roast leg of lamb with cilantro-pistachio pesto and white bean puree

roast lamb with cilantro-pistachio pesto //

I don't remember the first time I tasted lamb. I was raised on the sacred American trinity of beef, chicken and pork, so it was likely when I headed off to New Haven for college. I suspect it was under the tutelage of my more cosmopolitan friends who also introduced me to Indian food, real bagels and homemade hamantaschen sent in care packages from Brooklyn. (Thank you Mrs. Levine!) What I do know is that once sampled, lamb quickly became one of my favorite meats. Despite this, I rarely cook it at home. Or at least I rarely cooked it at home until now. 

roast lamb with cilantro-pistachio pesto //

A couple weeks ago, I discovered a stupendously easy technique for cooking a boneless leg of lamb while reading Diana Henry's excellent cookbook, A Change of Appetite. This is one of my favorite cookbooks and my go-to for healthy meals that lack neither flavor nor sophistication. 

With Diana’s technique there’s virtually no prep and the lamb is in and out of the oven in 30 minutes, cooked to rosy perfection. No need for marinating, trussing or even a thermometer. My kind of recipe.

Of course, because I can’t not tinker with a recipe and because I always want something garlicky with lamb, I added a garlic-cumin rub. I also added a bright and slightly spicy cilantro-pistachio pesto to jazz things up a bit. 

roast lamb with cilantro-pistachio pesto //

At a recent dinner party, I served this lamb alongside a white bean puree and thought the creamy, earthy beans were a nice foil for the heat of the pesto and richness of the lamb. So I’ve included that recipe as well. I recommend a green salad or shaved vegetable salad dressed simply with lemon juice, salt and a drizzle of olive oil to round out your supper. 

I’ve made this recipe twice in as many weeks, so I’m going to say it’s officially entered my repertoire. If you love lamb, it should most definitely enter yours. Let me know in the comments if you give it a go!

roast lamb with cilantro-pistachio pesto //

Roast Leg of Lamb with Cilantro-Pistachio Pesto

  • 2 ½ lb butterflied boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of all but ⅛ inch of fat cap
  • 3 cloves garlic, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon toasted and freshly-ground cumin seed
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup shelled unsatled pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup loosely-packed fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 red Fresno chiles, seeded (if desired), and finely diced (or a generous pinch of chile flakes)
  • 1 tablespoon finely-grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

*Notes: You can use the same technique and cook times on a larger piece of lamb if it is butterflied. The thickness determines the cook time here, not the weight of the roast.

- If you don’t want to fuss with the garlic-cumin rub, just generously salt the lamb before roasting.

- The pesto will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days. It is also delicious on roasted salmon and roasted root vegetables, especially carrots. Bring to room temperature before serving.

roast lamb with cilantro-pistachio pesto //

Pound 2 cloves of the garlic and ½ teaspoon of the salt in mortar. Add the cumin and pound to combine. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and stir until you have a thick paste. Rub the spice paste all over lamb and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes. (You can season the lamb up to 24 hours in advance. Keep refrigerated until 30 minutes prior to roasting.)

Preheat oven to 425° F. Place the seasoned lamb on parchment-lined sheet pan, fat side up. Roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven oven temperature to 375° F and roast for 15 more minutes for medium-cooked lamb (20 for medium-well). Remove from oven and rest for 15-20 minutes.

While the lamb is roasting, make the pesto: Mince or press the remaining garlic clove. Combine the garlic, pistachios, mint, chile, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, lemon zest and juice in a small bowl. Add the remaining oil and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.

After the lamb has rested, slice to desired thickness. Salt the interior of the lamb and serve atop the white bean puree (recipe below) with the pesto spooned over the top. 

Makes about 6 servings of lamb and 2 cups pesto.


White Bean Puree

  • 3 cups cooked white beans, preferably homemade (this is the equivalent of 2 cans if you don’t have time to make your own)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons tahini 
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

*Notes: I highly recommend making your own beans for this recipe as they taste so much better than canned. Post in the comments if you have questions about how to cook great beans. :)

- My favorite brand of tahini is Joyva. Whatever brand you choose, make sure you get a roasted sesame tahini and not a raw sesame paste.

- If you want to serve this white bean puree warm, you can either heat the beans in their liquid or a little bit of stock or water until hot, then process and serve immediately. Or you can make the puree and heat it in a large metal bowl set over a pot with 1 inch of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until hot.


