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.


Maple Pear Bacon Grilled Cheese

Maple Pear Bacon Grilled Cheese - anneliesz

How do you say I love you? It comes out of my mouth in the language of beer and cheese. Cracking open an IPA for the one that I love even if my brew is less hoppy and scoring the best Vermont has to offer when it comes to cheddar (he likes it extra sharp) might be the love language that can’t really be bought. I tasted a delightfully bold cheddar from Cabot Creamery at IFBC and it set a plan in motion. Some people give expensive gifts, trips, watches, or other finery. I give grilled cheese.

Maple Pear Bacon Grilled Cheese - anneliesz

A few years ago, I stumbled upon the idea because, let’s be frank, cheese has always played an important role in our relationship. So, I set out to make Dark Rye Grilled Cheese Sandwiches all rubbed down in garlic and as you might imagine, it was a good idea. I picked up a block of the Cabot cheese because I knew if I liked it someone else in my immediate proximity would love it. 

Maple Pear Bacon Grilled Cheese - anneliesz

But, this, friends, is no ordinary grilled cheese I concocted for my 2017 ILY. In fact, at just this moment, I’m going to make a bold statement inspired by the cheese to tell you it’s the best one I’ve ever eaten. When I presented the sandwich as a gift wrapped in crispy outsides concealing the symphony of flavors inside, the response to my I love you was one finger raised, requesting silence as he took a second bite. Not a bad reply especially when accompanied by a bear hug.

Maple Pear Bacon Grilled Cheese - anneliesz

The inspiration for this year’s grilled cheese came from a lunch date we took years ago at a restaurant in San Francisco named Arlequin. We finished our sandwiches in the courtyard out back and they created taste memories. That twist of salty and sweet kind of made the sandwich amazing… until now. I started thinking more about the pears and in my excitement to start cooking with them they practically whispered in my ear what came next. Rosemary. A touch of maple. All sauteed in those priceless bacon drippings. So, make it for someone you deeply care about. Once a year. Call it an I love you in griddled challah bread and cheddar form.

Maple Pear Bacon Grilled Cheese - anneliesz

Maple Pear Bacon Grilled Cheese

I love a good cooking hack. This sandwich can totally be prepped and grilled in advance of eating it. Reheat it at 280F for 8 minutes. Chances are kind of amazingly high that these maple pears sauteed in the bacon fat would be the stuff of legend as a topping for autumn pancakes. You’re welcome. Just let me know how they tasted and what else you put on them!

Makes 2 sandwiches

4 strips bacon

1 Bosc pear, peeled and thinly sliced

½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon maple syrup

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces white cheddar cheese (cut into 6 slices)

4 1/2-inch slices challah bread

Cook the bacon in a skillet. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan. Reserve that extra bacon fat. Saute the pear slices with the rosemary, maple syrup, and salt over medium low heat for about 5 minutes or until the pears take on a bit of color and soften slightly. Remove the skillet from the burner, carefully swiping a paper towel through to clean it. Brush the top and bottom of the two bread slices with some of the reserved bacon drippings. Build the sandwich, tiling three slices of cheddar on both of the unbrushed sides of the slices of bread. Tile the bacon on one side. Tile the pears on the other side. Carefully close the sandwich. Set the skillet over medium low heat. Grill the sandwich for 3 minutes on each side or until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melty. Press down on top with your fingers as you steady a spatula underneath, carefully flipping the sandwich and grilling the other side. Prep the other sandwich while the first one is grilling and repeat the cooking instructions.


Apple Maple Pecan Cobbler

Maple sugar and spice and everything nice (like apples and pecans). Making an Apple Maple Pecan cobbler is an easy dessert to bake for a warming dessert.

How did we end up here? It’s fall again. Lovely, wonderful fall, the season at the top of so many lists. And maybe a reason it’s a favorite is tied up in the idea of harvest. The idea of bounty. So, what happens when the bounty we find ourselves with is sorrow? Does it seem like 2017 has been particularly macabre? As I write this, the sky has been orange and hazy for two days, over an hour away from the wildfires in the Wine Country.

We have all grown up and into social media, we’re finding our ways of expressing sorrow and solidarity #sonomastrong #napastrong #prayforpuertorico #prayforlasvegas #prayforhouston #prayformexicocity #prayforflorida In the midst of all the hashtags, inevitably you’ll find commentary that hashtags are not enough. That we need to take action. And, that’s true. I sometimes wonder how the accessibility to almost instantaneous worldwide communications like twitter with its breaking news sound bites has made us better humans or shown inhumanity that was once locked away in our deepest selves? To not take a position is to take a position. I know that now.

When making an Apple Maple Pecan Cobbler, choose a mix of tart and sweet apples like Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples.

In a recent issue of the New Yorker, an article sucked me into an idea of recreating paradise, hand-plucking each applicant for his/her skill set to live in paradise for one year. Paradise, as defined here, was ensconced somewhere in Wales, and according to the article, if you looked hard enough, you could find a way out of it. Imagine that: scaling a wall to escape “paradise.” That premise of starting over in a utopian state isn’t naïve, it’s hopeful and yet putting the idea into action is an invitation to foreshadowing. Because what I didn’t need to be told is that it wouldn’t work. That factions would break off. That William Golding’s encampment of young boy savages resides in the deepest hearts of all of us. But I’m not convinced that has to be the end of the story.

Consider the city of Petaluma. In the midst of the fires, the city has rallied and come together to help evacuees. You too can volunteer / donate / find a resource for evacuees here. I called our local firehouse in Oakland this morning and offered to bake / bring items and was told they are helping fight the fire and cooking up in the Wine Country.

I have deep, deep ties to the Wine Country and have been on pins and needles as a person close to the fire but not so close that we can’t see the plume, even if our skies are smoky, even if we get our news by headlines ticking across Google search refresh.

Granny Smith Apples are indispensable in an Apple Maple Pecan Cobbler because their tart flavor melds well with the maple sugar.

