Aug 24, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Sauces

This week at #havenskitchencookbook Summer School is all about sauces. Our Culinary Manager Zoe Maya Jones preaches about how sauce can be one of the most important weapons you can have in your cooking arsenal. 


If you could only learn one lesson from our cookbook Alison would argue it’s sauces. She preaches that sauces elevate and enrich even the simplest dishes. Sauces teach us about balance, and are an accessible way to enhance your culinary prowess as a whole. 


In this week’s lesson, we cover a wide range of cuisines, flavor profiles, and textures by exploring three sauces. We have a bold nuoc cham (in The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School we have a version called Fish Sauce Vinaigrette), a creamy crunchy pesto, and a full-bodied, versatile curry. All of this week’s recipes are made with a mortar and pestle, the world’s original food processor. (Evidence suggests it has been used for cooking since 1500BC.)


nuoc-cham_mise_700Our mise en place for a nuoc cham, also called a fish sauce vinaigrette in our cookbook.


Nuoc cham, a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce consisting of lime juice, fish sauce, bird’s eye chilies, and sugar, is more versatile than one might assume. In our classes, we teach students to use it as a marinade for pork or chicken skewers, a dressing for a noodle salad or cabbage slaw, and a dipping sauce for summer rolls. The play of salty funk from the fish sauce, acidic lime, spicy chilies and sugar is a great way to practice the art of balancing bold flavors. We add lemongrass and garlic for an extra punch of aromatics.


nuoc-cham_mortar_700Using a mortar and pestle to make a sauce helps marry the aromatics and spices to create a fragrant and punchier sauce.


Pounding the ingredients in the mortar and pestle enhances the flavors of the chilies, garlic, and lemongrass by releasing the aromatic oils and integrating it into a unified paste, and infuses the fish sauce and lime juice. Some prefer the sauce to be sweet, others might love it with more fish sauce, or an extra chili for a seriously spicy version, so taste it and find the balance that’s right for your palate.


A good way to get your frustration out and make something worthwhile at the same time.

Pesto, whose name originates from the word “pestle,” is a go-to sauce for many home cooks, and can be made with a myriad of ingredients. Our version in this lesson relies on the classic version: basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan. Our grid below shows alternatives for herbs, nuts or seeds, and some added ingredients that spruce up the original. While some might think pesto is a pasta sauce, its uses are diverse: consider it as a spread for a caprese sandwich, a garnish for roasted salmon, or when diluted with lemon juice and olive oil it can be used as vinaigrette. 


Pesto Grid
This is a general guideline for pesto. Use about 2 cups of the base with 1/4 cup of the nuts or seeds, and you can use from a 1/4 cup of olive oil and use more depending on how loose you want the recipe. For the counterpoints, you want at least a 1/4 cup of Parmesan or nutritional yeast, add more if you need after you taste. For lemon zest or chili flakes, start with one teaspoon, and add more if you desire. You probably will want to add a good pinch of salt for balance.






Pine Nuts 




Lemon Zest


Sunflower Seeds

Chili Flakes



Nutritional Yeast

Curry is more often considered a powder or paste. However, I've included it here since at it serves as the base for many sauces. A homemade curry powder is more fragrant than any pre-made mix, and is an important lesson in creating balance through spices and aromatics. Curry, a Tamil word meaning sauce, can describe an array of mixtures depending on which part of the world you find yourself in. Our version uses whole spices which, when toasted and ground by hand, fill your kitchen with a delightfully potent aroma. I use this powder as a base for soups, a seasoning mix for popcorn, and blended with some peanut butter and coconut milk for a flavorful dipping sauce.


Did you know curries are a blend of spices, and each one tells us a history about travel, trade, and the economy?


As you become more familiar with the sauces and flavor combinations that please your palate, we believe you’ll find more confidence in the kitchen and, as Alison so aptly states, discover the “culinary wizard inside of you.”


Madras Curry Powder
makes 1 cup

2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

10 to 15 whole green cardamom pods

1 teaspoon whole black pepper

5 to 6 long, mild Kashmiri chilies, dried

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons ground turmeric

Toast the first 6 spices, one at a time, in a medium hot, heavy pan until fragrant. This can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute per spice. (they should become fragrant, but not smoky). Place each in the same bowl and let them cool completely. Place the toasted spices, and ground cinnamon and turmeric in a the bowl of a mortar and pestle, and pound it into a powder. If you don't have a mortar, use a spice grinder or powerful blender to grind it. To store, place it in an airtight tin in a cool, dark place. It should keep for at least 6 months, though the fresher the better.



Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.

