Blood Orange Gin Sparkler

The citrus gin cocktail you want to be drinking. It’s bright and beautiful – perfect for winter holidays and New Years Eve.

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For a good part of the year I have rosemary floating about the kitchen. It’s typically crowded in a wide-mouth jar, standing stick-straight, quietly waiting to be called upon. Sometimes it sits on the windowsill here, other times it migrates to the island, or, on rare occasions, the dinner table. I tend to buy a bunch, then work my way through it little by little (you’ve likely seen it in the background of photos on previous posts). Said another way – rosemary is often in my line of sight, and I’m always looking for ways to use it. This cocktail caught my attention a couple weeks back, and I’ve been making my own citrus-spiked riff on it in the days since.
Blood Orange Gin Sparkler
So…my initial idea was that I’d do a winter citrus version using freshly-squeezed pink grapefruit juice, gin, and tonic water or sparkling water. I thought the evergreen notes in the gin would blend nicely with the tart pucker of grapefruit, and I’d take the edge off with a hint of rosemary syrup.

Not meant to be.
Gin Sparkler
I walked into a box of beautiful Moro blood oranges at the store, and here we are. The blood orange juice worked beautifully, it added a lovely burst of color, and generally lent itself agreeably to what ended up being a long, bright, winter-time quencher. One that goes down a bit too easily, in fact. As I mention down below, if blood oranges are hard for you to come by, this drink is great with navel oranges as well. I mean it when I say, I hope you like this one as much as I do.

Gin Sparkler

I kept thinking the gin / citrus combo would make for a striking DIY cocktail set-up at a holiday party, or New Year’s brunch /gathering. Particularly if you offered a selection of juice mixers. I’m imagining small glass pitchers of blood orange juice, pink grapefruit juice, orange juice, oro blanco grapefruit juice, and or sweet lime juice? It would be a beautiful spectrum. Let me know if you give it a go.

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18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

Putting a handful of new, veg-centric recipes into rotation this time of year can move the needle in the right direction. Hopefully this will provide a bit of inspiration!

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It’s increasingly difficult to get consensus on what makes the most healthful diet, but I think we can all agree that eating more nutrient-dense plants after an overly-indulgent holiday season is a positive thing. Putting a handful of new, veg-centric recipes into rotation this time of year can help move the needle in the right direction. Hopefully this will provide a bit of inspiration! Many of the recipes are easily adaptable, and weeknight friendly. Enjoy!

1. Garlic Lime Lettuce WrapsI love these! Ginger and garlic tempeh rice, folded into lime-spiked lettuce wraps with lots of herbs, cucumber, and carrots. A one-pan meal that comes together in no time! Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

2. Quick Vegan Enchiladas with Sweet Potato SauceThese are knock-out delicious, in the oven in less that ten minutes, and a healthful alternative to all the heavy cheese versions out there. With black beans, sweet potatoes, and a stealthy turmeric boost.Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

3. Spicy Tahini Noodles with Roasted VegetablesA weeknight winner! Make a simple, thinned-out tahini sauce, roast some vegetables while your pasta water is coming to a boil, toss and serve on one platter. If you like those old-school Chinese restaurant spicy peanut noodles, these are sort-of their tahini slathered distant cousinsGet the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

4. California Tom Yum SoupThe perfect antidote to holiday over-indulgence. This version is a distant relative of the vibrant, brothy tom yum soup you likely know and love. Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

5. Last Minute Red Lasagna A true weeknight lasagna. No pre-cooking sauces, no pre-cooking noodles. You, literally, stir the first five ingredients together into a vibrant crushed tomato sauce, and start layering. Also, it isn’t a cheese bomb.Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

6. Ten Ingredient Alkalizing Green Soup Ten ingredients in a blender and you’ve got a potent, alkalizing green soup – spinach, herbs, garlic, with silky coconut cream, and some green split peas for staying power. Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

7. Chickpea Cauliflower Korma A riff on the Chickpea Cauliflower Korma recipe in Jennifer Iserloh’s The Healing Slow Cooker – chickpeas, cauliflower, combined with a not-shy simmer sauce. (conventional / Instantpot versions) Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

8. Vibrant, Vegan Double Broccoli Buddha Bowl Made with seven ingredients on green overdrive. You double up on broccoli through a coconut green curry pesto and florets, then toss with a quinoa base. Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

9. Immunity Soup A soup built on a monster white pepper broth. White pepper with jolts of ginger, and stabs of garlic – clear and strong topped with tofu, mushrooms, watermelon radish, and lots of green onions. Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

10. Orange Pan-glazed Tempeh The best tempeh recipe I’ve highlighted to date – it features a simple ginger and garlic-spiked orange glaze that plays of the nutty earthiness of the pan-fried tempeh beautifully. Get the recipe here.

