ginger soy braised short ribs
How long have we known each other now? Eight years? Ten?

(Whoa whoa whoa…if we’ve known each other for ten years, you are an OG TasteSpotter and we should be on a first-name basis – email me!)

Even if we just barely met, you know what TasteSpotting is about. We call TasteSpotting “a community-curated virtual potluck” because that’s exactly what it is: food lovers from around the world who come to the metaphorical table with recipes, photos, tips, tricks, and ideas to share with one another to inspire better cooking, better eating, and better living.

One of TasteSpotting’s favorite long-time partners, Thermador, is built on a similar philosophy of inspiration. Thermador is a line of exceptional, innovative products that are designed to power culinary creativity in others, which is why we are beyond excited to be working with Thermador on a new campaign that focuses on highlighting those culinary creators and sharing their exceptional stories. The campaign is called, quite literally #ShareTheExceptional.

For the next few months, Thermador and TasteSpotting together will be looking for exceptional culinary stories from the community to share with the world. What’s an exceptional story? It’s anything, big or small, that stands out in some way to you. A never-fail weeknight recipe. A family food tradition. A dinner party. Date night in. A flavor discovery while vacationing somewhere new. An unexpected food and wine pairing. Take a gorgeous photo of it. Tell us about it. We already share it with one another. Now we want to share it with everyone else.

How to #ShareTheExceptional:

  1. Capture your exceptional culinary moment with an image or video, along with a few words about the story or recipe behind it.
  2. Submit to and tag it #ShareTheExceptional and @ThermadorHome (you can also post it to instagram!)
  3. If you need examples or encouragement, we’ll be coming up with themes and ideas at the beginning of each week to inspire your menus, recipes, and entertaining ideas for the rest of the week. Follow @ThermadorHome to see all the exceptional moments and continue to feed your soul with even more culinary inspiration!
  4. Share as much as you want…only your creativity is the limit!


And so we come to what we’re sharing this week to take advantage of the upcoming three-day weekend: slow-cooked cozy comfort foods. We’re thinking braises, soups, stews, and oven-roasts that cook “low and slow” keeping the kitchen heated all day (or night) when it’s below freezing outside. Served in bowls, slow-cooked cozy comfort foods are perfect to warm your hands and lap when you’re wrapped in a blanket, cuddled up on the couch, and settled in for the slowest marathon you’ll ever do, netflix for three days straight.

Full, detailed recipe for our slow-cooked, warm and cozy Ginger Soy-Braised Short Ribs with Baby Bok Choy, Daikon, and Shiitake Mushrooms, and Soba below, with Notes and Shopping Resources following.

Need a little inspiration to get you started on some of your own slow-cooked cozy comfort? Scroll down and peep the round-up of some of our favorites!

ginger soy braised short ribs with soba


Our Ginger Soy-Braised Short Ribs is a dish you can cook any day this week, or even cook over the course of two days, then re-heat and eat all weekend. The baby bok choy, carrots, daikon radish, and shiitake mushrooms are a good, green balance to the rich, meaty short ribs. Make sure to serve something along with the short ribs that will soak up all the garlicky, gingery sauce. Steamed brown rice is a natural accompaniment; we chose buckwheat soba this time just because.

serves 4–6


5 pounds beef short ribs, bone on
kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 medium onion, sliced lengthwise
half head of garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 2-inch pieces of ginger, lightly crushed, and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
¼ cup sake
¼ cup mirin
¾ cup soy sauce
3¼ cups water or light/low sodium beef stock
4 large dates
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
1 large daikon radish, peeled and sliced into 1-inch thick rounds
8-10 large shiitake mushrooms caps
6-8 heads of baby bok choy, washed and sliced into quarters lengthwise
garnish: sliced scallions, toasted sesame seeds, sesame oil
serve with: cooked buckwheat soba noodles or steamed rice


Season all sides of short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in Dutch oven or large pan with high sides over medium high-heat. Brown short ribs on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove browned short ribs to a plate. Pour off rendered beef fat from pot, leaving about 2 tablespoons in pot.

Turn down heat. Add onions, garlic, and ginger to pot and cook until the vegetables are tender and caramelized, about 6 minutes. Scrape up browned bits from sides and bottom of pot while cooking.

Pour sake and mirin into pot, careful to stand back from hot steam from the pot. Scrape up additional browned bits from bottom of pot.

Return the seared short ribs to the pot along with the dates. Pour in soy sauce and water or beef stock. Turn up heat and bring braising liquid to a boil, then turn heat down until liquid is at a bare simmer. Cover pot, leaving a slight opening to allow steam to escape. Turn ribs onto each of their sides about every 30 minutes.

After 2 hours, nestle the sliced carrots, daikon, and shiitake mushrooms into the braising liquid between the short ribs. Simmer for another 30-45 minutes until vegetables are cooked through and meat is falling-apart tender. If the vegetables cook faster than the shortribs, gently remove them from the pot to a plate until the short ribs finish cooking.

