Chocolate Stout Cupcakes


     Now that the days are longer (thank you Daylight Saving), that means St. Patty’s day is just around the corner (meaning tomorrow) and all things green and beer-flavored shall be consumed. This particular holiday isn’t a very big deal in my household, but as a lover of beer, getting the chance to add a little to my baking is quite fine by me.

     These moist, chocolatey cupcakes are laced with espresso powder—from the cake to the frosting. They’re sweet, but not too sweet, and loaded with a perfect amount of Guinness and chocolate of which my Irish ancestors would be proud. So for those of you looking for an easy recipe to help you celebrate St. Patty’s day tomorrow, I promise that these are the cupcakes for you.  

     Here’s a little video to prove how easy they are to make!


Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ tsp baking soda

¼ + 2 tbs cup natural cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp instant espresso powder

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup + 2 tbs grapeseed oil, or other neutral oil

1 large egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup stout beer (I used Guinness)

Equipment: 1 medium bowl, 1 large bowl, whisk, 12 cupcake pan, 12 liners


Heat oven to 350°F and line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake wrappers.

Add the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, salt, and espresso powder to a medium bowl and whisk to combine; set aside.

In a large bowl add the yogurt, oil, egg, vanilla, and beer, and whisk together until smooth.

In two additions, whisk the flour mixture into the wet until smooth with no lumps remaining.

Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake molds and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool for 3-5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. While the cupcakes are cooling prepare the frosting.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with you tip of choice and frost each cupcake. Depending on how much frosting you like on your cupcake, you may have a little left over, which isn’t too bad of a problem to have, is it?

Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting

1, 8 oz package cream cheese

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

½ tsp vanilla

1 tbs room temperature butter

1 cup heavy whipping cream

pinch salt

Equipment: Sifter/strainer, standing or handheld mixer, spatula


Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.

Whip cream cheese until fluffy, about 1-2 minutes on medium speed. With machine off, add 1 1/4 cup of sifted powdered sugar, the vanilla, butter, 2 teaspoons of instant espresso powder, and a pinch of salt. Whisk everything together until combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

While mixer is still on at medium speed, slowly pour in the heavy cream in a steady stream. Once all of the heavy cream has been added, continue to whip the frosting until stiff peaks form.

Corned Beef and Sautéed Cabbage Sandwich


     Great sandwiches have become one of my staples as of late. They’re easy to make, hard not to love, and surprisingly versatile. And while corned beef usually isn’t my first choice, I thought I’d take a crack at making a great sandwich out of it since St. Patrick’s Day is coming up soon.


     My plan was to make a fresh version of the classic reuben—corned beef of course, with sauteed cabbage and onions, sauerkraut, mustard mayo, sharp cheddar, and marbled rye. Thankfully, it all came together very well. It’s a powerhouse of briny, sour goodness, with enough sweetness from the onions and cabbage to cut through for some balance. Add the earthy rye and the tangy mustard mayo and this dish is completely delicious.


     The briny, sour vibes of this sandwich led to find me a pleasantly unexpected partner in La Crema’s 2015 Monterey Pinot Noir. Its tangy dark fruit and citrus notes come alongside its peppery spice to fit right in with the corned beef and sauerkraut. The two come together quite well, and the result is delightful. Head over to La Crema’s blog now to get the recipe!


     This is a sponsored post and, as always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Broken Bread.



     John and I have grown to love something about his parents we both never expected: their adorable passion for margaritas. Half the times we visit them we head over to this amazing Mexican restaurant near their home whose renowned margaritas come in glasses big enough to be a goldfish’s abode. And whether it’s a summer day spent barbecuing in the backyard or a family vacation by the beach, my parents always come equipped to whip anyone up one of these salt-rimmed delights in minutes.


     Now last Thursday was International Margarita Day, so now’s clearly as good a time as any to sit back and enjoy one of these delicious drinks. And while can’t release the secrets of John’s parents’ recipe, I have something even better: an original recipe from cocktail expert Megan Radke, from none other than our beloved last home, Seattle. She’s currently competing in Patron’s 2018 Margarita of the Year competition, so this is the real deal.


     Margaritas often come in an impressive but overwhelming variety. Some, like my husband, like them as classic as possible—just tequila, triple sec, and lime juice without the frills. But what’s surprising is that you can stretch and twist the basic building blocks in a number of directions, but the margarita rarely breaks. It’s a very versatile cocktail that often improves with innovation, and that’s exactly the case with this recipe, which Radke calls the Skyline Margarita. It begins with Patron silver, whose citrusy sweet smoothness lends a wonderful foundation. Next is Patron Citronge Orange (a liqueur), lime juice, and blackberry shrub, which impart an acidic, bitter, and tangy edge. The drink is finished with cayenne chili, both as syrup and salt, which come alongside the silver’s peppery palate for an extra punch. Once garnished with orange zest, this concoction is a delectably aromatic cocktail.


     This is a sponsored post and, as always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Broken Bread.

Skyline Margarita

Created by Megan Radke from Seattle, WA

1.5 oz Patrón Silver

.5 oz Patrón Citrónge Orange

1 oz Lime juice

.75 oz Blackberry shrub*

.25 oz Cayenne-chili syrup**

Cayenne-chili salt rim***

Orange zest for garnish


1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake with ice to chill.
2. Fine-strain through a mesh strainer over fresh ice into a cayenne-chili salt-rimmed rocks glass.
3. Garnish with orange zest.

*Blackberry shrub: Combine equal parts blackberries, cane sugar and red wine vinegar in a blender, blend until liquefied, then strain out solids.

**Cayenne-chili syrup: Combine 1 cup sugar, one cup water, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cayenne in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Once the desired flavor is achieved, strain out solids. Alternately, use .25 oz simple syrup, a slice of cayenne or other hot pepper, and a pinch of chili powder.

***Cayenne-chili rim: 4 parts kosher salt + 1 part chili powder +1 part cayenne.

Meyer Lemon & Ricotta Scones with a blood orange glaze


     I can’t believe I am saying this, but John and I are officially Californians again! Seattle was our home for over 6 years, so while it’s a little weird not to be there anymore, I will say that it feels great to be back in the state where we both grew up. It’s so nice being near family. That was seriously one of the hardest things for me when living in Seattle—missing birthdays, holidays, and other important events was the worst. But now that we are back, I get to reconnect with friends, spend more time with family, and bask in that glorious California sun.