It’s hard at a time like now to write about apples. It’s hard not to devour news like it’s a 24 hour buffet of food that doesn’t quite fill you up enough. The morning after the tragedy that unfolded in Las Vegas as Jason Aldean launched into his fourth song, I couldn’t help thinking about the previous morning, a friend excitedly recounting his trip the weekend before to Las Vegas and a Celine Dion concert.

It can be easy to read just the horror in the headlines, but sometimes we must excavate for the hope. Because, it’s there too. The vet who took action, tying off a bleeding appendage in a tourniquet, using someone else’s volunteered flannel shirt—he’s not alone in doing good, just the one guy who made it into a story. There’s the couple who ventured to Vegas to celebrate their anniversary and on Sunday evening, the husband covered his wife’s body with his own, sacrificially saving her. I can’t imagine what snaps inside a person to wrest against the impulse of self-preservation for other-preservation, but it exists. And, it makes me think of cobbler.

Top Apple Maple Pecan Cobbler with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream for a homey autumn teatime.

A cobbler calls to mind community tables. It’s a dessert best shared, fruit still bubbling in its own sweet juices. And, surely you know someone who could really use something sweet in their life. So, who can you bake for? Can baking a cobbler be in its way a response to all that loss? I know what it’s like to have someone I love ripped from my life in an instant. I may not have survived the same kind of loss as a hurricane or massacre in Vegas, or even an entire home being eviscerated, but I know the kind of onslaught of grief that grips you day and night. And, lest you think a cobbler is a pat answer, what it really is, beyond the biscuits baked on top, all craggy corners with an underbelly cooked by fruit steam—a cobbler is an offer to see someone else’s hurt and offer a gift of time to be with them in all that darkness, bringing provisions. And for that person, for that time, it can be enough.

Who are you going to share an Apple Maple Pecan Cobbler with?

Apple Maple Pecan Cobbler

Have you ever seen maple sugar at the store? It’s not cheap, but that’s because it’s priceless. Maple syrup has been cooked down into granulated crystals that make it acceptable to use in baking where liquid sweetener isn’t invited. You can always make your own, or if neither of those work, you could try equivalent white sugar with a teaspoon of maple extract. To keep the fruit from browning, make a bowl of acidulated water (aka lemon juice squeezed into water) and add the peeled, cored slices into it as you’re prepping the other ingredients, until ready to use.

Makes 4 servings

5 cups ¼-inch sliced apples, peeled and cored (about 2 Granny Smith & 1 Pink Lady)

1/3 cup maple sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon maple sugar

1teaspoon baking powder

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed

¼ cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons chopped toasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease an 8×8 pan. Drain and pat the apple dry, if kept in the acidulated water. Toss the apples, maple sugar, flour, and cornstarch in a bowl until coated. Pour into the 8×8 pan.

Whisk the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder into a medium-sized bowl. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter, two forks or fingers if your hands tend to be cold and quick. Once the butter resembles peas and almonds, pour in the buttermilk, stirring until it comes together in one shaggy mass, pulling any errant bits into the whole. Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Press out disks of dough using a biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter. Polka dot them on top of the apples.

Bake the cobbler for 50 minutes, checking on the topping at 35 minutes–if it’s golden brown, cover the cobbler with foil and continue cooking until a fork inserts easily into one of the apples. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.


Tomato Rye Berry Breakfast Casserole

Winter mornings call for something hearty like Tomato Rye Berry Breakfast Casserole.

When the end of September arrives, my pulse seems to quicken. Is it possible that certain seasons offer greater productivity? I’ve been writing behind the scenes. In coffee shops. At midnight. On napkins. On the phone. In my writing notebook. Sometimes writing requires certain parameters to get started. Other times, there is no road. All flat surfaces are fair game. The thing is don’t give up. Write through the rough patches until the street gets smooth.

Heirloom tomato season is never long enough for me. I like adding tomatoes to this rye berry breakfast casserole.

Years ago, I made a Tomato Basil Oatmeal Bake and as the calendar flipped to October, I craved the heartiness available in whole grains. Have you ever cooked whole oat groats, wheat or rye berries? The toothsome chewiness of those long sturdy grains make a fiber full addition to your day. You can find rye berries in the bulk section of some natural food stores and co-ops or from Bob’s Red Mill. Cooking the rye berries is a cinch. When you’re batch cooking or doing meal prep for the week, make a pot of rye berries. Reserve two cups to make the rye berry breakfast casserole below. Hang onto the rest of them to toss into salads for a bit more whole grain heft. 

Some mornings call for steel cut oats, but rye berry breakfast casserole is another great way to go whole grain first thing in the morning.

Tomato Rye Berry Breakfast Casserole

Makes 4 to 6 servings

3 large eggs

¼ cup heavy cream

¼ cup almond milk

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups cooked rye berries

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (a mix of Sun-Gold and red is pretty)

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease an 8×8 pan. Whisk the eggs, milk, cream, olive oil, salt, and pepper together. Stir in the rye berries, tomatoes, Parmesan, and thyme. Pour into the pan, finessing a few of the tomatoes into place, but nudging them into the batter if needed. Bake for 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the custard has set / is not jiggly. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Cookery Bookshelf Recipes

Roasted White Chocolate Brownies with Strawberry Balsamic Swirl

Roasted White Chocolate Brownies have an extra dimension of flavor.

I should start by telling you anything I could possibly write about Irvin Lin’s first cookbook would be biased. I hung the equivalent of a save-the-date postcard for cookbooks of Irvin Lin’s Marbled, Swirled, and Layered in the coveted spot on the front of my fridge months before his book had even reached his hands hardbound. I bought the book. Attended a book signing. Asked at least one inquisitive question during Q&A. So, as my full disclosure to you, I can give you more than you might ask for in a cookbook review. I can go behind the scenes.