Place the beans, lemon juice, salt, tahini and garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream. Process until the puree is very smooth, 3-5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Makes about 4 cups.

wanderlust guide: capitol hill

wanderlust guide: capitol hill //

In the last couple of years, I’ve made travel a priority. I spend less on clothes and meals out and things in general. And more on exploring the globe. And it has definitely made me happier. 

Sharing my favorite places through culinary tours has magnified that happiness. So much so, I’m planning all sorts of new culinary adventures: Belgium, Brittany, Charleston, San Francisco, Morocco. 

I’ve also been thinking about how I can share my favorite places with more of you through the blog. So in the spirit of encouraging travel and exploration and the pleasure they bring, I’ve decided to start a series of Wanderlust Guides. These little glimpses of my favorite cities reflect nothing but my own tastes and proclivities and certainly are not intended to be authoritative or all-encompassing. But I do hope they’ll lead at least a few of you to discover new places and make them your own. 

I thought I’d start with Seattle. My home-sweet-home and city I find maddening (that rain!) and delightful (that view, though) by turns. This week, I’m kicking things off with arguably the most vibrant and unconventional part of the city: Capitol Hill.

I hope you enjoy this Wanderlust Guide. I’d love to hear back in the comments what you think!



Barjot is a little gem of a coffee shop/cafe/bar/bakery/slice of awesomeness that I discovered only a few weeks ago. How it took me so long to stop in, I have no idea. Because Cafe Barjot is the perfect spot to work or meet up with friends or spend a few hours reading or daydreaming and sipping a cup True North coffee. This tiny cafe has a cozy, mid-century vibe and super-friendly staff. Plus locally-sourced, organic breakfast, lunch and dinner and a great happy hour. The only caveat in sight: parking is tough on this side of the hill, so plan accordingly.


Volunteer Park Conservatory
Opened in 1912, Volunteer Park Conservatory is home to an awe-inspiring collection of plants from around the globe and a great place to spend a relaxing hour or two (especially on a rainy day). I particularly love the succulents room with it’s otherworldly cacti and desert plants. The Conservatory is a plant-lover and photographer’s dream. If the weather’s nice, I recommend packing a picnic lunch to eat in Volunteer Park then wandering the neighborhood around the park, with its grand turn-of-the-century houses.


Some (including the venerable NYT) claim there isn’t a decent bagel to be had on the West Coast. I beg to differ. Though hardcore purists might scoff at Eltana’s honey-water-boiled and wood-fired bagels, I say they are a thing of beauty. With just the right ratio of golden crust to dense, chewy interior, Eltana's hand-rolled bagels are some of the finest I’ve ever had. The Everything and Sesame-Wheat are my personal faves. The housemade spreads are nothing to scoff at either. I recommend a dozen bagels for the freezer and a half pint of the date-walnut and the za’atar-scallion spread for the road. 


Ok. Everyone and their uncle is serving cold-pressed juice these days. Juicebox, however, is really killing it with their creative juice combinations and chef-driven menu of light, bright lunch and brunch fare. Run by Brandin Myett (former chef at La Bête) and Kari Brunson (who honed her chops at numerous Ethan Stowell establishments), Juicebox offers flavors like spiced yam and turmeric gold and a selection of creamy house-made nut milks that attract the health-conscious and culinary aficionados alike. Their creative, seasonal soups, salads, wraps and scrambles make Juicebox one of my favorite places to stop for a meal or a healthy pick-me-up when I’m on the Hill. 


Kurt Farm Shop
Kurt Timmermeister, farmer, author and cheesemaker extraordinaire, is bringing us more creamy goodness with his artisanal ice cream. Made from milk and cream produced by Kurt’s herd of Jerseys and served out of his tiny shop in the new Chophouse Row building, this is some of the best ice cream in the city. There are subtle flavors like rose geranium and bay laurel and classics like the deep, rich caramel that was my favorite, as well as a selection of farmstead cheeses. You’ll think you’ve died and gone to dairy heaven.