     Since we’ve moved, I haven’t let a single week go by without consuming a load of fresh, bright citrus. Every market I’ve gone to has the most impressive selection of fruit. I have even found varieties that I have never seen like finger limes (which are crazy cute) and cocktail grapefruits (which taste like a sweet lime crossed with grapefruit) I’m loving all this citrus so much that I’ve baked these meyer lemon and ricotta scones three times already. It all started with some inspiration from The Smitten Kitchen, which I then adapted into this citrus-forward recipe. I made a batch to snack with my morning coffee, another for a party we went to, another for a weekend brunch gathering. Try out the recipe below—you won’t regret it.


Lemon & Ricotta Scones

Serves 8


¼ cup granulated sugar

3 large meyer lemons, zested 

2 cups AP flour

1 tbs baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tbs poppy seeds

6 tbs unsalted butter

⅓ cup plus 1 tsp heavy cream

¾ cup ricotta

1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Blood Orange Glaze

⅔ cup plus 3 tbsp powdered sugar

5 1/2-6 tsp blood orange juice


Heat oven to 425F. Line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and set aside.

To a large bowl, add the sugar and lemon zest and rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers for a minute or so, or until the sugar has turned slightly yellow and has become fragrant. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds to the bowl and whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl add the heavy cream, ricotta, and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth.

Add the cubed butter to the bowl with the flour mixture and with your fingers rub the butter into the mixture until the butter forms into pea-sized clumps (you could use a pastry cutter). 

Add ricotta mixture to the flour mixture and mix until you form a shaggy dough. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead together into a disc roughly 7 inches wide.

Cut into 8 equal sized pieces and place onto prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through. Cool for a minute or two in the pan then transfer to cooling rack. Once cooled, start making the glaze.

To make the glaze, mix powdered sugar and blood orange juice together until smooth. Drizzle over scones and enjoy.

Rose & Cardamom Hot Chocolate


     Valentine’s Day or not, chocolate is one of my weaknesses. This is especially the case nowadays since every single market I visit is overloaded with heart-shaped treats just begging to dive into my basket as I peruse. I wish I had a stronger sense of self control, but I don’t—and I'm totally okay with that. 

     Now since Valentine’s Day coincides with this wintry time perfect for hot chocolate, I am sharing my recipe for this wonderfully fragrant rose and cardamom infused version of this delicious treat.

     It was Beth Kirby from Local Milk who introduced me to the herbal, sweet, and complex flavor combination that is the union of cardamom and rose. They’re the perfect match for a season such as this, especially when infused into a warm cup of hot cocoa. 


Rose & Cardamom Hot Chocolate

Serves 2

2 cups milk, soy milk, or any other milk alternative

2 1/2 tbs dried rose petals

7 lightly crushed cardamom pods

2 tbs granulated sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

3 heaped tbs semi-sweet chocolate chips

rose water, see note below*

a bit of lightly sweetened whipped cream, to garnish

Equipment: small saucepan, fine-mesh sieve, whisk


Place the milk, rose petals, and crushed cardamom pods into the saucepan and set over medium heat. Once the milk is just beginning to simmer, immediately remove from heat, cover with a lid, and let everything steep for 20 minutes.

Strain the milk through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup. Give the saucepan a quick rinse (only to remove any petals that may remain) then pour the milk back in and set over medium-low heat. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk together until smooth. Once the hot chocolate reaches the desired temperature, divide between two cups, top with whipped cream, and enjoy!

*if you find yourself wanting a more pronounced rose flavor, simply add the tiniest drop of rose water to the hot chocolate prior to serbing . This stuff is quite potent, so the tiniest of drops should do. 




A week in Cancun


     Each year growing up, my mother would take me and my sister to her little hometown deep in Mexico. To be immersed in the culture, land, and history of my heritage was always so special, and it was during those trips that my love for travel and culture began growing. It's no wonder then, that when John and I were presented with the chance to visit this lovely country last month we jumped at the opportunity. This time the destination wasn’t a tiny obscure town in the middle of nowhere, but beautiful, bustling, coastal Cancun. And although enjoying the impossibly gorgeous beaches and indulging in authentic Mexican dishes was so much fun, speaking Spanish again was really the best. Diving back into this language brought forth a flood of precious memories from past trips with my mother that made the overall experience that much better.


     Now though I in particular have many memories tied to Mexico because of my past, it’s actually a pretty magical place to make memories for any one—Cancun especially. John and I first visited Cancun several years ago, and visions of electric turquoise waves, deep inviting cenotes, and towering ancient ruins are still fresh in our minds. But best of all, we remember standing at the edge of the water at sunset on a lone dock with glasses of champagne in hand, renewing our vows to one another on the day of our first anniversary. And that’s what Cancun is capable of—it’s romantic, serene, breath-taking, and one of the best places in the world to make memories like that.


     For our latest trip to this seaside gem, we stayed at the wonderful Finest Resort and basked each day in sun rays we thought didn’t exist anymore (for most of each year in Seattle, the sun transforms into a mere myth). We stayed in a comfortable room with its own pool out back, a jacuzzi, and a comfy hammock to swing in. The whole place was just what John and I needed to have a relaxing and comfortable trip.


 We certainly took our time to rest, but we also made sure to get out and visit ancient sites, Mayan temples, and coastal towns. So if any of you are visiting Cancun soon, I've included some tips below to help make the most of out your trip.

     First, fly Alaska Airlines. I know there are a lot of airline carriers out there, but this flight was one of the most comfortable and accommodating flights I have been on in a long time. They recently introduced a wonderful direct flight to Cancun from Seattle, which fantastic because in just 6 hours we were soaking up that warm Mexican sun. Plus, they offer in-flight wifi and texting which is always a nice bonus because that allows me to keep in touch with everything going on back on the ground :) 


 Second, get out of the resort. Don't get me wrong, staying at the resort is a wonderful thing, but there is so much more to see and experience beyond the walls of your hotel. I highly recommend Chichen Itza and Tulum—two ancient sites beautifully preserved from a thousand years ago. Heading to either of these spots will include a lengthy drive, but it is totally worth it. Also, if you do make it out to Tulum, I suggest stopping in the nearby city of Playa Del Carmen. It is a cute beachside town that is perfect for shopping, walking around, or for enjoying some authentic Mexican food.


