Rhubarb Rose Fools

Rose Rhubarb Fools are easy desserts to usher in spring.

We inherited a rose bush, fully mature and waving around her blooms like it’s the Macy’s Day parade everyday during season. It’s only a little bit unknown that I have a record with demerits for killing plants you can “neglect,” doing such a good job in my neglecting that they shrivel into a husk of their former selves. Not so with the rose bush. Call it adulting or call it dedicating oneself to the preservation of beauty in the world society, but I have doubled up efforts and that will soon include pruning and weeding. (Sidenote: who am I?)

Rhubarb season is just a blip but not so brief you can't make rose rhubarb fools.

Rhubarb usually takes me by surprise. It’s in the market, then a bevy of rhubarb shows up in my Instagram feed, all gossamer pink ribbons. Before you know it though, it’s gone. You’ve missed the season again. I vowed to not let that happen this year. Cue rhubarb rose fools. Rhubarb rose compote has just enough rosewater and citrusy pink peppercorn to make things interesting. That pairing–rhubarb, rose, and pink peppercorn are meant to be. And, I might be late to the rosewater party, but you’d be a fool not to fall for it.

Rose rhubarb fools are the kind of easy whip up at the last minute dessert every cook needs.

Also, whipping creme fraiche into lightly beaten whipped cream until soft peaks emerge is a bit of a revelation. You could swap in Greek yogurt instead of the creme fraiche, but if you do, taste and adjust the sweetness as it might be a bit too tangy. I wouldn’t advise using mascarpone or cream cheese, but if you do, consider adding a smidge of lemon juice to make it not quite so one note.

Rose Rhubarb Fools

Course Dessert
Servings 6


Rhubarb Rose Compote

  • 2 cups ¼inch chopped rhubarb (about 2 large stalks)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons rosewater
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pink peppercorn

Whipped Creme Fraiche

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup crème fraiche (1 7.5-ounce container)


Make the Rhubarb Rose Compote

  1. Cook the rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, rosewater, and peppercorn in a medium-sized heavy saucepan set over medium heat until the fruit softens and most of the liquid cooks out but the fruit is not sticking to the bottom of the saucepan, about 12 to 14 minutes, stirring frequently.

Make the Whipped Creme Fraiche

  1. Whip the cream for a minute, adding the sugar when it thickens up a bit. Beat until soft peaks form. Fold in the crème fraiche, briefly beating it in until smooth soft peaks form, lustrous, and thick.

Assemble the Rose Rhubarb Fools

  1. Spoon a 1/4 cup dollop of whipped crème fraiche into six tumbler glasses. Stir in a tablespoon of rhubarb compote into the cream with a chopstick, swirling it in slightly, but only enough so there’s a marbled ribbon of fruit lacing through the cream. Top each tumbler with another 1/4 cup dollop of cream, and top each tumbler with a teaspoon of the remaining compote. Chill for 10 minutes or eat.

Spring fever starts here: rose rhubarb fools!

Food Poem Snackbytes

Asparagus Poem Snackbyte

Sometimes all you need is a small poem, an asparagus poem snackbyte.


Romanesco Soup

Romanesco Soup pulls together rich flavors from parsnips, fennel, and celery root.

Romanesco might be the vegetable of an architect’s dreams. This broccoli cauliflower hybrid is full of M.C. Escher angles. I could eat soup every day. It can be easy and tough to master. So much of it comes down to semantics of seasoning. For this Romanesco Soup, I wanted to riff on the green color, adding a green tasting food like celery root, which when the hairy husk of an exterior is cut off reveals pale flesh that taste like the stalk. A little parsnip goes a long way but I love it in soup. Fennel offers a smidge of sweetness and a barely green bulb sliced into half moons. The spice here is enough curry powder to give it an edge but not enough to taint the silky green surface with turmeric’s golden glow. No, instead, that’s done by actual shaved disks of fresh turmeric as an optional garnish with shaved jalapeno for a hit of heat (and more green), and the fresh sudsy scent of cilantro. Fresh turmeric is a revelation–it’s a taste of sweet earth with only rooibos coming close to matching that flavor moniker. Don’t skip the butter unless you’re vegan (then, you can totally sub in vegetable stock and all olive oil). I love the luscious texture the butter gives to the soup and a hint of flavor without it becoming at all indulgent. But then again, I’m of the ilk that a soup made from scratch (that includes using boxed broth) with time, love, and intention is pure indulgence of the highest order that feeds the stomach and soul simultaneously.

 All sorts of green vegetables go into making Romanesco Soup, topped with a fresh shower of cilantro leaves and jalapeno.

Romanesco Soup


  • 1 medium white onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 celery root, peeled and chopped (3 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped (1 heaping cup)
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 romanesco, chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 knob fresh turmeric, peeled and shaved into coins
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, shaved


  1. Saute the onion, celery root and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt for 10 minutes in oil over medium high heat, stirring often or until slightly browned and the onion is translucent.

  2. Melt the butter. Stir in the curry powder, parsnip, fennel, romanesco and remaining teaspoon of salt. Pour in the stock and water.

  3. Cover and lower the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Puree. Top with turmeric, cilantro, and jalapeno if using.

Poetry Poetry Bookshelf

Love Found Poetry Book Review

Dip into this Love Found poetry book review for a brief dip into what makes this book a keeper.

Love Found isn’t your typical tome of love poetry. And for that, we can sigh a breath of relief. So many collections just include eros, but neglect the other forms that love takes on. Also, let it be known, there is only one Neruda poem in here—while I prefer his poems about food, he seems to have a mystique in the cultural accounting for his love poems. Around Valentine’s Day, all eyes turn toward hearts but what does the act of loving look like the rest of the year? This compact book edited by Jessica Strand and Leslie Jonath wrangles 50 poems from a range of domestic and international voices. Full disclosure, Leslie and I know each other from the food book world, but we really connected over a conversation about poetry. When I heard she’d finished an anthology of poems, I knew I needed the collection and reached out to her.

