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Pistachio Tangerine Cookies & Giveaway!

Pistachio Tangerine Cookies & Giveaway!

Pistachio Tangerine Sugar Cookies | Delightful CrumbIt’s the season of warmth, this one, and I hope you’re feeling that fully. There’s been more rain this week than I’ve ever experienced in the Bay Area, and it has left me wanting to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a mug of something hot and steaming to drink. But it’s not just the rain that leaves me longing for coziness and cheer. We’re in the thick of the holidays, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Just before bed, whilst brushing my teeth, you very well might find me standing in the dark living room, staring at the twinkling, friendly lights of the Christmas tree, my eyes glazed over but my heart a little lighter, feeling just a bit better about the world than before.

I’m enamored with this season, it’s true. I get really nostalgic around mid-November, and it carries through all the way until New Year’s. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that holidays have always held a lot of meaning for me, and also that my family is big on traditions—decorations, cookie making, advent candles, Secret Santas, special meals and the like. I hold off on Christmas music and wild festivity until Thanksgiving, but from then on, I am all in. I’m eager to get a tree and decorate it with little colored lights and ornaments whose origins I know well. Most of them I purchased when I first bought my own Christmas tree, bringing it home from the last and snowy farmers market of the season back in Michigan, and they’re now joined by a few gems from Ben’s childhood. Christmas movies are all I want to watch, including such classics as While You Were Sleeping, which, as you may know, takes place mainly between Christmas and New Year’s, thereby falling firmly into the category of holiday film. I love the parties, too—even the marginally awkward ones, where I don’t know many people and/or drink just a little too much champagne while making interesting-as-possible, not-politically-divisive (it’s just not that time of year) small talk.

Pistachio Tangerine Sugar Cookies | Delightful CrumbI hope you’re feeling similarly inclined toward festivity, and that your days are filled with light. If you’re in need of something sweet for the next party, to have on hand in case friends stop by, to whip up as a gift for your coworkers or to munch on during your holiday movie nights, I’ve got just the treat for you. These pistachio-and-tangerine-flecked morsels come from Erin Scott‘s cookbook, Yummy Supper. I brought them to my friend Kimberley‘s (non-awkward) holiday/birthday bash last weekend, and they were quite a hit. They’re nutty and sweet, with a hint of citrus and just the right amount of salt. They also happen to be super cute, which is a bonus on the party front.

As it happens, I was introduced to Erin through Kimberley. We started commenting on one another’s blogs, and I was taken aback by how thoughtful and kind Erin’s words were, time after time. I know few people who communicate so gracefully online. We met in person only recently, at her book launch party on a hot summer day in Berkeley’s Edible Schoolyard garden. There were popsicles and kids running everywhere and lots of laughter. She wrapped me up in a hug as soon as I told her who I was—I can tell you now that she’s as lovely and genuine as she seems online and in the pages of her book. Reading her cookbook, it’s clear that you’d be welcome at her table, and that you yourself are capable of making these many delicious meals and treats in your own kitchen. Erin’s cooking happens to be gluten free, but you’ll enjoy these recipes whether this aligns with your own dietary needs or not. I’ve not missed the gluten in anything I’ve cooked from this book—roasted chicories with dates, an almond torte, french lentils with preserved lemon and tarragon. Everything is delicious and wholesome and thoroughly satisfying.

If this sounds like it’s up your alley, you’re in luck! Erin’s publisher, Rodale, has been kind enough to offer me an extra copy to give away. Whether you’d like this cookbook for yourself or as a last-minute gift*, you can enter by leaving a comment telling me how you’re reveling in this season—what’s your favorite festive activity or seasonal treat? How do you celebrate at this time of year? This contest is open to US readers only, and entries will be accepted until Wednesday, December 17, at midnight.

P.S. If you’re looking for more gift ideas, I recommend the lists out there on the internet by Tim, Kelsey and Kasey. As I think most folks know by now, lovely kitchen gifts can be found on Food 52’s Provisions, Quitokeeto and Brooklyn Slate.

And if you’re in the Bay Area, stop by Ordinaire or Bay Grape for a great bottle of wine to gift, or head to Alchemy for booze. Or, for something experiential, consider The Cheese School of San Francisco. A class there was my birthday gift to Ben this year, and it was a delight. Also, ridiculously delicious.

On the homemade front, a few favorites from my archives include Olive Oil & Rosemary Shortbread (my main edible gift last year), Brown Sugar Rosemary Walnuts (distributed widely the year before) and Honey Cranberry Cornmeal Bread.

