northwest niçoise salad

Image: Olaiya Land

A few weeks ago, I threw together this salad with my haul from the farmers market. I wasn’t aiming for anything in particular as I grabbed ingredients from the fridge, just a quick supper. But as it came together, I realized I had made a sort of a Pacific Northwest version of a Niçoise salad.

After I made the salad again a couple weeks later, my thoughts turned to the many little ways I’ve managed to weave pieces of my travels to France into my Seattle life.

Unlike the many books out there suggesting you can transform yourself into a Parisienne overnight with a little red lipstick and a few glasses of heart-healthy red wine, I don’t think the French mystique can be exported wholecloth to the other side of the globe. Let’s be honest, most Americans are not ready for 5 sinful weeks of paid vacation or multiple glasses of wine over lunch on a Tuesday. 

Image: Olaiya Land

Though it would be challenging, ridiculous even, to go full-on French here in the U.S. of A., I happen to think there’s a lot to be gained by folding cherished bits of another country’s way of life into our own. So I sat down and made a list of some of the Paris-inspired habits that have improved my life:

First up is walking. Seattle is not a particularly walkable city. It’s easy to get in your car for every little trip. In Paris, you walk. Once I started going everywhere on foot in Paris, I realized that those walks around the city gave rise to my best thinking. They created a space to disconnect and unfurl my thoughts in a way I can’t behind the wheel of a car or crammed against a stranger in the Metro. Now I walk everywhere I can. It’s helped me drop a dress size (while still eating croissants and cream puffs on my tours), shake stress more easily and come up with better ideas than I would otherwise. I've decided walking is one of the best (and easiest) things I can do for my body and my mind. 

Next, is the very French art of making yourself feel beautiful. It is no secret that Parisians don’t run around grocery shopping or dropping their kids at school in their sweats. In Paris, when you leave the house, you dress like an adult, preferably an attractive one.

Before traveling to Paris often, I was a bit more--shall we say, lackadaisical--in my get-out-the-door routine. Especially since, as someone who works from home, I don’t actually need to get out the door most days. But all-day pajama parties are a thing of the past! I may not be pulling on my sexiest heels for a trip to the butcher (though don’t put it past me), I have discovered that I feel more confident, competent and beautiful when I take the time to wear clothes I love, brush on a coat of mascara and apply a hint of my favorite perfume. 

Image: Olaiya Land

On a related note, I’ve decided to prioritize skincare over makeup. For the most part, French people have gorgeous skin. I have developed an elaborate, Beautiful-Mind sort of theory as to why this is the case. But the short version is that they seem less stressed than Americans and they learn to care for their skin at an early age. (It's a thing. If you have a French friend, ask them at what age their mother introduced them to a formal skin-care regime!) 

Having not been born into a culture that teaches its youth how to cultivate glowing skin, I've had to hack my own quasi-French skincare routine. It involves some fancy-sounding French cleansers and creams--and even a dramatic spritz of thermal water! But it works. My skin has never looked better, which means I spend almost no money on makeup and still get to feel like a total babe. 

Parisians are also great at turning a few stellar ingredients into an amazingly satisfying meal. I’m talking a plate of creamy burrata, fruity olive oil, some aged ham and a handful of Sicilian almonds. Or maybe a pint of perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes tossed with olive oil, feta and dill spooned over a slice of toast or a pan-seared lamb chop. Or, a personal favorite: a whole steamed artichoke accompanied by a bright, lemony aioli. You get the idea--delicious, sophisticated flavors that come together in a flash. I’ve made it my mission to master this kind of weeknight dinner sorcery and I think you should, too. It’s creative, delicious and way more satisfying than grabbing take-out.

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

This one has been the biggest game-changer for me: Sitting down at the table for all meals. No phones. No TV. No scarfing a burrito over the kitchen sink or shoveling a sandwich into my face while I drive. 

Eating a meal undistracted allows you to slow down and fully taste what’s going in your mouth. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it’s a pain in the ass; I want to grab something quick and run out the door. Or answer emails over lunch. But I am amazed at how much more delicious food has become since I started eating this way! The bonus side effect is that I need less food to feel satisfied. (Why has it taken me so long to figure this out?!?)

