Guest Recipes

Cold Noodle Salad

by Anh-Minh on August 7, 2015

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When the temperatures get above 80 degrees, I’m tempted to eat ice cream for dinner. So I was thrilled when Melina Hammer told me what her next guest recipe for Anthology would: a cold noodle salad with a kick and a crunch to it. Yum. —Anh-Minh

While this seriously tasty preparation takes cues from Asian flavors, this isn’t explicitly from a particular culture. Though it isn’t a saucy pasta dish by any means, don’t let the apparent simplicity fool you—this dish is packed with flavor.

I made this using somen noodles, shiitake mushrooms, royal burgundy beans, slivered jalapeño, cucumber, Chinese chives, pickled red bell pepper, mint, and cilantro. My choices here serve as a guideline—pictured is an array of possible elements you can incorporate. My hope is that in sharing this as a guideline, it inspires you to play. Experiment with the type of noodles, as well as the pickled and spicy elements. Definitely swap crunchy veg variations to see which harmonize together.

If you have a few pantry staples—the sauces and vinegar, and pasta—you can make this virtually no-cook recipe without notice. It is a mix-and-match, pull-from-what-you-have kind of thing. And the best part? This dish makes for a beautiful presentation and a really satisfying meal for whomever you serve it.

Cold Noodle Salad

Serves 4-6

for the noodles

  • 1 pkg noodles, cooked according to the directions on the label
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp good olive oil
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • ½-1 tsp soy sauce
  • ½-1 tsp rice wine vinegar

allium

choose one, 2-3 tbsp, divided—finely chop whichever you choose

  • Chinese chives
  • garlic scapes
  • spring onion
  • chives
  • garlic

crunchy

a few handfuls total, a mixture of two or three

  • green beans, royal burgundy beans, etc.
  • kirby or Persian cucumbers
  • sweet bell pepper
  • asparagus
  • snap peas
  • green papaya or mango
  • hakurei turnips

meaty

choose one, 1-2 cups

  • mushrooms (any of these is great): button, shiitake, cremini, king trumpet
  • poached or sautéed fish flaked into pieces, such as salmon or mackerel
  • poached or sautéed shredded chicken
  • cubed and roasted tofu
  • cooked chickpeas

spicy or pickled

choose two, 2 tbsp (unless you like spicy, then add more)—very thinly sliced

  • pickled shallots, onions, peppers, radishes, carrots, summer squash, ginger, cornichons, etc.*
  • sriracha
  • jalapeño, very thinly sliced or chopped
  • spicy Japanese yuzu condiment

fresh herbs for garnish

choose two, 1 small handful per serving

  • cilantro
  • mint
  • parsley
  • basil

*Store-bought pickle variations work great in a pinch. However, if you make your own pickles, here’s a delicious and fun place to incorporate them.

Instructions:

  1. Cook the pasta and drain. Transfer noodles to a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Use tongs to turn pasta, ensuring all strands get a light coat of oil. Once the noodles have cooled enough to touch, add the fish sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice, and use your hands to gently separate any remaining clumps. Taste and adjust soy (salty), vinegar (tangy), or fish sauce (savory) to suit your taste. Refrigerate at least a half hour, up to overnight. If you refrigerate overnight, cover in cellophane.
  2. For whichever crunchy elements you chose, chop them. If you chose cucumber as one of your veg, peel the skin if it is tough, or if the cucumber isn’t organic. If you were lucky enough to score kirbys or Persian cukes, their seeds are small and you can leave them intact. Otherwise, scrape seeds out with a spoon.
  3. Chop the beans into thin cross-sections—little bursts of assertive crunch! I got royal burgundy beans a local farmer friend grew. Basically if you can find any snap-fresh bean, then you won’t need to cook them. Ask if you can taste one: It shouldn’t be fibrous or tough to chew.
  4. Choose an allium—a little goes a long way. Chop it finely and reserve a little for table-side garnishing.
  5. Trim mushroom stems and halve or quarter any larger ones. Sauté mushrooms in a little olive oil, on medium-high heat in a cast-iron or enameled skillet until tender—about 5 minutes—adding a small amount of water (or broth, should you have some on hand) to keep them juicy. Transfer cooked mushrooms to a bowl and toss together with all the above chopped elements once mushrooms have cooled a bit.
  6. On a mandoline, shave jalapeño or ginger (etc.), and add to the mix. If you have pickled veg, chop them as you did the beans and add them in. I sometimes add a little of the brine liquid for added punch. It’s up to you.
  7. To serve, transfer noodles to a serving platter. I created little piles by coiling the noodles around my hand. Do what fits you in the moment. Scatter the crunchy-peppery-meaty mixture onto the piles, leaving a little extra aside for serving. Additional chopped allium is nice table side, too.
  8. With a final flourish, add the fresh herbs to top. Enjoy!

