Food & Drink

Vibrant Slaw

by Alexis on April 11, 2014

As the weather finally warms—it has been an brutal and never-ending winter for a lot of people—my thoughts wander to bright, juicy, crunchy foods. Though I’ve made rich and indulgent creations a number of times here, I relish in simple, vibrant foods that offer full sensory satisfaction. Including color in your diet is not only beautiful, it is also delicious and healthy! This recipe is simple, with absolutely no cooking to do. Nada.

On a recent day with farmer friends, I was fortunate to be sent home with sharply peppery arugula flowers. I thought the kick of those pretty blooms would make an excellent finish to the colorful slaw I already had planned.

There are two things in this salad-slaw that may not immediately appeal: cabbage and fish sauce. Please humor me, as I would never lead you astray.

I love cabbage, but that is despite its sturdiness. Cabbage is not exotic, but it is cheap, good for you, and can feed a crowd. Using a mandoline renders unwieldy vegetables delicate, even lace-like. The mandoline’s handiwork makes for a stunning presentation, too.

Now, the fish sauce—even the name used to turn me off. However, as my palate has evolved and my adventurousness broadened, I hunger for the roundly savory quality it imparts. Used as an accent rather than a base, fish sauce adds new layers to many dishes—if you’ve heard people dreamily talking about umami, fish sauce is one of the key players in that taste.

Afford yourself patience in the chopping department in prepping this jewel-toned slaw. Not only is the mandoline extremely sharp, but you may find a meditation in the work. If not, have a small glass of wine as you carefully slice and chop. The results will not only be sharp-savory-sweet and umami-rich, but also a visual delight for everyone to whom you serve it.

Vibrant Slaw


  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 3-4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 6 or so tbsp olive oil
  • freshly cracked black pepper


  • 1/2 head red cabbage
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2-3 carrots
  • arugula flowers, or other peppery edible flowers (see note)

Note: If you cannot get these, then a small green chili pepper will do nicely.

  1. In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and whisk vigorously. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed, and set aside.
  2. Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, slice the cabbage very thinly and place into a mixing bowl. Toss half the dressing in with the cabbage, coating to combine.
  3. Next, thinly slice the bell pepper into a small bowl. Guide a vegetable peeler along the length of each carrot to make long ribbons. Stack the ribbons on top of each other and slice thin rows, then cut across rows into thirds, to make matchsticks. Place carrot matchsticks in a bowl of cold water.
  4. Pick the blossoms and buds from your greens, or trim flowers into bite-sized pieces if using larger blooms like nasturtiums. If you are using a chili pepper instead, set mandoline to the thinnest setting and slice into wafer-thin rings. Put flowers or chili slices into a small bowl.
  5. If you are dining with friends, you can bring the color-filled bowls to the table and allow people to create their own salad-slaw design. Otherwise, place a bit of the cabbage mixture onto dishes, then loop the bell pepper ribbons around, followed by a scatter of the carrot matchsticks. Lastly, add the beautiful flowers. Drizzle a touch more dressing and you are ready for an explosion of flavor and texture. Every bit healthy and a sensory treat, perfect to usher in spring.

{ Images and Recipe by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }


Debbie Carlos’ Honig

by Alexis on March 28, 2014

We’re big fans of Debbie Carlos’ work—are you familiar with her oversized prints?—so it was a pleasant surprise to find another source of inspiration from Debbie: her food-focused Tumblr Honig. When I’m feeling stuck in a menu-planning rut, I love to search through beautiful images of food. It never fails to send me off into new territory and I end up with a few new dishes in my repertoire. Most of Debbie’s Tumblr images have links to recipes, including some that have already made their way onto my favorites list, like this bread. So if you’re searching for something delicious to whip up in the kitchen this weekend, take a look at Honig.

{ Images from Honig by Debbie Carlos }


It was a few years ago when a good friend of mine introduced me to za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mixture containing thyme, sumac, salt, sesame, and sometimes oregano and marjoram. “Spread it on flatbread,” she said, while pressing into my hands a giant bag of the spice blend. It wasn’t until recently, though, when trying to use up spices in my cabinets, that I really fell in love with za’atar and a whole world of potential uses opened up: salad dressings, seasonings for roasted veggies, thick yogurts to dip bread in, and—of course—desserts.

Eating desserts for breakfast requires a delicate touch—no, I’m not a fan of pancakes drowned in syrup first thing in the morning! Za’atar is a wonderful addition to breakfast muffins, adding just enough of a salty, spicy kick for a subtly sweet day-starter. Carrots and the graininess of whole wheat flour make these muffins feel virtuous for breakfast, and the kumquat compote, tempered by a hint of woodsiness from dried lavender, provides the requisite touch of syrup sweetness—but not too much.

Carrot Za’atar Muffins with Kumquat Lavender Compote
Makes 16 muffins

Muffin Batter

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2½  tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ cups light brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded carrot, from about 3 – 4 medium-sized carrots

Crumb Topping

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp za’atar
  • ¼ cup butter, cold


  • 2 cups kumquats
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice, optional
  • ½ tsp dried lavender buds

Note: these muffins can be made ahead for the next morning, if stored in an airtight container once they are completely cooled.

