Pad Thai with Kale and Mushrooms from Chocolate & Zucchini

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I saw this recipe for pad thai noodles with kale and mushrooms on Chocolate & Zucchini and I knew I had to try it.

I’ve been following Chocolate & Zucchini for a while now. Clotilde is based in Paris so in addition to posting delicious recipes, she has tips on where to eat and travel in France. As someone who fantasizes about moving back to France daily, I appreciate living vicariously through her blog.

I’m usually wary of pad thai recipes because they can be very hit or miss. You wouldn’t think so because it’s just noodles, but it has to do more with the sauce. Some recipes give you a weird ratio of peanut butter to oil and soy sauce and you’re left with a goopy or runny mess.

Luckily, that didn’t happen with this pad thai. The sauce had the perfect ratio of lime, peanut butter, soy sauce, and sesame oil. It was light enough to coat the noodles but heavy enough to give the noodles lots of flavor.

I like the kale and mushrooms in the dish because they add some earthiness and pair well with the peanut flavor. The mushrooms are an especially good addition because they are substantial and add a meat-like quality to the dish. I wasn’t missing meat, don’t get me wrong. But it’s nice to have an element of the dish that’s not noodles or kale ribbons.

ANYWAY. This pad thai was so good that I almost ate the entire pot in one sitting. Instead, I forced myself to save half for lunch today. It will give me something to look forward to as I sit at my desk on a Monday.

In other news, I watched a really good movie over the weekend that I’d highly recommend. “Frantz” is about a French solider who goes back to Germany after World War I to make amends for things that happened during the war.

I usually ruin movies for myself by predicting the big secret early on, and that happened again with “Frantz.” But I actually didn’t predict a huge plot twist toward the end, so bravo to François Ozon.

Classical music features heavily in the movie. The main character plays the violin and at one point, he plays this song. I hadn’t listened to it in a long time and hearing it in the movie reminded me of how much I like it.

Pad Thai with Kale and Mushrooms (slightly adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini)

Ingredients

2 Tbsp all-natural unsweetened peanut butter
juice of 1 organic lime
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
400 grams (14 oz) brown rice noodles
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
150 grams (5 1/3 oz) kale, about 4 stalks, center stem removed, leaves sliced into ribbons
400 grams (14 oz) brown mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Directions

Whisk together the peanut butter, lime juice, sesame oil, and soy sauce in a medium bowl until smooth. Set aside.

Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain once cooked. Rinse with cold water and set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the kale, mushrooms, and garlic, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Toss the noodles, sauce, and vegetables together in the same pot you cooked the noodles in. Enjoy!

 

Posted in Dinner, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grace Meat + Three

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A few months ago when I was walking in The Grove, I saw blue painted windows advertising sweet tea and fried chicken. I did a little research and found out that Grace Meat + Three was opening soon.

The restaurant is owned and operated by Rick Lewis, who used to make some of the city’s best fried chicken over at Southern near downtown St. Louis. In fact, some people would argue that Lewis made the best hot chicken in city. After I tried it at Southern, I believed it.

Lewis recently struck out on his own and, along with his wife Elisa, opened Grace Meat + Three. There was a soft opening right before I left town for California and then the restaurant actually opened to the public while I was still traveling. Once I got back and settled in, I stopped by to try it.

I was going to get hot fried chicken or a sweet-tea brined turkey leg. But then the hostess sold me on the sandwich special, a pulled ribs sandwich with B&B pickles, crispy shallots, and whiskey and ‘bama sass (barbecue sauces). I’d had Lewis’ chicken before so I agreed that this was a better choice. I also ordered a side of cornbread because why wouldn’t I order a side of cornbread.

The sandwich and cornbread arrived at my table looking as pretty as a picture. I read that Elisa Lewis was in charge of decorating Grace Meat + Three and her design touches show up in the serving ware. The bright blue of the tray offset the colors in my sandwich and bread. I took as many pictures as I could before I took a bite of the sandwich.

The sandwich is one of the best BBQ dishes I’ve ever tasted. I’m not just saying that. The ribs were cooked to perfection, soft and tender and slightly chewy. They melted in my mouth. The whiskey and ‘bama sauces were tangy and the pickles added some tartness. The crispy shallots paired well with the meat.