Marbled Swirled and Layered Book Review

You need to know that when I worked on my cookbook proposal for Steeped, I wrestled with images to include in it, having a very specific aesthetic I was looking to accomplish (and that my fellow lover of words and images, Stephanie Shih realized wonderfully in the printed book). Irvin and I had been friends for years at this point and recently had teamed up at a food photography workshop that proved to be quite productive. When I asked if he would shoot the photos for my proposal, he didn’t hesitate and we spent an afternoon under the overcast skies making pictures.

Have you ever tried roasting white chocolate? One key is low heat and then checking for color.

I say this because to understand what Irvin’s trying to accomplish in his cookbook comes from a place of generosity. It’s not often you see the front matter in a cookbook really seek to instruct instead of just providing a basis for why a baker uses certain equipment and ingredients. In Irvin’s hands, you’ll find six paragraphs dedicated to eggs with handy tips (freeze egg whites in a dedicated ice cube tray; freeze egg yolks with a pinch of salt or sugar to help with clumping when defrosting). A giddiness echoes in the way he shares these nuggets, much like a friend pulling you into earshot to spread news that’s too good not to share. For as long as I’ve known Irvin, he has always wanted to write a baking cookbook and notably one with suggestions on how to tweak recipes for gluten-free sensibilities. Early on in our friendship, we shared this sensitivity for friends who have Celiac disease or an intolerance that showed me we were kindred spirits. You’ll find a gluten-free conversions section before the recipes arrive where he shares his whole-grain gluten-free flour blend and chocolate gluten-free flour blend (p. 29).

The color of roasted white chocolate, according to Irvin Lin, should resemble "dark peanut butter."

The recipes in Marbled, Swirled, and Layered evoke Irvin’s unique sensibility for baking. His recipes are never one note. I described them recently, when I brought the Roasted White Chocolate Brownies with Strawberry Balsamic Swirl (p. 99, recipe below) to music practice as being emblematic of how he dresses. It’s not unusual to find him wearing a mix of several kinds of stripes in candy-colors where instead of them clashing they make him look dapper and one-of-a-kind. His baking is like this and it’s one reason I’m glad that the title includes the word layered. It’s never enough to just create a riff on linzer cookies with hazelnuts and cocoa, but the jam includes blackberries and mint (p. 59) citing in the headnote how blackberries and hazelnuts both come from Oregon and pair well together especially with “an extra layer of flavor (fresh mint.)”

Keep an eye on the white chocolate as it's roasting to determine if the chocolate is done, as it can quickly burn.

He’s chatty in real life and you can hear it in his headnotes where his stories set up the recipe below. If you read his blog, eat the love you’ll know stories of his life make up a big part of the recipes he shares. It was a fun surprise to find that a cake he and I had eaten inspired the Carrot and Parsnip Layer Cake with Honey-Cream Cheese Frosting (p. 139). I remember when he won the pie contest he describes as a lead-into Lemon-Blackberry Chess Pie (p. 197). The baking and raw ice cream pop-up he notes with the Jumbo Arnold Palmer Cookies (p. 33) did sell out quickly of said cookies, and I was happy to get there to snag one of the cookies before they were gone. I’ve hosted yearly cookie swaps during the holidays and am pretty sure the Cinnamon-Honey Bun Cookies (p. 36) and the Chocolate-Vanilla Checkerboard Cookies (p. 45) both have made appearances here. Along with Anita and Shauna, for several years, we co-hosted a Food Bloggers Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry on a Saturday in the Spring where we would set up shop over by Omnivore Books. His bake sale contributions always had the best branded packaging showing his skill at graphic design with bakeshop quality cookies inside.

Cook down the Strawberry Balsamic Jam after making the Roasted White Chocolate Brownie batter.

On more than one occasion, I subtly (and not so subtly) nudged him that he needed to open a cookie shop because his cookies surpassed what was available in my opinion at neighborhood bake shops. So I suppose it’s not surprising that’s where I focused the bulk of my interest when reading Marbled, Swirled, and Layered—you too can see why if you try baking his Malted Chocolate Chip and Reverse Chip Cookies (p. 81)—his textures are everything I want in a cookie: chewy in the middles, deep flavors, crispy edges, and usually at least one esoteric ingredient. I have every intention of making the Pumpkin S’mores with Maple-Brown Sugar Marshmallows and Dark Chocolate (p. 77) when tomato / apple season ends and pumpkin season officially begins. Wink, wink. The cakes, pies, muffins, and a little bit more sections all have something to offer, (believe me, he’s a master in those categories and bakes for DAYS prior to hosting a dessert party that’s been a can’t miss event in my calendar in past years) but some part of me gravitates back to cookies and bars… especially his Roasted White Chocolate Brownies with Strawberry Balsamic Glaze.

Drop clumps of jam on the brownie and then with a fork, scrape and swirl!

Back when I worked at the cereal company several years ago, we had agreed to meet for lunch. He brought the dessert, a recipe he was working on for his cookbook. I, a self-declared lover of the darker-the-better chocolate became smitten with roasted. white. chocolate. A strawberry balsamic jam swirled the crispy tops providing a counter-note of tangy fruit to the toothsome bar. He left me several of these brownies and I squirreled them away as treats for teatime during the week. Once I’d exhausted my stash I couldn’t stop thinking about them! White chocolate had never held this kind of spell over me before or since and I bided my time until I could make them at home. Roasting the white chocolate gives the usually cloyingly sweet chocolate a burnished edge to layer in unexpected flavor. It’s kind of like Irvin himself. He adds a bit of his unmistakable charm and flavor wherever he goes, his inquisitive passion for baking so beautifully captured in a book to enliven the kitchens of intrepid home bakers.

Once the brownies appear golden on the outside and cooked through, cool them thoroughly. Resist the temptation to cut into them before it's time!


Roasted White Chocolate Brownies with Strawberry-Balsamic Swirl excerpted from MARBLED, SWIRLED, AND LAYERED© 2017 by Irvin Lin. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

When you’re picking up the ingredients to make these brownies, Irvin says, “make sure the white chocolate you purchase has cocoa butter listed in the ingredients. Bypass white chocolate chips or cheap white chocolate (which uses vegetable oil in place of the cocoa butter) as he notes those don’t melt or caramelize well.”