About five minutes before cooking finishes, add the sliced baby bok choy to the pot, cover, and let cook long enough for the white stalks to soften and leaves to turn bright green.

Serve short ribs and vegetables in wide shallow bowls with buckwheat soba. Spoon braising liquid over shortribs, vegetables, and soba. Garnish with sliced scallions, toasted sesame seeds and a very scant drizzle of toasted sesame oil.

Double this recipe. It keeps well. It freezes well.

beef short ribs in cast iron skillet


  • PLAN AHEAD: Braised short ribs of any kind taste better when they are made the day before. I have no idea why. Is it the chemistry of flavors and juices combining? Is it the physiology of meat cooling and re-heating that makes it more tender? Is it the psychology of making you wait a day before getting to eat something that smells so incredibly good while cooking? Whatever it is, try to make this dish one day in advance. Maybe even two days. Which makes this recipe so perfect for entertaining, both a larger dinner party, or an intimate date.
  • SKIMMING FAT: Since you are making this dish a day ahead, you can skip the fat-skimming step during the cooking process. In the chill of the refrigerator overnight, the fat will rise to the top (as always happens with anything good) and harden into pieces you can remove easily and discard in the trash can (don’t put it down the sink – but I don’t have to tell you that, right?)
  • SHORT RIBS: We bought our short ribs from Whole Foods market, but this cut of beef is available at most grocery stores.
  • All produce from either the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market or Whole Foods Market.
  • SAKE is rice wine, yes, the kind you drink out of the tiny cups or wooden boxes. Or red solo plastic cups. If you can’t find sake (but you should really try to find good sake, first to make this dish, then to drink it). but if you can’t find sake, use a drinkable, dry white wine.
  • MIRIN is a sweet rice wine, but it is different from sake. Real mirin is naturally sweet because of the type of rice from which it is made. There are some things labeled “mirin” in stores but are made sweet with added sugars and salt. Sake and mirin are two different products, both derived from rice, but are not really interchangeable. However, if you can’t mirin, use more sake with about a tablespoon of sugar.
  • SWEETNESS: Though there is some natural sweetness in this recipe from the dates, a Korean version of this recipe adds quite a bit of regular sugar to the braising liquid, resulting in a thick, sticky sweet sauce that is delicious, but obviously, very high in sugar.  If you like the sweetness of Korean barbecue and other foods, stir in additional ¼ cup of sugar into the pot along with the soy sauce and stock.
  • GLUTEN-FREE: To make this recipe gluten-free, substitute gluten-free tamari (a wheat-free type of soy sauce) for the soy sauce; and serve with 100% buckwheat soba or other grain like brown rice.
  • For some heat, you can add sliced jalapeños to the pot at the very end. Don’t add the jalapeños too early or the dish might end up uncomfortably spicy.


Click on any photo below to get to the recipe for a low- and slow-cooked dish to get cozy with this winter weekend…

  • Congee with Fried Garlic and Soft Boiled Egg Recipe
  • Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese Recipe
  • Pork and Black Beans Stew Recipe
  • Beef Lauya
  • Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon Recipe
  • Chicken Stock Made in Slow Cooker
  • Mushroom Risotto Vegan Recipe
  • Galbi Jjim Korean Braised Shortribs
  • Citrus Braised Lamb Shanks with Green Harissa Recipe
  • King Ranch Mac and Cheese
  • Chicken Mac and Cheese Soup
  • Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Feta Cheese Recipe
  • Puy Lentil and Bone Marrow Stew Recipe
  • Bo Kho Vietnamese Beef Stew Recipe
  • Budae Jjigae Korean Army Stew Recipe
  • Crockpot Spicy Chicken Curry
  • Slow Cooker New Mexican Red Pork Chili Recipe
  • Slow Cooker Beef and Potato Harissa Stew
  • Crockpot Pho Recipe
  • Beef Stew Recipe
  • Slow Cooker Congee Recipe
  • Enchilada Stuffed Pepper Casserole Recipe
  • Black Bean Soup Recipe
  • Rotini Pasta and Pork Casserole Recipe

Do you have an exceptional story to share with us and the world? Please send it our way by submitting a recipe and link to or instagramming a photo with a story, and tagging it #ShareTheExceptional and @ThermadorHome.

by Sarah J. Gim on February 14, 2017 · 0 comments

bourbon bacon jam and charcuterie board

Our generous friends at Thermador are doing a SECOND Instagram giveaway! Head over to their instagram page to enter and win culinary prizes for both you AND a friend!”