I also loved the cornbread but it couldn’t top the sandwich. I guess nothing really could. The cornbread was on the savory side, as it traditionally is, but when it’s not as sweet I like to put honey or jam on top. Maybe I can figure out a way to get a side of honey next time.

ANYWAY. If you’re in St. Louis and you’re looking for the best BBQ, definitely stop by Grace Meat + Three. The menu is extensive and there are even vegetarian options. Still, I think Lewis could turn a vegetarian into a meat eater with his food.

Here’s a song that I listened to on my walk over to the restaurant today. It’s good for weeks when the leaves are changing colors on the trees but it’s still 95 degrees out.

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Porridge with Ricotta and Gjusta Seeded Honey

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I went to Gjusta in Venice Beach for dinner last Friday night. I didn’t know what to expect when I walked in, so I was surprised when it looked more like a market than a restaurant. I turned right and my eyes immediately locked on jars of seeded honey neatly stacked on shelves against the wall.

I ended up buying a jar. What’s seeded honey? you may be asking. I was asking myself the same question before I bought it. Gjusta makes it in house by soaking almonds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seeds in dark honey in a jar. The resulting mixture is thick, so you’ll want to stir it with a strong spoon. I thought I’d be able to drizzle it but it’s more like a paste, so spreading it with a knife is advisable.

The honey is so good that I could eat it on a spoon. I could actually see it becoming a meal but I’m scared I’d eat the whole jar in one sitting. This morning, I decided to make porridge and put some seeded honey and ricotta on top.

The key to this dish is mixing. Once you put the hot porridge in a bowl, put generous scoops of honey and ricotta on top. Let the honey melt a little so it runs down the sides of the porridge in sweet rivulets. The cheese will soften. Mix everything together and the first bite will taste like heaven. I mean…I don’t know what heaven *really* tastes like but I’m sure it’s close to this.

If you’re ever in Venice Beach, I’d highly recommend checking out Gjusta, as much for their food products as their actual food. I got pulled out of airport security for trying to bring back honey in my carry on luggage, so make sure to check a bag if you decide to bring some back, too.

Here’s a song that I’ve been jamming out to this morning. I also listened to it a lot when I was traveling around L.A. and San Diego.

Porridge with Ricotta and Gjusta Seeded Honey

Ingredients

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup almond milk
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp Gjusta seeded honey (or another kind if you can’t find it)

Directions

Bring the rolled oats, milk, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook the oats, stirring occasionally. It will take 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your preference. Top with ricotta cheese and Gjusta seeded honey. Stir everything together for maximum deliciousness. Enjoy!

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Los Angeles and San Diego

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When I was little I wanted to move to Southern California. I wanted to be an actress for a while and I pictured myself living in a shoebox apartment and going on auditions. It seemed like a rough life, but I was game.

Then my interests shifted toward food and I wanted to visit the area even more. I actively follow L.A.’s food scene and I read bloggers who are based in Southern California. They make the food sound fresh, delicious, but most importantly, innovative. I spent years reading about it, and last week, I decided to go check it out in person.

In short, I fell in love. I guess it shows because everyone keeps asking me on Instagram, “When are you moving?” Soon, I hope! It might take me a while to set up camp in L.A. or San Diego, but just knowing that they’re there is reassuring.

My last night in San Diego, I told my cab driver that I was sad to be leaving the next day. He said, “Discovery is the first step,” which is so true. Every place I’ve moved, I’ve always checked it out first. Sometimes to attain what you really want, you have to wade in footsteps at a time (although, truth be told, I’d love to just jump into the proverbial ocean).

So…I did a crazy thing on this trip. I didn’t rent a car. I heard horror stories about SoCal traffic and I decided to avoid it. For the most part, this was easy to do. Maybe it’s not easy if you hate buses and trains, but I’ve spent years on both. If you are strategic and plan a little beforehand, you can DEFINITELY do SoCal without a car. I’d recommend booking trains between cities on Amtrak, and then checking out bus routes and/or using Lyft once you’re there.

Below I’ve described the food I found in L.A., San Diego, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica. It’s not an exhaustive list; I didn’t want your eyes to glaze over after reading it so I left some places out. For more on my trip and the food I discovered, check out my Instagram. For the highlights, read on.

