How to make the prettiest apple tart you’ve ever seen

Apple season is so close, I can smell it.

Every fall, I try to go back to Missouri to buy fresh apples from the orchards near my hometown, and although those apples aren’t quite ready yet, the change of seasons is upon us.

Apples from Marionville, Missouri, are one of my favorite things about going back to my hometown in fall. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

If you’re celebrating the Jewish New Year right now, you’re definitely thinking about apples, and even if you aren’t, it’s a good time to celebrate the sweet things in life.

I was so impressed by this apple tart from Irvin Lin’s new book, “Marbled, Swirled, and Layered: 150 Recipes and Variations for Artful Bars, Cookies, Pies, Cakes, and More” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30), that I wanted to run it ahead of a weekend when you might have time to play around with making the apple roses.

Instead of making a traditional apple pie, you can make an apple tart filled with “roses” made with thinly sliced apples. Contributed by Linda Xiao.

Lin gives detailed instructions about how to roll up thin slices of apples, and although yours might not look quite as good as his, it’s still a fun technique to practice, especially with the fall holidays coming up.

RECIPE: Maple Apple Walnut Crunch Pie

If this recipe feels too difficult but you still want to bake something with apples, might I suggest these applesauce muffins or this apple strudel. This double layer apple crisp is probably the easiest apple dessert I can think of, but here’s a recipe for caramel apples, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Apple Roses and Spiced Brown Butter Tart

When I know I have to bust out an impressive dessert, I opt for something like this show-stopping tart, which only requires a little bit of dexterity. Despite the way it looks, this recipe isn’t too difficult, but it’s always a gorgeous presentation dessert for dinner parties. The best part is that it looks like you spent a lot of money at the fancy-pants local bakery. Act all indignant when your guests ask you where you bought it, but secretly know that it actually didn’t take too much effort.

— Irvin Lin

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup dark rum
For the browned butter filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
6 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cardamom pods
1 star anise
1 large vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the apple roses:
2 1/2 pounds (about 5 medium) red-skinned firm apples, such as Braeburn, Gala or Jonagold
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the crumble topping:
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Make the crust: Combine both flours, the sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and sprinkle over the dry ingredients. Toss the butter cubes with your hands to coat, then squeeze until they flatten out, squeezing and tossing until the dough starts to resemble crumbly cornmeal with bits of butter still in flattened chunks. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with the rum, then drizzle the liquid over the flour-butter mixture and fold together. As the dry ingredients become moister, work the ingredients together with your hands until they come together and form a dough. If the dough seems too sticky, sprinkle a little more flour into it. If the dough seems too dry, add a little more rum or cold water. The dough should be soft. Flatten the dough into a disk about 1 inch thick, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough into a 14-inch circle, but don’t worry if isn’t perfect. This dough is really forgiving. Fit the dough into a 10-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. This recipe makes a little more dough than necessary, so if you need to, use the extra dough to patch up any holes or tears. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork all over, then line with a piece of parchment paper and fill with dried beans, uncooked rice, or pie weights. Freeze the lined pan for about 15 minutes. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Set the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until very lightly golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Let the crust cool on a wire rack, and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Make the browned butter filling: Combine the butter, cloves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and star anise in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the pan, then add the vanilla pod as well. Add the nutmeg and orange zest. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the butter melts and starts to brown and turn fragrant. Once the butter starts to brown, turn the heat off and let the residual heat bring the butter to the right point. You don’t want to burn the butterfat, you just want it golden brown. Discard the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, and vanilla pod. Let cool to room temperature.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the butter, scraping the brown bits at the bottom of the pan into the bowl. Pour the filling into the crust.

Here’s how to make the apple roses: Cut the apples by placing the apple on its bottom and slicing down near the core, but not close enough to get any seeds. Rotate the apple 90 degrees and slice down again. Repeat two more times until you have a rectangular core, which you can discard, and 4 apple chunks with skin on them. Place the apple chunks flat side down on the cutting board and cut thin lengthwise slices with a sharp knife (or use a mandoline). Each slice should have one flat edge and one rounded edge with a thin piece of red skin. Place the apple slices in a large microwave-safe bowl with the lemon juice. Toss to coat to prevent the apple slices from turning brown. Slice all the apples, continuing to toss the apple slices with the lemon juice as you go. Add the sugar and butter and toss to coat.