 MAKES 24 small brownies


1 2⁄3 cups (10 ounces or 285 g) chopped

white chocolate (in about 1⁄4-inch chunks)

3⁄4 cup (170 g or 1 1⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3⁄4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

3⁄4 cup (165 g) packed dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 1⁄4 cups (315 g) all-purpose flour



1 cup (5 1⁄2 ounces or 160 g) chopped

strawberries (in about 1⁄2-inch chunks)

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon cold water

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar



Preheat the oven to 300°F. Spread the white chocolate on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir with a clean spatula until the browned chocolate at the edges is evenly mixed with the uncooked white chocolate in the center. Once completely stirred, the white chocolate should be the color of dark peanut butter. If it isn’t, continue to bake in 5-minute increments to darken it. Watch the white chocolate closely once it starts to brown, as it can burn pretty fast. Let cool on the baking sheet while you make the brownie batter.


Lightly coat a 9 x 13-inch metal baking pan with cooking spray and then line it with parchment paper, with 2 inches of the paper overhanging the edges of the pan. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.

Place the butter and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat together on medium speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt and beat to incorporate. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg to incorporate completely and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl before adding the next one. Add the oil and beat to incorporate. Scrape the roasted white chocolate into the bowl (it may have hardened and gotten a little grainy, but don’t worry about that) and mix it in. Add the flour and mix on low speed until absorbed. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.


Place the strawberries and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon and smashing the berries, until the strawberries release their juice and fall apart, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir the cornstarch into the water and then drizzle it into the strawberries, continuing to stir and cook for a minute or two until the mixture has thickened into a jam. Continue cooking for about 2 more minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Drop generous tablespoons of the strawberry swirl over the brownie batter and then use a butter knife or chopstick to swirl them together. Don’t overmix; just gently pull the strawberry swirl here and there and pull some brownie batter over the strawberry swirl as well.

Bake until the brownie is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, then remove the brownies by grabbing the sides of the parchment paper and pulling directly up. Transfer the entire slab of brownies to a cutting board. Cut and serve.

Roasted White Chocolate Brownies with Strawberry Balsamic Swirl are a great teatime treat and pair well with Darjeeling tea.

alternative to strawberry balsamic swirl


Make the brownie batter. Omit the strawberry-balsamic swirl. Make the chocolate-hazelnut swirl by placing 1 cup (130 g) hazelnuts, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 1⁄4 cup (30 g) natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-process), and 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt in a food processor. Turn the processor on and slowly drizzle in 3 tablespoons olive oil while the processor is running. Blend until a paste forms. Add up to 3 teaspoons more olive oil, 1 teaspoon at a time, if the paste is too thick (you want a peanut butter–like consistency). Swirl into the brownie batter in a decorative pattern. Assemble and bake as directed. Or cheat and use 3⁄4 cup Nutella to swirl into the brownie!

Roasted White Chocolate Brownies might turn you from the dark side.



Mint Basil Chip Popsicles

Infusing fresh herbs into cream is what makes these Mint Basil Chip Popsicles unforgettable

So much can change in a year. If I looked back on my life, I always knew where I was going or at least tried to play a good game. From high school to journalism school. From j-school to grad school. And then things completely went off the rails.

What looked like a future in India became a present in the Bay area that painted sweeping strokes of a new future. I stayed tuned into the possibility of rethinking where I was headed until one very decisive moment of the kind of vocational meltdown that can only happen in a public place. In a darkened movie theater, the heroine of the flick made a decision anyone else might think is career suicide. And, in the end, she re-envisioned a life for herself that was good and whole. What sprang unexpectedly into an emotional moment was the idea that somewhere I had lost my way. Could I get it back? I sat there, unexpectedly weeping during this scene of The Devil Wears Prada?!  My boss a few seats down. Hoping against hope that she wouldn’t see me with her laser intuition and grill me.  Instead, Anne Lamott saw me as I approached her hustling a few popcorn kernels into her mouth while in a lobby line for another movie. We didn’t say much. She didn’t need to. A beacon of light only has to shine.

And thus began a tiptoeing back to consider what my future might hold and how I might claim it. Perhaps it seems like a misstep to follow that drumbeat rhythm taking you deeper into your story, but mine led me to poetry school and gratefully, a husband, a house, two cats. Not at all the life I thought my wanderlust leanings would go.

One of the cats heard the siren song of the Mint Basil Chip Popsicles

And yet, we surprise ourselves all the time, don’t we. Finding an appetite for peas as an adult that we abhorred as children. Circling back to the classical music of childhood when contemporary music doesn’t quite cut it. Infusing fresh farmer’s market herbs into cream for something with a bit more oomph but that still hits all the right keys for my Mint Chip ice cream loving heart. Mint Basil Chip Popsicles are this year’s gold star pick on a wooden stick.

It’s popsicle week. Last year I narrowly missed it by a few days with my Pink Peppercorn Fudge Popsicles but followed along swooning over the wide range of flavors. Last year was the deluge of good work writing, shooting, and planning that continues on into this year. It’s not where I expected to be when dreaming of the future as a child, but I can’t envision any other future better than this one. We make our lives or they make us?

The secret to Mint Basil Chip Popsicles is fresh chervil. It lends an herbal note you can't quite put your finger on.

Mint Basil Chip Popsicles

The inspiration for the base of these popsicles came from a visit to Tartine Manufactory and a swirl of their fior di latte herbal soft serve. I prefer my chocolate chipped in chocolate chip ice cream and accomplished the right texture using either the small or large holes on a box grater.

Makes about 8 popsicles

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 cups fresh mint leaves (about 1 bunch)
1 cup fresh basil leaves (about 2 robust sprigs)
1/2 cup fresh chervil leaves (about 9 slender sprigs)
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, grated

Bring the cream, milk and sugar to boil. Whisk to prevent scorching. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium and cook for  2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Infuse the mint, basil, and chervil in the hot cream for 30 minutes. Strain out the leaves. Stir the chocolate shards into the infused liquid. Pour the liquid into the popsicle molds, filling them ¾ of the way. Leave no chocolate behind–spoon any remaining chocolate shards into the wells. Freeze for an hour. Insert the popsicle sticks. Freeze for 3 more hours.

