Not Without Salt » Dating My Husband “Where would we be without salt?” - James Beard Thu, 23 Apr 2015 20:15:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Tue, 14 Apr 2015 19:52:35 +0000 Read more »]]> Karen Mordechai | Sunday Suppers Karen Mordechai | Sunday Suppers Karen Mordechai | Sunday Suppers


images by Karen Mordechai | Sunday Suppers

I love the intersection of internet life and real life. Where online friends become real friends, food becomes more than a pretty picture but rather a meal to share, and someone that you’ve put on a pedestal becomes someone that you share the table with.

This happened for me last month when Gabe and I traveled to NYC to teach a class at the stunning studios of Sunday Suppers. It is Karen Mordechai’s home away from home and it is a cook and photographers dream. It is the sort of space that breeds creativity the moment you step into its massive white expanse.

Karen along with her cheery and talented team crafted the menu all from recipes from, Date Night In. But what I love is that the dinner and menu focused on good home cooking. And I think it reminded even me that the recipes in the book can be so much more than date night fodder.

On her blog, Karen is sharing the recipe for Cacio e Pepe, this Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate and even more of her beautiful photos from our time together. 

This cake is one that suites the date night table but also belongs on your plate the next morning with a cup of coffee in hand. It can be dressed up with a touch of crème fraîche and a sprinkle of flake salt as we served it at our dinner in New York or dressed down covered in aluminum foil and enjoyed in the cab on the way to the airport, as I did the next day.

It’s sweet and bitter, scented with fragrant olive oil and capped with a cascading white glaze with flecks of pink grapefruit zest. Similarly to some of the best things in life (wine and people) this cake becomes even more pronounced and dignified with a bit of time. Yesterday’s cake is best enjoyed today.



Karen Mordechai | Sunday Suppers Karen Mordechai | Sunday Suppers


Karen Mordechai | Sunday Suppers Karen Mordechai | Sunday Suppers


images by Karen Mordechai | Sunday Suppers

Grapefruit and Bittersweet Chocolate Cake // Not Without Salt

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate


from Date Night In

Unsalted butter, for the pan

3⁄4 cup / 180 ml freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, divided

11⁄2 tablespoons freshly grated grapefruit zest, divided

1⁄2 cup / 125 g whole-milk plain yogurt

3 large eggs

2⁄3 cup / 160 ml best-quality extra-virgin olive oil

3⁄4 cup / 150 g granulated sugar

13⁄4 cups / 235 g all-purpose flour

11⁄2 teaspoons baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda

11⁄4 teaspoons kosher salt

4 ounces / 110 g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

11⁄2 cups / 170 g confectioners’ sugar

Crème fraîche, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Add 1⁄2 cup / 120 ml grapefruit juice to a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce the juice by half. Cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon grapefruit zest, yogurt, eggs, olive oil, and reduced grapefruit juice and whisk to mix well.

In a large bowl, add the granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix until everything is well blended. Stir in the chocolate.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the hot oven. Bake until the cake is deeply brown and set and springs back gently when pressed, 50 to 55 minutes.

While the cake bakes, prepare the glaze. In a bowl, combine the remaining 1⁄2 tablespoon grapefruit zest with the remaining 1⁄4 cup / 60 ml grapefruit juice. Gently, in order to prevent a confectioners’ sugar snowstorm, stir in the confectioners’ sugar and continue to stir until well mixed.

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

When cooled to room temperature, place the cake on a serving platter and drizzle with half the glaze. Reserve the rest of the glaze for serving along with the sliced cake. Serve with crème fraîche, if desired. The cake can be made 1 day in advance.

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Happy Birth-Day, Date Night In Tue, 30 Dec 2014 23:02:11 +0000 Read more »]]> Roasted Green Pozole // Not Without Salt

Today is the day that makes the book officially a full-fledged book; it’s publication day.