Microwave the apple mixture for 1 minute. You don’t want to completely cook the apples, just soften them enough to make them pliable. If they are still too crisp and break when you bend them, cook in additional 15-second increments, testing until they are bendable. The amount of time will depend on how thick you cut the apples and how powerful your microwave is.

Starting with the thinnest, smallest piece you can find, curl the apple slice, with the skin side at the top, into a spiral, forming a rose-like shape. Wrap another, larger slice around the first slice. Build a rose with as many slices as you can. Use a spatula (or the side of a large chef‘s knife) to move the apple rose to the filled tart crust. The filling should help hold the apple roses together. Repeat with the rest of the apple slices, until you have tightly filled the entire surface of the tart. Any gaps in the tart where the roses don’t quite fit can be filled with extra apple slices and smaller roses.

To make the crumble topping: Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and stir together with a fork. Drizzle the butter over the dry ingredients and toss until crumbs start to form and stick together. Sprinkle the crumble in a ring, about 1 inch wide, around the edge of the tart on top of the apples.

Bake until the apples are a rich golden brown and the filling has set and looks puffy and slightly golden, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before releasing the tart from the sides of the pan. Serves 10.

— From “Marbled, Swirled, and Layered: 150 Recipes and Variations for Artful Bars, Cookies, Pies, Cakes, and More” by Irvin Lin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30)

Got an old piece of wedding cake in your freezer? We want to see it.

Earlier this week, I told you the story of Zollie and William Goodrich Jones, a couple that married in Belton in 1890 and whose legacy lives on in a piece of their wedding cake.

Beth Norvell, the associate director of alumni relations at Mary Hardin-Baylor, found this piece of Zollie Luther’s wedding cake from 1890 in the museum’s archives. She doesn’t know what the cake is made of, but she said they are hoping to use historical recipes from the era to create a similar cake for alumni functions. Contributed by Beth Norvell

This delightful little gem of dried organic material is housed in the archive of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. It’s shriveled up and brown and not at all appetizing, but it got me thinking about the other pieces of wedding cake that are housed in freezers around Central Texas and the stories they tell.

Zollie Luther married William Goodrich in December of 1890, and Mary Hardin-Baylor University still has a piece of their wedding cake. Baylor’s Texas Collection has many photos, letters and papers from both Zollie and her sister’s family. Zollie died in 1934 at the age of 69. Courtesy of The Texas Collection, Baylor University

The tradition of a couple keeping a piece of wedding cake to eat for good luck on their first anniversary dates back to the 1700s, when a cake could be preserved with boozy fruit or wine, but since the advent of freezers, we’ve been keeping them around for a lot longer than a year.

I’d love to hear stories about wedding cakes you might still have or ones you held onto for a long time, but eventually decided to toss. You can email me at or call 512-912-2504.

Zollie Luther, a year or two before her marriage. Courtesy of The Texas Collection, Baylor University

To get you thinking about love a long time ago, here’s a poem that William wrote to Zollie on their 40th anniversary in 1930:

Forty years we’ve garnered joy,
Along with tears that oft annoy.

Forty cycles, fulsome, sweet,
where sunbeams and the shadows meet.

Forty dividends in life,
Without regrets and without strife.

Forty stars in firmament,
Have blazed the trail to life’s content.

Forty morns of silken lint,
Have twined our lives with love’s imprint.

Forty eves of golden tint,
Coined into years, a precious mint.

Forty hills climbed in the past,
Leading upward, reached at last;

Trails the path to summits crest,
Lengthening shadows in the west.

Forty sighs at set of sun,
Comes the Master’s voice: ‘Well done’

— William Goodrich Jones (Waco, Texas)

(From Luther-Bagby collection, Accession #1337, Box #1, Folder #16, The Texas Collection, Baylor University)


Walmart is selling $10 ramen. It’s fancy, frozen and actually quite good.

You know upscale ramen has become mainstream when Walmart gets in on the game.

This bowl of ramen came from a packaged kit that Walmart is now selling in its frozen section. The soft boiled eggs, however, don’t come in the kit. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I grew up eating the inexpensive packaged ramen noodles that you can buy everywhere, but I was surprised to recently find a $9.48 bag of frozen fancy ramen at the country’s largest grocer.

Although Kroger is the largest dedicated supermarket chain, Walmart easily sells the most groceries in the country. About 25 percent of Americans buy their groceries at Walmart, so it’s relevant to overall grocery trends when a product like this hits their shelves.