We weren’t kidding when we said we were PARTYING it up to celebrate our partner Thermador’s 100 Year anniversary! We’ve been designing party boards — think charcuterie, cheese, and crudité platters of EPIC proportions — all week for happy, celebratory gatherings of all kinds!bourbon bacon jam and charcuterie board

And we also weren’t kidding last week during our epic vegetable and hummus post when we said we’d be focusing a little more this week on our carnivorous guests! We call the meat section of our Party Boards “charcuterie,” which is the French catch-all word for cured and preserved meats and includes everything from bacon, hams, sausages, and pâtés. “Salumi” is an Italian word for essentially the same things.

We tend to lean on the experts behind the charcuterie/salumi and cheese counters at our favorite shops when it comes time to pick the specific cured, dried, and salted meats we’re going to serve, but we generally like to have at least something from each of the following “groups”:

  • Prosciutto: we refer to everything that looks like a whole pork leg and shaved into super thin ribbons of ham as “prosciutto,” though the word is actually pretty specific to Italian dry-cured ham. There are other types from Italy, and jamón is similar, from Spain.
  • Salami, mild
  • Hard dried sausage, spicy, like a pepperoni, soppressata, or chorizo (our favorite!)
  • Bresaola: like ham, but dried and cured beef
  • Beef jerky: I know this sounds weird and a little trailer park, but if you get a really well-made jerky from a good cut of beef, it will be the first thing to go from your charcuterie board.
  • Pâté: you’ve probably seen traditional French preparations of pâté, which is essentially any kind of processed meat and fat made into a spread. Recently, we’ve replaced a traditional pâté with another kind of cooked, spreadable meat, BACON JAM in little jars.

bourbon bacon jam recipe

Yes, you read that right, Bacon Jam, as in spread, like jam, made of bacon. We serve ours in little jars alongside charcuterie on boards, but bacon jam is pretty terrific as a spread on sandwiches, it pairs really well with mild creamy cheeses like Brie for grilled cheese, and if you’re not already having bacon with your eggs for breakfast, just serve Bacon Jam. If you’re ambitious enough (we’re not. yet.) make homemade Pop-Tarts with the Bacon Jam inside, and maple vanilla glaze outside!

There are versions of Bacon Jam in jars you can buy off the store shelves (or order online), but we like to make ours at home because not only is it DEAD EASY, but we also like to add some very generous splashes of Bourbon to our recipe.

bourbon bacon jam recipe

A basic Bacon Jam can be made with a few ingredients, sans the Bourbon, but why? Bourbon has a smoky quality to itself, so it just adds to the smoky flavor of the bacon. We also add a little bit of maple syrup as a sweet balance to all the others tastes.

Make this Bourbon Bacon Jam. Pick up some charcuterie, cheese, and produce from your local farmers’ markets. Assemble an epic Party Board. Gather friends. Pour wine. Celebrate something! Anything! Nothing!bacon, oven fried

Bourbon Bacon Jam {recipe}

makes a little more than 2 cups


1 lb bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup Bourbon
½ teaspoon hot, cayenne, ancho chili, or paprika powder (optional)


Cook bacon until brown and crisp at edges. We “fry” our bacon on a rack over a foil-lined baking sheet with sides in a 350° oven for 20 minutes — we find it is the easiest and cleanest way to cook bacon.

Remove cooked bacon to paper towel-lined plate to cool and drain off grease. Pat with additional paper towels. When cool, cut bacon into 1-inch pieces.

Discard all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat. Heat bacon fat in a large pot on medium low. Add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent. Add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup and Bourbon. Bring to a boil. Add cooked chopped bacon.

Turn down heat to the lowest setting and allow to simmer for about 1½ hours, stirring every few minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated and what is left is syrupy. Do not leave the pot unattended because 1) that’s just not safe no matter what and 2) there is a lot of sugar from the onions and well, the sugar, so it can burn easily.

Transfer the cooked bacon jam to a food processor. Pulse until you get the consistency of chunky jam. Bacon jam is sticky, sweet, slightly smoky, and a little bit “crunchy” from crisped parts of cooked bacon.

Store covered in the refrigerator. I have no idea how long it keeps, but based on my recipe research, it seems like a few weeks. I doubt you will have any left after 3 days.


This post sponsored by our friends at Thermador.

bacon, oven fried

by Sarah J. Gim on May 4, 2016 · 0 comments

crudite hummus dip party board

Our generous friends at Thermador are doing an Instagram giveaway! Head over to their instagram page to enter and win culinary prizes for both you AND a friend!

Tonight we’re going to party like it’s 1999 … 1916!

1916…which is the year the Thermador company was established, which means this year 2016, we’re celebrating Thermador’s 100th Anniversary!

And since any celebration starts with food and drink, at least it does in our world, we’re putting together what we’re calling a “Party Board,” an epic setup of cheese, charcuterie, bread, crackers, fruit, nuts, crudité, dips, spreads, whatever, essentially any and all food party guests can easily eat from a big wooden board while holding onto their wine glasses.


