Store leftover butterscotch, covered, in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

For the toasted walnuts and oats: Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Combine butter, sugar, oats, walnuts, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir well to combine.

 

Pour the oat mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Stir halfway through the baking time.

 

For the roasted strawberries and rhubarb: While the toasted walnuts and oats are roasted prepare the fruit. Toss the strawberries, rhubarb and sugar together then lay in an even layer on a parchment lined sheet tray. Roast in a 400°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes until soft and the juices bubble and is slightly thickened.

 

For the whipped soured cream: Prepare the whipped cream while the roasted fruit and the oats cool. Combine the cream, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with the whisk attachment. Whip until soft peaks form.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble the cake:

 

Add half of the cooled, toasted walnuts and oats to the bottom of a 9 or 10-inch spring-form pan.

On top of the oats add one 1/2 gallon of vanilla ice cream. This works best if the ice cream is a bit soft.

On top of that layer add the rest of the toasted oats and 1/2 cup or so of the brown butter butterscotch. More is perfectly acceptable, just save some for serving.

Stick the ice cream cake in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Remove from the freezer then top with the other 1/2 gallon of ice cream.

Just before serving pipe on the whipped cream (or just plop in on) around the edges then put the cooled roasted fruit in the center.

Serve the slices with more butterscotch and whipped cream.

You can assemble the cake entirely ahead but then the fruit and cream will be frozen so I like to wait until the last moment but have everything made ahead and ready for assembly.

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup, Scallion Kimchee + Vitamix Giveaway

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Scallion Kimchee// Not Without Salt

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Scallion Kimchee// Not Without Salt

*A winner has been selected and notified. Thanks so much for entering!!

I was recently asked to write up my thoughts on eating healthfully. Me, talk about health?! I ate ice cream last night and have a roll of cookie dough lounging in the the fridge because you never know when the urge might strike. And then I started thinking a little deeper, beyond my sugar cravings, and realized that I do have a lot to say on the subject.

First of all, I have no rules. There was a time when I put a lot of limits on the way I eat. You know what happened? All I could think about was food. All day long I would sit, hungry, dreaming about the food I told myself was off limits. I’m terrible with rules. Give me a rule and I’ll obsess over it. I thought about food day and night and yet never felt satisfied. I limited myself so much that it became my obsession. I counted calories, knew everything that was entering my mouth and planned my day around the few things I allowed myself to eat. When I broke a rule I felt terribly guilty and shameful. These rules took the joy out of food and nearly made it my enemy. I became my own enemy and was terribly unhappy.

With a diet of no rules I can think more clearly about eating that cookie. Do I really want it? Today, maybe yes. But I don’t sit around dreaming of the cookies I can’t have so I don’t crave them nearly as much. When I do enjoy them I savor it. Feeling good about it’s sweetness. I don’t fret over the calories. I enjoy the moment and move on.

I also listen to my body. I know that I feel much better when I eat meals laden with fresh produce. There’s no denying it. I feel strong, alert, energetic and healthy. I like that feeling. So when I’m not feeling those things I take it as a sign that I need more vegetables and good food. Those are the times when I pack the blender with fresh spinach and toss in an apple, carrot and lemon juice.

When you listen to your body you are also aware when it says, “I’m done.” There’s no need to keep eating when I’m full. Again, when there are no rules it’s much easier to avoid overeating because you have no reason for an unhealthy binge. You’re free to stop and look forward to the next meal when you’ll feel hungry again.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Scallion Kimchee// Not Without Salt

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Scallion Kimchee// Not Without Salt

I practice radical moderation. What’s so radical about it? Sometimes even my moderation needs moderation. I’m a firm believer in Julia Child’s great quote, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” There are vacations, and birthday parties and holidays which make healthy eating difficult. Enjoy the party then the next day recover with salad. I’m not talking about plainly dressed greens here. Salads are fun. See here, here and here. If salad isn’t your thing how about soup?

Just like everything else in life, it’s all about the little decisions. Do I really need to find the closest parking spot? Why don’t I take a few moments to walk around the block? Is that second latte the best idea? One cookie really is enough, mostly. These little decisions add up to big changes over the course of a few months, years and a lifetime. It’s not about big, radical changes that fall by the wayside before dinner is ready. It’s about a lifetime of little decisions that value yourself, your health and the health of your family.

People also ask how I teach my kids about health: I live a life following the advice I just gave you. My kids are watching. They see me choosing to walk to the store rather than drive, they see me happily enjoying a produce-packed smoothie and a colorful salad for dinner. They also see me enjoying a bowl of ice cream. I want my kids to see food for the gift it is. Not a burden or a set of rules that need to be governed. My desire is for them to respect food and to love their bodies well. I teach them by doing the same for myself.

