15 Feb 2022

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

How to Use Bean and Legume Pasta

Much as I love pasta, I'm not sure it loves me. Last year my carb-heavy comfort food diet led to some weight gain so I looked into low carb pasta as an alternative. There's a lot out there and I'm still trying different brands and styles, but I thought now would be a good time to share what I've learned so far.

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts

My introduction to legume and bean-based pasta was thanks to Barilla. I was lucky because I got to attend a webinar with Barilla's incredible chef, Lorenzo Boni. I tried his recipe for pasta with butternut squash and Brussels sprouts which I definitely recommend and have now made several times. If you've seen his wildly popular (150k+ followers!) Instagram feed you know he's a master at making all kinds of pasta dishes and that he often eats plant-based meals. I followed up with him to get some tips on cooking with pasta made from beans and legumes.

Pasta made with beans and legumes is higher in protein and so the recommended 2-ounce portion is surprisingly filling. But the texture isn't always the same as traditional semolina or durum wheat pasta. Chef Boni told me, "The nature of legume pasta makes it soak up more moisture than traditional semolina pasta, so you always want to reserve a bit of cooking water to adjust if needed." But when it comes to cooking, he says that with Barilla legume pasta you cook it the same way as semolina pasta. "Boil in salted water for the duration noted on the box and you'll have perfectly al dente pasta." They are all gluten-free.

Chickpea pasta

When I asked Chef Boni about pairing chickpea pastas with sauce he said, "Generally speaking, I prefer olive oil based sauces rich with vegetables, aromatic herbs and spices. Seafood also pairs well with chickpea options. If used with creamy or tomato-based sauces, keep in mind to always have some pasta water handy to adjust the dish in case it gets too dry." He added, "One of my favorite ways to prepare a legume pasta dish would be a simple chickpea rotini with shrimp, diced zucchini and fresh basil. The sauce is light enough to highlight the flavor of the pasta itself, while the natural sweetness helps keep the overall flavor profile more appealing to everyone." I like the Barilla brand because the only ingredient is chickpeas. Banza makes a popular line of chickpea pasta as well although they include pea starch, tapioca and xanthan gum.

Edamame pasta

I tried two different brands of edamame pasta, Seapoint Farms and Explore Cuisine. The Seapoint pasta has a rougher texture than the Explore. With the Seapoint I found the best pairings were earthy chunky toppings like toasted walnuts and sautéed mushrooms. The Explore Cuisine edamame & spirulina pasta is smoother and more delicate, and worked well with an Asian style peanut sauce. I was happy with the Seapoint brand, but would definitely choose the Explore brand instead if it's available.

Red lentil pasta

Red lentil pasta is most similar to semolina pasta. Barilla makes red lentil pasta in a variety of shapes. But for spaghetti, Chef Boni says, "Barilla red lentil spaghetti is pretty flexible and works well with pretty much everything. I love red lentil spaghetti with light olive oil based sauces with aromatic herbs and some small diced vegetables. It also works well with a lean meat protein." I have to admit, I have yet to try red lentil pasta, but I'm excited to try it after hearing how similar it is to semolina pasta. It is made only with red lentil flour, that's it. It's available in spaghetti, penne and rotini.

Penne for Your Thoughts

Do you remember seeing photos from Italian supermarkets where the shelves with pasta were barren except for penne? I too seem to end up with boxes of penne or rotini and not a clue what to do with them so I asked Chef Boni his thoughts on the subject. He told me, "Shortcuts such as rotini and penne pair very well with all kind of ragouts as well as tomato based and chunky vegetarian sauces. One of my favorite ways to prepare a legume pasta dish would be a simple chickpea rotini with shrimp, diced zucchini and fresh basil. The sauce is light enough to highlight the flavor of the pasta itself, while the natural sweetness helps keep the overall flavor profile more appealing to everyone." Thanks chef! When zucchini is in season I know what I will try!

©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

15 Feb 2022 6:46pm GMT

23 Nov 2021

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

A Conversation with Julia Filmmakers, Julie Cohen and Betsy West

Julia is a new film based on Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz and inspired by My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme and The French Chef in America: Julia Child's Second Act by Alex Prud'homme. Julia Child died in 2004, and yet our appetite for all things Julia hasn't waned.

I grew up watching Julia Child on TV and learning to cook the French classics from her books, And while I never trained to be a chef, like Child I also transitioned into a career focused on food, a subject I have always found endlessly fascinating. I enjoyed the new film very much and while it didn't break much new ground, it did add a layer of perspective that can only come with time. In particular, how Julia Child became a ubiquitous pop culture figure is addressed in a fresh way.

I reached out to the filmmakers,Julie Cohen and Betsy West to find out more about what inspired them and why Julia Child still holds our attention.

Julia Child died over 15 years ago and has been off TV for decades. Why do you believe we continue to be so fascinated by her?

In some ways Julia is the Godmother of modern American cooking - and eating. Her spirit looms over cooking segments on the morning shows, The Food Network, and all those overhead Instagram shots the current generation loves to take of restaurant meals. Beyond that, though, Julia's bigger than life personality and unstoppable joie de vivre are infectious. People couldn't get enough of her while she was living, and they still can't now.

