Immune-Boosting Mango Raspberry Smoothie

Immune Boosting Smoothie
This smoothie is as bright as it looks in the picture. I swear. No tinkering or filters…it’s actually that vibrant.

It’s the perfect thing to drink when you feel like you’re getting a cold, which usually happens to me once a week during the winter. Even though I work out and try to eat (mostly) healthy, the cold weather wears on me and I’m left feeling tired and worn out.

This smoothie is the antidote to the perpetual “I’m about to get sick” feeling. It’s basically the equivalent of liquid sunshine. It makes you forget that it’s February and takes you to the beach in the middle of summer when you’re laying on the sand in a bikini. At least, that’s what it did for me.

I’ve wanted to mix two smoothies together in a glass together for a while, but I never did it because I didn’t want to wash out the blender and start all over again. I’m not a fan of doing dishes.

Still, I knew this smoothie would be worth it. I made the mango smoothie first, rinsed out the blender, and then made the raspberry component. They look so pretty together in the glass.

I topped the smoothie with a sprinkle of hemp hearts but feel free to get creative. Chia seeds, fresh or slightly-thawed frozen berries, or even granola would be excellent additions. It also helps to drink this with a bright straw. It adds to the vacation element.

Here’s a song that reminds me of this smoothie. It’s also good for days when you’re counting down the hours to the weekend and you really, really don’t want to be sitting at a desk for seven hours.

Immune-Boosting Mango Raspberry Smoothie


1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1 blood orange, peeled and segmented
1 cup almond milk
hemp hearts for topping


Blend the mango, lemon juice, turmeric, cayenne pepper, orange juice, and ginger in a blender on high until smooth. Pour into a tall glass until it fills half the glass. Rinse out the blender and then blend the raspberries, blood orange, and almond milk on high until smooth. Pour into the glass on top of the mango smoothie until it fills the glass. Swirl the two together until you have a colorful blend. Top with hemp hearts. Enjoy!


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Grapefruit Rose Doughnut at KNEAD: A Lesson in Persistence

I’ve been known to go out of my way for good food. There was the time I broke all my rules and stood in line for two hours in the freezing cold for Filipino food at Bad Saint in D.C. Then there was the time I took a bus for an hour to go to a new bakery that had just opened in Portland, Oregon. If I get an instinctual feeling about a place, and I’ve heard good things, there’s nothing that can stop me.

Which brings me to the grapefruit rose doughnuts at KNEAD. I already know and love the bakery, which is located in St. Louis’s Southampton neighborhood. I was scrolling through their Instagram earlier this week and I saw a picture of a grapefruit rose doughnut. It looked so good, I temporarily stopped breathing. I decided to get one as soon as possible.

Work was unexpectedly busy on Tuesday so I couldn’t get over to KNEAD until around noon. When I walked in, I didn’t see the doughnuts anywhere. “Do you have any grapefruit rose doughnuts?” I asked the cashier. “I just sold the last one,” she said apologetically. I looked behind her and the doughnut was sitting on a metal tray on the counter, waiting for someone who wasn’t me. “That’s okay,” I said, trying to hide my disappointment. “I’ll come back earlier tomorrow.”

Yesterday I walked in at eleven. I didn’t see the doughnuts anywhere. Me and the same cashier locked eyes. She recognized me and looked instantly apologetic. “You’re sold out again?” I said, somewhat incredulously. “Yes,” she said. “I’m so sorry, I meant to set one aside for you.” She gave me a free homemade pop tart, even though I protested. “It’s the least I can do,” she said. I guess the disappointment was written all over my face, even though I was trying to hide it.

At this point, many people would give up. I mean, why drive yourself crazy trying to get something after multiple attempts? The answer is, because you know how good it will be, and despite all reason, you know in your heart that you’re meant to try it. Also, there’s a part of me that refuses to give up no matter what’s thrown at me. Call it stubbornness or sheer persistence, but if I want something, I go after it.

This morning I woke up an hour early so I could get to KNEAD before work. I pulled into the parking lot a few minutes before they opened. A friendly cashier let me inside. I saw the grapefruit rose doughnut sitting behind the glass case. I felt happy and relieved. This was the moment I’d been waiting for.