I’m not quite sure what I expected this day to feel like but so far it feels very normal. I’m still in my pajamas sitting on the couch with three little ones surrounding me being entertained by various means (mostly technology related) and the house is completely cluttered with the remains of the holidays.

And in other ways it is completely abnormal. Today I’m a published author. I wrote a book that is sitting on shelves all over the country so anyone could potentially walk over to the book, read some of my most personal thoughts and glance over the recipes that fed my relationship over the last couple of years, then hopefully they’d buy it (or multiple copies) and tell all their friends about it. Or they could go to Amazon and write a scathing review. Somehow either option makes me terrified.

What helps with all that terror are the amazing comments, texts, emails, and photos I see of the book on Instagram. It is such an incredible feeling to see something I’ve spent over three years on finally out in the world, being used, read and loved. So thank you. There are so many words but I’m having a hard time finding them in the midst of the fear, pride, anticipation, exhaustion, and downright giddiness that apparently accompanies one’s pub date.

So rather than a lot of words I thought we’d celebrate the day with a recipe from the book. It’s a favorite of ours (honestly, they all are) that is not only perfect for a date night but really for any night and as an added bonus, it’s pretty healthy too. If you’re like me, after all those cookies, cocktails and cream-filled dishes a broth-based, vegetal, stew-like soup is just what is needed. The bonus of this soup is that you can practically build a salad of cilantro, radish, avocado, and onion right on top.

Roasted Green Pozole // Not Without Salt Roasted Green Pozole // Not Without Salt

But before that, a few housekeeping items. I’ll just go ahead and put these here:


Indie Bound

Book Larder (order here for a signed copy!)

Powell’s (the cover here is not the most recent edition)

Running Press







Also, if you are in Seattle I believe there still are a few tickets to our Date Night In at Delancey dinner. Check out for more informations and tickets.

PORTLAND – don’t make any Valentine’s plans, I’ve got you covered. More soon!

And this is for those of you in LA and NYC: I’ve had to postpone my trip to see you all as we’ve come across a bit of a book shortage (thanks for all the orders!!) but I can’t wait to see you in March! Details coming soon.

Okay. Enough. Go make some Pozole and let’s all raise a glass to a beautiful start to 2015. Thanks, as always, for being here. 

Roasted Green Pozole // Not Without Salt

Roasted Green Pozole with Chicken

By the time our date rolls around, the sun is nearly set and there’s a slight chill in the air that makes this roasted, fragrant stew a perfect late-summer (or anytime, really) evening meal. It’s vibrant and fresh yet pleasantly hearty from roasted and ground pepitas.The original recipe comes from Gourmet magazine, but I’ve since made many changes throughout its life in our home.The biggest change being the pan-roasting of the tomatillos and garlic, which gives the soup a soft smokiness and a bit more complexity.


1⁄2 cup / 60 g roasted, salted pepitas, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted (technique in the book)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

10 ounces / 280 g tomatillos (about 4 to 5 medium size), peeled and quartered

3 garlic cloves

1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped, plus more for serving

1 jalapeño pepper, halved and seeded

1⁄2 cup / 10 g chopped fresh cilantro, divided

1 to 11⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

21⁄2 to 3 cups / 590 to 710 ml chicken stock, homemade (recipe in the book) or store-bought

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, thinly sliced

1 (15-ounce / 430 g) can hominy, drained and rinsed

To serve: any combination of thinly sliced radishes, sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, pepitas, lime wedges, diced onion, crumbled Cotija, and sour cream or crema.

Grind the pepitas and cumin seeds in a spice grinder or blender until finely ground.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot, add the tomatillos, garlic, onion, and jalapeño to the pot, along with a pinch of salt. Roast in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are charred, caramelized in parts, and tender.