There have been so many Julia Child films and documentaries, what inspired this one?

Well there'd been some great programs about Julia but this is the first feature length theatrical doc. Like everyone else, we adored Julie & Julia, but a documentary gives you a special opportunity to tell a person's story in their own words and with the authentic images. This is particularly true of Julia, who was truly one of a kind.

The impact of Julia Child how she was a groundbreaker really comes across in the film, are we understanding her in a different light as time passes?

People understand that Julia was a talented television entertainer, but outside the professional food world, there's been an under-recognition of just how much she changed the 20th century food landscape. As Jose Andres points out in the film, almost every serious food professional has a sauce-splashed copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" on their shelves. We also felt Julia's role in opening up new possibilities for women on television deserved more exploration. In the early 1960's the idea of a woman on TV who was neither a housewife nor a sex bomb but a mature, tall, confident expert was downright radical. She paved the way for many women who followed.

The food shots add an extra element to the film and entice viewers in a very visceral way, how did those interstitials come to be part of the film?

We knew from the start that we wanted to make food a major part of this story, not an afterthought. We worked with cook and food stylist Susan Spungen to determine which authentic Julia recipes could be integrated with which story beats to become part of the film's aesthetic and its plot. For instance the sole meunière is a key part of the story because it sparked her obsession with French food, and the pear and almond tart provides an enticing metaphor for the sensual side of Julia and Paul's early married years.

Note: Susan Spungen was also the food stylist for Julie & Julia

Julia is in theaters now.

©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

23 Nov 2021 11:30pm GMT

05 Oct 2021

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Meet my Friend & Mentor: Rick Rodgers of the Online Cooking School Coffee & Cake

Rick Rodgers

I met Rick Rodgers early in my career as a recipe developer and food writer when we were both contributors to the Epicurious blog. Not only is he a lot of fun to hang out with, but he has also been incredibly helpful to me and is usually the first person I call when I'm floundering with a project, client, or cooking quandary. His interpersonal skills, business experience, and cooking acumen explain why he's been recognized as one of the top cooking instructors in America. Literally.

You built a career as a cooking instructor and cookbook author. How many cookbooks have you written?

I was asked recently to make an official count, and It looks like an even hundred. Many of those were collaborations with chefs, restaurants, celebrities, bakeries, and business entities, such as Tommy Bahama, Williams-Sonoma, and Nordstrom. I made it known that I was available for collaboration work, and my phone literally rang off the hook for quite a few years with editors and agents looking for help with novice writers or those that wanted a branded book.

Which cookbook(s) are you most proud of?

There are three books that I get fan mail for almost every day: Kaffeehaus (where I explore the desserts of my Austrian heritage), Thanksgiving 101 (a deep dive into America's most food-centric holiday and how to pull it off), and Ready and Waiting (which was one of the first books to take a "gourmet" approach to the slow cooker). These books have been in print for 20 years or more, which is a beautiful testament to their usefulness to home cooks.

How did you get started as a cooking instructor and what are some highlights of your teaching career?

I was a theater major at San Francisco State College (now University), so getting in front of a crowd held no terrors for me. When more brick-and-mortar cooking schools opened in the eighties, I was ready for prime time. During that period, there were at least twelve cooking schools in the Bay Area, so I made quarterly trips here a year from the east coast, where I had moved. My Thanksgiving classes were so popular that I taught every day from November 1 to Thanksgiving, with a couple of days off for laundry and travel. The absolute pinnacle of my teaching career was being named Outstanding Culinary Instructor of The Year by Bon Appétit Magazine's Food and Entertaining Awards, an honor that I share with only a handful of other recipients, including Rick Bayless and Bobby Flay.


How have cooking classes changed since you started?

Because there are so many classes available, I can teach at any level of experience. At the cooking schools, we tended to walk a fine line between too difficult and too easy. The exposure to different cuisines and skill levels on TV also has seriously raised the bar. Unfortunately, students want to walk before they can run. They want to learn how to make croissants when I doubt that they can bake a pound cake correctly. It is best to build on your skills instead of going right to the top. That being said, in my online classes, I am concentrating on the more challenging recipes because that is what the market demands of me.

Tell me about your baking school, coffeeandcake.org

As much as I loved my cookbooks and in-person classes, I knew there was a more modern way to reach people who wanted to cook with me, especially since so many cooking schools had closed. I retired the day I got my first Social Security check. But…as I was warned by my friends who knew me better than I did…I was bored, and wanted a new project. I heard about online classes through other teachers who were having success. I found an online course specifically for cooking classes (Cooking Class Business School at HiddenRhythm.com), got the nuts and bolts down, and I finally entered the 21st century!

How do you decide which recipes to teach?

I felt there were plenty of other places to learn how to make chocolate chip cookies and banana bread-just take a look on YouTube alone. I had a specialty of Austro-Hungarian baking thanks to my Kaffeehaus book, so I decided to niche into that category. I have branched out to a few other locations, but my goal is to expose students to something new and out of the ordinary. I also survey my students on what they would like me to teach, and those answers are amazing. People are truly interested in the more difficult desserts. Perhaps it is because so many people discovered baking as a hobby during the pandemic?

For students who have your cookbooks, what are the advantages of taking an online class?