L.A. Food

Grand Central Market

My first night in L.A., I went to Grand Central Market for dinner. I was in heaven. The market, which is located in downtown L.A., is home to almost every kind of food you can think of, and then some. I ordered spicy pollo tacos and then stopped by McConnell’s Ice Cream for dessert. They were both delicious, but next time, I want to try the vegan ramen.

Sqirl

Sqirl was a dream come true. I’ve been wanting to try it for years after reading about Chef Jessica Koslow’s creations. I got their signature bowl, sorrel pesto rice with poached egg and preserved lemon, and I also got the burnt toast with ricotta and peach jam. I was going to leave but then I spotted a lemon poppyseed cake with labneh on their pastry counter. Sold.

The Punchbowl

The Punchbowl is the kind of L.A. place that you might not find unless you’re wandering around aimlessly. Tucked away on a side street of L.A.’s Los Feliz neighborhood, it’s always brimming with locals, and for good reason. Their shakes and juices are delicious. I’d highly recommend the Cinnamon Blossom Shake with cinnamon, orange blossom water, banana, cashew milk, dates, and vanilla. It’s so refreshing.

Pizzeria Mozza

A dream of mine before visiting L.A. was going to Nancy Silverton’s pizza restaurant, Pizzeria Mozza. “You’re going to Mozza?!” my cab driver said as he dropped me off. “You lucky angel!” Mozza is the kind of place that only exists in dreams. Fresh, wood-fired pizzas made with local ingredients, delicious, crunchy fried squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta…what more do you need in life?

Kismet

I read about Kismet right before coming out to L.A. They describe themselves as a California/Middle Eastern food hybrid, and I’d say that’s spot on. I ordered the Persian cucumber salad with melon and za’atar and a side of fresh baked bread with seeds. The cucumbers were crunchy and fresh, like they’d been picked from a neighbor’s garden, and the bread was crusty, golden brown, and fragrant. After I finished eating, my server gave me some L.A. food recs including Gjusta (more on that later).

Sugarfish

Ask someone from L.A. where you should go to dinner when you’re visiting and the answer almost always is Sugarfish. A girl I met this past spring recommended it, a friend of mine who lives in L.A. recommended it, and my Lyft driver recommended it. Listen to them because they know what’s up. Sugarfish has an a la carte menu and something called “Trust Me” and “Trust Me Lite,” which are essentially prix fixe menus. I got the Trust Me Lite and I wished I’d gotten the bigger size. The fish is so good and fresh, I could have eaten at least four rolls by myself.

San Diego Food

Cafe Gratitude 

“You came to the best restaurant in San Diego,” the hostess said when I got to Cafe Gratitude. It may have been a *slight* exaggeration but she’s not far off. Cafe Gratitude is a vegan person’s dream. Everything on the menu is plant-based. I ordered the vegan almond butter cup shake with coconut cashew ice cream, cacao nibs, and vegan bacon, and the vegan enchiladas. I may or may not have cried as I inhaled both dishes alone on the patio.

Puesto

My friend from college who used to live in San Diego sent me to Puesto and I’ll be eternally grateful. These tacos are out. of. control. The tortillas are soft, warm, and flavorful, and the fillings are vibrant and fresh. I’d also recommend ordering a margarita with dinner. They’re strong, as they should be, and they add to the ambiance of the meal.

Busy Bee’s Bagel

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Busy Bee’s is a La Jolla staple. The cashier knew customers’ orders by heart. I got a poppyseed bagel and scallion cream cheese, one of my favorite bagel combos. I wondered how it would stack up with New York bagels I’ve tasted. It came pretty close, which is a testimony to how good this place is. If you want the full experience, take the bagel and a cup of coffee to nearby Windansea Beach and eat breakfast while you look out at the ocean.

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

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My surf teacher told me that Bird Rock Coffee Roasters was the best coffee joint in town and after tasting their cinnamon honey latte, I could tell he wasn’t lying. Bird Rock is a micro roaster named for the town it’s in, located just south of La Jolla. They keep the windows open so fresh ocean air is always breezing in. I could have spent hours there.