In fact, I haven’t seen a ramen product like this on the market.

This $10 ramen meal kit was easy to make and tasted much better than expected. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Retailing at just a few cents shy of $10 for two servings, it’s a meal kit with a bag of frozen broth concentrate, a small bag of frozen cooked chicken and four “nests” of noodles. After thawing the broth, you add it to a pot with 2 1/2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Add the chicken and the noodles and heat again until everything is warm, which took a little longer than the two minutes described on the package.

I ended up making some soft-boiled eggs in my multi-cooker while the ramen finished on the stove, and I was surprised by how intensely flavored the broth is and how many noodles came in the package. Some reviewers online have said that the broth is too salty, but you can always add more liquid to thin it out. With a few dumplings on the side, you could easily feed four people with this kit.

My ramen-loving son wasn’t a huge fan of the flavors, but he tends to like the everyday ramen seasoning. But I loved seeing onions and herbs floating around the dark, thick soup. The noodles had just the right bite to them, and the chicken didn’t have any “off” tastes. In fact, the ramen was so good that I’m having the leftovers for lunch today and livestreaming a few more thoughts on why a product like this caught my eye.

Join me for the livestream at noon at

Even if you aren’t on the keto diet, you’ll enjoy this coconut veggie, cauliflower rice stir-fry

The keto diet is similar to the Atkins diet, but its roots go back even farther into dietetics history.

Coconut Veggie Stir Fry

Cauliflower rice, broccoli and squash fill this coconut stir-fry with flavor. The recipe is from a new cookbook called, “Ketotarian.” Contributed by Tamara Muth-King

In the 1920s, scientists theorized that a high-fat, low-carb diet might help children with epilepsy, but now the no-bread, no-potatoes, no-beans diet has has a renaissance with people hoping to find a mix of foods that work well with their body’s metabolism.

Keto cookbooks, including Will Cole’s “Ketotarian: The (Mostly) Plant-Based Plan to Burn Fat, Boost Your Energy, Crush Your Cravings and Calm Inflammation” (Avery, $20), often feature a how-to section followed by recipes that show you how to pack nutrients and flavor into non-starchy vegetables. Because grains are one of the restricted foods, many people on the keto diet eat cauliflower rice, which you can make at home or buy in the frozen or fresh section of many grocery stores. If you’re using store-bought veggie rice, you’ll need about 3 cups.

This stir-fry also includes pattypan squash, although you could use regular yellow squash or zucchini. The coconut milk, coconut flakes and liquid aminos, such as Bragg, lend lots of umami to this dish, so you don’t miss the meat.

You can use any number of vegetables in this stir-fry, but don’t skip the coconut milk and coconut flakes, which add umami and sweetness. Contributed by Tamara Muth-King

Coconut Veggie Stir-Fry with Cauliflower Rice

3 cups fresh cauliflower florets
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
5 small pattypan squash, trimmed and quartered
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup thin slivers red onion
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon liquid aminos
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons refined coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened large coconut flakes, toasted
2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro

Place the cauliflower in the container of a food processor. Cover and pulse until the cauliflower is finely chopped (about the size of rice). Set aside.

In a large wok, stir-fry the broccoli and squash in the sesame oil over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Reduce the heat to medium if the vegetables brown too quickly. Add the onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes more. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl; cover to keep warm.

To the same wok, add the ginger and garlic. Cook and stir over medium-low heat for 30 seconds. Carefully add the coconut milk, liquid aminos, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly thickened.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the cauliflower rice, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cauliflower is just tender and starting to brown.

Return the vegetables to the wok. Cook and stir for 1 minute to heat through. Spoon the cauliflower rice evenly onto two serving plates. Top with the broccoli mixture and sauce. Sprinkle with the coconut and cilantro. Serves 2.

— From “Ketotarian: The (Mostly) Plant-Based Plan to Burn Fat, Boost Your Energy, Crush Your Cravings and Calm Inflammation” by Will Cole (Avery, $20)

This month’s St. Elias Mediterranean food and music festival started 70 years before ACL

It’s the 86th year for Medfest, the St. Elias Mediterranean Festival that takes place every year at the St. Elias Orthodox Church downtown.