I18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

11. Chia Breakfast Bowl So easy, so good! Soak the chia seeds in your favorite nut milk, top with smashed berries, fresh passionfruit juice, pepitas, and big flakes of toasted coconut. A bit of bee pollen adds a boost and some pretty. Get the recipe here.

Instant Pot Chickpea Cauliflower Korma

12. Sriracha Rainbow Noodle Salad A radiant, color-flecked tangle of noodles, cabbage, shredded carrots, pickled sushi ginger, and an abundance of cilantro, basil, and scallions. It has tofu and peanuts, coconut, ginger, avocado, and hemp seeds. Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

13. Mung Yoga Bowl The kind of bowl that keeps you strong – herb-packed yogurt dolloped over a hearty bowl of mung beans and quinoa, finished with toasted nuts and a simple paprika oil. Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset</a

14. Vegetable Noodle Soup This vegetable noodle soup is as simple, direct, and delicious as it gets. Vegetarian and vegans looking for an alternative to chicken noodle soup, try this! Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

15. Anna’s California Miso Avocado Salad So good! A California-inspired Miso, Avocado, & Bean Salad from A Modern Way to Eat, by Anna Jones. Seasonal greens and beans are tossed with an assertive, creamy miso dressing. There are crunchy seeds, and broccoli, and avocado – it all comes together into a brilliant, beautiful, feel-good salad.Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

16. Rainbow Cauliflower Rice Lightly cooked cauliflower is chopped, then tossed, with turmeric, cumin, cayenne, and a touch of ghee – add sliced avocado, hard-boiled eggs, toasted seeds, rainbow chard stems, lettuces. Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

17. Mushroom Stroganoff This fantastic vegan mushroom stroganoff is a total crowd-pleaser. You can make it in an Instant Pot, or stovetop. Made with caraway-spiked vodka, and a hearty mushroom base, you get all of what you love about mushroom stroganoff, without the all the butter and cream. Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

18. Winter Green Miso Paste Keep this on hand for flash-quick, healthy meals. A herbaceous, green miso paste with some garlic bite, rounded out with lots of scallions, cilantro, ginger, and some rosemary. Plus ten simple ways to use it. Get the recipe here.

18 Recipes to Kick off your Post-Holiday Reset

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Meal In A Jar: Tortellini Soup

A favorite flavor-packed meal in a jar, just add water and a can of crushed tomatoes. It’s a favorite one-pot lentil and tomato-based stew, dotted with plump, tender tortellini, spiked with a range of spices. Perfect for one-pot camping or weeknight meals.

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In nearly twenty years of sharing recipes on this site I don’t think I’ve ever posted a meal in a jar. I’m talking about the “just add water” style jar meals. The kind you can keep in the pantry, gift to friends, or pack with you for a road trip or camping trip. In contrast, I’m not talking about green salads in a jar, or burrito in a jar, or those sorts of meals. Just want to clarify. I like a meal in a jar that can be cooked in one pan and only requires water and perhaps one can of something (tomatoes, or coconut milk, etc.) to be great. 
Meal In A Jar Tortellini Soup in Weck Jars on Countertop
I make a range of these whenever we go camping or take our travel trailer out. We’ve been doing a lot of fall/winter coastal camping and a cozy soup or stew always hits the spot. We were at beautiful Crystal Cove State Park for a few days last week and had to hitch up the trailer in the worst rain and wind storm to hit the California Coast all year. Complete laugh/cry mud fest. Torrential downpour. Sideways rain. This was the perfect hearty bowl of soup to thaw us out.
Meal In A Jar Tortellini Soup in a Big White Pot

Meal In A Jar Tortellini Soup

If you’ve tried this Curried Tomato Tortellini Soup, you’ll immediately recognize the inspiration. This is basically the “meal in a jar” version of that soup. It’s a fortifying lentil and tomato-based stew dotted with plump, tender tortellini, and spiked with a range of spices. It’s so delicious, and simple, and this version you combine the jar ingredients with water and a can of crushed tomatoes. There’s literally no prep required for this version once you’ve built your jar. I talk about bonus ingredients down below, and they’re completely optional but instead of the spinach called for in the non-jar recipe, I like to add finely chopped kale or broccoli florets, or whatever I have on had to work in a green veg component in this version.
 View From Crystal Cove Campground

