Capitol Hill Cooks | Olive oil flatbreads, a.k.a. matzo, inspired by Nagle at Pine

(Image: Em for CHS)

(Image: Em for CHS)

Certain flavors are inextricably tied to their own seasons: a ripe peach in the height of summer, the springtime crunch of a sugar snap pea, a warm fig from a sunny tree branch in early fall.  And also, for our family, matzo.

It’s been a year since matzo was last in season, which had given my kids time to get excited about it again.  I opened a box this afternoon and handed around crisp cracker shards.  There was a moment of crunching, a wrinkled nose, and then a polite verdict: “It’s ok.”  You probably won’t be surprised to learn that you can make a much better version of matzo yourself.  We got to work right away.

This crisp cracker is welcome year round at our house.  It’s good all by itself, but you can make it even more special by topping it with fancy salts and seasonings.  One of my favorite adornments for this cracker (for many things, really) is SugarPill’s fennel and nigella salt.  I like a generous dusting, which is probably overly salty to most palates if you’re eating the matzo alone—but it’s sublime sandwiching a generous dollop of charoset and horseradish. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Cooks | Sweet Potato Pie inspired by 12th and Madison

(Images: Em for CHS)

Pumpkin pie is a holiday tradition, and holiday traditions are inviolable. I understand that. But if you’ve been making pumpkin pie year after year without much enthusiasm, this one’s for you. Or if you love autumnal custard pies so much that you want two this year, consider serving this sweet potato pie alongside your usual pumpkin. If you don’t fall into either category, no worries, you can save the recipe for next week.

Just for you, good CHS readers, I took advantage of a recent encounter with Dani Cone (High 5 Pie proprietress and author of Cutie Pies) to inquire about her favorite seasonal pie. She said something about pears in salted caramel, which sounded kind of hard, so you’ll have to visit High 5 for that one. But then she mentioned the sweet potato pie from her cookbook, and her eyes lit up with joy, and I went straight home and started baking.

This pie makes sweet potato and marshmallow magic; you fold mini marshmallows into the sweet potato filling and they disappear, leaving a sweet and fluffy pie with little hint of the marshmallow secret. (If marshmallows aren’t your thing, you might prefer this marshmallow-free Sweet Potato Pie with a Cream Cheese Swirl variation.)

You can bake this pie in a single or double crust, or you can divide the filling among smaller crust rounds and bake turnovers. Or remember last year when we made those tiny pies? That would be fun here. The recipe makes enough filling to make a deep 9” pie and then some, so either plan ahead for overflow or consider scaling back the filling amount to fit your pan. I filled and baked a single crust pie (then toasted a few marshmallows on top just for fun), and of course I tried out the turnover approach for you as well. The verdict: you can’t go wrong.

Sweet Potato Pie
Adapted from Cutie Pies: 40 Sweet, Savory, and Adorable Recipes, by Dani Cone

Pie crust, homemade or store bought (here’s my favorite), including extra dough for turnovers or muffin-pan minis
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” chunks
1 c. milk
¾ c. brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten, plus one more if you’re making turnovers
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. salt
5 c. mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375. If you are making turnovers, lightly oil a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.

To make the pie filling, boil the sweet potato chunks until tender, 10-15 minutes, then drain well. Puree until smooth in a food processor or mash thoroughly by hand. In a separate bowl, stir together milk, brown sugar, 3 eggs, vanilla, melted butter, spices, and salt. Add the sweet potato puree and mix until thoroughly combined. Fold in the marshmallows and mix again, gently this time.

