Camp Cooking Essentials + Lamb Kofte with Feta Tzatziki

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Albertsons and Safeway. All opinions are 100% my own. *I’m beyond excited to partner with Safeway and Albertsons and their line of Open Nature® products to bring you this post about feasting in the outdoors. These products are created with high-quality, minimally processed ingredients… Read more »

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Albertsons and Safeway. All opinions are 100% my own.

*I’m beyond excited to partner with Safeway and Albertsons and their line of Open Nature® products to bring you this post about feasting in the outdoors. These products are created with high-quality, minimally processed ingredients without any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, just as nature intended. These products are available in my area at Albertsons, Vons, and Pavilions stores., and you can find them exclusively at Albertsons Companies family of stores, including ACME Markets, Jewel-Osco, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Shaw’s, Star Market, United Supermarkets and Carrs/Safeway. Visit safeway.com to find a store near you

Camping season in the PNW may be coming to a close, but we still have one more epic adventure left in us. This summer has been full of outdoor adventures. I’ve pushed myself in the outdoors in ways that have made me feel stronger and less fearful. From camping alone, to camping with a couple of moms and a whole lot of kids, to mastering the art of baking sourdough over the fire. It has been a summer filled with joyful and delicious memories, even in the midst of a pandemic.
Through all these adventures I’ve learned how to refine our pack list, what’s necessary and what isn’t, and I can guarantee you throughout every adventure we’ve eaten so very well.
So as our family is about to embark on our biggest camping trip yet, I thought I’d take you along in the planning process. If you’re just here for the food, that’s fine too. There is a Lamb Kofte recipe below that is equally delicious prepared over the fire or in the warmth of your kitchen. Click “recipe” above and you’ll be brought right to it.
For those of you who aspire to camp and want to do so with memorable meals then read on, my friends.

 

Create a plan.

My first step in preparing for camping is always to create a Google Doc with a plan for our meals. If we’re going with a small group, I also include links to the campsite and activities that we may want to consider while camping but the bulk of the doc is all about food.
Generally, if we are camping with other families, we do breakfast and dinner as a group then leave each family to take care of their own lunch.
Breakfast is usually a mix of yogurt and homemade granola and some sort of egg and potato scramble. And in our family, it’s also lots and lots of coffee enjoyed around a morning campfire.
I divide the doc into days and list out what is for dinner each day. Then, I write out a grocery list for each family and include the specifics of how the ingredients should come to the campsite. For example, we generally will have some salad with each meal so the greens should already be washed and chopped; ready to dress. This saves so much time and hassle trying to chop and clean on the campsite. Generally, I’ll ask that vegetables be already chopped as well. It saves so much time in the cooking process so we can enjoy that leisurely afternoon hike instead of having to rush back to the campsite to cook for hours – although I often don’t mind that either.
Plan your meals in such a way that the most perishable or vulnerable food items will be enjoyed first. For example, on a recent trip our first dinner was mussels in a fennel cream broth with sausage and potatoes. I picked up the mussels on the way to the campsite and kept them on ice for a couple of hours. It’s too stressful to worry if the ice in the cooler will hold long enough to keep fragile items fresh. For our last meal, on day three, we enjoyed potatoes baked in the coals with all the fixings. It’s a great meal to use up remaining ingredients and leftovers that may have accrued during the trip.

 

Know your limits.

 

I started upping our camp food game because for me, good food adds to the experience. I take great joy in feeding the people I love food that delights and wows them. The campfire became a fun challenge; could I create the same or similar food I do with ease back in my kitchen at home around the fire? The answer is YES! And often it is so much better prepared over the fire.
Something happens to me when I’m cooking with flames lapping at my cast iron and smoke is dancing around me while I move around the fire pit. I’m connecting to something primal, an instinctual nature kicks in and it satisfies me to my core. But listen, no one needs fresh baked sourdough baked over coals in order to have a memorable camping trip. You need to find what delights you in the outdoors and lean into that.
When I started cooking elaborate meals for my family over the fire, I may have taken it a little too far. There were 17 of us on the campsite and I brought real plates – not fine china mind you – but actual plates that needed washing. Lucky for me as the cook I don’t need to do the dishes but I’m quite certain my brothers were not my biggest fans when they had to hand wash 17 sets of dishes in cold camp water. Since then I’ve embraced compostable plates and utensils. My heart for the environment would prefer to use all reusable, and I do if it’s just me camping or a rather small group, but I don’t want to miss the smell of the pine, the dull roar of the waves and the time sitting around the campfire because everyone is too busy doing the dishes. I’ve found my limit and am now bringing all the Open Nature compostable products that can fit in my car.
Start small. Wrap some russet potatoes in aluminum and toss them into the coals without a care. Turn them every 10 minutes or so then top the fluffy potatoes with crisp bacon, sour cream and whatever you may have lingering in your cooler. This is one of the easiest and most satisfying meals we have had on the campsite.
Know your own limits. Find what works for you and your family and friends and lean into that.

 

Divide and conquer.

 

For us the point of the Google doc is to create a shared plan. While I tend to do the majority of the dinner cooking while camping, I’m using ingredients that everyone contributed. And since I’ve done the cooking, after dinner I’m sitting around the fire drinking a glass of wine while the dishes are being cleaned.
After many camping trips we have found what works best for our family. A system that feels equitable and shared so that we all get to enjoy our time outdoors as much as possible.
Don’t be a hero, share the tasks and divvy up the responsibilities.

