Not Without Salt » easy “Where would we be without salt?” - James Beard Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:04:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Spicy Garlic Dip for Fresh Vegetables Tue, 29 Jul 2014 16:18:28 +0000 Read more »]]>  



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

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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Coconut Date Shake Tue, 13 May 2014 19:36:55 +0000 Read more »]]> 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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Mortadella and Smoked Mozzarella Panini with Pistachio Pesto Mon, 24 Jun 2013 23:25:56 +0000 Read more »]]>

Pistachio Pesto Panini // Not Without Salt

After I posted this simple pasta with creamy chevre, melted leeks and bacon I received a number of thank yous for sharing the sort of recipe that’s perfect for a weekday dinner and then came the requests for more like it.

I want this blog to not only be a source of inspiration but also to be used. I want to imagine the recipes, printed, set on your kitchen counter and getting splattered with a bit of olive oil and stained from strawberry juice. The thought of your computer opened up to this page on the edge of the counter while you cook this recipe makes me giddy, proud and a bit nervous – don’t drop your computer.

I want these recipes to feed you, your family and your neighbor down the street.

Inspiring, yet accessible – that’s what I’m going for. Not every recipe fits this category as I can also tend to get a bit crazy in the kitchen (hello, homemade bitters and butterfingers, I’m looking at you) but most, I hope, do.

Our dinners are rarely repeated, even more rarely cooked from an actual recipe and sometimes are so simple I fear they aren’t worth mentioning. But they’re real, simple and more often than not – quite delicious and satisfying. Unless you ask my kids. Their response is often moans and snarled lips if it’s anything other than a simple pasta or these sandwiches. However, there were no complaints with this meal.

The work comes from gathering the ingredients with this recipe. Mortadella and smoked mozzarella can be found at most stores and if you can’t find it use a good quality ham and go for an unsmoked cheese. Honestly, it’d still be a darn good sandwich without the meat.

The pesto nearly steals the show – it’s bright, fresh, peppery and hard to stop eating it with just a spoon. Like most of our weekday dinners, I try and think ahead and plan for the next day’s meals while I’m taking the time to cook this one. For that reason there’s a lot of pesto here. The next morning we stirred pesto into our eggs and then for dinner the following day there was a simple pesto pasta with a bit more cheese and roasted tomatoes. Suddenly a simple weekday dinner turns into an even simpler dinner for the next night.

I hope this recipe gets used, splattered, shared and enjoyed.


Pistachio Pesto Panini // Not Without Salt



sandwich sandwich2

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Mortadella and Smoked Mozzarella Panini with Pistachio Pesto

makes about 2 cups pesto

You really can use practically any combination of herbs you like. I went for arugula and mint because I love the pepper flavor the arugula adds and the bright and fresh taste of mint. And, this is the real reason - because I have both growing in abundance in the garden.

1 1/2 cups arugula, tightly packed

2 tablespoons fresh mint

1 cup pistachios, roasted and salted

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

Combine the arugula, mint, pistachios, garlic and Parmesan in a food processor. Pulse until everything is well pureed. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get it all well chopped.

While the machine is running stream in the lemon juice and olive oil. Don’t process too much as this tends to bruise the olive oil and add a slight bitterness.

Taste and adjust the flavors. A little salt here is fine too.

For the sandwich:

smoked mozzarella, sliced


olive oil

thick slices of good bread

Get a grill pan or panini press nice and hot. A skillet works fine too.

Drizzle the outside of the bread with olive oil. Slather a good amount of pesto on the inside of both halves. Layer in slices of mortadella with smoked mozzarella.

Grill the sandwich on both sides until golden, crisp and the cheese is melted.

Serve immediately.

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Poached Salmon with Cucumber Salsa Tue, 04 Jun 2013 00:37:36 +0000 Read more »]]> Poached Salmon with Cucumber Salsa // Not Without Salt

When the light is golden and hazy I take my time walking down our street to look beyond Ballard and over Queen Anne hill to see the tip of the Space Needle punctuating the top. It towers above the Evergreens just before the hill dips and descends into Lake Union which isn’t seen from my walk but I like knowing it’s there.

Nearly everyday we drive over a bridge. When its arms are stretched upwards to allow a towering boat to pass through it’s a bit maddening. I can’t stay mad for long as I strain to look down its passage and if it is at just the right time of day with the sun peering through the clouds, the water under the bridge sparkles in a way that gives me a bit of a flutter and a burst of pride that I get to call this place home.

In Seattle every day there’s a farmer’s market, our compost is twice as big as our garbage bin, and we can be standing at the edge of the water with the cold ocean lapping at our feet in five minutes or in the mountains in under an hour. When the bustle of the city overwhelms we shimmy up to my parent’s house and in just over an hour we amid the rolling hills, a couple of ponies, a vibrant garden and enough bugs and threat of snakes to remind me that I’m a city girl.

I adore Seattle. It’s home and most likely will remain that way for quite a long while but I sort of feel like a fraud because you see, I don’t much like seafood. Gasp.

