Who's the Baketard?

Why Baketard? Love to cook, hate to bake. Despite having gone to cooking school and working in some top kitchens, I never learned the baking side of things. I'm building my baking and photography skills, while sharing recipes that rock my world in the mean time.

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Cookbook Club Adventure - Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey


Ok, cookbook hoarders—listen up. I know how you sneak those cookbooks into the house without your spouse knowing. I know all the tricks you play at the grocery store to add cash to your pockets to go and buy that new release, hoping you don’t get busted when you tiptoe into the house with it.

Oh, how I know.

Ok, maybe I project a little. But I think you can relate.

How do you take your passion for cookbooks and find a way to explore your latest hardbound obsession in a way that brings people together while simultaneously justifying your purchase? COOKBOOK CLUB!

Cookbook clubs are a blast. You get a group of like-minded friends, an (ideally) inspiring book, an urge to try something new, and the ability to follow a recipe. You add some cocktails, a space that can support multiple people cooking at once, and some ravenous appetites and you have the formula for a very fun afternoon. Sometimes you have a book that is a total bust – but who cares? It’s still a learning experience. (Fortunately we’ve only had two in the different Cookbook Club iterations where I’ve participated. The first was Fat, by Jennifer McLagan. It was a train wreck. We tried at least 20 recipes from the book…all were duds. Consensus was that these books were going to be PERFECT fire starters after the zombie apocalypse. The second was Cooking With Coolio, but we chose that book tongue-in-cheek so the heinous results were funny. His approach is to pretty much add balsamic vinegar to ALL. THE. RECIPES.  All of them).

Cookbook clubs aren’t always as easy as they may seem—You just need to know your participants and set up a structure everyone can enjoy. The first time I was invited to join a cookbook club, I was inspired by the idea of it. Unfortunately it felt less about cooking and more about the organizer wanting to pontificate about the chefs she’d met and the impact she felt she had made on their lives.


Food never tastes as good when it’s liberally sprinkled with narcissism.

Later, when I decided to start my own group we invited a bunch of friends from our local food community. We had many successful gatherings, made and maintained great new friendships, and cooked from some amazing books. Unfortunately, it got large and unwieldy, became hard to schedule, people couldn't always play nicely in the sandbox together, etc. It went from fun to being work so it fizzled out and died a natural death. I really missed the interaction and camaraderie of it, and loved the excuse to cook through the new books that magically show up on my doorstep (Thanks to the gods of Amazon), so recently we decided to give it another go. This time, we kept it small. It’s a group of 5 or 6 couples, all of whom love food, cookbooks and cooking. They also all get along well and are willing to take turns hosting, so it’s pretty effortless. We debuted this time with a book I’ve been obsessed with, Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups and Then Some by John Currence. 

THIS BOOK IS SPECTACULAR!!! We cooked the hell out of this book.  The recipes we shared included: 

Homemade polish sausage with homemade spicy mustard.

Lemon-pickled honeycrisp apples

Spicy Hill Country Meat Pies, Pickled Watermelon rind

Pickled Peaches (not pictured)

Pickled Peach Relish (not pictured)

Chicken Fried Duck with Caramelized Onion Gravy

Pimento Cheese Fritters (I know, RIGHT?)

Smoked Carrots

Grillade and Grits Casserole

Steen’s Syrup-Braised Pork Belly

Bourbon Milk Punch, from our lovely bar wench Sonja

Smoked Sazaracs

Banana-Walnut Layer Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Szechuan Pepper-Blueberry Cobbler with Five Spice Crema

Bourbon Ice Cream with Pralines

My contribution was an off-book cocktail called a Bermuda 100 (Think Negroni meets Mai Tai), the Pimento Cheese Fritters and the Chicken Fried Duck.

        I've shared the duck recipe below with the Chef’s permission.  Speaking of the chef, how cool is this….not only does he put out a book with kick ass recipes and suggested music to go with each dish, but he is also very responsive in email and was kind enough to provide me with recommendations for restaurants and bars for our upcoming road trip through part of the South. Obviously, we are making a trip to Oxford, MS just to have dinner at his restaurant, City Grocery. I can’t wait to try these dishes from the master himself!

With regard to the recipe below, my only change was to chop the cracklings and scatter them over the top of the finished dish for serving. This recipe is pure perfection.  Also, props to David. He baked and he knocked it out of the park! WHO KNEW?!?!?