To make a single pie, line a deep 9” pie plate with pie crust and crimp the edge for decoration. Pour filling into the unbaked crust nearly up to the crimped edge and transfer carefully to the oven. Start checking the pie (to make sure the crust isn’t getting too dark) after about 40 minutes, but total baking time may be an hour or more, depending on the size of your pan. It can be tricky to tell when the pie is done, but the center should no longer appear wobbly and a knife inserted midway between the crust and the pie’s center should come out moist but clean. (If the crust starts to darken before the middle is cooked, take a square of aluminum foil big enough to cover the whole pie and fold it in half. Tear a half-circle out of the folded square about the right size to expose the middle of the pie but not the crust. Now you can fold the square over the pie, leaving the center uncovered while preventing the crust from overbaking.) To decorate the pie with a marshmallow topping, wait until the pie is done. Cover the crust with aluminum foil as described and pile marshmallows in an even layer in the middle of the pie. I used halved large marshmallows. Place 6-8” under the broiler and watch carefully, removing the pie as soon as the marshmallows are golden brown. Or maybe you have one of those little kitchen torches? That would come in handy here.

To make turnovers, roll ping pong-ball-sized chunks of pie dough into thin 6” circles. Scoop a few tablespoons of pie filling into each dough circle. Brush the inside edges of the dough circle with beaten egg, fold the dough in half, and press the edge with a fork to crimp and seal. Cut 2 or 3 slits in the turnover and place on an oiled or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden (20-30 minutes).

Previous Capitol Hill Cooks Posts

Capitol Hill Cooks is a home cooking recipe series featuring ingredients, ideas, and recipes from the neighborhood. Have a recipe you think we should get or share? Drop us a line at Em also writes about home cooking at, where you can find her guide to The Vegetarian Thanksgiving.

Capitol Hill Cooks | Kale Caesar salad inspired by 14th and Union

(Images: Em/CHS)

We residents of Capitol Hill are a varied bunch. You go to the Skillet Diner for the poutine? Your sister goes for the bacon jam? Me, I go for the kale salad.

If you are a kale doubter, this is the salad for you. If you are a kale maven, this is the salad for you. If you only eat salad for the creamy dressing, this right here is the salad for you.

Kale is an assertive green, true, but the Caesar-inspired dressing tames it remarkably here. The homemade croutons (I made mine from challah) add crunch and the bite of black pepper. The anchovies add depth of flavor and a bit of intrigue. As Josh Henderson says in his new Skillet Cookbook: A Street Food Manifesto (Sasquatch Books, 2012), this salad tastes both healthy and hearty at the same time. Does it get better than that?

(Images: Em/CHS)

To make your salad a full meal, you can follow Skillet’s lead and top it with a piece of grilled salmon or fried chicken. Or you can serve it alongside any sandwich, pizza, or soup. With its wintry hue, a Kale Caesar Salad would even look right at home on your Thanksgiving table (and wouldn’t THAT be a nice change?).

The Broadway Farmers Market is open clear until Christmas, so grab your greens this weekend.

Kale Caesar Salad
(c)2012 By Josh Henderson. All rights reserved. Excerpted from The Skillet Cookbook: A Street Food Manifesto by permission of Sasquatch Books.

My buddy Cormac Mahoney inspired this salad. He has a kale salad on the menu at his restaurant in Seattle, Madison Park Conservatory. He taught me that using raw kale is OK. Most kale recipes call for cooking it down into a mush, robbing it of its dense texture and strong, wholesome taste. Cormac freed me from that. I played around with a few dressings and discovered that kale and Caesar are a match made in heaven. Most other greens can’t stand up to the rich and creamy Caesar dressing, but the kale just shines through. In turn the dressing helps quiet the bitter kale taste, which can be too strong on its own. This salad tastes healthy and hearty at the same time. To top the salad, we like to use boquerónes, little Spanish anchovies that are packed in vinegar. You can find them in the deli section of well-stocked markets and specialty shops. If you can’t find them, plain anchovies work fine too.


4 cups day-old bread cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt


2 small cloves garlic, minced
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1⁄2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper


1 pound lacinato (aka dinosaur) kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves cut into long, thin ribbons (chiffonade)
8 boquerónes or plain anchovy fillets

1. To prepare the croutons, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with the olive oil, pepper, and salt until well coated. Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Allow them to cool and set aside.