This book is broken into three sections. You start where you’d expect: Desire and Longing. I resonated with the question like the one posed in “Openness” by Wislawa Szymborska (p. 13) of a moth reflecting on the two lovers, musing, “Maybe it sees where our eyes fail.” When reading “Love Song for Lucinda” by Langston Hughes (p. 21), love is defined as “a ripe plum…a bright star… a high mountain” reminding the reader that love is more than blissful emotions but it can burn and is a destination that requires work to get there.

Desire & Longing takes you next to Heartbreak & Loss. And this is where the book is most refreshing. Yeats bumps shoulders with Akhmatova. We see the idea of love become timeless in the act of losing. Its scope broadens to include more than mortal love in an exquisite poem by Shams al-Din Hafiz Shirazi that leads in so well to “The Lesson of the Falling Leaves” by one of my favorite poets, Lucille Clifton. In “Love After Love (p.51)” Derek Walcott reminds us that “You will love again the stranger who was your self,” that space between a word that should be whole playing a necessary function of brokenness that can be repaired. Loss of love can be more than breaking up, and I resonated with Conrad Potter Aiken’s keen insight in “Bread and Music” (p. 55) to write about the love-loss that follows a death: “These things do not remember you, beloved: / And yet your touch upon them will not pass.”

Then, we enter Passion & Partnership with “Wild Nights – Wild Nights!” by Emily Dickinson tucked in like a white hot poker. I read the delightful four line, “A Word to Husbands” by Ogden Nash to my husband and we both laughed (perhaps it might even be hand-transcribed for placement on the refrigerator?) In his poem, “For Love” (p. 86-87), Robert Creeley asks “Must / I think of everything / as earned.” The punctuation underlining it as answered, evolved into a statement.

Of the entire collection, of all the curating and placing and reading aloud and reading on the page—of the questioning and exclamation point yes decisions of which poems make the 50 poem cut, only one poet is featured twice. And, to that end, the second of their poems serves as the coda to the book.

And, for me, now we get to the heart of the book.

I kept coming back to the book title, Love Found, at first seeing it as a two word way to distill the ethos of the collection. At times, I might read a poem and forget myself, the title playing the role of compass and guide back to the all-encompassing theme. But, there is a part of me that wonders in the creation of the book, if that title, was an anchor pitched out into rocky waters—an idea that even in the bleakest circumstances if you look hard enough there can be love found. Because at the end of things, can love ever really be lost? Shakespeare reminds us in one of my favorite sonnets of his (p. 74) that love “is an ever-fixed mark / That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;” It is what is cultivated in private more so than what’s on display in public as we listen in like voyeurs while Mark Strand surmises, “In that low voice, our late night disclosures… why live / For anything else? Our masterpiece is the private life.” (p. 90)


Sunburst Yogurt

Have you ever tried Lemon Curd Yogurt? This is going to be your new favorite way to flavor plain yogurt for dessert.

Stowed away in my closet, in the farthest reaches of where the walls meet, a winter coat enclosed in a zippered bag waits. Nestled nearby, snow boots that are nearly good as forgotten, might as well yell that they still reside with me. It’s been almost a decade since I attended New England in the winter and summer for my poetry MFA, but I can almost hear the slight crunch of snow compacting underfoot. The break of seasons gives a natural rhythm to the year and even though winter sometimes can take its time finishing its lap, there is something whimsical about a world bathed in fresh snow and diffused light. Living in the golden state, we forget what winter can mean. For us, on good years, we can expect rain. And this year, days three and four involved climes of mid-seventies weather. So, I’m dedicating this recipe to my friends and family entrenched in a winter wonderland. Think of it as a love letter from California.

Do you have a buddha's hand? Zest it and mix it into lemon curd yogurt for a dreamy treat.

Winter sun for us means bright orbs of citrus that when sliced open reveal the jewel tones of gold, crimson, and copper. I have a slight obsession with one citrus in particular, a fruit so odd you might think it comical or creepy depending on how it comes to you. I dedicated a marmalade recipe to it in Steeped, sparked a hearty fascination with it candied and enrobed in chocolate, and sometimes just like to infuse it into a simple syrup with ginger. I’m teaching a cooking class on teatime around the world later this spring and while visiting the cooking school, kindly received two very unexpected gifts. You don’t expect an extra hand or two on a Monday! And so, I mused how I might best preserve their exquisite flavor and heady aroma. It doesn’t take much to get me considering curd and thus, I was reminded of my favorite way to eat yogurt in Seattle and crafted my own version. May your winter days grow shorter until spring shoots grace you with green. Until then, find bright moments of glee in a glass bowl of yogurt kissed by the sun, what I’m calling sunburst yogurt, but you can call Buddha’s Hand Lemon Curd Yogurt.

Buddha's Hand Lemon Curd Yogurt will brighten any winter day.

Buddha's Hand Lemon Curd Yogurt

Course Dessert
Servings 8


Buddha's Hand Lemon Curd

  • 4 large yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Buddha's Hand
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chopped
  • 1 quart plain yogurt


  1. Peel the Buddha's Hand. The zest is pure gold. Finely mince the peel. You should end up without 1 1/2 tablespoons of it, depending on the size of your Buddha's Hand.

  2. Set up a double boiler, placing a metal bowl or pot on top of a saucepan, set over medium heat and filled with an inch or two of water. The bowl should not touch the water. Whisk the sugar and yolks in the bowl until combined. Pour the lemon juice into the bowl and add the Buddha’s hand zest, whisking until the mixture thickens up and gets glossy, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Pour into a container and bring to room temperature before chilling.