This roasted cauliflower soup is the perfect reset meal. It’s for those times when I eat a pork sandwich for lunch and then another for dinner. It starts with a tray loaded with vegetables; leeks, celery and cauliflower. In the oven the vegetables soften on the inside and crisp and caramelize along its dimpled exterior. The original recipe comes from my friend, Aran. She made it for me once and I sat marveling at its richness with each bite. Richness, I often assume, comes from cream. Here, it’s coconut milk. She’s a brilliant one, that Aran. When she fed me that soup I had made her a jar of scallion kimchee and together they made magic.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Scallion Kimchee// Not Without Salt

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Scallion Kimchee// Not Without Salt

The perfect texture you see there is from my new best friend, my Vitamix. And here’s the best part, one of you can get a new best friend too. I’m giving away one blender thanks to the Vitamix folks (U.S. and Canada). I had been thinking of the perfect way to treat myself to a Vitamix just before they contacted me and sent one my way. I’ve talked to so many people who say they use it everyday and don’t remember what they ever did without it. I’m now one of those people. I make quick work of smoothies, juices, dressings, soups, and healthful milkshakes (the kids had no idea it was healthy). I even made corn muffins that began with wheat berries and popcorn kernels before the grain grinder whipped them into a fluffy flour. I’m hooked. Just leave a comment below to enter. I’ll randomly select a winner Wednesday, March 12. A winner has been selected and contacted. Thanks so much for entering!!

Roasted Cauliflower with Scallion Kimchee

adapted from Small Plates and Sweet Treats: My Family’s Journey to Gluten-Free Cooking, from the Creator of Cannelle et Vanille

1 medium head cauliflower,

1 large leek, white part cut in 1/2-inch slices

4 celery stalks, cut in 2-inch pieces

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

1 russet potato, diced

1 tsp thyme leaves

pinch chili flake

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk

salt and pepper

 

Preheat your oven to 400° F.

 

Toss cauliflower, leeks, and celery with 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for an hour or until vegetables are tender and there is a good deep color on many bits of the vegetables.

 

In a large pot add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil shimmers add the onions and garlic then cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the roasted vegetables, potatoes, thyme, chile flakes, stock, coconut milk, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to the heat to medium low. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Carefully puree the soup in a blender. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and some chopped scallion kimchee (recipe below).

 

Quick Scallion Kimchee

Makes 2 cups

From One Good Dish by David Tanis

 

Besides this soup I’ve found that scallion kimchee is great on eggs and sandwiches and when blended with cream cheese it makes a pretty addicting spread.

4 bunches scallions

2 teaspoons salt

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon raw sugar or dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon grated ginger

¼ cup Korean red pepper flakes*

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

*I used 1/2 tablespoon chile flakes, you can use more or less. The first time I made it I used 1 tablespoon – spicy, but good. The second time I used 1/2 so the kids could try it out.

 

Trim the scallions and cut into 3-inch lengths. Put them in a glass or ceramic bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and let stand for 10 minutes.

 

Mix together the garlic, sugar, ginger, red pepper flakes, sesame oil, sesame seeds, fish sauce, and rice vinegar. Add to the scallions and toss well to coat.

 

Lay a plate over the bowl and leave in a warm place (at least 70°F) for 24 hours. Or, for a stronger-tasting kimchee, let ripen for up to 72 hours. It will keep for a month, refrigerated.

 

Excerpted from One Good Dish by David Tanis (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers

 

 

 

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The BKR or Bacon, Kale and Ricotta Sandwich

BKR // Not Without Salt

BKR // Not Without Salt

We loaded our small car with bags, snacks, iPhones and while “Danny the Champion of the World” played through the speakers. Gabe drove with hands gripped tightly on the wheel as rain pelted against the window through much of the drive to Portland. We needed the sort of adventure that comes when we step outside of our routine. We wanted to try new things, visit old friends and to hit a sort of reset button by shaking up the familiarness of our days.

This sandwich was inspired by our little trip. We happened upon Roman Candle when looking for nothing in particular. I ordered a sandwich called, The Darling. How could you not with a name like that? But really it was the promise of kale, chickpeas, chilies and ricotta on olive bread that led me to order when I had already filled up on pastries from the previous stop. The sandwich was good, their gelato; even better.

The kale had heat and softness while the ricotta cooled. At home, I turned the chickpeas that were in The Darling into bacon because I felt the sandwich needed a bit of texture and I thought how cool it would be to dethrone the beloved BLT. Well, maybe not dethrone but perhaps be a Winter equivalent to my most loved sandwich. The olives were left out only because capers were in my fridge.

A few things to note as you adapt this sandwich to suite your own tastes. Had I remembered to grab a fresh red chile from the store I’d throw those in instead of the ground chile pepper I added. Also, had I had a lemon there would have been a squeeze of that too to brighten. Even a Winter’s sandwich needs a bit of brightness, in fact perhaps more so than Summer’s.

That is the story of the BKR: Bacon, Kale, Ricotta. Think of it as Winter’s solution to the inevitable craving for a BLT when tomatoes exist only in our dreams along with the melody of ice cream trucks and little toes dip into plastic pools.

 

BKR // Not Without Salt

BKR // Not Without Salt

BKR (Bacon, Kale, Ricotta) Sandwich

Makes 2 sandwiches

 

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 bunch kale, rinsed and cut in 1-inch ribbons

pinch chile flakes

1 tablespoon capers, drained

salt

lemon

1/3 cup ricotta

4 strips bacon, cooked until very crisp

4 slices bread, toasted (with butter in a hot skillet is how I like to to it)

 

Add the oil to a hot skillet. When the oil is shimmering add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 second over medium-high heat. Add all of the kale along with a pinch of salt and chile flakes (or sliced fresh chile if you have it). Saute until wilted and soft, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the kale to a bowl then stir in the capers. Taste and add more salt if needed and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice if you happen to have it on hand.