There is no substitute for seeing a cook in action. Plus you get to answer questions during class. In a recent class, I made six-layer Dobos Torte in two hours' real-time to prove that you can do it without giving up a week of your life. And we don't have to travel to each other to be "together." My classes are videotaped so you can watch them at your convenience.

What are some highlights of your upcoming schedule of classes?

Honey cake
Honey cake

In October, I am teaching virtually all Hungarian desserts, things that will be new to most people. I am making one of my absolute favorites, Flódni, which is a Jewish bar cookie (almost a cake) with layers of apple, poppy seeds, and walnuts between thin sheets of wine-flavored cookie dough. San Franciscans in particular will be happy to see a master class that I am teaching with the delightful Michelle Polzine, owner of the late and lamented 20th Century Cafe and author of Baking at the 20th Century Cafe. We will be making her (in)famous 12-layer honey cake on two coasts, with me doing the heavy lifting in New Jersey and Michelle guiding me from the west coast. That is going to be fun! In November and December, I am switching over to holiday baking and a few savory recipes for Thanksgiving, including my fail-proof turkey and gravy, which I have made over 300 times in classes over 30 years' worth of teaching. It ought to be perfect by now

Head to Coffee and Cake to sign up for classes or learn more.

©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

05 Oct 2021 3:56pm GMT

16 Aug 2021

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

All about Saffron and Saffron Scented Fennel & Chickpea Stew Recipe

Like so many people, when I've traveled to Spain, I've come back with packages of saffron. But recently I met Negar Ajayebi, whose company Baron Saffron is importing the most exquisite organic Persian saffron. The color is incredibly vibrant and the aroma intense and complex. Frankly, it was way better than anything I ever had before. I spoke with Ajayebi to learn more about this exquisite spice and how to use it.

How did you get into the saffron business?

It was a hobby as we cook every day and we use saffron a lot. Persian people grow up with saffron. We came from a culture where daily cooking is the primary job of every family, and saffron is an important ingredient. The best saffron in the world grows in the Persian plateau, and we like to introduce it to people worldwide.

What is something that most Americans don't know about saffron?

Most Americans use the threads to add taste, but the point is that you should grind the threads and brew them! It has so many health benefits as well. The use of saffron as a medicinal plant dates back to ancient times, with its reported therapeutic applications ranging from complaints of the eye, skin, respiratory, digestive, and genitourinary tracts, to mood disorders and as a general tonic.

What makes Persian saffron so special compared to saffron from other countries?

Saffron, like other flowers, needs a unique climate to grow up well. The geographical parameters in the great Khorasan (the eastern part of Iran and western part of Afghanistan), aka soil, water, and temperature, make it the best place to grow up saffron. This flower needs too much attention, which means a lot of labor costs. So economical parameter is another issue.

Can you explain the lab testing of saffron and grading?

The standard test for saffron is ISO 3632-2, which clarifies the three characteristics' saffron sample:

• Safranal: This index represents the smell of saffron. The high-quality saffron scores over 40

• Crocin: This shows the color of saffron. Pure and fresh saffron gets over a score of 250

• Picocrocin: This demonstrates the flavor of saffron. If the test has over 80, you can trust it

I think a lot of people like me buy it and use it infrequently. How important is it for saffron to be fresh?

The fresher, the better! Keeping saffron in a dry and nearly cold place is a must. It should be kept dry and in a closed lid container.

How do you use saffron, and how much is typically needed per recipe?

The best way to use saffron is to brew it. Brewing the saffron releases the most aroma and color, and taste. To have a better result, we usually grind the saffron's threads. It practically helps to release its flavor and aroma three times more! The amount of saffron used in the recipes depends on how much you want the taste to be strong and how much you believe in saffron!

You recommend grinding the saffron and brewing it with ice at room temperature. Why is that?

It's a traditional way we learned from our ancestors, and that's because we believe precisely like coffee, cold brewing draws the most aroma and color and tastes out of saffron.

SPECIAL OFFER: If you'd like to purchase saffron, Baron Saffron is offering free shipping with the code cookingwithamy. I hope you'll try this truly exquisite saffron and let me know how you use it in the comments. I can personally attest a very little bit goes a long way. Thanks Negar!

Saffron Scented Chickpea and Fennel Stew

Serves 4


2 heads of fennel, chopped, (save the core)

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped (save the peel and scraps)

1 yellow pepper or 5 mini peppers, seeded and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can or 1 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas

1/2 cup orange juice

1 cup of fennel onion broth

1 can of cherry tomatoes (15 ounces)

Pinch of saffron


In a small saucepan combine the reserved fennel core and onion scraps. Cover with water and simmer to make a broth. Meanwhile, heat a soup pot and add the oil. Gently fry the onion, fennel, and peppers until soft and beginning to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.

Add the chickpeas, orange juice, about a cup of the fennel onion broth, the cherry tomatoes and their liquid, and a pinch of saffron. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until thick and fragrant. Season to taste with salt. Serve with bulgar or rice.


©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

16 Aug 2021 12:09am GMT

14 Jun 2021

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

News & Ways to Stay in Touch

Last year I became the editor of chief of two sites, the Cheese Professor and the Alcohol Professor. On each site you will find three new stories a week. There is also a weekly newsletter. Needless to say, I have not been blogging here as much as I did in the past. But there are still ways to keep in touch!