David and Shannon, serving up dessert deliciousness.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think once you give this a test drive. AND BUY THIS BOOK!

Chicken-Fried Duck with Caramelized Onion Gravy

From Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey by John Currence

Serves 4

Recommended Musical Accompaniment: “If You Want Me to Stay” – Sly and the Family Stone


4 whole duck breasts, skin removed and reserved (about 5 oz each)

1 medium yellow onion, very thinly sliced from root to tip

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

6 cups seasoned flour (recipe below)

6 cups egg wash (recipe below)

4 cups panko bread crumbs

6 tablespoons peanut oil

2 tablespoons lard

¼ cup all purpose flour

½ cup dark chicken stock (recipe below)

¾ cup whole milk


  1. Slice the reserved duck skin into thin strips and pat dry with a paper towel. In a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat, cook the strips of duck skin until golden brown and crispy, stirring constantly. Remove the duck cracklings from the pan and drain on paper towels. Pour off the duck fat into a glass measuring cup; return 3 tablespoons of the fat to the sauté pan.
  2. Add the onion, sugar, salt and thyme to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the onion turns transparent and wilts, 5 to 7 minutes. Decrease the heat to low and continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onion has caramelized and turned a light brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Cut an incision horizontally into the thickest part of each duck breast, so that when opened up like a book, it will lay flat on the table and have a uniform thickness. Place the breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and, using a meat-tenderizing hammer, gently pound the breasts to ¼ inch thick. Peel the plastic back and lightly season both sides of each pounded breast with salt and pepper.
  4. Dredge the duck breasts in the seasoned flour, knocking off any excess. Dip them in the egg wash and then roll in the bread crumbs. Place the prepared duck breasts on a plate.
  5. In the cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon ore of the reserved duck fat, 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil, and 1 tablespoon of the lard over medium heat until you see very light wisps of smoke begin to rise from the pan. Put two of the prepared breasts into the hot oil and brown for about 1 ½ minutes. Flip and brown on the second side for 1 minute or until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Add another 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil and the remaining 1 tablespoon lard to the skillet and heat. Cook the remaining two breasts and transfer to the plate to drain. Hold the cooked breasts warm in a very low oven.
  6. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil and 2 more tablespoons of the reserved duck fat ot the skillet. Whisk in the all-purpose flour until smooth. Continue to whisk for 2 more minutes, just until the flour begins to take on a “nutty” aroma and a very light brown color. Whisk in the stock and milk and bring to a simmer. Stir in ½ cup of the caramelized onions and season the gravy with salt and black pepper to taste. Spoon the gravy over the fried duck, or serve on the side from a gravy boat, if you prefer.

Seasoned Flour


3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder

1 ½ teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoons cayenne


Makes 3 cups


  1. Toss the flour, salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic and onion powders, and cayenne in a stainless-steel bowl and combine well. Store in an airtight container until needed.

Egg Wash


3 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

¼ cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 dashes of Tabasco hot sauce

Makes 3 cups 


  1. Whisk the eggs, milk, cream, salt, pepper and Tabasco together well. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Dark Chicken Stock


4 pounds chicken bones

2 ½ cups roughly chopped yellow onions

2 cups peeled and roughly chopped carrots

2 cups roughly chopped celery

1 ½ cups roughly chopped fennel stalks (optional)

8 cloves garlic, crushed

2 cups dry white wine

5 fresh bay laurel leaves (or 3 dried)

10 sprigs fresh thyme

12 to 15 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

Makes about 6 quarts


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Arrange the bones, onions, carrots, celery, fennel, and garlic in a single layer in a large roasting pan. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tops begin to brown. Stir well to expose the unbrowned parts, continue to roast and stir until the bones and vegetables have lightly browned all over.
  2. Remove the pan from the oven and place the contents in a stockpot. Place the roasting pan over low heat and add the white wine. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping and loosening all of the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour this liquid into the stockpot and place the pot on the stovetop over high heat. Add cold water to cover the bones and bring to a boil.
  3. In the meantime, wrap the bay leaves, thyme, parsley, and peppercorns in cheesecloth (or a coffee filter), tie with a length of butcher’s string, and add the sachet to the stockpot.
  4. As soon as the liquid comes to a boil, lower the heat so the liquid just barely simmers. Cook for about 3 hours. Remove the pot form the heat and strain the liquid into a smaller pot. Discard the solids. Return the stock to the stove and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Lower the heat, and slide the pot just off center of the heat source; the simmer will push the fat floating on the top ore to one side of the pot. Using a ladle or large spoon, skim off as much of the fat and scum as you can and discard. Cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate until any residual fat congeals on top of the stock. Remove this hardened fat with a spoon and discard. Use the stock within 4 days or freeze for up to 6 months.