Carefully transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor or blender and process along with 1⁄4 cup / 5 g chopped cilantro and 1 teaspoon salt.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pot over medium heat. Return the purée to the pot and cook, stirring frequently until thickened, for 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape up the deeply flavored browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Stir in the ground pepitas and cumin seeds, along with the oregano and 1 cup / 240 ml stock. Bring to a simmer and then add the remaining 11⁄2 cups / 360 ml stock, chicken, and hominy.

Let this simmer, mostly covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1⁄4 cup / 5 g chopped cilantro. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if you feel it needs it. I prefer the pozole to be thick, like a stew, but if you want it thinner, add more stock. Pozole can be made 1 to 3 days in advance, and in fact the flavor improves after a rest in the fridge. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Serve with the accompaniments.

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Date Night In: The trailer Fri, 05 Dec 2014 18:40:19 +0000 Read more »]]> Date Night In // Photo by Boone Rodriguez


Date Night In // Photo by Boone Rodriguez

Photos by Boone Rodriguez

I didn’t just make a movie and yet I’m here to show you a trailer. It feels a little weird and yet I love it. The trailer, I mean. It’s incredibly personal (hello, home movies) but it should be because so is the book.

It’s that honesty and vulnerability in the book that led me to my first (of many, I imagine) complete breakdowns. I mean we’re talking locked in a pitch black bathroom attempting to catch my breath in a pile of damp towels while the kids stand outside the door wondering what’s wrong with mama. “Mama, what are you doing? Are you laughing or crying?” Yeah, that sort of breakdown.

I’m sort of stuck in this dual world of terror and excitement. I’m eager for you all to finally see the book and just really hoping that you all love it and benefit from it as much as we do and have.

I’ll leave it at that and then point you to this incredibly heartfelt post my friend Tara wrote a couple years ago and then shared with me after I saw her the other day. She could see the terror all over me. I needed these words. I just told her in an email that this post was as if she went into my brain and put words to all my nonsense.

So, the trailer.

I’ve told you this before and I’ll tell you again, my brother, Chris Baron, is amazingly talented. He put this together (along with some great help from my ever-supportive husband).

Watch, enjoy, and if you feel so inclined please share it. Because as much as this whole thing terrifies me the desire to have this message shared far exceeds the fear.

Date Night In Book Trailer from Not Without Salt on Vimeo.


*Also, don’t forget about our pop-up this Sunday. We’re selling cookie mix, fresh roasted Mae James and sweet treats from my friend, Sasha from Tending the Table. Sunday (12/7) 12 – 4 1405 NW 70th St. 98117

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Date Night In: Pre-Order! Tue, 04 Nov 2014 01:10:49 +0000 Read more »]]>
Date Night In // Not Without Salt


photos by Boone Rodriguez

I had a dream the other night, a nightmare really, about seeing my book for the first time. I ripped into its yellow parcel pouch with the same enthusiasm as my four-year-old at Christmas. I flipped over the cover so I could take in the culmination of three years worth of work but inside I found hideous beige and fabric textured paper with a similarly beige font. Instantly any hope I had of people actually reading the book were dashed. They made a last minute change to divide the book by meals which made no sense for a date night book (let’s just say the breakfast chapter was very lacking) and there was one whole section dedicated to the fried chicken and biscuit sandwich (maybe that’s not so bad after all). The narratives were tucked in the back like an afterthought and the images were small and often distorted.

The rest of the night I lay there trying to convince a very nervous and anxious self that “it was just a bad dream. They wouldn’t really print beige-on-beige. Go back to sleep.”

It feels surreal to be at this place. Less than two months from the pub date, I mean. It seems like I’m the only one who feels like this time has flown by. Perhaps that’s because I’ve been deep in the process of actually creating it as I’ve watched the due dates come and go and poured myself into the project every step of the way. So much so that while I’m absolutely thrilled to finally be able to share it with you all, I’m also a bit terrified.

You may have noticed a lull here over the past couple of years. Those of you who have been reading the site for years may have noticed posts that were a bit more light, quick and airy. I’m still proud of those posts and stand by the recipes they served but I tried real hard to save all of myself for the book. I wanted to stand at the point where I am at today and say, “I am damn proud of this book.” And guess what guys, I am really damn proud of this book.

