The Glass Slipper

Disney dinner | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Disney dinner | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Disney dinner | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I have attempted to start this blog post a few times now. It’s proving a bit challenging, for a few reasons I think. First: do you, dear reader, really want to hear me go on and on about one of my best friends? Maybe you will think it’s sappy, or maybe you don’t really care. And that’s ok. Who am I to judge? Second: it’s really hard to nail down all of the things you love about a person. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, what with all the BIG LIFE STUFF happening around here. My badass, fearless, stunning, hilarious people are making moves, and it kicks ass.

Two of those people got married three weeks ago. Mac & Carmelle were friends of Jonah’s when he and I started dating, and so I ended up spending a lot of time with them. After a couple years, we moved in together (there was never really a question that we would), and we ended up living together for four years. Living with friends is always dangerous, but I wasn’t extremely close with these two when we moved in. I had enjoyed some long talks with Mac, because that’s what he does, but I’ll be honest: I was nervous about living with Carmelle. The woman knows what she wants and how she wants it, and often times two headstrong people living in the same house doesn’t go well. She instituted the chore wheel – perhaps the best invention – and always let me know when I hadn’t cleaned the stove well enough. But I found out she also was down to bake a cake together or listen to some pop hits from the 2000s. She always knew all the words to every song Jonah and I performed, and I would often hear her listening to our latest cover on repeat in her room. We moved into a bigger house and added a couple roommates, we continued to grow closer, and I realized that, without knowing when it really happened, she had become one of my closest friends. It wasn’t surprising, really. She is an incredible listener, she laughs easily, and she isn’t afraid to make fun of herself (or you, for that matter). She always invites you to share her meal, her shoes, even her tequila. It was from Carmelle that I learned a lot about having staples in your fridge at all times from which you can make a full meal, and that it’s ok to just eat the cookie dough instead of baking the cookies. In addition to storing about 80% of our belongings when Jonah and I left the country last year, we lived with Mac & Carmelle for about a month and a half before we departed, and we lived with them again for a month when we returned. There was no question that we would. Instead Carmelle told us our room was ready when we were ready to come home. It is unspeakably challenging to go from seeing everyone every single day of your life to not at all, and saying farewell to them was certainly the most challenging of our goodbyes.

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Carrots with Tahini Sauce + Hazelnuts

Carrots with Tahini Sauce + Hazelnuts | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Carrots with Tahini Sauce + Hazelnuts | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Carrots with Tahini Sauce + Hazelnuts | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Carrots with Tahini Sauce + Hazelnuts | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Disney dinner | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Disney dinner | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

It was a mashup. A mashup of colors: neon orange, sunset purple, creamy yellow. A mashup of recipes: lots of research, a few ideas, a smattering of ingredients already in the fridge. And a mashup of an event: bachelorette party meets Disney princess themed meets actual edible meal. My best friend’s bachelorette weekend was a whirlwind of events and cocktails (coming soon to the blog, don’t worry), celebrating this wonderful woman and her marriage to another one of my best friends. I’ll get all sappy about them in the next post though. I was tasked with throwing a Disney princess themed dinner party at my house – we dressed as Disney princesses, there was a photobooth, lots of Cinderella-blue (her favorite princess), pumpkins, and more. Above you can see the table and some of the princesses with Cinderella herself at the head of the table, plus the wonderful Moana using her oar to keep all the bees off our fish.

In my effort to create a feast that was edible and kind of went together, I fudged a little bit – Arial probably wouldn’t normally eat salmon, she’d be friends with the salmon. So this was my riff on Rapunzel’s carrots and hazelnuts (in the movie she eats parsnip and hazelnut soup) topped with Jasmine’s tahini sauce. It was my favorite dish at the dinner, and I was happy to find some of the tahini sauce leftover in my fridge a few days later. So I recreated it here – there may be less Disney flare, but there is just as much flavor.

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Shrub Two Ways

Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

It’s inevitable. This time of year especially. You go to the farmers market and drool over the rainbows of produce. The rhubarb has that perfect blush that begs you to bag up more than you could ever use at once and cart it home. The ruby strawberries glimmer, covering tables, overflowing from their containers. You can just imagine how red they are on the inside, and you take one from the little sample bowl to confirm your suspicion. They taste almost as much like candy as they do like fruit, they are so sweet and perfect in every way.