Third, make sure to try some authentic Mexican food. Take some time out of your resort to drive along the coast and visit big cities and small towns. And don’t avoid the hole-in-the-wall restaurants—they’re likely the best around.


     And Lastly, bring A LOT of bug spray. Seems like a small tip, but the difference between having this on hand and not is the difference between a good vacation and bad one. Keep the mosquitos away and enjoy yourself!

     Here are a few other food spots that we we didn't get a chance to check out.


Raw Love Beach


     Many thanks to Alaska Air for sending John and I on this incredible trip. This was a sponsored post and as always, all opinions are my own.




Spiced pear turnovers

     It’s officially that time of the year where the Seattle grey has taken over, and I am fully embracing it. It’s so funny–it’s always right around this time of year that I feel as if I never turn my oven off, which I admit isn't too bad of problem since my house usually smells like cinnamon, sugar, and butter. But since my oven is getting over worked, I have been slowly noticing that it’s performance has been so-so lately, mostly due to it not being properly calibrated. Not a big deal, but I just have to either keep a thermometer in it, or keep a close eye on what I am baking. Well, until now, that is. 


     The lovely people at Wolf Gourmet recently sent me their Countertop Oven–and I am in heaven! This small oven is a total dream. It has multiple settings so you can roast, bake, broil, and even proof dough inside this bad boy. Plus it even has a convection setting, which for a girl like me is a dream to have.

     Since pears are in total abundance at the markets, I recently made these cardamon-spiced turnovers, which are super tasty and incredibly addicting. And with my countertop oven, I effortlessly produced evenly browned, beautifully puffed turnovers. If you’d like to get the recipe for these wintry treats, head over to the Wolf Gourmet blog!


 Thank you for supporting the brands the help The Broken Bread thrive. This is a sponsored post. As always, all opinions are my own.


Double Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies


A few years ago I made my first batch crinkle cookies–soft, delightful treats with fissures on top like mudcracks in the ground of a desert landscape. And since they’re perfectly dense, chewy, soft, and textured, they’re basically the best of all possible cookies. That’s why I was so surprised this past week to discover that it had been years since I’d made any, and I set out to refresh the recipe for the holidays.

After making a fresh batch of these crinkle cookies, this time incorporating chunks of chocolate that burst and melt away with every bite as well as some peppermint extract that makes every one of those bites refreshing, I’d say we have a new holiday tradition on our hands. They’re so dense and chewy that they’re almost slipping off the edge into brownie territory. And the indulgent chocolate cooled by the breeze of mint makes it seem like every chilled Junior Mint at the movies growing up was but the shadow of this cookie’s triumph. Seriously, these cookies take mere minutes to put together, they’re super low maintenance, and yet after 10 minutes in the oven you’ll be presented with some of the most impressive treats you’ll have had all year. Follow the recipe below and happy holiday cookie baking!


Double Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

Yields about 18 small cookies

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp sea salt

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp +⅛ tsp peppermint extract

½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips, roughly chopped

½ cup powdered sugar, for rolling


In a medium bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and sea salt then set aside.

In either a medium bowl, or in the bowl of a standing mixer, add the vegetable oil and sugar and mix for about 30 seconds, or until it looks like wet sand. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the vanilla and peppermint extract.

Add the flour mixture and beat on low (or mix by hand) until the dough just comes together. Add the chopped chocolate and mix a few more times to combine. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least four hours.

Heat oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1oz balls, if you don’t have a scale, I would suggest using a slightly heaped tablespoon-sized portion of dough. Place the powdered sugar in a small bowl and roll each ball in the sugar to coat.

Place the coated balls on the cookie sheet and bake for 10-11 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Repeat this process until all cookies have been baked and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from AllRecipes


Travelling Abroad + A Short Food Guide for Greece & Italy

Positano, Italy

     When I began travelling after high school, it was the first time I ever took photography seriously. I had a clunky Canon 35mm camera loaded with black and white film that I took around the country and the world alike, and I had the time of my life shooting everything from European cathedrals to iconic East Coast skylines. There was something about capturing special moments during my exploration of new cultures and terrains that I found irresistible, and the decision to keep finding new things to shoot once I got home was completely natural. 

Athens, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

     And now, John and I have just returned from a truly wonderful trip to Greece, Israel, and Italy where my love for photography was dramatically refreshed. We started the trip in Athens, Paros, and Santorini, followed by more of Greece along with Israel and Italy with Viking Cruises, and then we finished on our own again in Rome and the Amalfi Coast. It was a journey filled with intense history, amazing cuisine, and, of course, extremely beautiful sites. 

Trastavere, Rome, Italy

Positano, Italy

The Odeon of Herodes, Athens, Greece

Mykonos, Greece

     One thing that set this trip apart from others was the cruise with Viking—the first cruise we’ve ever been on. We weren’t sure what to expect, but it was honestly fantastic. Waking up each morning in a totally new land to explore was a constant thrill, enhanced by stellar service and great food. The ship itself is modern and elegant, with a tasteful mid-century design all throughout the interior that makes any part of the ship a beautiful place to relax. There were a couple of days that we spent entirely at sea which were quite lovely because the ship itself was so exciting to explore. From the observation deck we could look out at the open ocean and the passing coastlines while sipping a cocktail from the bar. We lounged by the pool and read some novels in between dips in the jacuzzi. In the atrium we enjoyed an acoustic guitarist playing renditions of Simon & Garfunkel while I beat John in Scrabble every single time. At the front of the ship, the Explorer’s Lounge was easily the most stunning area to spend our time. The mid-century furniture and floor-to-ceiling glass walls created the most comfortable atmosphere. All to say, this cruise was an absolute joy—it was really such a great experience.


     While I was on the cruise I found a sweet cookbook called The Kitchen Table in their gift shop featuring recipes from around the world that Viking visits. I came across this baklava recipe, which I devoured at every chance during our time in Greece, and I thought it would be special to share it with you. You can find the recipe at the end of this post. 


     Trying new food is probably my favorite part about travelling, and it’s one of the strongest ways in which I connect to new cultures. That being said, the list of coffee shops, bars, bakeries, and restaurants we visited is ridiculously long, but I wanted to share some highlights from Athens, Santorini, and Rome should any of you find yourselves visiting sometime soon. 