From the overflowing looks of it, a Party Board might seem complicated, but it really only requires a well-planned market visit, some washing/prepping time, and a good eye to artfully arrange all the pieces together on a board. The beauty of the board is, of course, that 100% of it is prepared in advance of the party.

Did you read that? Everything, and we mean, everything, is done in advance, not just “mostly setup but when the guests arrive you still have to be in the kitchen throwing things together.” “In advance” means you, as the host, don’t have to do anything but have a great time with your guests. Well, that and maybe pour the wine — which we consider a great time, too.

classic beet sweet potato and edamame hummus


Our Party Boards generally lean heavily toward fresh fruit and vegetables with a colorful array of dips and spreads. We like everything from creamy dips (um hello Ranch!) to guacamole to soft cheese spreads to mostly-vegetable purées like Mediterranean baba ghanouj.

And speaking of Mediterranean, our number one go-to for a Party Board is hummus. No matter what other things appear on our Party Board for any given celebration, there will always be at least one type of hummus. Because it’s easy to start with a basic hummus and expand on it with other flavors from herbs, spices, and even vegetables, there will probably two types of hummus, maybe even three, and heck, for our friends at Thermador, we did four!

We start with an extra large batch (double recipe) of our now perfect Classic Hummus recipe. Even if your gathering is small, when is it ever a bad idea to have some extra hummus stored up in the fridge for a midnight snack or a light packed lunch to go?

Then we portion out some of the classic hummus to serve as the base for hot pink Roasted Beet Hummus and bright purple Roasted Sweet Potato Hummus. The recipe for Classic Hummus is {here}. Make it, then use it as a base for the other two Hummus recipes: Roasted Beet Hummus {here} and Sweet Potato Hummus {here}.

We also love Edamame Hummus, which is made entirely from edamame (instead of a mix with the garbanzo beans of classic hummus). It works especially well because the other primary ingredient in classic hummus, tahini, is sesame, a flavor that naturally works well with edamame. That recipe is coming soon!

Because hummus keeps well for a few days in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator, make it in advance (obviously). However, we also have zero qualms ever about buying hummus in a package at the grocery store because come on, how many times have we all done that (about 100)? But we think our recipe for Classic Hummus made at home is the best we’ve ever tasted.

crudite prep, market haul


It probably goes against every piece of advice you’ve ever heard about planning and preparing for a get-together of any size, but I am of the belief that it is 100% okay to go grocery shopping without a list.


I know. The Number One listiest list-maker of all time just recommended that we go to the market without a list?!

Ok, so of course you’re going to carry a list for everything else like “wine” and “cheese (3 – 5 kinds)” and “bread” and “wine.” What I mean is “without a detailed list of every specific fruit and vegetable you plan to buy,” because, especially if you shop for fruit and vegetables at farmers’ markets, you may not find some things, and more importantly, you will discover pretty, delicious little surprises on your farmers’ tables that weren’t on your list like baby purple artichokes, ninja radishes, and mulberries.

That all being said, there are a few basic fruits and vegetables that are available year-round, in most markets, so keep those listed, and just be flexible about what you put in your basket.

vegetable crudite prep

Prepping fruits and vegetables always start with the same thing: wash everything. I mean everything, even the vegetables that you will peel by pulling the skin off (avocado), and even the vegetables you might peel with a peeler (carrots) because you’re going to touch the dirty skin outside, peel it off, but then touch the inside.

It’s not just about pesticides and/or germs. You don’t know who touched what, what touched what, and even the vegetables that are organic, local, straight from the farm, straight from your very own backyard garden, have dirt, environmental dust, and droppings (so gross I know, sorry), which, organic or not, isn’t pleasant to feel in your mouth. Or maybe it is for yours, but not your guests.

Helpful note: We use an organic fruit and vegetable spray wash in our kitchen to help loosen dirt and some of the natural waxes on fruit and vegetables skins.

Next step, wash everything. Oh, did we already say that? So important, we say it twice!

There are many ways to prep and present vegetables for a crudité platter. The following list explains what we do in our kitchen to each of the vegetable types to get them ready for the serving plate or board. If you have prepping secrets or suggestions, please let us in on them by leaving a comment!

The vegetables are listed in alphabetical order. Refer to the photo above for visual guidance, where the vegetables are pictured also, in alphabetical order left-to-right.

ASPARAGUS (blanched): Bend each asparagus stalk closer to the bottom of the stalk until it breaks. The stalk will break at the point where the stem changes from tender, which is edible, to woody which is still edible, but unpleasantly fibrous. Put the asparagus stalks in a colander, then pour boiling water over them. They will turn bright green from contact with the hot water, and will ever so slightly “cook,” if at all. You can see the difference in color between duller raw asparagus and the brighter green blanched asparagus in the photo above. Rinse with cold water, drain, and dry off the stalks. Cut the stalks into 3-inch pieces. I make my cuts on a bias to match the angle of the asparagus tip. It is way too much detail, I know, but I have no other hobbies.