Go, enjoy and let whatever may be, be.

A loaf of sourdough baked over coals is one of the most rewarding things there is but inevitably that loaf contains at least a part that is a bit charred and may require a bit of shaving unless someone is quite partial to burnt bread. But char or not it is still a loaf of fresh baked bread that has been cooked in the fire!
Embrace the char. Embrace the dirt. Embrace what is beyond your control so that you may breathe in the smell of cedar warmed by the sun, the laughter of kids who are not playing on devices, the leisurely hours spent not checking anything off of a to-do list. This is what truly delights and this is what camping is all about.

Pack List

Every trip will be different and every pack list will vary as well. It depends greatly on what is on the menu but I’ve created an extensive list of products and tools that I always bring with me when cooking outdoors and I’ll also add our pack list from a recent camping trip. Leave any questions you may have in the comments below or come find me on Instagram. I’d be happy to answer any questions. My heart is for getting everyone in the outdoors so I’m delighted to do whatever I can to make that feel accessible to all.

Outdoor Cooking Essentials

Sample Google Doc Meal Plan:

Dinner:

Sunday

Mussels in a Fennel Cream with Potatoes and Sausage
Sourdough bread
Salad
Stone Fruit Cobbler with Butter Biscuits

Monday

Roasted Mushroom & Truffle Macaroni & Cheese
Bread
Salad

Tuesday

Coal Baked Potatoes and alllllll the fixings
Salad

 

TO BRING:

Gerald & Lynne:
Firewood
Beer
Wine
Ax
Tablecloth
Paper plates
Utensils
Napkins
Aluminum foil
Salad greens, washed and chopped
Sour cream
Bacon
Cream
Briquettes/charcoal

 

Chris & Deb:
Marshmallows
Graham crackers
Chocolate
Wine
Beer
Salad greens, washed and chopped
Sausages (or Brauts)
3 Onions, diced
3 Red peppers, diced
Cream
Briquettes/charcoal
Grated sharp cheddar

 

Geoff & Amy:
Bacon
Eggs
Granola
Yogurt
Dish bin
Paper bowls (? – for granola/yogurt)

Ashley & Gabe:
Russet potatoes
Garden potatoes
Fennel
Salad dressing
Sourdough bread dough
Ritz crackers
Water
Beer
Wine
Paper plates
Salad greens
Chives
Pasta ingredients
Mama lil’s
Large cast iron
Medium cast iron
Dutch oven
Cooking utensils
Cobbler ingredients

 

Lamb Kofte with Feta Tzatziki

If lamb is not your jam feel free to substitute any ground meat here. I often like to use a mix of ground lamb and chicken or pork. If preparing this to bring to a campsite bring the seasoned meat with you along with the prepared yogurt. You can warm store-bought naan over the fire or if you want to take it next level prepare the dough at home then bake the naan over the fire. This is my favorite recipe: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/homemade-naan-recipe/

Ingredients

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground fennel

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon chili flake

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/4 cup whole milk Greek yogurt

16 ounces Open Nature Ground Lamb

Feta Tzatziki

1 cup Open Nature whole milk yogurt

1/2 cup diced cucumber

1 teaspoon dried mint

1/4 cup crumbled feta

Pinch salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 pita

Fresh cilantro, mint or other greens

Hot sauce, optional

Instructions

In a large bowl combine all the spices with the yogurt and stir well. Stir in the meat. If you are planning to cook over the fire, have everyone at the campsite gather sturdy roasting sticks.

Take about 1/2 cup of the meat mixture then form the meat around the top 4-6 inches of the stick. Roast the meat over a fire of coals (avoid cooking in the flames as it won’t cook evenly and the flavor won’t be as good). Roast until the meat is completely cooked through. This will take about 10 minutes of steady heat. Serve the kofte in a warm pita with the yogurt sauce and greens.

Prepare the yogurt sauce by mixing all of the ingredients in a small bowl. The yogurt can be made up to three days in advance.

 

Esquites Tacos

*I’m proud to partner with Watkins to bring you this story and recipe. It’s quite evident in my recipes that I’m a big fan of flavor and I rely on good, fresh organic spices and dried herbs. Watkins uses only USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients in its spices, spice blends, and herbs…. Read more »

*I’m proud to partner with Watkins to bring you this story and recipe. It’s quite evident in my recipes that I’m a big fan of flavor and I rely on good, fresh organic spices and dried herbs. Watkins uses only USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients in its spices, spice blends, and herbs. You can find their products at Watkins1868.com and select stores nationwide.

As always, the words and photos are mine. I appreciate your support and the companies who graciously partner with me so I can continue to share my stories through the recipes that fill our table.

 

You may have heard of the popular street food recipe in Mexico called Elote. If not, it’s an incredible dish that starts with corn on the cob; grilled until blackened and smoky then slathered in a creamy and spicy sauce before being rolled in cheese then finished with fresh lime juice. It is now absolutely my preferred way of eating corn. Esquites is the same idea but minus the cob. Corn kernels are blackened (or the cobs are grilled then the kernels removed) and then mixed with mayonnaise, cheese, chili powder, cilantro leaves, ground cumin, adobo seasoning and lots of lime.

