Black Bean Brownies

“Beans in my brownies?!” While I’d never suggest you keep an ingredient’s identity hidden, you might want to, depending on your audience. You’ll win them over with one bite, after which you can choose to disclose your secret (or not).

Makes 1 (9-inch-square) pan of brownies, 9 to 12 pieces, depending on how you cut them.

Pan spray, for greasing pan

2 cups cooked black beans

3 eggs

3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

⅔ cup sugar

¼ cup cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°. Spray a 9-inch-square baking dish with pan spray and line the pan with parchment or waxed paper.

Purée beans in a food processor. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla and pulse to combine.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir in wet ingredients from food processor until evenly combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Scrape mixture into prepared pan, smoothing top with a spatula. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the center doesn’t wobble when the pan is jostled. Let the brownies cool before cutting them.


Bean Fritters with Salmoriglio Sauce

Not quite falafel and not quite a bean burger, these crisp patties are an easy and fast meal-maker. Serve alongside braised greens or sautéed vegetables, or make mini fritters to serve as a snack. Fritters can be shaped a day ahead— store them dusted with flour and covered with plastic wrap until ready to fry.

Makes 4 servings

2 cups cooked beans of your choice (we used pintos), cooking liquid drained off

2 scallions, finely sliced

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley or cilantro, or a combination of both

2 tablespoons finely grated cheese (Parmesan is a good choice, but cheddar or Gouda are good, too)

Salt and pepper to taste

⅓–½ cup all-purpose flour

Oil for frying

Salmoriglio Sauce (recipe below)

In a large bowl, use a fork, a pastry cutter, or your hands to mash beans, scallion, parsley, cheese, and salt and pepper together.

Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions. Form each into a patty, using the flour to coat the sides and keep the patties from sticking to your hands.

Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add a thin layer of oil and fry the fritters until browned on both sides and warmed all the way through, about 3 minutes per side. Serve drizzled with Salmoriglio Sauce.

Salmoriglio Sauce

This sauce provides a citrusy spark to any plate. Oregano is traditional, but substitute mint or cilantro if preferred. This sauce will be best the day it is made, when the herbs are at their freshest, but any leftovers are great as a marinade.

Makes 2 cups

½ cup hot water

½ cup lemon juice, from 2 to 3 lemons

1 cup chopped parsley

½ cup chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tablespoon dried oregano)

1–2 cloves garlic

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Put water, lemon juice, parsley, oregano, and garlic into a blender.

With the blender running, pour in olive oil in a slow stream. The mixture will emulsify and thicken. Taste and season with salt and pepper.


Bean and Wheatberry Stew

This stew will be prettiest (in my opinion) if you use a white bean like cannellini or navy, but there is no reason to run out and buy anything special to prepare it. Use whatever is on hand in your pantry. Wheatberries can be found in health food stores and co-ops. Farro or spelt are good options as well.

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 slices of bacon, chopped

1 cup wheatberries

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 carrot, coarsely chopped

1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press

2 cups diced tomatoes (or 1 [15-ounce] can diced tomatoes, including liquid from can)

½–1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (the heat level is up to you)

1½ quarts chicken broth or vegetable stock

2 packed cups chopped Swiss chard

2 cups cooked white beans (see page 20 cooking tips)

Parmesan cheese, for serving

Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and bacon and cook, stirring until bacon is browned and crisp. Remove bacon from pot, leaving fat behind. Add wheatberries and toast until just a little darker.

Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to pot and reduce heat to medium. Cook until vegetables are softened, 6–8 minutes. Add tomatoes and red pepper flakes.

Add broth to pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until wheatberries are tender, 60 to 90 minutes.

Stir reserved bacon, Swiss chard, and beans into pot, and cook until chard is wilted and the beans are hot. Add a little water if the contents of the pot are thicker than stew-like. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into soup bowls and give each serving a generous glug of olive oil and a sprinkling of freshly shaved Parmesan.


Full of Beans

Beauty (and dinner) is in the eye of the bean-holder


Did you know dried beans have a season? Admittedly, we’d never suggest this query falls into the category of cocktail party conversation starter, but still—did you know that?