Bahia Don Bravo

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Bahia Don Bravo is right down the street from Bird Rock Coffee, so after you get your coffee fix, you should hit them up for lunch. Their fish tacos are among the best I’ve ever tasted and come with sour cream, shredded cheese, and fresh salsa. It’s the perfect meal to revive you after surfing or a day at the beach.

The Promiscuous Fork

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I had my most serendipitous travel experience at the Promiscuous Fork. Located in La Jolla a few blocks away from Windansea Beach, it’s a mostly neighborhood joint with a few stray tourists (like me). I ended up meeting an old woman and her daughter who invited me to eat with them and scolded me for not wearing sunscreen (I did). The old woman let me eat one of her hamburger sliders, which was slightly better than this blackened salmon bowl with coconut rice (even though both were delicious).

The Baked Bear

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This ice cream sandwich from The Baked Bear was one of the highlights of my San Diego eating experience. O.m.g. The way it works is, you walk in, choose what kind of cookies you want, an ice cream flavor, and then toppings. I went with a chocolate chip cookie, mint chocolate chip, rainbow sprinkles combo. I held back tears after my first bite.

La Clochette Du Coin

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La Clochette Du Coin is a hidden gem. It’s tucked away in a strip mall in La Jolla and if you’re not looking for it, you might not find it. Luckily, I was. Their pain au chocolat is among the best I’ve ever tasted and their coffee is on point. The cappuccinos and cortados come with a little square of dark chocolate, which I appreciated.

Mike’s Taco Club

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If you’re looking for a place to grab tacos that isn’t too far from the beach, Mike’s Taco Club is the place to go. Located footsteps away from the Ocean Beach pier, it’s kind of a hole-in-the-wall joint, which adds to its charm. Fish specials are written on a chalkboard. I went with the snapper and I was not disappointed. The fresh avocado on top wasn’t too bad, either.

Wailua Shave Ice

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A Hawaiian import, Wailua Shave Ice was one of my favorite discoveries on this trip. I was looking for a straw hat but I found Wailua first. It has a booth in OB Roasters, a hip Ocean Beach coffee spot. I wanted to try everything on the menu but I ended up going with the dragonfruit pineapple combo. It came with honey and fresh bananas. My only regret was not ordering two.

El Pescador Fish Market

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I almost start crying when I think about this sandwich. El Pescador is a fish market in La Jolla that has some of the best food in town. I ordered the local yellowtail, which came on a toasted roll with avocado, lettuce, and tomato. It was simple and no frills, but it may have been one of the most delicious things I ate during the whole trip. I’ve never tasted such fresh and flavorful seafood, even when I was living on the East Coast.

Venice Beach Food

Gjusta

My server at Kismet told me to go to Gjusta. “It’s the best food I’ve ever eaten,” he said. I showed up late on Friday night after I got to Venice, which turns out to be a great time because earlier in the day is super crowded. I ordered a falafel sandwich and caramelized banana cake. Both were amazing. The falafel was crispy and spicy, and the bread it came on was smoky and perfectly toasted from the grill. The banana cake stole the show, though. Picture bananas foster in cake form, but even better because it’s Gjusta. That’s this cake.

The Butcher’s Daughter

The Butcher’s Daughter is a very California spot. I say this from limited experience but also from what I observed. Everyone eating there is beautiful and looks like they down ten wheatgrass shots in the morning before working out. Still, I loved it. I ordered the avocado toast because I couldn’t *not* order it, and then the next day I went to their walk-up window for a coconut almond butter smoothie. The smoothie came with a straw that I immediately fell in love with.

Gjelina

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Gjelina is so beautiful and their food is so delicious, it almost hurts. I got there early on Sunday morning and asked for a seat on the patio, which feels like being on a zen retreat. These lemon ricotta pancakes will take you to another world. They’re light and fluffy and come with crème fraîche and fresh blueberry compote. I ate them very slowly because I didn’t want the experience to end.

TOMS Flagship

TOMS (as in the TOMS of shoe fame) has its flagship store in Venice, and as it turns out, they also have a coffee shop. I’d recommend going as much for the experience as the coffee. The patio is very L.A. and the coffee drinks are delicious. I got a vanilla coriander latte and I sipped it slowly while eavesdropping on TOMS employees and laughing at their characterization of shoe names. “Color: Oxblood,” one said. “Because we’ve all seen that.”

