recipes

In her line of work, Los Angeles-based photographer Amy Dickerson meets plenty of interesting people. She shares her images and interviews with some of them in an ongoing series for Anthology called “One on One.”

Christiaan Rollich, Bartender Extraordinaire

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

Christiaan and I met when I was photographing Nancy Pelosi and Julia Louis-Dreyfus for The New York Times, and A.O.C.—one of my favorite L.A. restaurants—was our location. Christiaan is the head barman at A.O.C. and Lucques; he creates some of the finest cocktails in the city. I always look forward to dinner and drinks at A.O.C., and appreciate that they make their own bitters, orange liqueurs, gin, syrups, tinctures, and marmalade. They also work with local farmers to get the freshest ingredients.

Shortly after our initial meeting, I ran into him and his wife at a party (L.A. can be big and small like that). We chatted about music, their young son, cocktails, and the fact that he’s originally from the Netherlands. I love talking spirits and his knowledge of liqueur and its history is incredible. He also comes up with fun and thoughtful names for some of his original cocktail creations—including The Engineer, which is a nod to his homeland. (He was kind enough to share the recipe with us!) “The name is derived from the American Society of Civil Engineers who voted the Delta Works [construction projects] one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World,” Christaan explains. “Since Bols Genever is from the Netherlands, I thought it would be an appropriate name for a cocktail [made with the spirit].”

If you live in L.A. or are planning a trip there, cozy up to the bar at A.O.C., tell Christiaan your favorite spirit, and let him create a cocktail just for you.

Christiaan Rollich, head barman at A.O.C.

Was there a pivotal moment that really impacted your career?

When you grow up, your parents always say go to college, finish school, and so on. My first job was working in a small tavern in the village where I grew up. I paid my way through college by working in restaurants, bars, and night clubs. In other words, making drinks had always had a mystique for me. But I really started to look at it from a different perspective seven years ago—at the first bar meeting at Lucques. They asked me to come up with a cocktail to complement the menu. Their walk-in refrigerator with fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs is so big—it’s about 9 by 20 feet—and that inspired me. I wanted to do a cucumber drink—cucumber and vodka—and someone else recommended grapefruit. And there it was. And everybody liked it. (I thought I had reinvented the wheel—the best cocktail in the world—only to discover there were many barmen before me who knew cucumber and grapefruit work well together.)

Christiaan Rollich, head barman at A.O.C.

What does your favorite day look like?

Hanging out with my family, my toes in the sand, Heineken in my right hand, looking at my son build sand castles. And my wife enjoying life. As for work, I love Saturdays. I go the farmers’ market in the morning. I browse around to see what everybody has—who has the freshest produce. I make my rounds at Lucques, for A.O.C., for Tavern [another restaurant in The Lucques Group]. I like to look at the bars while nobody is there. How do the glasses look? How do the bottles look? How does the produce look? After checking it all out, I make my way to Lucques, where I start trying out and making new syrups.

Christiaan Rollich, head barman at A.O.C.

What do you love doing that you aren’t doing?

Writing. I’d like to write more.

Words to live by?

The truth. So you can always look people in the eye. Or I like “Je Maintiendrai” as well—which translates to “I will maintain” and its the motto of the Netherlands.

Christiaan Rollich, head barman at A.O.C.

What have you accomplished that you are most proud of so far?

There was a period in my life when I wasn’t sure where to go or what to do. Waking up was an accomplishment. Then slowly but surely, step by step, things went in the right direction, faster and faster. I met my wife, started working at Lucques, finished college while working a job and a half … My wife and my son. I am very proud of my family.

What has been your favorite age so far?

My 20s was fun—seeing the world, exploring it. Traveling with the carnival, working in night clubs, moving to Los Angeles. Making all the mistakes you should make so you won’t have to do it in your 40s. Looking back, that was an exciting time.

I graduated from Athenaeum in Haarlem, a city about 20 minutes by train from Amsterdam. Most kids who finished this level of education, including myself, continued on to go to University. I threw my dice and picked Econometrics, but after six months I decided that University life was not for me. I came across an ad in the newspaper: “Clean young man, wanted to travel with the Carnival.” I replied and had my interview the very next day, in a gypsy camp right next door to the shooting range on the ouskirts of Amsterdam. We traveled from city to city and village to village, north to south and west to east. Working on the miniature casino I saw and learned how to deal with all levels of society. I saw my first street fight, my first knife fight, drove a car that started with a screwdriver.

The night club I later worked at was club IT in the center of Amsterdam. I was a glass boy. It was a crazy environment, à la Studio 54, where everything went. [The patrons were] skaters, lawyers, punks, students, gay, straight, bi. It was there that I made my first appearance behind a legitimate bar.

