It’s been a while! I feel like I keep saying that. Since I was last here, I went on a wonderful weekend trip to Portland with a friend, I celebrated my 33rd birthday, finished this book + this book (affiliate links! Just so ya know), and have just been doing some quality Winter nesting.
We ate so much great food in Portland! Coffee at Stumptown was great. Naturally we hit up Tusk and Ava Gene’s because Joshua McFadden and his food style just rules. We had great bowl food (and deep chlorophyll-y green lemonade!) at Prasad Cafe. I had this eggplant dip/spread that left a deeply vivid impression on me at Shalom Y’all (might have to recreate soon). Quality tea lattes were had at Tea Bar and delicious togarashi-spiced avocado toast was enjoyed at Locale. Oh, and I had one of the better vegan ice cream experiences of my life at Eb & Bean. It also helped that we randomly ran into Dana of Minimalist Baker while we were there. Total serendipity!
We walked through the Portland Japanese Garden, which was honestly the most wonderful thing. I had spent the day flying and wanted to be surrounded in trees, moss, nature sounds, the smell of vegetation, and just that living and breathing sense of life in real time. I always try to do something in nature at the end of a flying day as a way to happily adjust to the new surroundings. When I do this and take care to drink plenty of water and herbal tea on the plane, it’s all smooth sailing, energy for days, and sound sleep when the time comes.
We hit some great shops as well: Field Trip, Solabee Flowers, North of West, Alder & Co., and my fave of them all Pistils Nursery. I came home with a gorgeous piece of labraodrite that glows like the northern lights, a very gentle tarot deck, a suncatcher prism, some very important hot sauce, and a new toiletry bag to go with my forever dependable Filson carry-on. We leaned on Alison Wu’s excellent Portland travel guide if you’re planning a trip soon 😉
Anyway! Now that you know my entire life story from that weekend (hehe), let’s jump to today’s recipe. We had these loaded fries the first night in Portland. They had tahini sauce, zhoug, fresh dill, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember. I loved them, but I also remember wishing that they were a bit sloppier. Maybe it’s the Canadian built-in preference for poutine or something?
I don’t really fry at home, so this roasted potato situation with za’atar, slightly saucy harissa chickpeas, greens, and tahini sauce is what I’ve happily settled on here. Definitely a bowl food vibe, and definitely simple enough for weeknight enjoyment. Also, potatoes are pretty much the best wherever you find them. Hilariously, this is yet ANOTHER chickpea, stewed tomato deal from me (see here, here, here + here). Can you tell it’s still deep winter here?! Love going out to you all anyway 😉
HARISSA CHICKPEA BOWL WITH POTATOES, LEMON-Y TAHINI & GREENS
Print the recipe here!
SERVES: 3 hearty portions or 4 smaller ones 😉
NOTES: If you don’t have a spice grinder, use the same amount of ground cumin, coriander, caraway seed, and chili flakes. If you can’t find it in ground form, whole caraway seed is fine too.
-I know that plenty of people are kinda “meh” on caraway, feel free to leave it out!
-The amount of chili here gives the chickpea mix a good amount of heat. If you’re sensitive to spice, I’d cut it back to half a teaspoon.
-Anytime I post a recipe with tahini, I just feel compelled to call out my favourite tahini ever by Soom.
-I like to make the tahini sauce first, so that I have it out of the way, and also the flavours get to marry a bit. You could fix it up while the potatoes roast if you prefer.
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup filtered water
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, finely minced (or grated with a Microplane)
1 teaspoon olive oil
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ lbs new potatoes, scrubbed
1 tablespoon heat-tolerant oil, like avocado
1 teaspoon za’atar
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 tablespoon heat-tolerant oil, like avocado
1 shallot, fine dice (about ⅓ cup diced shallot)
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 15-ounce can, drained)
1 cup crushed canned tomatoes (I like fire-roasted here)
¼ cup filtered water (+ extra if necessary)
4 big handfuls of chopped mixed greens
fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Make the lemon-y tahini. In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, water, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Once combined and seasoned to your liking, set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch thick wedges or cubes and transfer them to a large baking sheet. Toss them with the oil, za’atar, salt, and pepper. Place potatoes in the oven and roast for about 40 minutes, or until tender and golden brown, flipping them once at the halfway point.
Make the harissa chickpeas. In a deep skillet over medium heat, toast the cumin, coriander, caraway, and chili flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer spiced to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Grind spices to a rough powder and set aside.
Place the skillet back on the heat and pour the oil in. Add the shallot to the skillet and saute until translucent and soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ground spice mixture and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas to skillet and stir to coat the chickpeas. Add the crushed tomatoes and water to the chickpeas and stir to combine. Season harissa chickpeas with salt and pepper. Bring the harissa chickpeas to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and let chickpeas cook for 10 minutes, adding more water if necessary. You want the chickpeas to be saucy, but not fluid like a soup.
While chickpeas are simmering, toss the greens with olive oil, lemon juice, pinches of za’atar, sale, and pepper.
To serve, divide warm potatoes among plates. Top with harissa chickpeas, tahini sauce, piles of dressed greens, and chopped parsley.