At this point I toast the bread in the still-hot skillet with a bit of butter. Try rubbing the bread with a garlic clove for another boost of flavor.

Divide the ricotta between the four slices of bread. Add the kale to two halves, then two strips of bacon on each sandwich and finally, top the with the other pieces of bread with ricotta.

Slice in half then enjoy.

*I can’t help but think that goat cheese would be great in place of the ricotta. I plan to try it soon. If you do, let me know how it goes. I guess we’d have to change the name to BKG. I like that too.

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Feed South Africa + Lentil Soup with Coconut

Lentil Soup with Coconut // Not Without Salt

I opened the fridge to scour its neglected contents after a busy weekend. Little bits of carrots and onion sat deserted at the bottom of the vegetable drawer. The half bunches of soggy and now unrecognizable herbs were tossed into the garbage. Once the fridge was reaped of its humble contents I moved on to the cupboards; so full a jar of fennel seeds spilled all over the counter as I dug deep in the back to find the bay leaves.

Our cupboards are full.

The purpose for this soup and this post is to bring attention to The Lunchbox Fund and more importantly the fact that 65% of children living in South Africa are hungry. As I stir black lentils into a pot with onions, carrots and red pepper I urge myself to look into that number and see faces. See children, not unlike my own in energy, joy and size. The difference is these children struggle to make it through today with grumbling tummies.

A dear friend of mine recently traveled to India. She came home after that trip moved by all she had seen and with these words, “blessed to be a blessing.” They rang through my head as I created a soup of ingredients from my cupboard. With a full cupboard and a voice I too can be a blessing and so can you.

Lentil Soup with Coconut // Not Without Salt

Lentil Soup with Coconut // Not Without Salt

Today we have a goal, a big goal, a doable goal – to raise $5,000. It’s enough to feed 100 South African children for an entire year. You know, what if we raised $10,000 so we could feed 200 sweet children? Could we do $15,000?! I totally think we could. That’s 300 little ones able to live and go to school with full stomachs and healthy minds and bodies. As my little boy said over while we sat at our table and ate lentil soup, “that’s a lot of kids.” Yes, it is. And we can feed them.

If you are blessed with a full cupboard, let’s be a blessing to those whose cupboards are empty.

Please join myself and nearly 100 other bloggers in donating to The Lunchbox Fund. We are nearing closer to our goal but I say let’s leave that $5,000 goal in the dust and reach for something greater. Anything helps.

Lentil Soup with Coconut // Not Without Salt

 

Lentil Soup with Coconut // Not Without Salt

If you feel inspired to help us today head here to make a donation and thank you, Nicole Gulotta for starting this campaign.

 

Lentil Soup with Coconut

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 large carrot, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 red pepper, diced

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

salt & pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 bay leaves

pinch chile flake

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk

3/4 cup black Beluga lentils (I’m sure other types would be fine, you may have to adjust the amount of water and cooking time)

2 cups water

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. When the oil is shimmering add the onion, carrot, celery and red pepper along with a pinch of salt. Saute until the vegetables are tender and lightly golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, coriander, bay, chile flake and a few grinds of black pepper. Continue to saute for 3 minutes until fragrant and the garlic softens. Stir in the tomato paste and coconut milk. Scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan then stir in the lentils. Add the water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt, bring to a boil then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, remove the cover and continue to simmer for 10 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Garnish with fresh cilantro, shaved radish and a drizzle of olive oil or unsweetened yogurt.

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Winter Herb Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck

 

Winter Pasta // Not Without Salt

Winter pasta // Not Without Salt
pasta 1-2

 

It’s harder for me to find beauty in the winter. I struggle to see joy when I can’t feel my toes. I spend far too much time grumbling about the lack of light that makes my photos feel dull and my mood, well dull too. But then I take a closer look at the colorful baking sheet in front of me born from a few vegetable drawer scraps. Their tough interiors soften in the oven while their edges wrinkle and char and they emerge sweet.

The ground is frozen and yet rosemary and thyme cling for life in our garden. I marvel at their scent and the piney reminder of one of the joys in this season. It is harder to find the beauty in the season but it just teaches me to look more closely because no matter happens in the day there is always sufficient joy and grace  in it. It is all a matter of what I choose to see.

I’ve been meaning to share this pasta for a couple weeks now and I failed to write out the details of the process but really it’s more of a general idea. It’s a clean-out-the-fridge sort of pasta ; whatever vegetables you have on hand roast in the oven while pasta boils and is scented with woody herbs. On top garlic laced bread crumbs, Parmesan and fresh Parsley. It’s the perfect comforting, simple dinner. My favorite kind in the winter.

 

pasta 3

pasta 4

Winter Pasta // Not Without Salt

Winter Herb Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

Serves 4- 6

Inspired by epicurious.com

1 1/2 pounds vegetables, cut in 1-inch pieces

10 ounces bucatini or spaghetti

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 tablespoons butter

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Parmesan

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

 

Toss the vegetables on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in a 425°F oven until tender and charred in parts, about 45 to 60 minutes.

While the vegetables roast boil a large pot of heavily salted water. Cook the bucatini until al dente.

Drain the pasta reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

Add the rosemary and thyme to the pasta. Pour in 1/4 cup pasta water and cook over low until the pasta looks slick and the pasta water coats the noodles. Add more if needed. Remove the pan from the heat.