2. To prepare the Caesar dressing, in a large bowl mash the garlic cloves into a paste with the salt. Add the anchovy paste, lemon zest and juice, mustard, Worcestershire, mayonnaise, parmesan, and pepper and combine.

3. To assemble the salad, toss the kale with 1 cup of the dressing. Divide the salad among 4 plates, piling it so it stands tall. Scatter croutons over the top and criss- cross 2 boquerónes in an X on the top of each plate.

Capitol Hill Cooks is a home cooking recipe series featuring ingredients, ideas, and recipes from the neighborhood. Have a recipe you think we should share? Drop us a line at Em also writes about home cooking at, and some of her other favorite kale salads include Grilled Kale Salad with Ricotta and Plums and Kale Salad with Apples, Currants, and Gorgonzola.

Capitol Hill Cooks | Bloody Mary popsicles, inspired by 14th and Union

(Images: Em)

Now that you can buy booze any old place on Capitol Hill, I finally got around to visiting Oola Distillery.  Airy and spacious, with a welcoming sales room and staff, the craft distillery produces spirits using Washington-sourced ingredients and attends to each step of the process “from grain to glass.”  Oola’s spirits have become fixtures behind the bar on Capitol Hill and beyond, and of course you can buy them by the bottle yourself to enjoy at home.

I left Oola with a warm fuzzy feeling, a bottle each of rosemary vodka, citrus vodka, and gin, and a recipe card.  (You can get one too if you stop in.)  I was going to make you “Gone Green” (2 oz. Oola citrus vodka + ½ oz. fresh lemon/lime juice + ½ oz. sugar or simple syrup + 1 oz. of your favorite seasonal herb, torn; shake, strain, and serve with the crushed herb).  I was going to make you “The Evergreen” (1 ½ oz. Oola rosemary vodka + ½ oz. fresh grapefruit juice + 1 oz. Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur; shake, strain, and serve with a sprig of rosemary).

But instead I made you these popsicles.

So, yeah.  You should probably be sipping Oola’s handcrafted gin alone or enjoying the vodka with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of simple syrup.  But when you get to the bottom of the bottle, go ahead and save the last few ounces for these popsicles.  Because it’s summer, and because they’re fun.  

(Need an easy kid-friendly alternative so they’ll leave you and your grown-up popsicles in peace?  Try these easy frozen yogurt pops.)

Bloody Mary popsicles
This recipe, based on one by Cara from Fork and Beans, is spicy with horseradish and ginger.  If you prefer a milder beveragesicle, you could use a classic Bloody Mary mix and/or leave out the ginger.

6 Tbsp. (3 oz.) Oola Citrus Vodka
1 ½ c. horseradish Bloody Mary mix
1-2 tsp. fresh ginger, finely minced or grated on a Microplane grater
6 thin lime rounds, plus 6 more for serving
6 celery sticks, trimmed 6 popsicle sticks (optional)
Margarita salt (optional)
6 glasses and spoons, for serving

Stir together vodka, Bloody Mary mix, and ginger.  Divide evenly between six popsicle molds.  Drop a lime wheel into each popsicle mold, and use a knife to press it up against the side of the popsicle mold (so you can see it well when the popsicle is frozen).  Freeze for 30 minutes.  

Remove the still-slushy popsicles from the freezer and place a celery stick*, trimmed so that it works as a handle*, into each.  Add a popsicle stick* as well, if using.* (Can you tell* that I want you to read the note* below?)

Return popsicles to the freezer for at least two hours.  Run under hot water to unmold and sprinkle an edge with salt, if you’re using it.  Because of the alcohol content, these popsicles will melt quickly, so do your friends a favor and serve them with a glass and spoon.  

*NOTE: Frozen celery sticks don’t make great popsicle handles, so if you plan to eat this as a right-side-up popsicle, you probably want to use popsicle sticks in addition to the celery.  On the other hand, you might just want to eat the first few bites as a popsicle and then plop the whole thing in a glass, since it will be melting quickly.  In that case, the celery stick will be perfectly adequate and you might as well omit the popsicle stick, which is less visually enchanting.  Good luck with this difficult decision.  