DSC00575 copy.jpg


Cafe Avissinia: This was such a cute cafe. The design was lovely, plus it is nestled right in the center of a vintage flea market which only added more character to this amazing spot. Plus, their freddo cappuccino is something you must try!

Grande Bretagne Rooftop Bar: This rooftop bar was magical. It is located on the very top floor of an iconic Athenian hotel, which provided one of the most amazing views of the Acropolis! The food there can be a bit pricy, so if you just want to see Athens' ancient architecture shine at night, a simple cocktail at the bar is all you need to get. 

O Kostas Souvlaki: This was one of the most charming souvlaki places we encountered. It's a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and there's always a long line for the best of reasons, but it's totally worth it. 

Falafellas: If you are looking for a cheap and quick eat, this is the place! They serve flavorful falafel pitas that are so huge it was almost to big for me to finish. Don't worry, I made sure to eat it all.

Santorini (Oia)

Melitini: This place was some of the best food we had in Greece—in fact some of the best food we've ever had. We actually had to stop ordering food here because our table wan't big enough, which is not too bad of a problem in my opinion. We had all of the greek staples here like tzatziki and greek salads, plus we had the most amazing fried potatoes covered in the best feta in the world. 

Pito Gyros: When in Santorini it's always great to have a quick and easy place to eat within arm's reach. So if you are looking for something other than a sit down meal, don't look any further. This place is the king of gyros and we've never had better.

Kastro: This restaurant is all about the view. In Oia you will find a sea of restaurants that give you some of the best views in the city. This spot provided us with great food, great wine, and an unforgettable view. 


Panificio Panella: This cafe was heaven. After navigating through a bunch of touristy spots, this place was a breath of fresh air. Freshly baked pastries and flavorful espresso can be found in this cafe which also doubles as a general store of sorts.

Pizzarium: I can't tell you how many people recommended this spot. John and I took quite the long walk to get here, but it was beyond worth it. I was told that their pizza topping options change almost every hour, or at least everyday, so there is always something new to try.

Da Enzo: This restaurant is a little hidden gem, tucked away from any main streets or other touristy type of places. A line usually forms about 15 minutes before they open, so if you are going to go, I recommend getting there a little early if you want to eat right away. They serve a lot of classic Italian dishes, and based on what we ordered, it all tastes incredible. John actually said that he had the best carbonara of his life there, and after taking a bite I'd have to agree.

Fatamorgana: The best gelato. This spot was recommended to me by Lily from Kale and Caramel, and Sherrie from With Food + Love, and man it did not disappoint. They have so many flavors to choose from, some of which are very traditional, while others are some of the most unique flavors I have ever heard of.   

     John and I are so thankful for the incredible experience that Viking Cruises provided us with during our travels with them. This trip was kindly gifted to us and for that we will be forever thankful. 


Slightly adapted from The Kitchen’s Table

This recipe for traditional baklava is from The Kitchen’s Table book which is kind of like the official Viking Cruise cookbook. I made this recipe with a few minor changes. I ended up using a 9x13 inch pan, but I’m thinking it might be best to use something smaller like an 8x8 inch square pan since my nut filling didn't stretch too far. The baklava itself was delicious, although I personally thought the amount of syrup used was a bit heavy for my taste but other than that it was great!

5 oz (140 g) unsalted butter, melted

10 ½ oz (300g) whole walnuts or whole shelled pistachios

1 tsp cinnamon

1 package phyllo dough 

For the syrup

8 fl oz (235 ml) water

9 ½ oz (280g) granulated sugar

1 cinnamon stick

4 oz (110g) honey

1 orange, zested

a few tablespoons of chopped pistachios, for garnish


Heat oven to 400°F (200°C), then over low heat gently melt the butter. 

Roughly chop the walnuts or pistachios (I used a mixture of both) then add to a bowl and toss with 1 tsp of cinnamon then set aside. 

Carefully unroll the phyllo dough. Make sure the layers are aligned, then either cut in half, or cut as needed to fit the size pan you are using. Cover the phyllo dough with a wet cloth to stop the layers from drying out.

Brush the bottom and sides of the pan being used with melted butter, then place 2 sheets of pastry into the tin, brushing each thoroughly with butter. Repeat this process until you have 10 sheets layered. 

Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the chopped nut mixture over the 10th layer of phyllo dough, then top with 3 more sheets of pastry and brush with butter between each sheet, then sprinkle with more nuts. Repeat this process until you run out of nuts. This should give you 5 layers of nuts, and 15 layers of phyllo. Once you’ve added the last 3 layers of phyllo, add an additional 3 sheets so that the final layer has 6 sheets of buttered phyllo (so 28 sheets total—10 to begin with, then 15 between nuts, then a final 3). 

*note, if using a 9x13 pan like I did, you may want to sprinkle a little more than 1/2 cup of nuts. If you take this route you'll just end up making less layers, so maybe 3 instead of 5 for example.

Brush the top layer of phyllo dough with butter and using a very sharp knife cut the baklava into either squares or diamonds that are about 2 or 3 square inches in size. Make sure to not only take your time when cutting the baklava, but also be sure to cut all the way through so that the syrup coats everything when you add it after baking.

Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the baklava is golden and crisp.

While the baklava is baking, prepare the syrup. Add the sugar and the water to a saucepan and bring to a boil without stirring for about two minutes, then add the cinnamon, honey, and orange zest. Reduce the heat, and let simmer for about 20 minutes. 

Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately drench with the syrup and sprinkle each slice with a few chopped pistachios. Cool completely before serving. 




     I always like to make something special for Thanksgiving. Years ago, before I started the blog at all, I made an original apple pie recipe for a friends’ Thanksgiving we’d go to every year back when we lived in California. Once I started The Broken Bread, I made a graham cracker crust, marshmallow meringue pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving—and I still think it’s one of the tastiest things I’ve ever made. And now this year, John and I only have a few days between returning from a huge trip abroad and leaving yet again to visit family for the holidays, so I developed a recipe that’s delicious but quick. Cranberries, apples, and cardamom all tucked under brown butter streusel—how could it go wrong? I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving, and if any of you are looking for a dessert to bring to your family, I hope this cake will do the trick!