Beefsteak Tomato, Mortadella, & Wisconsin Emmenthaler Tart

This weekend we had my husband David's dad and sister in town for a much overdue visit. We usually go to eastern Washington to hang out with them over the holidays, but it has been many years since we've been able to host them at our place. The weekend was a whirlwind of playing tour guide, going out for meals with friends, and spending time together at our new place. It was a perfect weekend.

Saturday was an ideal night for a dinner party--we invited some old and new friends to join us and I cooked up a storm: We started with marinated, prosciutto-wrapped and seared shrimp, and moved on to pasta with grilled broccolini and anchovy, braised short ribs in a chile-chipotle broth, fiery elotes, and a peach salad with burrata, mint pesto, prosciutto and pistachios.  For dessert a friend brought pies, because Baketard.

My favorite dish was this tomato tart from the Fresh from the Market: Seasonal Cooking with Laurent Tourondel and Charlotte March cookbook. I have cooked 5 or 6 recipes from this book and they have ALL rocked.

The only change I made to the original recipe below was to add a couple of sliced, caramelized onions between the Mortadella and cheese layers. I also used heirloom tomatoes instead of the beefsteak because they are BEAUTIFUL right now.

Give this a try and let me know what you think!

Beefsteak Tomato, Mortadella, & Wisconsin Emmenthaler Tart

Wisconsin Emmenthaler is similar but worlds better than regular old grocery store Swiss cheese. True Emmenthaler cheese is generally richer because it is made with unpasteurized milk. It’s great in this tart with its slightly piquant and somewhat sharp taste.


1 sheet store-bought frozen puff pastry, preferably Dufour brand, thawed
2 tablespoons Raye’s whole grain mustard
12 slices Wisconsin Emmenthaler cheese, 1/8 inch thick
6 slices mortadella, 1/4 inch thick
3 large vine-ripened or beefsteak tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 thinly sliced garlic cloves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unfold the puff pastry sheet on a cool, lightly floured surface and roll it out to a 1/4-inch thickness.

Trim the pastry into a 12-inch round and place it on the prepared baking sheet.

Using a fork, prick the pastry in several places.

Brush the pastry with the mustard, leaving a 1/2-inch border.

Lay 6 slices of cheese over the mustard, then top with the mortadella.

Lay the remaining 6 slices of cheese over the mortadella. Arrange, the tomatoes atop the tart, slightly overlapping to form a circular pattern, then scatter the garlic over the tomatoes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

Bake until the pastry is golden brown, the cheese is hot and bubbling, and the tomatoes are slightly caramelized, about 30 minutes.

Drizzle the tart with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and serve immediately.

Wine Pairing

Serve this dish with an Alsatian white-inspired blend that offers aromas of nectarines, flowers, and spice, such as Robert Sinskey, “Abraxas,” 2007, Napa Valley, California.


Coastal Coconut and Tamarind Fish Curry

I looooooove Indian food. If you’ve ever read this blog, you *may* have also gathered that I loooooooove cookbooks. Finding a good Indian cookbook is always a special thrill.

Finding one where I can make the dishes in less than an hour is amazing. Especially if the recipes are mind-numbingly delicious. 

You’re welcome in advance, because Spices & Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors by Rinku Bhattacharya is that book.

I initially made a few dishes from this book at home when I received a review copy back in the fall. We were both excited by the depth of flavor and complex combinations of ingredients in the things I made. I tried taking pictures of the completed dishes so I could put them in the blog, but it was December. Between the light and my lack of photography skills, the results looked like something you peel off your car tires after a road trip.  I meant to try again right away, but life happened: We bought a new house, packed up the old one, moved, went on an amazing vacation to Europe with our BFFs, and I started a new job.  Pretty much all of the major life events a couple goes through other than a divorce or death (so he’d better watch himself…I’m just sayin’).