Meal in A Jar Instructions

This is just a reminder to be nice to your future self. Be sure to include all instructions on the side of your jar or container. You can use a sticker, washi tape, tag, or Sharpie marker. If you’re designing your own meal in a jar (I often rework favorite recipes) try to keep things as simple as possible. This means ingredients and instructions. Take a first stab and then tweak as you go until you have a great master recipe. For this soup, I know I can always track down a can of tomatoes (I keep a couple cans in the trailer), so aside from the jar contents all I need is that and water. The instructions fit on one line. It’s basically as simple as this: simmer contents of jar with 5 1/2 cups water and 14-oz can of tomatoes. 
Airstream Trailer from the Front Parked at the Beach

Bonus Ingredients

With these meal in a jar situations I often look to the refrigerator or cooler box for an extra ingredient or two. They’re not necessary, but can be nice to have. Basically, think of it as bonus points for rounding out whatever goes in the pot with whatever fresh ingredient(s) like kale or broccoli you might have on hand. Half the time for me, it’s broccoli, or some chopped kale. Use what you’ve got, it’s hard to go wrong! Cabbage, asparagus, corn, etc. So many add-ins would work here.
Meal in a Jar Tortellini Soup Recipe Handwritten in Journal

Pro-tip! Good Herbs & Spices

These types of meals in jars rely heavily on dry spices, herbs, and the like for flavor and seasoning. You want to use the best, freshest you’ve got. It’s the difference between using a curry paste and a curry powder. Or, the difference between using something like sriracha sauce and dried chile peppers and garlic.  If you’re going to make a bunch of these jars for future meals go ahead and reboot your most used spices, spice blends and dried ingredients. Source from great sources, store them in a dark, cool place, and be sure they’re beautifully fragrant. I list my favorite suppliers in the back of all of my books.
Meal In A Jar Tortellini Soup in Weck Jars on Countertop

If you like this sort of meal in a jar recipe, let me know. I tend to keep these sorts of recipes to myself, In part because I often throw them together in a hurry. But I always take notes, and make tweaks, and have quite a collection of them in my notebooks. Happy to share more if you like!

If soups are your thing, be sure to browse the archives. No one loves a good one more than me and there are dozens of great soup recipes to be had. Don’t miss this lentil soup, this simple tomato soup, or this ribollita.

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Most Popular Soups of 2021

A round-up of the most popular soups of 2021, plus a trio of favorite soups from my personal list.

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I love looking back at the end of the year to see which recipes have been most popular. Some recipes make the lists every year, other times it’s a newcomer’s game. The end of the year round-ups also coincide with soup season, and no one loves a good soup or stew more than I do. I thought I’d wrangle the most popular soup recipes of the year, into a list & toss in a few wildcards that didn’t make the cut as well. The soups that aren’t the most popular on the site, but have a special place in my heart and on my table throughout the year. Enjoy! Xoxo! -h

Curried Tomato Tortellini Soup Recipe

1 // Curried Tomato Tortellini Soup
A crowd-pleasing tomato-based tortellini soup, dotted with plump, tender dumplings, spiked with a range of spices, and boosted with plenty of spinach. Get the recipe!

Fire Broth Noodle Soup
2 // Fire Broth Noodle Soup
If you’ve been visiting this site for a while, you’ve seen a lot of this soup. Loaded with all the things that make you feel good (beans, pasta, kale, turmeric), and seasoned with a broth that is nuclear spicy (cayenne, ginger, garlic. Perfect this time of year.  Get the recipe!

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
3 // Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
Delicious, healthy, textured soup made from an impossibly short list of ingredients. Just five! Simply green split peas and onions cooked until tender, partially pureed, seasoned and flared out with toppings.  Get the recipe!
Coconut Red Lentil Soup
4 // Coconut Red Lentil Soup
Everyone who tastes this loves it – not a shock that it is popular every year. I tasted it first when a neighbor cooked it from the Esalen cookbook – a red lentil based, curry-spiced coconut broth with back notes of ginger and tomato, with slivered green onions, and curry-plumped raisins.  Get the recipe!
Simple Cauliflower Soup
5 // Simple Cauliflower Soup
This is the simplest of cauliflower soups. And it is so incredibly good. The ingredient list is shorter than short, and if you have a great yellow curry paste on hand (or even just a good one), it is worth making. Get the recipe!
Ribollita - Tuscan Stew
6 // Ribollita
A beautiful rustic, thick Tuscan stew made with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, and thickened with day-old bread. One of my favorites & apparently one of yours as well! Get the recipe!
Spicy Instant Pot Taco Soup
7 // Spicy Instant Pot Taco Soup
Last year the Instant Pot Minestrone was on the list, this year it is this taco soup, a weeknight winner. A hearty melding of beans, and corn, and taco spices, and quinoa. Finished with avocado and pepitas and a squeeze of lime. Get the recipe!