Aug 10, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Protein

Going into our seventh week in #havenskitchencookbook Summer School, we’ve got protein on our mind. This week, Karen Nicoletti encourages you to shed your fears of buying and roasting a whole chicken.




We all know that feeling — it’s Monday on the commute home from work, and that end-of-day relief is just washing over us when the thought hits: what’s the plan for dinner? Often I find myself hovering over the refrigerator case in my grocery store, debating how much chicken to buy. I’m cooking for myself, or maybe two to three people, and anxiety about food going to waste guides my hand towards small packs of pre-cut chicken. Two days later, I’m back at the store staring at the same old cuts of meat and asking myself the same questions.


Roasting an entire chicken can seem intimidating, maybe even excessive — how can we make use of the whole thing without the unfamiliar parts going to waste? With a good plan of attack, you can make three meals from one roasted chicken, using each part for a different dish.


In The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School, our Fish, Fowl & Meat chapter discusses how understanding the fundamentals of heat will make it easier to have confidence when preparing protein. Ali shares that many of her students have told her they're intimidated to cook meat and often feel that they don’t have control over the results of their labors. She outlines the types of dry and moist heat most commonly used in preparing meats, and illustrates them with various recipes and preparations.



Pho sure. This chicken soup is going to make you happier than a movie theater when it's 99°F outside. 

Focusing in on roasting as a dry heat method, we recommend a few steps to prepare your whole chicken. Removing the wishbone before roasting makes it easier to carve more meat once the chicken is finished, and removing the excess fat and skin prevents the chicken from getting smoky in the oven. Trussing a chicken lays the legs over the narrower parts of the breast, ensuring that the whole chicken will cook evenly. Tempering the meat (pulling it out of the fridge and letting it sit for 30 minutes) is an important step in ensuring evenly cooked meat. Don’t be afraid of heat, either. Many people often have problems with roasting because they aren’t using a high enough heat to caramelize and brown their meat and vegetables. A high oven temperature will guarantee crispy skin and chicken that’s not dried out. Plan on 15 minutes of cooking time per pound, and preheat the oven to 425°F while you truss and temper your bird.


And salt! It’s always tempting to take it easy on the salt — and it can feel guilty to really go to town covering the skin of your whole chicken. But remember, you’re only salting at the surface, and you need enough salt on there for it to set into the meat and flavor it all the way through.

This is how you properly salt a bird.

Once you’ve prepared and enjoyed that first meal of roasted chicken and your favorite vegetables and sides, you can use our grid as a jumping off point to prepare a few more meals with what’s left. Consider the parts of the chicken you want to use, the items in your pantry, and the produce and herbs in season to make combinations that appeal to you. 




Chicken Part



Chicken Salad
on Toast




Chicken Tacos

Leg Meat


Tomatoes, Onions,

Chicken Soup

Chicken Bone

Rice Noodles

Cilantro, Mint,
Thai Basil, Chilis


Like all of our favorite preparations, this approach to working with a whole chicken is flexible. You can adjust the meals and ingredients to your preferences and the ingredients you may already have on hand. A chicken salad made of diced breast meat mixed with yogurt, chopped tarragon and chives, lemon zest, and Dijon mustard is great on toast and garnished with sliced cucumbers and chives.


chicken_salad_toast_700You can make it better than your mother's tea party chicken salad.


If it’s the dark meat from the legs that you have to spare, shredding it and heating with your favorite salsa will set you up nicely for a meal of chicken tacos. All that’s left will be to assemble the meat on tortillas topped with pico de gallo and a drizzle of yoghurt.


tacos_2_700If a girl named Laurie Ellen says she's going to make you tortillas, make sure you eat five. Live without regrets especially when it has lard.

And of course, the best way to make use of a chicken carcass is to make a broth, simmering the bones with produce you may already have at home: onion, carrot, bay leaf, and celery. Even this extra meal is flexible – you can store the carcass in the freezer until you have some time at home to make a stock, or store the stock until you’re ready to make soup.


As an avid devotee to soups of all kinds, I make soups year-round, through the summer, without hesitation. It’s easy to lighten up a summer chicken soup with rice noodles, chili peppers, and herbs such as mint and cilantro. My favorite thing about making my own soup is that every batch is different. I’ll raid my fridge, then chop and add ingredients until I get too hungry to wait any longer. It’s this kind of flexibility that makes the process fun and creative, and helps us to use up what we already have in order to limit food waste — and it applies to soups, roasted chicken, and beyond.



Watch Ali make salads with the one and only Hannah Bronfman. Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.