Add the vegetables to the pasta. Toss to combine.

In a large skillet melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until golden and fragrant.

Add the bread crumbs to the pan then cook until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add the pasta to a serving platter then cover with bread crumbs, freshly grated Parmesan and chopped fresh Italian parsley.

 

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Tomato Poached Eggs with Kale and Wheat Berries

Baked Eggs with Kale and Wheat Berries // Not Without Salt

I’m taking a much needed break from attempting to come up with a title for my book to come talk to you all instead. Thanks for the lovely distraction.

I’d much rather talk about my dear friend, Megan’s book right now. Megan writes a beautiful blog called, A Sweet Spoonful and her first book, Whole-Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons has finally arrived. I’ve had my copy on pre-order since July so you could imagine my excitement when the little package containing her words, her recipes, her story, along with beautiful photographs arrived.

Whole-Grain Mornings is like a kind friend who holds your hand while you navigate your way through the daunting world of grains. There are handy charts, inventive recipes and beautiful photographs. I will be forever indebted to her and Sam for changing the way I make oatmeal. And that Whole-Grain Gingerbread has already made the rounds twice. But it’s these eggs that I am here to talk to you about today.

Baked Eggs with Kale and Wheat Berries // Not Without Salt

 

 

Baked Eggs with Kale and Wheat Berries // Not Without Salt

We bake a lot of eggs around here. In a bit of cream with cheese, alongside ham, in a simple tomato sauce or whisked together to form some sort of Frittata with components of the fridge that are in need of a home. But Megan’s version is robust, hearty and uses wheat berries (!!). Why had I never thought of tucking those lovely little chewy gems into my baked eggs? They give the dish heft and bite and make the humble egg seem more worthy of being called a meal. There’s also chiles, capers, lemon and feta leaving an impression that lingers for many meals.

Baked Eggs with Kale and Wheat Berries // Not Without Salt

 

Baked Eggs with Kale and Wheat Berries // Not Without Salt

Tomato Poached Eggs with Kale and Wheat Berries

From Whole-Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons

Serves 4-6

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced

2 Anaheim chiles, stemmed, seeded, and diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 (28 ounce) can crush tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3/4 cup cooked wheat berries (boil in salted water for about 30-40 minutes until tender but chewy)

3 tablespoons capers, drained

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (I didn’t have a lemon so I left this out)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped

5 to 6 large eggs

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Flaky salt

Red pepper flakes

 

In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, warm the oil until it shimmers. Add the onion and saute´until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chiles and continue to saute´for 3 to 4 minutes more. Then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, cooked wheat berries, capers, cumin, paprika, lemon zest (if using) and kosher salt and stir to combine. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat until the sauce just starts to thicken, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Stir in the kale and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes until the color brightens and the leaves soften. Carefully crack the eggs evenly around the pan. Cover and gently cook until the whites are firm but the yellows are runny, 6 to 8 minutes.

Top with crumbled feta. Serve with flaky salt, olive oil for drizzling and chile flakes for heat.

Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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Salad of Cara Cara Oranges, Avocado and Feta

Salad of Cara Cara oranges, avocado, feta // Not Without Salt

January 1st didn’t start the way I hoped it would: an early morning visit to urgent care after a sleepless night with my little one in pain still battling a sickness that lasted nearly all of his holiday break. “So this is how 2014 is going to be?” I heard myself thinking. Like a crazed Eeyore I began bracing for a rough year just because the morning didn’t exactly go as I hoped. Luckily, before the defeatist thoughts took root I determined that I get to say when the fresh start begins, not the clock or the calendar. And even if everyday in 2014 needs a bit of a fresh start so be it. We’ll begin again and again and again.

I’d like to credit this fresh outlook to lunch. Cutting into the Cara Cara orange I marveled at it’s soft pink flesh. The tint matches a grapefruit but the taste is much sweeter and reminiscent of tropical fruit. It’s floral, fragrant and because of its differences from the oranges I’ve grown accustomed to it feels special.

Ivy joined me in the kitchen while I assembled the salad. I slid my sharp knife around the curve of the orange to remove the peel and pith while she used her plastic 3 year-old friendly knife to cut the rosy segments into small pieces.

“I love making this salad with you, Mama.” She said while proudly tossing the jagged orange bits into the salad bowl. It’s amazing how quickly a little bump in the day can be smoothed out when I’m able to focus on something simple and good.

I made quick work of the avocado dressing, riffing off of Suzanne Goin’s version in The A.O.C. Cookbook. The creamy and softly green colored dressing tussled with ruffled ribbons of romaine and endive, chunks of avocado, Ivy’s cut segments of orange, crumbled bits of feta and toasted sesame seeds because, why not? At the last minute I remembered the cilantro and lunch was ready as was my fresh start.

With each bite the chaos of the morning became a whispered memory and in its place I found the space to think about the new year. There aren’t weighty aspirations and dreams of great success on this year’s list but rather nudgings towards being a finer tuned me.

Salad of Cara Cara oranges, avocado, feta // Not Without Salt

Salad of Cara Cara oranges, avocado, feta // Not Without Salt

Become good friends with my journal.

Promote others.

I will not care about the social media numbers.

Feel strong – eat well, exercise, practice radical moderation.