AVOCADO: When it comes to party boards, people usually think of avocado as a base for a dip like guacamole. You can do the usual, or you can serve whole wedges of avocado that people will think is awesome and brilliant and unexpected. Cut straight through the skin and cut the avocado the “long way” into halves first. Pull the halves apart, remove the pit (save it to grow into a tree!) and slice the halves, still with the skin attached, into quarters, then eighths. Leaving the skin and flesh intact keeps more of the avocado from oxidizing, and makes it easier for guests to pick up with their hands. Guests can peel the skin back like a banana.

BEETS (raw or roasted): Baby beets are tender enough to be eaten raw. Slice them super thinly on a mandoline, which is especially pretty for candy stripe beets. Larger beets can be roasted, peeled, then cut into quarters. If you are serving red beets, especially if they are roasted, make sure you have small forks for your guests. Red beets stain hands and anything those hands touch, like your furniture and linens!

BROCCOLI (blanched): If, out of last minute desperation, you’ve ever bought a pre-made crudité platter from the deli/catering counter or produce section of your grocery store, you’ve seen raw broccoli florets as crudité. That’s fine and all, but have you ever seen anyone actually eat raw broccoli in anything other than in a salad, but it has to be drenched, no drowning, in some sort of sauce? Right. So don’t serve the broccoli raw. Use the same technique as for the asparagus, pouring boiling hot water over the stalks through a colander. Though the broccoli will still be almost as crunchy as it is raw, it will be a very bright green and will look more edible. Cut the florets or stalk into 3-inch pieces.

CARROTS: You know how to make carrot sticks. In the Spring though, look for little baby carrots that you can serve whole. You don’t need to peel the baby carrots, just scrub them very well. You can use a scrubbing brush; we use a clean dishwashing scrubbing sponge that is set aside specifically for vegetables. Trim the green carrot tops down to about ¾-inch. Use a sharp paring knife to “scrape” some of the dark stuff from around the “neck” where the greens attach to the top of the actual carrot. I have no idea if this dirt, but it doesn’t look great, so do what you can to scrape it off. Serve the baby carrots whole if they’re thin enough, or slice them length-wise into halves or quarters.

CELERY: You probably already did this in order to thoroughly wash the celery, but if not, remove outer stalks that are bruised or too “tough.” Cut off about 2 inches of the root end (you can stick it in a small cup of water to grow into new celery!), then pull apart the stalks. Trim the leaves of any brown or wilted leaves and bits. Cut each stalk into thirds, about 3 inch pieces. We make bias cuts because that is how we have cut vegetables our whole lives. Serve the most tender inner stalks, and also the leafy tops, which present well on the board.

CUCUMBER: Cut the cucumber in half length-wise, then make ¼-inch slices along a deep bias to make spears. We do this because the longer spear shapes matches most of the other vegetables. It’s also fine to cut the whole cucumber into rounds.

ENDIVE: Pull apart the leaves, and trim the bottom of each leaf of the jagged edges.

GREEN BEANS (blanched): Trim the stem end off of each green bean, then prepare the same way as the asparagus and broccoli — by pouring boiling hot water over the green beans set in a colander.

RADICCHIO: Pull apart the leaves. Trim the jagged edges. Generally, the inner most leaves are the best for scooping or dipping.

RADISHES: We love every kind of radish ever, but for a Party Board, we like French Breakfast Radishes, the longer-shaped ones that are dark fuschia/red and white. Prep these kind of radishes the same way as baby carrots, scrubbing them well, leaving the green tops and leaves, and scraping away the dark spots around the “neck.” For regular round radishes, cut into small wedges, or thinly slice on a mandoline into rounds like the baby beets.

SUGAR SNAPS: Use kitchen shears to trim dark stem ends. And that’s it. Sugar snaps are basically ready to go.

TOMATOES: Even easier than sugar snaps, just wash and go. Like Pert.

WATERMELON RADISH: Trim the green top and the root end off the radish. To make it easier, cut the radish in half the “long way,” then slice each half into half moons using a mandoline. Use a very sharp knife to carefully “peel” the thinnest, outermost skin of each slice. It may seem time-consuming to peel by hand for each individual slice, but it’s easier and makes for a “smoother” edge than trying to use a peeler on a whole, round radish.

ZUCCHINI: Use baby zucchini, and if they still have the blossoms attached, even better! If the squash are thin and tender enough, you can serve them whole, otherwise, slice them the long way into halves or quarters.


What you serve will always depend on seasonal and local availability.

Cauliflower and Other Cousins of Broccoli: “Blanch” the same was as we do for asparagus and green beans, but pouring boiling hot water over the florets set in a colander.

Fennel: raw, sliced


Peppers: Cut large bell pepperslength-wise into ½-inch wide strips, or serve small sweet baby bell peppers whole or sliced in half length-wise.