Grapefruit Rose DoughnutI got the doughnut and a cup of coffee. I ate it at the counter by the front window. The sun shined through the glass and felt hot on my face, but that’s okay. It’s winter and I hardly ever see the sun these days.

I sat there, enjoying the bright citrus and soft rose flavors in the doughnut, the warmth of the sun and the coffee, and the peacefulness of the bakery in the early morning. I felt more relaxed than I have in days. I realized that life is about these small moments of pleasure. On some level I’ve always known it, but my experience at KNEAD this morning confirmed it.

With that happiness brought a certain clarity. I want to open my own bakery someday. I want to bring that same feeling of satisfaction to other people. It might not happen in a year or ten years, but I know it will happen eventually. Until then, I’ll enjoy the journey.


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Smoked Salmon Soba Noodle Salad

Smoked Salmon Soba Noodle Salad
My friend Jim likes to smoke salmon, and the other day he was generous enough to give me some. It was perfect timing because I’d been thinking about making soba noodle salad with smoked salmon.

This salad is something you can make year-round. In the winter, it’s good because soba noodles are hearty, and smoked salmon and soy sauce is warming. In the spring and summer, it’s delicious because the cucumbers are cool and crunchy and the scallions add some brightness. I haven’t met many recipes that are this versatile, except for maybe chocolate cake.

ANYWAY. I’d highly recommend making this salad as soon as possible. If you have leftover smoked salmon or scallions, buy some cream cheese and make scallion cream cheese, and put it on a bagel with the salmon. That’s what I’m going to do for breakfast tomorrow and I’m pretty amped about it.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this song. It’s good for days when you’re counting down the minutes until you can sneak away from your desk and go get the doughnut that you wanted to eat yesterday at your favorite doughnut shop, but they were all sold out.

Smoked Salmon Soba Noodle Salad


3-4 oz soba noodles
1 ½ cups sliced or diced English cucumber
1/2 cup sliced scallions (cut on the diagonal)
4 oz smoked salmon
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice wine vinegar


Cook the soba noodles for about 5 minutes in a pot of salted boiling water, or until they’re al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water.

Whisk the sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar in a large bowl. Add the soba noodles and toss to coat. Then add in the cucumber, scallions, and sesame seeds and toss together. Top with smoked salmon and any reserved sesame seeds, scallions, or cucumber. Leftovers will keep for a day or two in a sealed container in the fridge. Enjoy!

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Swiss Pear Tart with Edelbrand Plum Brandy

Swiss Pear Tart
A couple months ago, I went to Marthasville, MO, to visit Edelbrand Pure Distilling. The business, which is owned by Lynn DeLean-Weber, Martin Weber, and their daughter Tess DeLean, makes vinars, or Swiss brandy. “Vinars” is word in Romansh, or a language spoken in a small mountain region in Switzerland. Martin is from this region. He moved to the U.S. and met and married Lynn, and they decided to start making Swiss-style brandy at home.

It was very cold the day I drove an hour and a half to Marthasville to meet Lynn, Martin, and Tess, but that didn’t deter me. There’s something serene about Missouri farmland during the winter. The hills are dotted with snow and seem to roll into the clouds. Occasionally you’ll see animals grazing in the pasture, but mostly, it’s just wide open space.

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 12.16.52 PM
Lynn, Martin, and Tess welcomed me warmly when I got to their farm. They had an adorable dog who curled up next to us in the living room. I interviewed them for a story I was writing and then Martin gave me a tour of the brandy facility.

Edelbrand makes its vinars in a converted shed on the side of their farm. The space is small, only big enough for a few people to fit inside comfortably and walk around. There are tanks lining the floors and copper stills near the wall.

I expected a small operation but it was amazing to see what Lynn, Martin, and Tess are able to do in a confined space. Edelbrand makes about 1,100 to 1,200 bottles of vinars a year. Some of those go to local restaurants and shops. Edelbrand also sells its brandy online.

The company sources all its fruit for its brandy from local purveyors and relies on friends and family to help them peel and prepare it. Once the fruit is ready, it goes into mash tanks and sits for a while. Then it goes through the distillation process. Martin and Lynn have to get up at 5:30 A.M. to prepare the stills.