*I’m hoping this will arrive to you by Christmas, but I can’t make any promises!

Pistachio Tangerine Sugar Cookies | Delightful Crumb

Pistachio Tangerine Sugar Cookies

Very slightly adapted from Erin Scott’s Yummy Supper

I’ve written the recipe as Erin intended it below. When I made these, however, I inadvertently bought unsalted roasted pistachios instead of salted, so I added a heaped 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt in place of the pinch of Maldon called for in the recipe. The cookies turned out perfectly salty, so feel free to take that route if you have unsalted pistachios on hand!

Makes about 40 small cookies

1 cup shelled roasted salted pistachios (10 – 12 ounces in the shell)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup turbinado sugar

1 egg yolk

1/3 cup quinoa flour (or use all-purpose flour)

1/2 teaspoon tangerine, mandarin or orange zest

1/2 teaspoon orange flower water

Maldon or other flaky sea salt

Grind the pistachios in a blender or food processor until they are the consistency of cornmeal.

In a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer and large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolk. Continue mixing, then add the ground pistachios, flour, zest, orange flower water and a generous pinch of Maldon. Mix until well blended.

Lay out two pieces of plastic wrap and form the cookie dough into two logs, each about 1 inch in diameter. Wrap the logs tightly in plastic and chill in the freezer for at least half an hour. Store the dough in a freezer bag if you’d like to save them for another day.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Slice the cookie logs into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and place them onto the baking sheets, leaving space as they’ll spread slightly while baking. If the logs or cookies break apart while you’re slicing, just squeeze the dough back together.

Bake the cookies for 20 to 22 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Let them cool completely on a rack before eating.

These cookies will stay fresh and crisp in a sealed container for a few days.

Pistachio Tangerine Sugar Cookies | Delightful Crumb

simplest sweet potato soup

simplest sweet potato soup

Simplest Sweet Potato Soup | Delightful CrumbI hope this finds you on the way out of a restful, joyous and delicious Thanksgiving weekend! Though I wasn’t able to go home and be with family to celebrate, mine was, nonetheless, delightful. Here in finally-a-little-bit-chilly Oakland, there was plenty of great food, an incredible Thanksgiving dinner at the home of dear friends, a beautiful hike on Thanksgiving day, lots of rest, many glasses of wine, some early-holiday-season festivity, quiet mornings, a Christmas tree. Bliss.

I appreciated the weekend’s calm perhaps more wholeheartedly than ever before, having come off of a wonderfully chaotic month of work as Good Eggs geared up for the most food-centric holiday of this country. Along with my increased gratitude for sleep and the absence of turkey-themed dreams, I have a newfound understanding of how very hard folks in the food industry work during the holiday season. I was busy, but plenty of others are busier. It’s a weighty thing that this one particular day—and, zooming out just slightly, this time of the year—is so crucial to the success of a small food business. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our hard work, but I was reminded in these last few days that as good as work can be, we just can’t survive without leisure alongside it. Rest is essential, a gift when we get it handed to us, a thing we’d be better for prioritizing.

And in the midst of chaos, simple meals reign supreme. This is among my key strategies for finding calm on busy days. As we head into the thick of the holiday season, where parties and festivity abound, it is necessary to have simplicity interspersed betwixt the parties and cookies and glasses of champagne.

I reread Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal recently, taking away a different handful of ideas and inspiration than before. After the first time I read it, I had, on a few occasions, taken the author up on her suggestion to clean and cook all vegetables straight from the farmers market. But I’ve got to say that this doesn’t entirely work for me. First of all, we eat roast vegetables like champs. In this household, they do not last as long as Tamar suggests they might. I’m also not convinced of the time savings of this strategy. Since I like things warm, I end up dirtying dishes twice in pursuit of one dish. Plus, doing it all at once has the adverse effect of stressing me out, what with all the produce scraps that end up on the floor and the delayed gratification inherent in the task.

But the woman is most certainly right when it comes to roasting sweet potatoes whole. This is an amazing move. Time saving, delicious, almost-a-meal, etc. They’re delicious sliced cold and topped with olive oil, red wine vinegar, chopped almonds and quick-pickled red onion, or cut into cubes and tossed into a salad for extra heft or, obviously, made into soup. I’d outlined a simple sweet potato soup in my most recent Edible San Francisco column, but I now have something even easier up my sleeve. This is simplicity at its finest. I hope it will fuel you through the coming busy days, and even slow you down a bit—warm soup has that effect, I find.

