new year's eve

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto, pears and celery root

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on

Hello from Paris!

I hope you had a beautiful Christmas. I was a bit under the weather/jet-lagged, so Beau and I had a pretty mellow holiday: a walk over to Notre Dame to hear the Christmas bells toll, a leisurely stroll through the Luxembourg gardens with a stop for coffee at the Café de Flore. A seafood extravaganza for two and early to bed. We didn’t even pop the bottle of champagne we bought!

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on
Salt-Roasted Beef with Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto, Pears and Celery Root

But I’m planning to make up for our rather subdued Christmas celebration in a few days. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better place to ring in the new year than the city of light. Beau and I have a table booked at one of our favorite restaurants. There will be oysters. There will be champagne. There will be all manner of other deliciousness and then there will be heading out into the chill to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle over the city. 

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on
salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on

But before all that, let’s talk about your New Year’s Eve dinner. 

If I were home, I’d be fixing this Salt-Roasted Beef with Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto, Pears and Celery Root. My friend Kyle and I served this at the pop-up dinner we hosted earlier this month. This beauty is Kyle’s invention. How he comes up with such creative dishes, I have no idea. Also, it takes him about two seconds to whip up an entire menu. Without cracking a cookbook. While I am jealous, I am also thrilled to be the beneficiary of his chef-brain. And even more thrilled that I got to eat this dish three times in one month: once while we were testing it, once at the dinner and again when I shot it for the blog with my friend Carrie

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on

This roast sits at the intersection of easy and impressive. Exactly what you want on a holiday where you should be sipping champagne with your guests instead of sweating away in the kitchen. The salt crust seasons the meat while sealing in all the delicious juices. The roasted pears and celery root are a meltingly soft, subtly sweet base for the beef--far sexier than mashed potatoes. And the bright, herby pesto makes it all sing. Plus, how often do you get to smash open your meal with a hammer? Very exciting stuff.

However you decide to ring in 2017, I hope it brings you joy. Thank you for following along here and for all your kind comments and emails over the past year. You make this adventure I’m on so much more fun! 

With much love,


Salt-Roasted Beef with Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto, Pears and Celery Root

  • 2-3 lb boneless cross-rib roast (also known as a flat iron roast)
  • 6 cups kosher salt
  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup cold water
  • Freshly-grated black pepper
  • 1 recipe Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto (below)
  • 1 recipe Roasted Pears and Celery Root (below)

Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto

  • ½ cup hazelnuts

  • ¼ cup mint, gently packed

  • ¼ cup parsley, gently packed

  • ¼ cup cilantro, gently packed

  • 2 tablespoons dill

  • 1 preserved lemon

  • ¼ cup minced shallot (about 1 large)

  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup hazelnut or olive oil


Pears and Celery Root

  • 2 slightly underripe pears

  • 1 large celery root

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt


*Notes: My wonderful neighborhood butcher turned me onto the boneless cross-rib (or flat iron) roast called for in this recipe. I love this cut because it’s flavorful and a great value when you’re feeding a crowd. It does have more connective tissue and marbling in it than some other cuts (sort of like a prime rib roast). If that’s not your thing, you might want to consider a different cut of beef. They’re considerably more expensive, but a tenderloin roast or strip roast never disappoint. 

- If you roast or grill a larger cut of meat even once a year, I recommend you purchase a corded meat thermometer like this one. You stick the probe in the middle of your roast, while the display sits on the countertop by your oven. Set the desired temperature and it will beep when your meat is ready. No opening the oven door and letting out the precious heat. No guessing as to when your roast will be the exact doneness you like. A corded thermometer will take your roast game to a whole new level. 

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on

Remove the beef from the fridge about an hour before you want to cook it so it can warm up slightly.

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed sheet pan and toast until the nuts turn golden-brown and fragrant, 8-12 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. When cool, roughly chop the nuts or crush them with the side of a chef’s knife or with a mortar and pestle (no need to peel). Place the nuts in a medium bowl. Roughly chop the herbs and add them to the bowl. Cut the preserved lemon into quarters and scoop out the flesh and toss or reserve for another use. Finely dice the peel and add it to the bowl. Add the minced shallot, lemon zest and juice, salt and olive oil and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Set aside to let the flavors come together.

To prepare the beef, mix the salt, egg whites and water in a large bowl until the salt is evenly moistened. Place a thin layer of the salt mixture just wider than your beef roast on a rimmed sheet pan. Place the beef on top of this layer and generously sprinkle with black pepper. Use the rest of the salt mixture to cover the roast, pressing to seal the beef in. Place in the oven and roast to desired doneness: 120°F for rare, 125°F for medium rare, 130°F for medium. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest, without breaking open the salt crust. (Don't worry if the crust has a few cracks in it when it comes out of the oven; that's fine.) Rest the beef for at least 15 minutes before you crack open the crust and slice it. 

While the beef is roasting, prepare the pears and celery root. Remove the skin and any roots from the celery root and slice into ⅓-inch thick pieces. Core the pears and slice into ⅓-inch thick pieces. Place the pears and celery root on a parchment-lined rimmed sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and  toss with olive oil to coat. When the roast is about 10 degrees under the desired doneness, place the pears and celery root in the oven. When you remove the beef, increase the oven temperature to 475°F and roast until the pears and celery root are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, 30-35 minutes. 