// And here’s a trio of soups that might night rack up as many page views, but are definitely on repeat in my life. A couple of them have been on my site for-ev-er, and they never get old. Hope you take these for a spin as well! //

Simple Tomato Soup
// A Simple Tomato Soup
So good. So easy to make! A simple tomato soup recipe inspired by a Melissa Clark recipe – pureed, warmly spiced, and perfect topped with everything from toasted almonds and herbs, to coconut cream or a poached egg.  Get the recipe!

Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter
// Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter
Here’s the deal. The magic here is the curried brown butter drizzle. Don’t skip it. Also, a good chunk of hearty sourdough really elevates the whole experience. Or! Some good naan or paratha. Get the recipe!
Chicory & Barley Soup
// Chicory & Barley Soup
A soup I included in Near & Far, it is brothy, restorative barley soup with chicories punctuated with flecks of preserved lemon, a bit of chile confetti, and a silky dollop of creme fraiche. I love it so much. Make a double batch of the lemon-chile confetti, and put it on everything else throughout the week. Get the recipe!

If you want to browse all the past soup recipes, there are some gems here. Happy soup season everyone. Looking forward to featuring some new soups in 2022.


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Classic Shortbread Cookies

Buttery, golden, classic shortbread cookies. So simple, and the best cookies on any cookie plate.

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Shortbread cookies were my first baking love. They were the first cookie I remember putting in the oven myself, always for the holidays, always wearing a kid-sized apron. I’ve developed some strong opinions on the shortbread front over the years, and I’m going to talk you through the difference between great shortbread cookies and the ones that are just so-so. Shortbread cookies can be the best cookie on any cookie tray (controversial take, I know!), and this post will walk you through how. I’ve featured shortbread many different ways on the site over the years, but love circling back to this buttery, golden, classic shortbread version.
Classic Shortbread Cookies

The Secret to Great Shortbread Cookies

I should say secrets, plural, because there are actually a few that will help bump your shortbread game from good to great.

  • Salt: Let’s start with this, it’s an easy one. A lot of shortbread cookie recipes are under salted, and that can leave them tasting flat and boring. Others call for salted butter which can be great, but it’s harder to control seasoning levels. I’m not saying go wild on the salt front, but treat it like a pillar ingredient. It is the ingredient that will bring the toasted butter, sugar, and flour into perfect focus. 
  • Thickness: For classic shortbread cookies like these, I like to go thick. I’ve found that rolling out the dough to 1/2-inch thickness is too thin, and a full-inch is too thick. I aim for somewhere in the 3/4-inch zone. This allows for golden crust with crisp buttery edge and a tender center.
    A Stack of Little Shortbreads
  • Baking Time: I’ve provided guidance in the recipe for baking time, but in reality it’s all about having an eagle eye and good nose here. Use your sight and smell. A lot of the shortbread I’ve come across over the years is too pale, nearly white. That’s not what I’m after. Shortbread that is allowed to get tip top super-golden and toasted where it touches the baking sheet, with a wash of color over the rest of the cookie is so much better. That’s how all the flavor comes to life. It’s literally the difference between butter and brown butter. Patience and attentiveness pays off here. Hover near the oven, let your shortbread get toasty.

Ingredients for Making Shortbread - Flour, Butter, Sugar, Salt

Ingredients in Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread magic happens when butter, sugar, flour, and salt come together. The list of ingredients is incredibly short, so you want to make sure each one is on point. Be sure your butter is good-quality, and recently purchased. You don’t want the butter picking up refrigerator odors. I also like to use a fresh bag of flour when baking shortbread, some flours can pick up off smells and flavors when they’ve been sitting around too long.
Classic Shortbread Cookies

Make-Ahead Shortbread Cookies

The freezer is your friend here and shortbread dough stored in an airtight container or double wrapped in plastic can last frozen for months. You can freeze the dough pre-rollout or proceed through the cutout phase. Once you’ve rolled and cut your dough, transfer the unbaked cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze before transferring to an air-tight container. Freeze until ready to bake.Cookie Dough on Baking Sheet Prepared to go in Oven

Thick or Thin?

