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Apr 27, 2015
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By the Book

By the Book: Sara Forte’s Spring Noodles with Artichokes, Pecorino and Charred Lemons

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

Over the years, I have occasionally visited Sara Forte’s blog, Sprouted Kitchen, but I always wrote it off as one of those blogs. You know, the ones so obsessed with making everything wholesome, nutrient-packed and healthy that I assumed recipes like Deconstructed Beet Stacks and Shiitake Mushroom and Lentil Asian Tacos would never mesh with my love for cheese and meat. I thought the same when Forte’s cookbook, The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon, crossed my desk. I was wrong.

To be fair, many of the recipes in Forte’s cookbook are focused on healthful eating. They’re mostly vegetarian with only a few lean animal proteins like salmon and ground turkey tossed into a few of the heartier recipes. What did hook me, though, was the book’s concept: Every dish is meant to be served in a bowl. I love assembling bowls for any meal – breakfast hash with a sunny egg, lentils or rice with roasted vegetables and shrimp, a gooey helping of mac-n-cheese or a big scoop of meaty chili. Everything is better in a bowl.




The nearly 100 recipes in The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon, which range from side dishes to desserts, are all meant to be served in my favorite eating vessel. And while some recipes sounded entirely too hippie for me (there actually is a recipe for a Hippie Bowl), others like Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce and Creamy Mushroom Pasta with Frizzled Leeks appealed to my shared love of Midwestern comfort food and fresh vegetables.

Forte’s bowl of Spring Noodles with Artichokes, Pecorino and Charred Lemons bowl delivered a powerful punch of spring produce – endive, artichokes and great heaping handfuls of peppery arugula – all wrapped in a luxurious cream sauce. Yes, cream sauce, made with a whopping half-cup of creme fraiche, a half-stick of butter and an unholy amount of grated cheese.




What really makes this dish sing, though, is the hit of charred lemon. Unable to find Meyer lemons at my local supermarket, I opted for two small organic lemons instead. I made quick work of them in my cast-iron skillet, then chopped them up and tossed them into the sauce while the pasta cooked. A word of advice: taste your lemons first. Forte prescribed two teaspoons sugar to sweeten them, but they were still a bit too bitter. Another half teaspoon will do the trick next time.




And there will be a next time. While my gluttonous side indulged in the rich sauce, I still felt slightly virtuous thanks to the plethora of vegetables swimming around my pasta shells. I may never add flaxseed meal to my falafel and my chili will always contain meat, but if this dish is any indication, plenty of Forte’s recipes will hit the balance of satisfying and healthy – especially when served in a bowl.




Spring Noodles with Artichokes, Pecorino and Charred Lemons
4 servings

2 small Meyer lemons
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. natural cane sugar
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
2 endives, trimmed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 oz.) can, 1 (12 oz.) frozen package, or 3 large, fresh steamed artichoke hearts, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. creme fraiche
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. dried Italian herbs
12 oz. (¾ lb.) fusilli or shell pasta
1 egg, at room temperature
1¼ cups coarsely grated pecorino cheese
2 to 3 cups arugula
Fresh parsley, for garnish
Fresh dill, for garnish

• Slice the lemons crosswise into ¼-inch rings and remove the seeds with a small knife. Toss the slices with the olive oil and sugar. Grill or broil the slices, flipping halfway through, until char marks appear on the lemons and they begin to soften. Set aside.
• Bring a stockpot of salted water to a boil.
• In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter. Slice the endive lengthwise, discarding the tough core, and then into ½-inch half moons. Add the garlic and endives to the warm butter and saute for 1 minute, just until softened. Add the artichoke hearts and a few pinches salt and sauté until warmed. Stir in the remaining butter, white balsamic, crème fraiche, nutmeg, cayenne and dried herbs. Chop the lemons into small pieces and add them to the pan as well. Keep the heat on low and cover.
• Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain and reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with ½ cup of the cheese and ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water. Into the vegetable mixture, add the noodles and egg mixture and toss until everything is coated and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the arugula and a few more pinches salt and pepper to taste. Toss to mix, adding pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce.
• Serve each bowl warm with a generous sprinkle of cheese and the fresh herbs.

Reprinted with permission from 10 Speed Press

What is your favorite food blog and why? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon.

By the Book: Erin McKenna’s Carrot Bread

Saturday, April 18th, 2015


As fellow gluten-free and dairy-free diners can attest, eating with dietary restrictions is easier said than done. At restaurants, we must ignore our friends’ barely-concealed cringes as we deconstruct an entree to conform to our needs. At home, we spend hours scouring niche food blogs for our next meal. Perhaps the biggest test of my willpower, though, is when an unknowing waiter places an overflowing bread basket in front of me. After years of coveting that basket of forbidden gluten, I was thrilled when my editor Catherine Klene dropped a copy of Bread & Butter: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes to Fill Your Bread Basket by my desk.

