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Sweets & Bitters
Hannah is the founder and editor of Sweets & Bitters, a blog and series of printed mini-cookbooks offering a beautiful and practical vision of everyday pleasure. Each volume features fun recipes with helpful tips, and sets the scene with photo essays.
Hannah grew up on a small farm in Washington State, and continued to study food by working her way through a number of varied food roles: from harvesting herbs on an organic farm to developing recipes for publications. She is happiest when her creative and culinary interests overlap.
On A Dish that is Special to Her:
Since I’m just back from my time in Japan, I’m thinking about Japanese food a lot. I had a little apartment there, and I would cook every day. I would go shop. There was a produce market and a butcher right next to my apartment on my street. It was so fun to go each day and get fresh things from them, and try and cook.
But I didn’t get to learn recipes as much as I wanted to. I’d imagined that I would be cooking with grandmas and getting behind the scenes in restaurants. And it took two months just to get to the point where I had those relationships. So maybe next time I go back, I’ll get to do that. But mostly, I was just cooking classic Japanese comfort dishes, or things that I already knew. I definitely had to shift the way that I cooked to suit the type of kitchen ingredients I had there.
One of my favorite things to cook for myself is Oyakodon, which is the rice bowl with chicken and egg. It roughly translates to mother and child bowl, which I just think is delightful.
First of all, let me just describe the whole dish for anybody that doesn’t know. It’s chicken thigh, usually, like the dark meat of chicken, and egg, and some negi, which is the Japanese green onion. It’s like a scallion, in between a scallion and a leek. It’s thicker than a scallion and a little sweeter. But you can easily use scallion too. So you’ve got the chicken, the egg, the negi, and sort of a sweet sauce, with sake, mirin, soy sauce, and dashi, the Japanese kelp and fish stock. And it’s over rice, so it’s just sweet and salty and savory, and it’s over rice. And it’s really easy and fast to make.
I would just crisp the skin of the chicken first, under the broiler, because that was my little change to it, because I love crisp chicken skin. And then, meanwhile make the sauce — dashi, mirin, soy sauce, and sake, and just get the balance of the sauce to taste right. And really, it can be to taste, a little sugar in there too. Then, add the chicken to that, cut it up into little bite-sized pieces, because you’re going to eat it with chopsticks, and then put that in the sauce. And then when it’s almost done, add the negi or a scallion. Then you beat a couple of eggs with a little bit more dashi, and just pour that into the pan, and let it almost cook, and just slide the whole thing onto a big bowl of rice.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
I actually don’t watch any, I don’t have television.
What are some food blogs or food websites we have to know about?
As far as blogs, I really love David Lebovitz, he mostly writes about baking, and cooking in his little kitchen in Paris. And he’s so funny, and witty, and his recipes are really, really reliable. Also, the New York Times cooking site I use a lot. I really love the recipes form the New York Times.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook or Snapchat that make you happy?
Instagram is the only one that I really use. And farm animals, flowers, and food are the only things I want to feed my feed. Saipua, I don’t know if I’m saying their name right either, but it’s a florist from Brooklyn, and they actually moved upstate, and have a farm. I really love following them.
What is the most unusual or treasured item in your kitchen?
Just back from Japan, I actually purchased an iron nabe, big cooking pot, which made my luggage really heavy. But it’s hand hammered iron with a cedar lid, and it makes the kitchen smell like Japan every time I cook in it.
Name one ingredient you used to dislike but now you love.
I think I still dislike all the things I’ve always disliked. There’s only a few. I don’t like peanut butter.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
I really like the classics like, Joy of Cooking and Fannie Farmer. I like, How to Cook Everything. And then again, David Lebovitz, and Dorie Greenspan for baking, they’re two of my favorites.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
There are some funny old jazz song like, Everybody Eats When They Come to my House.
On Keeping Posted with Hannah:
Mostly I use Instagram, though I’m on Twitter and Facebook.