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Capitol Hill Cooks is a home cooking recipe series featuring ingredients, ideas, and recipes from the neighborhood. Have a recipe you think we should share? Drop us a line at Em also writes about home cooking at

Capitol Hill Cooks | Rainbow crispy marshmallow treats, inspired by Pride

It’s a weekend for rainbows, happiness, and Pride on Capitol Hill. Families of every stripe, and especially kids and the young at heart, will be tickled by these festive rainbow treats. And even those who can’t stomach the idea of frosted, marshmallow-coated Trix have to admit that they’re darn cute.

2012 Capitol Hill Pride

Rainbow cereal. Marshmallow goo. Frosting. Sprinkles. CakeSpy Jessie Oleson sure knows how to go all-out in the dessert department. This recipe, from her book CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life, is a multi-hued wonder, with enough sugar to keep you dancing all day long. You can also prepare this treat as a tribute to the soon-to-close CakeSpy Shop.

There are no complicated cooking techniques here. Just make a pan of crispy cereal treats, sandwich them with a slather of rich frosting, and roll the edges in rainbow sprinkles. Feed them to the ones you love. As Jessie herself says, “If you are what you eat, then eaters of these treats are colorful, rich, and absolutely fabulous.”

Rainbow Crispy Marshmallow Treats
adapted from Jessie Oleson’s CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life

3 Tb. butter
4 c. miniature marshmallows
6 c. rainbow-colored cereal, such as Trix
2 c. Vanilla Buttercream frosting (recipe below)
Rainbow sprinkles

Butter a 9×13” pan. Melt butter over low heat in a wide pot, then add marshmallows and stir until melted. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the cereal until completely coated. Press the cereal mixture firmly and evenly into the buttered pan using buttered waxed paper or slightly damp, clean hands. Set aside to cool completely, then cut into squares.

You could stop there, of course, but why? Use a sharp knife to slice each square in half horizontally. Spread the bottom half with frosting and replace the top half to form a sandwich. Pour rainbow sprinkles onto a plate and dip the exposed frosting edges for the full double rainbow experience.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 stick softened butter
3-4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tb. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a stand mixer or bowl, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add 2 c. powdered sugar and mix on low speed until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add cream and vanilla. Continue to beat on medium speed, adding additional powdered sugar a little at a time until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.


Capitol Hill Cooks is a home cooking recipe series featuring ingredients, ideas, and recipes from the neighborhood. Have a recipe you think we should share? Drop us a line at Em also writes about home cooking at

Capitol Hill Cooks | Salted caramel ice cream inspired by 10th/Pine (+made with fork, pan)

I always thought that you needed an ice cream maker to make ice cream. Not so! I’m not saying this recipe is a completely casual undertaking, given the daredevil feat of making a dark amber caramel. But once that’s done, all you need are a pan and a fork and a bit of freezer space to produce a perfectly creamy scoop of Molly Moon’s salted caramel ice cream at home.

(Images: Em)

I remember a time, not so long ago, when it was more difficult to stumble across an ice cream shop on Capitol Hill. Hard to believe, maybe, now that they seem to be on every corner, but it’s true. I imagine that all of you began making your own ice cream at home in those dark days, as did I, and I see no reason to stop just because we now have so many excellent ice cream purveyors in the neighborhood. As everyone knows, there’s no such thing as too much ice cream.

Luckily, just in time for summer, the new Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream cookbook makes this salted caramel recipe, and many others, available to home cooks on Capitol Hill and beyond. The book has all the classic and quirky flavors you’ve come to expect of Molly Moon’s. Scout mint? Check. Baby beet sorbet? Indeed.  Honey lavender?  Oh, yes.

But salted caramel is the shop’s iconic flavor, far and away the most popular. And after making a batch of it this week, I was reminded of why it’s such an enduring favorite. (Not YOUR favorite yet? A perk of making it at home is that you can control the darkness of the caramel and the amount of salt. I highly recommend following the recipe as written, but nobody will know if you want to dial it down a bit in the privacy of your own home.) So whether you have a fancy ice cream maker or just a fork, this recipe is for you. Salted caramel ice cream for the masses.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Adapted from Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream (makes 1 to 1 ½ qts.)