Christiaan Rollich, head barman at A.O.C.

What is your strongest sense?

I should say my eyes—I can see 20/15, pilot’s vision. I have a bionic implant in the left eye and laser done on the right. But as for senses I use for making cocktails, my sense of smell, I think.

Favorite place to take an out of town guests?

Mi casa. Wine and bread on the table. Kids running through the house. You know I work five nights a week. On my night off, I don’t want to [go out and] spend time looking at how other people do their bar programs. Because that’s how it works: Work never shuts off; there is always something. “Oh they carry this, oh they carry that, oh they do that better than I do, oh I do this better, oh I should change …” Well, you catch my drift. But I do love sitting at Lucques. It is always so special. You never realize how special it is until you sit on the other side of the bar.

Christiaan Rollich, head barman at A.O.C.

The Engineer

This is one of Christaan’s signature cocktails at A.O.C.

  • 1 1/2 oz Bols Genever
  • 1/2 oz Averna
  • 1 oz Gaviota strawberry liqueur (Combine 3 cups quartered Gaviota strawberries, 1 cup vodka, 1 cup brandy. Let it sit for a week. Blend in a Vitamix and then strain through a chinois. Warm it up with sugar, a 1:1 ratio. Add 1/8 tsp orange blossom water and you are ready to go.)
  • peel of 1 lemon

Place ingredients in a shaker. Shake and strain over fresh ice into double old-fashioned glasses. Garnish with lemon peel.

Christiaan Rollich, head barman at A.O.C.

{ 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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Ice Cream Cake

by Anh-Minh on August 29, 2014

icecream14To mark a year of sharing delicious recipes with us, Melina Hammer has created a multi-hyphenated treat:

fig-bourbon vanilla-almond brittle-pistachio honey-gingersnap ice cream cake

It has been a year of sharing delicious things with you all. I hope you have looked forward to and perhaps even made a recipe or a few, from these beautiful stories. Maybe even loved them? From last month’s panzanella to the muscadine marbled cheesecake, the braised lamb shanks with melted onions to the savory meat pies, the apple flognarde to the bourbon-soaked layer cake, I have reveled in finding new ways to enchant you, month to month. To indulge in tempting recipes together, to nourish when the cold creeps in, and to lighten things up when bikini weather is right around the corner, it has been so much fun. And really, the fun is only beginning. To celebrate, what other way than with a fanciful cake.

In line with the season’s swelter—I have not accepted that summer is coming to a close—I give you an ice cream cake. Not because it means no cooking, but because it makes everyone smile, and really, because it is just so good. You can do these steps over the course of a few days to spread the process out, or you can do it all in one day—as your celebration needs require.

icecream01for the fig ice cream layer

  • 2 cups ripe figs—they should feel soft but not mushy to the touch, stems trimmed and quartered
  • just under 1 pint ice cream—I used Steve’s bourbon vanilla; any good-quality vanilla bean ice cream will work well

for the brittle

  • 1 1/2 cups slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 cups cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • butter for greasing the pan

for the additional ice cream layer

  • just under 1 pint ice cream—I used Jeni’s pistachio honey; suggested substitutions: butterscotch, butter pecan, chai, pistachio

for the cookie crumb base and topping

  • 2 cups store bought gingersnap cookies, chopped finely—reserve 1/2 cup for topping

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instructions

1. Place fig segments on a small rimmed baking sheet so that they do not touch one another and freeze for an hour. If you are doing this farther in advance, transfer them to a sealed container until ready to use. Allow the ice cream to warm at room temperature for 20 minutes. Combine frozen figs and softened ice cream in a bowl, stirring to combine.

icecream042. Line a loaf pan with parchment, cutting both width and length measurements long enough for at least a 2-inch overhang. These will function as tabs so you can easily pull the finished cake from its mold.