It can be a lot of pressure to live in a world where pastel smoothies sprinkled with chia seeds smirk at you from every corner of the internet—sometimes it’s almost enough to convince me that my breakfast routine should consist of Instagrammable bowls of super fruits and activated nuts (whatever that means). But the truth is, when I crawl out of bed in the dark of predawn, all I can think about is this salad.
It’s my breakfast most mornings: a mix of light and refreshing herbs and crisp vegetables, with a punch of too much fresh lime juice, a kick in the throat from a fistful of raw ginger and Thai chilies, and a resounding head-butt from an inappropriate amount of raw garlic. Everyone wonders why I don’t drink much coffee, but try getting a beating from this flavorful salad first thing in the morning, and you’ll understand right away.* (For that matter, try it any time of day—it’s great as a light lunch, or paired with sticky rice for a more substantial dinner.)
* Editor‘s note: I don’t care if I’m chugging a bottle of Worcestershire sauce in the morning—I still need coffee, too.
Inspired by yam khai dao, the Northern Thai fried-egg salad I met while working at Pok Pok, my salad can easily be adapted to use whatever is in your fridge. This version is specifically designed with my vegan friends in mind: It swaps fish sauce out for soy, with a pinch of kala namak stepping in for the lost funk. But as long as the dressing has tart, spicy, salty, and sweet elements, you’re welcome to try a host of substitutions. I’ve made it with vinegar or lemon, chili flakes or ají amarillo—even when it’s wrong, it’s still right.
I start by prepping the aburaage. Aburaage are chewy and spongy pouches made by twice-frying slabs of firm tofu. The frying process gives them a dense texture, very similar to that of a hard-cooked omelette. This meatiness, combined with their ability to soak up whatever you marinate them in, makes them perfect for adding to any dish. They’re most often seasoned with soy sauce and sugar (after which they become inari) and stuffed with rice for inarizushi, but aburaage is also great added to curries, ragouts, and even sandwiches or tacos. I always have a few packs lurking in the freezer, and not just for breakfast.
Because it’s fried, it needs to be thoroughly rinsed of any residual oil before use. The best way to do this is to cover the pouches in boiling water and swish them around. If you’re using frozen pouches, you may need to repeat the process to both defrost and rinse them. After draining off the hot water, I rinse them again under running water until they no longer feel greasy—an important step not because we’re worried about our waistlines, but because the oil can often smell rancid. Once they’re rinsed, I squeeze out any extra water before cutting them into strips. I usually prep the aburaage in advance up to this point and store the strips in the refrigerator, so I can easily reach for them in the morning with my half-open, sleepy eyes.
For the dressing, I combine thinly sliced Thai green chili and garlic with fine matchsticks of ginger, soy sauce, fresh lime juice, kala namak, and palm sugar. I warm up this mixture just slightly to melt the sugar and allow the aromatics to bloom. You can do this in a small pot over a burner, or just pop it in the microwave for a quick blast—there’s no need for it to boil or even simmer. Then I pour the dressing over the aburaage strips and let them marinate for a few minutes while I prep the vegetables.
Any combination of crunchy raw vegetables and tender herbs will work in this salad. Here, I’ve combined a julienne of carrots with sliced cucumber, radish, onion, dill, cilantro, basil, and red leaf lettuce. I gently toss the vegetables and herbs with the marinated aburaage and every last drop of the flavorful dressing. The slight warmth of the dressing gently wilts the salad, releasing all the volatile aromas from the herbs. It’s best to eat it right away, while everything is still crisp and you can enjoy the contrast of the cold vegetables against the warm tofu. And I usually eat it right out of the mixing bowl—because, after all that knife work, I just can’t be bothered to do anything else.
I love sugar as much as anyone; it’s the backbone of most everything I do, since it provides desserts with volume, structure, body, flavor, and, oh yeah, sweetness (its least important job, so far as I’m concerned). Sugar’s at the top of the food pyramid for a reason, a sweet cap to an otherwise balanced diet, something to be consumed in moderation.
For the most part, I accomplish that with portion control: thinner slices of cake, smaller scoops of ice cream, one cookie instead of two. But a number of my favorite recipes have a relatively low amount of added sugar, around 8g or less per serving. For those who love baking, but feel like cutting back for one reason or another, these recipes should fit the bill.
Like the original, my homemade Fig Newtons feel pretty virtuous. The cakey cookie is lightly sweetened with honey and brown sugar, while the filling itself is made from nothing more than dried figs, plain applesauce, and a squeeze of fresh orange juice. It’s a chewy, fruity snack that’s not too sweet or rich, and easy to customize with the variations in my cookbook (including apricot-strawberry, blueberry-lime, cherry-banana, and…bacon!).
This simple galette is primarily sweetened by the pears, with just a few spoonfuls of added sugar to draw out their juices. Cardamom, Chinese five spice, and vanilla bean work to amplify the natural flavor of the pear, which stands in creamy contrast to the crispy crust below. It’s the ideal dessert to conclude a night of tapas or wine and cheese, but to be honest I’m all about having it for brunch.
The bulk of sugar in this recipe for lemony scones comes from a sprinkle of turbinado on top, an entirely optional (though delightfully crunchy) addition. The dough itself leans on fresh blueberries for sweetness, with just two teaspoons of sugar to help with flavor and browning.