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{ Recipe and photos by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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Blueberry-Peach Crisp

by Anh-Minh on June 26, 2015

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What better way to celebrate the first weekend of summer than to make Melina Hammer‘s delicious blueberry-peach crisp? (And maybe make it again for a Fourth of July get-together the following weekend!) — Anh-Minh

Last week I harvested the most plump, sweet-tart blueberries at a friend’s farm. I knew I needed to do something special with them. It’s no coincidence that peach season has arrived—thank you, Mother Nature, for this genius timing! And so, with these two delightfully contrasting sets of texture, color, and flavor, I decided to make a crisp.

This is the time of year where I hardly actually cook if I can help it. The local produce is incredible, and the southern heat and humidity has officially set in. Yes, this recipe asks that you turn the oven on. But the only “labor” is grating some ginger and working butter into a few dry ingredients with your fingers, and then you can walk away. No involved pie crust. No whipped egg whites. Nada. And the results are pretty bodacious.

Feast your eyes on—and then make!—this jammy dessert with its fantastic crunchy crust. I swear it’ll bring you back for seconds, maybe even thirds. With enough time to bask in the heat of summer’s glory.

Blueberry-Peach Crisp

Serves 8

for the fruit

  • 3-4 lbs tree-ripened peaches (I tried to find organic and it was impossible—see if you have better luck!)
  • 4 cups organic blueberries
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • pinch kosher salt

for the crisp

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 packed cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks pastured butter, cubed and freezer-cold
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • pinch salt

PLUS: vanilla custard ice cream, for serving

  1. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir with a fork to incorporate. Add ginger and butter to mixture and work butter into dry ingredients with your fingers, until pea-sized crumbs remain. Refrigerate.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Stir together lemon juice, brown sugar, zest, flour, and salt. Add fruit and toss to combine.
  3. Pour fruit mixture into a large baking dish and then spoon oat mixture to cover. Bake until crisp is golden and juices bubble, about 50 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Great served warm, room temp, and even cold. This fruity number is excellent all by itself and of course is amazing topped with ice cream. This crisp is so virtuous you could even eat it for breakfast!

crisp01 crisp02 crisp03 crisp04 crisp06 crisp07 crisp10{ Recipes and Photos by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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Sweet & Savory Tartines

by Anh-Minh on May 29, 2015

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Okay, I know what I want to make for breakfast this weekend: Melina Hammer‘s fig/mozzarella tartine one morning, and the brittle/lettuce tartine the next. Oh, and the bruléed banana/chocolate recipe she’s also sharing this week? I think that needs to be dessert one night! —Anh-Minh

Tartines. A.k.a., the classic open-faced sandwich. What better way to enjoy a snack or meal, than piled beautifully atop good toast? I created a few open sandwich combinations that offer great contrasts to surprise and wow. Savory and sweet. Creamy and crunchy. Which one will be your new favorite?

