Food & Drink

Three Bean Tuscan Stew

by Anh-Minh on December 5, 2014

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As a special treat during the holiday season, Melina Hammer is not only sharing a delicious recipe with us, but also filling us in on some of her favorite handmade goods. —Anh-Minh

The scene: winter picnic, fireside. Friends, comfort food, and the beautiful objects that enhance our lives.

In sharing this month’s delectable recipe and in the spirit of the giving season now underway, I wanted to feature some goods I love, curated by the fine folks at Scoutmob. Scoutmob champions independent makers (over 1000 of them!): from bitters to handmade art prints, block-printed textiles to handmade ceramics. I’ve loved the quality and variety available (read: addicted) for almost two years. Many a story has included props sourced through them, and I have given lots of *great* unique gifts.

The handmade goods you’ll find are all small-batch quantity, made in the USA, by real people. Scoutmob also has fantastic customer service, which in this era of internet-based buying, helps them stand apart. Their customer service was a major selling point for me a few purchases back, when I needed something customized and found out I could have it just as I needed. And shipped to arrive in two days!

The perfect-in-a-hand ceramic “quail egg chili” bowls set the stage for my three bean Tuscan-inspired stew. Jessie Lazar makes contemporary heirloom pieces and her workmanship is delicate yet unfussy. With my stew … Why settle for one when you can have the amazing textures and flavors of three? Specifically, savory and buttery great northern, flageolet, and cannellini. YUM.

For the cheat’s soppressata cheesy breads, this gorgeous solid walnut board made the perfect backdrop. It’s the century-old board you’ve always wanted, at the beginning of its journey.

And to lay it all out, lolling the afternoon away with amazing food and friends, the colorful and hand-woven rug by Re:loom made the transition from kitchen prep to afternoon enjoyment a no-brainer. These rugs are made from donated fabrics (no two are alike), created by low-income families working towards self-sufficiency through initiatives like this one. While you find beauty in a lovely product such as this, you’re additionally helping support people refine a craft and earn a sustainable income. Winning all-around!

Now, for the food …

I’m a sucker for a great stew. This one can be made vegan or with chicken stock, up to you. The combination of textures and deep savoriness, along with a bit of spice, makes this a steady go-to in my home. You can use canned beans in a pinch, but the texture and flavor of cooked dry beans is meaningful. Given they play a starring role in this recipe, try dry beans if at all possible.

The added delight of cheesy breads to the stew makes everyone’s face brighten. It’s even in the name! These are so simple to prepare, it’s kinda dangerous … Invite your friends, present them with these, and they will thank you between enthusiastic mouthfuls. :)

Three Bean Tuscan Stew

 Serves 6-8

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 7-9 small carrots, chopped (if you can find heirloom varietals, it makes for an even more beautiful stew, especially since we eat with our eyes first)
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock or water
  • 1 1/2 cups dry cannellini beans
  • 1 1/2 cups dry flageolet beans
  • 1 cup great dry northern beans
  • 1 head garlic, divided 2/3 and 1/3
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rosemary, quills picked and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chile flakes
  • good olive oil

Cheat’s Soppressata Cheesy Breads

Serves 6-8
  • 6-8 good quality sandwich rolls
  • zest from one lemon – use organic as you’ll be eating the skin
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 5-7 thin slices soppressata or other hard salami
  • 1/3 head garlic (from above)
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese, finely grated
  • freshly cracked pepper

Soak each of the dry beans in enough cold water to cover by two inches, and in bowls large enough for them to double in volume. After soaking 6 hours or overnight, drain and rinse each, then transfer to a large heavy bottom stewpot. Preheat oven to 375°F.

Add enough water to cover with an inch or so extra. Add two or three bay leaves, and if you’re one to save parmesan heels (or a similar hard cheese) in the freezer, add a few to the beans as they cook. If you’re not, start doing it! Cheese ends impart great depth of flavor to any soup or stew, and there’s no extra cost to you in doing so… you already bought and enjoyed that cheese and here, it gives its final gift. I store mine in resealable bags in the freezer. Once you accumulate a few, have at it! Turn heat to high to bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook beans on a low simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until beans are tender.

While the beans cook, cut across the top of the head of garlic (enough to reveal the cloves inside). Nestle it in a sheet of aluminum foil and dress it in olive oil. Fold the garlic into the foil and place in a baking dish. Do the same—foil and oil—>with the jalapeño. Roast the two in the oven for as long as you cook the beans, then remove and set aside to cool.

Once the bean mixture is ready it will have absorbed much of the water. Now you have a flavorsome broth. Pull out the cheese ends and discard, and transfer beans to a large bowl. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and set aside.

Return pot to burner, medium heat. Add a couple good glugs of olive oil and add the onions stirring occasionally. As they start to become translucent, add in the celery and carrots, as well as the rosemary and chile flakes. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes or so. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

I cook the vegetables separately from the beans because I prefer them to retain a little character. If they were to cook with the beans, they would be mush. To experience the creaminess of the beans, contrasted with the toothsome veg adds another yummy layer.