Aug 03, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Salads

Our lesson in this week's #havenskitchencookbook Summer School is all about salads. Sonjia Hyon tries to convince you why making your own Sweetgreen creation takes as much time as stalking your girlcrush on Instagram.


In The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School, Ali argues that the guiding principle in making a satisfying salad is composition. By composition, she means using the base of greens, vegetables, grains, or beans as the "opening note" to find counterpoints of texture, flavor and even color to make a "winning combination."





I always think about the salad bar of my youth at the local Sizzler. The tiny cambros of chilled peas, grated carrots, marinated beets, soft kidney beans, and dry croutons — all ready to go on top of my iceberg lettuce. (There was no "mesclun mix" at that time.) I think for many people, the childhood memory of the salad bar has shaped their notions of what salads could be—and serves as an early lesson in salad composition.

Salads are one of those dishes that people prefer to purchase rather than make at home precisely for this reason. Who has time to make all those accoutrements? We think you do.




Making a good salad takes as long as a good deep dive into Instagram—between 20 to 30 minutes—but requires a little more planning than you might like. However, we think once you bring this into your practice—like anything else including washing your face—it becomes part of your daily life.

At Haven’s Kitchen, salads are a staple at family meal. Not because we are particularly "healthy" and into spa food, but because our kitchen team makes salads that even a carnivorous T-Rex would find it fortifying, nourishing and, above all, just really good. The thing is that they're always made with things we find leftover in our fridge and basic items from our pantry.




Here's the basic guideline to make your best salad:

Base /  greens, grains, vegetables, legumes
The base of your salad doesn't always have to be greens. Consider a grain like farro or beans or even other vegetables like carrots.

Counterpoints /
 texture, flavor (& color too)
These are ingredients that provide a balance of texture like chewy or crisp, plus a flavor boost and some color to your salad. When considering your counterpoints, think about the shape. For example, a crumbled or grated cheddar provides a good sharp salinity, but the creaminess is more felt when crumbled versus grated. Or consider ribboned carrot versus one cut into matchsticks. Remember, don't overwhelm your salad with too many things, otherwise it will not be balanced. Composition is the game here.

Dressings /
  acidic, pungent, creamy
A good dressing pulls together your salad. It's like the shoes to the outfit — you put it on at the end.

Finish / seeds, herbs, zest, salt
The finish provides an important aesthetic touch as well as flavor and texture. Consider the final sprinkle of sesame seeds. Or, gratings of Pecorino. 

As with most of our lessons, the key to a well-composed salad is one that satisfies you. While some people prefer a classic, simple salad like a Caesar (romaine, Parmesan, croutons), others want a little bit of everything (think a cobb or a classic chopped salad). Consider what you like most in terms of taste, texture, and base, then use our salad grid and your own imagination (and pantry staples) to fill in the blanks. 







Family Meal Salad

Baby Kale

Fennel, Radish, Cucumber, Corn, Carrots, Red Bell Peppers


Chopped cilantro stems

Summer Panzanella


Cucumbers, Tomatoes

Olive Oil

Parsley, Basil, Parmesan

Pantry Salad

Red Rice

Pork Belly


Sesame Seeds




Watch Ali make salads with the one and only Hannah Bronfman. Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.

Jul 27, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Eggs

This week in Haven’s Kitchen Summer School, the conversation is about eggs: that simple but oh-so-adaptable ingredient that we all love a certain, particular way. To dig deeper into the possibilities that eggs have to offer, our Retail Manager Karen Nicoletti takes a lap of Haven’s Kitchen to find out what our staff considers the “perfect egg.”


When we prepare eggs for ourselves and those we love, it’s personal and specific — a ritual we’ve practiced and perfected for much of our lives, finding preparations and combinations that will delight our family, our guests, and our own particular taste. A simple ingredient with the potential to adapt in so many ways, the egg has a chameleon quality that sparks creativity and ingenuity.

Sarah Bode-Clark, who teaches cooking classes at Haven’s Kitchen, told me: “I love how everyone—even those who say they don’t know how to cook!—has at least one egg preparation in their back pocket. It feels like the universal first ‘meal’ we all learn to cook.” (Sarah takes her eggs over easy, so she can dip in her toast.) Sarah's observation provided a cue for me to ask our team what makes up their go-to egg dishes, as well as what qualities they’re looking for in the perfectly prepared egg.




Our Service Manager, Irit Oren, likes the flexibility of working with eggs, and says that her go-to egg dish depends both on her mood and on what’s in her fridge. She’ll keep it basic with just a fried egg on toast, or add in some bacon, cheese, tomato, or avocado. Her most elaborate venture has been a breakfast pizza: mozzarella, ricotta, prosciutto, and potato on pizza dough, with an egg cracked on top. Once it’s cooked, she’ll top the whole pie with arugula.

