Andrea Sloenecker
Andrea Sloenecker

Andrea Slonecker

Andrea Slonecker is an award-winning cookbook author and food stylist, with particular expertise in food and drink pairing, vegetable and egg cookery, pretzel making, picnics and outdoor dining and the use of a mortar and pestle in world cuisines.

Expertise: Food and Wine Pairing, Food and Beer Pairing, Pretzels, Eggs, Pears, Picnics, Vegetables, Thai Cooking, Pacific Northwest Cooking, Kolaches, Mortar and Pestles

Experience: Andrea Slonecker has been a food writer and recipe developer since 2008. For the past decade, she has had a multi-disciplinary career in food media, combining food writing, recipe development and food styling in her repertoire. As an author of six cookbooks, including WINE FOOD and BEER BITES, she is an expert in pairing food and drink. She has given seminars and classes all over the country on the topic, including a lecture on pairing food with natural wines at the Smithsonian. Her book THE PICNIC won an IACP Award for best general cookbook in 2016, and she was honored with a second IACP Award for food styling in 2019. She is a frequent contributor to Food & Wine magazine.
This simple white wine pan sauce enriched with créme fraîche and a generous handful of tender fresh herbs like tarragon, dill, and chives makes smart use of the pan drippings from pan-roasted chicken breasts. Simply pan-roast airline chicken breasts, set them aside to rest, and then, while the chicken is resting, use the drippings to build the flavor-packed white wine pan sauce, which comes together in about 10 minutes and delivers an elegant, silky texture. The delicate flavors of the white wine pan sauce are also a good pair for thick fillets of trout, salmon, or halibut, which may be substituted for the chicken breasts. To make this pan sauce from other proteins, start from step 2, working with 1 tablespoon of reserved drippings, and proceed as written. 
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Toasty cumin and piquant chiles, offset with fresh cilantro and lime zest, balance bold red wine in this quick pan sauce. The technique is simple: this recipe starts with searing bone-in lamb chops to perfection – a step that also creates the rich drippings that will become the basis for the red wine sauce. After searing the meat, sweat chile and garlic in the meat drippings before deglazing with wine, then add stock, enrich the sauce with butter, and finish it with fresh aromatics. The rich flavor of lamb is delicious here, but you can substitute cuts of beef, such as skirt steak, hanger steak or filet mignon, which would work just as well with the red wine-based sauce. To make this pan sauce with other proteins, start from step 2, working with 1 tablespoon of reserved drippings, and proceed to build the red wine sauce as written. 
Swiss chard cooks down into tender, silky ribbons when braised with fruity Madeira and complex, tangy, earthy garam masala in this recipe. Be sure to have some bread on-hand to use to sop up the flavorful cooking liquid.
Choose deep red stalks of rhubarb for the most vibrant color atop this springtime dessert. The poached rhubarb syrup slowly soaks into the sponge, lightly glazing the top while adding delicious moisture to the cake below.
Studding a leg of lamb with anchovies adds savory depth to this beautiful cut of meat flavored with a garlicky, herbal rosé-based marinade. The flavors in the walnut salsa fresca served alongside mirror those of the marinade, bringing a final dose of richness and flavor to this standout dish.
Oyster, beech, and shiitake mushrooms cook alongside fatty, succulent steelhead trout fillets in a bath of steam from the Shaoxing wine simmering in the wok beneath the steamer. Serve the fish alongside cooked rice to soak up the aromatic sauce.
Tart sumac, piquant peppercorns, and herbal yet lightly sweet green cardamom combine to season these wine-cooked beets, infusing them with fresh flavor that complements the fruity red wine in the recipe without overpowering it. After roasting, the sweet and tender beets are served atop a whipped, creamy turmeric- and tahini- seasoned yogurt spread and finished with chopped pistachios, lots of herbs, and a dusting of more sumac.