1/8 tsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ c. sugar
1 Tb. butter
3 c. heavy cream
1 c. whole milk
1 Tb. kosher salt

Have your ingredients measured and beside the stove before you start making your caramel (except for the salt, which you add later). Put the lemon juice in a light-colored, heavy-bottomed pot and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the sugar ¼ c. at a time, stirring each addition with a wooden spoon until it dissolves completely into liquid. (Some of the sugar may crystalize on the side of your pot, just ignore it.) When all the sugar is added and dissolved, continue to cook, watching like a hawk and stirring occasionally for about 4-6 minutes. During this time, the sugar will caramelize and the color will change from a light golden to a dark amber hue (it may also begin to smoke a bit). Use your eyes, nose, and good sense to decide when you have achieved a dark-but-not-burnt caramel, and immediately lower the heat to medium-low as you trade your wooden spoon for a whisk and whisk in the butter.

When the butter has melted, begin to add the cream and milk verrrry sloooowly. Seriously, slowly. The caramel will steam and bubble and some hard little caramel lumps may form. No worries, keep whisking, be patient, let them dissolve. When the mixture is smooth, remove it from the heat. Pour it into a shallow pan and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least an hour.

Remove the cold creamy pan of deliciousness from the refrigerator and whisk in 1 Tb. (yes, 1 Tb.) kosher salt. Process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions (I churned mine longer than a usual batch, about 35 minutes, because the salt makes this ice cream so soft). Or if you don’t have an ice cream maker (or if it’s busy churning another flavor already), leave the mixture in the pan and transfer the pan to the freezer. If you’re going the no-ice-cream maker route, stir the mixture thoroughly with a fork every half hour or so until the entire pan of ice cream is a uniform texture (at first it will freeze around the edges, then you will stir it up, then it will freeze around the edges again, etc.).

When your ice cream is ready (it will still be quite soft), transfer it to a sealed freezer container and freeze at least four hours before serving. This ice cream never freezes very hard because of the salt content, so plan to serve and eat it quickly!

Note 1: I thought that the saltiness of this ice cream was perfect. If you find the finished product too salty-tasting, however, serve it over a rich brownie or under a blanket of hot fudge. Now it’s perfect, right?

Note 2: This magic no-ice-cream-maker method works better with this recipe than with others I’ve tried it with. Just a heads up in case you plan to use this method with other recipes: it always works, but usually the texture of ice cream made with the fork-and-pan system is icier/grainer than ice cream made with an ice cream maker. With this recipe, however, the results were indistinguishable.

Capitol Hill Cooks is a home cooking recipe series featuring ingredients, ideas, and recipes from the neighborhood. Have a recipe you think we should share? Drop us a line at Em also writes about home cooking at

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Capitol Hill Cooks | Arugula pesto, inspired by the Broadway Farmers Market

The Broadway Farmers Market swung back into action last week, offering a bounty of spring produce to rescue Capitol Hill from winter’s scurvy and a good excuse to linger in the sunshine. Below, you’ll find a fresh and easy recipe to help celebrate the market’s return. 

Green and delicious (Image: Em for CHS)

Among my purchases at the 2012 market debut, I picked up an armload of veggies from Local Roots Farm, which is local indeed to Capitol Hill.  Siri and Jason, the friendly farmers at the stand, are a Capitol Hill couple who farm on ten acres in Carnation, WA.  In 2007, a Seattle Times article reported that the farm’s first 1,200 tomatoes were started in the closets of an apartment right here on Capitol Hill.  

Although the couple is now in the process of relocating to their farm full-time, they’ll be back in the neighborhood for the Broadway Farmers Market on Sundays.

In keeping with the apparent trend toward tech-savvy, social-networked local farming, Local Roots Farm maintains a blog about their farming adventures. The page featuring seasonal recipes will be of special interest to home cooks, and I can highly recommend their arugula pesto to top just about anything else you pick up at the market.

Its bright green flavor tastes like springtime swirled into scrambled eggs or pasta, and it would be equally at home alongside a roasted piece of fish or atop a big sauté of market greens, baby turnips, and radishes — you’ll find that recipe on the Local Roots site as well.

Arugula Pesto
from the Local Roots Farm website
2 packed cups arugula
1/2 cup walnuts or other nuts
1/2 grated parmesan cheese
1/2 good olive oil
1-3 cloves garlic, peeled
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until uniformly combined.

Capitol Hill Cooks is a home cooking recipe series featuring ingredients, ideas, and recipes from the neighborhood. Have a recipe you think we should share? Drop us a line at

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Capitol Hill Cooks | Phad Pak, inspired by 15th and Madison

(Images: Em)

The scents and spices of Thailand are unmistakable.  Pungent garlic, hand-pounded curry pastes, and clouds of wafting chili heat that leave you coughing in amazement and delight.  For me, those smells conjure the bustle of a busy market, the excitement of a foreign place, and the prospect of a great meal.

The tale of this month’s recipe begins in an exotic land far away: Columbia City. That’s where I first got hooked on the clean, spicy, true-Thai flavors of Little Uncle’s food, at the weekly farmers market stand known then as Shophouse. Those Wednesday night Thai picnics soon led us back home to Capitol Hill for Monday night pop-up delights, first at Licorous and later at La Bête.  

Along the way, Little Uncle picked up a host of well-deserved accolades: Best Pop-Up Restaurant of 2011 (Seattle Magazine), 20 Hottest New Restaurants in the U.S. (Restaurant Management), and the apt “It may be ‘little,’ but in the all the ways that count for food-lovers, this is something big” (All You Can Eat, Seattle Times).

Lucky for us, Little Uncle has finally settled into a permanent hole in the wall (now with sidewalk seating!) right here on Capitol Hill at 15th and Madison.  Starting this week, their hours are expanding to 11a to 8p Tuesday through Saturday.  Which means that, while the Hill boasts plenty of Thai options, if you’re jonesing for Little Uncle’s food, there are still two days of the week on which you will have to make it at home.

Fortunately, unlike the homemade curry pastes that lend such complex flavor to some of Little Uncle’s food, this dish is easy.  And the husband-wife duo behind Little Uncle, Wiley Frank (formerly of Lark) and Poncharee Kounpungchart (you can call her “PK”), have graciously shared their recipe with CHS readers.

My home recipe-testing revealed a few things that you might like to know.  First, the nice folks at Mekong Rainier are very helpful if you’re trying to locate the ingredients for this recipe.  And mangosteens are coming into season, which is another good reason to head down there; you’ll be wanting a bag for dessert.  They’re mighty expensive, but worth it.

Second, about those little Thai chilies.  I made this dish twice to explore the spice level.  Four chilies, as the recipe recommends, made the dish perfectly, enjoyably spicy.  Eight made me cry a little bit.  You’ll have to find your own middle ground.

Finally, you can make this vegetable dish a meal by increasing the quantity of greens and adding diced chicken or tofu. No need to increase the other ingredients; this recipe made plenty of sauce to flavor a hefty bunch of curly kale (it sops up that sauce quite nicely) and block of tofu, which made an ample dinner for two over jasmine rice.  After stir-frying the garlic and chilies, just add your protein of choice to the pan with the sauce to give it a few minutes’ head start before adding your greens, then add a few spoonfuls of water to keep the pan from drying out while everything cooks.  

Phad Pak
Recipe courtesy of Little Uncle
1 big handful of greens and/or vegetables cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons yellow bean sauce
1 tablespoon Thai light soy sauce
4-? Thai chilies, up to you
4 cloves garlic
a few spoonfuls water, if needed
optional:  tofu or chicken

In a mortar and pestle, smash the garlic and chili into a rough paste (alternatively, you can chop it with a knife, but the flavor will be slightly different).  Mix the yellow bean sauce and Thai soy sauce together in a small bowl.  In a wok or sauté pan, fry the garlic and chili in oil over medium heat until you are coughing up a storm from the chilies. Add the sauce and optional chicken or tofu and cook for a few minutes, until the chicken/tofu begins to brown.  Raise the burner temperature to high, add your greens or veggies, and mix everything together. At this point, you may need to add a few spoonfuls water in order to cook whatever veggie or green you have in the pan. If so, add a bit of water and stir-fry until greens or veggies are crisp-tender.  Serve with rice.

Capitol Hill Cooks is a home cooking recipe series featuring ingredients, ideas, and recipes from the neighborhood. Have a recipe you think we should share? Drop us a line at

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Capitol Hill Cooks | Not-Guinness beer bread, inspired by 13th and Pike

(Images: Em for CHS)

I’m just going to say it: on St. Patrick’s Day, I’m really only celebrating the opportunity to drink beer.  And eat beer cupcakes.  And bake beer bread.  I can’t speak for the cupcakes, but the beer bread is simple to make at home.  And it really deserves to be a year-round favorite, since it lets you put a crusty loaf of homemade bread on the table in under an hour.

In its most basic form, a loaf of beer bread can be made with three ingredients: 3 cups of self-rising flour, a few tablespoons of sugar, and 12 oz. of beer.  And if you’re lazy you can mix it up in the pan you’re going to bake it in — no dishes!

 If you don’t have self-rising flour it’s only slightly more complicated; you have to add baking powder and salt to the flour yourself.  Buttering your pan or the top of your bread isn’t necessary, but it will add a little buttery crunch to your bread’s crust.

You can make beer bread with any beer, but keep in mind that the flavor of the beer will influence the flavor of the finished loaf.  A stout beer is a good choice, with its roasty flavors and slight sweetness.  I used the Elysian Brewing Company’s Dragonstooth Stout.  And just to be sure — for you, readers! — I also baked a loaf with their Immortal IPA.  Both were delicious toasted and drenched in butter and honey.

But why stop there?  The recipe below offers two variations: a savory bread with sharp cheddar and dill and a sweet one with vanilla and chocolate chips (hey, it’s no crazier than those cupcakes — in fact, it’s pretty great).  You can vary the flavors infinitely by adding other ingredients: rosemary, chives, parsley, onion, garlic, and black pepper would all be great, as would grated hard cheeses or orange zest with a little extra sweetener added.

Take it easy on the bread if you think it’s going to sop up all that green beer you drank, though.  Contrary to popular belief, the USDA says that alcohol doesn’t evaporate entirely when cooked or baked.

Beer Bread
3 c. flour
¼ c. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
12 oz. (that’s 1 ½ c.) beer

Optional: more butter, or additional flavoring ingredients (see below)

Preheat oven to 375⁰ and butter a bread pan.  Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add beer and mix to combine.  Scoop dough into buttered pan and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on rack.

Optional: pour ¼ c. melted butter on top of dough before baking bread (this will make the edges of the bread a little crispy rather than just crusty).  Or you can rub a few tablespoons of butter on top of the bread just after removing it from the oven.

Cheddar-Dill Beer Bread: Follow recipe above, adding 2 tsp. dried dill and 1 c. finely diced or shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the dry ingredients.

Chocolate-Stout Beer Bread: Follow recipe above, using a stout beer.  Add ½ tsp. vanilla along with the beer, and stir in ½ c. chocolate chips as you mix the dough.

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Capitol Hill Cooks | DIY Conversation Hearts, inspired by East Pine below Summit

(Images: Em for CHS)

Love it or hate it, it’s coming soon.  Think it’s romantic?  Disgusting?  Sweet?  Ridiculous?  No matter, it’s inevitable. A conversation heart will surely cross your path in the coming days.

Purely as a form of research, I rifled through a box of Sweethearts that made its way into the house recently.  The messages read:  Race me.  Hey.  Boogie.  Baby Doll.  Crazy 4U.  At least “text me” has replaced “fax me” in recent years.  

You know you’ve thought it before:  You could do better.  And now’s your chance.  Want to tell that special someone how you really feel? Personalize your message! This Valentine’s Day, some Capitol Hill couples might be thinking “Marry Me.” Or what sweeter way is there to tell someone “I think we should just be friends”?

CakeSpy to the rescue!  In CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life, Capitol Hill-based Head Spy Jessie Oleson walks us through the process of making conversation hearts at home.  Which sounds absurd, I grant you, but now that I’ve done it I can tell you that it was actually pretty easy.  If you’ve got some time and a few pounds of powdered sugar burning a hole in your pocket, this is the project for you.

If spending two hours in the kitchen really isn’t your cup of tea, though, you still have a chance to get your personalized Valentines messages across.  This recipe made about a zillion hearts.  Which exceeds my family’s needs. So we’re going to give one lucky reader a box of candy hearts and a food-safe writing pen so you can tell the world…well, whatever it is you’d like to say this Valentines Day.

Disclaimer:  This is a home cooking column.  These hearts were made in my home kitchen.  I don’t even know commercial food safety requirements, let alone follow them.  And I let my three-year-old help me. 

If you still want to be entered to win, leave a comment below with your favorite (existing or new) conversation heart motto. The winner will be chosen at random and notified at noon on Monday.  Winnings can be collected at a to-be-disclosed Capitol Hill pick-up location just in time for Valentine’s.

Homemade Conversation Hearts
adapted from Jessie Oleson’s CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life

NOTE:  If you’re going to make these, you should probably start today.  They need to dry for 24 hours before you can write on them.


  • ¼ oz. (2 tsp.) unflavored powdered gelatin
  • ½ c. water
  • 2 tsp. light corn syrup
  • 2 lbs. powdered sugar, plus more for kneading (I used almost 2 ½ lbs. total)
  • Assorted food colors
  • Assorted flavoring extracts (I used almond extract)
  • Food coloring pens, such as Gourmet Writer

Combine water, corn syrup and gelatin in a small microwave-safe bowl.  Whisk well, microwave for 30 seconds, then whisk well again to be sure the gelatin has dissolved.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl, if you are using a hand-held mixer) and add 1 c. powdered sugar.  With the mixer on low speed, mix until smooth.  Add more powdered sugar, slowly incorporating 2 lbs. of powdered sugar, scraping the bowl down occasionally as you work.  

Generously dust a counter or cutting board with additional powdered sugar, then turn your sticky dough out onto your work surface.  Pat more powdered sugar on top of the sticky candy ball.  Knead the candy like bread dough, adding more powdered sugar as you go, until the dough is satiny rather than sticky.

Divide the dough into as many colors as you want to make.  Starting at this point in the recipe, I found it helpful to keep the dough that I was not working with in a plastic bag to keep it from drying out.  Flatten one ball to a 1” thick disc and knead in a few drops each of food coloring and flavoring until evenly dispersed.  This step is messy–I lined my counter with parchment paper to avoid staining it.  CakeSpy recommends plastic gloves as well.  I also added more powdered sugar (just enough to keep the dough from getting sticky) as I worked in the liquid color and flavor.  Repeat this process with the remaining colors/flavors.

Roll the dough out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.  Use heart -shaped cutters (I used a tiny fondant cutter and a small cookie cutter) to make tiny or not-so-tiny hearts.  Smaller = more realistic. Bigger = easier to write on.  Pinch the scraps back together and re-roll.  The original recipe said it would make 100 hearts, but I got more than 500 in varying sizes.  Let the hearts air-dry on parchment paper for 24 hours, then use food coloring markers to add your Valentines Day messages.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Previous Capitol Hill Cooks Posts

Capitol Hill Cooks is a home cooking recipe series featuring ingredients, ideas, and recipes from the neighborhood.