Get Cooking Our mid-May newsletter features three Bay Area cooks who’ve built independent creative careers with food as their medium. Here, they each share a recipe (or loose guide) for making the dishes they showcased. Try them out!
I used to think of granita (the icy-sweet, usually fruit-driven dessert) as a really restaurant-y, chic thing. But after learning to make it myself, I realized it can also be very homey, and that maybe it tastes even better eaten on the sofa in sweatpants while watching Bridgerton. I find seasonal granitas like this mixed berry version especially approachable because you don’t even need a strict recipe to make something objectively delicious. So, here I am with a loosey goosey guide, not an actual recipe, for a berry granita.
Puree about one pound of juicy, ripe berries. Pick a mix of what’s available in the market—blueberries, strawberries, even non-berries like cherries (just stem and pit them, of course!). It’s important that they taste good on their own, so no blackberries with dots of red.
Pour that puree into a flat vessel like a 13x9 glass baking dish. At this point, the puree is likely too thick—the texture of a berry paste. Using the liquid of your choice (water, juice, rosé, mezcal, or even something creamy), thin it gradually until it’s the consistency of half-and-half—liquidy but with body, and still very berry-rich.
Whisk in a good amount of sugar, a little salt, and perhaps the tiniest splash of vinegar or lemon juice, then taste again and adjust to reach your preferred balance. Then, it’s freezing time.
Cover the baking dish and freeze until firm, at least 3-4 hours. When firm, remove from the freezer to prepare to serve.
Working quickly (the ice will melt!), start scraping with a fork from the top end of the dish to the bottom by pressing the tines into the ice and pulling towards you. I keep doing this until I've scraped all the way across in all directions. I'll “chop” any large pesky chunks with the fork until everything is all just small little ice crystals.
To serve, you can put the whole thing into a family-style bowl, or into individual dishes. Or if it’s just you at 11pm, dip your spoon right into the baking dish and eat standing at the counter in your kitchen.
My idea of a perfect cookie is often crunchy, with a balance of both salty and sweet. I’m inspired by what’s in season—a fresh herb or fruit; other times I’ll add a seed, a spice, or something preserved. These cookies are an example of taking chocolate somewhere new by adding cardamom, which infuses earthy and floral notes on top of the bittersweet chocolate. The walnuts add a pleasing crunch.
Makes about 24 / 2 ½" cookies Oven 350, 12-14 minutes plus chilling time 8 oz or 2 sticks of room temp unsalted butter ¾ cup sugar 1 egg yolk (reserve white for coating dough) 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 1 ¾ cup all purpose flour ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder ¼ tsp freshly ground cardamom ½ tsp salt ½ cup toasted walnuts (roughly chopped) ½ cup roughly chopped bittersweet chocolate 2T or so sugar for coating cookies
Preheat oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment or silpats.
Spread walnuts on one cookie sheet and place in the warm oven for 8-10 minutes until toasted and fragrant (check frequently to avoid burning!). Set aside to cool, then roughly chop. Chop chocolate and set aside. Sift flour, cocoa powder, cardamom and salt together then set aside. (At this point, you can turn off your oven until ready to bake cookies)
In a stand mixer or bowl with electric beaters, cream butter, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Mix yolk with vanilla and add just until combined. Scrape bowl with your spatula. Turn mixer on low and add your flour mixture, and scrape bowl down again with spatula so everything is evenly combined. Pour in chopped chocolate and nuts until just evenly mixed. You can also just stir them in by hand.
Turn dough out onto a work table and divide in half. Shape each half into flattened rectangular logs so you’ll have squarish bar shaped cookies when you slice them. Use parchment and your work surface to shape and then wrap each in parchment and chill at least 2 hours. You can also freeze to speed this process or save one log for baking another time.
When ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350. Brush each log with some of the remaining egg white and dust log with sugar on all sides just to coat. Slice each log as thin as you can, about ¼” and arrange on sheets about 1” apart. Bake on the center rack for 12-14 minutes or until the sides are firm, rotating after 6 minutes. Cool on racks and store in airtight containers.
Golden Beets with Labneh and Pistachio-Za’atar Crumble by Manny McCall @tacosandbanchan
Beets are one of those ingredients that can feel like a hurdle to incorporate—they require a little time to become the best version of themselves. But roasting beets is actually very hands-off and easy, and when done right, the skins slip right off, leaving you with a tender, sweet vegetable you can take in many directions. For this recipe, I chose golden beets for their sunny color, and paired them with cool labneh, a well-spiced crumble of toasted pistachios and za’atar with fresh green herbs to brighten everything up. Finished with a nice olive oil, this combination delivers an incredible mix of temperature, texture, color, and flavor.
For Beets 1 ½ pounds medium-sized golden beets ½ cup water 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar 1 teaspoon sea salt plus more to taste 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For Garnish 3 tablespoons labneh 1 tablespoon toasted pistachio 1 teaspoon za’atar 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon chopped dill and/or parsley 1 pinch finishing salt
Preheat oven to 375
Clean beets and place them into a baking dish. Avoid overcrowding. Add ½ cup of water and cover the dish tightly with a layer of parchment and an outer layer of foil.
Bake for 45 minutes, then remove from oven and pierce with a sharp knife. If the knife slides through easily, they’re done. If not, return to oven for 15-20 minutes more.
Once the beets are fully cooked, let them cool just enough to handle without burning yourself, then slide the skins off by either holding them under running water or rubbing them with a paper towel. Cut the tops and bottoms off each one.
Cut the peeled beets into quarters or chunks, according to your preference. Pour champagne vinegar and olive oil over the beets, season generously with salt and stir. Allow to sit for a minimum 30 minutes but preferably overnight.
While the beets are marinating, place pistachios and za’atar in a mortar and pestle and pound until mixture is well incorporated. Set aside.
If marinating overnight, allow the beets to come to room temperature(20-30 minutes).
In a shallow serving bowl, spread a thick layer of labneh, then sprinkle with a generous amount of pistachio-za’atar crumble. Place beets on top.
Finish with an earthy olive oil, chopped herbs and finishing salt.