Yes, dried beans are found year round, but many of our local farmers are growing bean varieties destined for the soup pot now. Black turtle, New England’s own Soldier Bean, Jacob’s Cattle, Scarlet Beauty … the list is long and ever-changing. The virtues of a “fresh” dry bean are several: faster cooking time, brighter colors in the cookpot, and more vibrant flavor. Plus, local dried beans are an affordable local protein source.

New to the dried bean game? Read on.

Cooking dried beans

There is no one right way to cook a bean, but here are my favorite methods:

If I’ve planned ahead, I have soaked dry beans overnight in enough water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Then, I drain off the water, pour the beans into a pot, and cover with fresh water (again, by 2 inches). Add any aromatics like an onion, whole garlic cloves, herbs, or (my favorite) a Parmesan rind. Add a generous few pinches of salt. Bring pot to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, 45 to 90 minutes. Top off the pot with water if needed.

If I have not planned ahead, I just dump the beans into a pot (following seasoning instructions above) and cover with water. Bring to boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender, 1 to 2 hours. Top off the pot with water as needed.

Store cooked beans in their cooking liquid. Don’t throw the liquid away—it makes an amazing base for soups. I’ve even used it as a liquid in my homemade bread!

Bean basics

It’s a good rule to wash and pick through beans before cooking. While bean shucking technology has gotten better, there is still a risk of small stones or dirt being in the bag.

One cup of dried beans will yield about 3 cups cooked. One pound of beans will yield 4 to 6 cups, depending on the bean.

The fresher the bean, the faster it will cook. Buy from stores or markets with good product turnover.

One cup of cooked beans contains up to 15 grams of protein, which makes them a great option if you’re trying to eat less meat.

Adding acid too early in the cooking process (before the beans have started to soften) will toughen the skins and extend cooking time by hours. Use baking soda to raise the pH of the cooking liquid, and the skins will soften quickly (this is great for preparing beans for refried beans or purées).

Not a Crumb Wasted

By Mary Reilly, Photo by Dominic Perri


Rustic, lovely loaves of bread rise up across our Valley. The use of local flour and sourdoughs only adds to the sense of place found in each slice. It seems like a crime to waste even a bite. Instead, try one of these no-brainer bread-savers:

Make croutons. Toss cubes of stale bread with oil and a pinch of salt. If storing the croutons for later, they should be dried out completely, so put ½- to ¾-inch-thick cubes or slices into a low oven (275°) until completely dry and crisp. Use a high oven (375°) and larger cubes if using your croutons right away—in panzanella, for instance.

Breadcrumbs. Cut thin slices of stale bread. Pulse in food processor until as “crumby” as desired. Toast in low oven until dry, or store “fresh” in the freezer. Toss crunchy crumbs over pasta or bean dishes to add texture.

Panade. French onion soup without the soup: A cheesy rich layering of stale bread, onions, and broth. See EPV issue 18 for a method.

Panzanella (or bread salad, pictured below) does not need a recipe and is one of my favorite year-round go-tos. Toss croutons with chopped fresh vegetables and a citrusy dressing, adding beans or hard-boiled eggs to up the protein. In the summer, it’s all about the tomatoes, but as we enter fall, I’ll use shredded kale, roasted butternut, and pickled onions.

Fresh Turmeric and Ginger Rice

Recipe by Brittany Wood Nickerson, reprinted with permission from

As the weather gets colder, herbalist (and Casey’s partner) Brittany Wood Nickerson suggests warming up with carminative herbs and spices. According to Nickerson, “Carminatives increase circulation to the digestive tract, improving the digestion and absorption of nutrients.” Get started with carminatives with this recipe highlighting Old Friends Farm’s ginger and turmeric crops.

1½  cups white basmati rice

2 cups water

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons grated fresh turmeric root

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Rinse the rice in several changes of cold water until the rinse water runs clear. I do this by running cold water over the rice while it sits in a fine metal strainer or in a glass measuring container (the rice sinks to the bottom and the water washes through it, then spills out the sides).

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized, heavy-bottom saucepan. Over low heat, bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Once simmering, reduce the heat to as low as your stove will go, cover, and cook until all water is absorbed. This rice goes well with almost anything and is yummy garnished with cilantro (which, by the way, is a carminative!).

