Posts filed under Recipes

RECIPE: Momery Apple Tart

My mom passed away 27 years ago. She’d take us apple picking as kids, and we always returned with way more apples than we could really use. So after we’d had apple pie, apple crisp, Apple Brown Betty, and applesauce, she’d challenge us to come up with a totally new recipe for apples. It’s a tradition I continue every year during apple season.
This year’s: Almond shortbread crust, vanilla pastry cream flavored with fresh apple cider syrup, baked Golden Delicious apples glazed with fresh cider syrup and drizzled with apple caramel.
 - Caroline, Los Angeles

Yield: 9-inch tart, serves 8

Almond Shortbread Crust

  • 1 ¼ c all purpose flour
  • 2 oz finely ground almonds (I use Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour)
  • ¼ c sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ c (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • ¾ tsp almond extract
  • 2 Tbs ice water
  • 4 oz white chocolate


  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Fill a glass with cold water and add a few ice cubes, set aside.
  2. Whirl  flour, almond flour, sugar and salt in processor until combined. Add diced butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the motor running, add almond extract and 1-2 Tbs ice water (from the glass) to form moist clumps.
  3. Dump mixture onto marble board or lightly floured surface and knead together to combine. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Freeze crust for 20 minutes.
  4. Place tart pan on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Check the crust and puncture any bubbles with a skewer. Continue to bake for another 12-14 minutes until the crust is a pale golden brown. Cool completely on baking sheet.
  5. Melt white chocolate gently in the microwave, in 10 seconds bursts, on lowest setting. Brush a thin layer of melted white chocolate over the bottom of the cooled crust. Set aside to set. (The white chocolate prevents the filling from making the bottom crust soggy.)
  6. Crust can be made one day ahead and kept in fridge or freezer, well wrapped in plastic wrap. (When moving the cooled crust from place to place, remember the removable bottom! Keep it on a baking sheet or flat plate.)

Apple Cider Syrup

Reduce 2 c fresh apple cider in a medium saucepan to about ⅓ cup. (I mostly just watch it and pull it off the heat when it’s syrupy rather than measuring.) Let cool.

Pastry Cream (makes about 3 cups)

  • 2 ¼ c whole milk, divided
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ⅔ c sugar, divided
  • ⅓ c cornstarch
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 Tbs cooled apple cider syrup


  1. In medium bowl, whisk together ½ cup milk, egg yolks, ⅓ cup sugar. Using a fine mesh sieve, sift the cornstarch over the mixture and gently whisk in.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the remaining 1¾ cups milk. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add the pod. Add remaining ⅓ cup sugar. Bring mixture to a simmer without stirring.
  3. Once simmering, whisk the hot milk mixture, then remove from heat and slowly whisk into egg yolk mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook, over medium heat, stirring constantly, until pastry cream simmers and thickens to a pudding consistency. (This can take anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes.)
  4. Remove from heat and fish out the vanilla pod. Add the 1 Tbs of cider syrup, and whisk the cream until smooth. Transfer the cream to a medium bowl. (If you have cornstarch clumps, press the pastry cream through the fine mesh sieve into the bowl.)
  5. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream and chill until cold, at least several hours or (best) overnight.
  6. Pastry cream can be stored in the fridge, with plastic wrap on its surface up to 3 days.

Apple Filling (adapted from Epicurious)

  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ to 1 tsp ground cinnamon (depending on taste)
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper 
  • 4-5 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, sliced into ¼” slices (I use a mandoline for this)
  • ¼ c (packed) light brown sugar
  • ¼  c apple cider
  • ¼ c (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ c whipping cream 


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 
  2. Place apples in a 13x9x2 glass baking dish. Sprinkle spices and sugar over the apples, then pour over cider and the melted butter. Stir gently to coat.
  3. Bake apples until tender, stirring occasionally. This should take 10-20 minutes. Check on them after 10 mins. You want them soft but not mushy. 
  4. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the apples to a medium bowl and set aside to cool.
  5. Scrape all juices from baking dish into medium saucepan. Set aside. (You will use these to make the Apple Caramel just before serving.)


  1. Spread cold pastry cream over the white chocolate in the tart crust. You may have more cream than you need. Chill for 20 minutes.
  2. Arrange cooled apple slices in overlapping circles over the pastry cream. When you get to the middle, cut a slice in half and arrange to look like the center of a rose.
  3. *The tart can be held at this point, lightly covered in plastic wrap, in the fridge for a few hours.*

Before serving (or taking to an event): Rewarm the cider syrup slightly and brush it gently over the apples in the tart.

Apple Caramel (adapted from Epicurious)

  • ¼  c apple cider
  • ¼ c packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ c whipping cream


  1. Rewarm the juices from the apples over medium heat, add the cream, brown sugar and cider. Boil until caramel sauce deepens in color and is reduced to about ½ cup, whisking occasionally. This should take about 5-7 minutes.  Set aside to cool for five minutes.
  2. Dip a fork into the warm caramel and drizzle over the tart. (Leftover caramel can be poured over waxed paper or a Silpat on a rimmed baking sheet and cut into bite sized treats when cool.)