We talked a bit about this up above, but I have a few other things to say. When it comes to classic shortbread cookies, I lean towards thick. On the other hand, if I’ve loaded the dough up with zest, nuts, spices, or other flavors, I tend to roll the dough out a bit more thinly, cutting the cookies smaller for a more concentrated experience. All of this is personal preference, of course. One thing to think about here is oven temperature. For thicker shortbread, starting with a slightly hotter oven to set the dough, and then dialing it back a bit can help prevent spread. And with smaller, thinner shortbread you don’t have to worry about that as much. When in doubt, just keep an eye on things!
A Close-up of Four Freshly Baked Shortbread Cookies

How do I keep my Shortbread from Spreading?

If you look at the photos above  you can see the difference between properly chilled shortbread dough prior to baking (circles), and dough that wasn’t chilled long enough (rectangles). The circles had their shape perfectly while the larger rectangular slabs had a bit of spread. Another hour in the refrigerator or baking straight from the freezer will likely fix that. If you’re still getting too much spread, reduce the time you’re creaming the butter and sugars, too much air being incorporated into the dough can also cause your cookies to spread. Last, confirm your oven temperature is correct, if it is running low, you’re going to have trouble.Classic Shortbread Cookies

Other Shortbread Cookie Ideas

Once you have a shortbread recipe you love in your back pocket (hopefully this one!), you can play around with many variables.

  • Skillet Shortbread: bake directly into a cast iron skillet or press the dough into a pan, marking with fork tines, then bake. In either case, mark the top of the dough with fork tines, to ensure more even baking.
  • Try Alternative Flours: If you want to introduce other flours to this recipe go for it. I’d start with 20% and make note from there. Rye flour is always a great starting point, oat flour might be nice, or buckwheat flour. I’m also curious about introducing a percentage of something like almond flour but haven’t experimented with that yet. All would add dimension and depth.
  • Sugar Crust: A lot of people love it when large-grain sugar is sprinkled across the shortbread dough before baking. You end up with a crunchy sugar crust and some sparkle.

More Shortbread!

I’ve baked and highlighted many shortbread cookies over years and learned a lot. The Rosewater Shortbread Cookies and Toasted Almond Sables are my favorites in the beyond-classic category, but they all are special in one way or another.

Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread: This is the Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread from Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s Sweet. It’s incredible for a number of reasons. Imagine a crisp, shortbread base spread thick with a creamy tahini-halva blend, finished with glossy tahini caramel. It’s brilliant, and a thin slice makes for the perfect treat.
Millionaire's Shortbread in Slices on Marble Table
Rosewater Shortbread Cookies: One of my favorites. Classic, buttery, whole wheat shortbread cookies fragrant with rosewater, flecked with toasted nuts, and dried rose petals. They have a crunchy dusting of sugar on top that provides a satisfying, sweet tongue scratch, and are punctuated with black sesame. They are the prettiest of the shortbread lot.
Rosewater Shortbread Cookies
Toasted Almond Sable Cookies // Toasty, nutty sable cookies made with whole wheat flour, sliced almonds, currents and salted butter. They are a take-off on Alice Medrich’s charming Whole Wheat Sables, published in her book Pure Dessert.
Toasted Almond Sables Cookies cut into Teardrop Shape

There’s also Apple & Carrot ShortbreadHearst Castle Shortbread Cookies, Pine Nut Rosemary Shortbread Cookies, and Olive Biscuit Cookies. And then, beyond that, here are all of the cookie recipes and baking recipes. Happy baking everyone!

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Lacinato Kale and Pecorino Salad

A base of finely shredded Lacinato kale to which and abundance of toasted pecans, pecorino cheese, and shredded Brussels sprouts are added. A strong lemon-tahini dressing is leveraged to brighten things up and take the raw edge off of the kale.

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You’re looking at one of my favorite winter salads and if you feel up for shredding a few ingredients, it won’t disappoint. It’s the most wintery of kale salads – an especially good one. Buckle up for a hearty, filling, and nutritious salad that happily makes a meal on its own. It also plays nice with others and is brilliant over a bed of pasta, or platter of roasted vegetables, or a grain bowl.
Lacinato Kale and Pecorino Salad
The salad is easy enough, without being obvious or predictable. It builds on a base of finely shredded lacinato kale to which and abundance of toasted pecans, pecorino cheese, and shredded Brussels sprouts are added. Don’t skimp. A strong lemon-tahini dressing is leveraged to brighten things up and take the raw edge off of the kale.