  3. Make the sunburst yogurt: Scoop or pour 1/2 cup of yogurt into a bowl. Spoon a tablespoon of warm citrus curd into the center of the yogurt. Using the skinnier end of a chopstick, drag the tip from the center of the curd circle, curving to the left. Continue drag-curving from the middle of the curd until you’ve made sun rays shooting out from around the curd. Then, taste a bit of sunshine.

Recipe Notes

PS- You can use whatever yogurt you'd like. I'm amenable to Greek yogurt with its thick pucker that transports me to Seattle. Or, I also like the looser cow's milk yogurt made by Straus Organic Yogurt. But, I'm a devoted fan of the lovely goat's milk yogurt from Redwood Hill Farms

PPS- Don't have Buddha's Hand on hand? (I had to do it). Feel free to add lemon zest for a basic curd or mix it up and add the zest from bergamot (if you can find some!), blood orange, cara cara, tangerines, or even clementines. I'm an equal opportunity citrus curd lover. I've also been known to make Feijoa (Pineapple Guava) Curd when it's in season.


Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta

Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta

Winter vegetables can seem bleak without the variety of the summer harvest. It’s why of all the recipes I cooked from Myra Kornfeld and Stephen Massamilla’s food poetry cookbook, Cooking with the Muse, I asked if I could share her Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta. This vegetarian side dish packs in bold flavors and served with baked tofu or salmon, is my kind of healthy meal. What makes their way of approaching recipes extra special is how Massimilla provides a poet’s note and in this case, a snippet from an Auden poem to accompany Kornfeld’s recipe creation. Food poetry synchronicity at its finest!

Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta

A poet’s hope: to be,

like some valley cheese,

local, but prized elsewhere.

—W.H. Auden, from “Shorts II”

Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta

Recipe and poet’s note republished with permission from Cooking with the Muse by Myra Kornfeld and Stephen Massimilla (Tupelo Press, 2016).

Roasting gently browns the cauliflower florets and crisps the kale leaves, coaxing deep flavor out of the vegetables. Following this recipe will render them toasty and juicy at once. The combination of garlicky olives, capers, lemon, and oregano lends a slightly citrusy, almost buttery quality to the dish. A sprinkling of a good feta cheese from a pasture-raised sheep or goat adds one more element of delight and surprise. The literary history of pastured sheep’s and goat’s milk feta dates back to the Odyssey, a foundational epic poem of Western literature (see the Poet’s Note.)

Serves 4 to 6
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 pound curly kale, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed and chopped
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces feta cheese (preferably sheep’s milk feta), crumbled (1/2 cup)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Have ready a parchment paper–covered baking sheet.
  2. In one bowl, toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  3. In another bowl, toss the kale with 1 tablespoon oil. Massage the oil into the leaves so that each leaf is lightly coated. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt.
  4. After the cauliflower has roasted for 30 minutes, add the kale to the baking sheet, return it to the oven, and roast for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is browned and the kale is crispy. Remove from the oven.
  5. Warm the remaining tablespoon of oil with the butter in a large skillet until the butter melts. Add the garlic, olives, and capers and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant. Stir in the cauliflower and kale, the water, and the oregano; combine thoroughly. Stir in the lemon juice and a sprinkling of pepper.
  6. Serve hot, with feta scattered on top.


Poet’s Note

This literary history of feta dates back to the 8th century BCE, though the emphasis in the epics that have come down to us was on hecatombs—sacrificial roasts of large animals on spits—the mainstay of a masculine warrior’s diet that was likely even then reserved for the upper classes. Feta, that tangy, salty, crumbly, quintessentially Greek cheese—which was originally aged and brined to keep well in a hot, arid climate—is described. Indeed, the equipment used to make sheep’s milk cheese in the Cyclops Polyphemus’s cave in Book IX of Homer’s Odyssey is much like that used by Greek shepherds to make feta today. Odysseus made the imprudent decision to raid the larder of a gigantic man-eating monster (who was fortunately myopic enough for Odysseus later to blind and outwit by escaping on the underbelly of a sheep, though some of his men didn’t fare so well):


We entered the cave and took stock of everything inside.

His baskets were loaded with cheeses, and his pens spilling

over with lambs and kids, divided into separate groups…

And all his vessels, milk pails, and pans into which he milked,

were brimming with whey. Seeing all this, my men begged me

to let them steal the cheeses, and make off with them to the ship…

but I wouldn’t listen to them; I wanted to meet

the owner first, in the hope that he’d give me a guest present.


Later, as they observe the giant, he goes on to prepare the whey cheese:


He drew off half of the milk to curdle it, and set it

aside in strainers made of wicker, stored for cheeses,

but let the other half stand in the milk pails…


Before disembarking on the island of the Cyclops, Odysseus and his men had surveyed the land with thoughts of colonizing it. They’d noticed that the carnivorous giants had no social customs and that their sheep were allowed to cavort everywhere without any pens to hold them. Though he and his crew were not in serious need of provisions and Odysseus was certainly foolish to tarry in the cave in hopes of receiving an extra “guest present” from an uncivilized monster, it is perhaps no surprise that Odysseus risked his life and those of his men to raid this cave for cheeses, lambs, and kids in the first place. Even by Archaic Greek standards, these livestock were seriously free range.

Greek cuisine in the 4th-century classical age was more sparing. The Greek poet Archestratus lived in Sicily, which was regarded by tradition to be the original island of the Cyclops. Archestratus, who lived there after it had really become a Greek colony, was perhaps the first Western cookbook writer whom we know of, though the fragments we have are from a parodic poem that advises the gastronomic reader on where to find the best food. His recipes rightly emphasize the fresh local quality of the ingredients.