Honey-glazed beets

Serves 4 as a side dish

We serve these beets on a bed of garlic-honey yogurt, but they are also fabulous on their own, tossed with pasta, or made into a bruschetta on wood-grilled bread spread with ricotta. If your beets come with their tops, roughly chop the greens and stir them in at the end of cooking.


1 cup Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon honey

1 clove garlic, minced

Pinch salt

1 pound beets, peeled and cut into wedges or quarters, depending on size

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter

Zest and juice of 1 orange

1 tablespoon honey (try a floral honey like raspberry flower honey)

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup toasted, chopped pistachios

In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, honey, and garlic. Set aside.

In a large skillet, combine vegetables, oil, honey, a pinch of salt, and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until beets are tender. This will take about 15–20 minutes, depending on the age and size of the beets.

When the beets are tender (they can be easily pierced with a fork, but shouldn’t be falling apart) remove the cover and add the orange juice and zest. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the beets are just starting to brown and are shiny and glazed.

Spread yogurt across the bottom of a serving platter or 4 individual plates. Top with the beets and then with the pistachios.

Honey-garlic chicken


1 pound skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4 serving-sized pieces if needed

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

⅓ cup flour (more, if needed) for dredging

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

⅓ cup honey

2 tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce

Place flour on a plate, season with paprika, salt, and pepper.

Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess.

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken for 3 minutes a side, or until golden.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic, honey, vinegar, and fish sauce.

Continue to cook chicken until glazed with sauce and cooked through to 165°.

Honey ice cream

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This recipe, adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, is a delicious change from good ol’ vanilla. Wildflower honey makes a delicious ice cream, but for a real pop of flavor use a strongly flavored honey like buckwheat or conifer honey. The honey is added at the end of the custard-making. Honey is gently acidic, and adding it too early could cause the base to curdle.

Makes 1 quart

5 large egg yolks

¼ cup sugar

1½ cups whole milk

Pinch salt

1½ cups heavy cream

½ cup (6 ounces by weight) honey

In a large bowl whisk yolks and sugar together well, until sugar is dissolved into the yolks.

Pour the cream into another large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.

In a medium saucepan bring milk and salt to a simmer. Pour warm milk slowly over the yolks, whisking the entire time. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring with a rubber spatula, until mixture is thick and coats the spatula.

Pour the contents of the saucepan through the strainer into the cream. Stir gently to combine, then whisk in honey.

Chill well overnight and then freeze in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Jalapeño-honey vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup

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This vinaigrette is a handy mealtime tool to keep around. Try it on grilled vegetables (as we have here), or marinate grilled shrimp to stuff into a taco.

½ cup olive or avocado oil

1 jalapeño, minced (seeded if less heat is desired)

¼ cup white wine or cider vinegar

2 tablespoons clover or wildflower honey

1 orange, juice and zested

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Bee’s Knees cocktail

Makes 1 seriously strong cocktail


This classic cocktail dates back to Prohibition. The honey and lime juice likely helped to mask the flavor of bathtub gin! Today, make this drink with a smooth modern Plymouth-style gin (these gins highlight more subtle aromatics and leave the juniper in the forest). Try adding a thyme or lavender sprig to the shaker for a different take on the classic.

¼ cup (2 ounces) gin

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Swirl the shaker to melt the honey into the lemon juice. Top with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass.

Tomato Toast

For a less complicated seasonal treat I always go back to my wife Angie’s childhood summer lunch of sliced tomatoes on buttered toast. Our house version includes the best-quality rustic country bread we can find and our favorite golden Sicilian extra-virgin olive oil on the heated, crispy toast along with a fresh bright spritz on the thick, ripe tomato slices. With a pinch of sea salt and pepper just before serving, it might not be the best thing since sliced bread, but it could be the best thing to put on it.

By Sandy D'Amato

Sriracha Cauliflower

Recipe by Mary Reilly, Food Styling by Joy Howard, Photo by Dominic Perri

This may never replace the iconic wing, but these spicy bites are pretty darned addictive. Plus, a hot oven gives you crispy florets while keeping you away from the deep fryer. Use your favorite purchased blue cheese dressing, or whip up your own by whisking sour cream, a splash of red wine vinegar, a generous amount of ground pepper, and a handful of blue cheese crumbles. When cutting up the cauliflower, don’t toss the core—cut it into thin strips and roast it along with the florets.

Serves 6 as a snack

1 medium cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets (about 8 cups)

½ cup flour

½ cup water

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

⅔ cup sriracha

2 tablespoons butter, melted 

Heat oven to 450°. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, water, salt, and pepper. Add cauliflower and toss to coat well. Lay onto baking sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until crisp.

In a large bowl, stir sriracha and butter together. Toss the baked cauliflower in the sauce. Return florets to the baking sheet and bake for another 30 minutes, or until crisp. 

Serve with blue cheese dressing and carrot and celery sticks if desired.

Cracker Jill

This recipe, taken from the blog of Cathy Barrow, friend of Edible Pioneer Valley (, makes the perfect bar snack. Adjust the ingredients to suit your taste: Leave out the nuts, amp up the pepper, swap the bourbon for rum, and so it goes … Cracker Jill lasts about two to three days in a tightly covered container. 

Makes about 12 cups

6 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled, 1 tablespoon bacon fat reserved

1 cup popcorn kernels

⅓ cup grapeseed oil

2 cups salted peanuts, or slivered almonds (if you have run out of peanuts)

6 ounces unsalted butter

8 ounces light brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons bourbon

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon gochucaru chili powder (or pimente d’Espelette, or Aleppo pepper, or cayenne), depending on your pantry and your preference

Heat oven to 250° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

In a 5-quart heavy pot, heat the grapeseed oil and 3 popcorn kernels. When the kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn, remove the pot from the heat, cover and wait exactly 30 seconds. Place the pot back on the heat, shaking often until the corn stops popping. Dump into a very large bowl immediately. Add bacon, bacon fat, and peanuts. Set aside.

Make the caramel: In a 3-quart saucepan, cook the butter, sugar, and salt until dark amber and a candy thermometer reads 265° to 270°. Add the baking soda and stir well, then add the bourbon and chili powder and stir very thoroughly and carefully, as the bourbon may sputter. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir gently and thoroughly to coat with caramel.

Spread the popcorn out on the baking sheets lined with parchment. Slide in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Cool completely. Break up especially large chunks.

Chickpea “Fries”

Recipe by Mary Reilly, Food Styling by Joy Howard, Photo by Dominic Perri

Chickpea flour is used in snacks across the world. In Italy, chickpea flour is mixed into a crispy crèpe called farinata. In India, chickpea flour (called besan flour) is used in pakoras and other fritters. This recipe hews closely to the French panisse, a french fry–like fritter. Chickpea flour is easily found in supermarkets and Indian markets.

Serves 6 as a snack

6.4 ounces (1½ cups) chickpea flour

1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted 

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2¼ cups water

Oil for pan-frying

Garlic mayonnaise for serving

Spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with pan spray. 

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the flour, cumin, salt, and pepper. Whisk in water until there are no lumps. Place the pan over medium heat. Stir continuously with rubber spatula until the mixture is very thick. Scrape the batter onto the baking dish and spread it into a ½-inch-thick layer. The batter may not cover the entire dish. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. 

The next day, unmold the batter and cut it into french-fry-sized strips. In a heavy skillet, pour oil to a depth of ¼ inch. Heat oil until very hot, but not smoking. Gently lay the strips into the oil in batches and fry, turning to brown all sides, about 5 minutes total. Do not crowd the pan; the strips should not touch each other. 

Drain hot fries on paper toweling. Serve with garlic mayonnaise. 

Garlic Mayonnaise

Makes about 1 cup

1 cup prepared mayonnaise 

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons parsley, minced

1 to 2 cloves garlic, to taste, minced 

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Pinch paprika

Mix all ingredients together. Keep cold until ready to serve. 

Inside-Out Shishito Poppers


Recipe by Mary Reilly, Food Styling by Joy Howard, Photo by Dominic Perri

Jalapeño poppers are standard bar fare. In this recipe, shishito peppers and a tequila-spiked queso dip offer similar flavors in a slightly more elegant package. No deep-frying required!

No peppers on hand? The queso dip is also great with tortilla chips or cut vegetables. 