Arabic folk band Layalina performs at the 82nd annual St. Elias Mediterranean Festival in 2014. The festival features Mediterranean food and music, kids activities and a bazaar. It is a fund raiser for the historic downtown church. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Thanks to the Jabour family, which runs Twin Liquors and has a long history in Central Texas, this festival celebrating Mediterranean cuisine and culture has taken place since the early 1930s. The Austin City Limits Music Festival, by comparison, started in 2002, a mere 70 years later.

In 2006, Bill Attal, left, and George Oldziey practiced their dance steps in preparation for the St. Elias Mediterranean Festival. American-Statesman file photo

This year, the Mediterranean festival returns September 21 and 22 at the church at  408 E. 11th Street with Mediterranean foods, cocktails, wines, beer, a shopping bazaar, dancing and live Arabic and Greek music. Festivities will run from 6 to 11 p.m. on the 21st and noon to 11 p.m. on the 22nd. Admission is free from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Tickets to the event are available at all Austin-area Twin Liquors locations for a $5 donation.

“Medfest is one of my favorite events of the year, and one that is very close to my heart because of our family heritage,” Twin Liquors president David Jabour said in a release. “With food, wine, cocktails, music and dancing, it’s a true celebration and we’re thrilled to lend our support for such a long-standing tradition.”

This handout photo from St. Elias Church shows the early food work that went into the annual Mediterranean Festival that is now in its 86th year. Contributed by St. Elias


Use up this week’s leftovers in a spaghetti pie with ricotta, veggies

Now that it’s finally not too hot to turn on the oven, here’s a quick dinnertime pie you can make with just a few ingredients. It’s a great way to use up leftover spaghetti, but it’s also a way to serve pasta that isn’t your everyday red sauce.

This ricotta and spinach spaghetti pie is from “Inspiralized and Beyond: Spiralize, Chop, Rice and Mash Your Vegetables into Creative, Craveable Meals” by Alissandra Maffucci (Clarkson Potter, $21.99). Contributed by Evan Sung

Spiralizer master Alissandra Maffucci uses potato noodles in this recipe, so if you have a spiralizer, you can spin these yourself. But if you don’t, pick up one of the packages of pre-cut veggie noodles at the store, or use regular ol’ cooked spaghetti.

You could use any number of vegetables or kinds of noodles in this ricotta pie. Contributed by Evan Sung

We still eat plenty of regular spaghetti in my house, so I’ll be making this with thin spaghetti and all the leftovers in the fridge. If spinach isn’t your thing and you don’t have any leftover veggies from the week, try asparagus or broccoli by cooking the vegetables to al dente in the pan before baking for about 15 minutes.

RELATED: Austin Food Blogger Alliance to host noodle cook-off on Sept. 23

Ricotta and Spinach Spaghetti Pie

Spaghetti pie is an effective use for leftover pasta (if you ever have any …). This spiralized version uses potato noodles instead of processed pasta to give you a bigger nutritional bang for your buck. The spinach sneaks in some dark-leafy-green calcium, and the ricotta gives the pie a fluffy, velvety texture and comfort-food flavor, making this dish a crowd-pleaser.

— Alissandra Maffucci

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 large russet potatoes, peeled, spiralized with Blade D
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Fine sea salt and pepper
6 cups packed spinach, chopped well
3 medium eggs, beaten
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (if desired, you can use part skim)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the potatoes and the garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Immediately add the spinach to the same skillet and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer the spinach to the bowl with the potatoes and add the eggs and ricotta. Season with salt and pepper and toss well to combine.

In the same skillet, spread the mixture into an even layer. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the noodles are set when pressed with the back of a spatula and the edges are just beginning to crisp. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

— From “Inspiralized and Beyond: Spiralize, Chop, Rice, and Mash Your Vegetables into Creative, Craveable Meals” by Alissandra Maffucci (Clarkson Potter, $21.99)

Austin Food Blogger Alliance to host noodle cook-off on Sept. 23

The Austin Food Blogger Alliance is hosting a cook-off event again this year, but with a new theme: Noodles.

Sesame-tonnato noodles. Contributed by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post.

After several curry cook-offs, the nonprofit is now bringing together anyone who loves any kind of noodles, from Italian spaghetti to Vietnamese vermicelli. (Full disclosure: I helped start this group and now serve on its community advisory board. In 2013, we wrote a cookbook!)