Cranberry & Apple Coffee Cake

Yields 1, 9×2 cake

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 stick unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Zest of one orange

2 Eggs, room temp

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

¾ cup +1 tbs buttermilk  

1 cup cranberries

1/2 cup diced green apples

Brown Butter Streusel

4 tbs unsalted butter

¼ cup + 3 tbs  flour

¼ cup + 3 tbs brown sugar

3 tbs granulated sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp kosher salt

Equipment: 1, 9-inch springform pan or a 9 x 2 cake pan, standing/handheld mixer, medium bowl, whisk, zester, spatula, cooling rack


To make the streusel, add the butter to a small saucepan or skillet and melt over medium heat. Once melted, continue cooking the butter until it appears medium-brown in color and has a nutty scent, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a small bowl; let cool to room temperature.

While the butter is cooling, in a medium bowl whisk together the flour, both sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Once combined, pour in the cooled browned butter and stir until combined.

If you want to form a larger crumble, simple squeeze portions of the streusel in your palm and crumble with your fingertips until desired consistency is reached.

To make the cake, set rack in center of oven, and heat oven to 350F°. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of the cake pan.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Add the sugar and orange zest to the bowl of a standing mixer. Rub the orange zest into the sugar until fragrant and slightly orange in color. Add the butter to the sugar and with a paddle attachment beat until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.

Add in the eggs one at a time, making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla extract.

With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk in three additions beginning and ending with the flour. Once the flour has just combined, add the cranberries and the apples, and gently mix a few times to incorporate the fruit.

Pour batter into the cake pan and top with streusel. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then release the sides of the pan and allow it to cool completely before serving. If you are using a traditional 9x2 cake pan, allow the cake to almost cool completely before removing. Once cool, loosen the sides, then place a flat plate or cutting board over the top and flip the pan to release the cake. Place another plate or cutting board on the bottom of the cake and flip back over.




     Aziz Ansari has a hilarious bit in his Madison Square Garden show from a couple years back where he plays on the fact that meat, as a general culinary category, just absolutely owns vegetables—no competition. He compares the two like different approaches to basketball: vegetables are like a child throwing up a weak underhand shot and missing the hoop entirely while meats are like an NBA star soaring into a slam dunk. And the joke’s not just funny because of Ansari’s crazy mannerisms and eccentric delivery, but because he’s just so right


     Now accordingly, it would seem that a vegetable like cauliflower would inevitably bear the brunt of this joke—in fact, it’s literally Ansari’s first example. But perhaps not so fast. I’ve always thought that cauliflower’s plain flavor was meant to be more like a blank canvas than like a tasteless substance. And let me tell you: the work of art that this recipe brings out of this otherwise seemingly boring vegetable is certainly an exciting exception to Ansari’s poking fun. 

     I decided to take a Mediterranean route, which happens to be just about my favorite kind of food in the world, and it simply took cauliflower to new heights. Once I tossed in olive oil, lemon, chili flakes, a crack of black pepper, and a load of cumin and coriander, I had a spicy, flavorful beginning to a piercing and aromatic dish. And then when I made a tzatziki-inspired, mint-laced yogurt sauce, this dish became something else entirely. It has distinctive spices, biting flavors, creamy textures, and an all-around delightful delivery. Meat had a become a mere equal at this point.


     This whole experience was only made better with with La Crema’s 2015 Monterey Chardonnay. It’s heavy on tropical fruit and citrus, which complements the dish’s savory flavors and rich acidity. It also ends with a buttery oakiness, which when done well in a chardonnay is really something to relish. So I urge you to put this dish to the test—can vegetables really measure up? Follow the recipe below to find out how big of a “yes” there is in store for you. 

     Head over to La Crema's blog now to get the recipe for this plate of cauliflower goodness.

     This is a sponsored post and, as always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Broken Bread.


Peanut butter tart


About a week ago I made John and I this super simple peanut butter tart. After I received a few messages asking for the recipe, I'd thought why not share it. This is such a simple recipe, plus if find yourself craving a little something salty and sweet, this sweet little tart is just what you need.

This isn't a crazy and exciting recipe, but man it sure does taste damn good. This tart is based of they ever popular peanut butter pie, but I made it to fit my personal taste, which means I covered it in a silky smooth chocolate ganache. Im my opinion, this tart has the perfect ratio of chocolate to peanut butter, making each bite pure bliss. 



Peanut Butter Tart

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers

6 tbs unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup + 2 tbs creamy peanut butter

4 oz cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup + 1 tbs powdered sugar

1 cup whipped cream (1/2 cup of heavy cream pre-whipping)

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, roughly chopped

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tbs unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

maldon sea sal flakes, for sprinkling

Equipment: 9.5 x 1 inch tart pan/quiche pan, medium bowl, standing mixer, spatula, baking sheet, small bowl, small saucepan


Begin by making the crust. Heat oven to 350 F°

In a medium bowl mix the ground graham crackers and melted butter together until combined. If the mixture feels a bit dry, go ahead and add one more tablespoon of melted butter.

Pour the mixture into the tart pan and use your fingers to evenly press it along the base and up the sides of the pan. Make sure to press firmly along the inner creases as to make a little extra room for all that yummy filling. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned and fragrant, 8-10 minutes; remove from oven and set aside.

While the crust is baking, place the cream cheese and the peanut butter in the bowl of a standing mixer and beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment until smooth. Beat in the powdered sugar until fully combined. 

Using a spatula, add a little bit (about 1/4 cup) of the whipped cream to the peanut butter and mix it in to help lighten the filling. Once combined, add the remaining whipped cream and gently fold it in until just combined.

Add the peanut butter filling into the graham cracker crust once it has cooled. Smooth out the top with a spatula; set aside.

Add the chopped chocolate to a smallish bowl. Add 1/4 cup of heavy cream to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, immediately remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Add the cubes of butter and the vanilla extract, and let everything sit undisturbed for about 3-4 minutes so that the chocolate can slowly melt. Begin whisking the chocolate until a smooth and shiny ganache forms, then pour directly on top of the peanut butter filling. * If the chocolate doesn't fully melt, you can always set the bowl over a saucepan filled gently simmering water to help melt the rest of the chocolate. Just keep whisking until a smooth ganache forms.