My old email subscription service Feedburner was discontinued, but you can sign up with Follow.it and then choose how you would like to be notified of new posts--in a feed, a direct email or otherwise. Simply click on this link to sign up (or the "subscriber now" link in the side bar).

I do hope you will take a look at both the Cheese Professor and the Alcohol Professor and consider signing up for the weekly newsletters as well. I write the newsletters and also contribute to both sites. Check out the past newsletters for Cheese Professor and the past newsletters for Alcohol Professor to subscribe.

As always, you can find pretty much all the stories I've written personally here.

Wishing you all things cheesy, boozy or otherwise delicious,

©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

14 Jun 2021 6:23pm GMT

18 May 2021

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina Recipe & Contest

Just as Margherita pizza is symbolic of Naples, gnocchi alla Sorrentina is emblematic of Sorrento. Like the Margherita, it features the colors of the Italian flag thanks to tomato, mozzarella and basil.That trinity seems like the most classic of Italian ingredients, but is it? Basil is not native to the Mediterranean, it came to Italy from India via the spice routes. Tomatoes came from the New World and didn't make their way to Italy until the 15th or 16th century, the same for potatoes, which are a key ingredient in gnocchi in many regions. I've read that potatoes were used because at one time the price of wheat was very high but I don't know if that's actually true or not.

My recipe for gnocchi alla Sorrentina is incredibly simple, but like all Italian recipes, it relies on excellent quality ingredients. There are lots of recipes out there for gnocchi alla Sorrentina. While they all have potato gnocchi topped with a sauce made from tomatoes along with basil, Parmigiano Reggiano and mozzarella, they sauce recipes vary. Some sauce recipes use soffritto, a combination of carrots, celery and onion. Other recipes use onion. Some use tomato paste. But if you use Pomodoro San Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP tomatoes all you need is olive oil and garlic.

The reason you should use Pomodoro San Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP tomatoes is twofold, the consistency of the product the taste. It's just ideal for making a quick and brightly flavored tomato sauce. You can make the gnocchi by hand or buy a brand you like, but the sauce must be made from scratch, the basil must be fragrant and the mozzarella must be soft and fresh. I have used other tomatoes in the past and had to rely on tomato paste to boost the flavor of tomato sauces, but not anymore. Grown and picked exclusively for the can in the volcanic-rich soil of Mt. Vesuvius. They have a special red and yellow PDO label issued by the European Union that ensures they are the real deal.

Now that we are finally getting out of the house, I'm pleased to share a chance to win dinner courtesy of #ILoveSanMarzanoDOP at a local restaurant valued at $250. Simply enter I ❤ San Marzano DOP contest for a chance to win! Good luck or as we say in Italian, in bocca al lupo!

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Serves 4 as a starter of 2 as an entree

1 pound potato gnocchi, cooked
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 28 ounce can San Marzano DOP tomatoes
Two sprigs fresh basil
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
6 ounces fresh mozzarella (not low moisture) diced


Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a saucepan and add oil. When the oil is warm, add the garlic and cook it over medium heat until it begins to turn golden, then turn the heat off. Using your hands, squish the tomatoes into a pulp and add them along with the puree in the can to the saucepan. Turn the heat back on and cook the mixture for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until it's the sauce is very thick. Add one sprig of basil, and turn off the heat.

Combine the sauce and the gnocchi, and transfer to a casserole. Sprinkle with half of the Parmigiano Reggiano and all of the mozzarella. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese melts. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano and garnish with the second sprig of basil.


Rules: You must be 18 + years old and live in the United States to win. Contest deadline is 11:59pm June 18, 2021. 21 Winners will be randomly selected and notified by phone.

©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

18 May 2021 10:04pm GMT

14 Mar 2021

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

The Truffle Hunters

I got to meet people in the truffle business a few years ago when I was the blogger for the Napa Truffle Festival. I even blogged about truffle dogs. I am not a big fan of dogs but fell head over heels in love with the adorable Lagotto Romangnolos. Affectionate, smart and energetic, they were irresistible. The award winning documentary The Truffle Hunters features not just truffle dogs, but the dog's owners, and some truffle brokers.

This delightful and quiet documentary transports you to Piemonte in Italy and takes you into the hidden world of the truffle hunters, both the men and their dogs. But it also shares the dark side of the business. The truffle business is notoriously shady. In some sections of the film you literally get a dog's eye view of truffle hunting. But the real charm are the men themselves and their relationships with friends, clients and their undying love for their dogs. Like the film itself, they are quirky, eccentric, funny and intense.

Truffles are all about scent, and this film not only conjures up the smell of precious white truffles, but is a banquet for all the senses-the sounds of nature, the damp chill of the forest, and the beauty of lives led in a way that is perhaps as precious and rare as truffles themselves. The film is now playing in select cities. Check Truffle Hunters website for more information.

