Grilled Wedge Salad with Spicy Ranch Dressing

A delicious, crisp grilled wedge salad topped with a spicy ranch dressing, chives, and nuts. An all-time favorite summer salad.

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In the salad world wedge salads deliver the most payoff for the least amount of effort. There are few things simpler. Cut a head of iceberg lettuce into quarters, top with a favorite dressing, and flare it out with a few toppings. Done. It rides high on any plate and always brings the drama. And as much as I love a wedge salad, I love a grilled wedge salad even more. Add a minute or so on the grill before dressing and you have a gorgeous grilled wedge that you can serve alongside whatever else is coming off your grill, for example tofu burgers, or grilled versions of your favorite tartine. My version features a not-shy spicy ranch dressing along with pine nuts, and lots of chives.
Grilled Wedge Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Ranch Dressing on A Plate

How to Cut a Wedge Salad

I just want to highlight this, because it is one of the few ways this recipe could go south on you. Cut each head of lettuce into quarters through the stem. The core will help keep each wedge together. Take a glance at the photos if this is confusing. Basically, cutting the lettuce “around the equator” is a no. Trim any less than beautiful leaves from the outside.
Iceberg Lettuce Wedges Ready for the Grill

The Keys to Grilling Wedge Salad

The key to perfect grilled lettuce is being organized and having the grill at the right temperature. You want a relatively hot grill. On a hot grill your lettuce quickly gets all the grill goodness where it touches the grate, but the core stays nice and crisp and structured. My grill has a temperature gauge on it. I heat it to 400F, quickly arrange the lettuce wedges cut side down across the hottest zones and leave them there for 30-45 seconds. This is long enough to take on some color. Then quickly (and carefully) turn each wedge onto its second cut side, grill another 30-45 seconds and boom, you’re done. Get them off the grill as soon as possible. If you’re grilling all sorts of other stuff, the wedges go on last.
Wedge Salad Cut into Quarters Ready for Dressing

Adding a Spicy Element to your Dressing

You have some latitude here! I’ve made this spicy ranch dressing with a range of spicy ingredients, and sriracha, curry paste, and salsa negra all work great. The version you see pictured here was made with sriracha. Or you can skip the spicy altogether, it’s completely your call.
Iceberg Lettuce After Grilling on a Sheet Pan

Wedge Salad Variations and Toppings

There are a thousand different directions you can take a wedge salad like this. I’m going to throw out some ideas, but if you have your own favorite, please leave it in the comments!

  • Wedge Salad with Turmeric Buttermilk Dressing: This was a favorite version. Skip the spicy in this recipe and substitute 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric. It lends a beautiful yellow vibrancy to the dressing and it’s a delicious swap. I like this version with toasted almond slices for the crunchy component.
  • Classic Wedge Salad: You can skip the grill altogether.  A lot of people like some sort of blue cheese dressing here, but if I’m going to go iceberg wedge, I’m going to opt for ranch or other creamy buttermilk dressing. 
  • Topping ideas: I love tiny croutons here. Big ones tend to slide right off the wedge whereas smaller ones get lodged in the cracks and crevices. Roasted tomatoes are A+ as a finishing touch, they meld with the dressing and it’s omg good. Tiny cubes of avocado are great, as is a sprinkling of minced olives. Breadcrumbs are also a win – especially extra garlicky ones. I added some pretty home grown chive blossoms here along with the chives for some extra flavor and prettiness.

Grilled Wedge Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Ranch Dressing on A Plate

Happy grilling! -h

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Coconut Rum Cake

A special rum cake baked with equal parts coconut, sugar, and flour, and lots of rum. Imagine a toasted coconut macaroon in cake form and you’ve got the idea.

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My love for rum cakes runs deep. If yours does too, this is the cake for you. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but this beauty is basically a toasted coconut macaroon in cake form – doused in rum. It has a strip of freeze-dried raspberries baked in, but if you prefer pineapple, that swap is also really great. Sometimes I skip the fruit all together & let the rum really take center stage. A dusting of powdered sugar before serving makes it pretty.
Super Moist Coconut Rum Cake

Fruit or No fruit? What Kind?

You can see the strip of fruit (raspberries) in the rum cake in the photos above and below here. I’ve been using freeze-dried fruit a lot in my baking lately because it has incredibly intensity, color, and none of the moisture that goes along with fresh or frozen fruit. It works particularly well in cookies, cakes, quick breads, crusts, etc. Not as great for fruity fillings, although you could use it as a boost or accent as a percentage of the overall filling.
Slice of Coconut Rum Cake on Plate

Rum Cake Add-Ins

Aside from the raspberries, the recipe below is quite straightforward, a great coconut rum cake canvas. From there you can take in in oh-so-many directions. Sometimes I add spices – a bit of Vietnamese cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg is alway welcome. Grated makrut lime is amazing if you use freeze-dried pineapple in place of the raspberries. To be honest, you can’t really go wrong adding citrus zest in general – lime, lemon, Meyer lemon, orange – or a blend. All good. Last idea – how about a Dark ‘N’ Stormy rum cake? You could add dried ginger, candied ginger, and/or grated ginger. Along with the coconut? Yes please.
Cake Sliced on Marble Counter

What Type of Rum Makes the Best Rum Cake?