From 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 23 at Brew & Brew’s event space, 906 E. Fifth Street, more than a dozen contestants, who include some local bloggers and area restaurants, will bring their best dishes, and the crowd and a panel of judges will determine the winner. The Oodles of Noodles Community Cook-off costs $25 in advance or $30 at the door. You can still register to compete by emailing For more info, go to

You can make a vegetarian pad Thai with sweet potato noodles and edamame. The Austin Food Blogger Alliance is hosting a noodle cook-off on Sept. 23 at Brew & Brew’s event space, which will feature any kind of spaghetti or noodle you can imagine. Contributed by Chrystal Keogh for Monkey-Bites.

Here is a noodle recipe from Chrystal Keogh, the Austin blogger behind Monkey-Bites, whwo created this vegetarian take on traditional Pad Thai using sweet potato noodles and edamame. You could use rice noodles if you don’t want to use spiralized sweet potatoes.

RELATED: Use up this week’s leftovers in a spaghetti pie with ricotta, veggies

Veggie Pad Thai

For the stir-fry:
3 medium sweet potatoes, spiralized
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 tablespoons palm sugar, brown sugar or honey
1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
1 to 3 teaspoons sriracha, to taste
1/4 cup water
2 to 3 teaspoons soy sauce, to taste
For garnish:
1 mess bean sprouts
1 mess cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
Lime wedges

Cook sweet potato noodles in boiling water for two minutes. Drain.

Combine all sauce ingredients in measuring cup and set aside.

In a wok or skillet over medium-high heat, add coconut oil and onions. Cook, stirring continuously for about one minute. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another two minutes. Add edamame and red bell pepper and cook for another two minutes. Add sweet potato noodles and sauce and cook for another two to three minutes until noodles are desired doneness and all ingredients are evenly distributed. Serves 4.

— From Chrystal Keogh, Monkey-Bites

What’s for Dinner Tonight: Five-spice duck (or chicken or pork) with wild rice, kale

Have your sheet pans and casserole dishes collected dust yet? It’s been a long, hot summer, but I can feel my palate and my cooking instincts starting to make that transition to fall, especially with this rain we’ve been having.

This five-spice duck and rice dish comes from “Dinner’s in the Oven” by Rukmini Iyer. If you don’t like duck, you can substitute chicken breasts or pork chops. Contributed by David Loftus.

In the past few years, we’ve seen a number of sheet pan supper cookbooks, which help cooks get dinner on the table with recipes that call for cooking everything in a single dish or baking sheet. Rukmini Iyer’s “Dinner’s in the Oven: Simple One-Pan Meals” (Chronicle Books, $19.95) is a somewhat sophisticated spin on this concept with ingredients such as spelt and halloumi that you might not be able to find at everyday grocery stores just yet.

This five-spice duck dish is notable because the rice is baked in the same pan as the poultry and the kale. You could use any large-diced vegetable in this dish, and chicken or pork is a fine substitute if you can’t find duck. I usually roast vegetables at a much higher temperature than 350 degrees, but the lower temperature in this recipe ensures even cooking and, if you’re lucky, slightly crispy rice along the edge of the pan.

RELATED: An easy spin on chicken enchiladas from America’s Test Kitchen

A creamy chicken and pasta dish that’s perfect for back to school

Five-Spice Duck Breasts with Wild Rice, Kale and Ginger

This incredibly satisfying duck and wild rice dish, with its contrast of complementary textures and flavors, is easily scaled up if you’re cooking for more than two. If you don’t like duck, chicken breasts or pork loin work well, too.

— Rukmini Iyer

1 cup mixed basmati and wild rice
1 1/2 cups water
2 inches ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, whole
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 star anise
1/2 bunch kale, destemmed, and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 duck breasts (about 3/4 pound each)
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 fresh red chile, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the rice, water, ginger, garlic and 1 teaspoon of the sea salt in a roasting pan or large baking dish, and throw in the star anise. Mix the kale with the sesame oil, then scatter it over the rice.

Slash the skin on the duck breasts with a sharp knife, then rub them all over with the remaining 1 teaspoon sea salt and the five-spice powder. Place on top of the kale, cover the roasting pan tightly with foil, then transfer to the oven and roast for 40 minutes.

Remove the foil and cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes, to allow the kale to crisp up. Allow the duck breasts to rest for 5 minutes, then thinly slice and return the breasts to the roasting pan. Scatter over the red chile and scallions and serve. Serves 2.