Elliott Bay Book Company
One of America’s iconic bookstores, the Elliott Bay Book Company is right up there with Powell’s in Portland, The Harvard Book Store in Cambridge and the Strand in New York in my opinion. I could spend (and have spent) hours upon hours wandering the aisles with their creaky wooden floorboards and towering bookshelves, discovering new and inspiring books and journals. This is a must for bibliophiles and one of my very favorite spots in the city. P.S. They host excellent (and frequent) author talks. Check their schedule to see what they have planned.


Let’s be honest: no one needs anything in this shop. But you’re going to want almost everything in sight if you visit. With a delightful, hyper-curated selection of clothing, jewelry, toiletries and goods for the home and office (plus a giant taxidermy grizzly bear), Glasswing is one of Seattle’s most original shops. Also, the location, next door to Taylor Shellfish and the magical Melrose Building, can’t be beat. You could spend all day in this one block stretch of Capitol Hill alone.


Marigold & Mint
Oh, how I love this shop! The flowers are some of the most beautiful and distinctive I’ve ever seen. And they are locally sourced from owner, Katherine Anderson’s, organic farm. The carefully selected soaps, books, candles and other bits and bobs on offer are always super-dreamy. The staff is lovely, especially Ayako, the genius behind Ayako and Family Jam, who occasionally works in the shop creating magnificent and whimsical floral arrangements. (P.S. Her jam, sold in the shop, is amazeballs and you need to buy as much of it as you can stuff in your suitcase and take home!) Basically, I would live here if they’d let me.


Sitka & Spruce
Located right next door to Marigold & Mint in the Melrose Market, Sitka & Spruce is my favorite of Seattle super-chef, Matt Dillon’s, empire. The space is bright and spare with that classic Matt Dillon touch in the details that makes it feel nostalgic and modern at once. The food is the best kind of Pacific Northwest Fare imaginable--local ingredients, some from Matt’s Old Chaser Farm on Vashon Island, thoughtfully combined and in portions modest enough every meal can be a sort of tasting menu. I especially love Sitka & Spruce for a weekend brunch. There’s always a wonderful hot grain bowl on the menu along with a beautiful egg dish and lots of other imaginative veg-heavy plates. And their scone is one of the best in the city. Start your meal off with one of those and a pot of their excellent French-press coffee and you can’t go wrong. 


Rainshadow Meats
Also in the Melrose Market, Rainshadow Meats offers the highest quality meats and charcuterie in Seattle. Hands down. If you have access to a kitchen during your stay (or of course, if you live here) you absolutely should stop in for one of their excellent dry-aged steaks or housemade sausage links or a double-thick, bone-in pork chop! Also, their chicken liver mousse is to die for. 


Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room
It’s not exactly cool to patronize Starbucks while living in a city that boasts so many small, independent coffee shops and roasters. But Beau and I wandered into Starbucks’ Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room one evening shortly after they opened and were completely wowed. The space is gorgeous. It’s all huge brass roasters and polished wood and soft leather chairs. The pneumatic tubes that whizz coffee beans from roaster to grinder are so much fun to watch they make you feel like a little kid in a chocolate factory. I’d consider all of this a one-time-only thrill if the coffee weren’t also very good. This is where you can taste some of Starbucks rarest coffees, small-batch roasted on-site. Even more fun, you can order your coffee brewed via pour-over, Chemex, French press, siphon, espresso machine or Clover. You can order a tasting flight of various beans brewed the same way or 1 bean brewed via different methods. It’s a coffee-lover’s dream! Definitely worth a stop if you’re visiting from out of town or if you just want to learn more about coffee. 


Seattle, and Capitol Hill in particular, has no shortage of fantastic restaurants. Stateside, opened last year by Chef Eric Johnson, is one of Seattle’s best tables at the moment. The perfectly executed, Vietnam-inspired menu, superlative cocktails and lush decor recalling the jungles of Vietnam add up to a beautiful experience and my favorite dining spot on Capitol Hill. I strongly recommend one of the cocktails served in a young coconut. They a) are delicious and b) allow you to imbibe while also having the impression you’re heading off a massive hangover by drinking coconut water. Brilliant!


I hope you enjoyed this little guide. Don't forget to leave me your thoughts in the comments below as well as any spots you think I should add!

orange-hazelnut bundt cake with rum glaze

orange hazelnut bundt cake with rum glaze //

I love cake as much as the next person. 