I’ve made toasts instead of just sliced bread, as I prefer the soft-crunchy layers of texture. And since little needs to be done in each of these preparations, be sure to use freshly baked, good bread. Consider what personality your sweet-and-savory tartine calls for: Sourdough, dried fruit loaf, baguette, and seeded rye are all widely available at bakeries these days, and also make for an elevated bread experience.

The most important part is to have fun with it, because really, the possibilities are endless.

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Do you remember the figs from last summer’s ice cream cake? At that same time, I also made fig and Carpano Antica preserves. I’m so happy I held off on dipping into my last jar, as it completed this toast perfectly. A sprinkle of pink peppercorns adds an unexpected fruity-peppery punch to this jammy and creamy tartine, sprinkled liberally if you feel daring.

fig preserves and buffalo mozzarella with pink peppercorns

Serves 2

  • 1 buffalo mozzarella ball, drained from its liquid
  • 2 slices dried fruit country loaf
  • a few spoonfuls of fig preserves; blackberry or currant jams work nicely, too
  • a few pinches of pink peppercorn salt, to your taste
  • good olive oil, for the toast

Pink peppercorn salt blend is a mix available in the bulk section of Whole Foods. If you cannot find it in your area, buy pink peppercorns and good sea salt, and with your fingers, gently rub the two together a bit to combine, so that the flaky pink shells intermingle throughout.

Drizzle bread with olive oil and bake until golden in a toaster oven. If you don’t have one, use the regular oven set to 350°F. It will take about 7-10 minutes to achieve that golden crispness.

Place toast on plates. Tear mozzarella into pieces and place onto toast. Spoon preserves on top, to your taste. At the table, sprinkle the pink peppercorn mixture to finish, with extra available as needed. Because it’s so good, you’ll want to add more.

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Who doesn’t love melted chocolate and caramelized sugar-topped bananas? Right?! Not only delicious, but this on-toast is super easy to prepare with a little patience and minding the flame. A last flourish of crunchy sea salt tops this snack, a lush indulgence for sure.

bruléed bananas and melted chocolate toasts with sea salt

Serves 2

  • 2 bananas, peeled and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 slices hearty country bread; I used sourdough
  • good flake sea salt, such as Maldon
  • organic cane sugar, for the flame
  • butter, for spreading onto toast

Toast bread in toaster oven until golden and butter well. Set aside. Melt chocolate in a double boiler, simmering until completely melted.

Meanwhile, place banana halves cut side-up on a rimmed sheet pan. Sprinkle sugar onto each. Use a handheld kitchen torch (or place into broiler as an alternative), and run the flame across the surface until sugar melts, bubbles, and caramelizes. Do this just before you intend to eat the toasts, because if they sit once bruléed, the sugar will re-absorb into the banana and you lose the hardened “glass” surface which adds its pleasing crunch.

Spread melted chocolate onto the toasts. Top with bruléed bananas, trimming to fit as needed. Sprinkle with sea salt and dig in. Oh yes.

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This open-faced sandwich combo is probably for the more daring of you out there, I have a feeling. But oh what rewards you’ll reap for having risen to the challenge! Definite umami. Sweet, crunchy, airy brittle. Soft, juicy collapsed little lettuce heads atop crunchy toast. It’s almost too much. But not really. This toast is awesome.

pepita-honeycomb brittle on grilled umami lettuce toasts

Serves 2

for the brittle

  • 1 cup pepitas, toasted until golden
  • 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 honey; I used a chili-infused honey which added some heat (smoked honey is nice here, too)
  • 2 tsp baking soda

You will have brittle leftover, and you will be so happy about this!

for the lettuce toasts

  • 2 heads gem lettuce or baby romaine
  • roasted garlic-anchovy dressing*
  • 4 slices baguette, cut long on a diagonal
  • butter, for frying
  • olive oil, for the grill

*The roasted garlic-anchovy dressing is the same from the umami grain story, but omit the dijon mustard and chopped parsley.

Lay toasted pepitas on a Silpat-lined rimmed sheet pan. If you don’t have a Silpat, nonstick cooking spray also works well.