— From “Dinner’s in the Oven: Simple One-Pan Meals” by Rukmini Iyer (Chronicle Books, $19.95)

RELATED: An easy basil-balsamic marinade for pork chops, chicken

Takeout is great, but here’s how to make chicken pad thai at home

Meet the color-loving Austinite who has turned her love of sprinkles into a business

Thanks, in part, to the trend of unicorn food and other “internet foods,” Austin has its own sprinkle maker.

This unicorn sprinkle mix is one of many that Austinite Rosie Pierce sells on her website, Neon Yolk. Contributed by @neonyolk

Rosie Pierce is a local baker who runs a sprinkles company called Neon Yolk, which specializes in contemporary, custom-made sprinkles that are created around certain themes or colors.

Rosie Pierce and her husband Joseph run a company called Neon Yolk. Contributed by Neon Yolk.

Like Rachel Johnson, the author of a new book called, “Unicorn Food,” Pierce says that she was inspired by 1990s designer Lisa Frank. “Trapper Keepers, stickers, pencils, I had it all,” Pierce says. “It was definitely nostalgic for me, and I wanted to invoke that same feeling of fun, happiness and playfulness in our company.”

Here’s one of her popular (and ASMR-friendly) videos on Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

Mermaid 🧜‍♀️ Dream Sprinkle Mix 🎥

A post shared by Neon Yolk (@neonyolkshop) on

Pierce says she thinks unicorns have captivated us not just because of the nostalgia. “I think everyone loves unicorns because they represent something that’s unique and special, and that’s how we see ourselves,” she says. “More than ever we’re sharing our daily lives online, and fun, colorful foods provide us the opportunity to spread some sunshine to our friends and followers.”

Pierce created a special unicorn mix for Johnson’s book, and you can buy it — as well as dozens of other mixes that cost about $5 each — through her website,

Contributed by @neonyolk
Contributed by @neonyolk

How to make a rainbow-colored grilled cheese sandwich (glitter optional)

In today’s food section, I explained the recent phenomenon of “unicorn food,” a colorful, glittery subset of the highly visual “internet food” movement.

Rainbows, sprinkles, glitter and stars are staples of so-called unicorn food, but that doesn’t mean all the dishes are sweet. This colorful, savory grilled cheese is from Rachel Johnson’s new book, “Unicorn Food: Magical Recipes for Sweets, Eats and Treats.” Contributed by Rachel Johnson

There are no fewer than four cookbooks with the title “Unicorn Food” coming out this year, and one of them is by Austin author Rachel Johnson, the recipe developer behind

In the story, you’ll find recipes for birthday cake pancakes and a turmeric lassi. Some of the unicorn food recipes are more natural than others, but if you’re a cook who doesn’t mind using plain ol’ food coloring to brighten up your day, here’s a tie-dye grilled cheese sandwich that is a treat to look at and — with all those good cheeses — delicious to eat, too.

As if you needed another excuse to use sprinkles for breakfast, these birthday waffles from Jessica Merchant’s “Pretty Dish” are filled with sprinkles and served with ice cream. Contributed by Jessica Merchant

RELATED: What’s at the end of the rainbow? The latest trend: unicorn food

Tie-Dye Grilled Cheese

Don’t freak out, but this is the grilled cheese of your dreams. The multicolored cheese pull is just perfect to generate a like for your Instagram!

— Rachel Johnson

4 ounces shredded mozzarella
4 ounces shredded cheddar
4 ounces shredded Gruyere
Food coloring (pink, green, blue and purple)
4 tablespoons softened butter
8 (1/2-inch) slices white bread (such as sourdough, pullman or brioche)
Kosher salt, to taste
Edible glitter (optional)

Mix the cheeses together in a large bowl. Divide between four bowls and tint each cheese with each food coloring by stirring around with a spoon (about 2 drops per color per bowl will do).

Heat a nonstick pan or griddle to medium-high heat. Spread the butter evenly on one side of each bread slice.

Place four slices of bread, butter side down, on the heat surface. Top with each color of cheese in any preferred pattern. Sandwich with another slice of bread, butter side up. Cook on the griddle for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is starting to melt. Flip and cook another 2 minutes, or until the bread is toasty and golden. Sprinkle with salt and edible glitter in case you are extra. Makes 2 sandwiches.

— From “Unicorn Food: Magical Recipes for Sweets, Eats and Treats” by Rachel Johnson (Sterling Epicure, $14.95)