Bowl and Spoon

I landed my first boyfriend with a cold call.

That’s right. I spotted him playing the trombone at a band convention, noted the initials “FMS” on his teeshirt, and swiftly borrowed my friend’s yearbook (she also went to Frenchtown Middle School). There he was, sk8r boi hair and all, sitting among the brass section. I cross referenced his name with each grade to confirm he was my year – 8th grade. I scanned the phone book, luckily there was only one family in Frenchtown with his last name, and I cold called.

I pitched myself to him and soon, he sent me a text message embedded with the picture of a single red rose saying, “Will you go in with me?” His flip phone changed “out” with “in.”

Before long, my mom was dropping me off in her Toyota Sienna at the bowling alley to meet Quinn, truly, for the first time.

I should feel like I’ve closed the deal of all deals, that the calls I’m making to strangers daily on behalf of my company are trifling in comparison. Eh, no.

Like waitressing for all of college and learning to be a good tipper, inside sales has taught me: never be coarse to anyone, ever, on the phone.

This lesson is why I recently told a woman at Bank of America, “I’m sorry for being a total wench, I know this is not your fault.” She gave me a nervous pity laugh and quickly moved on.

I’ve been packing killer lunches to get through the abundant sales calls. My roommate owns Sara Forte’s Bowl and Spoon. Though elaborate, the recipes are imbued with healthy and vibrant ingredients.

IMG_9137

Here are some memorable recipes I’ve made from this book:

The Last Meal Salad//Serves 4 to 6

Note: Cook the lentils prior to starting

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 large leek, halved and cleaned
  • Sea salt
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1 head chopped red leaf lettuce
  • 1 English cucumber, finely diced
  • 1 cup pitted and halved cherries (or 1/3 cup dried)
  • 1/2 cup cooked black lentils
  • 2 avocados, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 cup Marcona almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled sheep milk feta
  • Every Day Green Dressing

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Slice the leek into thin half circles and add them to the hot pan. Add a pinch of salt and cook, stirring off and on for 6 to 8 minutes. Let the edges get crispy. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Wash and dry your greens. Put them in a large salad bowl. Add the cucumber, cherries, lentils, half of the avocado, the almonds and feta. Once cool, add the leeks. Toss everything with the dressing to your desired consistency. Top the salad with the remaining avocado and serve. There will likely be leftover dressing. Save it in a jar and use it on any other salad.

Ever Day Green Dressing//Makes 2 cups

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Zest and juice of two lemons, preferably Meyer
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup whole Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups firmly packed basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a food processor, pulse the garlic, green onions, capers, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, zest and juice of the lemons, and honey to combine. Add the cider vinegar, yogurt, Parmesan, basil, parsley, cilantro. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and add more of the ingredient you find lacking. For me, this is always salt.

IMG_9081

Herbed Falafel Bowl//Serves 4

For the falafel

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 cups cooked and well-drained chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup toasted pistachios
  • 1 small bunch, chopped cilantro (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the salad (you could really use anything – I made it with avocado, cucumber and sweet potato + lettuce)

  • 1 head romaine, finely shredded
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1 pound tomatoes, sliced in wedges
  • Tahini citrus miso dressing
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice

For the falafel, in the bowl of a food processor, add the garlic, pepper flakes, cumin, sea salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, dates, and onion. Process until well mixed. Add the chickpeas and pistachios and pulse until chunky. Add the cilantro, parsley, mint, flax seed meal, and baking soda – pulse until the herbs are just incorporated. This process can be done in advance and kept in the fridge.

Place a rack on the upper third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub a little oil on your hands and form 2-inch balls with the batter. Arrange them on the baking sheet: you should have about 20. Brush a thin layer of olive oil on top and bake 22-25 minutes, until the tops are browned. (I like my falafel a little softer, so I baked them for only 20 ish minutes.

Toss the romaine, cucumber and tomatoes with the dressing. Arrange bowls with brown rice, salad and falafel.

Tahini Citrus Miso Dressing//Makes about 1 cup

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons white or yellow miso
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha or hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 large orange (about 1/3 cup)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Lemon juice, to taste

 

 

 

Bacon Scallion Scones

IMG_8067.jpg

I grew up in a household where both my brother and I were asked at the dinner table whether we liked any boys or girls at school. No, this doesn’t mean did my brother like girls and did I like any boys. It meant, simply, do either of you like anyone of any gender? My mom was probing to say the least. As I got older, I rolled my eyes at her and ran off with my football player boyfriend.