After distillation, Martin dilutes the brandy down to drinking strength. It comes out of the stills at 160 proof, which is very strong, so he uses well water from the farm to bring it to 80 proof. You can read more about the process in the story I wrote for a local food publication.

edelbrand brandies.jpgAfter I toured the brandy room, Lynn, Martin, and Tess brought me back inside for a vinars tasting. Lynn made a beautiful Swiss pear tart using some of the company’s plum vinars. I liked it so much, I asked her for the recipe. I made it last night after I got home from work.

There are three things I love about this tart: One, it’s relatively easy to make. As long as you have dough made the night before or a premade crust, you’ll be set. I’d advocate for making pie dough if you can. It’s not intimidating (I promise) and for the extra effort, you’ll be rewarded with buttery, flaky pastry and a more authentic flavor.

The second thing I love about this recipe are the plum brandy-soaked pears. The brandy softens the pears even more and makes them very tender. You place them in a circle around your pie crust and pour the custard on top. The brandy pairs well with the eggs and cream, and it balances the sweetness of the pear.

My third favorite thing about this tart is the hazelnut element. You might be like, meh, why do I need ground hazelnuts if I already have a pie crust, pears, and custard? Trust me, you need them. They complement the pears and add a nutty, earthy richness to the tart.

I’m so happy Lynn shared this recipe with me. I can’t wait to eat the tart for lunch the next few days.

Swiss Pear Tart with Edelbrand Plum Brandy (slightly adapted from Edelbrand Pure Distilling)


pie crust (here’s the recipe I used*)
3-4 Tbsp of finely ground hazelnuts
1/4 cup Edelbrand vinars de pera (pear brandy) or vinars da plogas (plum brandy)
2 ripe pears, slice thinly (you can also use 2-4 plums)
200 ml of heavy cream (about 7/8’s of a cup)
1 egg
1 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp sugar


Preheat oven to 430 degrees Fahrenheit; place rack toward bottom of oven.

Lightly spray tart pan with cooking spray.

Roll pie dough out into a circle and lay into base of a 10-inch tart pan, pressing well into sides. Prick (lightly so as not to scratch tart pan surface) base all over with a fork. Place in freezer for 15-20 minutes.  This will make the crust flaky when baked.

Place sliced fruit in shallow dish or plastic baggie and pour vinars over fruit. Allow to sit until ready to lay onto pie crust.

Spread hazelnuts evenly over pastry. Gently lift fruit out of vinars and lay sliced pears in a circular design, starting with the outer edge. I usually end up with 3 full circles, overlapping each circle with the other until I reach the center.

You can mix the vinars into the cream mixture (next step) or serve at room temperature or slightly chilled with the dessert when it is ready.

Whisk together cream, egg, flour, and sugar until mixed thoroughly. Pour slowly over pears, starting from the inside of the pan to the outer edge. Bake approximately 30 minutes, until filling is golden brown. Remove and cool on wire rack for 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

*I made the dough, shaped it into a disc, and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight before I rolled it out. I would recommend doing the same. It will be more buttery and flaky that way. 

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Lemon Poppyseed Cake with Mandarins

Lemon Poppyseed Cake
I was craving lemon poppyseed cake last week, partly because I miss California/Los Angeles. When I was there last fall, I went to Sqirl and got lemon poppyseed cake that blew. my. mind. I still think about it often, especially when the temperature drops forty degrees overnight and I have to break out my winter parka again.

To soothe myself, I made a lemon poppyseed cake Saturday night. I was looking for a recipe that would be similar to the one they used at Sqirl, but I had trouble finding one. If you google “Lemon Poppyseed Cake,” most recipes will be for pound cake. I wanted something fluffier and lighter.

Then I saw this recipe for poppyseed cake on Food52. The recipe didn’t call for any butter or flour. I was a little skeptical because what is a cake without butter and flour? Then I decided to take a chance. The cake in the picture at the top of the recipe looked delicious, and so did the mandarin orange garnish. I bought a bag of mandarins, poppy seeds, and lemons, and got cracking.

The recipe is pretty straightforward except for the granny smith apple. Why put a grated granny smith apple in lemon poppyseed? you may ask. I asked myself the same question. The answer is that it makes the cake even more moist and light. It dissolves in the oven while the cake is baking and adds a little more tartness to the batter.