Use a spatula, or an offset spatula to smooth out the chocolate, then place the tart into the fridge for the ganache to firm up. Once firm, remove the tart from the pan, sprinkle with flaky sea salt, and enjoy!


Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, two ways


It feels as though fall has immediately come to Seattle in full force. Evergreen trees have taken on shades of maroon and orange in the course of mere days, and the climate is diving at a rapid rate. Hard to think of a better excuse to similarly dive right into the comfort food this season is so well known for. And while heavy comfort food is coming later next month for Thanksgiving, this stuffed sweet potato is more like a transitionary dish instead of full comfort—it embraces the season but in a lighter, brighter mode.


These chanterelles are truly special mushrooms. These uniquely shaped, golden-hued gems have been available at my local farmer’s market, and in my mind seemed to be the perfect candidate to saute and stuff into a baked sweet potato. I combined them with butter, leeks, and fresh thyme, which really produces a wonderful result. And once stuffed into a sweet potato and garnished with crumbled goat cheese, it all suddenly becomes a flavorful, full-fledged meal. Be sure to head over to La Crema’s blog to get the full recipe.


Now I ended up loving this stuffed chanterelle sweet potato so much that I thought it would be fun to create a meat-focused version as well. Chorizo was my protein of choice, with a little added chard to cut through the saltiness of the meat—plus it’s always nice to add a little extra green into the mix. This is a great version of the dish to make if you are short on time and really like meals that mix sweetness and saltiness in an interesting way.


I went with La Crema’s 2015 Monterey Pinot Noir as the perfect wine pairing for this dish, since it complements all the components so well. It’s spicy, earthy, oaky, and fruity, and with each sip it just gets better and better.

 Thank you for supporting the brands the help The Broken Bread thrive. This is a sponsored post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Chorizo Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

4 medium sweet potatoes

1 lb chorizo

2 cups roughly chopped chard leaves

sour cream, for garnish



Heat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Pierce each potato several times with a fork then place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the potatoes until tender, this can take anywhere from 45 min to 1 hr. Remove baking sheet from oven and set aside.

Add the chorizo to a large skillet set over medium heat and cook until meat is fully cooked through. Add the chard and cook for about 1 minute, then remove the pan from heat. The residual heat from the meat and pan will continue to wilt the chard, so just keep stirring a few times until the chard has wilted.

Slice each potato lengthwise and use a fork to fluff up the flesh. Divide the chorizo amongst the sweet potatoes and garnish with a little bit of sour cream. Enjoy right away!


Exploring Cordova, Alaska

     Visiting Alaska has always only been the stuff of dreams—I’ve always wanted to go, but never really thought I ever would. That is until my luck recently changed courtesy of the wonderful people at Copper River Salmon. I was invited to visit lovely Cordova to explore all things salmon with my friends Alana, Molly, Nik, and Gerry.

     Cordova is a quaint little fishing town, surrounded on every front by startling natural beauty. It’s seated near the mouth of the Copper River east of Prince William sound and is home to only around 2,000 people. And while I expected Cordova to be a typical fishing town, since 80% of the local businesses are supported by Copper River commercial fishing, something about this town really surprised me.

     The commercial fishing of salmon in Cordova is much more than a merely industrial activity concerned with harvest and sale—it’s something much bigger than that. In short, it’s a way of life. For the community congregated at the head of Copper River, fishing salmon is that which simply makes life possible. The community is what it is and the families are what they are because salmon fishing provides a responsible industrial infrastructure within which they exist. And more importantly, salmon fishing is beautifully interweaved into their culture. This is palpably clear. Every wife cooks up the most opulent of salmon dishes each evening afresh. Every child, presented with a platter of filets, welcomes the familiar aroma of their freshwater friends. I mean, even every dog drools in Pavlonion delight over the mere scent of this wondrous fish. All of life, for everyone, both stands upon and takes joy in the process of gathering up and preparing these amazing creatures for their culinary destinies.

     One reason this is the case is because the people of Cordova treat salmon like a gift they are to steward well. They’re thankful for the salmon, and therefore want to prioritize intentionality and sustainability in their fishing. For instance, a biologist we met named Shane told us about his job in methodically calculating the number of fish that swim through the river each season. His team does this to prevent overfishing and ruining the natural salmon habitat, and this way each fisherman only harvests a particular number of fish so as to ensure that the ecosystem remains in healthy balance. Each individual really cares about each and every Sockeye, King, and Coho—they really do care about this natural system from which their community can benefit.

     Now of course I was already a fan a salmon prior to this trip, but there’s nothing like tasting Copper River Salmon right at the source. I can honestly say that I haven’t had a better fish. The quality, flavor, and texture is just unreal. We actually were able to watch the filleting process a few times, so as you can see from the pictures the color of this fish is simply otherworldly. This salmon is incomparably rich, buttery, and unique—you have to get your hands on some.

     So overall, I’d say this trip was pretty incredible. Not only were there amazing experiences like flying over the frosty Alaskan landscape in a seaplane and enjoying fresh salmon and s'mores at the foot of glacier, but I also got to meet so many incredible women and men that reminded me how to love and respect what I do. They persuaded me that having a posture of thankfulness and stewardship is one of the best possible ways to approach your work, and especially in the case of Copper River Salmon, the result speaks for itself.

Pumpkin Spice Cake


My sweet husband John has real soft spot for pumpkin bread, so as a little surprise I made a cake version of his favorite fall-time treat. John's mother has been making him pumpkin bread every year for long as he can remember, and whether he was living at home or in another city, his sweet mother would still make sure that her son got his pumpkin bread. Since we currently live in a different state than John's parents it's been less likely that he gets his pumpkin bread fix, so I thought I could help fill the void with this cake.


This is a very traditional pumpkin cake, one filled with just the right amount of spices. The one unique aspect that you may find is that I call for pumpkin seed oil in this recipe. This is a relatively new type of oil to me, but I liked using it in this cake because of it's deep nutty flavor which is detectable in each bite. The flavor is prominent, so if you don't want to commit to adding this type of oil you can either use half pumpkin seed and half vegetable oil so that you get some of that nutty flavor. Or, you can omit the pumpkin seed oil all together and use all vegetable oil—the choice is yours.