Serves 4 to 6 as a snack

2 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil

1 pound shishito peppers

1 batch Tequila-Spiked Queso Dip

Coarse salt

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or grill pan over high heat until very hot. (If you have an exhaust fan, this is the time to use it.) Add the oil to the pan, then the peppers. Let the peppers rest in the skillet until charred, then stir gently to spin and char evenly. Let the peppers cook for another minute or two. The peppers should be charred and starting to soften. 

Remove from skillet and sprinkle with salt. Serve with queso dip. 

Tequila-Spiked Queso Dip

(adapted from Rick Bayless)

Makes about 2½ cups

1 tablespoon coconut oil or vegetable oil

1 small red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup diced tomato (canned is fine)

3 tablespoons tequila 

½ pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 3 cups) 

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

In a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened. Add the tequila to the skillet and cook until it’s almost completely evaporated. 

Reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle the cheese into the pan. Stir constantly, until completely melted. Stir in the sour cream and cilantro. Keep warm in a small chafing dish until ready to serve. 

Mini Potato Skins

Recipe by Mary Reilly, Styling by Joy Howard, Photo by Dominic Perri

Perfect for game day or any day, these two-bite morsels will tick all the essential snack boxes: crispy, cheesy, and salty. Try fingerlings or tiny new potatoes. If only large ’taters are to be found, follow the recipe (the baking time will be longer), but cut the potatoes into inch-wide wedges. 

Serves 6 as a snack

1½ pounds little potatoes (about 12 small potatoes)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper

½ cup shredded cheese (try cheddar, pepper jack, parmesan, or a combination)

¼ pound bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 tablespoons minced chives

Heat oven to 400°F. Bake potatoes until cooked through, about 30 to 45 minutes. Let cool until cool enough to handle. 

Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Gently scoop out some of the potato, making a boat. Drizzle each half with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden and crispy.

Preheat broiler.

Divide the cheese and bacon between the potato halves. Broil until the cheese melts. Remove from oven and top with sour cream and chives. 

A New Take on Milk and Cookies

Story and food styling by Joy Howard, Photos by Dominic Perri

My 6-year-old daughter will dip anything into what she’s drinking. It’s like a compulsion. Whether it’s cookies in milk or baby carrots in juice, there seems to be something deeply satisfying to her about the act of plunging a morsel of food into her cup and gobbling it up. Searching for a treat that pairs well with her quirky habit recently led me to a new baking project: biscotti.

If you think of these crunchy, dunk-worthy cookies as a sweet reserved for grown-up coffee drinkers, you couldn’t be more wrong! In Italy, where the recipe originated, they’re traditionally served at the end of a meal with a dessert wine called vin santo. While it’s true that neither coffee nor wine is a kid-friendly accompaniment, you don’t need my daughter to tell you how delicious a homemade slice of biscotti can be any time of day with a glass of milk. (It also makes a wonderful ice cream topping if you crumble it.)

This version features toasted almonds and a hint of orange zest. The flavors are subtle and perfect for soaking up all sorts of drinks—both kid- and parent-approved. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the texture of the cookies, which are dry and crunchy but not dense and hard like the ones often found in pastry shops and cafés. Making the cookies is a two-step process. After the dough is baked and cooled slightly, it’s sliced and returned to the oven for several minutes more. This allows each cookie to develop its characteristic texture. During the first step, kids can mix, roll, and shape the dough; and in the second phase, they can take charge of arranging the cookies on the baking sheet before the second bake.

Easy Almond Biscotti

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup sugar

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1½ teaspoons almond extract

½ teaspoon orange zest

½ cup lightly toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

Heat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. 

In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and set at medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and blend between each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extract and the orange zest and continue to blend until incorporated.

Reduce the mixer’s speed to medium-low. Slowly add the flour and blend well. Add the almonds and mix for just a few seconds to incorporate. With floured hands, scoop up the dough (it will be very sticky) and place it on a lightly floured surface. 

Evenly halve the dough and roll each portion into a 1½- by 15-inch log. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and arrange with a few inches between each log. Gently press the top of each to flatten it slightly.

Bake until golden and puffy, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 15 minutes. Reserve the baking sheet. 

With a sharp knife, slice each log into ¾-inch cookies. Arrange on the baking sheet, standing upright, and return to the oven. Bake until lightly dried, deep golden, and crisp on the outside, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before serving.  