To serve: 
There’s a lot of sweetness here, with the apples, syrup and caramel. To cut that a bit, stir one Tbs of Calvados into 8 oz of creme fraiche or plain yogurt. Serve tart with small dollops.
Bonus! You will likely have more apples, cider syrup, and creme fraiche/yogurt than you need. Not a problem! Use them all to make stuffed French Toast! Bon appetit!


Posted on November 17, 2016 and filed under Recipes.

RITUAL: MAKING MUSIC -- For The Living And The Dead

For the Yoruba in Nigeria, funerals are week-long affairs, intended as a celebratory send- off as the deceased transition from one form of existence to another. The fourth day is a “day of play” called Irenoku, meaning literally “playing on the deceased’s behalf,” and is preceded and followed by various other forms of celebration, from feasting to dancing. That tradition is one of several influences behind the “jazz funerals” of New Orleans, a city made famous in part by its inhabitants’ unparalleled ability to throw a good party. A typical jazz funeral begins with a march by family, friends, and a brass band, and typically starts with a somber tone. Once the burial is complete and final goodbyes are said, however, the music hits a different note. Hymns are replaced with upbeat tunes and popular hits, and participants are invited to dance their hearts out, in an act that’s part-cathartic and part-chance to celebrate the life of the deceased.

When was the last time you lost yourself to music?

Kevin's Story

I’ve been playing music since I was a little kid. I started singing into a turkey baster when I could barely walk, and then moved to the piano at around seven years old. Music has been with me ever since, and has culminated in the completion of my first EP. Every song, guitar string, and saxophone blow has been as result of my mom’s dedication.

My mom wasn’t exactly a musical connoisseur, and I barely remember her ever introducing me to good music, but that didn’t stop her from encouraging me to pursue my passion. She bought
me my first piano and saxophone, and made sure I stuck with my practice. At every recital, audition, and performance, she was right in front doing what moms do— embarrassing me mostly, but cheering me on nonetheless.

When my mom met my stepdad, he jumped on the Kevin music wagon just as intensely as my mother did. So many great nights were spent at home, me strumming on my guitar and my stepdad clogging away. He was Irish after all, and I guess the music spoke to him, even if I was playing rock music and not an Irish jingle.

When I lost my mom and stepdad in a plane crash, I immediately flew back to North Carolina. I brought a quickly packed bag, and a slowly packed guitar case. I knew all I needed were the clothes on my back and my six-string. I wrote a song the day before their memorial service, played it before a huge crowd of friends and family, and recorded it for my EP. It’s called “Denny’s Song,” and you can listen to it on my website, When I need to remind myself how proud my parents were of me, or just feel that connection to their spirit, I pick up my guitar, and start singing.

RECIPE: Eggplant Creole 


Posted on April 1, 2015 and filed under Rituals, Recipes + Rituals, Recipes.

RITUAL: NOURISHING — Because We Are What We Eat

We are what we eat, so the saying goes. It’s no secret that how we feel often determines what we eat. What’s less known is that what we eat determines what we feel — and we’re not just talking about stomach aches and hangovers. When experiencing loss, our brains often produce more CRH, a hormone that produces anxiety-like symptoms. Increased stress stimulates the central nervous system, which can affect everything from our breathing to our sleep patterns. Our digestion, metabolism, circulation and respiration change. Our ability to concentrate and pay attention decreases. We’re left awash in casseroles and baked goods, yet lack the appetite and energy required to pick up a fork.

Fortunately, there are certain foods that feed both mind and body, and can help to combat feelings of anxiety, fatigue, irritability, and even depression. With the help of our friends at Peace Meals, we’ve pulled together a few tips on finding foods that are chock-full of the kind of vitamins you need to add a spring to your step.

And don’t forget: nourishing ourselves is not just about what you eat, but whom you eat it with, and the care that went into making it. 

So just as you’d pair the right fish with the right wine (see Wine Pairings), try pairing foods according to your mood. Go ahead: Eat, drink, and make thyself merry.

Have a glass of milk, or a fistful of kale. Calcium, the common ingredient in both, acts as a natural tranquilizer. Indeed, calcium deficiencies are common among people who are highly stressed. Supplement that with B vitamins, which help to maintain a healthy nervous system. Pay particular
heed to B1 (Thiamine), found in asparagus, spinach, green peas, and brussels sprouts, B5 (Pantothenic acid, known as the most potent anti- stress vitamin), found in mushrooms, cauliflower, sunflower seeds, and broccoli, and B6, found in leafy greens, tuna, bananas, poultry, and liver.

Constant tiredness can come with poor memory, difficulty concentrating, muscle aches, and loss of appetite, to name but a few symptoms. Try adding more iron to your diet, which combats anemia. You can find it in animal proteins, like red meats, oysters, clams, and poultry, as well as quinoa, dried figs, prunes, chard, spinach, thyme, and turmeric. Also recommended: lean proteins, found in lentils, nuts, red meats, fish, and beans, & Vitamin C, which is necessary for iron absorption, and may increase energy as well. Swig a glass of OJ, and take a bite (or several) of broccoli, bell peppers, kale, strawberries and raspberries, citrus fruits, mustard and turnip greens, fennel, or parsley. And there’s more: choline, an amino acid which increases acetylcholine in the body—which in turn strengthens brain cells—can be found in egg yolks, soybeans, peanuts, potatoes, cauliflower, flax seeds, lentils, and oats. Lecithin, found in liver, kidneys, egg yolks, and soy, is known to promote energy and enhance immunity, and malic acid, found in pineapples, apples, cherries, lemons, and raspberries, can aid energy production in cells, including muscle cells. It’s also key for sugar metabolism. Last but not least, Vitamin B12 (found in red meats, sardines, snapper, and almonds) is a natural energy booster: pair it with B6, which helps its absorption.

While eating the right foods alone won’t cure clinical depression, they can help to lift one’s mood. Essential fatty acids—including the Omega-3s found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and nuts, and the alpha- linolenic acid found in dark green leafy vegetables, walnuts, soybean oil, canola oil, and flaxseeds—affect the transmission of nerve impulses needed for normal brain function. Tryptophan is an amino acid which helps synthesize serotonin, a “feel- good” neurochemical shown to reduce anxiety and depression. You’ll find it in turkey, red meat, dairy products, nuts, seeds, bananas, soy products, tuna, and shellfish. Proteins found in beans, fish, beef, poultry, dairy and soy products contain tyrosine, another amino acid, which stimulates dopamine and norepinephrine. Both may boost energy and mental clarity. Folate
and folic acid aid in red blood cell development and circulation, as well as normal neurological function, and may help to prevent depression and irritability. Score it via egg yolks, legumes, lentils, dark green veggies, asparagus, parsley, cauliflower, and beets. Finally, take yourself out for
a stroll: the Vitamin D in sunlight helps in the absorption of calcium and stimulates the production
of cortisol, which can increase energy levels. And there are those B Vitamins again. (Things to avoid: gluten, which has been linked to depressive disorders in those who don’t tolerate the protein, aspartame, which may block the formation of serotonin, refined sugars, alcohol, and caffeine.)

Chances are you could use more calcium and magnesium, which helps with calcium absorption. Magnesium can be found in leafy greens (especially swiss chard, spinach, mustard, kale, dandelion, arugula, & collards), summer squash, broccoli, black-eyed peas, kidney & lima beans, avocado, bananas, peanuts, and almonds. Potassium is a good one, as it’s essential for proper functioning of adrenal glands and muscles: find it in fennel, kale, mustard greens, brussels sprouts, broccoli, winter squash, eggplant, cantaloupe, and tomatoes. And as with depression, tryptophan and folate/folic acid, aren’t a bad idea.

How are you feeding yourself?

RITUAL: WHEN GRIEF GETS PHYSICAL: Eat for the Mood You Want (Jill's Story)

RECIPE: Magic Mineral Broth & Carrot Ginger Soup 


Posted on April 1, 2015 and filed under Recipes, Recipes + Rituals, Rituals.

RECIPE: French Toast

My most memorable recipe is my dad’s French Toast. Simply eggs, milk, and a little cinnamon all mixed up and then whatever bread is around. The ratios are variable, and the most important thing is maple syrup at the end.

- Peter, New York 


  • Eggs
  • Milk 
  • Cinnamon 
  • Bread 
  • Maple syrup


  1. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and cinnamon. 
  2. Dip each slice of bread into the mixture, and give it a few seconds to really soak it in. 
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat, and fry until nice and brown. Flip it, and do the same on the other side. 
  4. Serve hot with (ample) maple syrup.

RITUAL: PLANTING NEW SEEDS -- Before We Can Bloom Again

Posted on April 1, 2015 and filed under Recipes, Recipes + Rituals, Rituals.

RECIPE: Cá kho tộ (Vietnamese Braised Catfish)

There were no cookbooks in our house growing up, and my mom never consulted a recipe to make her meals of Chinese, Vietnamese, and American-inspired dishes. My mom passed before I became interested in cooking, so I never got to apprentice alongside her in the kitchen. 

What she did pass along was the ritual of home-cooked family dinners every single weeknight.
Watercress soup, braised pork belly with egg, kai-lan with oyster sauce...all served family-style with a big pot full of steamed rice. There was nothing better than the slurry of cooked egg yolk and salty-sweet caramel sauce from the braised pork belly.

When I’m homesick, I make this catfish version to satiate the craving. It’s traditionally made in a claypot but works just as well without.

- Christina, San Francisco


Coat and marinate 6–8 one-inch catfish steaks in the following for a half hour or more:

  • 1 tbsp chopped green onion (white part only) 
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 3–4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1⁄2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp chili peppers, chopped (optional) 
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Make a caramel sauce by reducing about 2 tbsp of sugar or brown sugar in 1⁄4 cup of water at a rolling simmer, stirring until dark brown. Set aside.
  2. Heat a few glugs of cooking oil on high heat in a large thick-bottomed pan. Add the fish in one layer and brown on both sides (the centers will still be uncooked). 
  3. Add in the rest of the marinade liquid and the caramel sauce. Once that boils, reduce heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 30–40 minutes. The dish is done when the sauce is thickened, and the fish steaks are a rich brown color.
  4. Toss in some more chopped green onions and whole red chili peppers toward the end of cooking for garnish. 
  5. Serve family-style with steamed jasmine rice, a seasonal vegetable stir-fried with garlic, and a brothy soup of your choice.

RITUAL: READING ALONG -- When Their Story Is Your Story

This piece appears in Finding What Feeds Us: Rituals & Recipes for Living Well After Loss

RITUAL: READING ALONG -- When Their Story Is Your Story

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live." — Joan Didion

The Greeks were definitely on to something. The idea of catharsis — of releasing feelings by watching someone else going through the motions of our emotions — is a powerful force, and can be your best friend in the periods following a major loss. Our culture is one where grief is “dealt with” in private (if at all), and saying we’re “hanging in there” is more accepted than really letting ourselves go. By experiencing the stories of others, whether watching a film in a sold out movie theater or curling up with an old paperback in bed, we have the chance to try out different ways of moving through loss. We have a chance to feel similar and seen, not alone in the deep worry, relief, fear, hope and pain that can come with loss. We can be a character’s companion to the depths of despair, and together find our way through the darkness. We witness what seemed to work for our heroes and heroines, and what didn’t—and can take those lessons back to our own life path.

Thankfully, “grief memoirs” are being penned by today’s most celebrated authors, and films with powerful stories of loss and triumph are waiting to be streamed online. And remember, only one half of the iconic drama mask is crying. Straight-up laughter is powerful medicine, too. So maybe the greatest catharsis will come not from reliving the difficult moments of loss, but from a snack-stocked marathon of your favorite comedies. Happy reading, watching and moving forward.

Here’s our recommended reading list—crowdsourced from Dinner Partiers across the country:

  1. Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed
  2. The Long Goodbye, Meghan O’Rourke
  3. The Rules of Inheritance, Claire Bidwell Smith 
  4. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
  5. A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis
  6. Grieving Mindfully, Sumeet Kumar
  7. Broken Open, Elizabeth Lesser
  8. Motherless Daughters, Hope Edelman
  9. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers 
  10. I Wasn't Ready To Say Goodbye, Pamela Blair
  11. We Bed Down Into Water, John Rybicki
  12. Your Illustrated Guide to Being One With the Universe, Yumi Sakugawa
  13. Collected works of Flannery O'Connor
  14. Let This Darkness Be a Belltower, R.M. Rilke
  15. Lucia Series, E.F. Benson
  16. Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
  17. The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
  18. Daring Greatly, Brené Brown
  19. When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chödrön
  20. Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach

Which stories are finding you?

Christina's Story

Books have been my drug of choice since the summer after second grade when I got my first library card and my first pair of glasses. Reading is entertainment and escape, adventure and anesthesia, research and reflection.

Cheryl Strayed, Rebecca Solnit, Alison Bechdel, Elizabeth McCracken—these were my guides through grief precisely because they weren’t trying to be guides. These weren’t self-help or how-to books; instead they were personal explorations of loss. Here I found memoirs that captured the gamut of emotions from cold shock to numbing sadness to unwieldy rage to unbounded joy. In these books, tears lived alongside laughter... and in each story I found something that mirrored my own experience.

These women’s honesty gave me the courage to pick up my own pen again. For me, the only way to get past the surreal nature of losing both my parents was to transform it into a story. Writing is my way of reclaiming control of the messy process that is grief. Through crafting stories out of words and pictures, I’m able to process my emotions and understand them just little bit better. I’m able to remember and honor the memory of my parents. And I’m able to fuel my own healing process by shining a light onto all of it.

RECIPE: Cá Kho Tộ (Vietnamese Braised Catfish)

Posted on December 18, 2014 and filed under Rituals, Recipes + Rituals, Recipes.

RECIPE: Marian's Apple Pie

My mother made this apple pie for every birthday and other special occasions, because we loved it so much. It became a tradition that everyone in the family always looked forward to. The secret ingredient that makes this pie so delicious is the custard layer between the crust and the apples. It creates the perfect texture. After she passed away, my father continued to make this apple pie for special occasions. But in his cookbook, it’s listed as Marian’s apple pie.

- Jan, San Francisco



  • 4 1/2 pounds Jonagold apples
  • 3 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks salted butter (250g) (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsalted bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp custard powder
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon sugar (cinnamon mixed with sugar)


  1. Warm the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Peel and cut the apples into small pieces and mix with the raisins and cinnamon sugar. Let them sit in a strainer to let any juice drip out the bottom. 
  3. Mix the flour, butter , sugar, vanilla, salt, and eggs to make a dough for the crust. Grease your 11-in pie pan, and spread the dough into the pan. Leave some dough for making strips on top. 
  4. Mix the bread crumbs and custard powder, and spread this onto the crust. Then add the apple mixture on top, and place strips of dough top of that. Put the apple pie in the oven uncovered fro 45 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil and cook for another 60 minutes.
  5. Serve with whipped cream and enjoy!
Posted on July 22, 2014 and filed under Recipes, Recipes + Rituals.

RECIPE: Cambodian Curry

Each Cambodian cook has his/her own favorite kroeung, or curry paste, recipe. Some prefer more lemongrass, others a bit more turmeric. Some like their kroeung on the spicy side, while others forego the runny nose and sweat inducing chiles. Regardless of the variation of ingredients, the kroeung is always prepared in the same way, by throwing everything into a mortar and pestle and pounding away until sweat droplets begin to form along your brow in the Cambodian heat. This was the first Khmer dish I learned to prepare while living in Cambodia and quickly became one of my favorites. I treasured my morning adventures to the markets to purchase the fragrant roots and herbs needed and watched with eager anticipation as they came together into a colorful paste after being thoroughly smashed with the wooden pestle. 

This kroeung can be used in a simple vegetable or chicken curry, as shown below, or in the more elaborate fish amok. Regardless of the way in which the kroeung is used, the final dish must always be served with plenty of rice.

-- Katie, Chapel Hill 

An instant hit at our most recent Dinner Party in Chapel Hill. 

An instant hit at our most recent Dinner Party in Chapel Hill. 


  • 400 mL can of coconut milk (none of that light junk!)
  • 300 mL of chicken broth
  • 1 Tbs fish sauce (again, weird smell but completely necessary)
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar (bonus points if you use palm sugar!)
  • 3 Tbs kroeung
  • Extra chiles if you want em 
  • Lots of veggies (Japanese eggplant, bell pepper, green beans, sweet potatoes, whatever your heart desires!)
  • Some meat, fish or tofu cut into bite-sized chunks, if ya like
  • Olive or coconut oil


  1. Heat oil in wok or big skillet. Add the kroeung, fish sauce and sugar, and cook for a few minutes until it starts to darken. 
  2. Add the coconut milk and broth, then throw in the harder veggies that will take longer to cook (sweet potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, onions, etc) and meat/fish/tofu. Simmer for about 15 minutes or so. When it's about 5 minutes from being done, throw in the quicker veggies (green beans, etc). Simmer til everything is cooked through and the green beans are tender but crunchy. 
  3. Taste the sauce and check the seasoning - you might want more sugar, chili or fish sauce. 
  4. Serve over your favorite rice and munch away :) 
Posted on April 17, 2014 and filed under Recipes, Recipes + Rituals.

RECIPE: Creamy Corn & Red Pepper Chowder

For my birthday a few years ago, my brother gave me a bound book of all of my mom's old recipes, pulled from old index cards and newspaper cut-outs. I remember very few of them, and we're pretty sure she never made the vast majority. But the present ranks high on my list of all-time greatest gifts received, and I'm only too happy to carry on her experiments. This recipe is one she got from my stepdad's brother and sister-in-law, and it works well served warm or cold, depending on the season. -- Lennon 


  • 3 tbsp butter or oil
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin 
  • 4 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 2 cups milk 
  • 2.5 cups chicken broth
  • 6 small red potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup grated cheddar 
  • 1/2 cup cilantro and/or chives for garnish 
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Heat butter in large pot. Cook peppers and scallions until soft. Stir in cumin. 
  2. In blender, process corn with milk until fairly smooth. Add pepper mixture and pulse brief. 
  3. Transfer to pot and mix in broth. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes and simmer about 10 minutes until tender. 
  4. Stir in cheese, and simmer for about 3 minutes more. 
  5. Add salt and pepper and garnish, if desired. Voila! 


Posted on March 18, 2014 and filed under Recipes, Recipes + Rituals.

RECIPE: Norwegian Heart-shaped Cardamom Waffles

Every Norwegian home has a heart-shaped waffle iron. (The iron makes one "plate" of waffles that can be separated into 5 individual hearts.) These waffles are a staple in Norwegian culture; they are most commonly served after dinner with coffee, tea, and other after-dinner drinks. Maple syrup isn't readily available in Norway, so these are traditionally served with jam, sugar, and butter (in whatever combination you like best).  

Heart-shaped waffles are considerably thinner than Belgian waffles, so use a Belgian iron at your own risk! Heart-shaped irons are available in the US online, but you should also be able to find irons that make thin waffles in other shapes. It won't be as cozy, but it should be just as tasty. 