Like most other recipes that call for alcohol in them, use wine (or in this case rum), choose something you drink anyway. It should taste delicious. On the rum front for this recipe there is a range of rums to choose from. I like a good-quality dark or spiced rum for this cake – the more flavor the better. 

Ingredients for Coconut Rum Cake Recipe

Transferring the Cake Batter into the Pan

I just want to call out the way I build this cake. I fill the baking pan two-thirds full with cake batter, and then sprinkle with the raspberries. After that I use a fork to poke and work the berries down into the batter just a bit. Lastly, top with the remaining batter (see below), and give the whole pan a couple good thwaps on your counter. This gives you a nice, condensed stripe of berries along the base of the finished rum cake. You could, of course, fold the raspberries into the batter along with the rest of the flour mixture, so they’re more evenly dispersed, but I like this version best.
Layering Cake Batter with Raspberries

How to Apply the Rum Syrup

This cake itself isn’t huge, but it can take on a good amount of rum. You can see my set up in the photo below. That is the cake hot out of the oven, just turned out of the pan. It is on a cooking rack arranged over a rimmed baking sheet. The rim on on the baking sheet keeps any run-away rum in the pan and off the counter. Be sure to brush the rum syrup all over the tops, sides, and inside the center of the cake.

Coconut Rum Cake Cooling After Baking on a Rack

Turning Cake into Rum Cake

There are other ways to get the rum syrup into the cake as well. You can pour half of it over the cake while it is still warm and in the pan. Turn the cake out after that and finish by topping it with the remaining rum. I like this approach in theory, and you’ll see it used in alot of other recipes, but the syrup tends to break down the crumb of the cake a bit, and you’re more likely to have trouble getting the cake out of the pan. I play it safe, and glaze after the turnout.
Rum Cake Dusted with Powdered Sugar
The finished rum cake dusted with lots of powdered sugar just before serving.

Cross-section Photo of Cake
Here’s a close-up of a cross-section of the cake…
Fork and Slice of Cake

What type of Coconut?

One last thing, you really want to get the coconut right here. The key is unsweetened, dried coconut. And it’s important that it is finely grated. I see a lot of big-flake coconut in the stores now, and I love it, but it’s not right for this cake. If you want to get that nice, moist crumb you see in the pics, get the finely grated – I usually grab the Bob’s Red Mill brand for this cake if I see it in the store.
Coconut Rum Cake in Kitchen
I hope you really enjoy this rum cake! It’s incredibly moist, tasty, and versatile. Aside from this cake I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately, both sweet and savory. I call out a few recent favorites that you might also enjoy as well. There’s this beautiful braided onion bread, this zucchini bread, cinnamon rolls forever, and this easy little bread made with rolled oats and whole wheat flours. These brownies are my absolute favorite, and everyone loves this Violet Bakery Chocolate Devils’ Food Cake. Happy baking! -h

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Baked Artichoke Dip

This simple artichoke dip hits all the crowd-pleasing notes of the classic version, but cuts way back on the mayo-bomb aspect. And guess what? No-one can tell the difference. I still use a bit of mayo, but incorporate some silken tofu and greek yogurt.

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The foundation of classic artichoke dip is basically the following: a can of artichokes (drained & chopped), a cup of mayonnaise, and about a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. The ratio might be slightly different depending on the cook, but many recipes for artichoke dip build on this adding garlic and other seasonings from there. My take-away? That’s a lot of mayo. Some recipes use an even higher ratio. The version I make hits all the crowd-pleasing notes of the classic version, but it cuts way back on the mayo-bomb aspect. Guess what? No-one can tell the difference.
Artichoke Dip with Cracker
I still use a bit of mayo, but incorporate some silken tofu and greek yogurt. I also up the ratio of artichokes to creamy ingredients. You still get indulgent goodness of the original, but this version puts the artichokes back up front, delivers some protein with the tofu and yogurt, and still retains the spirit of the party dip few of us can resist. So let’s get into the specifics.
Artichoke Dip Ingredients in a Blender

Smooth versus Chunky Artichoke Dip?

There is some debate regarding which is better – chunky or smooth artichoke dip? I prefer smooth. A quick pulse in a blender, food processor, or with a hand blender brings things together into a base that bakes up extra creamy. I’ve also found that kids tend to like the smooth version best. Probably because there is nothing identifiable as offensive in there. Laugh / cry. But if you like a bit more texture simply use chopped artichokes and skip the blending stage, or just go super easy on it.Blended Artichokes

Canned versus Frozen Artichokes?

Frozen artichokes are getting increasingly easy to find and, generally speaking, I like their flavor more than the water-packed canned artichokes. It’s kind of like the difference between canned corn and frozen corn. There’s no contest, frozen corn is going to be the winner every time, right? That said both canned and frozen artichokes work great for this recipe. I used jars of artichokes for the photos here and it was delicious as ever. The main thing is to aim for roughly one pound of artichokes – each jar or can usually yields about 1/2 pound of artichokes once they’ve been drained.
Pre-baked Dip sprinkled with Grated Cheese

Artichoke Dip Goes Great With…

The key here is crunch. Artichoke dip is creamy magic best scooped onto your favorite crunchy snack staples. For example:

  • Toasted Homemade Pita Chips
  • Toasted baguette slices rubbed with garlic
  • Seeded crackers
  • Crudités’
  • Tortilla chips or fresh tortillas

Baked Artichoke Dip on a Countertop with Crackers

Put it on Everything!

i alway regret not making more artichoke dip while I’m at it. At the very least a double batch. There are just so many fantastic ways to put it to use. If you make extra you’ve got a great component to slather on everything. Stop thinking of it as a dip and reframe it as a spread or stuffing. Especially this version. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Slathered across good pizza dough before baking. I especially love this for a spring-summer pizza with ingredients like fava beans, asparagus, and artichoke hearts. Dollop with a bit of great pesto or citrus paste just before serving.
  • Use leftovers as a dumpling or ravioli filling.
  • Dolloped on hot baked potatoes or baked sweet potatoes. Finish with something extra crunchy like fried shallots, sesame seeds or toasted almonds.
  • Seems obvious, but worth saying, it makes an incredible panini or sandwich spread. Even better on your veggie burger.
  • Taco Night! A slather on a homemade tortilla just before adding your other fillings is a thing of beauty.
  • It’s great as a replacement for ricotta in stuffed shells. Or you could go half and half. Throw some citrus zest in there while you’re at it.
  • Up your deviled egg game! Stir any leftover dip into your deviled egg filling, it’s an unexpected twist on classic deviled eggs.
  • Use it as a slather on bruschetta. Top with lots of chives and pine nuts.

Close up of Baked Artichoke Dip

Artichoke Dip Variations

There are so many ways to tweak this recipe. Here are just a few ideas.

  • Spinach Artichoke Dip – add a cup of well-chopped spinach (or frozen spinach) to your artichoke dip. You can add it to the blender ingredients, or you can stir it in later with the Parmesan cheese. The later leaves the spinach flecks visible for a classic spinach artichoke dip result.
  • Spicy Artichoke Dip – I already call for 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder in this recipe and that delivers a bit of bite. That said, you can swap in other spicy flavor profiles if you like. Start by swapping  in a tablespoon or so of any of the following, and adjust from there with more to your liking: green curry paste, green harissa, or zhoug.
  • Artichoke Dip Finished with Indian Tempering Spices – This is absolutely delicious. If you toast  a handful of curry leaves in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and then add mustard seeds, a bit of cumin, chopped garlic, and some extra crumbled dried chile you’ll have an incredible finishing oil. Pour, hot from the skillet, over the golden-baked artichoke dip just before serving.
  • Artichoke Dip with Garlicky Breadcrumb Topping – I usually finish this dip with a simple dusting of grated cheese. But if I’m feeling a bit more ambitious, I’ll pile a generous amount of day-old bread crumbs that I’ve tossed with lots of olive oil, minced garlic, and the grated cheese. It results in the perfect crunch top to counter the dippy smooth and creamy.

Baked Artichoke Dip in Ceramic Dish

One last thing – this is actually a great do-ahead recipe. You can bake it off in any sized dish you like and the smell of the baking artichokes and toasting cheese provides a deliciously fragrant backdrop to any get together. Pop the artichoke dip into the oven roughly half an hour before friends come over, just in time to welcome everyone!

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Heidi’s Coffee Cake

A stunner of a coffee cake with extra thick streusel topping and blueberries bursting into the tender crumb in dramatic fashion. Rustic and rye flour based.

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There are two main reasons people love this coffee cake. First, the streusel topping doesn’t skimp. There’s plenty piled on for the crumble fans. Second, it’s wonderfully rustic and full of freshly baked flavor. There are a lot of coffee cake recipes out there that are beautifully cinnamon-streaked and sweet, but I like a bit more depth and range of ingredients in my buttermilk-based batter. Rye flour, old-fashioned oats, and brown sugar are my secret weapons here.
Heidi's Coffee Cake

This is a great cake to go along with an afternoon espresso and chat with a friend. Or to take on a picnic or day in the car. It’s a stunner of a cake without being fussy. The blueberries burst and bleed into the crumb of the cake in dramatic fashion. The crumble crust plays off the tenderness of the cake nicely, so be sure to get a bit of it in every bite.
Berries for Coffee Cake

Favorite Coffee Cake Variations

Maple Huckleberry Coffee Cake: This has long been a favorite variation of mine. I like to add a bit of thyme and rosemary from my herb garden. Just a hint to play off the berries and perfume the cake – barely a whisper.  Swap in whole wheat pastry flour for the rye flour. And Add 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme and 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary. Lastly and the zest of one lemon to the dry ingredients of the cake. And if you can get your hands on wild huckleberries trade those in for the blueberries

Cherry Almond Coffee Cake: It’s cherry season right now, feel free to swap out the blueberries for chopped (pitted) cherries. Use chopped almonds in place of the walnuts, and almond extract in place of vanilla extract if you have it.

Michelle in the comments used chopped mission figs in hers, a brilliant idea. Generally speaking, on the fruit front, if it’s juicy, fruity, and goes with maple I suspect it’ll be good here, so play around.
Heidi's Coffee Cake

How to Store this Cake

I like to enjoy this cake warm, or at room temperature. That said if you have leftovers after a day or so I tend to slide it right back into the pan on its parchment paper, cover, and refrigerate from there for up to 4-5 days. Bring up to room temperature before eating or pop it a hot oven to reheat for ten minutes or so.

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A Maximalist Potato Salad

If you’re looking for a simple potato salad – this isn’t it. But this maximalist take is worth making regardless. The details: tender potatoes are loaded with chiles, chopped herbs, garlic & whatever bright, fresh vegetables you have on hand.

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If you’re looking for a simple potato salad – this isn’t it. But have a look at this more maximalist take regardless. You want this in your life, I promise. It’s vibrating with flavor and color, and incredibly good. The details: tender potatoes are loaded with chiles, chopped herbs, garlic & whatever bright, fresh vegetables you have on hand. Right now, for me, that means asparagus from the market, fava beans from the garden, and peas from the freezer. I haven’t managed to get peas to flourish in our garden plot, but that’s a story for another day.
A Maximalist Potato Salad
Let’s talk about a few things before you jump into the recipe! First, it makes a substantial difference if you use spices that are on point and fresh. If your cumin has been collecting dust for years, this may be the opportunity to reboot. In an effort to avoid repeating the cycle, keep that new cumin (and another spice or two?) on your counter for the next couple of weeks. And use them. It’s an opportunity to make an effort to cook with what is in front of you, learn more about what techniques bring out the flavor of those spices (crushing, tempering, or roasting for example), and generally keep them top of mind. This is one way I end up discovering all sorts of ingredient combinations I love. A few go-to spice sources for me (off the top of my head) include Épices Rœllinger, Diaspora Co., Burlap and Barrel, and Épices de Cru. A favorite local Indian grocery also has a growing organic spice selection that I like to browse regularly as well.
A Maximalist Potato Salad
I came home with a haul of fresh curry leaves from that same store the other day – and it’s a big part of what inspired this potato salad. I love the fragrance and texture of fried curry leaves whenever I encounter them – for ex: in Sri Lanka and Southern India they are used often – and buy them to cook with whenever I can. A side note, I’ve also had my eye on an eight-foot curry tree at a nearby nursery but it is too large to fit in the car, turning the purchase of the tree into a bigger project. I’m also worried it might not thrive in our yard, which I think is basically a bit of top soil, and then sand. :/

So, on the curry leaf front: I always buy extra, and freeze a bunch. As a rule of thumb, I generally freeze any that I don’t think I’ll use in the next 10 days. After freezing, they’re not as fragrant as fresh, the color shifts a bit and the texture changes, but they do the job and it’s nice to have them on hand. As I mention in the headnotes below, an alternative to curry leaves in this recipe is a big handful of chopped fresh basil. A different preparation altogether, but fragrant, summery, and wonderful. Other ideas? Add some citrus zest. Or, I could imagine a version with slivered, fresh makrut lime leaves in place of the curry leaves. Just a bit of encouragement to experiment and play around.
A Maximalist Potato Salad
What you see is a very spring version of this potato salad, but maybe you’re seeing this in August? A summer version would be A+ as well. Experiment with grilled corn, roasted tomatoes, and green beans in place of the asparagus, favas, and peas. Also! I’ll also take this opportunity to call out a detail here. Don’t serve this potato salad straight from the refrigerator or cold. It’s really much better just after tossing the hot potatoes with the garlicky curry-spice oil. Or, if you make it ahead of time, let it come up to room temperature before serving. 
A Maximalist Potato Salad
Enjoy! And if you’re on the hunt for more potato recipes, a few favorites include sea-salt baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, homemade gnocchi. There’s also a whole list of potato recipes here. Also, this is the time of year to have a couple go-to summery BBQ salad-type recipes on-hand like this Lime-blistered Coleslaw, Grilled Zucchini & Bread Salad, the Sriracha Rainbow Noodle Salad, this Coconut Corn Salad, and a more classic Macaroni Salad.

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Sunny Citrus Recipes + How to Use Lots of Citrus

Favorite citrus recipes and all the ways I put a big box of citrus to use this week. Oranges, Meyer and Eureka lemons, mandarins, and grapefruits are all in the mix.

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The abundance of homegrown citrus this time of year in Los Angeles is a peak reason I love being a Californian. You see front yard Meyer lemon trees groaning with yellow orbs. Pomelos and grapefruits frame driveways, and trees impossibly heavy with oranges regularly warrant a double-take. Being surround with this much citrus is happy-making. Especially if you can get your hands on it. And did I ever. My dad’s neighbors generously dropped off a huge crate of Meyers, mandarins, oranges, and Eureka lemons the other day – a legit “bend with your knees” box. So here I am jotting down the ways I’ve been using it, saving it, and the citrus recipes I’ve been making all week.

Ginger Grapefruit Curd

A Week in Citrus

I thought I’d start by talking through everything I’ve done with citrus in the past week. It has been a mix! I’ll include recipes down below for the pastes and syrups.

  • Kosho: I started a batch of Meyer lemon kosho. Kosho is traditionally a spicy, fermented Japanese Yuzu paste, but because lemons are more plentiful here, I tend to use them.
  • Citrus Peel Pastes: I also blended Meyer lemon, Eureka, and orange peels into a number of quick (unfermented) pastes, and froze them in single use quantities. I’ll write up the recipes down below. I use them to season and boost everything! From pastas and soups to rice bowls and roasted vegetable tacos.
  • Most of the mandarins were simply peeled and popped into mouths, but a few have made it into my favorite citrus salad (I’ll highlight that down below).
  • Meyer Lemon & Rose Geranium No-heat Syrup: I love the intensity of no-heat syrups, and made a thick, intensely flavored Meyer lemon syrup by massaging lots of lemon peel with sugar and rose geranium leaves.
  • Orange No-heat Syrup: Same process as the lemon syrup, but kept it to orange peel here. See the recipe below.
  • Citrus Ice Cubes: After peeling citrus and making pastes or syrups, all of the juice was frozen in ice cube trays for future use in drinks, granitas, soups, etc.

Favorite Citrus Salad from Super Natural Simple Cookbook

My Favorite Citrus Salad

I love this salad. It has a mix of citrus segments, peanuts, red onions, a few saffron threads and almond extract along with good olive oil. The recipe is in Super Natural Simple which will be out next month. There’s more information (and so many good soups & salads) here.

Oranges Being Peeled

How To Efficiently Peel Citrus

Ok, let’s talk about peeling citrus. There was a lot of it going on this week. Peeling citrus isn’t a quick task. Know that going in, and you’ll enjoy the process much more. I basically have three moves (see below). 1. Start with clean, dry citrus, and slice citrus from top to bottom in wide slabs. 2. Trim all the bitter pith away. To do this, keep the peel flat agains the cutting board, and trim away from yourself. 3. Scrape any remaining pith from peel with the dull or “flip-side” of a knife.
How To Peel Citrus

What about the Juice?

Lots of peel means lots of juice. Sometimes we just drink it, or use it over the coming days. But, if you freeze the juice in ice cube trays you end up with easy to thaw portions for use in dressing, granitas, soups, curries – basically any place where you can imagine a sunny citrus boost!

Meyer Lemon Ice Cubes

So Many Ways To Use Citrus Peel Pastes

Citrus peel pastes are fragrant flavor blasts. You can make them as simple or complex as you want. I tend to keep mine pretty straightforward, but love the addition of garlic – quite a lot of it. You might add spice blends, mix citruses, you could use other oils in place of olive oil, etc. Here’s how I put them to use after making them:

Orange & Garlic Citrus Paste (recipe below) is super garlicky and was amazing combined with a healthy amount of cayenne pepper, water, and coconut milk to make a beautiful broth for soba noodles – season with more salt to taste to make it just right. I also put a dollop on my lunchtime chana masala and loved the way it brightened everything up. It was also incredibly good dolloped on top of a bowl of this Fire Broth Noodle Soup. And lastly, I used it as a finishing accent on roasted vegetable tacos (cauliflower & mushroom) on homemade corn tortillas. Orange & Garlic Citrus Paste is pictured below.

Meyer Lemon & Garlic Citrus Paste (recipe below) was perfect tossed with a bowl of pan-fried golden artichoke hearts. The next day I tossed a generous amount  of the citrus paste with hot noodles, extra olive oil, pasta water, lots of scallions, a bit of torn mozzarella, herbs and broccoli – so good! And it was the perfect slather across the top of a simple buckwheat and gruyere crepe the other night. 
Orange Peel and Garlic Paste in a Blender

No-Heat Citrus Peel Syrups

Heating fruit changes the flavor profile. As I mentioned up above,  I love the intensity, and uncooked clarity that rings through citrus peel syrups. Made by patiently massaging citrus peels with sugar and leaving to macerate, you strain and end up with an intense, full-bodied syrup to use in countless ways. A favorite this week was an easy drinking dark rum cocktail made with a splash of orange syrup, a shot of dark rum, shaken with tons of ice and topped off with pampelmousse La Croix, and a kiss of lime juice.

Bottle of Homemade Meyer Lemon Syrup
Making Homemade Orange Syrup

Cookbooks Focused on Citrus Recipes

Citri – I love this little 60-ish page cookbook zine by Loria Stern. I’ve encountered Loria and her beautiful creations a number of times since moving to Los Angeles (thanks to Jessica & Joanna), and she made sure I had Citri at the perfect time – peak citrus season. It’s a love letter to citrus with 25 bright and brilliant recipes.
Citri Cookbook with Pink Cover and Yellow Spiral Binding 

Also, have a look at Citrus : Sweet and Savory Sun-Kissed Recipes by Valerie Aikman-Smith and Victoria Pearson, Pucker: A Cookbook for Citrus Lovers by Gwendolyn Richards, and also Citrus: 150 Recipes Celebrating the Sweet and the Sour by Catherine Phipps. 

More Citrus Recipes from the Archives

There are a lot of citrus-centric recipes in the 101 archives, and I’ll put them in the related searches below, but these two recipes have been exceptionally popular over the years. A few years back, I also linked out to a bunch of great winter citrus recipes here.
Candied Citrus Pops
Candied Citrus Lollipops: Two-ingredient magic. Plump, juicy, citrus segments coated in thin, crunchy, sugar shells. They’re the perfect, delightful sweet treat.
Citrus Salt
A Spectrum of Citrus Salts: Citrus salts made from all sorts of winter citrus zest – clementines, wild lime, Meyer lemon, kalamansi oranges, and mandarinquats. Couldn’t be simpler.

Let me know your favorite ultra citrus centric recipes and resources. And in the meantime, I hope you find a bit of inspiration here, especially with the citrus peel pastes. Enjoy! -h

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Homemade Cavatelli

Simple, homemade cavatelli pasta is a super fun shape to make! Pictured here spiked with turmeric and black pepper, and topped with roasted winter vegetables and Parmesan.

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I spent most of the past four months in Northern California at my dad’s house. After my mom died everyone converged on the house, and in short order a lot of other things fell apart. No one went home for a long time. I made some strange decisions about what to bring when I loaded the car that initial morning – watercolors, a stack of cookbooks, my camera, a favorite knife, a huge bin full of spices. I thought about bringing my favorite donabe, but was worried it could break and grabbed my pasta machine instead. Not a bad call – a lot of pasta was made! My nephew is especially enthusiastic about it, so I decided to branch out to a new shape – cavatelli.
Homemade Cavatelli Pasta
The move to cavatelli was partially out of necessity. My workhorse, the Atlas pasta machine, has issues at my dad’s house. There is nothing to clamp it on to. Every countertop and table is too thick. It’s maddening. I noticed the clamp on the cavatelli maker seemed like it might be wider, so I thought we’d try it instead. It is also worth mentioning, I’ve been meaning to buy a cavatelli maker for years. Ragazza, a sweet little Italian spot, was just up the street from where we lived in San Francisco. The owner Sharon tipped me off to how she made their cavatelli from scratch with a little hand-cranked machine (something like this one) – and I’ve meant to get my hands on once since. This seemed like the right time.
Pasta Dough Rolled thin for Cavatelli

About this Cavatelli Recipe

After a good amount of experimenting, I’ve settled on the following as my basic cavatelli dough and technique. Once you master it, the variations you can explore are endless (see below). The cavatelli machine likes pasta dough that’s not-too-wet and not-too-dry. If you hit the sweet spot, you’ll be able to crank out a pound of cavatelli incredibly quickly. If your dough is getting stuck in your machine, pat it with flour, dust off any excess, and try again. You’ll eventually get a feel for it!
Homemade Cavatelli and Cavatelli Machine

What if I don’t have a Cavatelli Machine?

Not a big deal! You can make it by hand a number of other ways. Here’s a page that demonstrates how to shape cavatelli with a ridged board, fork, or grater. I’ve also seen it shaped traditionally in Puglia using something like a butter knife.
Close-up Photo of Cavatelli

What Flour Should I Use?

Cavatelli is traditionally made with durum wheat semolina flour. But, if you don’t have that on hand, don’t let it stop you. Last week I was out of semolina flour, so the cavatelli you see pictured here was made with “00” flour. “00” is powder-fine and made with low gluten, soft wheat flour. If you don’t have “00” you can certainly use all-purpose flour. A long way of saying, make cavatelli with 100% semolina flour if you have it, or use equal parts “00” and semolina, or just “00″….go for the all-purpose flour if that’s what you have.
Homemade Cavatelli with Roasted Winter Vegetables

How To Freeze Cavatelli

Freezing is my preferred method of storing any cavatelli I’m not cooking immediately. Arrange freshly made, uncooked cavatelli across a floured baking sheet. Try to make sure they’re in a single layer. Freeze for a couple of hours, and then transfer to double layer plastic bags. You can freeze for up to a couple of months. And you can cook straight from the freezer. No need to thaw, just dump the cavatelli into boiling salted water, and increase the cooking time a bit.
Roasted Vegetables

Cavatelli Variations

In the recipe below you can see how you can tweak basic cavatelli pasta dough by adding different seasonings and spices. I wanted to make a bright, sunny plate of pasta with lots of roasted yellow and orange vegetables and ingredients like cauliflower, golden yellow beets, and winter squash (pictured above). I added turmeric and black pepper to the pasta dough for a little flavor, color, and boost. The possibilities are endless here.
Homemade Cavatelli Pasta

You can also play around with the water. In place of water you can use vegetable juices, purees, stocks or broths, anything of that sort is fair game.Close-up Photo of Homemade Cavatelli Pasta
Making fresh pasta is one of my favorite things to do. It’s even better when you have others around to help, taking turns in shifts. I did a basic primer on making homemade pasta a while ago, if you love fettuccine noodles or anything along those lines, start there. You can also try making gnocchi (it’s perfect with this pesto), here’s a beautiful beet fettuccine, and a favorite simple tomato sauce. And all my pasta recipes live here. Enjoy!

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Sourdough Galette with Delicata Squash

A fully loaded winter sourdough galette topped with delicata squash, green chile yogurt, shallots, and scallions.