Photo by Pascal Baudar

This is an old traditional European recipe for making wine with elderflower. In Southern California we have Mexican elders (Sambucus mexicana) at low altitudes and the regular elder (S. nigra) in the mountains. One of the peculiarities of the Mexican elder is the fact that the flowers can be smaller, usually half to a quarter the size of the regular elder, which changes the recipe a bit. 

I don’t know why the wine is called a champagne—perhaps it’s due to the color and the fact that it’s bubbly. The old recipes make no mention of adding yeast, because it’s present on the flowers. I’ve had moderate success (probably around 70 percent) with spontaneous fermentation from the flowers, so these days I usually add some champagne or wine yeast if I don’t see any signs of fermentation after a couple of days. 

30 large Mexican elderflower heads or 20 regular elderflower heads 

1 gallon (3.78 L)

3 cups (500–600 g) white sugar

3–4 lemons, zested and sliced

2 tablespoons (30 ml) vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)

Champagne or wine yeast (optional—flowers should have wild yeast) 

Pick the elderflowers when they’re fresh and full of pollen. Fresh Mexican elderflowers look a bit greenish, while the older flowers are whiter. You’ll discover very quickly that elderflowers are loaded with little bugs. My solution to get rid of (most of) them is to place the flowers in a bowl outdoors for about an hour; the little bugs will vacate. You can’t really remove them all at this point, but as you strain your solution later on, it will take care of the remaining ones. 

Place the water in a container, add the sugar, and stir with a clean spoon to make sure it’s dissolved. 

Add the lemon zest and lemon slices, the elderflowers (remove as much of the stems as you can without going crazy about it), and the vinegar to the container and stir briefly with a clean spoon. Some people add commercial yeast at this stage. 

Close the container, but not so tight that fermentation gases can’t escape. You can also place a clean towel on top. Let the mixture stand for anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. If you didn’t use yeast, you should see some bubbles after 48 hours, indicating that the fermentation from wild yeast is active. If this doesn’t occur, then add some yeast at this stage. Using a clean spoon, make sure that you stir the liquid for a few seconds three or four times a day during this process. 

Strain the liquid (after 48 hours if additional yeast was necessary) into your fermenting vessel (bottle or bucket). Let the fermentation go for another 4 days. Using a layered cheesecloth when straining the liquid removes any remaining little bugs.

Your final step is to bottle your champagne in recycled soda bottles or swing-top glass bottles. Let it ferment for a week before enjoying. I like to check the pressure from time to time by unscrewing the bottle slightly to make sure it’s not excessive. 

Recipe and photo by Pascal Bauder, courtesy of Storey Press.


by Sanford D’Amato, Food styling by Joy Howard, Photo by Dominic Perri



For 8 to 10

2 tablespoons regular olive oil

1½ pound trimmed radishes, cleaned and cut in quarters

8 ounces Granny Smith apples, washed, cored (not peeled), and cut in medium dice

2 ounces fresh ginger root, washed (not peeled) and sliced

2 bay leaves

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom

8 cups unsalted chicken stock

Zest of ½ lemon

In a 1-gallon sauce pot, place the oil over medium heat. Add the radishes, apple, and ginger and cook for 10 minutes (do not brown). Add the bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper, and cardamom and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock. Bring up to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the radishes are very tender. Remove the bay leaves and thyme, add the lemon zest, and carefully purée in a blender until very smooth. Refrigerate.

To Finish the Dish

12 scallions, ends trimmed

3 tablespoons regular olive oil, plus more if needed for coating

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

24 radishes (large enough that they won’t fall through the grill grates), cleaned, ½ inch of green tops left on, and cut in half

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1½ tablespoons granulated sugar

Prepared Chilled Radish Soup

Toss the scallions with 1 tablespoon of the oil, then season them with salt and pepper. Grill over a hot fire for 1–2 minutes per side, until cooked. Toss the radishes with the remaining oil, salt, pepper, and sugar, and grill over medium heat until very tender, 4–5 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and toss with the lemon juice. Cut the cooled scallions on the bias into 1-inch lengths. Toss with the radishes and divide between bowls. Pour the soup around the radishes and serve.