This week I went back to Spices and Seasons and made my favorite dish for lunch on Sunday. I bought some halibut and threw together Rinku’s Coastal Coconut and Tamarind Fish Curry. It incorporates some of my favorite things about indian cuisine:  Curry Leaves, Black mustard seeds, caramelized onions, tamarind and a lot of chiles. From start to finish, it took about a half hour. Of that, the active prep time was about 10 minutes. Just as I finished taking a couple of photos of the finished dish, David came downstairs with a fake pouty face and whiny voice to ask, “Is there anything to eat”?  Why yes…yes there is….Who’s the best husband EVER!?!?! 

You’re going to love this dish if you like Indian food. If the spices are too intense for you, you can either reduce the chiles or MAN UP!!! 

It’s delicious.

The flavors are very well harmonized.

And you shouldn’t be such a wuss.

Some notes on modifications…I needed to add more than the half cup of water at the beginning of the simmer both times I made this dish. I used more like a cup. Also, I used halibut for the fish because I just find it to be the perfect texture for curries.

Let me know if you give this one a try, and also check Rinku’s other recipes. I’ve linked her book below and you can also find some on her blog at: http://www.spicechronicles.com.

Coastal Coconut and Tamarind Fish Curry

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Serves 6


2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

10 to 15 curry leaves

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced, fresh ginger

1 ½ tablespoons cumin-coriander powder (toast equal parts cumin seeds and whole coriander seeds in a pan until toasty and fragrant—about a minute—and then blitz in a coffee grinder)

2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder

1 tsp red cayenne pepper powder

2 Tablespoons tamarind paste (not concentrate)

½ cup coconut cream

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 ½ pounds white fish fillets (such as tilapia, perch, or halibut), cut into 2 or 3 pieces each

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro


Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat for about 30 seconds. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and when the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the curry leaves and onion and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the ginger, cumin-coriander powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, and cayenne pepper powder and stir well for about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the tamarind paste and ½ cup of water and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 15 minutes ,until the flavors have mixed and the mixture is thick and a deep shade of red.

Stir in the coconut cream, salt, and another ½ cup water and bring to a simmer.

Add the fish and simmer for about 10 minutes until cooked through.

Stir in the cilantro and serve with hot steamed rice.

On a 1-5 Scale:

Content: 4

Photography: 3.5

Ease of Understanding / Use: 4

Overall: 4


Chef Chen Dailu's Spicy Sesame Noodles (Chen Shifu Hong You Su Mian)

I’m trying again to get my act together and share some recipes. After a couple months of chaos (we sold our house and bought a new one, moved, took three weeks of vacation, and have been back in the new house for two weeks today) we’re finally starting to get unpacked, settle in and get back to a more normal routine. As normal as it can be in our lives.

As I’ve unpacked infinite boxes of kitchenware, struggled to find everything I’m looking for, and coordinated the events moving has involved I’ve had little time for real cooking. While I’m not typically the “Dinner in 30 minutes or less” guy on the weekends, during the week it’s imperative. To be honest, we eat out far too much when we’re together because by the time we get home we’re fried and don’t feel like hassling with anything. On the nights David works, I’m ALL about simple. Like my single days, I don’t want to mess with cooking for one so my go-tos tend to be making a vat of chili, tacos, puttanesca, burritos, or a bigassed salad. Occasionally I’ll throw together some type of Asian noodle dish if I feel like I can justify the lack of nutritionally redeeming gorging I know I’ll do in a slithery, fatty plate of carbs. Last night was one of those nights.

I doubt I need to tell anyone who knows me what a Fuchsia Dunlop fan I am. I’ve posted some of her recipes in the past, and her books are the reason I went to the Sichuan Culinary Institute a few years back. I stumbled across her Spicy Sesame Noodles recipe when I was looking through Every Grain of Rice recently, and knew I had to make it. Start to finish, it took 10 minutes.

The only adaptations I made were based upon all the noodles I’ve inhaled in various trips to china, and the barrage of questions I asked the chefs and noodle shop owners during my culinary trip. You don’t need to modify this—it’s all to taste. I just added what I like, including a sprinkling of msg, about ½ tsp of sugar, 3 Tbsp chopped ya cai (Chinese pickled vegetables), the amount of garlic called for in the recipe--doubled, and I used both ground Sichuan pepper and a tiny drizzle of the oil.