Grating the chocolate for these Mint Basil Chip Popsicles gives you that classic chipped chocolate texture.


Chocolate Chile Sorbet with Cherry Compote

Chocolate Chile Sorbet with Fresh Cherry Compote - anneliesz

Some flavors tell you everything you need to know before tasting the dish. I’ve often thought that the role of writing a menu requires a special swish of the pen to word the description of a dish well enough to entice anticipation and need. For months, before and after we moved, if I had trouble keeping my eyes shut to descend into sleep, I would troll shelters and rescues looking for the right furry friend. Years ago, when I met Nathan he first went by the moniker CatLover29. And I remember thinking, man, he’s cute, but I’m allergic to cats… it doesn’t hurt to look. And here we are, all these years later, the cat man and the dog woman. He softened my resolve toward felines and after we married I began rethinking the possibility that maybe I might be able to circumvent my allergies for cats.

Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend– we drove to a local shelter to meet a kitty brother and sister we’d been looking at online named Hansel and Gretel. Gretel’s description read: “She likes to cuddle and sleep. She loves to run around and is very trusting.” Of Hansel: “he loves to lounge around and relax. He’s very sweet and vocal.” Reading their profiles reminded me of when i was on a hunt for a different kind of love, when I met CatLover29 and how pet profiles actually resemble a different kind of companionship connection. Reading about them online made me feel like I knew them and we sketched a plan to meet up.

Upon walking into the shelter, a sleek silver cat poked its head out of its cubby, meowing in our direction and rubbing itself along the wall of its crate. Meow, indeed. Hansel and Gretel ended up not working out for us, so we went back to the cat with seaglass green eyes, white whiskers askance, meowing when we entered the shelter. You have to know that I had read these small animals’ profiles so often, I felt like I knew them. So, I knew the cat by its name, Chai. She had been described online as skittish, chatty, and a people person. Our positive introduction with her meant we needed to seek out her mom, Priya and see if there was a cat connection. Meow, again. Bingo! We signed adoption papers as I prayed for my allergies to take a vacation and not return. Packed in their temporary carriers, we shuttled these two live wires to the car.

To say Chai freaked out is an understatement. She began ripping through the cardboard with her nose, desperate to get out. I drove on 580 going a snail’s pace of 45 miles, trying to avoid bumps and holes as Nathan sat in between both, trying to console them that everything would be okay. And it was, after we drove to the pet food store, its own version of Mission Impossible: Be quick! Don’t compare litters and cat foods, just buy a small bag and get back to the car as soon as possible. My sense of efficiency was tested and I passed the test, clocking less than 5 minutes to gather kitty essentials so we could finally head home. By this point, Chai had almost entirely torn out of her cardboard carrier. Her frantic meowing set my gas pedal foot on edge, knowing I needed to get home rapidly and carefully, but slowly too. We arrived home. One cat hid under the couch for a day and a night, hissing at the other cat. The other cat hopped out of the carrier and began exploring the new digs, deciding my lap might be her new favorite landing pad.

Later that day, I stirred together an idea for a deeply chocolatey treat without a lick of dairy and loaded with spice, but just enough to bring the heat without burning down the whole house. Chile and chocolate is one of my favorite pairings and it nudged its way into a Chocolate Chile Sorbet. As a kid, I saved the maraschino cherry until the end as one final bracingly sweet bite, so that taste memory poked its head in too with the idea of cooking down fresh cherries enough so that they gave off their juices but still kept their figures.

Can we really know what something will taste like when we read carefully selected words on a menu? Can we know a person’s personality as they describe themselves or an animal which has had their description written for them on an online profile? How can you know until you slip your tongue onto the cold spoon? Perhaps only on a first date with its foibles and flutters? Or, until a cat surrenders its chin or tummy where the softest fur beckons to be stroked? It’s hard to say. Some things you take at face value and others must be discovered singularly, like licking a scoop of sorbet, sweet, spicy, summer vacation in a bowl.

Chocolate Chile Sorbet with Fresh Cherry Compote - anneliesz

Chocolate Chile Sorbet with Cherry Compote

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Chocolate Chile Sorbet

4 cups water
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground pasilla chile
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Cherry Compote

2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Make the sorbet: Stir together the water, cocoa powder, sugar, chile, cayenne, cinnamon, and salt over medium low heat until well combined and the sugar has dissolved. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight so the flavors can meld and the mixture is very cold. Process the sorbet following the directions of an ice cream machine. Spoon into a container for it to set in the freezer for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Make the compote: Cook the cherries, sugar, water, allspice, and lemon juice over medium heat in a small saucepan until the cherries have released some of their juices and cooked down without losing their shape, about 10-12 minutes, stirring continuously during the last two minutes. It’s done when there is little liquid in the pan and on the spoon is not drippy. Cool to room temperature.


PS – If you left the sorbet overnight in the freezer before serving, leave it on the counter for 15-20 minutes until an ice cream scoop passes through it easily but before it melts.

PPS – I’ve always found, as a great ice cream aficionado (read: devastater of pints!) that passing an ice cream scoop through hot water before rolling it through ice cream yields an easier, prettier ball of ice cream or sorbet.

PPPS – Chile or chili, that is the question. The Los Angeles Times picked a side and so have I.