The key here is your knife work. For this salad to really pop, really shred the kale and Brussels sprouts and green onions finely, delicately. It’s leads a feathery texture that makes all the different in a robust salad like this one.
Lacinato Kale and Pecorino Salad on an Antique Serving Platter


I tend to make this salad the way it is written below. The combination of pecans, green olives, and pecorino is a winner in my book. But walnuts are great too if that is what you have on hand. If you have celery, I like to add it as well. Again, sliced whisper thin. A finishing kiss of lemon zest from the lemon you used to make the dressing is nice as well.

There is no shortage of kale recipes on the site, so have a look around. On the salad front, I love this Genius Kale Salad from the Food52 Genius Recipes Cookbook. This Salad Booster is fun, and this Kale Market Salad (xo Ragazza!) is such a fave. Also! Don’t miss Bryant Terry’s Amazing Green Rice.

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Whole Bean Vanilla Cookies

Snappy, small, fragrant, vanilla wafer cookies made with a whole vanilla pod. The entire thing!

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I was pulling the sad remnant of a vanilla bean from a bag of sugar the other day, and it got me thinking about using whole vanilla beans. The entire pod. I’m sure this isn’t a unique concept, but for whatever reason, it’s not something I’d ever considered before. I started thinking it through a bit, and landed on the idea of pureeing a whole pod in a food processor to use in something. Perhaps adding some sugar to bulk it out the vanilla bean a bit. After a bit of experimenting, I landed on these little cookies. I love them!
Whole Vanilla Bean Cookies

These cookies are super simple to make – snappy, small, and fragrant, with a sloppy kiss of vanilla, and a right hook of salt to balance everything out. Any tiny pieces of vanilla bean that survived the processor are a bit like having vanilla-kissed flecks of raisins cut into the dough.

Whole Vanilla Bean CookiesWhole Vanilla Bean Cookies

I made the cookies with a blend of rye and all-purpose flours, but I suspect you could make them using either all-purpose flour, or whole wheat pastry flour without any trouble. And, as far as the vanilla bean goes, the key is starting with a good pod, one that is pliable and from a reputable source. I tested these with Nielson-Massey beans because I know many of you have access, and they seem to be widely distributed.

Whole Vanilla Bean Cookies
I love sharing these as part of a cookie plate, or cookie gift box alongside other favorite cookies. You can have a look at all the past cookie recipes, or jump right into these favorite shortbread, sables, snickerdoodles, puddle cookies and the like!
Whole Vanilla Bean Cookies
Have you all come across other whole vanilla ideas/recipes? – I’ve held off googling.

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Culinary Gift Guide – A Holiday Gift Guide for Cooks

A holiday gift guide for your favorite cooks. These are some of the items I’ve loved and used most this year.

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Happiest holidays everyone! I’ve pulled together this culinary gift guide to help any of you shopping for the cooks in your family. All the items are things I’ve used (and loved!) in my own kitchen or are items made by producers I know and love – with a few wildcards thrown in for fun. I’ve tried to highlight a range here, emphasizing products made by hand, or small companies. Enjoy!Culinary Gift Guide - A Holiday Gift Guide for Cooks
Small Citrus Trees ($32-$54) – Four Winds Growers //
I have a collection of container-planted citrus (most purchased from Four Winds Growers) on our patio. It’s amazing to watch them change and grow throughout the year. Never mind the fruit, the smell of the blossoms is my favorite thing about them. My collection includes chinotto, rangpur lime, market lime, moro blood, kishu mandarin, and a few others. They sell non-citrus trees as well. 

Poudre des Bulgares (~$10)- Epices Roellinger //
A beautiful blend of palm flower sugar, sesame seeds, vanilla, flax seeds, saffron, and other spices. Perfect in yogurt, shortbread, baked oatmeal, crumbles and crisps.

Ristra Chile Garland ($230) – Flamingo Estate //
My kind of splurge. A 5-foot chile ristra strung by hand from New Mexico.

For Pasta Lovers //
Missy Robbins’ Pasta book ($37), and these brass pasta tools.

Original Egg Spoon ($310) – Permanent Collection //
A forever item. I was generously gifted this beauty not long after we moved to LA and I use it constantly, a few times a week, for perfect eggs for breakfast sandwiches. It’s also the first thing we pack throughout the year when we go camping.