A few months ago when I told my mom I was dating my co-worker Erika, she exclaimed over the phone, “Oh, I have always wanted a lesbian in the family.”

Was the fact that I nursed until I was two years old a self-fulfilling-prophecy for my love for boobs or love for food?

I am dating my co-worker lady best friend at a food delivery company. Heh.

Last fall, I took my favorite sweet scone recipe and tried to make it savory. It turned into a confused pastry that was strangely endearing and impossibly addicting – not unlike my relationship.

Erika and I ate nearly the whole batch while sitting on the couch watching The L Word. That’s right – screw you Jenny Schecter.

Makes 8 scones//Not really, but kind of, from America’s Test Kitchen

  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen whole
  • 5 slices of thick cut bacon (cooked and crumbled or chopped)
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/3 cup sharp white cheddar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Maldon Sea Salt (optional)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Score and remove half of wrapper from each stick of butter. Grate unwrapped ends on large wholes of box grater (grate a total of 8 tablespoons). Place grated butter in freezer until needed. You will not need the remaining 8 tablespoons, so go ahead and put it away.  Whisk milk and sour cream together in a medium bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in medium bowl. Add frozen, grated butter and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated. Fold in chilled milk mixture with a spatula until just combined. Fold in scallions, bacon bits and cheese. Do not over mix.

Turn dough and any floury bits out onto a well-floured counter. Lightly flour hands and dough and then knead it 6 to 8 times until it just holds together in a ball.

Flour your surface again because my dough stuck to the counter at first and made a huge mess. Roll dough out into a 12-inch square. Fold sides in to make a long rectangle. Then fold sides in again to make a 4-inch square. Transfer dough to a lightly floured plate and put in freezer for 5 minutes (do not over chill).

Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and roll again into 12-inch square. Loosen dough from surface and roll it into a log, then pinch the ends closed. Lay dough seam side down and press into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using floured chef’s knife, slice dough crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Then slice each rectangle on a diagonal into 2 triangles.

Place scones on prepared baking sheet. Beat 1 egg yolk with a splash of water. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with Maldon sea salt. Bake until scone tops are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. There may be grease from the cheese/bacon/butter spilling into the pan, but don’t worry, that will just create crispy cheese bits. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

IMG_2456IMG_2460IMG_2462

Split Pea Soup

IMG_8594

The longer you go without blogging is similar to going without exercise or making pie crust. It seems more daunting and doesn’t come as naturally. You have a squishy butt and empty countertop. I’ve experienced all three of these recently. While trying to make my coworker a pie, I rolled out my dough onto the counter right above the dishwasher that was running. The steam melted the butter chunks so quickly, I had to peel it from the hot counter. The crust grew tough. Whatever happened to baking pie for a living? Oh, right.

I got a 9-to-5 job managing restaurants for a food delivery startup in downtown Seattle.

I used to have my hands in dough daily and drift into my own thoughts, usually crafting a blog post or article to pitch. I would stroll the short walk home and have half the day to sit at my computer to transcribe the thoughts I had while sifting flour and pulling pies from the oven.

Now, I sit at my computer every day and instead, I stare at spreadsheets comparing enchiladas to burritos to quesadillas – not that I am complaining.

In an attempt to get back to last December – when I was writing an article about holiday cheese balls – I made split pea soup.

Thomas Keller, who’s book this is from, seems to overcomplicate many of the steps. What should be a really simple pureed soup is made fussy. There were several moments where I grew frustrated and went rogue. My boss used to work for him at The French Laundry, and today she said her few grey hairs are from him. Surely, if you follow his recipe exactly, you will be salt-and-pepper-chic. I preferred not to prematurely grey and instead found a much simpler, likely as good, version.

So here I go, blog post #5 billion, which really feels like #1 again.

Serves 6-8//A much simpler version than Ad Hoc at Home’s

  • 3 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrots
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped leeks
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 smoked ham hock (about 1 pound)
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) split peas, rinsed and picked for stones
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups peas (2 pounds in the pod) blanched (optional)
  • 1/2 cup creme fraîche
  • Mint leaves

Heat the oil in an 8 to 10 quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the carrots, leeks and onions with a generous pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the vegetables are tender.

Add the ham hock and chicken stock, bring to a simmer, and continue to simmer for 45 minutes. Remove about half of the cooked stock vegetables and toss.