You can top the cake however you’d like but I’d recommend going the mandarin route, especially if you like oranges or you need an extra jolt of vitamin C. I also sprinkled some powdered sugar on top for extra sweetness.

Next time I make the cake I might make two layers, and then put a layer of orange blossom or rose water icing in between. The rose water/lemon combo would resemble the cake I tried at Sqirl, but if I’m going to be honest, I don’t think anything could top that cake.

Here’s a song to get you started on your lemon poppyseed cake-making journey. I found it on NPR’s “H*ckin Good Puppies” playlist, which I would highly recommend checking out if you like dogs or songs about dogs.


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Dimanche (That Means Sunday)

Activated Charcoal Latte
Welcome to this edition of Dimanche (That Means Sunday), a roundup of things that caught my eye this past week.

This week was…odd. It went from being almost spring to winter again, which I wasn’t happy about. I did my best to shoulder through. This involved distracting myself with baking projects, reading, and coffee, and it also involved a leisurely dinner with my friends from Edelbrand Pure Distilling (more on that later).

In other news, I just started going to Kundalini yoga. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the practice, it involves more chanting and breathing exercises than regular yoga. I went to my first class last weekend and I was surprised by how much it worked me out. I woke up with sore arms the next day.

Yesterday when I went, my teacher was talking about fire in the body. Fire, or some kind of unpleasant emotion, can be a good thing. It spurs us to act or motivates us to keep going. But when it goes out of control it can destroy us, just like a fire does in real life. My teacher encouraged us to let go of some of the fire, or negative feelings, through our breathing and chanting. I know it sounds hokey but it worked. It was a good reminder that we can’t always control our circumstances but we can control our response.

Without further ado, here is Dimanche:

French fraud officials are looking into the recent Nutella riots. In last week’s Dimanche I wrote about a super sale on Nutella that sent tons of French people to the grocery store to stock up on containers. After the sale spurred riots, the Directorate General of Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control in France looked into whether the sales were legal. You can read more about the situation in this article from NPR.

When the weather gets cold and I need something warm and reassuring, I turn to Big Heart Tea. They’re based in St. Louis and they have some of the best herbal loose leaf tea blends. One of my favorites is the Cup of Love, which has dried rose petals. Rose is such a calming scent and the flavor is delicate and light. You can find the tea at a lot of local shops and coffee shops, including Lemon Gem in The Grove.

Cup of Love

I don’t really care about sports, but this story about animals on the playing field caught my eye this week. The Atlantic put together an article with photos of kangaroos, cats, dogs, and other animals who have intruded on sporting events. I predictably lost my shit when I saw the photo of the baby deer (see: #10). They forgot a photo of rally cat, though, the cat who crashed a Cardinals game last year and made headlines after it started attacking the guy who tried to take it off the field.

I like moments when I feel like a tourist in my own city. This happened last week when I took an impromptu field trip during my lunch hour to the Old Courthouse in Downtown St. Louis. The courthouse is best known as the place where the Supreme Court heard the Dred Scott case. There’s a lot of history inside and the interiors are stunning. I’d highly recommend checking it out if you’re in St. Louis, especially if you’re by the Arch.

Old Courthouse

A spice seller in Wisconsin really hates Trump and he’s not shy about it. I’m a big fan of Bill Penzey after reading this article in The New Yorker. Penzey, who owns Penzeys Spices, is using his business’s social media platforms to lambaste Trump for his racism and elitism. So far, it seems to be paying off: Online sales spiked after he made the statements. Still, not everyone is on board with Penzey’s business philosophy. Penzey’s sister, who runs a competing business, encouraged conservative bloggers to buy spices from her company using a promo code, “NOPOLITICS.” Sounds more like “NOPROFIT” to me.

I was scrolling through Twitter earlier this week and a tweet from Dana Cree caught my attention. Cree, who used to be the pastry chef at a well-known restaurant in Chicago called Publican, recently decided to step away from her position there to open an ice cream joint called Pretty Cool Ice Cream. Cree is opening the shop with the owner of Bang Bang Pie, a popular pie shop on Chicago’s Northwest side. To make a long story short, Cree got good press about her upcoming shop in the Chicago Tribune. Then Eater wrote up the story from a sexist angle and made it sound like Bang Bang’s owner, who is a man, was leading the new company. Check out Cree’s tweet for the whole story.