Fix a candy thermometer to the side of a medium saucepan. Combine sugar, honey, and water, stir to combine, and over high heat, bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat to medium-high, and continue boiling without stirring, until mixture reaches 300°F. This will take about 7-10 minutes.

Remove pan from heat as soon as it reaches temperature and add baking soda. Whisk briefly to combine—it will foam up as the hot caramel reacts to the baking soda—and quickly empty out over the pepitas. It will look like a blob, which is fine. Either allow it to come to room temperature and then break into fragments or, especially if it is humid, place into refrigerator to chill and then break into fragments. Any leftovers you may have will keep for a week, stored between layers of parchment in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Once butter foams in a skillet over medium-high heat, pan-sear baguette slices on one side. Set aside.

Cut lettuce heads in half. Liberally paint cut sides with dressing, getting into their layers. Using a grill pan or on a grill over medium-high heat, place lettuces cut sides-down and grill for 3 minutes or so, until lettuce begins to wilt. Meanwhile, brush sides facing you with a little olive oil. Turn lettuces and grill for one minute further, and remove from heat.

Divide grilled lettuce halves between toasts and top with crumbled pepita honeycomb brittle. Have extra brittle at the table so you can pile more on as you discover how delicious this flavor and texture combination is.

{ Recipes and Photography by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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Strawberry Jam Tartlets

by Anh-Minh on May 21, 2015

StrawberryJamTartletsIf you’re still figuring out what dessert to make for a Memorial Day get-together, we’ve got just the thing: Melina Hammer‘s Strawberry Jam Tartlets.

The recipe was originally published in Issue No. 19/Spring 2015 of Anthology … but reader Christine contacted us after she noticed that the amount of butter seemed off. And she was right. After some additional testing, we realized that the pastry turns out better with 1/2 cup of butter—rather than the amount (2/3 cup) that was in the published recipe.

Below is an updated version of the Strawberry Jam Tartlets recipe. My mouth is watering just thinking about these!

Strawberry Jam Tartlets

Makes 24 tartlets

PASTRY
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 free range egg
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
zest of 1 lemon
2-3 tsp heavy cream or whole milk

FILLING
1 10-oz jar strawberry preserves
3 tbsp Grand Marnier, triple sec, or other orange liqueur
confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)

1. For the pastry: Place flour and sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse just until the mixture has pea-sized bits throughout. Add the egg, nutmeg, and lemon zest, then pulse just to combine. If the mixture looks crumbly, add cream or milk one teaspoon at a time. Pulse again briefly until the dough comes together, then turn out onto cellophane, pat into a disk, wrap in cellophane, and refrigerate until firm, at least 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4″ thickness. Using a fluted cookie cutter about 2-1/2″ in diameter (slightly larger than the holes in a mini-muffin pan), cut rounds. Re-roll any scraps to make more tarts. Gently press the rounds into the mini-muffin pan, so that the fluted edges come up the sides. If the dough becomes too soft to work with, chill it in the refrigerator again before pressing into the molds.

3. For the filling: In a mixing bowl, stir the preserves and liqueur together. Drop a teaspoonful of the mixture into each pastry shell. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Allow tarts to cool in the pan for a few minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool a few minutes more before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and enjoy!

{ Image and recipe by Melina Hammer }

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Lemon Meringue Pie

by Anh-Minh on May 1, 2015

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I am definitely a dessert person, but I prefer my sweets to be simple, not overly complicated with too many flavors and embellishments. Which is why this pie by Melina Hammer is right up my alley. Plus, I love that it comes with a heartfelt story, one that might just prompt you to whip this up for Mother’s Day. Of course, you could do a test run this this weekend, too! — Anh-Minh

One of my favorite desserts always on rotation is my mother’s lemon meringue pie. I have fond memories of her dabbing and twirling the meringue before sliding the pie into the oven for that golden kiss on its top-most surfaces, the final touch before we kids eagerly devoured it.