Add the rinsed split peas and bring to a simmer once again. Cook for an hour, or until the split peas are completely soft.

Remove the soup from the heat. Take out the ham hock and set aside. Season the soup with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and salt to taste. Use an immersion blender (or transfer in batches to a blender) to puree completely.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper or vinegar if necessary.

Keep on low while you pull the meat off the ham hock, tossing the fat and skin. Cut the ham into small pieces and stir into the soup (or reserve some to put on top).

Serve the soup with creme fraîche, chopped mint and extra ham hock. If it’s spring time and you can find fresh peas, sprinkle those on top as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pecan Butter Sandwich Cookies

IMG_4664

I was sitting with my mom and her coworker, digging into my gomaae salad, thinking about how I could smash sesame seeds to replicate the dressing at home.

My mom casually mentioned she has started taking the antioxidant that gives flamingos and salmon their pink flavor. Bite of salmon belly.

They bonded over their shared love for miso dressing, and I ordered a single mango mochi ball. As it does, the powdered sugar that once coated the ball was all over my lap.

The next morning, my mom moved her furniture out of my apartment, and we fought over whose glassware was whose.

She packed up her 16-food Uhaul and drove to the nudey hot springs that she took us to as kids.

I went back into my house emptied my underwear drawer into a box and my spices into another and then went to my new apartment in Fremont.

Trudging up the smurf-colored stairs, I made my way through the hallway, which, so far, has continually smelled like a tuna melt.

All of this is completely irrelevant except that during this visit from my mom, she repeatedly mentioned her new infatuation with pecan butter. It reminded me of the time I put toasted pecans and butter in the food processor and smeared it between two rich chocolate cookies.

IMG_4653 IMG_4663

Makes about 24 sandwich cookies//Dahlia Bakery

For the filling

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup toasted, cooled and chipped pecans
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the cookies

  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa (This is a really important detail for full flavor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup toasted, cooled and finely chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

To make the filling, brown the butter by placing it in a small saucepan over medium heat. As the butter melts, stir it continuously until it turns golden brown and smells nutty, about 3 minutes. The butter will foam, but continue to cook it until it reaches a slightly darker brown, not letting it burn. Remove from heat.

In a food processor, combine the brown butter, pecans, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Pulse until a paste forms. Cover and chill while you make the cookies.

To make the cookie dough, sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together into a bowl.

Combine the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg on medium-low speed until incorporated. Scrap down the bowl and add the pecans, vanilla extract and salt.

Add the dry ingredients on low speed in a few additions until just combined, careful not to over mix.

Chill the dough for 1 hour or longer.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Portion the dough to about 2 teaspoons per cookie. You should get about 48 cookies. Place the cookies 3/4 to 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use your fingers to press them flat to about 1/4 inch thick.

Bake the cookies until they have set, about 7 minutes. (Dahlia Bakery says don’t open the oven door while baking, but who can help themselves?)

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

To make the cookie sandwich, spread about 2 teaspoons of filling on the flat side of a cookie and press the flat side of another cookie on top. Repeat until all the cookies are sandwiched together.

Cowgirl Creamery

IMG_3671

When parents divorce, you are forced to create new traditions. In high school I began spending Christmas Eve with Mom and Christmas with Dad. The first year we did this, my mom successfully subdued my laments about Christmas as a family…with a cheese plate.

She went to the Delicatessen down the street in Missoula and picked up a few cheeses wrapped in butcher paper and a twine bow. She spread the cheeses out on a large, white plate, each with their own small knife. She sliced apple, like she used to, and set it next to the cheeses, offering a crisp, fruity bite to contrast with the fattier, creamier nibbles.

We plopped on her sandy-colored, Pottery Barn couch with simultaneous sighs. We dove into the plate, clutched the corresponding knives, and dug into our respective cheeses.

IMG_3657

Christmas Eve a few years ago, a round soft cheese found its way onto our plate. Someone behind the cheese counter recommended Cowgirl Creamery’s Mount Tam. I don’t generally like the rind on any cheese, but Cowgirl Creamery’s are mild and only enhance the center’s flavor.

This year, thanks to the Cowgirl’s themselves, three of Cowgirl Creamery’s cheeses dominated our plate: Mt. Tam, Devil’s Gulch and Red Hawk. We went back and forth but ultimately decided Mt. Tam remains our favorite.

Cheese Box Giveaway

IMG_2579

Perhaps by now that Turkey is dwindling and the pie is taking up less space on your countertop. So you need some cheese.

Even if the Thanksgiving leftovers were overflowing, you would probably still need cheese. Why not?

I’m doing a cheese box giveaway. BelGioioso Cheese Inc. generously filled my fridge drawers and they could do the same for you. Simply respond to this post with a haiku, rap or other poem about our favorite dairy friend.

Rap writing is a new thing of mine. When I was looking for a job I even sent one food company a rap about the sales position I was applying for. I didn’t hear a response, but I promise I will respond to you.

It’s only fair that I share one of my own, so here is what I sent Cater2.me a couple months ago when they wanted to know something interesting about me:

Please hire me ‘cuz all this cheese aint free

If you took this chance there’d be a selling spree

Workin’ well with people

Motivated on my own

I have a tenacious spirit

And a love for bahn mi, yo

I know we a share a passion

For makin’ food and partners

This career excites me

So much this rap is bonkers

There you go. Happy Monday. Comment below with a creative piece of your own for a chance to win a box of 7 different BelGioioso cheeses delivered to your door. Why a poem? Because it’s cheesy.

Thank you culture: the word on cheese and Belgioioso Cheese Inc. for making this possible. Contest winner must have a U.S. address for shipment.

Caramelized Carrot & Leek Hand Pies

IMG_3484

I thought waking up at 3:30 a.m. for my baking shift would be the end of me. Turns out, I love getting home from working at approximately 9:15 a.m., caffeinated, with a day’s work under my belt and a cookie in my bag.

I also thought baking for a living would deter me from baking at home. Wrong again. I happily made these hand pies with half spelt flour, half all purpose. This has become my thing. I love the color spelt gives pastry, not to mention the nutty bite.

After biking to the Ballard Market last Sunday, I ate a hand pie with a salad made of the freshest, crispest greens. While the farmer bagged my greens, another woman broached the stand with a mellow baby flopped in a front pack. The farmer bagging my greens asked the mom if the carrots she was waiting to purchase were to make homemade baby food. The mom said yes, and the farmer gave her the carrots for free saying, “It’s a good cause.”

Makes 6 hand pies//Adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

For the pastry

  • 1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cups (7 ounces) spelt flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, freezer cold, diced
  • 1/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) sour cream
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons ice-cold water

Begin the pastry by putting the flours, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse. Add the butter and pulse a few times until the butter is crumbly and in the size of peas.

Add sour cream and pulse a few times. Add 3/4 cup of ice-cold water and pulse again. Remove the lid of the food processor and pinch the dough between your fingers to see if it will come together. If the dough seems too crumbly still, add more cold water a tablespoon at a time.

Dump the dough onto a floured work surface. Gather it together and form a flattened rectangle about 5 by 6 inches. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

For the filling 

  • 1 medium large leek (about 14 ounces), white and light green parts only
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or dried thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup (4 1/2 ounces) soft fresh goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Slice the leek in half lengthwise and run it under water to wash. Slice into half moons.

Heat the butter and two teaspoons of the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the sliced leek and stir with a pinch of salt. Continue to cook until caramelized and golden. If they are cooking too quickly, turn the heat down.

Put carrots on a baking sheet with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix. Roast until the carrots are soft, about 30 minutes. Remove the pan and sprinkle with garlic and thyme. Return to the oven for about 10 more minutes.

Put half of the roasted carrots (about 1 3/4 cups) into the food processor and puree until smooth. Stir in leeks. Taste for salt and pepper. Gently fold in crumbled goat cheese, leaving it in crumbles as much as possible.

Unwrap the rectangle of dough. On a lightly floured surface, cut dough into 6 equal pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll each piece into a 8 1/2 by 6 inch rectangle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put a rectangle of dough down with the short end facing you. Make an egg wash with the egg yolk and one tablespoon of water. Brush a 1-inch border of egg wash around the edges of the rectangle.

Place about 1/2 cup of the filling on the rectangle of dough, placing it closer to one of the short edges. Slightly flatten the filling.

Fold one short edge over the other, folding over the filling. Use a fork to crimp the edges to seal. Trim the edges with a knife if needed to make straight lines. Repeat until all of the hand pies are formed. Place them on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush the tops with egg wash and using a knife, cut two little slits into the tops to vent.

Bake the pies until they are golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Serve warm.