Cookery Bookshelf Poetry Poetry Bookshelf

Cooking with the Muse Book Review

Cooking with the Muse Book review

It’s not often you meet people equally passionate about food and poetry in conversation. At the Association of Writers and Publishers conference a few years back and MFA friend of mine had suggested I meet poet Stephen Massimilla. She said that he also wrote poetry about food. What I did not know until we met is that he had penned a food poetry cookbook called Cooking with the Muse with cookbook veteran, Myra Kornfeld! I beelined over to the Tupelo Press booth and promptly bought a copy. It is a feast of poetry and food that will delight fellow foodies who indulge in poetry (and a great holiday gift!). I dove into Cooking with the Muse more deeply over on Poetry International. At the last AWP, we caught each other at the bookfair and our conversation bubbled with enthusiasm. Recently, I had a chance to chat with Massimilla and Kornfeld on the nitty gritty of how Cooking with the Muse came to life.

cooking with the muse book review

THE FOOD POET (TFP): How did the grain of the idea for this book come about? What is it from a poem Stephen read, dish Myra cooked or a comment made in conversation?
MYRA KORNFELD/STEPHEN MASSIMILLA: So you’re asking about the Muse for Cooking with the Muse? Well, Myra was always a culinary magician conjuring up new dishes and writing and revising new recipes and articles about food, while Stephen was always the literary wizard conjuring up new poems and writing essays and reviews about poetry and literature. We realized we had perfectly complementary skill sets and that we just had to team up. As the great Roger Vergé put it, the chef works “creatively, marrying ingredients the way a poet marries words”—so cooking is like writing poetry, and it takes a poet to cook up colorful and exciting ways to write about food. We also realized that recipes were a lot like poems. We got to thinking that we could write a truly collaborative book together, one all about the marriage of recipes and poetry, of cooking and writing, and the synergy between the two.

TFP: I’d love to know how you two came together to work on this book.
MK/SM: One day, while we were sitting at Alice’s Teacup sipping mugs of chai, we came up with the idea of writing a recipe and a poem that would go together perfectly. And we remembered having shared a great cup of dirty chai after having hiked together through Ebenezer Bryce Canyon in Utah. Later, Myra’s Dirty Chai recipe and Stephen’s poem by the title “My Dirty Chai” ended up in the “Chocolate and Coffee” section at the end of the Winter chapter.

Things proceeded from there. For instance, the idea for one of the early literary essays in the book—on Galway Kinnell’s sonnet “Blackberry Eating”—came up during another teatime discussion at the start of autumn, when the blackberry muse is at the height of her powers. We made a connection between the Kinnell piece and Mary Oliver’s poem about blackberry picking entitled “August,” which ends with the line “this happy tongue.” We were interested in the polyvalence of the word “tongue”—a term both for language and for the site of gustatory delectation. Kinnell speaks of how words, like blackberries at the peak of their ripeness, “fall almost unbidden to my tongue.” The word “almost” suggests that obtaining the ripest berries does call for some anticipation, but the work of the season can’t be forced. What a great way to think about inspiration! The blackberry recipes at the opening of the book were the upshot. 

TFP: Stephen, You’ve got so many interesting linguistic facts and poems placed throughout the book. What did the research look like for this book?
MK/SM: As a poet and scholar of comparative literature interested in celebrating the cross-fertilization of cultures, Stephen already knew a huge number of culinary poems, but we were startled at just how many we kept encountering. The book includes not only a large number of Stephen’s own poems, but also an unusually wide-ranging anthology of classic and contemporary pieces, including interesting food lore. We collected these materials in folders, which we went through periodically to cull our favorites. We met regularly to pick out the poems that either inspired the recipes or complemented them. We agreed that we both had to be excited about every poem, even Stephen’s original poems. That said, a lot of other research was involved in the writing of the comprehensive introduction to the book, the essays about culinary poems and traditions, and all the historical notes that contextualize both the poetry and the dishes. The bibliography alone was a formidable project.

TFP: How did you two collaborate on the recipes and poems? Did you typically start with a poem that inspired the recipe?
MK/SM: We were continually writing and collecting poems and recipes and looking at them to see how they could fit together. Sometimes poems inspired recipes; sometimes recipes inspired poems; and oftentimes the juxtaposition of poems and recipes inspired other musings. A lot of the work involved adapting recipes Myra was working on to dovetail with poems that Stephen was writing, or that we knew we wanted to use. As we worked on the outlines for the book over the years, we also realized that certain pieces fit together in sequences that brought out new relationships between the recipes, the poems, the essays, and the photos. All the pieces interlocked like multicolored jigsaw puzzle pieces to make a whole that’s even greater than the sum of the parts.

TFP: Myra, this isn’t your first rodeo, but the depth and quantity of recipes in Muse is staggering. What did your recipe development process look like and how long did it take to complete the manuscript from a recipe perspective only?
MK/SM: Myra was and is always developing new recipes. She cooks seasonally, inspired by the Greenmarket Muse, and her flavor combinations are often inspired by traveling. The recipes in the Turkish, Irish, American Southwestern, and Moroccan sections of the book, for instance, were to a degree inspired by travels, and Stephen took a number of the food pictures in the book on these trips.

Given Myra’s background in nutrition and Real Foods traditions, these dishes highlight fresh, local ingredients and encourage the use of seasonal produce, wild seafood, traditional fats, and meat from pasture-raised animals.

Like revising and re-editing poems, recipe writing is an exacting process full of trial and error, but it was great to have had so many scrumptious meals during the planning, writing, photographing, and overall construction of this book. The recipes were also tested on SO many people through our cooking events and classes. We wanted to make absolutely sure that these recipes would be clear and easy to follow for cooks of any and all levels.