 Enjoy this. If you have the ingredients on hand, it’s effortless.

Chef Chen Dailu's Spicy Sesame Noodles (Chen Shifu Hong You Su Mian)

From: Every Grain of Rice by Fuschia Dunlop

"This is a recipe taught by chef Chen Dailu of the wonderful Chengdu snack restaurant Long Chao Shou," she says. "I was interviewing him for a feature for Saveur magazine and I asked him to tell me about his favorite food. To my surprise, he came up with this scrumptious but blindingly simple vegetarian recipe."

Makes: 2 servings


2 teaspoons sesame paste

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

½ teaspoon dark soy sauce

½ teaspoon Chinkiang vinegar

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

Good pinch of ground, roasted Sichuan pepper, or a dash of Sichuan pepper oil

1 ½ tablespoons chilli oil with sediment

7 ounces (200g) Chinese wheat or buckwheat noodles

Handful of pea shoots, green bok choy or choy sum leaves (optional)

1 tablespoon finely chopped spring onion greens


1. Combine all the ingredients - except for the noodles, greens, if using, and spring onions -- in a serving bowl and mix well.

2. Cook the noodles. If you are using the greens, toss them into the cooking water for the last minute to blanch them. Drain the noodles and greens and add to the serving bowl. Scatter with spring onions, mix well, and serve.


Kalbi Chunked Tots with Gochujang Cheese Sauce

Football is my life.

Ok, that’s a big, fat lie but I have fun pretending it is and providing nonstop commentary during Seahawks’ games on Facebook. Some of my friends, knowing how full of shit I am, find it hilarious. Others just want me to put a cork in it. Regardless, it entertains me and if you crack YOURSELF up, what more do you need?

These tater tots. THAT’S what you need. For me, the superbowl is typically a bunch of background noise leading up to (this year) The Katy Perry concert, natch. I have to admit, this year I was into the game more than I ever have been and tortured our friends with nonstop questions, some of which were reallllly dumb given the looks I received in response. I absented myself during the game to make these, and while they are extremely spicy (in a good way), they’re sooooooooo going on my summer barbecue rotation. Even the non-spice freaks loved them.

I’ve adapted the original recipe below, and I’m very happy with the results. I hope you are too, and if you make em, drop me a line and let me know how it went for you. Some notes: If spicy isn't your deal, you may want to cut down on the 1:1 cheese:Gochujang (korean chile paste) ratio and add extra mirin instead to smooth out the sauce. You can also bake the tots instead of frying them if you want to cut down fat, but honestly--if you're watching fat intake you shouldn't make this recipe in the first place.

Sakaya Kitchen’s Kalbi Chunk’d Tots Recipe

Recipe adapted from Richard Hales’ Sakaya Kitchen


Mix all ingredients with short rib meat, cover and marinate overnight.

  • 1 pound short ribs, thick cut in 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 apple, sliced


Combine ingredients in food processor until smooth.

  • 1 cup fresh white melting cheese (I used a softer, mid-range taleggio)
  • 1 cup Korean red pepper paste (Gochujang)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 scallion
  • Mirin, if necessary to blend


  • 1 pound potato nuggets
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 2 cups cheese sauce (see above)
  • 1 pound short ribs (see above)
  • scallions, chopped
  • hot sauce, if desired (With this recipe, adding more hot sauce would be redundant, IMHO)


Makes approximately 4 servings

1.     Set grill to high heat. Grill short ribs on high heat until well done. Set aside. (You can also cook them on the stovetop in a lightly oiled grill pan or skillet, as the small pieces are a pain in the ass unless you have a small-grate basket or attachment for the grill, given how these are cut into smaller pieces for the marinade. Next time I may marinate the entire short rib pieces and then slice at the time of serving so I can use the grill.)

2.     Deep fry potato nuggets at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown. At the same time, cook the cheese sauce slightly over medium-low heat to make it more pliable and melty. It doesn't take long--maybe 5 minutes.

3.     Remove potato nuggets from oil to a mixing bowl. Toss with a pinch of sea salt and cheese sauce until coated.

4.     Slice short rib meat into bite size pieces.

5.     Place tater tot mixture in serving bowl, top with short rib meat and garnish with chopped scallions and hot sauce.