Because I’m a believer in “all things are better when wrapped in a tortilla” we’ve turned this classic Mexican corn dish into a taco. It’s paired with what is basically a chunky guacamole that is loaded with scallions and a touch of sour cream (or if you’re an Antoni fan you can use Greek yogurt).

This recipe is written to feed a crowd or to have plenty of leftovers. I also added slow simmered pinto beans to bulk up the tacos but you can add grilled fish, chicken, steak, or carnitas – the options are endless.

 

 

Esquites Tacos

Ingredients

Esquites

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup crumbled Cotija or Parmesan cheese

2 tsp lime zest

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 tsp salt1 tsp Watkins Organic Chili Powder

2 TBL butter

8 corn cobs, kernels removed (or about 24 ounces corn kernels – you can use frozen corn here too)

Instructions

In a medium size bowl stir together the mayonnaise, cheese, lime zest, juice, salt and chili powder. Feel free to add more chili powder if you want more heat.

Add the butter to a large skillet set over medium high heat. When the butter sizzles add the corn then let blacken. Give a quick stir after a couple of minutes then let sit again. Add a hefty pinch of salt then turn off the heat.

Stir the blackened corn into the creamy mayonnaise mixture.

Alternately you can grill the corn cobs then let cool and remove the kernels from the cob before stirring into the creamy sauce.

Creamy Avocado and Scallion Salsa

2 large avocados, peeled and diced

5 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

2 TBL sour cream

1/2 tsp Watkins Organic Ground Cumin

1/2 tsp Watkins Organic Adobo Seasoning Pinch salt

1 TBL fresh lime juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 TBL minced jalapeño (more or less depending on your spice preference)

1 TBL Watkins Organic Cilantro Leaves

In a medium size bowl stir together the avocado, scallions, cumin, adobo, salt, lime juice, garlic, jalapeño and dried cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired

Tacos

12 small flour or corn tortillas

Meat or beans (optional)

Crumbled cotija or queso fresco

Pickled jalapeños

Warm the tortillas then serve with meat or beans, esquites, salsa and whatever other toppings you prefer. I’ve listed my favorites.

 

Rosemary Pasta with Lemon Butter Sauce

*I’m proud to partner with Watkins to bring you this story and recipe. It’s quite evident in my recipes that I’m a big fan of flavor and I rely on good, fresh spices and dried herbs. Watkins uses only USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients. You can find their products at Watkins1868.com and… Read more »

*I’m proud to partner with Watkins to bring you this story and recipe. It’s quite evident in my recipes that I’m a big fan of flavor and I rely on good, fresh spices and dried herbs. Watkins uses only USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients. You can find their products at Watkins1868.com and select grocery stores nationwide.

As always, the words and photos are mine. I appreciate your support and the companies who graciously partner with me so I can continue to share my stories through the recipes that fill our table.

 

We dump the flour on the table, a simple action that is right but feels a bit defiant. With our hands, they are in fact the best tool for the job, we dip into the cool powder to form a soft bowl to hold the eggs. While Ivy cracks the fragile white shells, I anticipate the day when we can cross our backyard and visit our hens (who are now chicks) to gather eggs, still warm with yolks that practically glow. I’m interrupted from this dream as the last egg runs out of our flour bowl and onto the table. Ivy and I both laugh while we attempt to capture the runaway egg. Once safely contained she generously shakes fragrant rosemary onto the dough. We both breathe in deep, taking in the piney scent that now surrounds us.

While kneading the sturdy dough I take in the simplicity of this moment, these ingredients. It’s a rare reprieve from the noise and chaos that has grown familiar in my mind. Here in this moment, with all my senses engaged, I can be at the table, fingers covered in dough, laughing with my daughter while stories of past pasta making memories entertain us during our kneading.

We knead the dough until smooth then tuck it in for rest. This is not a rushed process, nor is it complicated. It’s simple yet asks you to be present, to adjust an otherwise busy schedule around its timing, not ours. I gladly accept this offer for it is also an invitation to be here now. To meditate while covered in flour and bask in gratitude with a fragrant bowl of homemade pasta under our nose.

It’s a simple act, humble, messy and imperfect but as with so much in life these are the ones that make all the difference.

 

 

 

Rosemary Pasta with Lemon Butter Sauce

Yield 6-8 Servings

The pasta dough quantity here is enough for 6 – 8 servings. The sauce quantity below is enough for about 1/3 of the dough. You can easily double or triple the sauce to feed a crowd. The pasta dough can be made in advance. The dough and any leftovers can be covered and refrigerated for one day. The color may shift just slightly.

Ingredients

400 grams all-purpose flour4 large eggs1 tablespoon Watkins Organic Rosemary

For 2 large or 4 small servings (about 1/3 of the above pasta dough)

60 grams/4 tablespoons unsalted butter1 tablespoon fresh lemon juiceSea saltWatkins Organic Ground Black Pepper2 teaspoons lemon zest1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Instructions

For the pasta.Dump the flour on a large surface. Make a shallow and wide bowl in the middle of the flour. Crack the four eggs directly into the flour bowl. Add the Watkins Organic Rosemary to the eggs.Using a fork gently start to whisk the eggs, incorporating a little bit of the flour at a time. Continue to do this until the eggs and flour are the consistency of waffle batter. At this point it’s best to get your hands dirty and start kneading. Pasta dough should feel quite stiff. If it’s too dry you may add a touch of water but not too much, we don’t want a sticky dough. Knead until smooth, for about 5 to 7 minutes. Wrap well in plastic wrap then let the dough rest on the counter for at least 30 minutes. During this rest the gluten will relax and absorb the liquid. The dough will feel much smoother and cohesive after its nap.