While the veggies sauté, place into the bowl of a food processor: 2/3 of the roasted garlic—use your fingers to press at the base and the cloves will slide out—2-3 cups of the cooked bean mixture, the roasted jalapeño (minus its stem), and the chicken stock or water. Pulse until you have a creamy mixture. This will add body to the stew. Empty the pureed mixture into the pot, along with the bowl of cooked beans and their liquid and give it all a good stir. Place the lid on top and simmer at lowest heat while you prepare the cheat’s cheesy breads.

For the cheesy breads, stir the zest and mascarpone together to incorporate. Place the rolls onto a baking sheet, and divided evenly, slather a the mascarpone onto each roll.

Mash the remainder of the roasted garlic in a small bowl. Tear the soppressata and place onto the rolls. Spoon the roasted garlic over top next, and add freshly cracked pepper. Finally, pile mounds of gruyere over each, dispersing evenly.

Place the tray into the oven and bake for 7 minutes or until everything is melty and sizzling. Turn oven to broil and place tray on top rack. Broil for 2-3 minutes for a good golden crust.

Remove from oven. Use a spatula to transfer breads to a serving board. Serve stew alongside, and enjoy the feast! Any leftover stew can be refrigerated for up to one week.

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{ Images by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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Christiaan Rollich Head Barman, A.O.C. and Lucques restaurants.Last week, Los Angeles photographer Amy Dickerson shared images and an interview with bartender extraordinaire Christiaan Rollich. Christiaan helms the bar at A.O.C. and Lucques restaurants. The latter is one of my favorite L.A. spots, and after hearing Amy rave about A.O.C., it’s on my list of places to go the next time I’m down there. (I’ll admit: The lovely interior of the wine room—the setting for Amy’s shoot with Christaan—is reason enough for me to pay a visit to A.O.C.)

Christiaan Rollich Head Barman, A.O.C. and Lucques restaurants. Christiaan Rollich Head Barman, A.O.C. and Lucques restaurants.

This week, as people start to turn their attention to holiday entertaining, we thought it would be great to share another one of Christiaan’s drink recipes. (Have you tried The Engineer yet?) Thankfully, he obliged with his recipe for the Oaxaca Sour. “In essence,” he says, “it is a play on a Trinidad Especial, a cocktail where the main ingredients are Angostura bitters, orgeat, and pisco. I changed the ingredients and measurements of them.”

Oaxaca Sour 

  • 1 1/2 oz Mezcal El Silencio
  • 1/2 oz Angostura bitters
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz vanilla syrup (Combine 12 oz sugar, 8 oz water, and 1 scraped vanilla bean. Bring to a boil, take it off the heat, let it sit over night, and it’s ready to use.)
  • 1 egg white

Add all ingredients together and dry shake. Shake again with ice, then strain over fresh ice into a Tom Collins glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Christiaan Rollich Head Barman, A.O.C. and Lucques restaurants. Christiaan Rollich Head Barman, A.O.C. and Lucques restaurants. Christiaan Rollich Head Barman, A.O.C. and Lucques restaurants

{ All images by Amy Dickerson }

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Banana-Salted Caramel Pie

by Anh-Minh on October 31, 2014

bananasIf miniature chocolate bars aren’t your thing—okay, even if they are your thing—we’ve got a sweet treat that’s perfect for this Halloween weekend. Today, Melina Hammer is sharing a recipe that is sure to make your mouth water.

Banana-Salted Caramel Pie

When I first made this pie, I thought it would be quite tasty. I never dreamed I’d be willing to fight my husband off for the last slice. This pie is that good. Everyone with whom I share it utters layers of profundities as the flavor and texture hit them.

Best thing? Huge payoff without that much effort. You’ll get a good arm workout in crushing those pretzels and biscuits for the crust, but that makes the indulgence of pie even sweeter.

And about that crust … It’s a delightful sweet-salty combo incorporating hard pretzels and after dinner cookie-biscuits. Choose good quality ingredients and the pie will shine even more: I swear by Martin’s Pretzels, a Pennsylvania dutch-style, which I scored at the NYC Greenmarket. Since having relocated to the south I was concerned I would have to find an alternative, but thanks to the internet, they ship right to your door!

This pressed crust is similar to the one I made for the muscadine marbled cheesecake story last year. The more finely you grind the two, the more readily it will hold together. In this version, I prefer the toothiness of smaller and larger bits together and don’t mind if it falls apart a little. It makes for a beautiful mess! If you choose this route, remember you can always use a spoon to serve it, so the messiness becomes part of the design, rather than a flaw. :)

Lastly, the addition of crème fraîche into the whipping cream helps cuts the sweetness of the caramel and banana slices, in a pretty amazing way. It also helps the cream hold those stiff peaks, which is a nice bonus.

See if you don’t go crazy for this pie too. I dare you to find out.