TFP: Stephen, there are quite a few original pieces of food poetry in Muse. Where did you find your inspiration to write them on deadline?
MK/SM: While we were working on Cooking with the Muse, Stephen sometimes composed a poem by the stove while Myra was developing a dish. That happened, to give a couple of examples, with “Seared Tuna with Purple Potatoes and Cherry Tomato Sauce” and with the Salad of a Thousand Leaves recipe; in these instances, the recipe changed to match the poem that was based on it. In this sense, writing poems involved riffing on and helping to reinvent recipes. Though it began with a lot of intuitive hunting and gathering and freewheeling improvisation, the book also contains a great many prose introductions, recipe preambles, essays, and carefully researched historical and literary notes, all of which had to be planned, composed and revised in a more systematic way. We were both so inspired because cooking and poetry have so much in common. They are both creative and celebratory arts. They’re both about traditions of nourishment in the very deepest sense. They both reflect our values and feelings. And they’re both inseparable from human relationships, as well as our relationship to the earth, the seasons, and the spirit within us.

TFP: What does your poetry writing process look like?
MK/SM: Stephen always carries a little black notebook full of notes and sketches (he’s also a drawer and painter) about what the Muse happens to be saying—which could take any number of forms. His favorite pieces often reflect more than one source of inspiration, including the time of year; an intriguing word or phrase; a memorable dream; or even another work of art—a painting, a film, a novel, or, as he’s mentioned, a dish. He  composes most of his poems themselves at night, when the house is quiet and the world is calm, when the air freshens and flows around the writer without interruption. 

And speaking of the atmosphere, the greenmarket (a living celebration of the seasons and the lush creations born of human collaborations with nature) was a major source of inspiration for Cooking with the Muse. Not only most of the poems and recipes, but also the poetic-prose essays introducing each chapter could be said to be odes to the farmers’ market.

TFP: Is there one recipe that stands out among the rest that, if you dog-eared pages of the book, would be the one to which you continue to return?
MK/SM: There are many, actually. In the book itself, we mention which ones we consider staples to be making all the time. These include the Foundation Recipes (the stocks and bone broths fit this category), as well as the Oatmeal Deluxe Breakfast Bars and the Coconut Muffins. (Also, at the end of the Pumpkin Pie Bread recipe, we strongly recommend the Pumpkin Pie Bread muffins. They’re a must.) Many of the Turkish and Moroccan choices are regular go-to recipes for us. And there are others that we return to seasonally and on holidays, such as the Turkey with Cranberry Glaze on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Portobello Muschrooms Stuffed with Chestnuts, Apples, and Wild Rice is also really fun around Christmas time. And the Miniature Lacy Potato Latkes are a Chanukah standby. We love the Mediterranean Caulifower Kale Roast with Feta throughout the winter. The Fudgy Nibby Brownies from the Winter chapter are also a perennial favorite. There is a picture in the book of a Fudgy Nibby Brownie tower that we made for a wedding in lieu of a cake, but they’re great for any party or just to have on hand as snacks, provided you don’t eat the whole tray at once.

As we mentioned, we experienced a big thrill when we saw how the literature and recipes were coming together, starting with a first autumn recipe that pairs Galway Kinnell’s scrumptious “Blackberry Eating” and a poem by Mary Oliver with a luscious “Blackberry Parfait.” This dish is both sophisticated and perfectly appropriate for a beginner cook. The close reading that goes with it also good for a first-time reader of poetry since the essays are designed to make the poetry more accessible. In a more sophisticated vein, we’re really excited about the Middle Eastern Feast in this book, which is spiced with the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz.

TFP: Did you listen to any particular music or albums to get you into the right head space to write the poems / craft the recipes?
MK/SM: For inspiration, we rely more on comedy than music. During a radio show, an interviewer once asked us what piece of music would make the proper accompaniment for our book. We didn’t know what to make of that question, but we referred her to page 266, where we discuss a cantata to coffee by Johann Sebastian Bach, along with a dithythramb to chocolate. We can’t quite say that pieces like these inspired the recipes or the writing. But when we thought the whole project was finally finished, we sang our take on the Jeff Buckley version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” for days.

TFP: What did you not expect from Muse that surprised you?
MK/SM: Well, our respect for each other’s skill sets went up. You learn knew things about each other when you’re in the trenches together. We had a really good working relationship, in short, and we ended up with new respect for each other’s complementary abilities, work ethic, and grace under fire. We simply could not have written this book without each other.

TFP: Who are some of the food poets that inspire your writing?
MK/SM: This large-format 500-page book begins by presenting an historical perspective on the link between literature—especially poetry—and food. The book draws on material from many traditions and eras: from the ancient Greeks and Romans to the Bible, from the medieval Sufis to the Japanese, from the great Romantics and Transcendentalists to a dazzling pageant of modern poets. Authors represented include Homer, Lu Tong, Rumi, Chaucer, Basho, Milton, Keats, Dickinson, Hopkins, Lawrence, McKay, Neruda, Machado, Stevens, Hurston, Plath, Tom Robbins, Derek Walcott, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Lucille Clifton, Michael Ondaatje, Billy Collins, Linda Hogan, Elizabeth Alexander, Jorie Graham, Li-Young Lee, Jane Hirshfield, and a great many others.

TFP: Do you anticipate another collaborative project in your future?
MK/SM: Sure. But give us some time to recover on the island of Maui first. We have to find the right inspirational trigger. And the Hawaiian state triggerfish—called humuhumunukunukuapua’a, or humuhumu for short—is something we’d like to see!