This recipe is a vegan and gluten-free twist on my grandmother's traditional recipe. The secret ingredient is the cardamom; the waffles are delicious without it, but it's what really makes these "Norwegian."

-- Iselin, DC 



  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar 
  • 2 cups almond milk 
  • 3 tsp Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 4 tbsp Earth Balance or other vegan margarine, melted 
  • 1.5 cups plus 2 tbsp gluten-free all-purpose flour (regular all-purpose flour works too if you're not concerned about making it GF)
  • 6 tbsp coconut sugar (regular sugar works too) 
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cardamom 
  • ½ tsp salt 

*This recipe is vegan & gluten-free.


  1. Make "buttermilk" by pouring the apple cider vinegar and almond milk into a small bowl (no need to stir or mix).  Let stand at least 10 minutes (about the amount of time it'll take you to prepare the rest of the batter). 
  2. Mix the Ener-G egg replacer powder with with 4 tablespoons warm water until foamy. 
  3. Add vanilla extract to the egg replacer mixture.  Set aside. 
  4. Melt 4 tbsp Earth Balance in microwave or on the stove. 
  5. Combine the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, and salt in a large bowl. 
  6. Add the egg replacer/vanilla mixture and melted butter to the dry ingredients and whisk together. 
  7. Add the "buttermilk" and whisk together until everything is well blended.  A few lumps are okay. 
  8. Cover the batter with a dishtowel and let rest for at least 30 mins and up to overnight before cooking.  (If 30 mins, it's fine to leave on the counter.  If longer, put the batter in the fridge.)  
  9. Preheat waffle iron and grease with Earth Balance before cooking each "plate" of waffles.
  10. Stir the batter well before pouring.  Pour batter into waffle iron so that it fills about 85% of the iron -- it will spread out during cooking.  Follow directions on the waffle iron for cooking times (roughly 3-5 mins per waffle).  The waffle should be medium golden brown (darker than Belgian waffles) and a bit crispy when it's ready.  
  11. Let cool on a cooling rack (to avoid it getting soggy) or serve immediately. 

Traditionally served after dinner with jam (black currant, cloudberry, or other flavor), sugar (for dusting on top), and butter. 



Posted on February 24, 2014 and filed under Recipes.

RECIPE: Chocolate Chip Cookies

My family wasn’t huge on cooking, and we’re all still clueless as to where my love for cooking and baking comes from. While my parents made daily family dinner a huge priority, there is no specific dish that comes to mind with the Berrill family stamp on it. The sound of my dad’s rickety beach cruiser coming through the back gate after picking up Mexican food is, even now, much more comforting than racking my brain for “his” meal. My father did bake occasionally, mostly chocolate-based things such as cream cheese-filled chocolate cupcakes or brownies. 

One of the strongest food-related memories I have of my dad is an ever-present bag of Ghirardelli’s semi-sweet chocolate chips sitting in the corner of a kitchen cabinet, obviously the most easily accessible one. He would cut corner off the bag so he wouldn’t get too many chocolate chips (everything in moderation?) per pour, just a small handful or random few each stop. Once in a while he’d bake the cookie recipe on the back of the bag, so I cannot give him full credit for the recipe, however it is just as delicious as I remember. When baking I halved the recipe but forgot to use half the baking soda, and it turned out to be the most delicious mistake. Corners off to you, Dad.

-- Amanda, Hoboken 

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  • 1 ¼ cups unsifted flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda (the glorious mistake)
  • sprinkle of salt
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 6 Tbs sugar
  • 6 Tbs packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375F. Beat butter and both sugars together on medium speed until creamy. On low, mix in vanilla and egg. Gradually add in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake on wax paper over cookie sheet at least an inch apart from one another for 9-11 minutes, until lightly golden on the edges. 

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Posted on February 13, 2014 and filed under Recipes.

Recipe: Paella

The way the Fernandez family treats paella is less like a family recipe, and more like a family rivalry.  Between my grandparents' version, and those of my dad and his siblings, we've contentiously taste-tasted our way through the question of, "Who makes  it best?"  Uncle Jimmy makes his with an open pot, usually on a cookstove in the backyard.  Aunt Elizabeth's is always flanked with a Tortilla Española. My dad's was always the epitome of comfort food - to me at least.