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Dry sherry lends an oxidized, nutty complexity to this pan sauce. Sweetened with fresh orange juice and dried fruit, it's perfect with pork chops or seared duck breasts. The technique here relies on rendering fat from the meat, setting it aside, and using that fat to bloom beautifully complex ras al hanout in the pan, before deglazing it with sherry to incorporate every bit of flavor into the final sauce. This recipe is written for pork chops, but you can make the sherry pan sauce from other proteins; start from step 2, working with 1 tablespoon of reserved drippings, and proceed as written. 
Wine makes food (and life) better, but how much do you really know about what’s going on inside that saucepan? Cookbook author Andrea Slonecker breaks down six key techniques for cooking with wine, from roasting root vegetables to building aromatic pan sauces.
Tart sumac, piquant peppercorns, and herbal yet lightly sweet green cardamom combine to season these wine-cooked beets, infusing them with fresh flavor that complements the fruity red wine in the recipe without overpowering it. After roasting, the sweet and tender beets are served atop a whipped, creamy turmeric- and tahini- seasoned yogurt spread and finished with chopped pistachios, lots of herbs, and a dusting of more sumac.
Dry sherry lends an oxidized, nutty complexity to this pan sauce. Sweetened with fresh orange juice and dried fruit, it's perfect with pork chops or seared duck breasts. The technique here relies on rendering fat from the meat, setting it aside, and using that fat to bloom beautifully complex ras al hanout in the pan, before deglazing it with sherry to incorporate every bit of flavor into the final sauce. This recipe is written for pork chops, but you can make the sherry pan sauce from other proteins; start from step 2, working with 1 tablespoon of reserved drippings, and proceed as written. 
Wine makes food (and life) better, but how much do you really know about what’s going on inside that saucepan? Cookbook author Andrea Slonecker breaks down six key techniques for cooking with wine, from roasting root vegetables to building aromatic pan sauces.
Bavarian Pretzels
Rating: Unrated
8
All it takes is a few additional ingredients to transform ho-hum soft pretzels into something magical. A few pats of butter, barley malt syrup for earthy sweetness, and replacing some of the water with beer all lend depth for a more rustic, nuanced taste. An extended fermentation in the refrigerator overnight—rather than a quick rise—adds even more complexity, as does topping the pretzels with crunchy flaky sea salt. But the distinctive “pretzel” flavor comes from dipping the shaped dough in an alkaline solution before baking. (Food scientist Harold McGee discovered that heating baking soda in a low oven alters its pH, making it more similar to lye, and his baked baking soda is the secret ingredient for these exceptional homemade pretzels.) Forming these pretzels can seem tricky at first glance, but once you have the dough ropes in your hands, it flows like clockwork. Follow the instructions about handling the baking soda solution with care; while much safer than lye, it can burn your hands, as well as corrode aluminum pans. (No need to panic; just wear gloves, turn on your oven vent, and line your pans.) These pretzels are best the day they’re made, preferably hot out of the oven.
Celebrate Oktoberfest (or just a crisp fall day!) at home with made-from-scratch Bavarian soft pretzels, served fresh from the oven.
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Homemade berry syrup, a buttermilk hack, and a toasty butter trick are just a few of the keys to flapjack fame.
On a recent trip to Oaxaca, I was mesmerized with the fruity, smoky pasilla de Oaxaca chiles so much that I brought back a bag of the chiles, as well as a basalt molcajete, in my suitcase. The deep flavor the chiles impart to beef is exceptional; if you can’t find them, chipotle morita or chipotle meco chiles are good substitutes.
Fava beans are one of spring’s most coveted ingredients, and my favorite way of preparing them is to smash them with mint and pecorino into a chunky spread for topping toast. Once the favas are blanched and shelled, the spread comes together in mere minutes. It makes a fine snack to start a party, but perch a poached egg on top and you’ve got breakfast or lunch.
Yes, you can (and should) make salad in a mortar. When hardy vegetables, like cabbage, are lightly crushed in a tall Thai-style clay mortar with a long wooden pestle, they are tenderized just enough to yield a pleasing soft crunch. Bruised Thai basil, cilantro, and mint permeate this dish, with a dressing of fish sauce and lime, pounded chiles, garlic, and ginger. Serve it alongside grilled or roasted fish or chicken and steamed jasmine rice.