©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

14 Mar 2021 11:04pm GMT

06 Nov 2020

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook Review & Roasted Grapes and Yogurt Recipe

The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook by Toby Amidor is a book a lot of people could use right now. If you are feeling like you can't face cooking anymore, don't know how to cook, have very little in your fridge or pantry or are cooking for fussy eaters, it solves the question: What should I eat? Eat, not cook, because some of the recipes don't even require using the oven or stove.

I don't remember exactly when I met Toby but we have been on several press trips together. She's a dietician, but also a home cook and I can attest she thoroughly enjoys eating. Her recipes are good reminders of what you can do with very little but also include some really ingenious things you probably haven't seen before. She has a 3 ingredient oatmeal raisin cookie and two-grain free pancake recipes, one for pumpkin oat pancakes and another for peanut butter banana pancakes.

The book has recipes that are for every meal including snacks and treats, and have codes to indicate things like whether they are freezer friendly, food for meal prep, one pot, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free. They also include scaled-down versions for fewer servings. The book includes tips for new cooks, cooking for two and cooking for students. The recipe I made from the book was Roasted Grapes and Yogurt made with vanilla Greek yogurt, grapes and honey, it was a hit.

Roasted Grapes and Yogurt
Slightly adapted from The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook
2 servings


1 cups seedless red and green grapes
3 cups vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons liquid honey
1 Tablespoon olive oil


Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and when shimmering add the grapes. Heat for 2 minutes then transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove skillet from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Divide yogurt into two bowls. Drizzle each bowl with a teaspoon of honey and then add top each bowl with the grapes and any liquid.


Disclaimer: I received a review copy of the cookbook and this post includes an affiliate link.

©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

06 Nov 2020 9:27pm GMT

30 Oct 2020

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Pasta with Eggplant, Olives and Capers Recipe

Pasta with eggplant, olives and capers

October is both National Italian Heritage Month and National Pasta Month. In honor of both, I'm sharing a recipe for pasta with tomato-based sauce, and hosting a giveaway and post sponsored by TheGreatestTomatoesofEurope.

While nothing can beat a fresh ripe juicy tomato, for sauce, canned tomatoes might be even better because they are peeled and cook so quickly. When it comes to Italian style tomato sauces you'll see many recipes specify San Marzano tomatoes. The official name is actually Pomodoro San Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP, in English DOP means Protected Designation of Origin.

A lot of tomatoes are labeled San Marzano, but are not grown and harvested according to the strict requirements of the DOP. If you try to find information about them it can be a little confusing and frankly, many food publications seem to miss the point of why you should seek them out. From a cook's perspective, it's all about consistency. Open a can labeled Pomodoro San Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP and you will get a texture and flavor that ensures an excellent sauce. What you won't get are tomatoes that were picked by machine before they were ripe, that are yellow and tough on top with remnants of skin and seeds, packed in very watery liquid, and that taste either bland or acidic when cooked.

Left: conventional tomato and Right: San Marzano DOP tomato

The DOP designation means they meet Protected Designation of Origin certification, with strict geographical and production standards. They are a specific type of tomato with a distinctive bittersweet flavor and low acidity, they have few seeds and a long shape, and meaty texture because they have only two seed pockets. They are grown in the volcanic soil of the Sarno Valley that is high in potassium and phosphorus. San Marzano tomatoes are harvested 7-8 times or more only by hand from July to September, to ensure they are perfectly ripe and only after sunset. After harvest, the tomatoes are peeled, placed in cans, and are processed for 13 minutes.

Canned tomatoes imported from Europe are more expensive than other canned tomatoes you may find, but you are getting a product that is consistently high quality and will ensure a great sauce for your pasta, especially if you're making a Southern Italian style recipe, like mine for pasta with eggplant, olives, and capers. Head to @cookingwithamy for details on how to win a gift pack of European products, including the tomatoes Pomodoro San Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese-Nocerino, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pasta, etc. Additionally, the winner gets to choose a family, frontline worker, charity, hospital, or person to also receive a gift pack!

Pasta with Eggplant, Olives, and Capers

8 servings


1 pound casarecce or similar pasta

2 garlic cloves, smashed

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup green or black olives, pitted and sliced

1/4 cup capers

1 medium eggplant (or 1/2 large eggplant) about 12 ounces or 4 cups, diced

1 28 oz can Pomodoro San Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese-Nocerino

Pecorino, grated


Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the eggplant on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle or spray with olive oil and roast for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through but still holding its shape.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions and drain. Add the olive oil to a large skillet, sauté the garlic for one minute, add olives and capers and cook for another minute or until fragrant. Add tomatoes, mashing them with a wooden spoon, and simmer for 10 minutes or until thick and saucy. Add the eggplant and stir until well coated.

Toss the drained pasta with the sauce, serve with cheese.


©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

30 Oct 2020 8:29pm GMT

19 Aug 2020

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Lay's Supports Iconic Restaurants & You Should Too

I don't have to tell you that restaurants are suffering. In the beginning of the pandemic many launched GoFundMe style campaigns to try and stay afloat. Restaurants also keep pivoting from offering pantry staples to meal kits, cooking classes, take out, delivery and more to make up for the loss of their normal business.

Independent restaurants numbered 500,000 before the pandemic and employed over 11 million people according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition and some industry analysts believe 2/3 of restaurants will not survive the crisis in the US. Yelp data shows 26,160 restaurants have closed as of the end of July. Restaurants are pushing for a $120B Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund. You can ask your representatives to support this initiative.