  1. For muffin batter: Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare non-stick muffin pans with 16 muffin liners. If not using muffin liners, grease the pans. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk to combine the whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the brown sugar and butter. Beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the vanilla, mixing until combined. Beat in the whole wheat flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk. Mix until just combined. Fold in the shredded carrots.
  4. Divide the batter amongst the prepared muffin tins.
  5. For crumb topping: In a bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and za’atar. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or fork until the butter is the size of small peas. Spoon on top of the prepared muffin batter.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out clean and the edges have turned golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Once the pan is cool enough to handle, remove the muffins from the pans. Let the muffins cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. For compote: Slice the kumquats into ⅛-inch slices, removing seeds as you go. In a small saucepan, combine the sliced kumquats, sugar, lemon juice, and dried lavender. Add one or two tablespoons of water to wet the sugar, depending on how much juice the kumquats have. Place the saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer the kumquats for about 20 to 25 minutes until very soft, letting the mixture bubble rapidly during simmering. Remove from heat and skim any white scum from the top with a slotted spoon. Transfer the compote to a heat-safe container. Serve with muffins.

{ Recipe and  Photos by Stephanie Shih for Anthology Magazine }


Apple Flognarde

by Alexis on March 7, 2014

After the literal multi-layered feat that was last month’s recipe, I thought, “What simple dish provides me great joy without making myself crazy in preparing it?” A long-time fan of custards both sweet and savory, this dish from a favorite “foods of France” book is one I return to regularly. This custard, called a flognarde—because of its origins in Auvergne and the type of fruit incorporated—is similar to the better-known clafoutis and is every bit as delicious.

Think rustic French paysage and the simple, perfect foods that represent it. It is a particularly unfussy recipe. With the most basic of ingredients, you have a presentation-worthy dessert. Or breakfast, if you’re feeling decadent. Et voilà!

Apple Flognarde
Serves 4

  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 5 tbsp flour
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk, use grass-fed whole milk if possible
  • zest from 2-3 meyer lemons
  • 3 apples, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 4 tbsp butter, cubed, plus more to grease the pan
  • confectioners sugar, for dusting

Note: You may substitute sliced pears for the apples, or include a scatter of raisins or grapes if you want to experiment with variations on the flognarde.

  1. Grease a medium enameled cast iron skillet. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, zest, and milk. Add the eggs and beat vigorously. Continue beating while pouring mixture into the pan.
  3. Fan the apple wedges and lay out in a pleasing fashion. It’s okay if they slide around a little as you place them.
  4. Dot with butter and bake until the custard rises and has turned golden brown at the edges, about 30 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve hot or cold.

{Photos by Melina Hammer}


Juhu Beach Club Desi Jacks

by Alexis on February 28, 2014

When we were contemplating what kind of food story to include in the latest issue of Anthology (Issue No. 14), we decided to tackle international cuisines. We’d all had experiences of wanting to try to make something from a trip abroad or that we’d had at a favorite restaurant, but been intimidated by foreign ingredients and methods. We reached out to three of our favorite Bay Area chefs, each of whom specializes in a different cuisine: Indian, Burmese, and Japanese. Preeti Mistry of Oakland’s Juhu Beach Club gave us an inside look at an Indian kitchen and also provided us with a delicious recipe for Shrimp Curry, which is part of the story in the issue.

While we were shooting with Preeti, she gave us a sample of the bar snack of choice that she’s created for Juhu: Desi Jacks. The Indian-inspired riff on classic Cracker Jacks was an unexpected yet perfect pairing: the spicey, earthy flavors against the sweet caramel kept us going back for more. So even though she’d already given us one great recipe, we begged Preeti to let us share the recipe for Desi Jacks with you here. Enjoy!

Desi Jacks
Yield 8 quarts

  • 8 quarts popped popcorn
  • ½ cup ghee (or substitute melted butter)
  • 4 tbsp cumin
  • 4 tbsp red chili powder
  • 1 cup pistachios
  • 4 cups peanuts
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups light corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp Maldon sea salt

Special equipment: Silpat mats, sugar thermometer

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Season popcorn with ghee, half of the cumin, half of the red chili powder, and salt to taste. Toss well to coat evenly, set aside.
  3. Toss both nuts with oil and the remaining cumin and red chili powder. Season to taste with salt. Spread on sheet pan and roast at 350°F until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Let cool.
  4. In a pan large enough to hold the popcorn and nuts, combine the sugar and corn syrup and place over high heat. Cook sugar stirring every few minutes and monitoring the temperature. When the sugar reaches hardball stage (250-268°F) add the nuts and popcorn and stir over the heat to fold into the caramel. Put the pan into oven at 350º for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and stir further if necessary to incorporate caramel. Turn out onto Silpat mats and flatten out with back of spoon. Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt and let cool. Break apart and enjoy. Will keep in airtight container for 2-3 days.