This pie is both rich and light. Its textural variety—with the crumb crust bringing it all together—is perfection. As far as desserts go, this feels like a great way to celebrate spring, and makes for a satisfying but not too-heavy end to any meal.

As I’ve encountered lemon meringue pies over the years I realize that her creation resembles a key lime pie more than the customary gelatinous lemon meringue pie—often similar to my mother’s in name only. I have never liked lemon meringue pies made with corn starch, which when used imparts a gelatin-like, bouncy filling.

Her recipe was passed to her from her mother and uses sweetened condensed milk. Its addition produces a filling more like lemon curd, and is fantastic in its custardy richness.

This time around baking the pie, I made a few tweaks. Some which I would repeat, and one that I wouldn’t. I normally use a typical pie tin, and this time around chose a fluted tart pan. It isn’t well-suited to a crumb crust. It worked out, but there were a few profanities uttered once I realized the extra work I made for myself. The other choices were great: I added an additional egg, I baked the crust rather than simply chilling it, and I baked the filling briefly to set it before adding the meringue, which, as it sat out, proved to be quite useful in preserving its shape.

As recipes go, this has stood the test of time and will be a favorite pie I return to forever. I hope you’ll love it too, making this lemon meringue pie delight a steady go-to in your own home.

Lemon Meringue Pie

graham cracker crumb crust

  • 9 full graham crackers – just over 1 ½ cups
  • 3 tbsp organic cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

pie filling

  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (choose organic if possible)
  • 4 free-range eggs, yolks and whites separated, yolks used here*

*Free range yolks have a more richly orange hue due to the variety in the chickens’ natural diet, and the yolks are more muscular, sitting much taller than regular flabby supermarket eggs. These are a better choice for all cooking.

meringue

  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  1. Construct a pouch out of parchment paper, folding a sheet in half and then creasing both sides over a couple times to close them. Place the graham crackers inside the opening at the top. Lean your weight onto a rolling pin and rock back and forth, crushing the cookies into crumbs. Move across the pouch up and down, side-to-side. Check for stray larger pieces and repeat the process as needed. I enjoy the rustic quality of this toothier crumb, but if you prefer them more fine, just go over with the rolling pin a bit longer, or nix the pouch and give the crackers a whiz in a food processor.
  2. Empty graham crumbs into a mixing bowl. Add remaining dry ingredients and stir together. Pour melted butter in and mix to combine. Use a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to spread and press the mixture evenly into the pie tin. Check for evenness, carefully pushing thicker areas thinner, and gently pressing to compact. Press along the sides of the tin to ensure the crust edge is even all around. Chill for at least a half-hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake crust for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Combine lemon juice and zest and whisk in condensed milk. Once incorporated, add the egg yolks and whisk to combine.
  4. Pour into room temperature crust and bake 10-15 minutes, until just-set and not browned at all. Cool again on a wire rack. This can be done a day ahead and placed in the refrigerator to chill, and bringing the pie as-is out from the fridge when you are ready to make the meringue. Two tips for meringue: Use a scrupulously clean steel, copper, or glass bowl, and do not attempt to make meringue on a humid day. The moisture in the air will prevent a light and airy meringue from forming.
  5. Add cream of tartar to egg whites. Beat with an electric mixer until just stiff enough to hold a peak. Gradually add sugar a tablespoon at a time and beat in between, until glossy, stiff peaks form.
  6. If you did make the pie a day in advance, preheat the oven to 325°F. Otherwise, lower temperature to 325°F. Scoop the meringue onto the pie filling. With sweeping motions, spread meringue to the edges, all the way to the crust. Use a rubber spatula to make swirling gestures in the meringue, and then bake for about 15 minutes. Start to check after 10 minutes on the doneness of the meringue—you’re looking for brown-kissed peaks, ultimately. Continue to bake if necessary, checking every couple minutes until ready.
  7. Cool on a wire rack, serve, and enjoy. See if you don’t devour every last bit.

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{ Photos and Recipes by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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