Santa Monica Food 

Huckleberry

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I’ve wanted to come to Huckleberry for years, ever since I bought Zoe Nathan’s cookbook with recipes from the restaurant. I was a little overwhelmed showing up on a Saturday because it was during the lunch rush and options seemed endless. I ended up going with the stone fruit Kouign Amann tart which was incredible. I never thought to add fruit to the top of a Kouign Amann but as it turns out, it’s a great idea. It adds another flavor to the pastry, which is already sweet, caramely, and delicious on its own.

Erven

I met up with my cousin for dinner the last night in L.A. because she was in town for a work trip. She let me choose the place and I’m so happy that I picked Erven. The restaurant is like being in a dream. Servers are friendly, the interiors are whimsical, and the food is next level. Most of the food is plant-based but there are some exceptions. We ordered a few plates to share, including the savory doughnut holes with sauerkraut and smoky applesauce, tuna tartare, and charred avocados that I want to marry. The dessert stole the show: Vegan chocolate cake with peanut butter sorbet, toasted marshmallow, and caramelized banana. I wish I could eat it again right now.

Conclusion

So yeah. Those are my recommendations for eating in Southern California. I didn’t get to all the places on my very extensive eating list during the trip, but I managed to hit up most of them, which feels like an accomplishment. My favorite thing about Southern California food, paradoxically, is the tradition mixed with the inventiveness. There are taco joints that have been around for years that will serve you amazing food on styrofoam plates, and upscale eateries that recently opened that are putting a spin on classic California dishes. What all the restaurants seem to have in common though is a commitment to fresh ingredients. California restaurants make the most of their location and it shows up in their food.

I really miss L.A. and San Diego, especially after writing this post. I’m sure I’ll be back soon though. Until then, I’ll leave you with this song and a follow up, both of which remind me of my trip. Also, here’s a playlist that I put together while I was traveling. It includes some of the songs I heard out west.

 

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Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

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Whenever I get home late and I want to eat something quick, warming, and delicious, I turn to spicy roasted chickpeas.

I first had them in a salad when I was living in Chicago. My friend Stephanie and I made a kale salad and sprinkled some on top with blue cheese. It was the perfect combination. The chickpeas were crunchy, spicy, and salty and the blue cheese added some tartness and depth of flavor.

The next time I made roasted chickpeas, I ate them straight off the baking sheet. That’s when I realized that they could be a meal on their own (or a filling snack). I don’t even wait for them to cool. I pop one after another into my mouth until, somehow, they aren’t any left.

There are two important things to remember when making spicy roasted chickpeas. One, the more salt, the better. It might seem like you’re dumping the whole box of salt on the baking sheet but trust me, it’s worth it. I like using flaky sea salt because then it feels like you’re using less but still increasing the flavor.

The second thing is to roast the chickpeas within an inch of their life. I’m talking about golden brown exteriors, peas split down the middle, and possibly dark brown caramelized chickpea skins scattered on the sheet. The skins are actually the best part of roasting chickpeas. The texture is like a potato chip except thinner, so they immediately melt in your mouth. I’d like to make a whole dish out of them.

ANYWAY. Make these chickpeas as soon as possible. They’re good on their own but also in a salad, a quinoa bowl, or wherever else you usually add chickpeas. I didn’t *really* use a recipe but I provided one below. Feel free to tweak it to your tastes. Cumin or masala would also work well as spices.

Here’s a song to get your started on your roasted chickpea-making journey.

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
2 Tbsp olive oil (or another kind of oil)
3 tsp flaky sea salt
1/2 tsp paprika powder
1/2 tsp chili powder

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the chickpeas on the baking sheet and toss with olive oil, sea salt, paprika powder, and chili powder until the chickpeas are evenly coated. Sprinkle a little more salt on top.

Bake the chickpeas in the oven on the top rack for about 45 minutes, or until the chickpeas are golden brown, cracking in the middle, and crispy on the outside. Remove from oven and allow them to cool on the sheet. Enjoy!

Posted in Gluten-Free, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Orange Blossom Lavender Cookies (Graybeh)

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I bought some lavender at the farmers’ market a couple weekends ago and, unlike a month ago, I was at a loss at what to do with it. Maybe that’s because I made lavender recipes for two weeks straight in August.