Sauce interns get to try a lot of food on the job, and my editors always search for something I can eat among the loot, usually only to be foiled — a slice of cake might be gluten-free, but not dairy-free, or vice versa. That’s why McKenna’s book, featuring indulgent recipes that are gluten-free and vegan, seemed the perfect end to a semester-long quest for “something Tori can eat.”

McKenna, who also passed on the bread basket for two decades due to a gluten sensitivity, now runs BabyCakes, a gluten-free vegan bakery with locations in New York City, Los Angeles and Orlando. Based on recipes pioneered in her bakery, her new cookbook begins with a break down of basic ingredients and baking tips invaluable to those new to specialty baking. From there, her book is broken up into chapters by category: morning treats, breads (of course), sandwiches, pizza and focaccia, kids’ recipes, international cuisine, puff pastries and tarts, snacks, dips and dressings (including vegan butter!), and desserts. While the pain au chocolate looked tempting, I chose the carrot bread because it looked both doable and delicious.




McKenna’s recipes are straightforward and concise throughout, usually taking no more than a page of text punctuated with beautiful photos and colorful design. Her carrot bread calls for walnut oil or coconut oil, vegan sugar, gluten-free baking flour (we used Cup 4 Cup), arrowroot, xanthan gum, shredded carrots and optional chopped walnuts. Gluten-free home cooks already have most of these items in our kitchen pantries.

As an amateur baker, I found McKenna’s instructions easy to follow. The only painstaking part of the baking process was shredding all those carrots. Next time, I’ll do this the night before or use the shredder attachment on a food processor. Also be aware that this recipe takes some time – as a yeast bread, the dough needs an hour to rise, and then requires another 35 minutes in the oven. Keep a good book on hand or start trolling the Internet for more niche foodie blogs.

Despite these few bumps, I found the finished product to be well worth the wait. For someone who hasn’t eaten bread, much less homemade bread, in quite some time, McKenna’s carrot bread truly was a treat. I found the bread to be spongy and light, with a slight texture and crunch from the walnuts. Though the book claims that even non gluten-free and vegan people will love this recipe, my Sauce coworkers claim they could tell the difference. Still, for those gluten-free and vegan among us, this carrot bread is a real indulgence.




Carrot Bread
Makes 1 7-by-4-by-3-inch loaf

3 Tbsp. walnut oil or melted unscented coconut oil, plus more for the pan
1½ cups warm water (about 100 degrees)
4 Tbsp. vegan sugar
2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
2 Tbsp. arrowroot
½ tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1½ tsp. salt
2 cups firmly packed shredded carrots
¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

• Lightly grease a 7-by-4-by-3-inch loaf pan with oil.
• In a small bowl, combine the oil, warm water, sugar and yeast. Stir once and set aside to proof until it bubbles, about 10 minutes.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, arrowroot, xanthan gum, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, stir until it is the consistency of cake batter. If the dough is too thick, add additional warm water one splash at a time. Fold in the carrots and the walnuts (if using). Pour the dough into the prepared loaf pan, cover with a dish towel, and let the dough rise for 1 hour.
• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Bake the bread for 20 minutes, and then rotate the pan 180 degrees. Bake until the crust is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
• Let the bread cool in the pan for 1 hour before slicing.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson Potter

What’s the most creative recipe you’ve used to accommodate someone’s dietary restrictions? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Erin McKenna’s Bread & Butter.

By the Book: A New Eggs Benedict from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’

Saturday, April 11th, 2015



Sometimes I look at a cookbook like A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones and think, “God, who eats like this on a regular basis?” (No, hipster rooftop-gardening vegans who make nut milk on the weekends don’t count.) I’m talking super healthy options like cashew and chestnut sausages; cilantro and orange-scented buckwheat; or mint, pistachio and zucchini balls. I’ve tried my fair share of “good-for-you” recipes, and I always feel baited. They tell me it tastes good, but more often than not, those recipes fall flat.

However, I’ve recently tried to focus on my fitness, so I figured I probably should eat clean – at least until I can’t stand it any longer. A Modern Way to Eat has lots of pretty pictures of food, and though you don’t see any faces, I can just imagine how fabulously young and dewy their faces look from all the greens they’re eating.




I have a thing for brunch, particularly eggs Benedict, so I decided to try Jones’ version. Her New Eggs Benedict swaps a sweet potato for the English muffin and an avocado-cashew sauce for luscious buttery hollandaise. At least I got to keep the poached egg.




I admit, this was actually pretty delicious. The sweet potato rounds, roasted with oil, salt and pepper, were a nice base, and the sauteed onions gave a necessary savory burst. The greens added an earthy bite, but the hollandaise was the most surprising finish. I thinned it with quite a bit of water in order to pour it, but the cashews and avocado still provided that buttery richness necessary on a Benedict. It’s hard to make healthy food both crave-able and filling, but this dish was indeed satisfying and, as promised, I felt amazing after eating it.