Here’s to peacefulness and good eats this holiday season!

Simplest Sweet Potato Soup | Delightful Crumb

Simplest Sweet Potato Soup

Inspired by Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal

Serves about 4 hungry people

4 large sweet potatoes

Pepper flakes, smoked paprika, cumin, curry powder or other warm spices (optional)

Vegetable broth

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 lemon (or, try another acidic element: lime, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, etc.)

Olive oil, for serving

For serving (optional): Plain yogurt or coconut milk, soft herbs like parsley or chives, pesto, harissa

To roast the sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the sweet potatoes well and poke them with a knife in a couple places so that they don’t burst as they cook. (I recommend cooking a few extra so that you have them around for last-minute meals all week!) Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet or piece of aluminum foil and roast until the skins pull away and the potatoes are very soft, about 1 hour. Allow to cool. The potatoes can be cooked several days in advance. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container.

When you’re ready for soup, put the sweet potatoes and any spices you’d like in a food processor. (You can leave the skins on if you like the added texture, want to get as much fiber as possible and/or are lazy. Personally, I leave them on. Peeling them will give you a smoother and more delicate texture, however, which is delightful.) Purée until very smooth.

Scoop the sweet potato purée into a heavy-bottomed pot and warm over low heat. As it warms, add vegetable broth one ladle full at a time until the soup reaches your desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the juice of 1/2 lemon, taste again and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Serve topped with a long drizzle of olive oil and more cracked pepper. Other delicious toppings include yogurt or coconut milk, soft herbs like parsley or chives, pesto and harissa.

Simplest Sweet Potato Soup | Delightful Crumb

it feels daunting | Apple Sage Walnut Bread

it feels daunting | Apple Sage Walnut Bread

Apple Sage Walnut Bread | Delightful CrumbApple Sage Walnut Bread | Delightful CrumbIt feels daunting, to put it mildly, to sit down and write a post about Kimberley Hasselbrink and her beautiful book, Vibrant Food. But I’ve got to say something, though I’m unlikely to be as eloquent as I hope, and now is the perfect time for this Apple Sage Cake. And so, here we are.

As I’ve mentioned before, I assisted Kimberley for several months of her book-making process. When I started, we were still in the realm of trusted acquaintances, but through those months, she became one of my dearest friends.

Yet I could go back even further. Kimberley’s was one of the first blogs I loved. In my post-college years in Grand Rapids, many moons ago now, I would pore over my favorite bloggers’ words and drink in their beautiful photos, then get to work on recipes in my tiny orange kitchen. I was a baby blogger myself back then, but through comments on one another’s blogs, Kimberley and I forged a connection. I remember the first time she responded to one of my comments via email. It was a post about eggplant, and I’d commented about the lead photo, an absolutely striking image of charred eggplant. When her email of simple thanks popped into my inbox late one night, my new friend suddenly seemed not-so-very-far away. We kept up our popcorn correspondence on blogs and inboxes, and so I of course reached out when I moved to the Bay Area.

I asked if she’d be up for a cup of coffee; she invited me over for lunch. I was new to actually meeting my blog friends in person, and still starry-eyed about someone I’d admired from afar. I went over for lunch one late autumn day, and she cooked something she was working on for the book—acorn squash, I think, which morphed into a fantastic delicata squash recipe you can find in the finished book.

I was looking for work, and Kimberley needed an assistant for a big project she was about to start. I helped her out with that, and she connected me with all kinds of people as I built new networks from scratch, sending me to her lovely dad for ideas and also introducing me to someone who became, months down the road, my first manager at Good Eggs. A full year before I walked through the foodhub doors, before I was even assisting Kimberley officially, she handed me a relationship that led to my current job. Serendipity and kindness at their finest, I tell you.

After we finished that first project, Kimberley asked me to help with the cookbook. It was an easy yes.

And so it happened that several days a week from early spring through late summer last year, I’d take the train into the city, walk to her house and roll up my sleeves to help in the kitchen. Through recipe after recipe, piles of dirty dishes and countless delicious lunches and snacks and drinks, I watched her craft this amazing cookbook. She was patient when I overfilled the food processor with soup and it trickled out and everywhere, when I dropped that jar of salt-packed capers on the floor and the glass shattered, when I let the almond cake get a shade too brown in the oven. I watched Kimberley tweak recipes until they were perfect and bubble up with enthusiasm as she photographed the results, in her element as she perched on a stool, moving the dish around to catch the best light. I can’t express what a gift it was to be this close to someone’s book-making process. It’s intimate, challenging work, and I feel honored to have been present as Vibrant Food came to life.