Since 2104 Lay's has offered limited edition "flavor icon" potato chips that honor classic dishes. In past years there's been Everything Bagel and Cream Cheese, Fried Green Tomato, and even Crispy Taco. This year they honor four restaurants and dishes, and in light of the pandemic, they are giving a $25,000 Gratitude Fund to each of the Flavor Icons restaurants to put towards the various relief efforts that will help them recover from the impact of the pandemic. The potato chips contain no artificial flavors.

I got a chance to try four flavors:

Wavy Carnitas Street Taco flavored inspired by El Torito

Notes of bacon, onion and corn, which is interesting in a potato chip. Good for dipping.

My favorite of all the flavors.

Kettle Cooked New York Style Pizza flavored inspired by Grimaldi's

I get a combination of tomato sauce and cheese.

They would go great with a grilled cheese sandwich.

Philly Cheesesteak flavored inspired by Geno's Steaks

Very beefy, umami notes not as much cheese flavor as I expected.

I would actually like to try these with or in a roast beef sandwich.

Nashville Hot Chicken flavored inspired by Partry Fowl

Spicy! Not very chicken-y though.

These will be popular with barbecue potato chip lovers.

So what's iconic where you live? If you can, support the restaurants you love, for many of them, it's now or never.

Disclaimer: My thanks to Lay's for providing samples for me to try.

©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

19 Aug 2020 10:28pm GMT

28 May 2020

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Pandemic Provisions

Shopping for groceries has changed and it may be permanent. Restaurant suppliers have had to pivot to stay afloat. The good news is that they are now selling more to consumers than ever before and most say they plan to continue to do so. I wrote about this development over at Martha Stewart, but I thought I'd also share a few of the places where I've personally been shopping and that have been recommended to me. The benefits include better social distancing but also fresher food and support for farmers, fishers and ranchers.

I've also been buying dumplings, ramen, baked goods and taking cook-along classes at home, I'll share the details on those soon along with a list of where to find great takeout and delivery options.

Fresh produce
I often shop at the farmers market, but right now I am really enjoying the produce boxes from Tomatero Farm. They are only $20 and are delivered weekly around the San Francisco Bay Area. They include a wide variety of produce and sometimes a basket or two of their fantastic strawberries. I find one box is good for almost 2 weeks for my household of two. The box varies from week to week. This week the box had fennel, zucchini, curly kale, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, a small cauliflower and savoy cabbage and 2 baskets of strawberries. I've also purchased the strawberries by the flat ($30). The boxes often sell out, so get on their mailing list and order promptly!

Seafood & meat
I've ordered from both Four Star Seafood and Water2Table. They both offer a lot of incredibly fresh seafood, some of it local, and great prices and service. I've enjoyed fresh local salmon and black cod as well as excellent shrimp, mussels and monkfish. Water2Table is located on Pier 45 where a massive fire recently took place, but they hope to reopen soon. Four Star Seafood also offers meal kits, pantry items, meat and even foraged ingredients. They each have different minimums, and offer delivery or pick up and shipping for the rest of California, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Arizona. I have also heard good things about ABS Seafood, a top choice for sushi grade seafood. They are also located on Pier 45 so stay tuned for their reopening. One more seafood purveyor I haven't used but was recommended is TwoXSea.

I just got my first order from Liberty Ducks, a local company based in Sonoma who is now selling directly to consumers. I believe the minimum order is $50 and they deliver fairly widely. The frozen product is particularly economical. You may want to consider sharing an order with family, friends or neighbors. They also ship nationwide.

There are lots of options for grocery delivery from restaurant suppliers, but the one that intrigues me the most is Cheetah. They have an app for ordering and have turned their trucks into mobile delivery locations around the Bay Area. You order, pay and then head to a convenient spot for pick up and there is no minimum purchase requirement so you don't have to order more than you need. Some items are fairly large, but others are not. Again, I'd recommend you consider ordering with others if the quantities don't work for you. If you're looking for other restaurant suppliers with broader distribution, take a look at my article at Martha Stewart for tips.
©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

28 May 2020 3:08pm GMT

12 May 2020

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Dijon Mustard Black Cod with Cabbage & Potatoes

Black cod sheet pan supper
I know a lot of people are intimidated by the idea of cooking fish. A fillet of fish can sometimes fall apart when you cook it and because it's expensive you don't want to ruin it by undercooking or overcooking. Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, it's hard to mess up black cod. This recipe is actually a sheet pan supper, which makes both the cooking and clean up particularly easy.

Black cod also known as gindara, sablefish or butterfish, is incredibly rich. The names are a bit confusing since it's not actually butterfish or a member of the cod family. Butterfish is the name used for a popular misoyaki style of cooking it, popularized by Chef Nobu. It's also popular smoked like salmon and is sometimes just referred to as sable. It is sustainable and caught along the Pacific coast from Baja up to Alaska.

Recently I discovered several recipes for black cod using Dijon mustard. When I think about Dijon mustard my mind goes to sausages, and the combination of cabbage, onions, apples and potatoes. If there was ever a fish as rich as a sausage, it's black cod. The key to the recipe is layering most of the ingredients in thin slices so they cook quickly and evenly.