Sweet Potato: Roasted sweet potatoes cut into wedges or chunks are good in the cooler months when tender, fresh baby vegetables aren’t as readily available, but we didn’t do it this time because we have sweet potato in one of our hummus.

Oh, you have some omnivore friends, too? Stay tuned. Next week, we’re putting together an outstanding charcuterie board and have a recipe for Bourbon Bacon Jam to share with you!

by Sarah J. Gim on April 27, 2016 · 2 comments

classic hummus recipe

Our friends at Thermador are doing a fun, easy giveaway on Instagram this week as part of their year-long celebration of their 100 Year Anniversary! Check out their instagram for full details on how to enter and win. Good luck! We hope you win!

I have been trying to make hummus ever since I realized I could make it at home myself instead of buying plastic container after plastic container of the stuff either at the grocery store or as a special “extra large side” from my favorite Mediterranean restaurants. Hummus generally isn’t that much cheaper to make at home, but it’s always nice to know where every single ingredient comes from, and of course, it’s more fun.

The first few times I made hummus, I tried to “hack” it and cobbled together bits and pieces of different hummus recipes I found on the internet — specifically “hummus” on TasteSpotting of course! My hummus always tasted okay, spicy with garlic and tart with lemon juice, but I never got the same ultra creamy, fluffy consistency of the restaurant hummus that even the grocery store hummus didn’t always have.

Hummus doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, so I tweaked here and there trying to achieve that creamy, fluffy hummus, whether it was amounts, order of ingredients, and even completely removing or adding other ingredients. Adding more lemon juice made the hummus, duh, too lemony. Putting all of the ingredients in the food processor at the same time as opposed to puréeing the chickpeas first made no difference. Adding more olive oil made the hummus runny.

And truth be told, starting with either dried chickpeas and cooking them myself, or using great quality canned chickpeas didn’t seem to make a difference.

Then, like every good food-obsessive a few years ago, I got my hands on Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook, Jerusalem. The simple recipe for hummus was a revelation to me. The recipe used no olive oil, called for a lot of tahini, and added of all things, ice water. I was skeptical.

I made hummus following Ottolenghi’s recipe to a T.

The hummus was perfect.

I’ve since made some tweaks to his recipe to suit my taste a little, cutting down on both the tahini and the lemon juice, without compromising too much of the texture of the final hummus. My extremely uneducated guess is that the conssitency comes from the addition of baking soda during the chickpea cooking process, and from the interaction of cold water with the oil in the tahini.

One thing to note is that I have not tried this version with canned chickpeas. There might be some science to starting with dried chickpeas and dry-sautéing them with baking soda, but I am too happy with the version I have to experiment any more.

The next thing to conquer? That insanely delicious garlic paste that they serve with roast chicken and lamb at Mediterranean restaurants!

Classic hummus

The Very Best Classic Hummus {recipe}

Dried chickpeas have to soak overnight, so plan on starting this recipe the night before.

For resources and recipe notes, see list at bottom of this recipe.


1¼ cups dried chickpeas
water for soaking
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 cups water (for boiling)
¾ cup tahini paste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
¼ to ½ cup ice cold water
salt to taste (start with 2 teaspoons)
optional for serving: olive oil, chopped fresh parsley, a few whole cooked chickpeas


The night before, soak the dried chickpeas in enough water to cover by twice the volume.

When ready to prepare, drain the soaking water from the chickpeas. Heat a saucepan over medium heat (no oil), add the soaked chickpeas and baking soda, and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir constantly so the chickpeas do not burn.

Add water to the pot, bring to a boil, then turn down heat to simmer. Cook chickpeas until they are very tender, crumbling when you pinch one between your fingers. Start checking after 20 minutes; mine were ready at 35 minutes. Skim off and discard and loose chickpea skins and foam while cooking.

Drain the cooked chickpeas, and pick off any remaining loose skins; it is okay if most of the chickpeas still have their skins on. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and pulse, then process until the chickpeas are ground. This may require turning the machine off and scraping down the sides with a spatula or wooden spoon every once in a while.

With the food processor running, add tahini, lemon juice, chopped garlic, and 2 teaspoons salt.

Once most of the tahini has been incorporated, very slowly drizzle cold water into the running food processor until hummus becomes creamy and fluffy. You may use anywhere from ¼ to ½ cup of water.

Taste and season with additional if salt if necessary.

Scrape hummus into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a plate, and allow the hummus to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Serve hummus at room temperature. Adding a drizzle of olive oil, some chopped fresh parley, and a few extra whole chickpeas is always a good idea.

Store any leftover hummus tightly wrapped in refrigerator. It will keep for about 3 days.