This cookbook is an amazing one, full of things I (still) want to make and to cook. It’s all about bright, beautiful, fresh food, the kind that is healthful and satisfying by its nature. And Kimberley’s expression of her love for color is genuine, I can tell you that—I’ve watched her shop, and the woman has no patience for dull or boring shades when there are striking ones in the next produce bin. It’s a simple but greatly rewarding disposition.

As for this simple cake, it’s an excellent representation of what I recall from the cookbook process. First and foremost, it’s delicious. Also, we tested it about a dozen times, past the point when I had the recipe memorized. I ate a lot of apple cake in late summer last year, and I never tired of it. This started as a loaf cake with a ribbon of apple and sage through the middle, took on varying amounts of sage, migrated into a square pan, always had a crumble atop. We were determined to bring to life Kimberley’s vision of Pink Pearl apple and grassy-green sage poking through the cake, to perfect the texture for both the gluten-free and gluten-eaters among us, to make both savory and sweet notes clear but not overpowering. And here you have the result.

Kimberley, my friend, here’s to you! I’m grateful for each bite of apple cake, late afternoon lunch, dirty dish, hour of NPR, quince cocktail on the rooftop. Thanks for letting me hitchhike on your journey. Despite any doubt or challenge you faced, there is no doubt that you’ve created something truly beautiful and wildly inspiring. I hope you’re very, very proud.

As for the rest of you, get out there and buy this book!

Apple Sage Walnut Bread | Delightful Crumb Apple Sage Walnut Bread | Delightful Crumb

Apple Sage Walnut Bread

Very slightly adapted from Kimberley Hasselbrink’s Vibrant Food

Pink Pearl apples keep their rosy hue when baked, and it’s really quite enchanting. Since their season has passed, however, any small, tart apple will work nicely. This bread is great for breakfast, a mid-morning snack or dessert, and it pairs famously with coffee. Tightly wrapped, it will last for several days.

Serves 8 to 10

1 cup brown rice flour (or use all-purpose flour)

1 cup oat flour

3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 eggs, lightly beaten

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup applesauce

2 small red apples, cored and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

FOR THE TOPPING

1/3 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

3 tablespoons oat flour (or use all-purpose)

1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the brown rice (or all-purpose) and oat flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk until blended.

In a separate bowl, thoroughly whisk together the eggs, olive oil, yogurt and applesauce. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until combined. Gently mix in the diced apples. The batter will be quite thick.

To make the topping, in a bowl, mix together the oats, walnuts, flour, brown sugar, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Using your fingers, work in the butter until the mixture is well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the batter.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

that glorious moment | butternut & tahini spread

that glorious moment | butternut & tahini spread

Butternut Squash & Tahini Spread | Delightful Crumb

We’ve arrived once more at that glorious moment of transition, where summer turns into fall. My Midwestern heart still dreams of the way the season sweeps in back home, like an eccentric aunt bursting through the door to descend on the family with noise and color. Summer was lovely, of course, with its picnics and sunshine and glasses of rosé, but autumn is rustic and moody, a different sort of stunning, and when it arrives, I am perhaps not quite ready but always thoroughly charmed.

When I was small, I loved jumping in piles of leaves, pulling on the big sweaters I’d been waiting to wear since school shopping back in August, going to football games with my family—where, though I cared only little about the game, I happily drank hot chocolate and huddled close to my parents to stay warm. We went on “color tours” each year, driving north with the sole purpose of admiring the brilliantly colored trees. My mom made a pumpkin muffin with chocolate chips that I started dreaming of as soon as the weather turned, and apple cider was a treat saved only for the darkening days of September. And even though I know it sounds premature, this all starts me thinking about the holidays. I can’t help myself; I adore festivity. My heart beats faster just thinking about decorations and parties and holiday treats…yet another reason to appreciate the season.

The whole thing is less dramatic here, it’s true, and I of course miss the autumnal splendor I left behind. But what I appreciate about seasons in the Bay Area is that they make you pay attention. I’m prompted to take notice of little things, like the wind blowing with just a bit more force, the handfuls of fallen leaves skipping across the sidewalk, the slightly cooler mornings, the crunchy apples I eat by the dozens, the fantastic array of winter squash suddenly filling the market. On top of that, I never before had access to so many varieties of squash or peppers or apples; local persimmons, pomegranates, figs, grapes and quince still make me swoon.