3. Spread ice cream-and-fig mixture evenly to coat the bottom. I made this layer about 1-inch thick. Depending on the size of your pan or if you used the whole pint, it may vary slightly. Wrap securely with cellophane and freeze for at least 2 hours.
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4. Grease a rimmed baking sheet and spread toasted almonds out in an even layer. Pour sugar and water into a saucepan and over medium heat, stir until sugar dissolves. Allow it to bubble, and without stirring, cook until sugar turns a dark amber color. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Immediately pour over almonds, tilting pan for even coverage or use a rubber spatula to incorporate almonds fully. Allow to cool to room temp, then twist corners of baking sheet to release and break apart.
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5. Chop brittle into small pieces. Bring loaf pan out from freezer and spoon brittle on top of fig ice cream layer. Make sure to cover all surfaces, including the corners, and press down with the back of a spoon to create a solid, even layer. Re-cover with cellophane and freeze for at least an hour.
icecream086. Bring second ice cream pint out of freezer to soften, again for about 20 minutes. Spread to coat brittle layer, again about 1-inch thick. Cover securely with cellophane and freeze for 6 hours or overnight.
icecream10icecream117. Bring loaf pan from freezer and uncover, then spoon chopped gingersnaps onto pistachio ice cream layer (or whatever flavor you have chosen). Once again be sure to cover all surfaces including the corners, and tamp the crumbs down to make a solid surface. If you want to make your crust more uniform, melt a couple tablespoons of butter and mix it in with the cookie crumbs before tamping the mixture, allow it to cool to room temp, and pack the crumbs firmly to cover. Otherwise, know that some crumbs will fly as you invert the pan. Cover one more time with cellophane and freeze for 2 hours.

icecream138. Remove the loaf pan from freezer, uncover, and place a serving platter onto top. In one swift motion, invert platter and pan together. Set platter onto a table surface and gently lift pan. The parchment should allow for easy release from the pan and the frozen cake. Discard parchment, and sprinkle reserved chopped gingersnaps on top of the cake.

9. Slice into segments with a sharp knife and serve immediately. Happy Anniversary!icecream15

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

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Panzanella

by Anh-Minh on July 25, 2014

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Sure, Fridays are usually pretty awesome because they signal the end of the work week. But even better? The Fridays when Melina Hammer shares a recipe with us! I can’t wait to try out her Panzanella. — Anh-Minh

Summertime ushers in fantastic produce we all love, like the bounty of bright and juicy tomatoes. I stopped buying tomatoes when they are not in season years ago, after I tasted the fabulous in-season versions grown by local farmers. The supermarket impersonators, no doubt trucked from a gazillion miles away, just can’t compete. When these wonderful and versatile fruits are in season, I gorge on them, filling my market basket to overflowing. My favorite tomatoes are the heirloom varieties—prized for their intense flavor, color, and juicy texture.

It is especially appropriate, given the hot and lazy days, that this month’s recipe is (almost) another no-cook treat, just like last month’s trio of summer salads. I say treat because, I feel indulgent when eating Panzanella—even though its origins were a means to save old bread from waste. Gotta love the Mediterranean sensibility! Yes, there is a good amount of olive oil and I do like to fry the bread in my version, but really, it sings the virtues of tomatoes in all their glory, and the framing accent of bright basil and chive blossoms (or shallots, or shaved red onion, or other allium) is alive with freshness. Use good bread and good olive oil, along with those good tomatoes. You’ll be wowed by the results.

After drizzling the torn bread all over to soak in the olive oil, I skillet-fry it in additional oil. To me, the crunchy, almost-charred exterior, paired with the juicy oil-soaked interior offers an unexpected delight when digging in. Keep the Panzanella in its respective ingredient clusters for dramatic presentation, or toss it all together in a pile and let your guests feast on the results.

Panzanella

Serves 2-4

  • 1 smallish loaf good crusty bread, torn into bite-sized chunks and left to sit for a day or two
  • 5 large heirloom tomatoes such as Green Zebras, Cherokee Purples, Yellow Pineapples, or Brandywines, cut into wedges
  • 1-2 cups Sungold tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 3-5 chive blossoms, individual blossoms picked apart (you can use shallots cut into wedges and slowly sautéed until soft and translucent, or thinly shaved red onion, as a substitute)
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry
  • good extra virgin olive oil for soaking, drizzling, and frying
  • red wine vinegar
  • flake sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Lay the bread out on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Over medium-high heat in a cast-iron skillet, add another glug of olive oil, and using tongs to turn the bread, brown it on all sides. Lower the heat to medium halfway through so as not to burn any pieces and re-drizzle oil if you see the pan smoking. It’s fine if some of the pieces become charred, but these parts should be more an accent than the norm.

As you finish browning, empty the pan of even the crumbs—those crunchy bits will be great in the mix—onto whatever serving platter you have chosen. If you’re arranging the ingredients in piles, do so with the basil, all the tomatoes, and the bread, and then scatter the chive blossoms (or allium of your choice) around. Mix together a 2:1 ratio of olive oil and red wine vinegar, whisk together to emulsify, and taste. Adjust ratio to your taste, then spoon dressing over all (save some for table side). Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and dig in. You just made an edible work of art.

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{ Recipe and photos by Melina Hammer }

 

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