Care less about looking foolish, unwise, unimportant and imperfect.

Stretch – physically, mentally, spiritually, creatively.

The word “should” is kicked out of my vocabulary because it’s not a pang of guilt that motivates but a genuine desire stirred by passion. From that great work is made.

Live grace.

 

There are more. Some are less vague, others will be hard to measure but that’s okay because I’d rather focus on measuring butter and sugar and just live.

So here’s to fresh starts, whenever they happen, and a very happy, hearty and gracious new year. It’s going to be a good one, friends.

Salad of Cara Cara oranges, avocado, feta // Not Without Salt

* Quick reminder * Gabe and I are teaching a 2-day food photography workshop at Aran’s (Cannelle et Vanille) gorgeous new studio. We’ll shoot around Pike Place, in the studio, enjoy great food together and talk about lighting and editing. There are a few spots left. Snag ‘em. Sign up can be found here.

 

Salad of Cara Cara Oranges, Avocado and Feta

Salad of Cara Cara Oranges, Avocado and Feta

adapted from The A.O.C. Cookbook

serves 4

 

2 Cara Cara Oranges, peeled and segmented

1 head Romaine washed and cut into thin ribbons

2 heads of Endive (optional) cut into thin ribbons

1 ripe avocado

1 cup crumbled Feta

1 cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)

 

Avocado Dressing

1 large, ripe Haas avocado

zest and juice from 1 lime

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup olive oil

pinch chile flake

salt

 

For the dressing:

Combine the avocado, lime zest and juice and water in a blender or food processor. Process until completely smooth. Pour in the olive oil and pulse just to combine as you don’t want to bruise the olive oil or it will taste bitter.

Add a pinch of salt and chile flake. Taste and adjust seasoning.

 

Combine the clean greens in a bowl and toss with enough dressing to coat. You will have leftover dressing. I like to give the greens a pinch of salt too. Seems strange but I assure you even lettuce perks up with a bit of seasoning.

Add the orange segments, avocado, cilantro and feta. Finish with the sesame seeds, if using.

Serve immediately.

Well covered, extra dressing will keep in the fridge for a few days.

 

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Hot Ginger Toddy

Hot Ginger Toddy // Not Without Salt

It’s interesting to me how we all respond differently to recipes. For me there’s a physical reaction when I come across a recipe that I can’t wait to try. Something inside me jumps as if to say, “yes!” I’ll respond by creasing the corner of the page to remind myself to head right to that recipe the next time I pick up the book. Sometimes, and I love this when it happens, I’m so inspired by a recipe I’ll tuck the book under my arm and carry it with me right into the kitchen and immediately get started. For this reason butter always sits on the counter at the ready in case a perfectly softened stick is needed and my excitement can’t bear to wait.

Three words, “hot ginger tea” was all it took to get me straight into the kitchen. The other motivator could have been the fact that I immediately imagined this spicy tea with a splash of bourbon to transform the tea to a toddy and with that our evening’s cocktail was made.

The original recipe comes from David Tanis’ new book, One Good Dish. The book is filled with simple, inspiring and beautiful food. This recipe acts more of a guide and has only four ingredients, including the water. It’s tea in its most basic form. Sliced ginger; woody and hot, dance around a pot of boiling water until the water is deeply spiced. A bit of honey swirls in the pot to sweeten the mix and then for me – a lot of lemon. One its own it is the perfect tea for soothing, warming and healing the sickness that is rampant this time of year. With a splash of bourbon it warms more thoroughly, is suddenly festive and becomes the perfect accessory for drinking on the couch right next to the Christmas tree.

Hot Ginger Toddy // Not Without Salt Hot Ginger Toddy // Not Without Salt

Before you head right into the kitchen I have a few things to tell you about. First of all, my husband and I are teaching a 2-day Food Photography workshop at Aran’s (Cannelle et Vanille) beautiful new studio. It’s just a few blocks away from Pike Place so we will spend some time shopping and shooting there. I’ll take you to a few of my favorite places in the market and we’ll gather some supplies for shooting and eating. I will walk you through my process, we’ll talk about editing, lighting (natural and inexpensive ways to shoot with artificial light) and Gabe – who is the tech genius – will be there to explain technical things better than I can. Where I tend to focus on composition and emotion, he balances me with his numbers and ability to explain things without using my Ritz cracker illustration which no one seems to ever get. The perfect team. I’d love to see you there! You can purchase the workshop here.

Next thing. I’m speaking at The Big Traveling Potluck!! I’m so honored to have been asked and I can’t wait to spend the weekend with many of you. Check out the line up – some of my favorite people will be there.

And finally, (this one gives me butterflies) I’m opening up a pop-up shop this Sunday (12/22) from 2-4 pm! The best slice and bake cookies you can imagine (chocolate chip with sea salt and white chocolate peppermint with vanilla salt) will be available. Right now I’m getting pounds and pounds of Valrhona chocolate and enough butter to make me happy for quite a while. Each package of dough will easily make 1 dozen cookies – enough for you AND Santa. If you are still looking for the perfect hostess gift, this is it. Come by early to make sure you snag yours! You’ll find me and my cookie dough at 1405 NW 70th St 98117 on Sunday. For those of you who aren’t in Seattle, be patient. I’m thinking about how I can get dough to you in 2014.