You may use a rolling pin to make the pasta dough but if you have a pasta machine it will go quite a bit faster.Take about 1/10th of the pasta dough and keep the rest covered. On the widest setting of your pasta maker run the dough through then fold in half and run through again. Repeat at least three times. This is another way to knead the dough which will strengthen the gluten and give the pasta a pleasant bite in the end. Continue rolling the dough until you reach the desired thickness, for my pasta machine that is a 6 out of 8 settings. Add a little flour to the dough if there is any stickiness. Fold the pasta sheet in half, then half again, and again, until it’s about 2 inches wide. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in rough 1/2-inch strips. Set aside on a lightly floured sheet pan.

Prepare the sauce.

Cranberry Sticky Toffee Pudding

I had to share this recipe as well. This is another family holiday favorite. It’s so easy to throw together, gets better with age, and feels festive and indulgent without any fuss. This recipe is also found in Let’s Stay In as part of our Christmas Tea menu where I usually serve it as cupcakes… Read more »

I had to share this recipe as well.

This is another family holiday favorite. It’s so easy to throw together, gets better with age, and feels festive and indulgent without any fuss.

This recipe is also found in Let’s Stay In as part of our Christmas Tea menu where I usually serve it as cupcakes with a hefty dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.

 

I’ve always loved the idea of Sticky Toffee Pudding. Tender cake sweetened with dates, served with a warm buttery toffee sauce. But I so often found the end result too sweet. Enter cranberries. Their vibrant color reinforce a seasonal flare and their tart bite cut through the sweetness in a way that has me pining for this cake long after the holidays are over. Thank goodness for frozen cranberries. 

Cranberry Sticky Toffee Date Cake

Yield 8-10 servings

Ingredients

Cake

8 ounces/ 230 g pitted medjool dates, roughly chopped

1 cup/ 240 ml boiling water

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 tablespoons/ 60 g butter, melted

3/4 cup/ 160 g packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup/ 140 g all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups / 170 g fresh (or frozen) roughly chopped cranberries

Salted Butterscotch Sauce (half the recipe from Bittersweet Chocolate Cake)

1/2 cup / 100 g dark brown sugar

1/2 cup / 120 ml heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 tablespoons rum

Pinch sea salt

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 inch cake pan then line the bottom with parchment paper.

Add the dates to a bowl then cover with the boiling water. Stir in the baking soda then let this mixture sit until the dates are soft enough to easily break up with a fork, about 5 minutes. Mash them up a bit then set aside. 

In a large bowl stir together the melted butter and brown sugar then whisk in the eggs and salt. Add the flour and softened date mixture then stir well to combine. Stir in the chopped cranberries.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the cake springs back slowly when gently pressed in the center.

For the toffee sauce:

Bring the sugar, cream, and butter to a boil in a large saucepan. Boil for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat then carefully stir in the salt and rum.

When ready to serve pour the warm toffee sauce over the cake. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

*This recipe also works well for cupcakes. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes. 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bouche de Noel with Salted Peanut Caramel

As promised I’m sharing the recipe for our Christmas dessert tradition. The chocolate peanut butter Bouche de Noel. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does. The recipe comes from my book, Let’s Stay In. Our entire Christmas menu (Beef Wellington!) can also be found in that book.   The holidays are… Read more »

As promised I’m sharing the recipe for our Christmas dessert tradition. The chocolate peanut butter Bouche de Noel. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does.

The recipe comes from my book, Let’s Stay In. Our entire Christmas menu (Beef Wellington!) can also be found in that book.

 

The holidays are the perfect time for show stopping desserts. The Bouche de Noel or Yule Log is a classic French dessert of a rolled up cake or roulade, with some sort of filling tucked inside and decorated with meringue mushrooms and frosting shaped as holly leaves in order to resemble log. My version, while lacking in sugar decorations (although there have been years where those were present too) is filled with a creamy peanut butter mousse and each slice is bathed in a salty peanut caramel. 

There are a number of steps here but each can be made in advance and even the finished cake itself can be kept in the fridge overnight if needed. The lengthy process and heaps of dishes is immediately erased when you see the delight on your friend’s and family’s faces when they watch you parade a giant chocolate log into the dining room. After that you there’s no way they’ll make you wash those dishes.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bouche de Noel

Yield 10-12 Servings

Ingredients

Cake:

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder, plus more for dusting

6 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Mousse:

1 pound 4 ounces (from 2 1/2 8 ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature

2 cups / 500 grams creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Chocolate Ganache:

8 ounces heavy cream

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Pinch salt

Salted Peanut Caramel:

8 oz/ 1 cup sugar

6 oz/ 1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup or corn syrup

1/4 cup water

8 oz/ 1 cup heavy cream

2 oz/ 4 tablespoons butter, soft

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds removed (optional)

6 ounces roasted and salted peanuts

Instructions

For the cake:

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 12×17-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper. Set aside.

