Regular readers may know that I once worked at Sunset magazine as a (well, really the) food writer. From 2005-2008 (and then as a contributing editor in 2008-2009).
For those of you not on the West Coast, Sunset is the magazine of Western living. It was started in 1896 by the Pacific Railroad Company to show people how delightful and family-friendly the West was. I would say that central mission remains fairly in-tact.
Recipes at Sunset go through an extremely rigorous testing process that involves the entire department tasting things, then dishes being cooked at least twice by home cooks who come in to see what readers at home might do, tasting everything again. The most direct scenario is that a recipe is cooked three times (once by the writer and it is so perfect it goes right to testing; two test runs that are so smooth it didn’t need any more runs) and many were cooked and tasted and tweaked many, many more times than that.
I’m proud of the work I did at Sunset and pleased that recipes now have such a long life on these interwebs. The tiniest fumble on this, however, is that when recipes get posted to the Sunset website the byline is taken off. This is completely legal and within their right to do – no sour grapes here, seriously – but it makes it impossible for people who liked a certain recipe of mine to find more recipes by me. A friend and former colleague recently emailed saying she was having trouble finding a crab recipe I’d done when we worked at Sunset together. I thought if she couldn’t isolate it, others were really going to have a hard time. So here, in all their humble glory, are links to my favorite recipes from my Sunset tenure, with notes as I see fit. (Editors looking for clips would be better served to see PDFs of selected work on my website.)
Once I get them all up I may organize them in some useful fashion, but for now we have a group of drinks and the rest (so far through 2006) are in chronological order:
Drinks and Cocktails
Cranberry Mint Infusions – this is the first recipe I developed on-staff at Sunset!
Pisco Sour - part of a story about a Peruvian restaurant in Portland, these are seriously delicious
Hot Mojito – developed as a drink to sip out on the deck at a West Coast Christmas
Pear Sidecar – can you say “pear feature needs a beverage”? super yummy
Marmalade sours – the best of what follows, which is a group of cocktails I did for a “bonus” piece for loyal subscribers called “Cocktails and companions” that was beyond fun to develop and write
The rest, for now chronological as published
Spanish Cheese – the second story I wrote on staff, not a recipe but a good party-planning number
Crab and Hominy Chowder – a thin-style chowder (one reader called in when it ran incensed about how thin it was) that answers the West Coast question, how can I get my summer corn and winter crab together?
Halibut and Sweet Potato Chowder – half an hour to deliciousness, ‘nuf said
Grilled Artichokes – the green olive dip at the end of the recipe is especially worth making
Sautéed Baby Artichokes – the mint makes them extra yummy
Poached Shrimp and Butter Lettuce Salad with Lemon-Orange Vinaigrette – this recipe almost killed me. It was from a lovely chef, Malachi Harland, but the testing for it went on forever for reasons I can’t remember but I think had to do with the recipe mix of the whole issue or something. One day a tester used orange oil (like for making candy) instead of orange-infused olive oil when she made the dressing. It took my taste buds (really my whole system) hours to recover. The final salad, I should note, is very spring-y and delicious.
Blue Corn Waffles with Lavender Cream – so lady like!
Chickpea Octopus Bruschetta – These bruschetta recipes were from Jennifer McIlvaine’s bruschetta stand in Seattle. Getting the octopus one into the magazine was a point of particular pride, I must admit.
Grilled leg of lamb with yogurt mint sauce – We had to re-do this recipe and call for rolling and tying the boned leg of lamb because that’s how the food stylist cooked it for the photo shoot. As the headnote ended up reading “we like it untied too” – WAY better untied and cooked flat so more of the surface gets charred. Way better.
Spicy beef noodles – This one was cut from my Peruivan story and then we ran it as a quick weeknight dish, renaming it from the original “tallarin saltado”
Garlicky sautéed mushrooms – these mushrooms cooked over high heat with plenty of garlic were the jumping off point for a mushroom feature I did for the October 2006 issue
Garlic-stuffed mushrooms – a super easy go-to appetizers (if you have one make sure whoever you may be kissing later eats one too)
Leek chanterelle tart -this is such a winner that a Sunset staffer who made it took a picture to bring to me, it hung at my desk the rest of my tenure there
Cardamom rolls – I make these every Christmas
Salbutes – turkey tostadas inspired by a trip to Merida
Cracked crab with herbed avocado sauce – I came up with this when the photo editor explained that the saffron aioli looked too much like the hollandaise on the eggs benedict
Spicy crab with garlic noodles – a lot like those at PPQ and other places in San Francisco
Candy cane cake – a favorite with the art department (and readers), after going through the editing process the headnote to this recipe had me quoting myself (no first person in Sunset)