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CRUST

  • 2 cups cookie biscuits, coarsely broken
  • 1 3/4 cup salted pretzels, coarsely broken (I used chunky, handmade pretzels from Martin’s—crisp, airy, salty, simple)
  • 1/2 cup pastured butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

SALTED CARAMEL

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 tbsp butter, cubed
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes

TOPPING

  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4-5 ripe bananas, sliced on a bias**
  • shaved dark chocolate for topping
**Do this at the very end so that the bananas do not brown

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1. Place biscuits and pretzels in a sealable plastic bag and rock a rolling pin back and forth and side-to-side, turning them into crumbs. Empty crumbs into a large bowl, add grated nutmeg and melted butter, and mix until combined.

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2. Transfer mixture into a 9 1/2-inch pie pan and press into the base and up the sides, spreading and compacting the crust evenly. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

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3. To make the caramel, stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, cooking the sugar until it turns caramel in color, about 10 minutes. Add butter, cream, and the sea salt and be careful, as the hot caramel may spit. Stir until well incorporated. Pour into the chilled pie crust. Refrigerate again.

4. Halve vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into a bowl, adding in the cream and crème fraîche. With an electric mixer, whip creams and vanilla seeds until sturdy peaks form. Chill in refrigerator while slicing bananas. Arrange sliced bananas in a pattern which pleases you, covering the caramel surface completely, and set aside.

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5. Spoon cream onto bananas, swirl topping to cover, and sprinkle with shaved chocolate. Keeps for one week refrigerated in a sealed container. If it lasts that long …

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{ Text, Recipes & Photographs by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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mussels09We finally got some much-needed rain in the Bay Area this week! And around the same time, Melina Hammer‘s latest recipe arrived in my inbox—and it’s a dish that seems perfectly suited for the fall season and the cooler weather that comes with it.

Saffron, Smoked Paprika, and Heirloom Tomato Mussels

I am the kind of girl who is lucky enough to have friends who, at the center of what they do, are largely focused on the world of food. Friends who devote the core of their beings to pastry, to spirits, to fish and seafood, and so on. As you might imagine, time spent with each brings the experience to new heights, flavors, and understandings!

My seafood expert friend is Jon Rowley. A former fisherman, he’s been eating (and writing about) every kind of oyster, mussel, and salmon worth laying hands on, and he recently sent me a haul of overnight-shipped mussels, plump from the waters of Puget Sound.

If you’re anywhere near Seattle, I highly recommend Taylor Shellfish for their superior, always-fresh and delicious products. Thank you—Jon and Bill Taylor—for spoiling me, for educating me on the clues and cues as to what to look for in good fish and seafood, and helping make the meals prepared with your vittles just so tasty.

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INGREDIENTS

  • good olive oil
  • pastured butter
  • 3 medium (or 2 large) heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 3-5 shallots, sliced into thin rings
  • 3-5 garlic cloves (as you like), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sherry
  • 1 large pinch saffron threads
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 lbs mussels, scrubbed under cold water and beards removed
  • 3 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • baguettes or other crusty bread, for serving
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1. Under cold running water, rinse mussels in a colander, scrubbing with a nylon or other stiff bristled brush to free up any debris clinging to their shells. Pulling towards the hinged end, remove the beards. Should you have difficulty in removing the beards with your fingers, secure the end with a set of pliers, encircle once, and gently pull down to remove. Drape a moist, cool tea towel over the mussels as you move to the next step.

2. In a small bowl, steep the saffron threads in the sherry for at least 10 minutes, and set aside.

3. Melt a tablespoon or so of butter over medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Once melted, add a small glug of olive oil. Stirring occasionally, sauté the shallots until they become translucent. Add in the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant, stirring so it doesn’t burn.

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4. Add the tomatoes, smoked paprika, and a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, and cook until their flesh begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Pour in the sherry and saffron mixture, and heat until bubbling. Lower heat just slightly and continue to cook, bringing together the flavors.

5. Empty the mussels into the broth, keeping them in a single layer if at all possible. Cover tightly with a lid and cook for 5 minutes or until their shells have opened. Here, Jon would say it is a fallacy to discard shells which do not open. If you have a relationship with your fishmonger (and therefore an understanding to the source and freshness of your mussels), then you know yours are as fresh as they get. Their passing wasn’t long ago enough to be worrisome; I have eaten plenty of mussels whose shells remained closed and lived to tell about it …

6. Lift the lid from the pan and scatter the parsley. Make any seasoning adjustments, a little more salt or pepper to your taste, and serve into bowls with the juices immediately. Have fresh baguette or other crusty bread at the table to sop up the juices, and a large bowl for emptied shells.

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If you want to read more about Jon, the Seattle Times did a great write-up on him. (He’s also the founder of the annual Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition.)

{ Text, Recipes & Photographs by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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Recipes Suspended in Mid-Air

by Joanna on September 15, 2014

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As if I needed another reason to play with my food, check out this Recipes series by Germany-based designer Nora Luther and photographer Pavel Becker. According to Luther, “the image serves as a foretaste not only of the dish but also of its preparation. The look of the ready cooked dish is left to your own imagination.” She came up with the concept, while Becker shot it.

The result is truly dynamic, energetic, and exciting—don’t you think?

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{ Photographs by Pavel Becker; via Honestly Yum }

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