  • use any dried organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • tahini is a creamy sesame paste, something like a much thinner peanut butter in both color, consistency, and sometimes taste. it is available in some grocery stores and Mediterranean/Middle Eastern markets, and the organic brand I use, kevala, is also available on amazon
  • any and all other produce, organic, from local farmers’ markets or Whole Foods Market

This post sponsored by our friends at Thermador.

by Sarah J. Gim on April 27, 2016 · 0 comments


We’re supporting our pals over at Thermador, who are doing a fun and easy Instagram giveaway this month! All you have to do to enter to win one of their weekly prizes is follow @ThermadorHome on instagram, post a frozen treat (this week, ice cream!), and tag @Thermadorhome and #IceOnThePrize in the caption! Check out their profile on instagram for full details. Good luck!


We made a pavlova.

And we might not need to make another dessert ever again.

Pavlovas are a crisp meringue base typically spread with fluffy whipped cream, sometimes curd, and topped with fresh fruit. But really, is anything ever “typical” anymore? We’ve seen every component of a pavlova take on different variation, from coffee and chocolate flavored meringue bases, to other fluffy cream-like spreads and mousses, to every kind of fresh fruit, fruit compote, nuts, and even herbs.

As fitting as the original version is for summer, with the lightness of whipped cream and fresh fruit, we thought we’d swap out the whipped cream for the quintessential creamy dreaminess of summer, ice cream. What we’ve ended up with is something that tastes like a chocolate covered strawberry: two chocolate meringues layered with chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and raspberry ice creams, fresh super summer-ripe strawberries, and chocolate sauce.


This Chocolate Covered Strawberry Ice Cream Pavlova is the perfect kind of show-stopping dessert for a group or a party. Just have all the components separate and ready to assemble just before serving. The meringues can be baked days in advance if kept cool and dry, slice the berries, and you can even scoop the ice cream and keep the frozen as scoops until serving time.

But if the ice cream gets a little melty, we won’t get mad atcha.

pavlova, chocolate strawberry ice cream

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Ice Cream Double Layer Pavlova {recipe}

Makes on double-layer pavlova, enough for 1 (!) – 10 people


Ingredients for the Pavlova’s Meringue Base:
6 large egg whites (* see Note 1)
1½ cups superfine sugar (*8 see Note 2)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped

Ingredients for the Pavlova:
1 pint chocolate ice cream
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 pint strawberry ice cream
1 pint raspberry sorbet
1 basket super summer-ripe strawberries, sliced into halves (*** see Note 3)
chocolate sauce for drizzing


Make the Pavlova’s Meringue Base: Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a large baking sheet. Draw two 8-inch diameter circles with pencil on the parchment. (If two circles don’t fit, make each meringue base layer on a separate baking sheet.) Turn the paper over on the baking sheet so that the pencil drawn circle side in down.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and shiny peaks form. Beat in superfine sugar a few spoonfuls at a time until stiff, shiny peaks form off the beaters and in the bowl.

Sprinkle sifted cocoa, balsamic vinegar, and chopped chocolate over the beaten egg whites in the bowl, then gently fold until everything is incorporated.

Divide and spoon the chocolate meringue between the two circles on the parchment paper, spreading it to just about ½-inch inside the pencil mark; the meringue will spread during baking We learned this the first time when our two meringue layers spread and stuck to each other. Try to make the edges ever so slightly higher (like a rim) to hold in the fillings later.

Place the baking sheets in the pre-heated oven, then turn the temperature down to 350º. Bake the meringues until they are dry to the touch, about 1 hour. Turn off the heat, prop open the oven door, and allow the meringues to cool down completely inside the oven.

The cooled meringues can be stored in an air tight container in a cool, dry place for a couple of days.

Assemble the Pavlova: Place one chocolate meringue on a serving platter, with rimmed edges to catch any melted ice cream if desired. Place small scoops of the different ice cream in a single layer on top. Place the second meringue layer on top, adding another layer of ice cream scoops. Top with fresh sliced strawberries, then drizzle with chocolate sauce or hot fudge.

Serve immediately. No part of this dessert can be stored once it is assembled so eat all of it.

* Note 1: Best if egg whites are room temperature and the mixing bowl is very cold, and clean of any kind of oil/grease (like yolk or oil from your hands)

** Note 2: Superfine sugar is different from confectioner’s/powdered sugar (which contains cornstarch). If you can’t find super-fine sugar, just make it at home by processing it in a food processor or blender for about three minutes on medium speed. Careful when you process it, it will give off a sugar “dust” that you don’t want to inhale.

*** Note 3: We bought super-ripe, super-sweet (red inside!) strawberries from the farmers’ market the morning of the day we served the Pavlova. If your berries are slightly underripe or not as sweet, slice them, toss them slices with a tablespoon of sugar in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for an hour or two. The strawberries will weep out their juices and make a sweet “sauce” with the sugar,; you can pour the entire thing over the ice cream for the final product.

