My most recent international travel took me to Thailand, where I had my sights set on cooking and eating everything and anything I could get my hands on.
Thai food has long been my favorite cuisine ever since I first tasted Thai food as a little girl. I was fortunate growing up in a military town because people from all over the world were stationed there, and when I was in the third grade a Thai family opened Bahn Thai. Our Thai class is named in honor of that restaurant and for making me fall in love with a food that would take me halfway across the world.
I spent three magical weeks in Thailand making friends with people from all over the world as I traveled as far north as the Golden Triangle and as far south as Koh Ngai experiencing the drastic differences of each. I ate my weight in “street food,” cooked many amazing meals with locals as my guides, and actually came up with the name “The Cookery” while cooking with a Thai family one evening.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity and means to experience first-hand the role food plays in Thai culture and I look forward to sharing my stories and dishes with you!
I hope you and your loved ones enjoy these sweet and spicy caramelized pecans as much as my family, and remember that this recipe is great with all nuts! Also, feel free to experiment with your own variation of spices and herbs, and don't forget to send me an email update with your unique and delicious outcomes! Cheers!
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add your nuts of choice. Stir or pan flip to coat the nuts in melted butter and add the brown sugar. Stir the nuts again to make sure they are evenly coated in sugar and leave the pan untouched over the heat until you start to see white wisps of smoke, about one minute. Then stir or pan flip until all of the smoke is gone. Place the pan back on the heat and repeat as many times as needed until all of the sugar is melted and the nuts are a beautiful toasty golden brown.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the cinnamon, cayenne pepper, rosemary, and salt. Stir the mixture until evenly coated and then spread out on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper to cool.
Once cooled, these nuts can be stored in an airtight container, like a ziplock bag, in your freezer for months.
1 pound raw pecan halves or other nuts
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary (optional)
4-5 Tablespoons of brown sugar
A generous pinch of your favorite salt
What do I miss most about Los Angeles…my great friends, of course.
When I made the decision earlier this year to quit my job, move from a city I had lived in for the last 13 years and head to Dallas, I also decided to sell most of my belongings. Don't worry, I’m not crazy, I held on to my beautiful Le Creusets, mixers, and knives, but I was determined to only bring with me what would fit in my little Toyota Yaris.
It never ceases to amazing me how much stuff/crap I can accumulate over the years, and I never would have been able to sell/donate everything without the help of my friends. Not only that, I got truly lucky when my best friends and fellow cooking instructor Tory mentioned that she had a few days off and would love to make the drive to Dallas with me.
She is a better friend than I am. I am terrible in the car and would never willingly volunteer for 1,443 mile road trip. I am pretty sure that I would still be driving to Dallas if she hadn’t come with me.
Little did I know then, but we had the best time! It was the first road trip I had done without my parents, and no offense Mom and Dad, but it was a lot more fun. (I’m going to pay for this later.) We stopped at the Grand Canyon, ran out of gas in the desert (my fault), ate hatch chillies in New Mexico, got stuck on the highway behind a tractor trailer fire for three and half hours in 110 degree heat, and drove through one of the biggest storms of my life. Welcome to Texas where it’s blue skies one minute and sheets of rain the next.
Okay, so maybe this was more of a Chevy Chase Vacation type road trip, but I am so grateful that I got to have this adventure with my best friend on my path to opening The Cookery Dallas. Hope you enjoy this quick video of our trip, and while we didn’t laugh about everything at the time, we sure do now.`
How did I get here?
A lot has changed since I shot that video on May 21st, my birthday. I did quit my job, I did move to Dallas, and I am in the process of building out and opening my very first cooking school. I have learned more and worked harder than I ever could have imagined since that lovely birthday brunch with friends, where over too many mimosas I made that promise to myself and Instagram.
I arrived in Dallas the first weekend in July and naively thought I would have The Cookery open by mid September at the latest. I mean I’m a chef, I’ve managed and taught at one of the top 25 cooking schools in America for the last few years. How hard could it be? HARD.
I underestimated the city that I have now fallen in love with. Dallas is extremely popular and growing at a rapid rate. I joke that I have met more people that grew up in Dallas in Los Angles than I have met here, but then again, I moved here.
People I’ve met ask me why Dallas…and the truthful answer is LOVE. I know it sounds unbelievable corny, but it’s true!
One evening after teaching an Indian cooking class, I mention that because I reeked of garlic and onions, my engaged friends invited me out to a bar for a quick drink, where little did I know they were a bunch of scheming matchmakers. Unbeknownst to me, the grooms buddy and best man was in town visiting from Dallas…
A regular old Cinderella story. Girl meets boy in bar, boy jokes that she smells like old socks, and they fall in love. Romance.
All jokes aside my boyfriend and now roommate Taylor is an amazing guy. He is a Marine Veteran, worked for the Texas State Senate, and now is in his final year of grad school at SMU. How could a girl resist, plus he loves my Tikka Masala.
I’m proud to say that The Cookery now has a home in the Dallas Design District and I am busily learning more about construction than I ever thought possible. I can’t wait for the dust to settle and share my passion and great meals with you!
Oh, and PS I did play Don Draper’s mom on the show “Mad Men,” but more about that later.
Until next time,