Hot Ginger Toddy // Not Without Salt

 

Hot Ginger Toddy

Recipe from, One Good Dish by David Tanis

Serves 4- 6

4 cups water

3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons honey

lemon

bourbon

 

In a small saucepan bring the water and ginger to a boil. Reduce the heat then simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the honey, taste and add more if you’d like.

Strain out the ginger. Pour 6 ounces or so in a cup, add 1/2 – 1 ounce of bourbon to the cup and finish with a good squeeze of lemon. Taste and add more bourbon or lemon. Garnish with a piece of lemon and enjoy while warm.

The tea keeps covered in the fridge for 2 weeks.

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Peppermint Hot Chocolate Affogato

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Affogato // Not Without Salt

“Do you want ice cream with caramel sauce or hot chocolate?” I ask Ivy. Her face brightens with the choice. She and I plan to take full advantage of a quiet house and the ice cream that sits idly in the freezer.

“No wait!” I interrupt just as she is ready to answer. “How about we have hot chocolate AND ice cream.” She doesn’t argue.

She scoots the stool over while I reach for a saucepan. Putting herself in charge of the chocolate she sneaks a taste before plunging into the hot milk speckled with floating dots of perfumed vanilla seeds. Cocoa powder, rich and nearly black, follows turning the white milk dark and thick. A scoop of ice cream sits in each bowl as a warm bath of hot chocolate pools around its base. A breeze of peppermint hits my nose, cooling and crisp, and immediately the ice cream puddles at the edges.

Her little hands wrap around the bowl smiling at what she sees. I notice her fingers; more slender than last year with chipped hot pink sparkly polish on her nails. Our legs weave together on the couch, a Christmas movie plays in the background as we give full attention to our dessert; warm and cold and appropriately indulgent.

This is the sort of scene I’ve longed for as the last several weeks were filled with deadlines and what I now describe as noise – too loud for me to notice the simple joys like this. Our December has been set aside for quiet – an intentional move during a season that tries desperately to threaten quiet and contentment. Books are being read, candles scented of Bergamot are lit, the tree stands tall in the corner with the lights beaming continuously. We will find snow, we will bake cookies, write notes, drive around oohhing and ahhing at our neighbor’s Christmas lights and warm ourselves with cup after cup of hot chocolate. Closets are purged of their unnecessary clutter and toys are being reexamined and donated. We’re finding joy in a simple sheet of white paper and a sharp pencil, some chalk and a giant game of tic tac toe in the driveway and watching icicles shatter into tiny pieces as it bears the brunt of a kung-fu chop.

There’s reality too, like a sick boy sitting next to me home from school, three-year-old tantrums about forgotten stuffed kitties, dishes that don’t clean themselves, email that needs someone to respond to and comments that threaten steal the joy of creating – it’s noise, it’s life but right now I’m working valiantly to find the quiet. It’s good to be here, in this space – imperfect and comfortable, warming and quiet. Thanks for being here and for your patience when it was a bit too quiet around here. Stay tuned for Toddy’s and cinnamon-swirled rolls, sweet and cardamom spiced. For now, hot chocolate AND ice cream.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Affogato // Not Without Salt

 

 

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Affogato

 

Serves 8 to 10 (affogato-size portions)

 

2 cups milk

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

pinch salt

few drops peppermint extract

 

In a small saucepan over medium heat bring the milk to a gentle boil. Whisk together the cocoa powder and sugar in a small bowl.

Remove the saucepan from the heat then whisk in the cocoa powder mixture along with the chocolate, salt and peppermint extract or oil to taste.

Strain hot chocolate if any little lumps remain.

Hot chocolate will keep, covered and refrigerated, for two weeks.

 

Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to a small bowl or mug. Pour 1/4 cup of warm hot chocolate over the ice cream then finish with crumbs of candy cane.

 

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Roasted Yams, Ginger Yogurt, Pickled Red Onions + London

photo 1 (1)

It’s crazy how quickly a trip feels so distant. We’ve been back for a week now and with my book deadline closing in fast I’m only now sitting down to tell you about our trip to London.

First of all, thank you for all the great recommendations. I tried to reach them all but failed miserably. I did not, however, fail in eating lots of incredible food and falling deeply in love with that city.

As I mentioned before, the purpose of the trip was to come together with a number of people with different areas of expertise to brainstorm concepts around the idea of a healthy vending machine. The original idea was submitted to TravelBrilliantly.com a stunning site created around the idea of innovative travel created by Marriott Hotels. The winner was Anjana, a beautiful, intelligent young woman from Atlanta, Georgia.

I went into the trip with a very standard concept of what a healthy vending machine would look like but around that table we talked about curated boxes, refrigerators, juice bars and deeply discussed what exactly is healthy eating. I was keenly reminded of the beauty of collaborating; of not being tied to one idea but rather allowing others to help shape, focus and refine the concept.

Before we sat down to talk about the idea we visited a number of places around the city getting inspiration for healthy eating and great design.

London // Not Without Salt

Spitafields City Farm -  A unique teaching farm in the middle of the city. The train zooms past while the pigs tear through the path to return to their pin. Locals are encouraged to get involved and get dirty growing native edibles and learning about healthful living at the same time.

Pitfields – A stunning shop where food meets design. Also, check our their stunning homes around England where you can rent and throw an amazing party.