This cake is fragrant and moist, and even though it isn't his mother’s recipe, John couldn't help but smile a first bite. It's times like these that I remember how powerful food can be—I love how it can connect us. For even though John surely longs for some of his mother’s pumpkin bread, at least a slice of my cake can bring him a little bit of love by transforming an old memory into a present reality.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Adapted from Epicurious  

3/4 cup (90g) all purpose flour

3/4 cup (85g) whole wheat flour 

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice 

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ginger

7 oz pumpkin puree, about half a can

1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar

1/4 cup (53g) packed brown dark brown sugar

1/2 cup + 2 tbs pumpkin seed oil or vegetable oil 

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Garnish With

sweetened whipped cream

1 orange, preferable organic

1 basket fresh figs

chopped pecans


Equipment: one large and one medium bowl,1 9-inch cake pan, microplane zester

Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the cake pan with a bit of butter, or with some non-stick spray; set aside.

In the medium bowl whisk together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, allspice, ginger; set aside.

In a large bowl add both sugars and the peptia oil, and whisk together until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and vanilla until combined. 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing with a spatula or spoon until all the flour has been incorporated. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for about 15 minutes before removing. Place the cake on a rack to cool completely. Serve each slice with quartered figs, pecans, a dollop of whipped cream, and a bit of fresh orange zest.



Blistered Tomato Pasta


     John and I are going to Italy next month which, for the cuisine alone, will be extremely special for us. In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to make a summer-inspired Italian dish that placed tomatoes, the gems of summer, at the forefront.


     As John and I perused the tomato section at our market, I started sharing my idea for this pasta and how I wanted to blister some small heirlooms or something. And as we walked passed a grocer, he began telling us, without turning around or lifting his eyes from his task of sorting vegetables, that his new batch of sun gold tomatoes were the perfect candidate for the pasta I was describing. He encouraged us to taste a couple and we immediately fell in love with their astonishingly and unexpectedly bright and juicy flavor. It was then that I knew I was on to something.


     When it came around to putting the pasta together, everything came together so well. Blistering the tomatoes magnifies their flavor and, mixed with some olive oil, coats the pasta to the perfect extent. I incorporated garlic and chili flakes to provide a spicy contrast to the sweetness of the tomatoes. The thyme and garlic breadcrumbs not only provide more dynamic texture, but also a nice herbaceous aroma. Parmesan-reggiano’s distinctive, sharp, and nutty taste completes the dish very well.


     I landed on La Crema’s 2015 Monterey Pinot Noir as the ideal complement to this pasta, with its notes of cherry, orange, and rhubarb bringing a welcomed tangy and citrusy aspect to the overall experience. Head over to La Crema’s blog for the full recipe.


     Thank you for supporting the brands the help The Broken Bread thrive. This is a sponsored post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Easy Carrot Cake


     It was just over a year ago when I first met Kate, from Cookie and Kate. At the time we were both in Vermont exploring all things cheese with Vermont Creamery. In between eating our weight in cheese, we got the chance to chat about her book that would be coming out in the next year, and now here it is! I've known about Kate's blog since before I even started blogging so it's a real treat to finally have her book in my kitchen.


    Kate's book, Love Real Food is a collection of beautiful, simple, and vibrant dishes that range from snacks, to deserts, to full meals. I have already made a few dishes from her book with great success and this carrot cake is proof of that.

     Carrot cake and I go way back. It's actually one of the first cakes I remember liking when I was little. As soon as I found this recipe in her book, I knew I had to share it with you guys. This cake is absolutely filled with carrots, about a pound of them to be exact. Also, whole wheat flour and maple syrup makes this cake a little more wholesome than most carrot cakes I have enjoyed in the past. 


     This cake comes together with little effort and tastes like a dream! I made two super small changes to Kate's recipe: 1) I left out the walnuts and saved them for a garnish (my husband is allergic to nuts, so as a garnish I was able to keep them off a slice for him) and 2) I added raisins to the batter. It's so funny, I hardly ever use raisins in my baked goods, but all the carrots cakes I've enjoyed in the past have had them so I couldn't resist adding a few. 


Easy Carrot Cake

Barely adapted via Love Real Food

1/2 cup +1/4 cup +2 tbs whole wheat flour (you can also use all wheat flour for this recipe)

1/2 cup +1/4 cup +2 tbs all purpose flour

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 pound carrots, peeled and grated (about 3 cups)

1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts

4 oz raisins

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 large eggs, preferably room temp

1 cup plain greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces room temp cream cheese

2 tbs unsalted butter, at room temp

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Equipment: 1 large, 1 medium bowl, handheld or standing mixer, 9x9 baking dish


To make the cake, heat over to 425°F. Grease a 9x9-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the grated carrots, raisins (if using) and walnuts, stirring a few times to combine.

In the medium bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and oil of choice. Whisk in the eggs, once smooth add the yogurt and vanilla and continue whisking until smooth.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a big spoon or spatula until just combined (a few lumps are okay). Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven. Bake the cake until the center is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 26-28 min. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the cream cheese frosting , place the butter and the cream cheese and beat until fully blended. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, then continue beating until a creamy frosting is achieved. 

Spread all of that yummy frosting all over the cake once it has cooled and enjoy!



Plum Bellini


      Stone fruit is everywhere and after last week's trip to the market I ended up with a pretty nice haul of the most beautiful plums.

DSC05871 (1).jpg

     Since I had so many plums, I decided to make a cocktail with them. I have really been enjoying prosecco lately so I created a drink inspired by the oh-so-classic peach belinni. For this drink, I switched out peaches for plums, puréed them, and paired them with just the right amount of procescco. And with my trusty Wolf Gourmet Blender, I put one of these drinks together in no time.


     The vibrant color of this puree is matched by its excellent and refreshing taste—perfect for these final sunny days we have coming our way. To get the recipe, head over to the Wolf Gourmet blog so you can make some of these plum belinnis while summer is still here.


     Thank you for supporting the brands the help The Broken Bread thrive. This is a sponsored post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Summer Zucchini Salad


     Summer is nearly come and gone in Seattle. And what we’ve lacked in hikes and camping trips we’ve made up in countless trips to patio-laden breweries, open-air restaurants, and forest-saturated parks. The sun indeed still shines, but the brisk breeze of fall is in the evening air and we know the season’s turn is upon us. 