Blackberry Parfaits

Journeys Travel for Artists

Travel for Artists: Edgar Allan Poe House Philadelphia

Edgar Allan Poe House Philadelphia

On a chilly December day in 2016, a car whizzed crosstown in Philadelphia.  We stayed huddled in the backseat, unused to the blast of frigid air. Over the past few days we had gotten our fill of winter, tramping across downtown on foot, to visit the museum, running up the steps like Rocky, doubling over at the top, heaving from the exertion of it or the cold air. But on this particular day, my pulse quickened for another reason. We would be visiting the Edgar Allan Poe house Philadelphia.

Edgar Allan Poe House Philadelphia
I am as familiar as the next person on Poe’s contributions to pop culture through poems that involve a heart beating under the floorboards, a raven that speaks. I was on a different kind of mission though, one of trying to better understand what does the life and livelihood look like for the working poet?

Edgar Allan Poe House Philadelphia

The car slowed in front of an old edifice and we walked around the blocks until the staff had returned from lunch, also ensuring we were the first ones to take a post-prandial tour. I’ve been under a working supposition that the life in which the writer find her or himself ensconced is directly responsible for the kind of writing they produce in their lifetime. It did not surprise me to learn that this particular house inhabited by Poe, his wife and mother-in-law, had a basement of substantial proportions to the rest of the house. Of course it did! So much of his work happens in the nether regions, especially when the life lived upstairs was fraught with such difficulty. The docent, eagerly pointed out a recession in the chimney where a stuffed black cat glared out. She described how that architectural feature had provided the impetus for Poe’s, “the black cat.” We wound our way back upstairs and along the way learned how gravely ill Mrs. Poe was, learned how her mother doting on EA Poe provided a kind of mooring in the restlessness of that stormy sea.

Edgar Allan Poe House Philadelphia

The ladies lived on the highest level of the house and you had to scale a very narrow stairway to access the space.

Edgar Allan Poe House Philadelphia

But what stood out to me most, even beyond the basement was the close proximity between his study and bedroom on the next level down.

Edgar Allan Poe House Philadelphia

Edgar Allan Poe House Philadelphia

At the time we visited, the light shimmered along the dilapidated walls of the study and I could envision sitting down at a desk to write, the window on my left, an option to look outside of self. I imagined him getting up in the middle of the night from his bed, an idea lightening his steps after flinging off the covers. How do we as creative people disconnect from the world of creative production really? Can dreams propel us into a new world on the page? Something about the short distance between those two rooms inspired me to wonder.

Edgar Allan Poe House Philadelphia

Edgar Allan Poe House Philadelphia

Edgar Allan Poe House Philadelphia

Not far from the Poe house, the Free Library holds secrets of its own. Notably, if you scale to the top of the building, you will happen upon the rare books room, free to access after signing in. The treasures housed within are nothing short of revelatory. Rejection letters to Beatrix Potter. A Maxfield Parrish painting. And the reason it was on our agenda, a very special taxidermied bird. A raven. The staff member flips a switch and the inside of a case lights up to reveal a glossy-feathered raven with an impossibly long beak. One eye that you might swear is twinkling and will continue watching you after you leave. This pet of Charles Dickens, a raven named Grip, inspired Edgar Allan Poe’s infamous raven. If you listen closely enough you might hear it squawk, “nevermore.”

Edgar Allan Poe House Philadelphia


Pumpkin Pie Latte Shakes

I’m on a mission of Thanksgiving leftovers reconsidered. Do you have leftover pumpkin pie? Before you even think about sneaking a piece onto your plate the day after, HOLD ON and consider the following: Pumpkin Pie Latte Shakes. In possibly the most meta-experiment of a pie-inspired drink coming back to the original concept and actually including pie in the drink without any of the funny food coloring or extras, there’s nothing basic about this dessert.

Pumpkin Pie Latte Shakes

Not all coffee ice cream is created the same. For the recipe below, I used Haagen Dazs Coffee Ice Cream but you could also use Three Twins Milk Coffee too. Also, the spice level in each pumpkin pie filling differs, so if you tend to have a highly spiced filling in your pie, skip the garnishing of spices below. Otherwise, that extra dash of spice amplifies the oomph in the flavors.

Makes 4 servings

1 cup whole milk
1 pint coffee ice cream
1 hearty slice pumpkin pie, coarsely chopped
Ground ginger
Ground cinnamon
Ground nutmeg

Place the milk and ice cream into a blender keeping the pie within fingers’ reach. Start on low and just as the milk and ice cream start coming together, lob chunks through the chute into the shake. Blend until just combined if you want any crunchy bits or until smooth if you’d prefer a creamy consistency. Pour into four rocks glasses. Sprinkle the ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg on top.

Cookery Bookshelf Recipes

Pumpkin Pie

If someone asked you the question, Are you a cook or a baker, the answer comes quickly for most. I am and always will be a cook first—I like the tactile process of tweaking along the way, tasting until a dish is just right. For a long time I didn’t think there was a baker inside of me. Two things changed that: my sourdough starter, Salvatore, and Kate McDermott. Kate and I met in New Orleans at IFBC years ago. After that food conference, I sought out her blog and discovered a post she wrote about her neighbor Sadie, a story that started me on the road to finding my inner baker. She wrote, “In her gentle way, she taught me that baking from the heart always tastes best, even if it doesn’t turn out quite like the picture in the magazine.” The post and quote made me rethink everything I had ever presumed about baking and question when Kate would write a book about her unfussy perspective on pies and baking.

And, what a book it is. Art of the Pie by Kate McDermott features photography from New York Times food photographer Andrew Scrivani. Each photo is a work of art, shot by my photography mentor numero uno, Andrew. It’s fitting really that they bring this book to pass—I loved seeing him and Kate collaborate on her first cookbook knowing that they’ve collaborated at food photography and baking events and share a deep friendship that I think comes across in the styling of the images. Rumor had it there was even a music jam in between shooting this cookbook.