I thought about pancakes, but then, I saw a recipe for lavender orange blossom cookies. It’s a Lebanese recipe and the cookies are called “graybeh.” Sold, I thought. I adapted it to make it easier because the original was kind of complicated.

I love lavender but I really, really love orange blossom water. You can usually find it at an international grocery store but if not, it’s easy to order it off Amazon. It comes in pretty glass bottles and smells floral, sweet, and slightly citrusy. If you’ve never tried it and it’s baked into something, you might mistake it for lemon.

These cookies could not be simpler to make. You cream some butter, add powdered sugar, lavender, orange blossom water, and flour.

Then you divide the dough into quarters and form each piece into a log. Cut the dough on the diagonal to make diamond-shaped cookies. Spread them out on a cookie sheet, pop them in the oven, and wait about 20 minutes until they’re golden brown around the edges.

I sprinkled my cookies with some powdered sugar once they cooled, but feel free to leave that part out if you want them less sweet. I don’t really know why you’d want that, but to each his/her own.

I brought these into work this morning so I wouldn’t eat them all myself. They’re already a hit. People keep coming by my office thanking me for the cookies, and for telling them ahead of time that orange blossom and lavender are inside. I wanted to warn people because the flavors aren’t something you’d try everyday.

I’m going to go steal one to eat with tea. I’d highly recommend that combo, or a cookies and coffee situation. The cookies are on the crunchier side so they taste extra good dunked in tea or coffee.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this song. I’ve been listening to more country music lately and last week, I revisited one of the Dixie Chicks’ first albums. I couldn’t believe that I’d never heard this song but I guess I was distracted in my youth by their saucier hits, like “Goodbye Earl” and “Ready to Run.”

Orange Blossom Lavender Cookies (Graybeh)

Ingredients

¾ cup butter, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons dried lavender
½ teaspoon Maldon salt
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
extra confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling on cooled cookies

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Cream the butter in a stand mixer on high until it’s light and fluffy. Then, mix in the confectioners’ sugar, lavender, and salt at medium speed. Add the orange blossom water and mix until incorporated.

Add the flour a 1/2 cup at a time, mixing between each addition until incorporated. Once the dough is dry and crumbly, stop the mixer. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into a log, 1 inch wide and 1 inch thick. Cut the dough on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Place them on the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between each cookie.

Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking. The cookies will be done when they are set and slightly brown around the edges.

Place the baking sheet on a cooling rack. Once the cookies are cool, sprinkle on confectioners’ sugar. Enjoy with coffee, tea, or by themselves! Store extra cookies in an airtight container.

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St. Louis Ice Cream

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Summer in St. Louis is coming to an end but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop eating ice cream. Yes, I won’t eat it as frequently (see: every day) but I’ll still have my favorite spots on my radar.

I’m kind of biased because I grew up here, but I think that St. Louis is one of the best ice cream cities in the U.S. There’s diversity of shops and flavors, and types of frozen desserts that you won’t find anywhere else. Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating on one place with another, which is the sign of delicious food or, I guess, an unhealthy relationship.

Below is a list of places that you should hit up if you’re ever in St. Louis and craving ice cream. It’s not an exhaustive list and locals might judge me for leaving a couple places out. I didn’t include Ted Drewes, the famous frozen custard shop that everyone flocks to when they visit St. Louis, partly because I didn’t have a picture.

But also, there are so many other good places to try that Ted Drewes doesn’t really *need* to be on the list. Trust me.

Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery

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I heard about Clementine’s when I moved back to St. Louis. It’s a fairly new shop and they recently expanded from their Lafayette Square location to DeMun, a neighborhood in Clayton (a swanky suburb of St. Louis next to Forest Park).

Clementine’s is, in a word, amazing. They make everything in small batches and use all-natural ingredients. They also specialize in out-of-the-box flavors, some of which are booze infused.

I like their alcoholic flavors, especially the Maple Bourbon. But my favorite two flavors that I’ve tried are the black cherry ash and turmeric ginger tea, which are pictured above. O.m.g. I better stop now before I start gushing.

Clementine’s also has vegan flavors that are just as delicious as the dairy ones. Yesterday I got cashew salted caramel, which is made with coconut milk. I paired it with the chocolate peanut butter swirl and devoured the cone on a park bench, weeping.

Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream

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I’ve been going to Serendipity for years. It’s actually owned by one of my grade school teachers.

Serendipity is the kind of place you’d want to bring a little kid because it’s fun and whimsical. Aside from having delicious ice cream, there’s a happy-go-lucky vibe when you walk through the door. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the flavors never disappoint. Last time I got the Grasshopper, or mint ice cream with marshmallow swirl and chocolate cookies. I’d highly recommend it.

Fritz’s Frozen Custard

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Fritz’s is a tradition in my family. Every summer when I was growing up, my mom, sisters, brother and I would pile into the car and drive over to get frozen custard.

For those of you unfamiliar with frozen custard, it’s similar to ice cream but it’s made with eggs. The resulting mixture is thicker and creamier, to the point where it actually feels heavy in a cup or cone.

A lot of places in St. Louis make concretes with frozen custard, or a blended dessert with custard and whatever toppings you want. If it’s done right, you can turn the cup over and the custard won’t fall out.

I usually get a peanut butter cup and banana concrete when I go to Fritz’s but last time I was there, I went with something more traditional. I got a single scoop of custard on a cake cone with rainbow sprinkles. It started melting immediately so I had to eat it quickly. My sister said it reminded her of when we were little because I was oblivious to everything and everyone as I ate it.

Gelato Di Riso

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 8.23.36 AMThe best gelato in town is at Gelato Di Riso in St. Louis’ Italian neighborhood, The Hill. I used to go there a lot during college when I lived semi-close to the shop. Then I moved away and forgot about it.

When I got back to St. Louis last fall, my aunt was gushing about it to me. So the next time I went to the Hill for lunch, I stopped by Gelato Di Riso for dessert.

My favorite thing about Gelato Di Riso (besides how delicious the gelato is) is how they don’t skimp on portions. A lot of times, gelato shops will only give you a little and you’re left wanting more. Gelato Di Riso doesn’t mess around.

If you go, I’d recommend the hazelnut and biscotti. It will make you dream of Italy.

Ices Plain & Fancy

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I discovered Ices after I moved back to St. Louis. It’s located on a quiet street corner in one of my favorite neighborhoods in town, Shaw.

Ices specializes in nitro ice cream. Everything is made in giant Kitchen Aid mixers with nitrogen. You kind of feel like you’re watching a science experiment as they make your ice cream because there’s nitrogen puffing up everywhere in white clouds. There’s a clear window separating the machines from the café, so you can watch the whole process.

Ices has a bunch of delicious flavors that are always on the menu, but I usually go for their seasonal flavors. Last time I got the Blueberry Nutella and it was unreal. I may have cried…okay, I did.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

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Jeni’s is a national chain now but I’d be remiss not to include it on my St. Louis ice cream list. I’ve loved it for a long time, and for good reason.

I first had Jeni’s at its flagship store in Columbus, Ohio, when I was visiting an ex-boyfriend. I liked it so much that I made us go back twice a day until I left.

I spent the next few years of my life wishing that Jeni’s would come to St. Louis. Right before I moved to D.C., I read in the paper that they were opening a store in St. Louis’ Central West End.

I didn’t try the Jeni’s here until this past spring. I wasn’t sure if it would be as good as I remembered but it exceeded my expectations.

Jeni’s has a lot of seasonal flavors and two of my favorites were the ones I ordered in April. I walked there from work and got the wildflower honey juniper and lemon curd. It tasted like spring. I was floored.

Kounter Kulture

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Kounter Kulture is a small restaurant in St. Louis’ South City known for Asian fusion dishes made with locally-raised produce. Their secret is their ice cream.

When you walk in, there’s a cooler against the right wall filled with tiny pints of ice cream from Audumbla, a company owned by a husband and wife team. Their ice cream is made with local milk and it comes in all different flavors that rotate seasonally. When I went, I bought the golden milk and it was amazing. All the spices were on point and the turmeric gave the ice cream a vibrant yellow color. I want to go back and get another pint right now.

Conclusion

So yeah. Those are my favorite ice cream places in St. Louis. I would highly recommend visiting any/all of them if you’re ever in town. They will satisfy your sweet tooth, make you cry tears of joy, and wonder why you hadn’t tried the ice cream in the first place.

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