There’s also something about eggs that is highly nostalgic, a psychological trigger that makes us recall an earlier time: a Saturday morning at the kitchen table with Dad’s bacon-egg-and-cheese, or breakfast in our first apartment when we turned the stove up too high and watched our sunny-side egg wither and crisp. Eggs have a way of firmly rooting themselves into our memory. And often, those memories are hinged to the people who prepare and share our eggs with us.

Nostalgia certainly plays a roll for me in the way I take my eggs. Growing up with a German mother, the focus at breakfast time was on protein. My mother taught me to eat a soft-boiled egg with a spoon directly from its shell, cradled in a porcelain eggcup. It took practice (and just a little childhood petulance) to scoop only egg and avoid crunching down on tiny chippings of shell. My mom piled a little mixture of salt and pepper onto her plate, touching her spoon to it before each new scoop of egg. We ate them with ham or sliced cured meat and toast with jam. Two decades later, this is still the breakfast I like to make myself on days off.

Sonjia Hyon, our Projects Director, also recalls the eggs of her childhood: “Whenever I think of my platonic ideal egg dish, it’s a fried egg on top of white rice seasoned with sesame oil and soy sauce. My mother would make it for us when we were looking for comfort. Sometimes it would be garnished with nori or sesame seeds or chopped scallions. Every time she served it, she would remind us how when she was growing up, eggs were considered a luxury and not a kitchen staple.”

For Kathryn Tam, our Operations Assistant, it comes down to two things: comfort, yes, but also timing. Her favorite memory of eggs is how her mom would cook them when she was little: “scrambled, with two pieces of American cheese placed on top, melting, like being tucked in by little blankets.” But she’s also looking for something quite specific in the timing and softness of her eggs. “I love a soft/medium boiled egg with ramen—the texture, the way it’s slightly gooey, and just the coziness of it.”

In the Eggs chapter of The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School, we explore the ways that time and temperature affect the taste and texture of various egg preparations. Timing, particularly when boiling eggs, is a precise practice if you like your eggs a certain way. The elusive goal is the cozy ooze of a soft-to-medium boiled egg. Consider how to balance these factors when attempting this:

• the size of your eggs

• whether or not you’re tempering them

• whether you add your eggs to the water before or after it comes to a boil


Boiled-Egg-Grid_1050How to achieve that elusive soft-medium custard yolk: 1. Bring a pot of water to a roiling boil. 2. Gently drop your straight-from-the-refrigerator egg into the water. 3. Set the timer for six minutes. 4. Create an ice bath. 5. Drop your six-minute egg into the ice bath for a easier peel. 


To achieve the perfect soft-to-medium custardy yolk, we discovered that an untempered egg submerged into already-boiling water for six minutes yielded the best results. When six minutes are up, we recommend shocking the eggs in an ice bath to stop them from cooking further. This also makes them easier to peel.

I found that a few members of our team had specifics to share about how they like their eggs, in terms of timing and texture. Grace, a barista in our café, has tried cooking eggs a few different ways in her favorite dish. She likes Shoyu Tamago, an egg boiled in a mixture of soy sauce, cooking wine, sugar, and scallions. Growing up, her mom’s recipe involved a hard-boiled egg, but when she took on the recipe herself, she played with the timing and found that a soft boil was her favorite.


sauces_multiple_700We like to explore the infinite ways you can dress up an egg for maximum eating pleasure.


Greg Green, a cook on our Retail team, feels so strongly about his eggs over medium that he won’t order them in a restaurant. He knows two people who can prepare eggs the way he likes them: his mom and himself. He fries his bacon first, then cooks his eggs in the bacon fat. Over medium to low heat, he cooks them for three and a half minutes on one side, then two minutes on the other. This achieves his perfect texture: egg whites that are set and a runny yolk. He seasons his eggs with salt and pepper, and eats them with grits, toast, or potatoes to soak up the yolk.


three-dishes_eggstyle_700The possibilities are endless. From left to right: Hard-boiled egg salad with herbed mayonnaise; medium-boiled with Haven's Kitchen Sauces Romesco and tabbouleh; soft-boiled with Haven's Kitchen Sauces Chimichurri and ricotta.  

With as many egg preparations as there are members of our Haven’s Kitchen team, our conversations were a fun way to see the variety that comes from experiment and play, as well as a peek into the people and memories that influence the egg dishes we love.



Huevos Divorciados


Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.