I’ve been waiting over a year to share this book with you. Art of the Pie, the book, is the only pie book you will ever need. I know that sounds like a grand statement and you might think I am biased, but I’m not. Kate and I are friends, but I’m going to support my bold statement with examples.

Kate writes like a cooking teacher, bringing her decade plus experience of pie teaching (from Pie Camp!) into well-written recipe instructions that are specific, informative, with a touch of personality, as if she is with you when you are baking. Art of the Pie includes helpful sidebar conversations for the pie baker such as “lemon vs. vinegar” (p. 153) and a method for rendering your own leaf lard (p. 334). She calls herself a “pie-chiatrist” with rule number one on her tips for baking and life is to “Keep Everything Chilled, Especially Yourself.” That kind of no-nonsense attitude courses throughout the book. Baking pie is a small act of kindness: Kate invites you to do a Pie-By (p. 229) and offers tips for hosting a Pie Potluck (p.227).

But let’s start at the beginning. Have you ever made your own pie dough? Do you find it perplexing? Does your pie dough shrink or is it brittle rather than delicate under the fork? If you’ve never made pie crust from scratch before, it’s time and you’re in good hands with Art of the Pie. The section describing how to roll out pie dough is affectionately entitled, “Techniques and Tricks that Let the Good Pies Roll,” where she encourages the reader to “Look forward to rolling rather than fearing it.” (p. 43) She breaks the science behind how to nail a flaky dough every time with process photos along the way showing how the dough looks from start to finish. You will find not one but 10 pie crust recipes in the book—that’s not counting the graham cracker-style crusts, and of those 10, a handful are gluten-free (like Kate), and one is vegan and gluten-free.

Assembled less by season and more by pie style, an entire chapter is devoted to Apple Pie with an extensive list of varietals and their flavor profiles as well as a notation for when they are in season. Next spring, I’m going to snag rhubarb during its short window to bake a Rhuberry Bluebarb Pie (p 255). This winter, I’m making a plan for Cranberry Pie (p. 236). As soon as the lemons on my tree ripen to yellow, I’m eyeing the Shaker Lemon Pie (p.264). Next year will be the year for Nectarine Pie (p.228) and there’s a fairly strong possibility that Grasshopper Pie (p. 275) will sub in as birthday cake this year. The Cottage Pie from the savory chapter gets is requested when it’s cold out—I turn it into a Shepherd Pie (ground lamb instead of beef) and we love her brilliant addition of cheddar mixed into the mashed potatoes topping the meat.

But I know why you’re here. Last year, I hosted my first Thanksgiving feast, baking Art of the Pie Pecan Pie (p. 294) and Pumpkin Pie (p. 296). Before that day I was a charter member of team Pecan Pie. The only way I liked Pumpkin Pie was in my Curry Pumpkin Hand Pies. So, I’d never eaten traditional-style Pumpkin Pie quite like Kate’s before. There was a supple luscious quality to the custard that usually is so sturdy. The secret ingredient, in my opinion is the light coconut milk. It skips the rich dense filling heavy cream brings on with just enough eggs to hold it together. This pie is a marvel and the light coconut milk doesn’t make the pie taste coconutty. But don’t take my word on it. There’s still time to make this the Pumpkin Pie at  Thanksgiving. Or, plan a Pie-By, as Kate might nudge, a twinkle in her eye, leaving a warm pie stealthily on the porch of an unsuspecting friend for whom you are grateful.

art of the pie pumpkin pie - anneliesz

Art of the Pie Pumpkin Pie

The single-crust pie dough recipe called out below is in Art of the Pie but you could always use store-bought shells if you’re in a pinch for Thanksgiving. Rather than topping it with freshly whipped cream, I like this with a scoop of Greek yogurt. If you have someone attending who is gluten-free head over to her gluten-free pie crust.

(Reprinted with permission: Art of the Pie by Kate McDermott, published by The Countryman Press, 2016.)

Makes One 9-Inch Shallow Pie

1 recipe single-crust pie dough

3 eggs, lightly beaten

One 15-ounce can (about 2 cups or 245 grams) pumpkin

1 cup canned light coconut milk or evaporated milk

¾ cup (150 grams) sugar (equal parts white and packed brown sugar)

½ teaspoon (3 grams) salt

1 teaspoon (2 grams) cinnamon

1 teaspoon (2 grams) ginger

¼ teaspoon (.25 gram) freshly ground nutmeg

A tiny pinch of clove

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Roll out a pie shell and place it in a pie pan. Trim excess dough from the edges and crimp. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until they are light-colored and fluffy. Stir in the pumpkin, coconut milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Pour the filling into the pan. Place the pie in the oven and turn down immediately to 375°F. Bake for approximately 50 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and set on a rack to cool completely.


Lemon Green Bean Almondine

Jazz up green beans with this easy technique of bringing lemony flavor to Lemon Green Bean Almondine - anneliesz

Truth or dare? I always go with dare, but will start here with a truth. At Thanksgiving, my two favorite dishes growing up starts with my Tita’s dressing (I’m not alone there as my Tia doubles the batch so she can freeze half, defrost, and reheat whenever she has a hankering for her mother’s cooking). The other dish at its core is more cream of mushroom soup concentrate and crunchy onions from a tin than green beans. One hopes that time outgrows habit and on that point, I still love my Tita’s dressing and a good Green Bean Casserole, though now I prefer homemade mushroom cream and fried shallots.