Sift together the flour and cocoa powder in a bowl then set aside. Then whisk to combine. 

Add the egg yolks to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until frothy and just starting to shift from lemon yellow to butter yellow. Add 1/3 cup of the sugar in a slow and steady stream. Continue to beat until thick and pale yellow, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the whipped egg yolks to a large bowl then clean the stand mixer bowl and whisk. Wipe dry then add the egg whites. 

Beat starting on low then gradually build up the speed so as not to shock the eggs. Once frothy add the salt. Continue to beat until soft peaks form then steadily stream in the remaining 2/3 cup sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. 

Fold the egg whites into the whipped yolks. Gingerly fold the dry ingredients into the whipped eggs. Continue to fold until no streaks remain.

Use an offset spatula to spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cake slowly springs back when pressed. 

Lay a piece of parchment paper, as large as the cake, on a clean flat surface. Dust it generously with cocoa powder. In one swift action invert the cake onto the parchment. Peel off the still warm cake’s parchment layer then dust the cake itself with another generous flurry of cocoa powder.

While the cake is warm and pliable gingerly roll it up with the parchment. Let the cake cool in this position. While the cake cools make the mousse or once cooled, wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap then save the next steps for tomorrow.

For the mousse:

In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add the cream cheese and peanut butter. Beat until smooth. Stir in the powdered sugar, heavy cream and salt and mix until well combined. 

This can be made up to 3 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate then bring to room temperature when ready to use. 

For the ganache:

Add the cream to a small saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Watch the pot carefully as cream tends to bubble up and over rather quickly. Add the chocolate to a large bowl then pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let this sit for one minute then whisk to combine. Stir in the salt.

Let the ganache cool until it’s firm enough to easily spread on the cake, about 1 hour. 

Ganache can be made up to 1 week in advance then rewarm gently in the microwave or in a saucepan on low heat.

For the caramel:

Combine the sugar, golden syrup and water in a large saucepan. Stir gently to combine then wash off the sides of the pan using water and your clean hands to feel if any sugar remains on the side. If stray bits of sugar fall into the caramel it can cause the caramel to crystallize so it’s important to make sure all the sugar is in the bottom of the pan mixed with the water.

Set the pan over high heat to bring the sugars to a rolling boil. Continue to cook until the caramel turns copper in color, about 7 to 10 minutes. Carefully add the cream, butter and vanilla bean, if using. The caramel will immediately seize but let it come back to a boil. Once the sugar is all melted stir in the peanuts. 

Let the caramel cool before serving. This can be made up to three days in advance. 

If the caramel is too stiff you can rewarm in a microwave or in a saucepan to serve. Store caramel in a sealable container.

To assemble the cake:

Carefully unroll the cake from the parchment paper. Add the mousse in an even layer then roll the cake again. Don’t worry about any cracking or tearing in the cake the ganache is there to cover all that up. 

Cover the entire cake with plastic wrap tightly, like a giant piece of candy, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Place the cake on your serving platter.

Spread the ganache all over the cake. Cut off the ends at an angle and arrange in a way that resembles a log. Use a fork to create bark-like stiping in the ganache. 

Serve straightaway or cover and refrigerate if you’ve made the cake in advance. Allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving.

Serve with the salted peanut caramel.

 

Thinking of you

  Hello friends.    I’ve been thinking about you all. I think about you when I bite into a cake so perfectly tender and dense with spice. I think of you when I artfully draw a salmon on my puff pastry with a paring knife and I think of you when I fry fresh caught… Read more »

 

Hello friends. 

 

I’ve been thinking about you all. I think about you when I bite into a cake so perfectly tender and dense with spice. I think of you when I artfully draw a salmon on my puff pastry with a paring knife and I think of you when I fry fresh caught squid to a delicate crisp then not so delicately submerge it into a pepperoncini aioli. 

I also think of you when my heart flutters while reading about Tom Hanks and watching the trailer with him as Mr. Rogers for the 1,249th time. I’m thinking of you while doing a deep dive into mindfulness and thinking about how we all could benefit from the continuous reminder to put everything into perspective. 

All of that to say, I think of you all so often. More often than I share here or even on my Instagram. Just as I’m trying to work on actually expressing the thoughts and words of affirmation to the people in my life as I think of them I thought I would like to do the same of you. Because I think of you often and appreciate you so very much.

 

  • This is the pumpkin cake of my dreams. I know I just shared a pumpkin cake. One can never have too many recipes for such a classic cake. Just after I shared mine I read about Tartine’s version which uses 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. I was skeptical but the glowing reviews calmed my fears and now it’s my go-to. Heavy with brown sugar and pepitas on top.

 

  • Last night I made salmon pot pie for the first time using this recipe from Food & Wine as my starting point. We have a pescatarian in the family so I skipped the bacon and added miso and Worcestershire to add depth. 

 

  • This is that lovely Tom Hanks article in the New York Times that I loved so very much. I’m so moved by his gentle kindness that seems to accompany everything he does. I aspire to be so thoughtful. 

 

  • Speaking of puff pastry (it’s on my mind from that pot pie I mentioned) this simple pear tart (from my latest book) is my absolute favorite dessert this time of year (maybe even more so than pumpkin pie) and the recipe can be found over at Woman’s Day. 