It is for the promise of fresh seafood that people flock to Seattle. You think of Seattle and I imagine one of the first images you see is rain and then you probably imagine a large, plump fish with silvery skin flying across a crowd and into the arms of a sturdy, orange-slickers wearing Public Market employee.

Poached Salmon with Cucumber Salsa // Not Without Salt



It’s my distaste of salmon that I’m most embarrassed about. When I say I’m from Seattle the subject of salmon often comes up. Whoever I’m talking to recounts their love for the pink-fleshed fish and most often I’ll nod as if in agreement as I continue to let them praise the fish. Salmon is practically Seattle’s mascot, either that or a little gray rain cloud.

I once heard or read Andrew Zimmerman, or maybe it was Mark Bittman, talk about how you can grow to like certain foods you once disdained. First you eat it from a place you trust and secondly, you eat it often. I’m a firm believer in this practice as I’ve used it to get over my aversion to mushrooms and oysters. Yes, I’ll eat oysters straight from the sea with just a few drops of lemon squeezed over its briny flesh. So I imagine my love of salmon isn’t far off.

Recently I conquered step 1 when I ordered the crispy skinned salmon at Matt’s in the Market. The details of the dish allude me now but I think peas were somehow involved and I do remember that I cleaned my plate. Now I’m working on step 2. At my birthday dinner earlier this year we made salmon rilletes and most recently, in an attempt to counter-balance all the recipe testing we’ve been doing for the book, I made Gabe and I a light dinner of poached salmon with an herby and lightly spiced cucumber salsa.


Poached Salmon with Cucumber Salsa // Not Without Salt Poached Salmon with Cucumber Salsa // Not Without Salt

The salmon lapped up a bit of Pernod then sat in a warm vegetable-laden bath until just cooked. While the salmon bathed I made quick work of the salsa throwing in a hefty bit of dill, just enough serrano to pop in some heat and plenty of lemon – zest and juice. The flesh of the fish bent under the amount of  salsa I piled on top. If I couldn’t see there was fish under the cucumber maybe I’d forget I was eating it.

But you know I actually enjoyed it. Maybe it was mostly for the satisfaction of knowing I was eating something so vibrant and healthy –  I could practically feel the Omega 3’s reinvigorating me or perhaps I felt that Seattle was cheering me on with each bite. Or more likely it was because it was quite good – tender and lightly herbal fish that made the perfect canvas for a bright salsa or salad of sorts. The plate was nearly cleaned. Just a few more encounters with salmon then I’d say I’m hooked (fish pun embarrassingly intended).



 Poached Salmon with Cucumber Salsa // Not Without Salt


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Poached Salmon with Cucumber Salsa

The poaching was inspired by the first part of this Salmon Rillettes recipe (which is excellent by the way) and the cucumber salsa was inspired by Bon Appetit.

This recipe is very adaptable. Whatever vegetable scraps you have can be used to fragrant the broth and the Pernod isn’t absolutely necessary. In fact you could just scrap the poaching all together as a grilled pice of salmon would be quite perfect with the salsa - that’s my next version of step 2. 

Add a bit of tangy yogurt to the salsa to make a creamy dip reminiscent of tzatziki.

Serves 2

2 salmon fillets

1-2 tablespoons Pernod

salt & pepper

Season the fish with the Pernod and salt and pepper. Let the fish sit for 30 minutes while you make the poaching liquid.

Poaching liquid:

2 celery stalks, halved

1 medium onion, quartered

1 scallion

1 teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon juniper

a handful of dill

1 cup white wine

4 cups water

Bring all of the ingredients to a gentle boil in a large saucepan and simmer for 25 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and slide the fish into the hot liquid. Cover the pot and let sit for 10 minutes.

Remove the fish and check to make sure the fish is cooked through. The flesh should flake and look opaque throughout.

Serve the fish warm with cucumber salsa.

Cucumber Salsa

1 cucumber, peeled and small diced

2 tablespoons finely chopped dill

1-2 tablespoons finely minced shallot

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 serrano chili, seed and finely diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

Combine everything in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

The salsa will keep for a couple of days in the fridge although it may become a bit more wet because of the salt in the recipe.

Poached Salmon with Cucumber Salsa // Not Without Salt ]]> 60
Thai Beef Salad Wed, 27 Feb 2013 16:09:44 +0000 Read more »]]>

When people ask, or even when they don’t I often describe parenting as a roller coaster although I really hate how cliche that sounds. And yet, I can’t think of a better way to describe the highs and lows, dips and dives, elatement and nausea that happens in a single day when you are left to guide and shape the life of a little being or beings.

Let me give you a few examples from my day. Warning: four-year-old humor is involved. Proceed at your own risk.

In the car, where my patience is the most tried, my children sound like the shattering of a thousand plates of fine china. One is touching the other which is apparently worse than death, while the other one just dropped his lego into the deep crevices of the car and expects me to turn around and grab it while I’m driving. The cries from the back increase as I threaten to, “pull this car over”. Languishing both over the fact that I sound like a parent and that I have no idea what I would do if I really did pull the car over I decide to join them in their screams, “No more talking! Ever.”