Note: You can easily scale the recipe up or down but do not substitute cod for black cod. That would be a big mistake. They are not the same species and cannot be cooked the same way. Black cod has 30 grams of fat in a 151 gram portion, whereas Atlantic cod has 1.5 grams of fat in a 231 gram portion.

Dijon Mustard Black Cod with Cabbage & Potatoes

Makes 4 servings


2 Tablespoons oil, divided
1 medium savoy cabbage
1 large yellow onion, peeled
1 Fuji apple
4 Yukon gold potatoes
4 filets black cod, about 4 ounces each
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Dijon vinaigrette
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Remove the core from the cabbage and slice into thick slices, about 1/3 inch. Thinly slice the onion, apple and potatoes, you do not need to peel the potatoes or apple.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Pour the oil into a small cup or ramekin and spread about half of it around with a pastry brush, until the paper is well coated. Layer on the sliced potatoes, season with a sprinkle of salt, then layer on the onions, the apple and finally the cabbage. Brush the cabbage with the remaining tablespoon of oil.

Roast for 25 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking make the vinaigrette by combining the Dijon mustard, vinegar, olive oil with a pinch of sugar. Whisk together until emulsified and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Evenly coat the top of each filet of fish with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Place on top of the cabbage and broil just until the fish is cooked through and cabbage is brown in spots, about 7-8 minutes. Divide the vegetables evenly on four plates, top with a piece of fish and drizzle each portion with a tablespoon of the vinaigrette.


©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

12 May 2020 4:22pm GMT

22 Apr 2020

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Caesar Salad Recipe

Just as there are phases of grief, I'm pretty sure there are phases when it comes to food cravings while sheltering in place. I have officially reached the salad phase. When I got back home from a short vacation in Hawaii we were eating a lot of Japanese food. I cooked ramen, gyudon (beef bowl), Japanese curry and Japanese hamburger steak. After that, I craved carbs and it was pasta, rice, grits, tortillas, pizza, potatoes day after day. Along with the carbs, I wanted cheese. After all, what's better than carbs and cheese? Maybe a Caesar salad.

I guess Caesar salad is a transition from the cheese phase (with some croutons for carbs) into the salad phase. Caesar salad is a favorite in my house, but I usually don't make the real original Caesar. I doctor some mayonnaise with Worcestershire sauce and Parmigiano Reggiano and call it a Caesar. But it's not a real Caesar.

A really good Caesar salad makes a fine main course and never needs the addition of chicken. It only takes a few ingredients, but using high quality ingredients and taking the care to make the dressing and the croutons from scratch are well worth the effort. The usual way to make the dressing is by slowly whisking the olive oil into the other ingredients, but I found using a stick blender is faster, easier and much more efficient. If you don't have one, you'll need to mash the garlic, blend it with pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and then the egg yolk and finally whisk in the olive oil, a little at a time, to fully incorporate it into a smooth emulsion.

Note: This dressing in this recipe makes enough for 4 main courses or 6-8 as a side salad. The salad dressing will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.

Caesar Salad
4-8 servings


2-3 slices of sourdough bread
Cooking spray
1 egg
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
4 medium hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped
White anchovies, optional
Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bread into cubes and place on a foil or parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Lightly spray the cubes with cooking spray and bake for 10 minutes or just until golden and crisp.

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the egg and boil for 3 minutes. Remove the egg, and cool it under cold running water. Peel and separate the yolk and white. Place the egg yolk into a large beaker or wide mouth jar. Add the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, pepper and Parmigiano Reggiano. Use a stick blender to blend and emulsify the dressing.

Toss the lettuce and dressing and add croutons. Add white anchovies and or shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, if desired.


©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

22 Apr 2020 5:18pm GMT

21 Apr 2020

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Ginger Matcha Walnuts Recipe

Ginger Matcha Walnuts
I received free samples of California Walnuts mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Walnuts and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Everyone has their own way of coping during a crisis. For me, it's time spent in the kitchen and lately, coloring. Yes, I've taken up coloring. The title of my coloring book is Meditations on Tea. Doesn't that sound soothing? Of course, I need a snack to keep me going. And since the coloring book is tea themed, I figured my snack should be too. While the California Walnuts contest is all about how walnuts can work well in savory or sweet snacks, I tend to prefer a balance of both so I leave it up to you to decide which category it fits in.

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the hardest to perfect. This recipe was no exception to that rule. I tried roasting the nuts in a pan and in the oven with a bit of oil, but I found that the oily surface of the roasted nuts made the matcha look very unappetizing. I messed around with the recipe several times before settling on both the technique and the ingredients.

I use walnuts in baking quite frequently so I often have them on hand. I also use crystalized ginger in my granola so I usually have a stash of it. I was inspired to combine the two along with matcha tea powder. It's all pretty healthy stuff and the toasty nuts which are an excellent source of plant-based omega-3, sweet and spicy ginger and just a bit of bitterness from the matcha make a tasty snack you can actually feel good about eating. Not quite nirvana, but it will do.