I wouldn’t dream of turning away a slice of devil’s food or a towering birthday cake decked out in buttercream. Hell, I’ll even admit to a love of the retro Midwestern cakes I grew up on, made with Cool Whip and Jell-O and a box of Betty Crocker. (If you’ve never tasted a poke cake, you need to add it to your bucket list.

But the sort of cake that really sets my heart aflutter is simpler--best suited to an afternoon cup of coffee or tea. Something nutty and subtly sweet with a dense crumb. Something like this Orange-Hazelnut Bundt Cake with Rum Glaze. 

orange hazelnut bundt cake with rum glaze //

This understated little cake was the result of a copper bundt pan I found at E. Dehillerin in Paris, which turned out to be the perfect souvenir from my first culinary tour. Beautiful. Well-made. Very French. And a reminder of how life-changing that trip was every time I pull it from the shelf.

When I got it home, it occurred to me I’d never made a bundt cake before. I was fairly sure any cake could be baked in a bundt pan. But I thought my special pan deserved a special cake and set about finding just the right thing. 

orange hazelnut bundt cake with rum glaze //

In the end, and as is so often the case, it was decided by what I had on hand that day. There were hazelnuts in the freezer and two oranges in the fridge. I decided that these flavors would be perfect with my afternoon coffee. And thus this cake was born.

Because it looked a little humble once turned out of the pan, and because I love boozy desserts, I added a rum glaze. Orange and rum go hand in hand. And the deep caramel notes of dark rum speak to the toasty-sweet flavor of hazelnuts. 

orange hazelnut bundt cake with rum glaze //

This cake has become a personal favorite. It’s not as showy as some. Not as fancy as others. But it has everything I like in a cake. And it would please me immensely if you end up liking it, too. Let me know in the comments if you bake one up. And don't forget that cup of coffee or tea! With a slice of this cake you'll have a delicious and just-decadent-enough afternoon treat.

Orange-Hazelnut Bundt Cake with Rum Glaze

  • 7 oz (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 10 oz (1 ⅔ cups)granulated sugar, divided
  • Zest of 2 oranges, 4 teaspoons juice reserved for glaze
  • 10 oz (1 ¾ cups) raw hazelnuts
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 ½ oz (¾ cup) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 ½ oz (about 1 cup) powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons rum

*Notes: I used The Kraken black spiced rum. Any dark or spiced rum will work for the glaze. If you don't want to use rum, you can substitute more orange juice.

- These cakes will keep, tightly wrapped and stored at room temperature, for up to 3 days. I think they taste best on the second and third day.

orange hazelnut bundt cake with rum glaze //

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter and flour 1 large or 2 to 4 smaller bundt pans. Set aside.

Place the hazelnuts on a rimmed sheet pan and toast until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Remove the nuts from the pan and place them in the middle of a large kitchen towel. Bring the four corners of the towel towards each other and twist them together until you have securely enclosed the nuts in the towel. Vigorously rub the hazelnuts together inside the towel for a minute or so. When you open the towel most of the skins should have fallen off. Lift the nuts off the towel with a slotted spoon, leaving the skins behind and place them on a plate to cool. Set aside.

When the hazelnuts are completely cool, place them in a food processor with 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Process until the nuts are finely ground (about 1 minute), taking care not to let them turn into nut butter. Transfer the ground nuts to a large bowl and add the flour and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium high until pale and fluffy, a minute or two. Stir the zest into the rest of the sugar then add the sugar to the butter and continue to beat until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes longer, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the flour and nut mixture and beat at low speed until the ingredients are just barely combined, taking care to not overwork the batter. It will be quite thick. 

Spoon the batter into the prepared bundt pans and smooth the tops. Vigorously tap the filled pans on the counter to release any air bubbles. Place on a sheet pan and bake until the tops are golden brown, springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out with only a few crumbs, 45-55 minutes for one large cake and 40-50 minutes for smaller cakes. When in doubt, err on the side of slightly less done so the cakes will be moist. Remove the cakes from the oven and carefully invert the hot pans onto a wire cooling rack and slide the cakes out. Cool completely.

When the cakes are cool, mix the glaze. Sift the sugar into a small bowl to remove any lumps. Add the orange juice and rum. Whisk until smooth then immediately pour over the cakes. Allow the glaze to set before serving.

Makes one large or 2 to 4 smaller bundt cakes.

orange hazelnut bundt cake with rum glaze //

Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi