Vanessa Barrington

Vanessa Barrington is a PR and marketing consultant, writer, cookbook author, and cook, based in San Francisco, CA. She wrote for The Kitchn in 2006 & 2007. Her latest cookbook is DIY Delicious: Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food from Scratch.
Recipe: Parsnip, Mushroom & Leek Gratin
Parsnips are terribly underrated roots. They’re shaped like carrots and they’re sweet like carrots, but I’ve always found their flavor much more interesting. Along with the sweet is a nutty, herbaceous and almost wild flavor, entirely unlike the tame carrot. When added to a beef stew or chicken in a pot along with the usual carrots and potatoes, parsnips add another interesting layer of flavor.
Dec 17, 2015
Recipe: Modern Green Bean Casserole
This casserole, the beloved green bean casserole invented in the Campbell’s Soup corporate test kitchen, is over 50 years old and sorely in need of an update. Sorry, Campbell’s (and Del Monte, and French’s) — as much as I love you, none of y’all are invited to this party. I will admit to having a true fondness for the casserole, especially the French-fried onion part of the equation, but it’s time for a change.
Nov 17, 2015
Recipe: Warm Farro Salad with Roasted Squash, Persimmons & Pecans
The cooler fall temperatures have inspired me to take a break from my usual quinoa salad and cook some nutty farro instead. I love its toothsome texture, and its flavor pairs well with fall ingredients. This salad has nutty, sweet, and savory flavors, and nice contrasting textures. Serve it warm with roasted chicken or pork, or at room temperature for lunch. Let’s call this salad what it really is: fall in a bowl (or on a plate).
Oct 16, 2015
Recipe: Eggs with Summer Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Bell Peppers
One of the most memorable dishes I had in Spain was also one of the simplest — two eggs, over easy, alongside a mound of piperade and a few thin slices of wonderful Spanish ham. I thought about this dish of fresh tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers for months afterwards. It wasn’t just the fact that I was eating it in Spain; it was also the eggs. They were rich, creamy, and flavorful, and their bright orange yolks stood up soldier-tall.
Sep 15, 2015
Recipe: Warm Potato and Salmon Salad
I always thought of canned salmon as that oily stuff with the bones and skin that my mom would mix up with mayonnaise to make a dip. Even though I actually kind of like the bones and skin, they hardly make for an elegant presentation. Well, here’s a salad that several steps removed from either mayo dip or your typical bowl of mixed greens and chopped vegetables. It can be put together very quickly, and the leftovers are great for lunch the next day.
Jun 11, 2015
Recipe: Easy Green Minestrone
Sometimes you just want to sit cross-legged on the couch and eat a big bowl of soup. Something simple and comforting. Something good. You need a homemade bowl of soup and you don’t want to go to much fuss to get it. Well, here’s an easy minestrone that can be made almost any time of year, as long as you have a few vegetables in the fridge and some broth to cook them in. Whatever the season, I like this soup with potatoes and one or two green vegetables.
Apr 13, 2015
Recipe: Bean Chilaquiles with Avocado & Queso Fresco
Here’s a classic one-dish Mexican breakfast originally conceived as a way to use up leftover tortillas. It doesn’t usually include beans, but this version was invented one hungry morning when a perusal of the refrigerator turned up some leftover cooked beans, a half-jar of salsa and a few other odds and ends. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients. As long as you have the beans, salsa, tortillas and eggs, the dish will satisfy.
Mar 7, 2015
Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw
Easy fish tacos featuring lightly crispy fish, supple corn tortillas, and soft avocado.
Mar 18, 2014
Recipe: Turkey Tortilla Soup
Remember Thanksgiving? That little holiday just a couple months ago? I hope that you ended the holiday season with a treasure trove of turkey stock and leftovers in your freezer, because if you did, I have a recipe for you today that you can have ready in just a few minutes. No turkey treasure? That’s OK — chicken broth will do fine. The broth has the warmth of pureed chilies and garlic, zipped up with plenty of fresh lime juice and flavorful garnishes.
Jan 23, 2014
Recipe: Butternut Squash & Coconut Curry
How does a warm and creamy squash curry sound to you right now? Good, right?! This vegan curry is made with rich coconut milk and infused with enough spices to make your tongue tingle. It’s the kind of dish that makes you look forward to dinner all day long. Most of the ingredients are readily available in urban areas. Some of you may already have all this stuff in your kitchens.
Jan 14, 2013
Recipe: Fettuccine with Roasted Butternut Squash, Brown Butter & Sage
Here’s a simple little fall-time pasta dish with sweet roasted butternut squash and nutty brown butter. It’s one of those dishes that makes even a weeknight meal feel special, especially if you splurge for fresh fettuccine noodles and a nice bottle of wine. Serve it with a salad of bitter greens, apples, and walnuts on the side, and dinner is ready.