Ginger Matcha Walnuts


1 cup California Walnuts
1/4 teaspoon matcha
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup diced crystallized ginger


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the walnuts on it. Roast for 10 minutes or until fragrant and lightly toasted. Remove and let cool. Sprinkle with the matcha and salt and add the diced ginger, gently toss until well combined.

©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

21 Apr 2020 11:12pm GMT

17 Apr 2020

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Lavender London Fog Latte Recipe

My thanks to Sonoma Syrup for sponsoring this post. I only work with brands I personally use.

While it may sound like a drink from England's Victorian era, legend has it that the London Fog latte drink, Earl Grey tea flavored with vanilla and topped with foamy milk, was invented in the late 1990s at a Vancouver cafe for a customer who was pregnant and did not want to drink coffee. We may never know if the story is true, but it is a very popular drink on the West Coast and especially in and around Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia.

The origins of Earl Grey tea are also a bit mysterious. It is said to be named after Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl Grey who was a British Prime Minister in 1830. Who came up with the blend and why remains a source of some debate but there are ads referencing Earl Grey tea from the 1880s. Earl Grey tea is a Chinese black tea flavored with bergamot, a type of sour orange that is very fragrant, and possibly a hybrid of lemon and bitter orange, it pairs quite nicely with lavender or vanilla. In fact, both are quite frequently blended into Earl Grey tea.

Earl Grey is one of those teas that is complemented by either lemon or milk. A bit of sugar also rounds out the tangy citrus notes. The foamy milk in the latte version is supposed to be reminiscent of fog, but someone I know who normally drinks tea with lemon likes milky tea on rainy days. I also like Earl Grey tea with milk on cold days, it's invigorating and adds a bit of brightness and the latte version feels particularly cozy. For my version of a London Fog, I use lavender rather than vanilla. It enhances the fragrance and floral qualities. But you could try it with vanilla syrup if you prefer or maybe a bit of both! This drink is very good with shortbread cookies or scones.

Lavender London Fog Latte
Makes 1 cup


1 Earl Grey tea bag
1/2 cup boiling hot water
1/2-1 teaspoon Sonoma Syrup Lavender Infused Simple Syrup, or to taste
1/2 cup milk
Culinary lavender, optional


Bring water to a boil and place a tea bag into a cup. Pour the hot water over the tea bag and let it steep for 3 minutes and then add the syrup and stir. In a small saucepan or in a mug in the microwave, gently heat the milk until hot and use a milk frother or whip it in the blender until very foamy. Pour the foamy milk into the tea. Garnish with the tiniest pinch of crushed lavender if desired.

©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

17 Apr 2020 1:54am GMT

03 Apr 2020

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Angkor Cambodian Sauces

For many years I've been wanting to write a cookbook about how to cook with condiments and sauces. I have a refrigerator and pantry filled with all kinds of ingredients from everyday ones like ketchup and miso to more unusual ones such as pomegranate molasses and preserved lemon paste. My Asian sauce collection is massive and I don't just use Asian condiments in Asian recipes but in all kinds of things. Which brings me to Angkor, a line of Cambodian ingredients.

A couple of years ago I met Channy and Kent Laux at the Winter Fancy Food Show. I was blown away by their first product, lemongrass paste which also includes garlic, jalapeno, onion, fish sauce (there's a vegan version as well), galangal and makrut lime, and couldn't wait to experiment with it. It's herbal and tangy with funky notes from fish sauce. Channy has shared a number of traditional Cambodian recipes on the site Angkor Chef but I knew the sauces would work in so many non-Cambodian dishes as well. Earlier this year I took some samples into the kitchen and began experimenting. Many of my recipes are now up on the Angkor Chef blog. This was not a paid project, I was just so enthusiastic about the products I really want to see them succeed and help to demonstrate how versatile the products are.

If you're looking to add new flavors to your favorite recipes, the Angkor line of sauces is really great. Here are some of the sauces and links to the recipes I created that use them:
1. Lemongrass Paste
This pungent, herbal and funky paste complements artichokes beautifully. I used some in both the steaming liquid and blended with mayonnaise and Greek yogurt for a dip. I also used it as a marinade for shrimp to use with tacos. It's great with any kind of seafood.
chrouk metae deviled eggs and macaroni and cheese
2. Chrouk Metae - Cambodian Hot Sauce
A spicy hot sauce, but thick and very fresh tasting, not overwhelmed by too much vinegar it also has a hint of garlic. I used this in both macaroni and cheese and in place of mustard with deviled eggs.
tuk meric eggplant salad and meatballs
3. Tuk Meric - Kampot Pepper Sauce
I am crazy about this sauce, it's traditionally used with fried foods and hard-boiled eggs. It is peppery but also has lime juice and sea salt. I used it in meatballs and it quickly became a favorite. I also used it to season a salad of grilled eggplant, tomatoes and green onions.
Tamarind sauce three bean salad
4. Tamarind Sauce
The tamarind sauce is for Cambodian wraps and spring rolls, but it is really a perfect dressing for salads. It has extra virgin olive oil, dried shallots, garlic, and chili as well as some fish extract. I loved it on a three-bean salad.

All of the products are available online, check their website for special offers.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated monetarily for this post, I did receive samples of the products.
©2022 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

03 Apr 2020 8:57pm GMT