When the pears and celery root are done, crack open the salt crust on the beef using a rolling pin, meat mallet or hammer. Brush the salt off the beef and slice. Transfer the roasted pears and celery root and the beef to a serving platter. Spoon some of the pesto over the beef and serve immediately, passing the rest of the pesto alongside. 

Makes 6-8 servings.

Recipe by Kyle Wisner

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on

cracked crab with three sauces

cracked crab with three sauces on

I am currently knee deep in boxes and bubble wrap. On Monday, Beau and I signed a stack of papers that was at least two inches thick, which made this whole house buying business feel awfully real. The keys to our little bungalow will be in our hands tomorrow.

As you can imagine, I haven’t had much time to cook. Beau and I have been subsisting on scrambled eggs with whatever vegetables we have rolling around in the fridge and a couple tablespoons of Boursin thrown in. (On a side note: If you’re going to eat the same meal over and over again, I highly recommend this one. Scrambled eggs with Boursin is pretty sexy and it only takes five minutes to make!)

So, as I was saying, packing and paper-signing and calling movers and selling a ton of crap because our new house is smaller than this one hasn’t left me a ton of time to cook. But tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and I couldn’t imagine leaving you without a recipe for ringing in the new year!

cracked crab with three sauces on

May I propose the Cracked Crab Supper. This is our annual Christmas Eve meal, but it would make an equally fine New Year’s Eve spread. I look forward to cracked crab all year. We cover the table in newspaper, boil up a huge pot of Dungeness and serve a variety of sauces alongside. Everyone gets a crab cracker and a pick. Plates are strictly forbidden. After the meal, we roll the whole glorious mess into the newspaper and trot it out to the compost. Done and done. (Did I mention I love this supper?)

cracked crab with three sauces on

Fresh Dungeness bathed in melted butter feels quite luxurious. There’s also something about having permission to eat with your hands that feels  just a little bit naughty. Throw in a bottle (or ten) of champagne and you have the perfect meal for a New Year’s Eve gathering!

I wish you all a delicious end to 2015. And I look forward to writing you next from a new house and a new year!



Cracked Crab with Three Sauces

  • 6 Dungeness crab, 2-2 ½ lbs each
  • 1 recipe Sauce Verte (see below)
  • 1 recipe Spicy Smoked Paprika Aioli (see below))
  • 1 recipe Drawn Butter (see below)
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges
  • Several pounds of ice

*Notes: For everything you ever wanted to know about cooking and cleaning Dungeness crab, I refer you to my friend Becky’s excellent tutorial. She is a fantastic chef and knows pretty much everything there is to know about sustainable seafood. 

- If you would rather not cook live crab, you might be able to sweet talk your fishmonger into killing and cleaning it for you in the shop. Take it home and cook it immediately as the meat deteriorates quickly. Of course, you can always buy pre-cooked and cleaned crab from the store, but it's never as delicious as freshly-cooked. 

- Some people serve whole crab and have their guests clean them at the table. I find this a little off-putting (read: gross) for those who are not die-hard crab lovers and seafood aficionados. I prefer to clean the crab and remove the innards before serving.

- The crab can be cooked up to 6 hours in advance. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it.

cracked crab with three sauces on

Heat a large pot of generously salted water over high heat. If you do not have an extremely large pot, you will need to cook the crab in batches.

While the water is heating, fill a large bowl or pot (or a clean sink) with ice. If you are cooking the crab in batches, be sure to save some of the ice for the rest of the crab.

When the water comes to the boil, place as many crab as will fit in the pot. Be sure they are completely submerged. Bring back to the boil and cook for 15 minutes. Transfer the crab to the ice and cover with cold water. This will stop the cooking. Once completely cold, remove the crab from the ice water. Clean the crabs if you didn’t have your fishmonger do it. Dry thoroughly and store in the refrigerator if not serving immediately. 

If you want to eat your crab cold (like we do), just take it out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes before you plan to serve it to let it warm up a bit. 

If you want to eat it hot, steam the crab for 5-10 minutes just before serving. The time will vary depending on how large your crabs are and how cold they are when they go in the pot. Taste the meat often as you steam the crab to be sure you don’t overcook it.

Serve crab accompanied by sauces and lemon wedges.

Serves 6-8.

cracked crab with three sauces on

Sauce Verte

  • 1 cup parsley, chopped fine

  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme, chopped fine

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

  • ¾ cup olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped

  • 2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

  • Salt, to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste. Transfer to small bowls and serve alongside the crab. This sauce doesn't hold particularly well, so I recommend making it no more than an hour or two before you intend to serve it. 

Makes about 1 cup.

Spicy Smoked Paprika Aioli

  • 1 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade

  • 2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane or minced

  • 1 -3 teaspoons lemon juice, depending on whether your mayo already has lemon or vinegar in it

  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

  • Pinch fine grain sea salt

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste. Transfer to small bowls and serve alongside the crab. This aioli can be made up to 2 days in advance and will get spicier as it sits. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.

Makes about 1 cup.

cracked crab with three sauces on

Drawn Butter

  • 8 oz (2 sticks) high quality salted butter

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, the butter will foam. Skim the foam then pour the butter into a clear heatproof container like a Pyrex measuring cup. Wait for the milk solids to fall to the bottom then carefully pour off the liquid butter, leaving the solids behind. You can use cheesecloth if you want your drawn butter to be extra clear. I usually don’t fuss with the extra step since it wastes some of the butter. Heat the drawn butter in a small saucepan just before serving. Transfer to small serving bowls and serve alongside the crab.

Makes about ¾ cup.