I've been making my own version, with the help of Mark Bittman. - Carla, Los Angeles 

Photo credit: Flickr user mj*laflaca

Photo credit: Flickr user mj*laflaca


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound meat, like chicken thighs, chorizo, pork, etc. (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, minced
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 3 1/2 cups liquid (chicken, lobster or vegetable stock; water; wine, etc., or a combination)
  • 1/2 pound seafood, like shrimp, mussels, squid, etc. (optional)
  • 1/2 pound vegetables, like olives, tomatoes, snow peas, mushrooms


  1. Put 3 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add about 1/2 pound of meat (or a combination of meats), sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until nicely browned. Add one chopped onion and some minced bell pepper at the same time if you like and cook until soft. (If you want a meatless paella, skip right to the onion.)
  2. Add 2 cups rice and (if you have it) a pinch of saffron and cook, stirring, until shiny. Add 3 1/2 cups of your liquid of choice, heated, and stir until just combined, then stir in seafood (or lay it on top of the rice). Again, skip the seafood if you want vegetarian paella.
  3. Cook over medium-high heat, undisturbed. If the pan is too big for your burner, move it around a little; but after that initial stirring, leave it alone. When the mixture starts to dry, begin tasting the rice; if the liquid amount seems O.K., keep going. If the rice seems quite tough, add another 1/2 cup or so of liquid. And if you can smell the bottom starting to burn, lower the heat a bit. About halfway through the cooking (about 10 minutes), add any vegetables, adjust seasonings and stir gently, just once.
  4. The rice is done when tender and still a bit moist; if the mixture has stuck to the bottom of the pan, congratulations: you have socarrat, a characteristic of good paella. This should be served in the pan, in the middle of the table, and dinner guests — up to six — should fight over it.

Posted on August 15, 2013 and filed under Recipes.

Recipe: Blueberry Cobbler

I have few recipes that are 100% in my mom's script; she wasn't a particularly adventuresome cook, and most of what she tried came directly from a cookbook. So I was super psyched to find a photocopy of her cobbler recipe in a stained manila folder, buried beneath newspaper cut-outs and print-offs from Epicurious. When I cooked this for the first time, I found myself questioning her instructions, an eerie throwback to my high-school days: "You're doing it wrong. You should definitely stir the batter once you've mixed all the ingredients." But even now, she continues to be proven right: the cobbler came out perfectly: gooey, with each layer sinking into one another. Resist the desire to stir, and I [and my mom] can promise you won't regret it. -- Lennon, Los Angeles 

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  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup flour  
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder  
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup milk  
  • 2-3 cups blueberries (can substitute peaches, blackberries, etc.)  


Whipped Cream:  

  • Heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract  


  1. Melt butter in 9 X 9 X 2" baking dish. 
  2. Mix dry ingredients. Add milk and mix into the batter. 
  3. Pour this over the melted butter without stirring. Pour blueberries and juices over batter without stirring. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. 
  4. Serve warm with fresh whipped cream.  

Optional: If you're looking to add extra flair, drizzle cobbler with blackberry coulis as you serve it. 

Posted on August 12, 2013 and filed under Recipes.

Recipe: Broccoli Salad

My mom wasn't the first parent to sign up for PTA events, or to volunteer for a potluck. She felt ill-at-ease among the pearl-wearing establishment of Southern cocktail parties, and she was never one to simply go into a kitchen and casually "whip something up." But she had a few go-to's that would leave anyone fooled: among them, broccoli salad. "Eat your trees," she'd say, as six-year-old me would push our family's go-to vegetable from one side of my plate to the other---one of the stranger mom-isms I've held onto, perhaps, but a directive I'm willing to oblige. -- lennon 



  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 bunch broccoli, cut into bite-size florets (discard stems)  
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion or green onion or both  
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup peanuts or sunflower seeds
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional) 


  1. Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar. Cover and refrigerate several hours.
  2. Combine broccoli, onion, raisins, peanuts, and bacon. Pour dressing over the salad and mix well. Chill.  


Posted on August 12, 2013 and filed under Recipes.

Recipe: Cheese Polenta

Unlike my own cookbooks, whose dog-eared pages are covered in stains and residue from dishes long past, my mom’s cookbooks all almost completely unmarred. One rare exception is the Cheese Polenta recipe, an instant hit in our family, and one she returned to often. -- lennon


From Jeanne Lemlin’s Quick Vegetarian Pleasures


  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ tspn freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tspn salt
  • 1¼ cups cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated Monterrey Jack or Muenster cheese



  1. Generously butter a 9-inch pie plate or shallow 1-quart baking dish and set aside.
  2. Combine the milk, water, nutmeg, and salt in a heavy medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and very slowly sprinkle in the cornmeal, whisking continuously. Cook 5 minutes, or until the cornmeal mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in 1½ tbsp of the butter and 2 tbsp of the Parmesan.
  4. With a rubber spatula, spread half the polenta mixture in the prepared pie plate or baking dish, then top with the grated cheddar and Monterey Jack. Spread on the remaining polenta, then sprinkle on the remaining 2 tbsp Parmesan and dot with the remaining ½ tbsp of butter.
  5. Let the polenta sit at least 15 minutes, or cover and chill for up to 24 hours. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake uncovered 30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.