Bacon Cauliflower Wheat Berry Salad

Bacon Cauliflower Wheat Berry Salad - anneliesz Sometimes where we end up isn’t where we thought we’d go. There was a season in my life where I refused to cave into procuring a leather jacket because I wanted to be able to live overseas at a moment’s notice. Somehow that jacket unwittingly became the symbol of not settling down into a lifestyle in the U.S. At the time, South Asia held my focus, even if I didn’t know exactly how to make that move a reality.
We moved last week. But instead of crossing the Pacific Ocean, we crossed the nearest freeway driving south. Reasons like a string of yarn that’s still unspooling went into us making the move.
As a working artist, we wanted a space big enough to water small ideas and let them stretch and grow. Upon entering houses 1, 2, 3, and finally 4, I envisioned the books I might write at the desk facing a mature Meyer Lemon tree, the photos I might take from the single pane window with its yummy West-facing light. I even caught a glimpse of the poems to be penned in the sunny Bay window of a kitchen. Finding the right space for us felt like a scavenger hunt except instead of looking for clues in the open, I hunted consistent patches of light and considered the bones of the building itself. We would be leaving an apartment that sometimes gobsmacked visitors with its bright disposition of long French windows, light filtering into each room.
It’s an interesting thing, thinking about the constraints of creativity. When given a small canvas, you make the most of its surface space, but a large canvas requires something different from the painter. Musically, Nathan’s band of disparate intellectuals are gelling and sounding in sync in a way that it might be time soon to lay down permanent tracks of their progress. The notion that he can play plugged in without disturbing neighbors down the hall or downstairs is a kind of freedom. As I write this, my office is in cardboard boxes, the wall of the room itself getting scraped, primed and then ready to open for the business of unboxing its bits. This too is an exercise in patience, of a perseverance in writing even when the conditions of the writing is not optimal. Where I knew the windows best for setting up foodscapes in my former dwelling, I have yet to discover which window and time will become my favorite retreat for interesting light.
In December, we visited Edgar Allan Poe’s house and it inspired us in two very distinct ways that played out as we looked for our first house. First, his study and bedroom were almost inter-connected. I could envision him lying on his bed, a line coming to mind and leaping up to walk the short distance from leisure to livelihood. Secondly, his home informed his writing and specifically one room spoke into the idea behind one of his stories (more of this in an upcoming post). It fascinated me to think how a space can worm its way into your work. How the space in which we create is part of the toolkit joining the camera, notebook, or guitar.
Most days the feel and groove of the new neighborhood makes it seem like we moved to a new city. It’s been only a week and still the sounds surprise me. A rooster crows down the street in the morning and afternoon. Hens gab engulfed in the gossip of backyard goings-on next door. The booming bass of music rattles the window up front as a car passes by. A seagull screeches in its circle above the tops of the trees.


Bacon Cauliflower Wheat Berry Salad - anneliesz
When the move began to seem imminent, I began scouring our pantry for foods better eaten now than packed in one of the many cardboard boxes and reusable cloth bags. And, there they were, gleaming pearls in the shelf of whole grain filled jars. Wheat berries offer a hefty chew and hearty addition to a lunchtime salad. Though we are certainly in the throes of Spring, the humble and under-appreciated turnip turned up into this February salad too. I’m harboring plans for fall and winter to pursue the potential in this root vegetable even as we are decidedly in asparagus and pea season.
But like a good poem, a recipe is never too late in arriving. It comes just when it needs to, even after a gestation period that turned out to be longer than intended. Even after we end up surprising ourselves with the courage required to take our creative work deeper by rooting down and filling new rooms with ideas. Even if there’s still no room for a leather jacket.
Bacon Cauliflower Wheat Berry Salad - anneliesz

Bacon Cauliflower Wheat Berry Salad

Makes 4-6 servings
2 1/2 cups cooked wheat berries
1 cup peeled and chopped turnip
1 cup chopped cauliflower stalks
2 slices bacon
3 tablespoons sliced leeks, whites only
1 Swiss chard leaf, chiffonade
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly cracked pepper
1 tablespoon tahini
1 lime, juiced
Place the wheat berries in a large bowl. Steam the turnip and cauliflower stalks until fork tender. Add them to the bowl with wheat berries. Meanwhile, fry the bacon. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon. Saute the leeks, Swiss chard, salt, and pepper in the bacon fat until cooked down, about 4 minutes over medium low heat. Add the cooked Swiss chard to the bowl of wheat berries. Mix together the tahini and lime juice. If it’s too thick, add 1/2 teaspoon of water. Pour the tahini sauce over the wheat berries. Toss and serve.
PS- This salad is best eaten on the day it’s made. (Try to stop yourself after it’s just tossed).
PPS- Make this salad gluten-free by swapping out the wheat berries for brown rice. It’s got a similar grit and sense of self-import that matches the swagger of this salad.
PPPS- Stash the cauliflower florets to use in a different recipe. I like to take stock and provide ideas for using the less pretty bits of vegetables like cauliflower stalks. If the size shown here is too ungainly, feel free to chop them into smaller chunks.
Cookery Bookshelf Recipes

Chocolate Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting

Chocolate Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting

We eat with our eyes first and so it shouldn’t be such a surprise to say that the way I found Jennifer Farley was through her photography. Her sense of minimalist style mirrored my own desire to let the food speak for itself without much adornment. Last Fall, her cookbook The Gourmet Kitchen came out and I toted it along with me on a trip, doing my first pass of marking recipes to cook and making annotations in the margins.

Jennifer Farley's Chocolate Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting

We dined on her Broccoli Cheddar Baked Potatoes (p. 124) finding the double-baked approach a delightful way to enjoy that stellar pairing of broccoli and cheese. Her Poached Salmon Soup with Udon and Mushrooms (p. 72) is unbelievably easy and warmed us on rainy days. We noshed on Baked Acorn Squash with Garlic-Yogurt Sauce (p.140), an Afghani dish also known as kaddo bourani, as it reminded us of a favorite wedding anniversary meal several years ago. The Quinoa, Blueberry, and Almond Salad with Honey Lemon Mint Vinaigrette (p. 96) is on the menu this week for lunch, and I’m jonesing to prep the Sesame-Crusted Tofu Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing (p.87) using some Hodo Soy tofu that’s in the fridge. Can you think of anything more decadent for dinner celebrations than Jumbo Lump Crab Pot Pie (p.185)?

Chocolate Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting

I’m not sure I can wait until next Christmas to make the Orange Cardamom Cinnamon Buns (p. 45), though I know I’ll have to wait until that sliver of time in September to make the Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Bars (p. 261) since the Concord grapes necessary for the Concord Grape Curd (p. 222) aren’t in season until then. I initially became familiar with the author through her exquisite photography and blog, Savory Simple. Gourmet Kitchen gives Farley more room to dig deeper into au courant flavors like the Spicy Gochujang Chicken Wings (p. 168) or Salted Caramel Toffee Ice Cream (p. 209). She shares tricks from her culinary school training in methods like how to make ghee (p. 5) or in tips noted in the headnotes like using the corn cobs to make the corn stock for her Chilled Summer Corn Soup (p. 75). This is a cookbook for people who like to cook. Her recipes offer a straightforward approach to introducing sophisticated flavors into recipes easy enough for weeknights and others to pull out for parties.

Chocolate Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting - anneliesz

In preparation for January 10, I pulled down my copy of The Gourmet Kitchen for one simple reason on page 253. Some friends knit pink pussyhats. Others made signs on poster board with permanent markers. Still others boarded airplanes bound for DC. I baked Jennifer Farley’s Chocolate Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting.

Chocolate Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting - anneliesz

I couldn’t shake the vision of offering something sweet to others who decided it would be a good idea to march for whatever reason that brought them out. See, I have this crazy idea that if somehow we could all sit around a table and eat good food, we might be able to listen to one another, or at the very least give each other a chance to be seen. I’ve made these brownies twice and here’s something true: both times these brownies made friends and strangers smile. And, isn’t cooking or baking all about bringing a bit of something sweet into someone else’s life?

Maybe that’s the real secret of the gourmet kitchen.

Chocolate Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting

Chocolate Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting

(Reprinted with permission from The Gourmet Kitchen by Jennifer Farley, published by Gallery Books, 2016.)

YIELD: 36 mini brownies / 16 full-sized brownies

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces (1/3 cup) all-purpose flour

3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup well-stirred tahini
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease an 8×8-inch brownie pan with baking spray or butter and line it with parchment paper, allowing two sides to hang over the edges.

In a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat the chocolate and butter, stirring until evenly combined and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the sugar and whisk vigorously until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and salt. Sift in the flour and stir until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the brownies to cool to room temperature.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the tahini and mix on medium speed, scraping down the sides several times, until evenly combined with the butter. With the mixer on low speed, add the sugar and salt. Mix until the dry ingredients have incorporated. Scrape down the sides and turn the speed up to medium-high, allowing the frosting to mix for another minute, until light and smooth.

Use the excess parchment paper to lift the brownies out of the pan and place them on a cutting board. Use a spatula to evenly frost the brownies. Cut the brownies and serve.


Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches - anneliesz

I’m psyching myself into making this year the best! year! ever! And, yet. In the first week of the New Year, a dear friend of mine called late enough one evening that her name flashing on my phone was foreboding. We’ve been swapping texts, doctor diagnoses, and the emojis that speak into the places we don’t want to go for several days. It’s day six of the New Year. (Update: good news! She’s in the clear.)

A neighbor wrestles with the ever-real possibility that her landlord will attempt to evict her. I’ve been feeding her, shuttling over an extra smoothie, extra tagine, extra food as if somehow giving food will figure out the future that can seem awfully untenable at times.

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches - anneliesz

Today, I spoke with a woman representing Amnesty International and we had a candid conversation about the travesty that’s been going on in Syria for far too long and that doesn’t always make front page news. Some problems seem so big and can make us feel so small.

Here’s the thing, I tend to be an optimistic realist. And, I’m of the mind usually that we have to choose the positive in a situation for our own well-being. But sometimes, it’s equally as important to get dirty, go down in the trenches of life with someone else who is languishing. Equally as important, laughing with those who laugh and celebrating those who are succeeding.

One of my favorite things about tea (and there are many) is the notion that the act of brewing tea forcibly slows us down in a world that’s all go-go-go. If I make a resolution in 2017, it’s one that started late last fall when a rumbling for change reverberated through me, and a desire to let this idea take root: to make time for the people in my life is to water the stuff that makes life good. I awaken thinking of my friend, the hospital- my neighbor, the shelter in question- my smallness, the big problem- and they become smoke, an offering, a prayer.

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches - anneliesz

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches


5 medium carrots, peeled
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 leek, whites only, rinsed and halved
1/2 block cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon creme fraiche
7 Castelvetrano green olives, pitted
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon caper juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves
1 1-inch long lemon zest peel
10 slices honey wheat sandwich bread, crusts cut off
2 radicchio leaves, cut into 10 small pieces

Preheat the oven to 375. Line a roasting pan with parchment paper. Slice the carrots into 3 sections. Cut 1/4-inch planks from each section. Toss the carrots in the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Place the carrots on the lined roasting pan. Pat the leek halves dry. Rub the leek halves in the remaining oil coating the carrot bowl. Place the leek segments onto the roasting pan– if you need a second pan, line one up and go for it– you want to make sure the carrots and leeks have room to roast. Roast for 25 minutes or until the carrots are fork tender and the leeks are golden brown. Cool the carrots. Toss the leeks, cream cheese, creme fraiche, olives, capers, caper juice, black pepper, remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, cilantro, and lemon zest into a food processor. Pulse until mostly smooth with a hint of chunkiness. Slice each bread slice into long fingers. Coat one finger with one tablespoon of the olive leek spread. Lay a slender slice of radicchio on the leek olive spread. Tile carrots on top. Complete the sandwich with another finger of bread and serve.


PS- I love make-ahead recipes. If you do too, roast the carrots and make the spread the day before. Assemble them right before serving.

PPS- Wondering what to do with the bread crusts? Feed them to ducks. Toast them and make Toast Croutons. Or, use the toasted crusts and blitz them into tiny crumbs to use in meatballs, meatloaf, or atop mac and cheese (they’d be good especially tossed with some butter and chopped herbs).

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches - anneliesz


Kale Celery Root Soup

Kale Celery Root Soup - anneliesz

In the Bay area, if it dips under 60 degrees, we pull out the scarves and beanies. I’ve been donning my fingerless gloves for weeks and am wearing out my hoodie (hood up, thank you). Our place doesn’t have a working heater or a working fireplace though we have one of each. To stay warm and for overall high spirits, I drink copious amounts of tea and coffee. Then, I pile on the layers. On particularly cold days, the oven cranks onto a balmy 375, which makes my challah rise to the happy climes. Recently we made an excursion to Philadelphia. That city won me over in a big way a few years back and claimed the spot of favorite food city of 2014, narrowly being edged out of its spot in 2015 by Los Angeles and its booming bold flavors of any kind of cuisine imaginable.

While in Philadelphia, we sported winter coats. Hats with ear flaps. Mittens. And on a few occasions, we may have ducked into stores we didn’t really have any intention of perusing had the wind not picked up into the soul-crushingly cold temperatures. We ran up the Rocky steps, or more accurately, I ran up the Rocky steps. I quickly learned that detail alone separated the chump out-of-towners from the townies like opening an umbrella in Seattle gives you away in an instant. Two days at the museum meant two chances to eat incredibly good pizza in the name of it being within walking distance.

If I had to qualify my favorite thing to eat, anything wrapped in a fresh, hot corn tortilla would take the top seat and perhaps surprisingly, homemade soup would nab the silver spot. I love sweets more than I should, but I could eat soup everyday and not grow bored. Homemade soup is one part revelation and another part Bay area and beyond winter survival tactic. I created this soup with the specific aim in mind of cramming as much greens as possible into something that also tends toward being a little naughty. The bacon fat lends a nudge of meaty flavor to a veggie-filled soup. I won’t be mad at you if you make more bacon to crumble on top when you’re ready to serve it. Or, skip the bacon altogether and use veggie stock, letting it rain Parmesan on top as a garnish. Whatever you need to do stay warm in winter works.

Kale Celery Root Soup


3 pieces bacon, torn into 3 pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and medium chopped (1 cup)

1 green bell pepper, ribbed and medium chopped (1 ¼ cups)

1 small yellow onion, medium chopped (1 cup)

1 teaspoon kosher salt plus 1 teaspoon

1 (10 ounce-sized) small celery root, peeled and medium chopped (1 ¾ cup)

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

1 bunch kale, rinsed, ribbed and chopped (about 6 cups)

4 cups low sodium chicken stock

1 cup water

Crème Fraiche

Fry the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon, placing on a plate for later use. Drizzle and swirl the oil into a stockpot. Add the onion, carrot, bell pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Saute them for about 10 minutes or until mostly cooked, stirring occasionally. Stir in the celery root and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the kale, coriander, paprika, and Aleppo pepper, stirring for about 1 minute. Pour in the chicken stock, water, and remaining teaspoon of kosher salt. Raise the heat to medium high. Cook the soup for about 15 minutes or until the celery root is fork tender. Puree the soup in batches. Crush the cooled bacon into bits. Serve with a drizzle of crème fraiche on top a la Jackson Pollock and a scattering of bacon bits.


PS- This soup would actually be pretty terrific with grilled cheese soldiers dipped into it.

PPS- And, if you happen to find celery root in the summer, it would make a fine chilled soup too.

Kale Celery Root Soup - anneliesz


Borscht Toast (Beet Caramelized Onion Toasties)

Borscht Toast

Gone are the days when I diligently jotted a note here letting you know about writerly goings-on elsewhere. But! My fondness for cabbage took an interesting foray into a letter I penned to that cruciferous vegetable, printed in Volume V of the New Guard. And so, I recently began musing about how wonderful Borscht never makes it into the food headlines. It should. Something about the sweet earthiness of beets with enough cabbage to keep it grounded and a touch of dill to lift it up into a heady high-tail into the clouds makes it a soup for the ages.

I haven’t had enough of open-faced finger sandwiches just yet and am enamored of the soup, Borscht. It doesn’t get quite the attention of other soups, but makes a marvelous spread on bread in Borscht Toast. These bright pink bites are the stuff of Valentine’s miracles. Let it be known the bread can be ejected from the scenario and the beet caramelized onion topping can easily sub as a dip with crudités. We find it particularly good with carrots or shoveling it into endive leaves with a few snips of dill or chives on top would be good too. I have a hunch that even ham would play well with this bright pink dip that’s savory and a cheery addition to a winter spread.

Borscht Toast (Beet Caramelized Onion Toasties)


1 medium white onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup finely shredded cabbage

¼ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 small Yukon Gold potato, quartered and cooked until fork tender

2 small beets, peeled and cooked until fork tender (about 3 1/2 – 4 ounces total)

¼ teaspoon dried dill or ¾ teaspoon fresh dill

16  white sandwich bread slices

Fresh thyme or dill sprigs

Create the bread rounds by placing a biscuit cutter dead center in the slices of bread. Reserve the leftover bread for another use.* Toast the bread. Drizzle and swirl the oil into a sauté pan set over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onions and salt. Saute them for about 10 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally. Stir the cabbage, thyme, and pepper into the pan. Saute for 2 minutes or until the cabbage softens. Cool the onion mixture for 10 minutes. Grate the potato pieces using the fine holes on a box grater—the potato skins will make it easier to grate the potato and you can toss the peels afterwards. You should have about ½ cup finely grated potato. Place the onion mixture, grated potato, beets, dill into a food processor. Pulse until almost smooth, but still a bit chunky. Scoop about 1 tablespoon onto the toasts.

PS- These open-faced toasts look pretty with a sprig of fresh dill or thyme for decor if desired.

PPS- If you go with thyme, it’s a pretty decoration. Thyme sprigs are woody after all and not quite so edible.

*PPPS- I like using the leftover bread slices missing their middles for egg in the hole at breakfast.