 

  • Things in my kitchen have taken a more practical spin as of late. I’ve been busy working on a project and have also felt more and more inclined to do more with what we have. We can easily waste a good bit of food when I’m deep in the swing of recipe development and right now I’m trying to cook down our fridge and pantry before doing more shopping. This often means we’re cooking pantry heavy meals like curried lentils or simple pastas. 

 

  • This summer we spent so much time outside and we’re trying to do the same while we still have a bit of sunshine this fall. We’re working on putting together some more adventures with Kitchen Unnecessary and having adventures on our own like squid fishing in downtown Seattle. Seriously, it’s a thing

 

 

More soon because I’m thinking of you. But not in a creepy way.

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread

* This post was created in partnership with California Olive Ranch. We’ve been working together this year to bring you some special recipes that highlight this beautiful olive oil. I’ve been using their olive oil for years now because they produce a high quality oil for an everyday price. Cooking is what grounds me, which… Read more »

* This post was created in partnership with California Olive Ranch. We’ve been working together this year to bring you some special recipes that highlight this beautiful olive oil. I’ve been using their olive oil for years now because they produce a high quality oil for an everyday price. Cooking is what grounds me, which is why I make sure to work with ingredients that offer consistent quality and delicious taste. Olive oil is the basis of so many dishes, sweet and savory, and California Olive Ranch allows my food to shine.

I stare at the computer screen practically paralyzed by the mounting list of to-do’s. Ivy’s half-finished Halloween costume sits dormant in the corner, a few dishes from last night’s dinner linger on the table, and dinner tonight? There are no plans yet. 

In this moment I put the computer down, bound into the kitchen and set the oven to 350°F. The fridge is bare but the pantry provides everything I need to create something out of seemingly nothing. Raw ingredients; those that linger in the cupboard for moments such as this, they are humble, not much on their own but when combined with a few of their pantry neighbors they are comfort and warmth. Delight and joy and honestly, they become therapy.

It’s the process that is the healer. Instantly I’m out of my head with the racing thoughts of “not enoughs”. Not enough time in the day, not good enough, not fast enough, not helpful enough … and I focus on the fragrance of nutmeg as it slips across the microplane leaving behind flecks of spice. I marvel, if just for a moment, at the intricate pattern that’s revealed once the dull exterior is shaved away. Fresh ginger drips down my finger and releases a powerful perfume while it’s whisked into pumpkin purée. And fragrant olive oil, grassy with a bright pepper bite slowly dribbles in before dry goes into wet and then it all goes into the pan before hitting the hot oven. I return to the computer screen having accomplished something. It wasn’t on the to do list but I stepped into the present, into the process just long enough to regain right perspective. 

I created something. Something that scented the house with spice and Fall, something that will wrap the kids in warmth when they walk through the front door and something that pulled me out of myself long to remember that everything will be okay. 

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread

Adapted from BonAppetit.com

This simple recipe is everything I want in a quick baking, snack cake. I love a loaf cake that uses oil as the fat as it produces and tender crumb and here we use olive oil for texture and it adds a wonderful fragrant flavor as well. It also keeps the bread super moist (better than butter!) and add healthy fats with a world of benefits. 

I’ve added a couple of handfuls of bittersweet chocolate to this loaf which is also lovely. 

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 large eggs

1 15 ounce can of pumpkin pureé

1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup California Olive Ranch Destination Series Everyday olive oil

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 9×5″ loaf pan with nonstick spray. 

Line bottom of pan with parchment, leaving a generous overhang on both long sides. 

Whisk flour, cinnamon, kosher salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg, in a medium bowl. 

Whisk eggs, pumpkin purée, ginger, and 1½ cups sugar in a large bowl. 

Stream in oil, whisking continuously until well combined. 

Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until completely combined, but take care not to overmix. (If you want to add chocolate stir it in now). 

Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan then top with the pumpkin seeds and brown sugar. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean, about 60 – 70 minutes. 

Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes until unmolding and cooling the loaf completely on a wire rack. 

spaghetti con le sarde

*This post is in partnership with Barilla. I’m so thrilled to work with them and proclaim a shared belief that pasta is art. “Each piece of pasta is a small piece of design that combines beauty and taste.” Chefs from around the world recently competed in Paris at the Pasta World Championship. Check out their… Read more »

*This post is in partnership with Barilla. I’m so thrilled to work with them and proclaim a shared belief that pasta is art. “Each piece of pasta is a small piece of design that combines beauty and taste.” Chefs from around the world recently competed in Paris at the Pasta World Championship. Check out their Instagram page to meet the chefs and see the winning dish.

I’m back with more pasta inspired by the 8th annual Barilla Pasta World Championship. The competition is officially complete, and a winner has been selected. 

You guys, when I saw the competing dishes I was so impressed. The recipes for these incredible pasta dishes were pages long. There were powders and foams and multiple sauces on one plate. Mine? Well, I thought the crispy salami was a nice touch. This is why I’m the one at home sitting and eating the pasta and not out there competing. Because when all is said and done simplicity is whereI reside and I want you to be able to easily recreate this dish at home! 

 

That’s not to say I didn’t study the recipes from these chefs because their ingenuity and complexity fascinates me. I love learning from these masters – studying their methods and watching what ingredients they gather and using that to inspire a recipe that fits in our home.