Last but certainly not least, I finally tried Polite Society Friday night and I was blown away. I went with Lynn DeLean-Weber and Martin Weber, my friends from Edelbrand Pure Distilling. We had a great time sampling all the food but this Ozark mushroom tagliatelle really stood out. The pasta was tender and perfectly cooked and the white wine sauce, mushrooms, and spinach paired well together. Check out more pics of my meal on Instagram.


Enjoy your week! Here’s a song to get you started. I got up early this morning, made waffles, and then got back into bed and listened to 60s soul and R&B music. This song is one of my favorites.

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Balkan Treat Box

Stellar Pide
This is a little premature because I’ve only been to Balkan Treat Box once, and I’ve only tried one item on their menu. But when something is really good, nay, excellent, it deserves the spotlight.

I heard about Balkan Treat Box a few months ago when it started getting a lot of hype in St. Louis press. The food truck, which is run by Loryn and Edo Nalic, is known for its Balkan food, especially the Stellar Pide, or wood-fired dough with minced meat and red pepper and cheese toppings. Pictures I saw in local food publications looked incredible. I wanted to try the Stellar as soon as possible.

But that proved a difficult task. I checked Twitter constantly for their location but either they weren’t out on a day when I was free for lunch, or they were but I already had plans. Yes, I know, plans are made to be broken, but I didn’t know if it would be worth it to drop everything and run to Balkan Treat Box.

Then, this past Monday, I saw the food truck was going to be in Cortex, an innovation community down the street from where I work. I usually walk there all the time in the spring and summer to get some exercise, but during the winter, the walk is not as pleasant. Actually, it’s terrible. The buildings on the side of the road form a sort of wind tunnel, so you’re periodically blasted with icy air. For someone like me who hates cold, this is nothing short of torture.

Still, I was determined to go. I set off on foot, walking as quickly as I could to Cortex so I could try my first Stellar Pide.

When I got to the truck, no one was in line. I got there early on purpose to secure this happening. An old journalism professor of mine told me to “come early and stay late.” This advice has always served me well.

I walked up to the window and I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. “Hi, are you Emily?” Loryn said. She was standing there with Edo so I got to meet him, too. She’d remembered me from Twitter. I guess it’s kind of hard to forget when someone sends you a message like this.

I ordered the Stellar and then surreptitiously ran into Cortex to find a place to eat it. I landed at a table with two women immersed in conversation about an upcoming wedding. They were describing which friend should stand where on stage during the ceremony. They wanted the right aesthetics.

I didn’t know how to approach eating the Stellar because if you can’t tell from the picture, it’s kind of its own beast. It seemed like I should eat it with my hands, but I didn’t want all the toppings to fall off. So I decided to cut off a small part and shape it like a pita in my hands and eat it.

When I took my first bite, I forgot my surroundings. I felt the way I do when I taste something truly delicious, which is to say, nothing else matters. A comet could have landed outside or a fire alarm could start going off and I doubt I would have noticed. It was just me and the Stellar Pide.

The meat was tender and chewy and perfectly spiced. The dough…my God, the dough. It was soft, fluffy, chewy, slightly charred from being in the oven, crispy. It was heaven. I’m about to cry just writing about it. I honestly would buy just the dough and eat it plain. That’s how good it is.

The toppings are also delicious. The red pepper spread is spicy and tangy and the cheese balances the meat and other flavors in the dish. There’s a side of pickled red cabbage that I dug into, thinking that it would be an average side. I was wrong. The cabbage was clearly homemade. It was crisp and crunchy. It was better than any coleslaw I’ve ever tried.

On the way back from eating the Stellar, I called my sister to catch up. It was so cold and I was so underdressed for the weather that I started crying involuntarily. I’m not exaggerating. “I’m worried about you!” my sister said.

But she needn’t have worried. I had the Stellar Pide, or at least, the memory of it. It got me through the brutal walk back to work. In fact, it got me through the rest of the day. When you taste something truly excellent, it changes you. It makes you appreciate being alive even more than you already do. That’s what happened to me at Balkan Treat Box.

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