Oct 22, 2012
Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipe: Broccoli & Spaghetti Frittata
What, you’ve never had spaghetti for breakfast before? Here’s your chance! This recipe starts as soon as you finish dinner. Mix your leftover pasta and steamed broccoli with some eggs and cheese, and toss it in the oven. By the time you’re finished with the dishes, breakfast for the week is done. Of course, you shouldn’t feel limited to just spaghetti and broccoli in this dish.
Mar 5, 2012
Lucca Ravioli Company: San Francisco
Plunked down in the middle of The Mission with its high-end hipster boutiques, thrift stores, coffee shops and cheap burritos, Lucca Ravioli Company (unrelated to Lucca Delicatessen in the Marina) exists in a time warp of old San Francisco.Every time I walk into Lucca, I feel giddily, ridiculously, in-love-for-the-first-time happy. The men that work there are unfailingly polite and helpful and have worked there as long as I can remember.They know the food and are happy to talk about it.
Dec 18, 2006
Kamei Restaurant Supply: San Francisco
Like a well-stocked bakery entices the passing sweets addict, the doublewide storefront of Kamei Restaurant Supply beckons kitchen junkies inside.With its unparalleled selection, this is one of the best kitchen supply stores in the city. It’s really two stores in one. There are rows of commercial goods like hotel pans, industrial stockpots and plain white, deep soup bowls.
Dec 11, 2006
Recipe: Roasted Mahi Mahi with Fennel, Olives and Oranges
Dense, meaty Mahi Mahi lends itself well to roasting. It has a relatively high fat content that plays well with salty olives and tart citrus.This recipe is a good one for a weeknight dinner party, or any time you want something healthy, elegant, great tasting and fast. This method will get dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. Just add rice or couscous and a salad and you’re all set.Mahi Mahi is a large tropical fish that is readily available all winter.
Dec 8, 2006
Recipe: Spicy Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup
This soup has an earthy sweetness and a comfortable heat that builds as you make your way through the bowl. It’s a basic recipe that can be adapted using any vegetable that takes well to puréeing. Try squash, potatoes or celery root. For the spice you can use regular cayenne, but if you have chipotle powder, its smokiness really adds to the soup. Garnish with whatever you like or nothing at all, but yogurt cools the heat and adds a nice tang.
Dec 6, 2006
Inspiration: Homemade Sauerkraut
From kombucha, to kimchi to sauerkraut, fermenting is all the rage. Lacto-fermented foods are part of the DIY resurgence in the food world because people are starting to pay attention to the health benefits of raw, non-pasteurized and naturally fermented foods. Lacto-fermented foods are said to eliminate disease-causing bacteria and reintroduce friendly bacteria such as lactobacillus acidophilus, to the digestive system.
Dec 5, 2006
In Season West Coast: Little Gem Lettuces
These compact baby lettuce heads are sometimes called French romaine. I’ve heard people say Little Gem is a cross between butter and romaine, but more accurately, it’s “like” a cross between butter and romaine—actually classified as an heirloom romaine. The leaves are tender and sweet, yet crisp. Their bumpy, romaine-like surface makes Little Gem a good candidate for creamy dressings. Unlike romaine, the lettuce is never stringy or tough.
Dec 4, 2006
Recipe: Broiled Sardines with Gremolata
Even though I was a picky child, I loved sardines when I was small. My mother would give them to me atop saltine crackers, skin, bones and all, and I’d devour them. The first time I tried fresh ones in a restaurant, I was blown away. Since I learned to clean them, I buy them whenever I see them in the market.
Nov 29, 2006
Jimtown Store: Healdsburg, CA
The enchanting Jimtown Store is a place of fantasies. I always feel like I could curl up and go to sleep on the warm, creaky, wooden floor. In my fantasy, I lie there, undiscovered, as the store is cleaned and locked up for the night. Later on, as if in a childhood dream, I wake up and each room comes alive with delicious foods, toys and friends to play with.There are antique toys, like folk art carousels, that add to the fantasy.
Nov 27, 2006
Dittmer’s Gourmet Meats and Wurst-Haus: Mountain View, CA
Dittmer’s is Mecca for sausage and smoked meat lovers. This one-of-a-kind butcher shop is unique for its selection of over 40 types of sausages from all over the world—all made on-site.You’ll find links of poultry, pork, venison, lamb, blood, you name it. Some sausages are smoked, some double smoked, some fresh and some parboiled. They have everything from Bangers to Cajun sausages.Honestly, it’s a little overwhelming deciding what to take home.