Last, and most certainly not least, is wine. Yup. Wine. Before Paris became a regular part of my life, I was more of a weekend drinker: maybe a cocktail with friends before dinner or glass of wine if we had a bottle on hand. Now we always have a bottle on hand! Not that we’ve turned into great lushes. But I’ve fallen in love with some of the natural wines I first tasted in France. And there's something magical about how a glass of wine with dinner serves as a marker of sorts, a signal that the work day is done and that things can become a touch looser, more fun. With friends, the best conversation always seems to start after a bottle of wine has been opened and everyone’s feeling buzzy and bright and a little more open than usual. (And then of course there's that whole heart-healthy thing.) So when it comes to pouring myself a glass or two, I'm most definitely a convert.

Image: Olaiya Land

There you have it, friends: Some of the things Paris has taught me about how to live a beautiful life. I hope this list encourages you to work the most inspiring elements from your own travels into your everyday life. Drop me a line in the comments below if you do--I’d love to hear what habits you're making your own!



To experience the best of Paris for yourself, join my September Paris Revelry culinary & culture tour! There are still 2 spots left. Click here to grab yours!

Northwest Niçoise Salad

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 1 lb. young wax beans (or green beans), stems removed
  • 1 cup shelled English peas (from 1 pound unshelled peas) or thawed frozen peas
  • 6 breakfast radishes, shaved lengthwise
  • 1 cup cherry or other small tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon mint, cut into chiffonade (thin strips)
  • 3 tablespoons whole cilantro leaves
  • 8 oz hot smoked wild salmon, broken into bite-size pieces

*Notes: If peas aren't your thing, try subbing in shelled fava beans or cooked chickpeas.

- The vegetables (except tomatoes), eggs and vinaigrette can all be prepped up to 2 days before serving. Store covered in the fridge and bring to room temperature before assembling the salad.

Image: Olaiya Land

Heat enough water to cover the egg in a small saucepan over high heat. When the water comes to the boil, add the eggs and cook for 10 minutes. Pour off the hot water and run cold water over the eggs until they are cool to the touch. Peel, halve and set aside.

On a separate burner, fill a large saucepan ⅔ full with water. Salt generously (it should taste like the ocean) and bring to the boil over high heat. (You’ll use this to blanch your vegetables in a moment.)

While the eggs are cooking, make the vinaigrette. In a medium bowl, combine the shallot, mustard, vinegar, a generous pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Adjust seasonings and set aside.

When the salted water has come to a rolling boil, add the fresh peas and cook for about 1 minute (no need to blanch if you're using thawed frozen peas). Remove with a slotted spoon or spider to a small bowl and cover with ice water. Add the beans to the pot and cook to your desired doneness (I like mine to remain a little snappy). When done, transfer the beans to a medium bowl and cove with ice water. When completely cool, pour off the water and dry the peas and beans well.

To assemble the salad, place the beans, peas, radishes, tomatoes, herbs and salmon in a large bowl along with the herbs. Salt lightly and toss with some of the vinaigrette. Add more vinaigrette to taste. Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates and arrange the eggs over the salad. Salt the eggs and pour a bit of the vinaigrette over them just before serving. 

Makes 4 servings.

Image: Olaiya Land

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on
roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on

As promised, this week I have a fantastic recipe for you from my friend Kyle. For those of you who don't know him, Kyle currently runs the kitchen at The London Plane and has honed his skills cooking at Sitka & Spruce, The Corson Building and Le Pichet. He's the real deal: a first-rate chef, a teller of cheesy jokes, a connoisseur of dope sneakers. In short, an all-around a cool guy. 

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on

He came over last week and cooked this Roasted Chicken with Smashed Peas, Rhubarb and Aleppo Honey. And holy crap was it good. I never get that excited about roasted chicken. Because how sexy can chicken be, right? Well I’m here to tell you this is one sexy bird.

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on
roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on

Kyle roasted our chicken to golden perfection, perched it atop a pile of tender English peas smashed with crème fraîche and garnished it with tart roasted rhubarb and spicy-sweet aleppo honey. Gorgeous? Yes. Delicious? Yup. Easy? It came together in under an hour start-to-finish. 

So this weekend, I urge you to go forth and roast up this chicken while there’s still some rhubarb kicking around at the market. (If there’s no more rhubarb where you live, I’m thinking some tart cherries would be brilliant, too.)