Recipe: Baba Ghanouj

This version of baba ghanouj hails from Irregardless Cafe, the first vegetarian restaurant in my hometown of Raleigh, NC, founded in 1975. One of my earliest memories is gawking at the fruit waffle they placed before me, heaping with whipped cream: the very height of indulgence to my four-year-old eyes. It kept its place on my mom’s list of favorite restaurants for more than 30 years. -- lennon


From The Irregardless Cooks


  • 1 pound eggplant (preferably 2 small ones)
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • dash of salt
  • oil


  1. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Put cut side down on a lightly oiled shallow baking pan.
  2. Bake at 350° for about 30 mins or until the pulp is cooked and soft. Larger eggplants will take longer.
  3. Scoop out pulp. Mash. Add crushed garlic, mix thoroughly. Then add the remaining ingredients. It may be blended if a creamier consistency is desired.
  4. Serve chilled with crackers or pita bread.


Posted on July 17, 2013 and filed under Recipes.

Recipe: Swiss Green Beans

The binding on my mom’s copy of Enchanted Broccoli Forest gave up a few years ago, but I've continued to carry both pieces to every new abode. Written by the founder of The Moosewood Cafe in Ithaca, NY, it’s a must-have among liberal households on the East Coast. I found myself in the actual cafe a few years ago while doing some work with Cornell. I had a cold, and sat at the bar. The manager made me a cup of tea with honey and lemon and some other secret ingredient. We talked about my mom, and the two halves of that well-worn cookbook. -- lennon



From Mollie Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest


  • 1 ½ lbs fresh, whole green beans -- cleaned and destrung
  • ½ lb good Swiss cheese, in thin strips
  • ½ cup chopped ripe olives
  • ½ cup each thinly sliced green & red peppers
  • ½ cup (or more) chopped, toasted almonds


  • 5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large cloves freshly crushed garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp crushed tarragon
  • ½ tsp dried dill weed
  • ½ sp salt (more, to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup packed freshly minced parsley
  • 4 servings


  1. Steam the beans until just tender. (Larger beans will take longer than thinner ones.) Remove from heat, and immediately rinse in cold water.
  2. While the beans are cooking, combine the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well to thoroughly combine.
  3. Add the rinsed (well-drained) beans to the dressing. Add Swiss cheese. Toss until dressing is well-distributed. Cover tightly, and marinade 2-3 hours, stirring about once an hour. 
  4. Add olives and sliced peppers. Mix well, cover, and chill overnight or at least 5 hours.
  5. Serve topped with almonds.


Recipe: Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Our family wasn’t big on rituals, with one exception: Christmas. Every year on Christmas Eve, my mom would make a seafood stew and bread pudding with bourbon sauce. Its highly anticipated appearance on our table every year never disappointed. This is perfect for big tables and cold winter nights. -- lennon



From Jeanne Lemlin’s Quick Vegetarian Pleasures


  • 1 8-oz loaf day-old French or Italian bread, torn into small pieces (about 8 cups) 
  • 3 cups low-fat milk 
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

Bourbon sauce

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar 
  • 3 tbsp bourbon whiskey 

Serves 8


  1. Butter a deep 2-quart baking dish and set aside. 
  2. Tear the bread into small pieces and drop them into a large bowl. Pour the milk over them and stir to moisten. Soak 30 minutes. (About 20 minutes after beginning to soak the bread, preheat the oven to 350°F.) When finished soaking, break up the bread into bits with a spoon. 
  3. Beat together the eggs, sugar, raisins, and vanilla. Pour into the bread mixture and stir thoroughly, breaking up any large chunks of bread that surface. Scrape the pudding into the prepared baking dish, smooth the top, and dot with the butter. Place both pans in the oven and bake 70 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean. 
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Melt the butter in a double boiler. In a small bowl, beat the egg, and beat in the confectioners’ sugar. Stir into the melted butter, and whisk the mixture until it becomes very hot, about 7 minutes. Do not boil. Remove from the heat and scrape into a bowl. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Stir in the bourbon. 

Serve the pudding hot or warm in small custard cups (if you have them). Spoon some sauce over each serving. 


Posted on July 17, 2013 and filed under Recipes.

Recipe: Lemon Thyme Cookies

This recipe came from my grandmother on my father’s side, who wrote the weekly herb column in the local Rocky Mount, NC newspaper. After she and my dad split, my mom held onto the original index card in my grandmother’s handwriting, and baked these cookies every year around Christmas for the neighbors, sending my brother and me door-to-door for years. They’re a cinch to make, and never cease to please. -- lennon





  • 1 stick butter
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp dried lemon thyme (any herb will do) or 1/2 cup chopped fresh
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar


  1. Cream butter & sugar.
  2. Add eggs. Beat.
  3. Sift together flour, salt, and cream of tartar, and work into butter mixture. Add lemon thyme.
  4. If time allows, roll and wrap in wax paper, chill overnight, and slice. If pressed for time, simply drop by the teaspoonful onto greased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake at 350° for 10 mins. Cool on rack.


Posted on June 14, 2013 and filed under Recipes.