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What you see here is a fully loaded winter galette. I started making it a few months back inspired by a recipe in Sarah Owens’ masterful Sourdough book. Her whole-grain boosted sourdough crust caught my attention. I also didn’t need convincing related to the garlic-spiked labneh slathered beneath summery toppings. I don’t need to tell most of you, as I type this, we are a long way from summer.

Sourdough Galette with Delicata Squash
Sarah’s galette was loaded with beautiful tomatoes, but by the time I spotted her recipe, tomatoes were long gone for the year. My tart needed to be more of a winter affair, and the delicata squash and shallots I had on hand seemed a natural evolution. I’ve baked this galette four or five times since, and it’s omg-so-good. If you love savory tarts this is for you. And please don’t sweat it if you don’t maintain a sourdough starter, I’ll note a couple alternative paths you can take down below.
Sourdough Galette with Delicata Squash

Make it Easy!

This galette is a bit of a project if you start from zero at late in the evening with dinner as your intention. Pre-make most of the components when you have a few minutes here or there in the days prior, and it will come together effortlessly when you’re ready to bake the finale.

What Can you Do Ahead of Time?

You can make the dough for the crust and freeze or refrigerate. You can pre-make the yogurt spread in five minutes – total breeze. And if you roast the delicata and shallots the night before (or have them as a component of your meal that day) you can use the leftovers on the galette.

All the Toppings for a Sourdough Galette with Delicata Squash

What If You Don’t Have Sourdough Starter?

Here’a another tart crust I love – you can simply swap in this one. Alternately, you can follow the recipe below omitting the sourdough starter, and adding and extra 25g of ice water and 25g flour in its place. Adjust with a bit of extra water or flour depending on the feel of the dough. If you want to maintain your own sourdough starter, there are endless books, and tutorials on how to do that, or you might ask your local bakery if they could spare a bit of theirs instead of starting from scratch!

Garlic and Green Chile Spiked Yogurt

Kitchen Scales are the Best!

This recipe is written in weights (I meant to convert for volumes, but ran out time trying to pop off photos before it got dark! Apologies). If you bake a lot, I’m sure you’ve heard it before, a kitchen scale is a godsend. I love my Escali Primo, it costs roughly $20, and will last a long, long time. This tart dough has volume measurements if you are scale-less. Both are buttery, rich and crowd-pleasers.
Close-up Photo of Sourdough Galette with Delicata Squash
Extra credit! I love the cute, tiny seeds inside delicata squash, you can see them pictured here. Pre-roast them tossed with a bit of olive oil in a hot oven, and then sprinkle them on everything from tarts and salads, pastas and pizzas. It’s a bit of a pain to clean the gunk off them, but worth the extra effort.
Individual Slice of Sourdough Galette with Delicata Squash
I hope you all like this one, I was so excited to see how many of you made stunning braided breads! Xo to Sarah for the inspiration! 

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Braided Onion Bread

This braided onion bread is made with a rich, buttery, yeast-based dough. Each of the four strands in the braid is stuffed with a caramelized onion and grated cheese mixture.

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One of my first memories related to baking was a demonstration conducted at my kindergarten where bread dough was shaped into turtles, and birds, and elaborate braids. Scissors were used to create the tiny bread spikes on the backs of alligator and hedgehog-shaped loaves. Lobster claws got a snip up the center for visual effect and each figure was placed in an oven until puffy, golden, and fragrant. We were each allowed to take one home. The whole experience blew my five year-old mind. Braided Onion Bread filled With Caramelized Onions and Gruyere Cheese
I still like to bake elaborate braided loaves. Especially when things in my life are tumultuous. I made this one a couple of times prior to the holidays, and decided to make it again last week to photograph and share with you. It’s made with a rich, buttery, yeast-based dough. Each of the four strands in the braid is stuffed with a caramelized onion and grated cheese mixture. If you’ve never baked a braided loaf before, I’ll admit that stuffing the strands adds a layer of complexity, but the whole process is incredibly forgiving if you commit and keep going. If you look at the shape below and think “no way” just remember it’s a simple braid coiled into a snail shape. 
Braided Onion Bread Prior to Baking

The (Stuffed) Braided Bread Process

To make this bread you start by making beautiful yeast dough. You roll your dough into a rectangle, cut that rectangle into four strips, and then stuff each strand with awesomeness. I usually prepare the stuffing a day ahead of time, or the morning of the day I plan on baking. This gives the filling some time to cool. I’ve locked onto this onion-cheese combo lately, but you can imagine endless variations.

To fill the dough, you run the filling in a line up the middle of each of the four strips of dough. Fold them each in half, and then pinch the seam to seal the filling in. Now you have four filled strands that you’ll arrange side-by-side (below). Pinch them together at the top and start braiding (see diagram below). Coil the braid into a tight round, snail shape, let the dough rise, brush with an egg wash, and bake! 

Diagram of a Four Strand Braid

A Four-strand Braid

First, let me say – if you’re worried about trying the four-strand braid, I understand! If you want to fall back to a chubby three-strand bread braid the first time through, go for it. The main thing is to commit to the braid either way. Even if you’re convinced things aren’t going well. This feeling can be triggered by a few things. A common problem is strands splitting open to reveal the filling – just re-pinch and keep going. Or, you might feel like your strands keep stretching and getting longer and longer? It’s ok, you will coil them into a round shape. Keep braiding even if your strands are longer than your sheet pan. Boss the dough around a bit. If it’s too sticky, dust with a bit of flour. The main thing? Don’t get discouraged, keep going.

Braided Onion Bread filled With Caramelized Onions and Gruyere Cheese just After Baking
Please let me know if you bake a braided loaf, or send me a message on Insta. Or if you experiment with other fillings, please leave a comment. I can’t wait to see what you do with this one. I loved seeing all of you posting soup pics last week. xo – h

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How to Make Ghee

This is how to make ghee. It’s wonderful and simple! It’s a process I enjoy, and it yields one of my favorite cooking mediums. For those of you who might be unfamiliar, ghee is an unsalted butter that has had the milk solids removed after separating from the butterfat, resulting in beautiful, golden, pure fat with an unusually high smoking point.

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I make homemade ghee from good butter every few weeks. Making ghee is a process I enjoy, and it yields a wonderful cooking mediums. For those of you who might be unfamiliar, ghee is an unsalted butter that has had the milk solids removed after separating from the butterfat, resulting in beautiful, golden, pure fat with an unusually high smoking point. In short, this post is all about how to make ghee. And, yes! You should absolutely do it.

This means ghee (and its cousin, clarified butter) is remarkably stable, even at higher temperatures. The process for making clarified butter is similar to that of making ghee, ghee is simply cooked longer and has more contact with the browning milk solids, in turn lending a different flavor profile. So(!), there you have a basic description, but ghee is so much more than this.

How to Make Ghee - Start with Good Butter

What is Ghee?

Ghee is an ingredient deeply revered in India, most often made from the milk of the sacred cow. There are few ingredients that have been as culturally significant for as long. Although, as I think about it, in the Arab world, there is smen, another ancient dairy-based fat made, traditionally, from the milk of sheep and/or goat. I encountered it in Morocco. Both butters are clarified, and both have been used in ceremonial, healing, and culinary ways for millennia. Smen is funky, technically rotten, and distinctive – accurately titled beurre ranci in French. It is sometimes buried for months to develop its prized flavor. I don’t think there is a culture of celebrating rancid ghee in India (maybe someone can correct me?), but if your ghee does go rancid – which I have had happen on occasion when the kitchen is unusually warm, or if I wasn’t quite careful enough straining solids – you can simply think of it as Indian smen? A distinctive finishing flavor, no question.Butter in a Saucepan

Use in Ayurveda

If you set a glowing jar of ghee next to a cube of shortening, you just know, one of these supports life and vitality, and the other doesn’t. It’s the sort of thing you can just sense. In India, Ayurvedic physicians know ghee to be the good stuff, the liquid gold. It is considered vital for health and well-being, and is used to balance and support the body from the inside and the outside – eyes, memory, strength. It’s a fat that helps fat-soluble nutrients become available to the body. It is recommended for expectant mothers. And it is beautiful. Correspondingly, it can also be quite expensive to buy, particularly if it is from a good producer. The good news is, making it yourself is a simple, satisfying process.
Melted Butter in a Saucepan
Hot Ghee in a Saucepan

Tips to Cooking with Ghee

– Use less. If you’ve never cooked with ghee before, just go easy to start. I’ve found that I typically need less throughout the process compared with, say, olive oil.

– It loves a wok. Wok cooking or stir-fry is an exercise in high-temperature intensity. Which can be hard on oils, and you end up having the oils break down, and not in a good way. I don’t like using highly refined oils, the ones that are highly-processed, even though they advertise high smoke points. So, ghee is a good option, as long as it works for the flavors you are cooking. I don’t think it works alongside soy sauce, for example, but I’ll often use my wok to knock out a quick vegetable stir-fry, that is more California in spirit – a little oil, salt, lemon zest, vegetables – and ghee works great. Another alternative is extra-virgin coconut oil. It likes the wok too.

– Lastly, one for the die-hards. Some say the best ghee comes from homemade butter. Meaning, you first make butter from fresh cream, and then you set sights on turning that butter into delicious ghee. The extra step certainly turns a relatively easy endeavor into something more ambitious, but I thought I’d mention it for those of you who are up for a more extensive challenge. That doesn’t phase you? There are also examples of ghee made from water buffalo milk, and sheep’s milk. I’m not sure I could cite a goat’s milk example, but I’m sure that exists as well. A cook I spoke with in Rajasthan told me ghee tastes different in India, in part, because they use butter that has been cultured before proceeding, also the diet of the livestock there varies, and in turn the milk reflects this. Cultured butter is relatively easy to come by, so you can experiment with cultured vs. uncultured if you like.

Beautiful Ghee in a Jar

Other Uses for Ghee

Although I’ve made it a practice to prepare homemade ghee for some time now, I feel like there is so much I don’t know about its culture, ceremonial use, historical relevance, or simply the way it has been used in daily life. I know it is used to treat infection, to anoint gods and idols, and to power lamps that are thought to ward off evil and negativity. I’m sure there is much insight you can share from your own lives and experiences, and I’d love to hear whatever you’re compelled to share! -h

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