This dish is not that dish and yet I dare you to swap out the heavy, creamy traditional side dish for this one. It’s quick and the best part is the cooking time is about 2 minutes. Warm the lemon butter sauce in the microwave for 1 minute and as long as you’ve toasted the almonds ahead of time, you’ve got a new-to-the-Thanksgiving table side dish that takes less than 5 minutes but that also makes any evening meal a side dish cinch. You’re welcome.

Lemon Green Bean Almondine - anneliesz

Lemon Green Bean Almondine

Who doesn’t love recipes you prep in advance? Toast the almond slices the night before the big feast. Even blanch the green beans. Then on game day, reheat, toss, and serve. Easy

Makes 4 servings

1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons toasted almond slices

Blanch the green beans. Heat the butter, lemon juice, and salt for 1 minute until the butter is melted. Top with the almonds.

Cookery Bookshelf Recipes

Warm IPA Braised Cabbage Salad with Pastrami and Swiss

As the outdoors get chilly during autumn, serve warm salads. We love this Warm IPA Braised Cabbage Salad with Pastrami and Swiss cheese.

Let’s say you’re a beer drinker. And, by beer drinker, I don’t mean no-other-adult-beverage-is-in-the-fridge-so-I-guess-it’s-a-good-night-for-beer drinker. Instead, you’re someone who first evaluates a restaurant by what’s on their beer list. What’s on tap first only to be followed by the bottled options. It may be very en vogue to be a beer drinker now, what with the explosion of amazing craft brews available from independent outfits, but I know someone whose delight for hops and yeast knows only the limits of what’s available in IPA. I can appreciate that kind of fixation with my gaze on tea (and have been noted to say more than two handfuls of time that “kombucha is my beer.” But let’s be honest, I can’t imagine tacos without Negra Modelo and have a penchant for Ranger with its elderflower notes. I’m a fan of dark oatmeal stouts too, but it must be said, anything I appreciate or know about beer originates with my main squeeze). Oh, husband. Lover of India Pale Ales. My dear heart. The man to whom I once gave an anniversary gift of a new-to-him-brand six-pack of IPA and a smattering of cheeses. Man whose dad once owned a t-shirt emblazoned with the sentiment, “Wisconsin: Beer, Cheese, and a Few Weirdos.” He’s my weirdo and as such, I’ve never seen the kind of enthusiasm he laid down when he picked up Lori Rice’s first cookbook, Food on Tap. It should be known I’m a fan of adding beer to food (hello, frijoles borrachos!) and every autumn I make my Beer Braised Lamb and Leeks and, now to add to the list will be Warm IPA Braised Cabbage Salad.

Lori and I met a few years ago through a mutual friend, but aside from a few hellos by twitter or likes via Instagram, we never really got it together to get together until after she moved out of the Bay area. It didn’t stop me from tracking her down at IFBC and asking if I could write about her book because I understand that kind of single-minded obsession with an ingredient and wondering how its variations can imbue familiar foods with awesome flavor. And, let me tell you Food on Tap did not let me down. Let’s start here though: I’ve made one of the recipes. Three times. That doesn’t usually happen, but I couldn’t get over how easy it is to eat a not sad desk lunch with the Warm IPA Braised Cabbage Salad. I can almost recite the recipe off the top of my head (and literally did so as a friend who was headed to Bend for work mentioned he needed to make an easy staff meal. Bingo!)

food on tap book review

To continue, I like that each recipe name in Food on Tap tells you in the title which kind of beer you will use. She also includes tips in tiny print of specific beers to consider for the recipes, which will give you the best chance to taste what’s in her mind as she’s crafted these recipes. Or, that the recipes have both a homey essence to them but also with a deeper insider understanding that Lori’s background is in nutrition (and she’s penned a blog entitled Fake Food Free so you know that there is temperance in there somewhere. Her take on Pub Cheese for example riffs on holiday flavors for a Pumpkin Ale Cheddar and White Bean Dip (p. 63) where she sneaks in creamy legumes for texture but I’d bet also because they lighten a recipe that could’ve gone solely indulgent. I’ve cooked with beer before, but have received a request for the Nachos with IPA Beer Cheese Sauce (p. 97) or the Three Cheese IPA Soup Shooters (p. 59).

Do you see a pattern emerging? I, for one, am keen to bake with stout over the holidays, most notably Gingerbread Stout Bars with Brown Butter Frosting (p.147) or the Peanut Butter Stout Chocolate Chip Scones (p. 53)– can you imagine those paired at teatime with a bold Assam or Yunnan tea?

Warm IPA Braised Cabbage Salad Recipe from Lori Rice - Food on Tap Book Review

Warm IPA Braised Cabbage Salad with Pastrami and Swiss

(Recipe reprinted with permission from Food on Tap by Lori Rice, published by The Countryman Press, October 2017).

The beer suggestions for using in this salad inspired by a Ruben Sandwich include Stone Brewing Stone IPA, Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted Ale, and Bear Republic Brewing Company Racer 5 India Pale Ale. Racer 5 is a favorite in our house because of its flavors, but also because there might be a bicycle hanging from the ceiling of the Bear Republic restaurant in Healdsburg that belongs to one of my family members.

Serves 6

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 medium head green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)

3 to 4 ounces IPA

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 pound sliced pastrami, chopped

6 ounces Swiss cheese, cubed

Heat the olive oil in a large pot, such as a Dutch oven, over medium high heat. Add the cabbage. Turn to coat it in the oil. Reduce the heat to medium. Carefully pour in 3 ounces of the beer. Cook, stirring often, until the cabbage begins to wilt and the liquid has evaporated, about 4 to 6 minutes. If you would like the cabbage softer, add more beer and continue to cook to reach your desired texture. Stir in the salt and pepper. Transfer the cabbage to a serving bowl. Toss in the pastrami and Swiss cheese. Serve warm.