Squash is, perhaps, the most exciting appearance at the market for me, a sign that the season is truly here, whether or not I’ve noticed in the wind or weather. I am indiscriminate: I adore every kind, from pumpkins to spaghetti squash to the fat little ones known as sweet dumplings. Delicata and kabocha take the cake, I must admit, and I still remember what a revelation they were when I discovered them only a couple years ago. I’m already roasting those weekly, topping the burnished slices with a tahini sauce or a dollop of yogurt or a generous sprinkling of herbs.

But today what I have for you is the savior of butternut squash, the thing to change your mind if you’ve resigned your consumption of this oh-so-typical variety to something that is endured rather than enjoyed. This is the third autumn that this spread has been in regular rotation in my kitchen. Yet somehow I forget every time how fantastically good it is.

The recipe, yes. But glorious, too, the season that comes with it.

Butternut Squash & Tahini Spread

Adapted only slightly from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem

1 large butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and chopped (about 7 cups total)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons tahini

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 1/2 teaspoon pomegranate molasses or maple syrup

1 teaspoon black and/or white sesame seeds

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Crackers or pita bread, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spread the squash in a medium roasting pan or on a baking sheet. Pour over the olive oil and sprinkle with the cinnamon and salt. Mix well, then cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Roast for about 70 minutes, stirring once during the cooking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Transfer the cooled squash to a food processor. Add the tahini, yogurt and garlic. Roughly pulse so that everything combines into a coarse paste, without the spread becoming smooth.

Spread the squash in a wavy pattern over a plate, then drizzle the syrup over top. Finish with the sesame seeds and cilantro.

Serve with crackers or pita bread.

the gust of wind | baked feta with fresh figs

the gust of wind | baked feta with fresh figs

Baked Feta & Figs | Delightful CrumbA couple of weeks ago, Ben and I spent a day adventuring around San Francisco. This city is so full of things to do and see and experience; we have been here for two years and still find plenty of sights and eats and neighborhoods we’ve yet to explore. We ended at Twin Peaks, where neither of us had been. It was beautiful and the wind whipped wildly around us, with enough force that I considered the probability of blowing away. We stood there, other languages bouncing through the air around us, thinking about how this place had been here all along, in the corner of our backyard, visited by people from across the globe while we never even thought to stop by.

Ben stepped away for a moment just before we left, and I stood alone with the wind rushing around me. I looked out over the city, trying to identify neighborhoods and admiring the miniature colored houses and the bridges stretching across the bay. As I stood, a tiny hummingbird fluttered up to the evergreen tree beside me. I should say now that I’m still a bit in awe of the reality of hummingbirds as a regular occurrence. Back home, my mom has flowers the little birds love planted alongside the backyard deck, luring them closer in hopes of admiring their shining bodies and fast-moving wings. I’m still stunned to see them flying around as I leave for my morning run, as exotic and surprising as palm trees and figs to my Midwestern mind.

This little bird was close to the tree, flapping fast as if his life depended on it. He stayed near the branches, landed for just a moment, then fluttered out into the empty expanse of sky resting above the houses. He pushed forward, then got caught in a gust of wind and careened through the air, back to the tree. He fluttered, rested, tried again. Out and back, out and back. And then, just when I’d determined that the dance would never stray from that rhythm, he got caught in just the right current and flew high into the air, arriving at a tree high above where I stood.

Was it just me, or was he proud? As much a trope as it is to anthropomorphize, I’m going to do it anyway. Because this really is just like us. We try to get where we want to go, over and over with all our might, and it doesn’t work; we end up where we started, bruised but with wisdom to match our scars. Yet at the moment when we least expect it, a gust of wind comes and throws us upward, right to the place we were supposed to end up all along.

Baked Feta & Figs | Delightful Crumb

Baked Feta with Fresh Figs

This is, perhaps, my favorite way to eat figs. It’s simple and perfect. Goat cheese works just as well as feta. The season is on its way out, so be sure to scoop up any figs you can find and make this before it’s too late!

Feta cheese (or substitute goat cheese)

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt & freshly cracked pepper

A few sprigs of thyme

Aleppo pepper flakes (optional)

FOR SERVING

Fresh figs, halved

Crostini (or substitute sliced bread or crackers)

Honey

Fresh herbs (optional)

Place the cheese in a small baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and tuck the thyme alongside. Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper flakes if you want a bit more depth of flavor.

Baked at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown.

Serve alongside fresh figs, honey and crostini. If you like, top with a pile of fresh herbs, such as mint and/or parsley.