Nov 19, 2006
Recipe: Modern Ambrosia
The word ambrosia conjures up heavenly images of cloud-like deliciousness and swoony sweetness, which is why it always seems like something fun to make and eat, but the truth is, old-fashioned ambrosia can be more monstrosity than food of the gods, containing canned Mandarin oranges, canned pineapple, artificially colored Jell-O, mini marshmallows and sometimes even Cool Whip. Traditional holidays like Thanksgiving are a good time to update old-fashioned recipes.
Nov 10, 2006
Recipe: Whole Steamed Rockfish
This is what I decided to do with the live rockfish that I bought at Manila Oriental Market. I stuffed it with aromatics and steamed it whole. It’s surprisingly easy to cook a whole fish this way and it’s a very healthy preparation containing no added fat.If you don’t have a steamer, you can bake this fish. I’d splash a little cooking wine over it and give it 15-20 minutes in a 350° F oven.
Nov 8, 2006
Inspiration: Senate Bean Soup
There are lots of important races for Senate across the country today. At this point, there’s not much we can do other than get out there and vote. Whenever I feel helpless, it’s always good to get into the kitchen and make a big pot of something. What better something for today than Senate Bean Soup? It’s been a daily fixture on the menu of the US Senate Restaurant in Washington since the early 1900s.
Nov 7, 2006
Manila Oriental Market San Francisco
You know the fish is fresh when you watch the guy behind the counter stun it with a mallet before he takes it in the back to clean it for you.Manila Oriental Market just opened in the outer Mission a week ago and it’s a destination for fresh fish. They have tanks of live clams, oysters, crab and rockfish. There’s also quite a selection of shrimp, whole fish on ice and items like fresh sardines and fresh (not frozen) squid that rarely show up in supermarkets.
Nov 6, 2006
In Season West Coast: Cipollini Onions
Cipollini Onions started showing up in Italian restaurants in the 90s—usually roasted with balsamic vinegar and served with roasted meats. They’ve reached the mainstream now. You’ll see them featured prominently in recipes on food sites and they’re abundant in farmers’ markets on this coast. This year I started getting them in my CSA box. They’re naturals for roasting whole or halved because of their small size.
Nov 6, 2006
Recipe: Winter Salad with Persimmons and Spiced Pecans
Persimmons are all over the markets here in the Bay Area and they’re a common backyard fruit. Their relatively short season hits just as fall begins, making them one of autumn’s local icons.If you visit the countryside north of San Francisco on an overcast fall day, you may notice the leafless, spindly trees laden with fiery orbs set off against a slate sky. Grant provided an excellent overview of both types here.Persimmons even taste like fall.
Nov 3, 2006
Tip: Roasting Broccoli
Everything’s better roasted. Ok that’s a sweeping statement, but I almost always default to roasting when it comes to vegetables. It concentrates their flavors, caramelizes their sugars and produces interesting textural contrasts. Basically, it enhances everything that is already great about vegetables.Broccoli has been an exception up until recently. It’s really quite lovely blanched then sautéed, but I felt like cooking it differently the other night.
Oct 31, 2006
Recipe: Spiced Celery Root Soup with Bacon and Honey
I love the strong, savory herbaceousness of celery. Celery root is a wonderful vegetable in its own right. It’s great for roasting, gratins, or in soup. The bold flavor of the root can more than hold its own with the toasted spices in this soup. The bacon provides salty contrast and the honey mellows and ties it all together. Looking for an elegant starter soup for a holiday dinner that’s a little out of the ordinary? This might be it.
Oct 27, 2006
Recipe: Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Caramel Pecan Sauce
Here’s a fall flavored weekend dessert that can be assembled ahead of time and baked just before serving. It’s great for company as a finale to a homey fall meal. The earthy flavor of the sweet potatoes really comes through, pairing well with the spices and the caramely, nutty sauce. I made a batch and gave some to two sets of friends who heated it up in the microwave later. Everyone raved.
Oct 20, 2006
Recipe: Grape, Celery & Blue Cheese Salad w/ Toasted Walnuts
The grapes have been so abundant and varied in the markets here that it’s tempting to buy more than can be reasonably eaten as a snack.Here’s an easy recipe that bridges summer and fall, using grapes as its main ingredient and celery as a companion for a twist on the classic Waldorf. Fennel, endive or arugula also pair nicely with the grapes if you happen to have any of those on hand. Any of these will make a tasty substitute for the celery.
Oct 6, 2006
Recipe: Curried Zucchini Soup
Too Much Zucchini? Here’s some inspiration for the weekend. If you’ve got a garden or a neighbor with a garden, chances are you’ve got a crisper full of zucchini right about now.This soup is a bit unusual in that the zucchini is pureed rather than chunky. This recipe comes to The Kitchen courtesy of chef Susan Beach. Her calendar of recipes for seasonal soups and salads just got a nice write up in The San Jose Mercury News and, of all places, in The Missoulian.
Sep 22, 2006