     In these final summer days I’m always coming up with ways to make the most of it—and this zucchini salad simply won’t quit. This recipe is actually much like a pasta salad with zucchini taking the traditional place of noodles. This is a great way to capitalize on incredible seasonal produce while imparting a refreshing taste and texture. Avocado comes alongside for a buttery layer, while cucumber keeps things crisp. Corn and feta lend a sweet and salty dynamic while a lemon-based dressing wraps everything up with a pleasant bite. It’s a straightforward salad, but it’s so good. 


     The flavors of this salad are satisfyingly complemented by La Crema’s 2015 Monterey Chardonnay. It’s oakey and tropical with some refreshing citrus and a textured bite akin to crisp carbonation. It ends with a touch of spice that works very well with the salad’s lemon dressing. Don’t let summer die—fetch some produce at your farmer’s market and keep it alive. Be sure to head over to La Crema's blog to check out my recipe for this Summer Zucchini Salad.


      Thank you so much for supporting the brands that support The Broken Bread. This is a sponsored post, and as always, all opinions are my own.

Comté Cheese

     Comté Cheese: perhaps a familiar, household name for some of you, perhaps merely the title of an exotic dairy varietal for others.

     Whatever the case, Comté cheese deserves to be known and enjoyed. John and I recently had the chance to visit the Comté region of France to enjoy a guided tour of their cheese production process, and it was exhilarating. Our main guide, Jean-Louis, took a small group of us all around the region, introducing us to the culture and techniques of Comté cheese.

     Since I’ve started this blog I have had incredible opportunities to learn the history, story, and culture of some of my favorite companies. And I must admit that though I left on this trip with only a general knowledge of Comté, I now have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for everyone that has made Comté what it is today.

     First of all, Comté’s philosophy of work and craftsmanship is astounding, and it puts into practice principles that anyone from any field of work could respect. It all begins with a heart of intentionality and sincere passion. One of the farmers we met, an eccentric, boisterous individual nicknamed Taz, put it perfectly: “All of us at Comté are always asking ourselves, ‘why do we wake up in the morning? Why do we do what we do?’” Such questions accurately express what’s at the heart of Comté’s commitment to excellence, to quality, and to community and legacy. They wake up in the morning because they’re coming together with families and with whole towns and regions continuing a centuries-old tradition of crafting amazing, sustaining cheese. They’re honoring and cultivating their ecosystems, they're stewarding their livestock and landscape, they're providing for families and communities, and what they make is simply a piece of art (especially delicious art!).

     Here are some examples of what this philosophy look like in action. Comté cheese insists upon the importance of cultivating the natural yield of the landscape and ecosystem, and they refer to this as “terroir.” Terroir is the catch-all term for a region’s natural environment and habitat in combination with specific practices that draw out regional characteristics to impart a unique quality to the final product. And so terroir is just as rightly applied to wine or chocolate or coffee or scotch as it is to cheese. But many companies try to use external chemicals, ingredients, additives, and extreme practices to squeeze and manipulate the yields of many different regions and habitats into a single taste-profile for consistency and marketability. Comté cheese totally eschews this notion, avoiding all additives and any unnatural ingredient or processes. They instead respect the land and the yield and proceed to produce the best possible cheese that most clearly reflects the source from which it came.

     Accordingly, we saw these convictions turn up in everyday practices, whether we were visiting the farms, the cheese-making facilities, or the maturing cellars. On the farms, Comté takes great care to ensure that the hay in their region is the highest quality, and that the flowers and vegetation that come along with it are protected and included. They only use two types of cows whose milk is amazing for making cheese–the Montbeliard and French Simmental. They refuse to use any machines for milking the cows, they only milk them by hand, and they only milk them twice a day. This ensures that their cows remain comfortable, healthy, and happy.

     At the cheese-making facilities, Comté refuses to use any additives or added chemicals in the process of turning the milk into cheese. They keep very clean conditions, yet also sustain a controlled environment conducive to the production of natural bacteria that are vital to the cheese-making process. They call their facilities “Fruitières” because this is where the reap the “fruit of their labor”—it’s all linked to the mindset of honoring a legacy of working hard and providing for those around you. Pretty inspiring if you ask me. 

     A maturing cellar for Comté cheese is called an “affineur” and they meticulously age their wheels in a precisely conditioned environment. The cellars are essentially giant refrigerators, some housing tens of thousands of wheels at the perfect temperature and level of humidity. Comté ages their wheels exclusively on spruce boards for a minimum of 4 months but for no real maximum. While exploring one cellar, we had the chance to taste a cheese aged for over 3 years—we’ll likely never taste a better or older cheese for the rest of our lives. 

     All of this leads to an astounding creation. Each wheel of Comté is so responsibly made to reflect the terroir of its French domain that it’s actually impossible to make the same wheel twice. Every wheel is a distinct, unique, and unrepeatable expression of Comté cheese. Now what I said might sound strange—how could you run a business without any expected consistency from your product? How could you even make this marketable? Well first, every wheel always features the signature Comté characteristics: they all play with the flavors of onions, garlic, nuts, butter, salt, and potato. It’s just that each of these can come in dozens of variations. They can lean more fruity, vegetative, lactic, spicy, roasted, and more—creating hundreds of possible combinations. Second, when someone buys a piece of Comté cheese, it’s less an act of placing their money in a product and more an act of placing their trust in a set of creators. Whatever Comté comes up with, you can be confident that it will be absolutely excellent. 

     So, clearly, there’s a lot that goes into making Comté cheese! But I share this because it shows how, at every stage, Comté applies its deepest convictions about what makes their work meaningful. Questions like “why do we wake up in the morning” are obviously high-flown, and their answers abstract. But Comté is special because they apply their philosophical perspectives every single moment of every day. Think about how truly impressive that is. How many of us can claim the same about our lives? Do we really know—deep down—why we wake up in the morning? And even if we have an answer, how successfully do we apply it to our lives? Do our convictions about why our lives are meaningful really find concrete expressions in our daily tasks? That’s why I find Comté so inspiring. It’s difficult for us as separate individuals just to figure out how to live our lives like this—but Comté has figured out how to do this with thousands of people together all at once. That’s what makes Comté about so much more than cheese, and it’s what made our trip to their beautiful region so truly special. 

     Thank you to the Comté Cheese association for sending  John and I on this magical trip! John and I were not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.