A New Eggs Benedict
4 servings

2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into 3/8-inch rounds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive or grapeseed oil
2 medium red onions, peeled and finely sliced
6 handfuls spinach, with any big stalks removed
4 organic or free-range eggs

For the quick hollandaise:
A small handful cashew nuts, soaked* in water
½ an avocado
A small bunch fresh tarragon or dill, leaves picked
Juice of ½ a lime

• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
• Lay the sweet potato slices on a couple of baking trays, season with salt and pepper, drizzle lightly with oil, and roast for 20 minutes until soft throughout and crisping at the edges.
• Now on to the onions. Put a pan over medium heat, add a little oil, and then add the onions and a pinch of salt. Fry for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onions are soft and sweet and starting to brown. Scoop them into a bowl and set aside, keeping the pan to use later.
• To make your hollandaise, grind the drained cashews in a food processor until you have a crumbly paste. Add the avocado and most of the tarragon or dill with the lime juice and a good pinch of salt and pepper and blend again. If you need to, thin the sauce with a little water until it is thick but pourable.
• Heat the pan you cooked the onions in over medium heat. Add the spinach and a drop of olive oil and cook for a couple of minutes until it starts to wilt but is still vivid green.
• Next, poach the eggs. Heat a pan of water until boiling – I use a frying pan, but use whatever pan is most comfortable for you for poaching eggs. Turn the heat down until the water is barely bubbling, then crack in the eggs and leave them to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and drain on some paper towels.
• To serve, lay some of the sweet potatoes in the middle of each plate. Top with the onions and wilted spinach, then add the egg and a spoonful of hollandaise. Scatter over the rest of the tarragon or dill, season with salt and pepper, and dig in.

* Soak the cashew nuts in water overnight, but if you forget, half an hour’s soaking will do.

Other ways to use your quick avocado hollandaise:
Spoon over grilled asparagus.
On top of a green spring risotto.
Next to a simple poached egg on toast.
In sandwiches in place of mayonnaise.

Reprinted with permission from 10 Speed Press

Eggs Benedict has come a long way from the traditional English muffin, ham, egg and hollandaise. The variations on this brunch classic are endless. What’s your go-to nontraditional Benedict and why? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of A Modern Way to Eat.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to include the correct amount of avocado in the recipe. 


By the Book: Shrimp, Mango, Scallions and Chile Salad from Salad Love

Saturday, April 4th, 2015



David Bez’s photo-driven salad blog, Salad Pride, and his newly published book Salad Love: 260 Crunchy, Savory and Filling Meals You Can Make Every Day, are the result of his yearlong project of creating a new salad for lunch every day. That’s a healthy endeavor of which we at Sauce heartily approve. In fact, last year, we embarked on a similar challenge, albeit only for 31 days.

Bez asserts in the introduction that the book is not a cookbook. “It won’t teach you how to cook,” he writes, instead describing Salad Love as “a collection of salad combinations.” The salads are grouped by season, which is helpful for those who cook in sync with Mother Nature. Also nice are the color photos of each recipe: there’s no guessing what your mélange is going to look like. Some readers may find the notations on each recipe that denote it as vegan, vegetarian, raw, pescatarian or omnivore (and adaptation suggestions) to be useful.

The day I worked with this book, it was a balmy 70 degrees outside, sunny and beautiful. I wanted something light and fresh that screamed springtime. Mangos are just coming into season, so Bez’s composition of mangoes and shrimp on a bed of greens fit my mood.

When composing a salad, Bez divides it into layers that include the base (often lettuce or hearty greens, but sometimes grains or pasta); raw vegetables and fruit; a protein; toppings like nuts, seeds, olives or dried fruit; fresh herbs; and a dressing. For this salad, mixed salad greens form the base layer. Mangoes offer a pop of tropical fruit flavor and color, shrimp lends protein and chew, and willowy cilantro adds citrus and pepper notes.




The shrimp is where Salad Love’s non-cookbook character became evident. The recipe calls for a handful of cooked shrimp. Plain cooked shrimp tastes blah. I wanted bright flavor and a hint of heat, so I broke By the Book rules and let the shrimp marinade for nearly an hour in a bowl with fresh lime juice and crushed, dried ancho chiles. Much better.

A well-stocked pantry will have most of the ingredients needed to whisk the majority of dressings in Salad Love, including the one for this salad: sunflower oil, soy sauce or Thai fish sauce, salt, pepper and red chile flakes. I tried the dressing with soy sauce and with fish sauce, and ended up using equal amounts of both. I liked the anchovy flavor of the fish sauce, but as a backdrop, not a fish-flavored bomb. My taste-testers thoroughly enjoyed their salad bowls; there wasn’t a green leaf, mango cube or shrimp remaining.

Salad Love didn’t teach me anything new about salads. However, the book is a hefty collection of nutritious, filling options that can serve as inspiration for someone stuck in a salad rut.




Shrimp, Mango, Scallions and Chile
1 serving

For the salad, assemble:
2.5 oz. mixed salad greens
1 small mango, cubed
Handful cooked shrimp
2 scallions, sliced
Handful fresh cilantro leaves

For the dressing, mix:
1 Tbsp. sunflower oil
1 tsp. light soy sauce (or Thai fish sauce)
Pinch salt and pepper
Pinch dried red pepper flakes

Raw alternative: Replace the shrimp with a handful of cashews; and soy sauce with lemon juice in the dressing.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson Potter Publishers

What’s the most innovative salad you’ve ever created? Tell us about it for a chance to win a copy of Salad Love.



By the Book: Warm Pear Crumble

Saturday, March 28th, 2015



I love cooking seasonally. I refuse to buy zucchinis and tomatoes in winter, and I question the logic behind serving butternut squash risotto in June. But about this time each year, I find my resolve weakening. I’m desperate for something green and raw, and the thought of roasting one more carrot or sweet potato is enough to send me into fits. Are supermarket summer squashes imported from South America really so bad?

So when Veronica Bosgraaf’s Pure Food: Eat Clean with Seasonal, Plant-Based Recipes crossed my desk, I immediately flipped to her March recipes. Bosgraaf, who rose to fame with her line of organic snack bars, penned this cookbook to make simple, season-driven vegetarian meals using whole, unprocessed ingredients. Each chapter is dedicated to a month of produce, and as a fellow Midwesterner (she lives in Michigan), I imagine Bosgraaf can relate to my longing for springtime seasonality.




Recipes for March still include those winter ingredients (oranges, carrots, cabbage, potatoes) and while she isn’t breaking any new ground with her dishes (curried carrot soup, pickled vegetables) they are definitely welcome respite from roasted everything. I chose to test Warm Pear Crumble, arguing that if we must eat winter produce, I wanted it paired with ice cream.




Sauce intern Tori Sgarro had no trouble following Bosgraaf’s clear, simple instructions, though the recipe took nearly two hours after all the prep work and baking time. As with all crumble recipes, Team Sauce agreed that we wanted double the buttery, almond-oat topping. Admittedly that cuts down the health factor, but isn’t the buttery crust the real reason people make crumbles in the first place? The pear filling, while plentiful, fell flat; a pinch of salt did wonders to enhance the fruit flavor, and next time I’ll add depth with a bit of cinnamon or grated nutmeg. We served our crumble with a scoop of Serendipity’s Big O Ginger ice cream, which played nicely with the fresh ginger and added necessary richness.




Warm Pear Crumble
4 to 6 servings

¼ cup (½ stick) plus 2 tsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
¼ cup honey
2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¾ tsp. grated fresh ginger
6 firm, ripe Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
¼ cup rolled oats
½ cup almond meal
2 Tbsp. organic cane sugar
1/8 tsp. sea salt

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with 2 teaspoons of the butter and set aside.
• In a large bowl, combine the honey, tapioca starch, lemon juic, and ginger. Add the pears and toss to coat. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover loosely with foil. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes.
• Meanwhile, put the oats in a food processor and process until coarsely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the almond meal, sugar and salt. Add the remaining ¼ cup butter and, using a fork, blend in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.
• Remove the foil from the baking dish and sprinkle the crumble topping over the pears. Return the pan to the oven and cook until the top is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
• Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson Potter Publishers

How do you get creative with winter produce in the last days before spring vegetables finally arrive? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Pure Food.

By the Book: Jeanne Kelley and Sarah Tenaglia’s Pimm’s Punch

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

I used to break out the punch bowl for two very different occasions: the holidays and college parties. Holiday punch bowls were filled with vodka-kissed juices, rich buttered rum or citrus-studded mulled wine. College party punch bowls were filled with my friend Jesse’s Jungle Juice: the remnants of our liquor stash, a package of powdered lemonade mix, a two-liter of Sprite and our sanity.

I’ve recently come around to the joys of batched cocktails and more sophisticated punch bowls when hosting parties, but aside from those holiday renditions and sangria, I admit I’m not great at DIY-ing my own punch. Enter Punch Bowls & Pitcher Drinks, a slim but pretty volume by Jeanne Kelley and Sarah Tenaglia that offers dozens of batched cocktail recipes for all palates and occasions: sangrias and Champagne-inspired drinks, lazy Sundays, fireside cocktails and even a few nonalcoholic options.




Since this punch would be shared with my Sauce co-workers, I turned to the classic cocktail-inspired punches. Here, simple recipes with pretty, thirst-inspiring photos are shared for things like an Old-Fashioned-Manhattan Punch, a Skinny Moscow Mule, Gin Fizz with Lemon Verbena, and – for reasons I cannot fathom – Jungle Juice, an actual recipe for our early-20s shenanigans gussied up with slices of fruit.




I opted for a lighter, more grown-up Pimm’s Punch, a modified batched version of a Pimm’s Cup. The simple recipe was perfect for a busy Friday afternoon. Muddle together orange slices, lemon slices, cucumber rounds and apple wedges with fresh mint, cover with 2 cups Pimm’s No. 1 and fresh lemon juice, and let all the flavors get acquainted with one another for an hour. Then, I topped off the concoction with ginger ale and sparkling water and served it over ice with fresh mint.




Despite only eight slices of cucumber, it’s bright, refreshing qualities powered through the liqueur. The ginger ale and sparkling gave the punch a lovely effervescence, and we all agreed this would be a perfect brunch or summer party cocktail. We all also agreed that it desperately needed more booze, topping off each of our cocktails with at least two ounces more liquor. If preparing this for a party, I’d advise placing the bottle of Pimm’s next to the punch bowl and letting guests add to taste.




Pimm’s Punch
6 to 8 servings

8 ½-inch-thick unpeeled cucumber rounds or spears (from 1 cucumber)
1 large orange, cut into rounds, seeds removed
1 large lemon, cut into rounds, seeds removed
1 large apple, cored and cut into wedges
16 fresh mint sprigs
2 cups Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2½ cups chilled ginger ale or lemon-lime soda
1½ cups chilled sparkling water
Ice cubes

• Combine the cucumber, fruits and half the mint in a large pitcher. Using a muddler or a wooden spoon, press on the fruit and mint several times. Add the Pimm’s and lemon juice. Refrigerate 1 hour, then mix in the ginger ale and sparkling water.
• Fill tumblers with ice cubes, then add the chilled punch and its fruits. Garnish with the remaining mint sprigs.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson Potter Publishers

What was your most embarrassing college “cocktail” concoction? Tell us about it in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Punch Bowls & Pitcher Drinks.

By the Book: The Perfect Egg

Saturday, March 14th, 2015



When I don’t have the energy to come up with a good dinner, I usually make breakfast instead. It’s easy, it’s reliably good and it’s fast. I recently decided to do just that while flipping through The Perfect Egg: A Fresh Take on Recipes for Morning, Noon and Night by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park.

Of course there were plenty of options for other meals. Dishes are readily available for any time of day, from typical breakfast to snacks, lunches, dinners, afternoon treats and even sweets. I passed up a tempting recipe for Egg Clouds – a cute dish of whipped egg whites with Parmesan baked with a sunny yolk nestle in each dollop. I also firmly passed on the poached yolk-stuffed ravioli. Maybe I’ll try it on day when I’m feeling particularly ambitious or apathetic toward failure.




Alas, yesterday was a breakfast-for-dinner kind of day, and I was in the mood for classic buttermilk pancakes. I don’t like the fruit and other mix-ins nearly as much – blueberry pancakes aren’t my thing. But I did appreciate the eight variations that Fisher and Park provide like carrot cake, chai and whole-wheat or bacon and chive.




However, these plain pancakes hit the spot. They were fluffy, a little tangy from the buttermilk and delivered perfectly crisp edges from a hot, generously buttered pan. Served with a bit of breakfast sausage and maple syrup, they were the perfect breakfast-for-dinner meal.




Buttermilk Pancakes
Makes 8 to 10 5-inch pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ Tbsp. superfine sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled, divided
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
Unsalted butter and maple syrup, for serving

• Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl, mixing well. Stir in the egg, buttermilk, 2 tablespoons of melted butter and vanilla just until the ingredients are evenly distributed but the batter is still lumpy. Do not over-mix.
• Place a large griddle or skillet over medium heat, add 1½ teaspoons of the butter, and when the butter melts, swirl the pan to cover the bottom evenly. Making 3 to 4 at a time, ladle ¼ cup of the batter into the skillet and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until bubbles form on the top of the pancake. Carefully flip the pancake over and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until cooked through. Transfer the pancake to a serving platter. Cook the remaining batter in the same manner, adding butter to the pan as needed.
• Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.

Reprinted with permission from 10 Speed Press

Make your case. What is the best breakfast item: pancakes, waffles or French toast? Tell us why in the comments below for your chance to win a copy of The Perfect Egg.


By the Book: Kimberly Hasselbrink’s Roasted Cauliflower with Olives, Currants and Tahini Dressing

Saturday, March 7th, 2015




Reading Kimberly Hasselbrink’s Vibrant Food reminded me of Nigel Slater’s Tender with a touch of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s voice from his River Cottage cookbook series. It’s because of the colorful photos (she’s a photographer) and personal narratives (she’s the creator of the blog The Year in Food) that celebrate ingredients in their ripest moment. I love fresh food at its peak. I love a veritable rainbow of food on my plate. And I love good stories. I devoured Hesselbrink’s cookbook.

Vibrant Food is a gentle tribute to mother nature for whatever bounty she bestows on us throughout the year. If you’re the type to cook up whatever you’ve found at the farmers market, you’ll soak up Hasselbrink’s writing. Food is described as tender, delicate, soft and dramatic. As a cookbook, this one is filled with unfussy vegetarian recipes (with the exception of a handful of fish and seafood dishes). The parade of fruits and vegetables is ordered by seasons. The spring section is alive with recipes for greens, alliums and flowers; summer sees dishes appropriate for berries, stone fruits, tomatoes and peppers; autumn brings ways with grapes, figs and tree nuts; and winter cooking is defined by roots, brassicas and citrus.

Were I to cook from this book come May, I’d try Hasselbrink’s grilled halloumi with strawberries and herbs. In fall, I’d give her chile-roasted delicate squash with queso fresco a go. Alas, it’s winter, and nothing’s growing unless it’s in a hot house. The landscape is barren and brown, infrequently changing to a brilliant, snowy white. I’ll take white on a winter’s day, so I chose to make roasted cauliflower with olives, currants and tahini dressing. Nothing like some caramelized, crunchy brassica, briny olives, sweet currants and tangy tahini to brighten up a dull gray day.

If you’re in a hurry, this is the dish for you since it comes together in 30 minutes. Just season the cauliflower with olive oil and salt and pop it in the oven.




While the vegetable is roasting, whisk together the tarator sauce. Typical uses of this tahini-based sauce are with falafel (try it with the creative falafel loaf I made just a few weeks ago), with beef or lamb on pita or as a salad dressing. As Hasselbrink’s recipe proves, tarator is a fine partner for all sorts of vegetables.




Then, just toss the warm cauliflower in the sauce and add currants, olives and parsley. Normally for By the Book, I follow recipe directions to the letter. I admit to deviating with the olives. Hasselbrink called for kalamata. I wanted vibrant color (and flavor and texture) so I included a mélange of olives. Stop at the olive bar at your area grocery or at Extra Virgin, An Olive Ovation in Ladue. And if you have leftovers after serving this dish, stop by the Sauce HQ and leave them for me. As with this cookbook, I’ll gladly have another helping.




Kimberly Hasselbrink’s Roasted Cauliflower with Olives, Currants and Tahini Dressing
4 servings

1 large cauliflower (about 3 pounds), trimmed and cut into florets
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
¼ cup tahini
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. fine sea salt
2 Tbsp. water, plus more as needed
¼ cup currants
¼ cup coarsely chopped kalamata olives
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt to taste. Arrange the cauliflower florets in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning once, until the edges are brown and caramelized.
• While the cauliflower roasts, make the dressing. Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt until smooth and creamy. Add the water and whisk until combined. The sauce will be thick. Add more water to thin it slightly if you like. It will continue to thicken as it sits.
• Toss the warm cauliflower with most of the dressing. Add the currants, olives and parsley and toss to combine. Taste and add more dressing or salt, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

What’s the most creative way you prepare your winter produce? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Vibrant Food.

By the Book: Jeffrey Weiss’ Chorizo infierno

Saturday, February 28th, 2015



Jeffrey Weiss’s Charcutería: The Soul of Spain, his hagiographic cookbook devoted to the art of curing meats, makes for heady reading. A full 30 pages are devoted to the science of charcuterie, including the freshman-chemistry precepts of pH, nitrates, salts fermentation and, yes, germ theory – or rather, sidestepping its dangers.

On a lazy Friday at the Sauce office, all of this (well, except basic food safety) is simply over my head. Plus, the thought of publisher Allyson Mace’s reaction after bumping her head against curing charcuterie hanging in the Sauce kitchen is too frightening to hazard.

So as a compromise, instead of true aged charcuterie, I made Weiss’ recipe for chorizo fresco. Then, I lit it on fire.

It’s tough to make homemade sausage in St. Louis without thinking of the city’s meatpacking heritage, largely by German and Eastern European immigrants. The vestiges of the meat-processing halcyon days can still be found here and there in Soulard, where tiny meat markets do business under the hanging fumes of beer brewed down the street at Anheuser-Busch. The tedium (and gross, gaseous noises) of sausage-making pulled me out somewhat of the idyllic charcuterie fantasy created by the cookbook’s photography. It is a lovely thing to behold, assuming your hands aren’t covered in ground pork. Weiss’ encapsulation of science and cultural trivia (along with a powerful forward written by Jose Andres) make this a captivating read.

Note well: Supplies for homemade sausage can be tricky to come by. After much searching, I borrowed a KitchenAid meat grinding attachment from Salume Beddu and purchased casings from Vincent’s 12th Street Market and the pork from Don’s Meat Market in Soulard.




If using a pre-smoked cut of meat (I could only come up with smoked pork jowls), cut the salt in the recipe by at least a quarter, especially if you’re sensitive to it.




When grinding the pork, place all of the sausage-making supplies – cubed meat, grinding components – in the freezer for at least and hour and half beforehand. This makes the grinding much easier.




What makes this true chorizo instead of just sausage is the pimenton slurry, made with dry white wine, sweet and spicy paprika and oregano. Use good Hungarian or Spanish paprika for maximum flavor.




Don’t forget to soak the sausage casings in water at least 30 minutes before stuffing them. Assuming you are using one long case, slide the meat downward as you go. You can separate it into links later on.




The recipe’s greatest flaw is the logistics of cooking the sausage en flambé. Lacking a terracotta dish as instructed, I instead used a nonstick skillet and Georgia corn moonshine. Expect the flames to jump about 2 to 3 feet high, and for the ethanol to burn off far more quickly than the 6 to 8 minutes called for in the recipe. (Admittedly, the corn liquor may have been too high-proof, allowing the alcohol to burn away faster.) After singeing off a good bit of my arm hair, I just pan-fried the sausages in the skillet instead.




Despite the deep vermilion of the chorizo slurry, it didn’t serve to color the meat as much as expected. While the taste was there, the flavor profile reminded me more of a well-made bratwurst – not that I’m complaining. A little heavy on the salt, a little light on the spice, the proportions on this recipe may need some slight recalibration, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.


Chorizo al Infierno
1 serving

1 chorizo fresco (recipe follows)
¼ cup (50 milliliters) orujo, aguardiente or other high-proof neutral liquor

• Warm a terra cotta or other flameproof dish over high heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until it is very hot. Using a metal skewer long enough to suspend the sausage over the terra cotta dish, impale the sausage. Remove the dish from the heat and place on a heatproof trivet.
• Place the skewered sausage over the dish and carefully pour the liquor into the dish. With a long match, set the liquor alight. Cook the sausage over the strong flame (watch your fingers, eyebrows, and other body parts) for 6 to 8 minutes, turning as needed, until the sausage is charred and cooked through. Serve hot.

Chorizo Fresco
3 to 4 loops or 6 to 8 links of sausage per 2.2 pounds

Per 2.2 lbs. (1 kg.) of the following blend of meats, cut into large cubes: 40 percent aguja (pork collar), 40 percent panceta (pork belly), and 20 percent papada (pork jowl)
¾ oz. (20 g.) whole cloves garlic, peeled and destemmed
1 oz. (25 g.) kosher salt
¼ cup (50 milliliters) dry white wine, such as a Verdejo, chilled
¼ cup (50 milliliters) water, chilled
⅓ oz. (10 g.) pimentón dulce
⅓ oz. (10 g.) pimentón picante
⅛ oz. (2 g.) dried oregano
3 Tbsp. (45 milliliter) extra virgin olive oil, for frying, divided

2 feet (60 cm.) 1¼- to 1½-inch (32- to 36-mm.) hog casings, soaked, or more as needed
Caul fat, as needed

• Place the aguja, panceta, and papada meats and grinder parts in the freezer for 30 minutes to par-freeze before attempting to grind.
• Using a mortar and pestle, crush together the garlic and salt to form an ajosal. If desired, you can finish the ajosal in a food processor fitted with the “S” blade.
• In a mixing bowl, combine the meats and ajosal. Toss together and set aside as you set up the grinder.
• Fill a large bowl with ice, and place a smaller bowl inside the ice-filled bowl. Grind the meat mixture once through a medium-coarse (⅜-inch) die into the smaller bowl. Be careful: The meat mixture is wet, so it may squirt and pop out of the grinder.
• In a small mixing bowl, combine the wine, water, pimentones, and oregano, making a slurry. Keep the bowl containing the slurry chilled until ready to use.
• Place the ground meats in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or you can just mix in a mixing bowl with a sturdy spoon). Begin mixing on low speed. As the mixer runs, pour the wine slurry into the bowl in a steady stream.
• Continue mixing on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until the wine slurry has been fully incorporated into the mixture, a white residue forms on the sides of the bowl, and the mixture firms up. Place the bowl containing the ground meat mixture in the refrigerator to keep it cold until you are ready to stuff the sausage into casings.
• To make a prueba, in a small skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Place a small piece of the meat mixture in the skillet and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

To ferment the sausages:
• If stuffing: Stuff the mixture into the casings and tie into 12-inch (30-cm.) loops or 6-inch (15-cm.) links. Using a sterile pin or sausage pricker, prick each sausage several times. Place in the refrigerator to ferment overnight.
• If not stuffing: Form the mixture into 8-ounce (226-g.) patties. Wrap in plastic wrap or caul fat, if using. Place in the refrigerator to ferment overnight.

To cook the sausages:
• If stuffing: If you have stuffed the sausages into links or loops, warm the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and fry for 8 to 10 minutes, until they register an internal temperature of 150 degrees. You can also oven roast or grill the sausages at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until they reach the same internal temperature.
• If not stuffing: Warm the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and fry the sausage patties for 8 to 10 minutes, until they register an internal temperature of 150 degrees.
• Remove the sausages from the heat and serve.

Reprinted with permission from Surry Books.

What needlessly ambitious dish(es) have you attempted in the kitchen? Tell us how it turned out in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Charcutería.