Now I’m frustrated that I didn’t handle the situation as a mature and controlled parent would and that they didn’t listen to my pleading. While I’m lamenting my behavior I’m stunned by the sudden silence. I glance in the rear view mirror. With contorted necks and gaping mouths they are asleep and I swear I can see a ridge of light around their heads forming a brilliant halo. The last few moments of screams are instantly forgotten as my heart and every other part of me swells with love for these little people to the point where I feel as if I might just burst.

At home and well recovered from the car ride I settle on the couch with my four-year-old as we bond over classic Spiderman cartoons. As Spidey is flinging his webs from his fingers, Roman looks at me and says, “God made you beautiful.” I sit in stunned silence and just start to wipe a tear from my sleep-craved eyes when he finishes his sentence with, “I’m farting.”

At its peaks it is the best “job” in the world. I sit in stunned gratitude that I get the joy of parenting these three who I feel are the coolest people on the planet. And then there are the times when I wish it was an actual job so I could quit or at the very least, take a sick day.

Dinner time is another wild ride. Sometimes I spend the afternoon in the kitchen slowly simmering sauces and caramelizing onions to the point of uncommon sweetness. The herbs are picked from our garden and the bread slowly risen in the fridge overnight. I proudly display my dinner on the table, like my 2 year old and her scribbled drawings, only to be met with grimaces and the immediate separating of dinner into what can and what can’t be eaten categories.

Then there are the times when I bring dinner to the table ready for the assault of moans, grumbling and slouched disgusted bodies as the meal has all the signs of usual disapproval; lots of green, exotic seasonings and no pasta with cheese. So when I see clean plates and hear, “It’s delicious!” it’s enough to sustain me through some of the more common grimaces and groans. They happily devour the sweet and spicy grilled beef fleck with fresh mint and cilantro. Baron, after one bite of thinly sliced cucumber proclaims, “cucumber is my favorite.” I’m in shock as last week it was the worst. As I listen to all this I too clean my plate and marvel at the moment of a meal appreciated.

Until I can think of another visual that better illustrates the range of emotions I see and feel in one day, I think I’ll stick with a roller coaster. I’ve come to realize that while the dips are hard, emotional and trying to the point where I think I can’t handle anything else it’s then when a peak begins and I find again, the joy of the ride.


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Thai Beef Salad

Serves 4 to 6
After a stint with a nasty sickness that invaded our house and roughed us all up pretty good I needed to feed my family something hearty and nutritious to make up for the endless days of soda crackers we had become accustomed to. 
I turned this Cooks Illustrated version into more of a salad than is classically called for. I upped the dressing ingredients so there would be enough to coat the pile of lettuce I ate this with. While I adore Cooks Illustrated sometimes I find their recipes a bit fastidious with more steps than I have time or patience for but I’ll tell you about them in case you want to add them into your process. First of all they toast the ground spices so the paprika is a bit more smokey and the cayenne has packs more punch. The other thing they do is toast 2 tablespoons uncooked basmati rice in a dry skillet until golden. Once cooled the rice is then ground and added as a garnish and along with the cooked and seasoned meat. If you have the time or patience this step really does add a lovely crunch and deep flavor but it’s fine without it. I also left out the chile for the sake of the kidlets.
One more thing to point out before you begin: here the meat is not pre-seasoned but rather tossed with the fragrant sweet and sour dressing. For those of you who don’t often pre-plan dinner, such as myself, this means dinner is ready in under 20 minutes. I love that.

1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3-4 tablespoons lime juice (according to preference)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons water
¾ teaspoon sugar
1½ pound flank steak, trimmed
Salt and pepper, coarsely ground
3 shallots, sliced thin
1½ cups fresh mint leaves, torn
1½ cups fresh cilantro leaves
1 Thai chile, stemmed and sliced thin into rounds (omit if you don't want it too spicy)
1 seedless English cucumber, thinly sliced or peeled with a potato peeler
3-4 cups greens (I used a red leaf lettuce but I imagine nearly anything would be great)

Combine the cayenne and paprika together in a small bowl.

Whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, water, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon paprika mixture in a large bowl and set aside. This dressing will taste strong but remember it’s the flavor for the meat and the lettuce.

Season the steak with salt and pepper. Place the steak over the hot part of the grill or grill pan and cook until it’s beginning to char, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip the steak and continue to cook on the second side until charred and the center registers 125 degrees, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes (or allow to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour).

Slice the meat, against the grain and on the bias, into ¼-inch-thick slices. Transfer the sliced steak to the bowl with the fish sauce mixture. Add the shallots, mint, cilantro, chile, and half of the rice powder (if using); toss to combine.

Add a bit (save the rest of the dressing for another time) of the dressing to a bowl with the greens. Place some dressed greens on the plate then finish with some of the cucumber and slices of meat.

Serve with the remaining paprika mixture so your diners could add more spice if needed. Also, if you’ve taken the time to make the toasted rice powder serve that on the side as well.

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