I have tears in my eyes as I write that because I am so happy with how true that statement is and I also know how hard it is for me to say that about anything I create.

IMG_0729 IMG_0278


Date Night In // Not Without Salt Date Night In // Not Without Salt Date Night In // Not Without Salt

I’m proud of this book for many reasons; the food is ridiculous (I’m convinced that the Salted Chocolate Pecan Ice Cream Pie with Bourbon Butterscotch and Pretzel Crust is worth the cost of the book alone) the photos make the food look as good as it tasted, and this book was created by a village. But what makes me the most proud is that this book is about so much more than the food. As much as I love food what I really love is what happens around the table and what happened around our table last year gave us the absolute best year of our marriage.

Side note: Writing a book about date nights is the best accountability to actually having a weekly date night. I highly recommend it.

A couple weeks ago I was speaking at a Food Blogger’s conference about being vulnerable on the blog; the importance of that and why I do it. Inevitably the book came up because this book is quite possibly the most vulnerable I have ever been. Tears streamed down my face as I stood up on stage and told the audience about this project. I found myself anticipating the question of “why do it if it makes you so scared?”

This is what I told them; “I’m terrified. I’m afraid of this book being judged or me being judged because of the book. I’m very afraid of bad amazon reviews. But I will take that fear any day if it means that I get to share my heart, my passion and myself with others in the hope that someone may find help, hope and inspiration in it.”

I don’t want to live a safe life, I want a meaningful one.

Last night I got an email from my editor that the book is one its way. The moment I’ve dreamed (nightmared) about is happening in a matter of days and I couldn’t be more excited and yes, terrified. You all will have to wait a bit longer before you get to hold the book in your hands but just as I reward my own children for their patience I plan to do the same for you.

While the book has over 120 recipes I couldn’t stop there so I went ahead and created five additional recipes that make up what we are affectionately calling our “Holi-DATE”.

Date Night In // Not Without Salt Date Night In // Not Without Salt IMG_3218

The Holi-date is the perfect menu to celebrate surviving the craziness of the season that is right in front of us. Here’s the menu:

Classic Champagne Cocktail

Gruyere Gougeres

Stuffed Pork loin with Prosciutto and Prunes

Cranberry and Cabbage Slaw with Orange Ginger Vinaigrette

Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread


*Bonus* The extra Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread that you don’t eat for date night makes a great holiday gift.


I want you to all have these recipes but first I need you to do something for me: Pre-order the book. Please and thank you.

For the first 150 people who pre-order and then fill out this form I will send you a set of five beautifully designed (thanks, babe!) and photographed recipe cards along with a downloadable PDF of all the recipes from this menu. If you aren’t one of the first 150 don’t worry, you’ll still get the PDF.

You can choose to pre-order the books where ever you like (if you do so here it’ll be a signed copy!) the important thing is that you pre-order. I’m new to this whole book making and selling process but apparently the pre-orders are a big deal because bookstores like to see that the book is legit and people are totally into it. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

This is all just so huge for me, my family and my sweet friends who are ready and waiting to pass the tissues, raise a glass of bubbly and give me loads of hugs and eager pats on the back. All that to say, your support means so much to me. I can not wait to share this book with the world and to finally start the conversation that I’ve been writing about and thinking about for such a very long time.

Once you pre-order the book go to our book page (here) and fill in the form.

(The book page will be the home for all book tour events. I’ll be updating it regularly so don’t be afraid to become friendly with that page.)

Looking for where to pre-order? I’ve got you covered.


Indie Bound

Book Larder (pre-order here for a signed copy!)

Powell’s (the cover here is not the most recent edition)

Running Press






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Dating My Husband: Foraging Thu, 22 May 2014 20:52:33 +0000 Read more »]]> 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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