For more Pavlova Ideas, check out the full TasteSpotting gallery here, or click on some of our editors’ favorites below!

  • Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse Honey Roasted Peaches
  • Pavlovas with Strawberries and Basil Coulis
  • Maple Apple Pavlova Recipe
  • Lilac Blackberry Pavlova Recipe
  • Candied Pansy and Violet Mini Pavlovas Recipe
  • Black Forest Pavlova Recipe
  • Meyer Lemon Berry Thyme and Yogurt Pavlova Recipe
  • Exotic Fruit Meringue Pavlova Recipe
  • Kiwi Pavlova Recipe
  • Pavlova with Strawberries and Cream Recipe
  • Pavlova with Rhubarb and Pistachios Recipe
  • Lavender Berry Pavlova Recipe
  • Hazelnut Pavlova with Mascarpone Cream and Berries Recipe
  • Chocolate Pavlova Cake
  • Pavlova Wreath
  • Rosewater Pistachio Pavlova Recipe
  • Star Anise Poached Pear Pavlovas
  • Pavlova with Fresh Berries Recipe
  • Blackberry Kiwi Mini Pavlova Recipe
  • Nutella Pavlova Recipe

by Sarah J. Gim on June 18, 2015 · 1 comment

PIMMpin Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider 1Hey there Tastespotters! Are you guys counting down the day to whatever big Halloween party you’re crashing this weekend?

Pumpkins are everywhere, especially on this big little world wide web. We have pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cupcake, PSL, but I’m especially smitten with all the creative pumpkin cocktails I’ve been coming across on Tastespotting. So much that I have to add one of my own.

I’m a huge fan of Pimm’s No. 1 — it’s such a great liquor to mix with fruity, spicy mixers and elixirs — hence, this PIMMpin Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider, a simple and delicious light cocktail made with Pimm’s and sparkling pumpkin spiced apple cider.

(I got the cider from Sprouts Market in southern California if anyone is wondering, but I’d imagine you can find it anywhere this time of year, though I could be wrong.)PIMMpin Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider 3

Pimm-pin’ Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider {cocktail recipe}

Makes 1 serving, but can be easily multiplied.


1 oz Pimm’s No. 1
3 oz sparkling pumpkin spiced apple cider
apple slices for garnish


Fill half an old fashioned glass with ice. Pour sparkling pumpkin spiced apple cider and Pimm’s over ice. Garnish with apple slices.

To make a party pitcher, fill pitcher with 1 part Pimm’s and 3 parts sparkling pumpkin spiced apple cider. Chill in the refrigerator or in an ice bath. Add ice to glass when ready to serve, pour your PIMMpin’ pumpkin drink over ice, serve up in an old fashioned glass for class.

Original recipe created by Tastespotting Associate Editor Trang Doan; check out her blog at Wild Wild Whisk!

So while you’re sipping on this awesome cocktail (if I do say so myself), check out these other party-worthy pumpkin cocktails I’ve curated for you below. Make one or make a few and impress your guests like the amazing hosts/hostesses you are!

(Click on any image to get the recipe!)

  • Spiked Pumpkin Pie White Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • Pumpkin Pie Eggnog Recipe
  • Apple Pumpkintini Recipe
  • Pumpkin Pie Martini
  • Spiked Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie Lattes
  • Kahlua Pumpkin Spice Coffee Recipe
  • Apple Bourbon Pumpkin Sangria Recipe
  • Spiced Pumpkin Shrub Cocktail Recipe
  • Pumpkin Mojito Recipe
  • Kahlua Pumpkin Spice Hazelnut Coffee Recipe
  • Chocolate Pumpkin Gingerbread Martini Recipe
  • Pumpkin Butter Whiskey Cocktail Recipe
  • Pumpkin Pie Vodka Cocktail Recipe
  • Pumpkin Eggnog Martini Recipe
  • Pumpkin Kahlua Colada Recipe
  • Hard Cider Ale plus Pumpkin Pie Gelato
  • Pumpkin Spiked Latte
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake Martini
  • Pumpkin Pie Martini
  • Pumpkin Spiked Horchata

by Trang Doan on October 27, 2014 · 0 comments

An Evening at Pizzeria Bianco with Chris Bianco and His ‘Rosa’ Pizza {recipe}

When food writer Elliott Shaffner and her photographer Fred Turko decided to move across the country from Los Angeles to a new life in Richmond, Virginia, they took the opportunity to make a once-in-a-lifetime road trip of it. As any food writer+photographer couple would, they designed the majority of their coast-to-coast route as a culinary journey. Their plan: to taste each state on their map and absorb what makes up this country’s past, present and future through its food.

TasteSpotting is lucky enough to peek into the details of Elliott and Fred’s first stop out of LA: Phoenix, Arizona.
Pizzeria Bianco - Rosa Pizza
[click to continue…]

by Features Editor on September 3, 2014 · 0 comments