So you haul it all to your car and then to your kitchen. And then reality strikes. It’s Monday again and no, you’re not going to get around to making that strawberry pistachio pie you’ve been pining after, or pickling that rhubarb to go with the pâté you brought home from the market. You feel guilty, seeing those sad fruits softening by the day every time you open the fridge.

When it comes to fruit that is beginning to turn, I used to turn to compote (the rhubarb) or freeze them smoothies (the strawberries), but this summer that all changes. I started making shrubs, aka drinking vinegars. It’s painfully simple, goes perfectly well with just sparkling water on those long warm days when you want something fruity and tangy and refreshing, and can welcome a taste of your favorite gin or tequila when those long summer days turn into warm evenings and you want a cocktail to sip while you light up the grill.

It seems shrubs are the fancier version of my dad’s old “it’s-too-hot-out” beverage: a Perrier with an entire lemon juiced in. Tart and bubbly and immediately cooling. They take a little forethought, yes, but in all they take about 15 minutes to make and your friends or guests or whomever is lucky enough to partake will be impressed and thankful. I promise.

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Asian Hot Sauce

Asian Hot Sauce | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Asian Hot Sauce | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Asian Hot Sauce | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

My cooking these days feels torn. On the one hand, we’ve been having people over for dinner all the time and when we do, I take it as an opportunity to make those dishes that are just a bit too much of a production for any old night with me and Jonah (i.e. anything from my newest and also favorite cookbook Six Seasons). On the other hand, when it is just me and Jonah I tend to turn to what I have in the fridge. This is a great practice, but when I go to the grocery store, I generally buy the same things for weeknight dinner staples: I pick up some tofu, mushrooms, peppers, leafy greens, onions, occasionally some sweet potatoes, and a bulb of fennel if I’m feeling fancy. These ingredients most often turn themselves into a rice or soba noodle bowl because, well, we love Asian flavors, and it’s simple enough that we don’t have to think about it too much before it can become dinner. But the key to any good rice or noodle bowl is the right sauce.

In my recipe box that sits in my spice drawer, I’ve got at least 3 different asian marinades/sauces. They all have roughly the same ingredients, with a couple extras thrown in or substituted. They are ingredients that are used almost daily in my kitchen: soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha, garlic, lime juice. Occasionally there will be honey or maple syrup, sesame oil or miso. But this sauce, the one below, it’s different. Instead of being the base sauce for a meal, it’s a sauce that I keep in a small jar in the fridge. I drizzle it on a plate of food when it needs an extra kick, that beloved tingling on the lips, the gentle burning on the edges of your tongue. It’s not too hot – you can still taste all the ingredients in it because the heat is just at the right level where the flavors don’t get lost. I put it on noodles and rice bowls, but I also put it on fried eggs in the morning, orzo salads that need a little jazzing up after a few days in the fridge, and an afternoon snack of avocado. It has gotten to a point where I like to always have a jar on hand, should the need for it arise. And the need does arise. It always comes in handy.

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Weekend Finds 5:26:17

Spring Onions | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

De Garde Brewing | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Cocktails at Rue | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
  • We went here for a date last week and it was lovely. Creative, northwest-y small plates and wonderful cocktails and great service.
  • Obsessed with this new cookbook from Joshua McFadden, and am planning on cooking my way through it for the rest of the year.
  • We made this piri piri chicken last week and it was a little taste of Portugal.
  • The internet is a funny, great place. A friend send me a picture of a cake in progress, and I immediately had to go learn more. A couple of Instagram accounts later, I’ve discovered this lovely blog. Scroll down for the stop motion video.
  • That website let me to another beautiful website. So many food blogs, so little time.
  • After months in the making and thanks to beer-obsessed friend Simon, we finally stopped at De Garde Brewing on our way to the coast yesterday. You should stop too if you’re ever in the area.
  • With all that rhubarb I bought, I made these. They are so tangy and good and not a baked good which is a nice break during rhubarb season.

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