London // Not Without Salt

London // Not Without Salt

IMG_5534

H. Forman & Sons – For authentic, smoked Scottish Salmon. Here you can see the entire operation then head upstairs for a stunning breakfast featuring their smoked salmon. It also happens to be located right across the river from the Olympic Stadium so the view is definitely not terrible.

London // Not Without Salt

London // Not Without Salt

London // Not Without Salt

Farmer’s Market – This is where I lit up. People poured through the gates eager to buy fresh produce, towering meat pies and fresh fish being scaled right in front of you.

 

Gabe and I also got to do a bit of exploring on our own:

Ottolenghi – I was a little star-struck walking into this space. I’ve read about it in all three of their books. It did not disappoint. I only wish we had more time to linger as we raced through the streets of Notting Hill to get there before they closed.

Nopi - Another Ottolenghi spot. You must make a reservation here as it is always full. Start to finish this place was perfection.

Rasa  W1- Great Indian food, not too expensive.

 

photo 1 IMG_5680 London // Not Without Salt

St. John’s Bread & Wine - This place required a second visit and I’m a little sad there wasn’t a third. The old spot bacon – essentially toasted white bread with English bacon – was one of the best things I ate in London. We also had yogurt (why is European dairy so much better than ours?!) with poached quince and then came back the next day for their donuts. The custard donut is the best I’ve ever had. The restaurant is located right across from Spitafield’s Market which is perfect for a bit of shopping while you attempt to work off the bacon and donuts. Thursday is the best day to go for antiques (the plate you see in the photo below is from the market).

Monmouth - I was tempted to have Gabe give a coffee tour of London as he made his way to several shops and had a great experience in many. Manmouth was the one place I went with him. They have several beans from all over the world. My macchiato was great but the butter cookie has made a lasting impression.

Borough Market - It’s crazy on a Saturday but still totally worth it. I only wished I had a kitchen to cook in so I could snag some mushrooms, cheese and vibrant produce. Instead I settle for Raclette; melted under a flame than drizzled onto buttery potatoes. A few little cornichons on the side.

Roasted Yams, Ginger Yogurt and Pickled Red Onions // Not Without Salt

Roasted Yams, Ginger Yogurt and Pickled Red Onions // Not Without Salt

Roasted Yams, Ginger Yogurt and Pickled Red Onions // Not Without Salt

Roasted Yams, Ginger Yogurt and Pickled Red Onions

Roasted Yams, Ginger Yogurt and Pickled Red Onions

We had already eaten before I realized how close we were to Ottolenghi. I couldn’t not get several things when we got there. Most of what I chose was sweet and all were amazing. This vibrant salad of orange yams, purple pickled onions and bright green herbs lured me in and I ate it in between bites of lemon polenta cake and a s’mores cookie. For me it’s perfect for the Thanksgiving table; classic, seasonal ingredients combined in a new, fresh way.

For Gabe’s family we are doing a latin inspired Thanksgiving which basically means that I found a recipe for Turkey bathed in chiles and I had to have it. I’ll be adding cumin to the yogurt that I’ll mix with a bit of Mexican Crema and topping it with Cotija and cilantro along with the pickled red onions.

 

Serves 6 as a side

 

2 pounds yams, about 2 medium

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

salt

1/2 cup / 115 grams whole-fat greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon (or more if you like it stronger) finely minced ginger

Pickled red onions

a handful of Italian parsley leaves

Lemon

Preheat your oven 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Toss the yams with a hefty pinch of salt and the olive oil. Add them in a single layer to the prepared pan then roast for 40 to 45 minutes until they are tender and charred in parts.

While the yams roast combine the yogurt, ginger and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.

Let the yams cool to room temperature before you transfer them to a serving platter. Dollop the ginger yogurt on top. Finish with pickled red onions, parsley leaves, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and flake salt.

I may, for Thanksgiving, add a bit of Feta to the mix as well.

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Currant and Orange Marmalade Tea Cake

Currant and Orange Marmalade Tea Cake // Not Without Salt Currant and Orange Marmalade Tea Cake // Not Without Salt

The marmalade’s original intention was for cocktail experimenting. When that went terribly wrong the jar sat lonely in the fridge until I found the perfect recipe that would accomplish three things: 1. Satisfy my craving for something sweet with my coffee. 2. Give something new for you to look at while I’m gone, which brings me to point 3. Get us even more excited about our trip to London. We leave today. I’m procrastinating packing as we speak.

This cake was more than just dessert (or breakfast) it allowed me to follow (and adjust quite a bit) someone else’s recipe. I creamed butter and sugar together without the looming pressure that it had to be perfect. I paid attention to the way the oil in the orange zest sprayed the parchment as I zested its vibrant skin because I wasn’t needing to pay attention to anything else. I just wanted to bake.

With three weeks left until my manuscript is due I’ve been working very intensely to get all the details right on the recipes you’ll meet in 2015. And while I’ve loved nearly every minute of this process, I’m tired. My generally right brain mind has been wandering into the left side more than it’s comfortable with. Wait, is it the other way around? Oh I don’t know, all that to say, I’m tired. Which makes this little jaunt to London pretty darn perfect. I’m excited to be inspired by other people’s food. To learn new tastes, new traditions and new recipes. There will also be visits to museums in between the restaurants to remind myself of my passion outside of food. And there will be moments of no plans, just wandering the street with my husband until we find a cozy pub to duck in to.