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on

And for all my Seattle-area people, Kyle and I are hosting an al fresco pop-up dinner on August 6th! We’ll be preparing a seasonal, family-style meal and serving it to you under the summer stars. So gather up your people and come sit at our table for a leisurely evening of food, wine and new friends! 

Menu, details and registration are here. I hope to see some of your lovely faces there!



Roasted Chicken with Smashed Peas, Roasted Rhubarb and Aleppo Honey

  • 1 whole chicken, halved or butterflied
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 12 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • 2 lbs. English peas, shelled
  • ½ cup crème fraîche (or heavy cream in a pinch)
  • 1 ½ lbs. rhubarb, trimmed
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper (or other chili flake)
roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on

Roast the chicken: Liberally season your chicken with salt on all sides. There shouldn't be any bare spaces nor any sections with clumps of salt. Let your chicken sit out at room temperature until your oven is preheated. This gives the salt a little bit of time to permeate the meat. Alternately, you can salt your chicken up to 12 hours in advance. Store it in the fridge until about an hour before you plan to cook it.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. If possible set up the rack roughly 4-6 inches below the top of the oven. (Heat rises, so keeping it this close to the top will help your bird get that golden, crispy skin you are looking for.)

Once the oven is preheated, line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Cut your garlic heads in half crosswise to expose all the cloves on both cut sides. Set the garlic cut-side-up and half of the thyme in the center of the sheet pan. Coat your chicken with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and rest it on top of the garlic and thyme. 

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on

Roast for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your bird. The skin should be lightly golden brown and crispy. If you feel worried about the doneness cut into the skin between the leg and the breast; the juices that come out should run clear. If there is a tiny pink hue, don't worry--the chicken will continue to cook as it rests. Let your chicken rest for at least 5 minutes. Don’t cheat and cut into the meat early as you will loose all your delicious juices! Reserve any drippings on the sheet pan to add to your honey later.

While the chicken is roasting, prepare your peas: Fill a large saucepan about ¾ full with water. Place over high heat and season the water so it taste salty like the sea. (They key to proper blanching of vegetables is having a good size pot, well seasoned water, and a rolling boil when you drop your veg in.)

When the water comes to a boil, set up a medium bowl with ice water so when your peas are done they can go immediately into the cold water. This shocks them and keeps them from overcooking. Drop your peas into the boiling water and cook for roughly 4-6 minutes. Your peas should be bright green and just tender. Pull them from the water and transfer to the ice bath. Once cooled, strain your peas. Reserve about ¼ cup for garnish and place the rest in a medium bowl with the crème fraîche. Mash them with a potato masher or a large wooden spoon. Add another pinch of salt if needed. Set aside.

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on

Roast the the rhubarb: Cut the stalks on the bias into 2-inch pieces. Toss with the remaining tablespoon olive oil and a light pinch of salt then spread out on a parchment-lined sheet pan. When the chicken is almost done roasting, place the rhubarb in the oven. Roast until it’s lightly caramelized, but still holds it’s shape, about 10 minutes. Take care not to overcook the rhubarb or it will turn to mush.

While the chicken is resting, prepare the honey sauce: Place the honey, aleppo, remaining 6 sprigs thyme and any juices from the cooked chicken in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes to bring the flavors together.

To serve: Cut the chicken into quarters. Divide the smashed peas between 4 plates, top with the chicken, roasted rhubarb and reserved whole peas. Drizzle with aleppo honey and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings
Recipe by Kyle Wisner

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on

chilled spring greens soup with crispy prosciutto

chilled spring greens soup on

Today, I have for you a chilled spring greens soup with crispy prosciutto. I love this soup because it’s easy and delicious and a great reminder of how being wrong can sometimes save the day.

If you’re anything like me, you’re not necessarily fond of being wrong. Especially in front of other people. But, in it’s own serendipitous way, this soup proved me wonderfully wrong on two occasions. 

chilled spring greens soup on

It’s based on a chilled green soup I had at Frenchie in Paris a few weeks back. If you’re not familiar with Frenchie, you might not know that obtaining a reservation here is a major logistical feat. Or that on any given evening, the sidewalk outside is awash with Beautiful People, smoking and laughing and being generally very sexy and French. I’d scoped it out several times before deciding it couldn’t possibly live up to all the hype and striking it off my list. 