My buttermilk granola has less added sugar than its commercial counterparts, just enough to help it brown and crisp in the oven. With toasted sugar, that sweetness is even milder, tempered by a hint of caramel complexity. Serve it for breakfast with Greek yogurt, or grab a handful whenever you need a light and crunchy snack.
In most recipes, sugar serves some key structural role, but in these grainy English muffins I use honey in an entirely optional way—to serve as a sweet counterpoint to the graham-y flavor of whole wheat. You can dial it back to taste, but I’d leave at least an ounce so the yeast will have a snack during their long, overnight rise.
Few things are as satisfying as homemade bagels that turn out just as blistered, chewy, and flavorful as if they’d come from an old-school bakery. There’s just a pinch of sugar to help fuel the dough’s slow, overnight rise, and a bit of malt syrup in the boiling water for a glossy brown and aromatic crust, but the total amount is still well below our 8g threshold—even if you opt to make cinnamon raisin bagels instead.
Look, it’s not my fault if you wind up drowning these in maple syrup, but the waffles themselves have only a pinch of sugar in the batter. Instead of doing an overnight rise, I often make these brown butter waffles first thing in the morning, then let them rise all day so I can griddle them up to serve along with soups and stews, or (my fave) fried chicken.
I learned to make biscuits when I was about two years old, less a reflection of my skill as a toddler than a testament to the truly foolproof technique—smushing butter into flour with reckless abandon. Biscuits are a fast and simple breakfast, or the foundation of a breakfast sandwhich, but they’re also an easy side for just about any meal (well, any Southern meal).
As with my lemon blueberry scones, the dough here is just barely sweetened, with most of the sugar coming from the chocolate itself. So instead of a sweet milk chocolate, choose something bitter and dark for a bold take on chocolate scones.
Thanks to whole wheat flour, digestive biscuits have an amazing, graham cracker-like flavor and crunch. Paired with a shiny coat of dark chocolate, these crisp but tender digestives are immensely satisfying with a cup of tea (and when sugar is of no concern, they’re the perfect size to sandwich around a toasted marshmallow for s’mores).
They may be showered in powdered sugar, but that’s only because Mexican wedding cookies (aka Russian tea cakes, aka Snowballs, aka Danish wedding cookies) start with an almost savory dough. And, of the sugar that’s sprinkled on top, a good deal is lost along the way, scattered across your baking sheet and (real talk) down the front of your shirt.
Though lightly glazed in barley malt syrup, homemade Wheat Thins don’t require much added sugar, so you can grab a handful of crispy crackers without overdoing it (whatever that means to you). Plus, there’s a little more glaze than strictly necessary, so a good deal of the sugar that’s present on paper won’t ever make it to the crackers themselves. With a sprinkling of coarse salt and the grainy crunch of wheat germ, these savory-sweet crackers are as hearty as they are crisp.
Unlike the epic crunch of homemade Wheat Thins, these whole wheat crackers are thick and tender with a gentle snap (like the ones you buy from Carr’s). They’re fun and easy to make (the dough comes together super fast in a food processor), and will keep up to a month in an airtight container. Pull them out as a homemade addition to cheese plates, or smear one with peanut butter for a simple snack.
Out of everything on this list, these are my all-time favorite for snacking; they’re unambiguously salty, cheesy, and crisp. Like any other cracker, these have a great shelf life, so I like to make a big batch to enjoy over the weeks to come. Plus, when I’m feeling creative, homemade Cheez-Its are easy to customize with additional herbs and spices, or alternative types of cheese.
With a cheesy crust, chunks of salty ham, slivers of scallion, and shredded Gruyère scattered throughout the dough, savory scones make a hearty breakfast, or they can be cut small to serve alongside bowls of creamy tomato soup.
With fresh parsley, a dash of onion powder, garlic, paprika, and cayenne, these cheddar biscuits have a bold flavor that can stand up to even the heartiest bowl of chili or chowder. So grab a spoon, dollop the dough onto a half-sheet pan and start baking!
It breaks my heart to see Irish soda bread relegated to a bit of St. Patrick’s Day kitsch, especially when recipes treat it like some sort of fruity scone. In reality, Irish soda bread is a beautifully crusty loaf that’s chewy and satisfying enough to pair with any meal, or even just a charcuterie plate. It has an almost pretzel-like flavor that pairs nicely with any sort of stew or braise.
Like bagels, my favorite dinner rolls are briefly boiled before baking, producing a crackly crust that’s glossy and eggshell thin. Inside, they’re fluffy and light—perfect for mopping up sauces and stews. Thanks to a long, overnight rise these rolls can be a make-ahead element for family dinners and holiday gatherings, letting you knock out the work of making and shaping the rolls a day in advance.
I’ve always thought of chicken pot pie as a secret pastry since the best part is the crust, whether you opt for drop biscuits or a flaky pastry lid (I’m partial to hearty whole wheat). But even if the crust is the star, the filling has to do its part, which means the chicken has to be juicy and the sauce has to be thick and full of flavor.
I cook for another family once a week. I spend a half day in their home planning a menu, shopping, cooking and packaging up a few dinners and a baked good for them to enjoy during the week. A few of you have asked how I got into doing this and honestly, it sort of fell into my lap by way of a family friend. I generally haven’t found catering to be lucrative with all the work it entails on the backend as I am a one-woman show, but I do enjoy cooking for people and getting paid for it so this particular situation works well. I don’t have the confidence to be much of a teacher but I get to cook alone in the quiet of an empty house which is dreamy for me, given what feeding a family and work has become in my own home with two toddlers underfoot. There aren’t a lot of guidelines – they are all pretty flexible eaters – and it makes me think about complete meals which is good for me.
Anyway, I post about it on Instagram every now and then and I am always reminded by the comments and feedback of what a chore it can be to make dinner every night. I don’t mean to sound dramatic but really, it comes along so frequently right?! I am a snacker and nibbler, I don’t really eat full meals very often because I eat all day, so meals aren’t my strong suit as you may have noticed. At the end of the day, I have a table of four to feed and eating all together beats standing over the sink with a banana and spoonful of almond butter. Meal ideas are what people are most often looking for inspiration for, as it is typically the time a family or couple or individual is home from work or the busyness of the day and you sit at a table and enjoy a meal together. It is so special, but also a bit… fussy.
So how can we make this whole dinner thing work more efficiently for us? I find that dinner is the best place to set yourself up for another meal the next day, as we’ll inevitably find ourself in the same place. I make extra rice, chop extra veggies, prepare more than we need to ensure leftovers, which can either be eaten again or repurposed into something different. While you’re there futzing in the kitchen, do yourself a favor for the following day. Does this take a second thought? It does, but less so than an entirely new meal the next day. These wraps are a great example. They get wrapped in lavash or tortillas so they’re easy for the kids to eat (I just tell them they’re burritos for less resistance). I like mine in bowl form, always. I make extra sweet potatoes and kale to put in a frittata or into enchiladas with some black beans and cheese the next day. The extra rice gets made into veggie burgers or served with curry or Asian bowls with stir fry vegetables. The biggest complaint from people wanting to eat healthier is that it takes more time and costs more money. Both of which are true, but I think it pays off. So this recipe here, an inspiration for your next dinner, is both affordable and healthy. Full of fiber and color and so much produce and a delicious creamy sauce that makes the whole situation unique. Most of our meals are different versions of the same thing – a whole grain or veg alternative (zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash), roasted seasonal vegetables, greens, maybe a legume or a grilled protein and a yum sauce. The sauces are what pull everything together, and I love the one listed below because tahini is creamy, non-dairy deliciousness. I usually make a mustardy vinaigrette, jalapeno ceasar, an avocado or nut based creamy something…maybe we need a post on this, yes? Just a dressing/sauce arsenal?
So here we are, with dinner. From someone who doesn’t always like making it, but likes eating it in good company.
This post is sponsored by McCormick spices. All recipes, photos and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting sponsored content so we can continue to do the work we love to do here!
GOODNESS WRAPS // Serves 4
If four sounds like too many wraps, know the components save well to be made up for lunch the following day. Not into wraps? Make these into bowls.
If pickled onions aren’t your thing, sub shredded cabbage or beets for color and texture.
2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cane sugar
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1/3 cup tahini
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2-3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. turmeric
dash of cayenne
fresh ground pepper
1 bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped
oil and lemon juice
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 large avocados
4 tortillas or wraps of choice (here is a grain-free option)
Preheat the oven to 425′ and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Pile on your sweet potatoes, drizzle with the oil, salt, basil and toss to coat. You want all the potatoes lightly coated. Spread them in an even layer. Roast the potatoes for 25 minutes.
Quick “pickle” your onions. Put the vinegar, salt and sugar in a bowl and stir. Add in the sliced onions and let them sit (if you like yours softer, warm up the vinegar first).
To make the dressing, combine the tahini, garlic, oil, water, salt, maple, cider vinegar, turmeric, cayenne, fresh pepper and stir everything to mix. Taste and season as needed.
Put the kale in a bowl. Drizzle with a bit of oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and massage it all to soften and marinate.
Assembly time! Or do bowls. Lay out your wrap. Smash in some avocado and then big spoonfuls of rice, kale, sweet potatoes, onion, microgreens and then a generous drizzle of the sauce. Wrap everything up tight. Slice in half and enjoy!
I thought we could welcome spring with one of my favorite recipes from Near & Far. It’s the perfect lunchy, brunch dish, and it’s made with fregola. Fregola is a beautiful, tasty Sardinian pasta made from hard durum wheat flour — rolled, sun-dried, and toasted to a mix of shades of yellow, gold, and brown. The pasta is rustic and nutty, each grain with a raggy surface adept at catching flavor. It’s so good.
Toss the fregola with ribbons of endive, toasted hazelnuts, capers and basil, and you have a salad that is a little bit nutty, a hint briny, herbaceous, and filling. I tend to make this during shoulder seasons. As spring evolves into summer, or as summer shifts into fall — tweaking the herbs based on what is available and vibrant.
It’s worth sourcing fregola if you can. That said, this is also great using orzo pasta, or Israeli couscous. I like the grip of the fregola, but sleeker orzo is always a crowd pleaser.
If you have trouble finding endives, substitute another shredded chicory or radicchio.
3 large eggs
fine-grain sea salt
1 1/4 cups fregola (or orzo, Israeli couscous)
1/4 cup / 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup / 45g capers, rinsed and patted dry
2 medium cloves garlic, smashed
2 or 3 medium endives, cored & cut into 1/2-inch ribbons
1/2 cup / 15g torn fresh basil
1/3 cup / 45g chopped toasted hazelnuts
optional: a sprinkling of dried currants
Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by 1/2 inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for exactly 10 minutes. Have a big bowl of ice water ready and when the eggs are done cooking, place them in the ice bath for 3 minutes or so–long enough to stop the cooking. Peel, grate on a box grater, toss with a couple pinches of salt, and set aside.
Bring at least 8 cups of water to a boil, salt the water generously, add the fregola, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes (or follow the package instructions). You want it al dente, not at all mushy. Drain, rinse lightly with cold water, and shake off as much residual moisture as possible.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the capers and garlic and cook until the capers burst and start to brown. Remove from the heat, discard the garlic, and stir in 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
To serve, transfer the fregola to a large bowl or platter. Pour the contents of the skillet on top of the pasta and give it a good toss. Add the zest from the lemon and about 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice — a good, generous squeeze. Add the endives, basil, and most of the hazelnuts and toss again. Taste and adjust seasoning before finishing with the grated eggs, remaining hazelnuts, and currants.
Prep time: 15 min– Cook time: 20 min
Our beloved Maggie Hoffman has worn many hats over the course of her nine-year tenure at Serious Eats. She started writing for the site back in 2009 and went on to found and edit our Drinks vertical in 2011—a space she nurtured into a widely respected home for beverage-related content, like beginner’s guides to regional wines, home-brewing tips, spirits recommendations, and a mammoth collection of cocktail recipes. Since leaving her full-time managing editor position two years ago, she’s maintained a steady presence on the site, where she continues to contribute fresh and enticing cocktail recipes on a regular basis.
Now, Maggie’s combined her considerable spirits knowledge, her carefully honed experience in making and testing cocktails, and her robust Rolodex of top industry professionals to bring you The One-Bottle Cocktail, a collection of 83 bar-worthy cocktails designed with the home mixologist in mind. Every cocktail in the book can be made with just a single type of liquor and a handful of easily purchased, totally affordable supermarket ingredients. That means no more stressing over pricey payouts for unfamiliar or hard-to-find liqueurs, bitters, or vermouths. Organized by spirit—vodka, gin, agave, rum, brandy, and whiskey—with an additional section devoted to specific seasons and occasions, The One-Bottle Cocktail makes it easy to figure out how to polish off that lingering liter of rum and is guaranteed to expand your cocktail repertoire for your go-to bottle. It does so by forging surprising, nuanced, eminently sippable flavors from commonplace liquors and fresh fruits, herbs, and other seasonal ingredients, as well as vinegars, spices, and sodas. This is the kind of book that every home cocktail-maker should keep on their shelf.
This week, we’re making it easy for at least one of you to do just that, by giving away a copy of The One-Bottle Cocktail to a Serious Eats reader. Submissions will be accepted from now until 11:59 p.m. EST on March 8, 2018. See below for our entry form and submission rules, and be sure to stay tuned for some teaser recipes from the book over the coming weeks.
I’m always happy to hear of a new pastry shop opening in Paris, especially when it offers something a bit different than the others. Sometimes I go and they’re interesting. Other times, I’m less enthusiastic. I was especially excited when I heard about Maison Aleph, which offers bite-size tastes of the Middle East, referencing French techniques, but creating something completely original.
There’s been a spate of luxury stores moving into the Marais, adjacent to Maison Aleph, especially along the rue des Archives, as well as a spiffing up of the iconic BHV department store. But that part of the Marais is also becoming mini-mecca for sweets, including Pozzetto gelato, Christophe Michelak, Comme à Lisbonne, Grom, Edwart chocolate, as well as Pierre Hermé and Maison de la Prasline Mazet, which are just a short walk away, too.
I used to live closer to the area and it’s a shame I don’t anymore, especially when there are such beautiful pastries nearby. Owner/pastry chef of Maison Aleph, Myriam Sabet, previously worked in the world of finance. But like a number of young people in Paris, she decided to turn her attention elsewhere; toward baking.
Myriam grew up in Aleppo, the capital of Syria, shopping the vibrant markets with her father. That was part of her inspiration to reinvigorate Middle Eastern pastries in the French capital. Parisians like foods of the Middle East, but she said many were disappointed that the pastries available weren’t made with the top-quality ingredients that are available in France, from Valrhona chocolate to walnuts from the Périgourd. So she decided to do something about it.
After leaving finance, she went to Montreal to learn more about Syrian pastries, as well as enrolling in courses to get her CAP (certification as a pâtissière), at pastry school in Paris. (Does anyone mind if I take a year or so off from my blog and writing book to go, too?)
The crunchy nids pâtisseries (pastry nests) she creates use swirls of kadaïf and a crown of Normandy cream on top to hide centers that range from dark chocolate-sumac and quince paste-almond, to pistachio-mastic and fromage blanc with Damascus rose. I appreciate bite-size pastries because I can try several without getting too full. Although it was hard to stop because each one was so interesting. I wanted to keep going. And going, and going…
The nids de voyage are perfect for traveling, but you’re welcome to eat them there, in the compact seating area. In lieu of cream, each of those are topped with a palet of chocolate or cocoa butter embossed with her logo, or the bakery’s name. I picked mine off as I wasn’t sure if it was edible or not. But Myriam assured me that it was. So I ate those, too.
Another nod to Myriam’s Middle East heritage are the 1001 feuilles, little filo squares that might recall baklava to some. None of the pastries here are especially sweet, so you can leave those thoughts of gloppy, syrupy pastries outside, and my favorites in this category are the white sesame-halvah and the Iranian pistachio with a touch of orange flower water. Perhaps a nod to les américains (which I often tease French confectioners that use peanuts about, because French people don’t typically use or eat peanuts in desserts), there’s a dark chocolate and peanut one, that this américain loved.
I should probably back up, or hit the ‘scroll up’ button as I write this, but the hot chocolate shown above, was one of the best cups of hot chocolate I’ve had in Paris, or anywhere. And that’s saying something, since I was in the middle of testing not one, not two…but three hot chocolate recipes at home last week. Myriam’s hot chocolate features dark and milk chocolate, milk and cream, and just the right proportions of cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg to give it a delicately spicy edge. I was going to ask her for the recipe for my next book, but I was trying to be polite in between gulps…I mean, sips, of her hot chocolate.
For those that want something a little more refreshing, there’s a lightly sweetened house made citronnade (lemonade) made with Amalfi lemons and a Damascus rosewater drink. It was funny a sign in front of them said either was available by the glass or the liter, and when I saw the beautiful liter carafes they store it in, I wanted to buy one. Those aren’t for sale, unfortunately.
Recently I was having dinner with a French friend and I noticed that she carried a bar of chocolate in her purse. I’ve noticed other French women do that, too. (Maybe that’s why men sometimes carry man purses?) In France, the chocolate bars are thinner than the ones in the U.S., which makes them easier to break off a piece to discretely nibble on, without stuffing a big block in your mouth (like I do in the privacy of home). Like the pastries at Maison Aleph, the chocolate bars (made with Valrhona and some Domori chocolate) feature flavors like white sesame, Iranian saffron, lemon-cardamom, and bigarade confit (candied sour orange).
My absolute favorite thing at Maison Aleph, however, was the pastry that was the least polished; les barres chocolatées, layered squares and rectangles with crumbled kadaïfi, almonds, sunflower seeds, and candied citrus, with the bottoms dipped in chocolate. They’re a little messy to eat, but worth the fuss and clean-up afterward.
Those I’m not going to ask the recipe for those, because they’d be hard to recreate at home. But I know where to go back and get them, when I need another.
20 rue de la Verrerie (4th)
Tél: 09 83 03 42 02
Métro: Hôtel de Ville
When I started cooking in earnest, at around 12 or 13 years old, there was hardly a recipe I wasn’t willing to attempt. I reduced a demi-glace for hours and hours to serve with beef for my high school friends; I made mousses and terrines for my mother’s parties; I sautéed squid every Saturday…for breakfast. When Thomas Keller published The French Laundry Cookbook, I’d spend days making a single dish from it. I was willing to cook anything. Anything, that is, except pot-au-feu.
My reasons for fearing it were downright ridiculous. Part of my discomfort was from the vague sense that this was a really important dish in French cuisine—so important, I thought, that it must be impossibly hard to make. Clearly, I hadn’t spent much time reading up on what it actually was, because boiling beef and vegetables in a pot shouldn’t be very daunting at all.
But even after learning what the pot-au-feu was, I was still deeply uneasy with the name itself, an intimidatingly French mishmash of vowels that I had no idea how to coax through my mouth. Foh? Feh? Fah? If I ever decided to cook pot-au-feu, I’d have to say “pot-au-feu” to whoever I served it to, and that was a thought too humiliating to bear. There was just one word this native Brooklynite had for it: FUHgettaboutit. (As it turns out, that Brooklynese slang is pretty close to getting the pronunciation right.)
I eventually got over my hangup after spending several weeks working on farms in France, where I butchered just about every word I tried to say until I didn’t have a fleck of shame left. Freed from my French-language hangups, I finally came around to pot-au-feu, a dish as easy as it is warming and comforting.
At its heart, pot-au-feu isn’t particularly French at all. Simmering meats and vegetables until tender is as old as human history itself. Look anywhere in the world and you’ll find some iteration of this dish, varying according to the local bounty of vegetables, livestock, and condiments.
I’ve written before about bollito misto, the Northern Italian uber-feast of boiled meats, and pot-au-feu has much in common with it. But where bollito misto is an orgy of meats, with no fewer than 14 cuts presented in the most elaborate renditions, pot-au-feu is simpler—truly intended for the home table.
Sure, pot-au-feu can be made à la bollito misto, with a multitude of beef cuts, plus other meats like chicken, duck, pork, and veal—there’s no real rule about it. But it doesn’t have to be, and I think it’s safe to say that in most French homes, the pot-au-feu you’re likely to be served is more modest in its offerings. Two to four cuts of beef, maybe some marrow bones, and an assortment of vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and cabbage.
As with any dish that features long-cooked beef, some cuts are more appropriate than others. What you want are ones from the harder working muscles of the cow, which are loaded with collagen-rich connective tissue. Those cuts start out tough, but with enough time and heat, the collagen melts into succulent gelatin that, along with fat, gives the impression of juiciness in the well-done meat. Since the basic cooking method of pot-au-feu is akin to a stew, the ideal cuts are the same as for a beef stew: short ribs, shanks, chuck, oxtail, and fatty brisket.
Because of how simple pot-au-feu is, I decided to write up two recipes, one more classic, the other taking advantage of the quick-cooking power of a pressure cooker to make pot-au-feu a realistic weeknight meal.
For the more classic version, I start by simmering the beef in water along with some basic aromatics like onion, celery, and garlic; herbs like bay leaf and fresh thyme; and spices like cloves and black peppercorns. The beef simmers gently until it’s fork-tender; the time it takes to get to that state can vary from cut to cut and animal to animal, which means that doneness times are rough approximations, at best. Some cuts may be ready in two hours, others may require an additional hour or two.
What’s important is that you don’t overcook any of them, because yes, you can overcook stewing meat. Each piece of beef has to be cooked long enough for the tough collagen to transform into gelatin, but while that’s happening, the beef muscle fibers are contracting tighter and tighter, slowly pushing out the water inside. Once the collagen has become tender, you want to stop cooking the meat, otherwise you’ll just continue to dry it out. The best thing to do is transfer each cut of meat to the side as soon as it’s done, keeping it moistened with enough broth that it won’t air-dry while it waits for the other cuts to catch up.
When all the meat is done, I strain the aromatics, herbs, and spices from the broth—they’re so thoroughly pulped and sapped of flavor by the long cooking that there’s not much reason to keep them. Then, I introduce the vegetables I’ll actually be serving—carrots, potatoes, turnip, parsnip, leeks, and cabbage—to the broth. All of them get cooked until buttery-tender—there’s no al dente here. The beef shanks already have marrow bones in them, but if you want to add additional ones, now’s the time, simmering them just until the marrow is hot and jiggly, perfect for spreading on toasts.
Some may wonder why I don’t just add the vegetables to the pot along with the meats to speed up the cooking process. You could. In fact, that’s what most people do. But I prefer to wait—there’s an art to getting the serving vegetables to that perfect point of doneness where they’re completely soft and silky but still retain some of their own flavor, and that can be difficult to gauge when they’re scattered among hulking pieces of beef that each requires an uncertain cooking time. Plus, unless you have a huge pot, it’s frequently too crowded to jam it all in there at once.
For my pressure cooker version, I load up the cooker with the beef and starter aromatics just like in the first recipe, then set it to cook for 30 minutes at high pressure. Thanks to the higher temperatures that a pressure cooker is able to reach, that’s all you need to almost fully tenderize the beef.
After that, I depressurize the cooker, strain out the spent aromatics, return the beef to the pot and add the serving vegetables and marrow bones. You can then return the cooker to high pressure for five minutes, which will be enough to finish off the beef and fully cook the vegetables. Just make sure to puncture the potatoes all over with a fork, or they’re likely to burst.
Pot-au-feu is traditionally served in separate parts. First comes the broth, which can be sipped by itself or padded out with rice or pasta. That’s followed by a platter of the meats and vegetables, bathed in more of the broth to keep it all moist. A little mustard, some grated horseradish, and perhaps a small bowl of cornichons are all welcome counterpoints to the deep and meaty flavors of the beef.
Scotch isn’t the most common spirit for cocktails—with a mix of peaty, smoky, and malty flavors it can be tricky to pair with other ingredients. Add to that the high price tag of a good single malt and it’s no wonder that most people choose to drink their Scotch with nothing more than a little water. But with ingredients that complement the whisky’s peat, smoke, and herbal character there’s no reason you can’t make delicious cocktails with it. We’ve rounded up 14 recipes to give you an introduction to Scotch cocktails, from a classic Rob Roy and a summery frozen Blood and Sand to a chai-infused punch.
Note: Scotch can get pricey quick, but for mixing you shouldn’t feel the need to reach for your best bottle. Check out our guide to affordable Scotch for some solid options.
Let’s start with the most famous Scotch cocktail around: the Rob Roy. This classic drink is made just like a Manhattan—two parts whisky, one part sweet vermouth, and a couple dashes of Angostura bitters—but with Scotch replacing the rye or bourbon. A maraschino cherry is the most traditional garnish, but we think that an orange twist plays especially well with Scotch.
This smoky, spirituous cocktail pairs peaty Islay Scotch with bittersweet, vegetal Cynar and sweet, citrusy vermouth. We go with Martini & Rossi Bianco, which balances out the assertive Cynar without overpowering the whisky. Garnish with a grapefruit twist to highlight the citrusy notes of the vermouth.
This drink has a somewhat intimidating ingredient list, but everything comes together just right. Honeyed Bénédictine sweetens the aged rum, an absinthe rinse brings out the herbal side of the Cynar, and a mix of Cynar and Scotch (use something peaty like Laphroaig) give the drink a savory, almost leathery flavor.
We turn to Bénédictine to sweeten this cocktail, too, along with caramelly demerrara syrup. The recipe only calls for 1/8 ounce of each for 2 ounces of Scotch, which is enough for their flavors to come out without the sweetness getting out of hand. We’d recommend a moderately smoky Scotch here, but you can use something more or less intense depending on your own taste.
Rabarbaro Zucca is a fairly sweet amaro with a slightly smoky flavor that pairs well with Scotch. We use mild blended Scotch in this highball (too much peat will overwhelm the amaro), plus grapefruit bitters and bitter lemon soda. You might not be able to find bitter lemon soda, in which case you can use a mixture of tonic and fresh lemon juice instead.
Scotch plays a supporting role in this cocktail as well, giving a daiquiri a savory edge. That’s not the only change to the classic recipe—we sweeten the cocktail with maple syrup instead of sugar to give it a deeper, richer flavor. You can use your choice of golden rum here—we’re partial to Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva, which has a dark flavor that works wonderfully with the syrup.
Malty, smoky blended Scotch is a great base for a cold-weather punch. Here we pair the whisky with spicy chai tea, nutty Lustau East India Solera Sherry, and an aromatic vanilla cinnamon syrup. For even more spice we mix in a healthy dose of Angostura bitters.
We mix blended Scotch and sherry again for this punch, pairing the spirits with an herbal Czech liqueur called Becherovka. This is a great option for people who don’t think they like Scotch—the whisky adds a malty backbone to the punch without being overly assertive.
Don’t put that bottle of oloroso sherry away without making this cocktail, which mixes it with Scotch and Concord grape syrup. All three ingredients here are on the assertive side but blend together remarkably well—the jammy syrup stands up to the whisky and the nutty sherry ties everything together.
Scotch is probably the last spirit you associate with blender drink, but this refreshing twist on the old-school Blood and Sand might just change that. The cocktail is traditionally made with orange juice, Cherry Heering, and sweet vermouth, but because blending a drink with ice dilutes the ingredients, we replace the Cherry Heering with rich Luxardo cherry syrup and reinforce the orange juice with Grand Marnier.
Cocktails don’t get much simpler than the Rusty Nail—the recipe is nothing more than a mix of blended Scotch and Drambuie (a honey liqueur itself made from Scotch), plus a dash of Angostura bitters if you want to go crazy. You’ll often find the drink made with equal parts Scotch and Drambuie, but we like to use a much drier 4:1 ratio typical in older recipes for the drink.
The Godfather is a close relative to the Rusty Nail—it’s made with just Scotch and amaretto. As with the Rusty Nail we think the drink can easily become too sweet, so we dial back the almond-flavored amaretto and use the same 4:1 ratio.
For a taste of fall, try this cocktail that combines bourbon, Scotch, and a garam masala-spiced apple syrup made with a variety of toasted spices. We love mixing bourbon and Scotch because you get a little bit of smoke and peat without the drink being too intense.
This recipe takes the Penicillin—a classic Scotch cocktail flavored with lemon and ginger—and adds a shot of earthy beet juice. The ginger comes in the form of Domaine de Canton liqueur, which also sweetens the drink.
Hello sweet friends and welcome to Sunday!
The Japanese magnolias are in bloom in New Orleans, making the city even that much more magical! I love these blooms.
I managed to tick every task off my to-do list this week and I’m rewarding myself with some very chill and restorative crafting this Sunday afternoon. I’m thinking something along the lines of this jean embroidery from Honestly WTF.
I’ve been thinking about those of you in that monster snow storm and I hope today finds you with light and heat and all the coffee and hot breakfast you need.
My Sunday offering follows:
• We all have our blind spots but you can trust me when I tell you that I am very very smart and very very creative. (I’m 39% kidding, ok?) People Don’t Actually Know Themselves Very Well. (The Atlantic)
• The nature of every day and every night as our circumstances and job markets change: America’s 24-hour daycare center: a visit in pictures. (The Guardian)
• Let’s let this ring in our ears loud and clear, ok? The 4 Personality Traits That Keep You From Making More Money. (The Cut)
• In this week’s workshop at The Bakehouse (yes, I’m always talking about this) I taught food photography for Instagram! Everyone in the class decorated and photographed these gems: Browned Butter Baked Doughnuts. I’ll tell ya what – we had a great time. (Joy the Baker)
• I needed this information this week: Which Alcohols Should Be Refrigerated And Why. Thanks Food52!
• What are you having for breakfast? Deb’s Parsley Pecorino Biscuits? (Smitten Kitchen)
• It feels so so good to finish a weekend project. This Sunday I’m embroidering a pair of jeans (fingers crossed) and feeding the trees in my backyard. Keeping it simple. But! I love these ideas from Apartment Therapy for future weekends: 11 Mini Weekend Makeovers Anyone Can Pull Off On The Cheap.
• My friend Lauren is killing the game in these Nashville looks. (Eloquii)
• I need to tell you something. I do two things on an airplane: cry and shop on Amazon. I DON’T KNOW – I JUST DO. This week’s plane travel air purchase was a a dry body brush. I think because I care very much about my lymphatic system? Just let me do this.
Have the most lovely Sunday!