By the Book: Diane Kochilas’ Stuffed Lenten Cookies

Saturday, February 21st, 2015



As a Catholic kid who hated seafood, Lent was not a season I looked forward to. The 40 days of fasting and reflection to prepare for Easter is traditionally observed by abstaining from red meat and poultry on Fridays – not great news for the cod-averse. During these dinners, I subsisted mostly on plates of cold spaghetti in meat-free red sauce (which I also hated). Thankfully, my palate has since matured, now welcoming both tomatoes and seafood, and I enjoy Lenten fish fries along with thousands of other St. Louisans, regardless of religious identity.

Fortunately, my newfound love of fish has also segued to healthier dietary habits, something Diane Kochilas’ new cookbook, Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forgot to Die, has in spades. I’d never heard of Ikaria (located here) but Kochilas says much was made of this small Greek island a few years ago when a study revealed that, on average, its people were reaching age 90 almost twice as often as Americans. The reason for this robust longevity, Kochilas explains, was a relaxed, stress-free lifestyle and a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, seafood, legumes, potatoes and wine.

Kochilas loves Ikaria, its people and especially its cuisine. Her book is filled with simple, intensely flavorful dishes, each with a story and its purported health benefits. Simple onion pies, braised peppers, rice pilaf with clams and other dishes showcase a cuisine created from the abundance of humble but delicious ingredients on and surrounding the island. Ikarian desserts are simple sweet pleasures, usually involving fruit, nuts and honey. Since Lent began last Wednesday, Feb. 18, I chose to try my hand at Kochilas’ Stuffed Lenten Cookies, which are filled with ground nuts and spices and look suspiciously like empanadas at first glance.




Sauce executive editor Ligaya Figueras often talks about her quest for the healthy cookie. This recipe can certainly give any contenders a run for their money. No butter or eggs; in fact, they are completely vegan. Instead, the dough calls for flour, two full cups of extra-virgin olive oil, orange juice, spices and just two-thirds cup of sugar. The filling is simple mixture of ground walnuts, orange zest and honey.




While bringing the dough together was simple enough, I found the actual process of rolling out and cutting the cookies problematic. The dough, which had the consistency of very wet sand, crumbled as I rolled it out. I stopped frequently to pat it back together with my hands, only to watch it crumble again under my rolling pin. Perhaps there was too much flour, yet the olive oil stuck to the pin and my board with equal persistence.




My solution: try again tomorrow. I treated the cookie dough like a pie crust, refrigerating it overnight to let it come together. It still fell apart somewhat, but the cookies were easier to cut and transfer to the cookie sheet. I struggled to fold the crumbly dough over the filling, but it was nothing a few quick pinches with my fingers couldn’t fix, and the final dusting of powdered sugar covered the imperfections.




My efforts were well worth it. These flavorful bites had the texture of shortbread with the heady spice of gingerbread. The walnut filling offered a nutty sweetness, and my Sauce coworkers immediately offered ideas for other fillings I should try (fig preserves, dried apricots, even carrot jam). I’ll certainly have the chance; this recipe makes nearly three dozen big cookies, and I have another ball of dough waiting for me at home.




Stuffed Lenten Cookies (Skaltouinia Nystisima)
Makes 25 to 30

Finikia Dough (Recipe follows)
2 cups ground walnuts
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ cup raisins (optional)
Grated peel of 1 orange
2 Tbsp. Ikarian pine or other honey
Powdered sugar or granulated sugar for garnish

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Prepare the finikia dough and divide it into 3 balls.
• In a bowl, combine the walnuts, cinnamon, cloves, raisins (if using), orange peel and honey.
• Roll out a ball of dough to a round about 15 inches in diameter. Take a 3-inch glass or cookie cutter and cut rounds out of the dough. Place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of each circle and fold over to form a half-moon. Wet the inside edges with a little water and press closed with your fingers or with the tines of a fork. Continue until the dough and filling are used up. Gather any excess dough and roll it out and fill it, to finish off the cookies.
• Bake until lightly golden, about 25 minutes. Removes the skaltsounia from the oven and cool slightly on a rack. Sift a generous amount of powdered sugar over them.

*Note: Instead of sprinkling powdered sugar on the cookies after baking, you can sprinkle them with a generous amount (about 2 teaspoons per cookie) of granulated sugar before baking.

Finikia Dough

6-8 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
2 cups Greek extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup sugar
Juice of 2 oranges, strained.
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Heaping ¼ tsp. ground cloves

• In a large bowl, sift together 6 cups of the flour, baking powder and baking soda.
• In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the olive oil and sugar until fluffy. Add the orange juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and beat to combine.
• Add 2 cups of the flour mixture to the batter and whisk to combine. Remove the whisk attachment. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, slowly add as much of the remaining flour as you can in ½-cup increments to form a smooth, soft, but dense dough, kneading as you add.

Reprinted with permission from Rodale Books

What’s the best healthy dessert recipe you’ve tried that still feels like an indulgence? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Diane Kochilas’ Ikaria.



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