To be perfectly honest, I was intimidated by the effort required to secure a table. And all that sexy Frenchness. 

chilled spring greens soup on
chilled spring greens soup on

But when the lovely Sarah Pank, chief miracle-worker at Apartments Actually, managed to snag us a reservation, I wasn’t about to say no. Accepting her gracious offer was one of the smartest things I’ve done recently because, friends, that meal was phenomenal. All seven gorgeous courses of it. Working my way through crisp, seed-crusted cauliflower and silky foie-gras with apple confit and fresh berries with herbed ice cream, I savored every second of having my assumptions overturned.

A highlight of the meal was one of the the amuses-bouches: a tiny earthenware cup of chilled green soup, garnished with edible flowers, crunchy cured ham and creamy feta. It tasted like spring. When Beth suggested we try to recreate the soup as part of a lunch for our retreat guests, I was skeptical. It’s too cold out for a chilled soup. There’s no way we can come up with something as magical as the Frenchie version! Do people even like cold soup anyway?!? 

chilled spring greens soup on
chilled spring greens soup on

Beth gently insisted and I decided it wasn’t worth arguing over. The green soup I ended up making was fresh and bright. A riff on the classic marriage of peas and ham, in a springier incarnation. We garnished it with a few drops of pistachio oil and crumbles of salty jambon de Bayonne from the market. It was my favorite part of the lunch. 

So in addition to being fresh and light and just the sort of thing I want to eat on a warm spring day, this soup serves as a reminder that I don’t know nearly as much as I think I know. And that that’s a wonderful thing.

chilled spring greens soup on

P.S. The Paris culinary retreat sold out in record time. (Thank you all for your wonderful support!) A lot of you wrote me asking about upcoming trips, so I wanted to let you know I've got details on the Portugal retreat headed your way next week. If you're not already on my mailing list, sign up here to get priority notice for all upcoming tours and events. XO!

Chilled Spring Greens Soup with Crispy Prosciutto

Chilled Spring Greens Soup with Crispy Prosciutto

  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ a medium fennel bulb, diced
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, divided
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 large bunch spinach (about 1 lb), rinsed and tough stems removed
  • ½ cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley
  • 2 cups English peas (from about 2 lbs. unshelled peas)
  • 1 small head green garlic (or 2 cloves regular garlic), thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 6 very thin slices prosciutto (serrano ham, jambon de Bayonne and pancetta are great also)
  • Pistachio oil, to garnish (or good quality extra-virgin olive oil)
  • Edible flowers, to garnish (I used borage, chervil and thyme flowers from my garden)

*Notes: Feel free to substitute herbs for the edible flowers. You’ll want to use more delicately flavored herbs so they don’t overwhelm the soup. Fennel fronds, tarragon, thyme leaves, small mint or basil leaves, or a few snipped chives would work well.

- If you don’t plan to eat all the soup at once, add the lemon juice and vinegar only to what you plan to eat at one sitting. They will cause the soup to lose its color if added too far in advance. (It tastes fine, but looks a little drab.)

- For a vegetarian or vegan version, substitute a creamy feta or some finely-chopped pistachios for the prosciutto.

chilled spring greens soup on

Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stock pot over low heat. Add the fennel and half the salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 20 minutes. You don’t want the fennel to brown. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes. Add the spinach, parsley, peas, garlic, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and 3 cups of water. Raise the heat to medium and cook, covered, until the spinach has just wilted and the peas are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Take care not to overcook the vegetable or the soup will lose its bright color.

Remove the soup from the heat and puree in a blender in batches until very smooth. Take care not to fill your blender more than ⅔ full so the steam from the soup doesn’t blow the top off and burn you. If you don’t have a blender powerful enough to puree the soup very fine, strain it through a fine mesh sieve. Transfer the pureed soup to a large bowl, thin with cold water to your desired consistency and place in the fridge to cool completely.

Remove the soup from the fridge 30 minutes to one hour before serving so it can warm up a bit. (When it’s ice cold, it looses some of it's depth.) Add the lemon juice and vinegar just before serving. Taste and add more salt and/or acid as necessary.

While the soup is warming up, crisp the prosciutto. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the ham and cook, turning once or twice until crisp, about 5 mins. Transfer to a  paper towel lined plate to cool slightly.

To serve, ladle the soup into serving bowls and garnish with a swirl of the pistachio (or olive) oil. Top with edible flowers and serve with the crispy prosciutto.

Makes 6 first-course servings.

chilled spring greens soup on