Like the recipe from the Canadian competitor, Kshitiz Sethi. I was so intrigued by the combination of sardines, fennel, tomato, pine nuts and raisins that I had to give it a go. Of course, the recipe also wanted me to sous vide fresh sardines and make a delicate broth of fennel and tomatoes but I turned his idea into a 20-minute, accessible pasta dish that you can make with ingredients you most likely have in your pantry. 

 

Congratulations to all the competitors. Thanks for always inspiring. 

spaghetti con le sarde

Inspired by Kshitiz Sethi – the Canadian competitor in the Pasta World Championships

Ingredients

12 ounces Barilla Collezione Spaghetti

Sea salt

1 small shallot, diced

1 small fennel bulb (with greens and stems)

1 sardine, packed in oil, bones removed and minced

2 tablespoons minced pepperoncini

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/3 cup golden raisins

1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes

Chili flake

1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen

Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving

Instructions

Remove the stems from the fennel bulb. Set aside 1/2 cup of the fennel fronds and slice the fennel bulb.

Set a large pot of water over high heat. Add the fennel stems to the pot and enough salt to make the water taste of the sea. 

While the water boils add olive oil to a large skillet. Sauté the shallot and fennel bulb until just starting to caramelize, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add a pinch of salt along with the sardine and pepperoncini. Sauté for one minute more. Stir in the tomato paste, pine nuts and golden raisins. Mix well and cook for 1 to 2 minutes before add the diced tomatoes. Add another pinch of salt and fennel pollen then let the sauce simmer while you cook the pasta.

Add some pasta water to the sauce if it gets too dry.

Drain the cooked pasta but be sure to reserve some of the pasta water. Add the pasta (minus the fennel stems) to the skillet with the sauce. Add pasta water to the sauce as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Transfer the pasta to a serving platter then top with fennel fronds and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

 

Pasta al limone with crispy finocchiona, chanterelle and parmesan

*This post is in partnership with Barilla. I’m so thrilled to work with them and proclaim a shared belief that pasta is art. “Each piece of pasta is a small piece of design that combines beauty and taste.” Right now, chefs from around the world are competing in Paris at the Pasta World Championship. Check… Read more »

*This post is in partnership with Barilla. I’m so thrilled to work with them and proclaim a shared belief that pasta is art. “Each piece of pasta is a small piece of design that combines beauty and taste.” Right now, chefs from around the world are competing in Paris at the Pasta World Championship. Check out Barilla’s Instagram page  site to get the know the chefs and follow along as they crown this year’s winner. 


Have you ever thought about being a part of cooking competition? The ones where the clock ticks loudly, you have a stocked kitchen and a plan and then a mystery box is thrown in or  you have to cook with your eyes closed or use aluminum foil for your cooking vessel. Plates fall, ingredients are flying, people are sweating, and hands are thrown up as the clock menacingly hits zero.

I applaud those who can stomach it, but me? Give me a quiet kitchen, a full pantry and a glass of wine and that’s what I call cooking. Every once in a while, though I like to imagine if I were a part of a cooking competition what would I make. Especially when the challenge is simply this: prepare a signature dish. What would be the recipe that encapsulates you on a plate? 

 

The Barilla Pasta World Championship is happening in Paris right now and as much as I wish I could be there (watching, not competing) I had fun in the kitchen imagining what I would make for their first challenge: “The Masterpiece. In this challenge, the chefs will create and present their Masterpiece – their signature dish.”

 

 

A pasta-centric signature dish. I wanted to play along. So, here’s how my process went.

 

For days I haven’t been able to get Pasta al Limone out of my head. Bon Appetit posted a stunningly creamy pasta dish with citron curls of lemon peel, a heavy hand of black pepper and a few flutters of Parmesan. So, I started there, but if this was to be a masterpiece then it needs more. 

I went to the store for inspiration. That’s where my next step usually is. I wander the aisles thinking about what might be the right addition with a lemon-y pasta. I imagine myself eating the dish; it’s silky, tender and creamy so maybe I want a little crunch, some texture and bite. Standing at the deli counter I see a fennel-studded salami – finocchiona. I imagine it diced and fried until crisp. Next I spot chanterelles. It’s the time of year when they are in abundance and I am tempted to put them in everything. Their season is so short so really there’s no reason to not be eating them right now. Plus, if this is my masterpiece, I want it to tell the story of my home and one bite of chanterelles I’m immediately standing in the damp woods, under the canopy of the pines. Speaking of pine, I remember I have some leftover toasted pine nuts and think that they too would offer a nice buttery bite. To complete my masterpiece, I use Barilla Spaghetti so that all of the ingredients blend together around the pasta. Then I think about how it will all look on the plate, it’s a lot of beige at this point but nothing that a simple flurry of finely minced parsley can’t fix.

 

When all is said and done it’s a visually humble masterpiece but me on a plate? Absolutely. It’s simple with a twist. The ingredient list is short but purposeful, it has texture contrast and intrigue and is equally comfortable being eaten in a bowl on the couch with a glass of wine nearby or being served in a lovely restaurant, artfully presented. I’ll take the couch.

 

I’m not too certain it would win me the competition but I will say I am very happy with dinner tonight.

Pasta al limone with finocchiona, chanterelle and Parmesan

Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

12 ounces Barilla spaghetti

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 pound finocchiona, 1/4-inch dice

1/4 pound chanterelles, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 lemon

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups finely grated parmesan

Black pepper

Sea salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons finely minced parsley

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Instructions

Set a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil then add the finocchiona. Sauté until the salami is browned and crisp. Add the chanterelles along with a pinch of salt. Saute until just starting to brown, then add the garlic and continue to saute for a few minutes more. 

Using a vegetable peeler cut a 1 inch strip of the lemon peel off then zest the remaining peel using a microplane. Squeeze the juice (about 2 tablespoons) then set aside. 

Bring a large pot of water to boil then add enough salt to make it taste like the sea. Add the pasta, cook for 8-9 minutes, until it still has a good bit of bite to it. It will continue to cook in the sauce.

While the pasta cooks transfer the salami and chanterelles from the skillet to a plate. Return the skillet to the stove set over medium heat. Add the cream, 1/2 pasta water, lemon zest and a good bit of black pepper. Whisk in the butter one tablespoon at a time. Stir in 1 cup of the parmesan. Taste and add salt if needed.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce then cook, stirring well to coat the pasta. Add more pasta water if the sauce looks dry. Add the sauteed mushrooms and salami to the pasta. Stir to combine. 

Transfer the pasta to a serving platter. Cut the lemon peel into thin strips then add to the top of the pasta along with remaining Parmesan, pine nuts and parsley. Serve right away. 

Oven Baked Risotto with Butternut Squash and Candied Rosemary Walnuts

I feel like celebrating. It’s been a year (give or take a day or so) since Let’s Stay In hit the bookstores and I’m feeling sentimental. This little book went out to the world with a bit of fanfare and then I just left it to do its thing. Hoping, praying and crossing my fingers… Read more »

I feel like celebrating. It’s been a year (give or take a day or so) since Let’s Stay In hit the bookstores and I’m feeling sentimental. This little book went out to the world with a bit of fanfare and then I just left it to do its thing. Hoping, praying and crossing my fingers that the recipes will find their way into your homes, around your table and perhaps even into the stories of your families. I’ve received so many incredible messages throughout the year that indicate that my prayers were answered.

Thank you for trusting me with your time, your resources and with those precious moments spent around the table. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude today as I reflect on the incredible gift it is to be able to share this work. Just like any job there are many moments where it feels just like work. That’s when I sit back, often head into the kitchen just to cook and revel in the goodness.

Words fail me so let’s just celebrate this little occasion with a warming, special yet delightfully simple dinner. It’s what I’ll be making tonight and I hope you join me. Connecting with you all over recipes really does bring an intimacy that is felt beyond the computer screen.

Thanks for all the support and for enjoying and sharing the work I do. It would not happen without you all.

Oven Baked Risotto with Butternut Squash and Candied Rosemary Walnuts

Yield 4-6 servings

As much as I love cooking the reality is most days don’t afford me the luxury of gingerly stirring a pot for an hour with a glass of Pinot in hand. But just because that’s my reality doesn’t mean I can’t have risotto on a regular basis. Enter oven-baked risotto. This no-stir method produces a creamy, satisfying result without all the stirring (don’t worry, you can still have the wine in hand while the oven does all the work). 

The process starts with a cold oven so that pesky preheating isn’t even an issue here. And if fall is a season or two away feel free to skip the squash and candied walnuts and go for say, roasted asparagus with peas. Or how about roasted corn and tomato laced with twangy goat cheese and a few wisps of basil? The adaptability here makes this dinner a perfect candidate for cleaning out your fridge.

Ingredients

4 tablespoons/ 60 g unsalted butter, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided

1 large onion, diced about 3 cups/ 450 g 

2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary leaves

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced, about 4 cups / 540 g 

1 1/4 cups/ 250 g arborio rice

4 cups/960 ml chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup/ 240 ml white wine, divided

1 cup/ 10 g finely grated Parmesan

1/2 cup/ 60 g crumbled gorgonzola (optional)

Instructions

Add 2 tablespoons butter to a large skillet. Stir in the onions and rosemary and sauté over medium heat until they just start to color, about 15 minutes. Add the butternut squash and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt then continue to cook for 5 minutes. In a 9×13 baking dish add the rice, stock, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and 1 teaspoon sea salt then stir in the butternut squash mixture. Place the dish in the middle rack of your oven. Turn the oven to 400°F. Bake the rice for 30 minutes stirring about halfway through. The rice should still be ever so chewy. Remove the rice from the oven then stir in the remaining 1/2 cup white wine and the parmesan. Serve with the candied walnuts and gorgonzola crumbles, if using. Serve while warm.

*Leftovers? Breaded in Panko crumbs leftover risotto fries up beautifully in a skillet with just a bit of oil. Add an egg if the risotto is not wanting to hold together. 

Candied Rosemary Walnuts

1 cup/ 120 g walnuts

1/4 cup/ 50 g sugar

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

Flake salt

Add the walnuts, sugar, and rosemary leaves to a dry skillet set over medium high heat. Stir occasionally as the sugar melts and caramelizes. Don’t leave the pan as the walnuts and sugar can easily burn. As the sugar starts to melt stir continuously until completely melted and the walnuts have shifted in color. The sugar will start to smoke but continue to cook until deeply caramelized. Carefully dump the caramelized walnuts onto a plate, sprinkle with flake salt then let cool.