If you have any recommendations for us I’d love to hear them. Follow along on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as I’ll be posting about our trip. Follow the hashtag #travelbrillianty. Thursday through Saturday I’ll be working with Marriott Hotels as they develop an idea for a healthy vending machine.

Until then, pour yourself some tea and make this lightly sweetened, currant studded and citrusy cake.

Currant and Orange Marmalade Tea Cake // Not Without Salt Currant and Orange Marmalade Tea Cake // Not Without Salt

Currant and Orange Marmalade Tea Cake

adapted from Nigel Slater’s recipe 

1 1/2 sticks / 175 g butter, soft

3/4 cup / 175 g sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups / 170 g all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2/3 cups / 90 g dried currants

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons Cointreau

1/4 cup / 75 g marmalade

zest from 1 orange

 

icing:

powdered sugar

orange juice

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment.

In a small bowl or saucepan add the currants, orange juice and Cointreau (or other orange liquor). Warm this mixture then stir in the orange zest and marmalade. Set aside to cool while you mix the cake.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar until very light, about 5 minutes on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl then turn the mixer on medium low and add the eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla and then scrape down the bowl again.

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and whisk to combine and aerate the dry ingredients. This helps keep the final cake light in texture.

Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix on low until just combined. Slowly beat in the currant mixture. Take the bowl off of the mixer and finish mixing by hand with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the cake springs back when gently pressed.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes before inverting and cooling on a rack.

If you’d like to ice the cake combine about 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar with enough orange juice (for me this was the juice from half an orange) to make a pourable icing. I also added a pinch of salt. Pour the icing all over the cake while it is just warm

The flavor of the cake is more pronounced and set the next day.

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Chocolate Panna Cotta with Blackberry Caramel

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Blackberry Caramel // Not Without Salt Chocolate Panna Cotta with Blackberry Caramel // Not Without Salt

 

Things look different around here, right?

I hope you don’t mind the change. I freaking love it. I was getting tired of staring at the same screen and let’s be honest, even I had a hard time using my old site. Now when I land on the home page I get fluttery and excited, when I search for an archived recipe it actually shows up (!) and the photos are a bit more pronounced, which I love. But as you know, with all new things there are often a few kinks. Hopefully they haven’t affected your time here too much.

I’m still working on archiving all my past recipes so they fit in the new format because of that there was a time there that many of my recipes went missing. While I am sorry that the lost recipes were such an inconvenience for many I have really loved hearing from you. I didn’t realize so many of you were using the recipes! I love knowing that the recipes are not just sitting on the screen but that they are actually living in your homes. With each, “I was planning on making ‘x’ for dinner! What happened to it?!” or “It’s my husband’s birthday and he made a special request for your cookies but I can’t find it!” I quickly located the recipe while feeling a great honor that the recipes were exiting my kitchen and entering yours. It’s been a great encouragement as I have been working like a crazy lady trying to make 120 of my very best recipes for the book. I can not wait for you to live in these recipes. You see how it always comes back to the book?! Now you know how my friends and family feel.

If you are having any issues with the site please do let me know. However, if you don’t like it and really have no helpful critique than I’m perfectly okay if you keep that to yourself. I do realize that there are a few more clicks than before but do you see that bar that follows you? It’s right above me. That bar has arrows on it so you can easily switch from post to post without having to go back to the main page. Why am I pointing this out? Because I just realized it myself and I think it’s pretty awesome.

I have my good friend, Jono, to thank for the design and my brother to thank for being smart enough to speak ‘internets’ and make this site become the beautiful and functioning thing it is today. (Here is his company, it’s pretty great thisiscivil.com).

The other reason why I am here is to point you to this recipe I created for S. Pellegrino. It was back in the summer when blackberries lined the hiking trails and filled the shelves at the market but the idea can be used with any number of berry. The fruit itself becomes the liquid to soften the caramel and turn it into a sauce which gives you a deeply flavored, sweet caramel that is also bright and fragrant with ripe fruit. Some of the berries are gently mashed after the hot sugar is poured over top while some are left whole. The panna cotta is softly sweet, not intensely chocolate but perfectly creamy. It doesn’t need the caramel but of course I do recommend it. And I might also suggest turning this into a more seasonal apt dessert by adding in a few warming spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. The panna cotta is fine to sit in the fridge for a few days while you tend to stuffing and turkey and in lieu of the caramel a few arils of Pomegranate seeds would dress it up quite nicely. You can find the recipe here.

 

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Blackberry Caramel // Not Without Salt Chocolate Panna Cotta with Blackberry Caramel // Not Without Salt Chocolate Panna Cotta with Blackberry Caramel // Not Without Salt

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Blackberry Caramel

I realize that blackberries are very hard to find right now but I imagine that you can use frozen or another similar berry; raspberries, strawberries and possibly even blueberries.

As a contributor for S.Pellegrino’s Practice the Art of Fine Food program I created this recipe and post along with many others that can be found on their Facebook page.

*If you are having a hard time finding the recipe click the link to S.Pellegrino’s Facebook page and then hit The Recipes in the top left corner. The panna cotta recipe is featured on day 74. I’m sorry it’s not easier. I wish I could post it here.

 

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