Gjusta Coffee Box ($98) – Gjusta Goods
For the coffee lover. A pair of sweet ceramic mugs along side Common Room Roasters Gjusta blend.

Ankarsrum Original Mixer ($699) //
For the serious home baker. I invested in an Ankarsrum last year after burning up the motor in my long-time mixer. I wanted something with more capacity, more power, and I liked the all-clear top loading access to the mixing bowl. It’s a bit quirky, and takes a bit of time to get to know, but I love mine. I’ve found the Ankarsrum group on FB to be helpful.

Culinary Gift Guide - A Holiday Gift Guide for Cooks

Brass Cake Server ($150) – Kneeland Co. //
One of the treasures I brought home from my last trip to Jaipur was one of these beautiful brass cake servers now available at Kneeland Co.

For flower-loving cooks //
Edible Flowers ($32) – I contributed a chamomile miso soup recipe to this beautiful deep-dive volume on edible flowers by Monica Nelson.

Nested Indigo Bowls ($350) – Silvia Song //
I miss seeing Silvia and her beautiful work around the San Francisco Bay Area. We wold run into each other at various holiday markets and events throughout the year. The pieces I’ve collected from her over the years are some of my most amazing.

To inspire all your 2022 parties //
Arty Parties – the new Julia Sherman book.

This Kitchen in Procida – Sotheby’s //
Dare to dream ;). On our last trip to Italy we made a day trip on the ferry from Naples to Procida. It was incredibly charming and I’ve been daydreaming about life and the candy-colored seaside houses there ever since. I stumbled on this listing a couple months back and can’t get get over it – scroll to the kitchen: photo 6 of 21. Also omg the tile!

Brass Masala Dabba ($125 – $285) – Diaspora Co. //
I love my masala dabba a lot. I even take it with me when we’re out in the Airstream so that I have an edit of my favorite spices along for the ride. There are a number of ways to approach this – if you already have spices, you can get an empty masala dabba, Working from scratch? You can build-your-own set. And you can buy a katori set here if needed.

For Gluten-Free Bakers //
The book to gift any gluten-free bakers in your life – Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple

The Artist Capsule ($150) – Brightland Co. //
A beautiful four-pack of Brightland olive oil with special labels – lemon, chili, basil, & garlic. 



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A Rustic Scallion & Chive Panade

The combination of simmering broth, Gruyere cheese, onions, garlic, chives, and sourdough combine into a decadent pot of winter magic.

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The panade recipe in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook came to my attention when a friend baked a beautiful double-version of it in an over-sized AGA dutch oven and served it at a dinner party years ago. It was the show-stopping centerpiece of a meal flanked by a beautiful winter green + chicory salad and gem-shaded glasses of wine. The combination of bubbling cubes of brothy bread and caramelized onions silkily merging with molten threads of cheese is knee-buckling. It’s the perfect example of a short list of the simplest ingredients coming together into something much more than then sum of their parts.My Favorite Panade Recipe
I’ve baked variations of this panade in the years since, and it never disappoints. It’s endlessly adaptable, meaning that you can add seasonal ingredients to suit your fancy. For example, in my case, I do a vegetarian version by switching up the broth, and I like my onions on the caramelized side of the spectrum. I’ll add whatever sautéed greens or roasted vegetables I have around. Judy also listed a range of ideas and variations in the cookbook, so if you have it (and you should!) be sure to have a glance at those for year-round inspiration. Her original had chard. I use lots of scallions in mine. In short, it’s one of those IYKYK recipes. Molly Wizenberg knew what was up way back in 2005 when she wrote about the Judy panade recipe here

I’m going to dive in and answer a number of questions here that might pop up. The ingredient list for this panade couldn’t be simpler, but the devil is in the details and navigating personal preferences.Close-up of Panade in Cast-iron Casserole

What Kind of Bread for this Panade?

The short answer is a good, chewy artisan sourdough loaf. That said, I will also argue that a lot of this is personal preference. If you bake sourdough at home, by all means, use that. Either one of these choice will likely result in a nicely structured panade with nice distinction between some of the components. The bread choice is such a big deal in this recipe, each one will impact your end result immensely. I learned the hard way when I used a more commercial sourdough loaf to make the panade one night – much finer crumb, less/no chewiness, and I’m guessing it was 100% all-purpose flour. The resulting panade broke down too far, into an unstructured slump. You want the bread to put up a fight and hold a bit of tension. Not go to mush altogether.
Panade before baking

Crust or no Crust?

There are arguments for both. The panade here retained the crust on the bread cubes. But I’ve done crustless versions before. If you decide you love a super oozy, silky panade, go crustless. If you like your panade to have more structure, keep your crust. Or go 50/50!Preparing bread in large bowl before assembling panade.

What is the Best Broth for Panade?

We tend to use whatever good-tasting broth we have around or in the freezer (defrost). I love an herby broth for this scallion and chive version, but if you’re in a pinch grab a bouillon cube or two and go from there. Judy uses a chicken broth in her recipe (which doesn’t work for vegetarians), but I’ve had great results with mushroom broth, and corn broth along with roasted cherry tomatoes and goat cheese in the panade. I’ve even used spicy bean broth.Ingredients for panade arranged on countertop.

Can I use a Different Cheeses in this Panade?

You can! I call for Gruyere, but mention in the headnote that one of my favorite versions ended up being a blend of Gruyere, Parmesan, and Pecorino cheeses. I prefer slightly assertive cheeses for the panade, with at least a portion being a cheese that oozes when melted. For example, I wouldn’t reach for a mozzarella – too mild.Sourdough bread for panade recipe.

Can I Make this Ahead of Time?

I often make the caramelized onions ahead of time. And then any other fillings that I might be able to pre-roast. 

Soupy versus Dry-ish Panades

Again, this is personal preference. After you bake panade once or twice you’ll start to get a sense of what style you prefer. You can go the soup-is route by adding more broth. Or lean into more of a stuffing vibe with less broth. The recipe below aims to hit the mark where the panade is transitioning from a stuffing-like texture, into silkier magic, not-yet-in-soup territory.
My Favorite Panade Recipe
This recipe is a warming, hearty, winter warmer. It looks so rustic, but the silkiness down in the depths is what’s incredibly surprising. It’s the ultimate comfort dish that I hope you enjoy as much as I have over the years. Thanks to Jamie & Chanda & Bonni for our SF panade dinners, we miss them (and you) so much!

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Giant Chipotle Baked Beans

A riff on Laurence Jossel’s famous NOPA beans – plump, creamy beans baked in a bright, chunky chipotle tomato sauce, topped with crunchy breadcrumbs, plenty of oozy queso fresco, and an emerald drizzle of cilantro pesto.

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Food & Wine magazine’s Emily Kaiser wrote an article in November of 2008 that highlighted two of my favorite things: Steve Sando’s Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, and a bean recipe from NOPA – a restaurant that was just a short walk from my front door for many years. I’ve enjoyed Laurence Jossel’s beans countless times, both at the restaurant and by making them in my own kitchen. I even brought them to Thanksgiving one year. Imagine plump, creamy beans baked in a bright, chunky tomato sauce, topped with crunchy breadcrumbs, plenty of tangy crumbled feta, and an emerald drizzle of oregano-parsley pesto. I love his original recipe, but the last time I made them I decided to add a few of my own twists. I did a subtly smoky chipotle-version of the tomato sauce, a cilantro drizzle, kale, whole grain bread crumbs, and queso fresco cheese. I’m including the recipe down below.
Chipotle Baked Beans

Make Ahead Magic

One of the great things about this recipe is that you can do many of the components ahead of time. You can boil the dried beans, make the pesto, make the tomato sauce, and toast the breadcrumbs. None of which are exceedingly difficult. You can then assemble the components in a flash, and into the oven it goes. Perfect for when you have friends over.
Chipotle Baked Beans

Can I Use Canned Beans?

I’m sure someone is going to ask, so I’ll answer ahead of time – how about substituting canned beans? Ok – here’s the deal – in my experience canned beans lack the structure that beans cooked from scratch have. The canned guys tend to break and go to mush far more quickly. In this recipe they will likely work, but won’t hold up as well. The flavor will be fine, but the texture will be a different beast. If you go this route, don’t skimp on the bread crumbs.
Chipotle Baked Beans
Give these beans a try (either version!), they are outrageously good. The shot above is the recipe in progress, before baking. And the photo below is the beans prior to soaking. They’re huge. You’re looking for beans the size of your thumb prior to soaking for this recipe. I make some suggestion for different types in the recipe below.
Chipotle Baked Beans

Also! There are no shortage of bean recipes on this site. The ones I make most often are these homemade refried beans, and if you’ve never cooked beans from dried, no problem! This post will show you how to cook beans that are simple and amazing.

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