Whether it's made from clay, marble, or volcanic rock, each of these ancient tools has its own superpower in the kitchen. 
Food & Wine Cooks contributor Andrea Slonecker channeled her lifelong love of pancakes to take this breakfast basic to a delicious new level. Toasty browned butter infuses the barely-sweet batter, which fries up on the griddle into fluffy, lacy-edged flapjacks. To top it off, her super-fast sheet pan fruit syrup comes together in just minutes; frozen berries burst in the oven, releasing their juices to mingle with caramelly brown sugar and a little bit of lemon for balance. Trust us—one bite and you’ll never reach for a box mix again.
Hard- or soft-cooked eggs are one of the first things many people learn to cook, yet there’s much discrepancy surrounding this fundamental technique. Some insist that starting the eggs in cold water, slowly bringing the water to a boil, and keeping them at a boil until they reach the desired doneness is the best way, while others proclaim that after the boil is reached the pan should be pulled from the flame to allow the eggs to gently cook in the residual heat.In my book, Eggs on Top, I researched the best way to cook eggs in their shells, and I’m confident you’ll find this technique your new go-to for tender whites and vibrant golden, lusciously thickened yolks that slowly flow—a texture I refer to as “molten.” The secret is to not actually boil eggs at all, rather cook them at a bare simmer to keep the whites soft and tender and the shells from cracking against each other.The cooking method I preach is to sink the raw eggs into already-simmering water for five minutes. This initial shock of heat helps make it easy to peel the eggs after cooking. (Sometimes the shells are so loose they practically fall off in my hand!) For easier peeling, it’s commonly recommended that we use eggs that are a bit older for in-shell cookery, but doesn’t that defeat the point of buying farm-fresh eggs? Luckily with this method, even the freshest of fresh eggs peels with ease.For this to be effective, be sure to start with room-temperature eggs rather than ones that are just out of the refrigerator. If you’re in a hurry to bring cold eggs to room temperature, do as I do and temper them in a bowl of warm tap water first to prevent the shells from cracking from the big temperature swing.I like to roll those perfect soft-cooked eggs in minced parsley, lending flavor and a stunning presentation to this spring salad with roasted broccoli rabe and creamy avocado dressing. Spring is the season when warm and cold ingredients ought to mingle on one plate, and this salad brings all that to life. To serve, keep the soft-cooked eggs and the roasted rabe on the warm side, rather than cold, and compose the salad on plates with a bit of artistic flare. Then I would tell you to pour a glass of Chablis and enjoy this spring situation for lunch or dinner, whatever suits your fancy.
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Sometimes called the vanilla of Southeast Asia, pandan leaves offer a sweet grassy note and faint nuttiness to both desserts and savory dishes. I’ve tasted their unique flavor in steamed rice at Southeast Asian restaurants, wrapped around grilled chicken and fish, and baked into a surprisingly delicious Thai-style durian custard. My favorite health spa even adds it to their water instead of cucumbers or lemons. But I find the leaves particularly delicious infused into creamy ingredients like coconut milk and dairy.This recipe is inspired by a trip I took to Vietnam and my resulting obsession with pandan tea. One day I was frantically putting together a menu for an impromptu dinner party, but I was stuck on what to do for the dessert finale. On this particular day I was sipping my late-afternoon cup of pandan tea (a souvenir from that trip) when the idea struck to steep some of the dried leaves into cream and make a pandan-flavored panna cotta.Panna cotta is my go-to quick dessert. It’s simple to throw together before friends show up and does its magical congealing thing in the fridge while the evening progresses. Aside from the ease in making it, I find the cool, ethereal lightness is really nice at the end of a big meal; it manages to be rich without being heavy. The key is to avoid adding too much gelatin—we’re going for just barely holding its shape and super jiggly here, as opposed to the springy texture of Jell-O.One of my favorite Thai treats is mango sticky rice, and the best version I know has pandan in the coconut sauce that’s spooned on top. With that in mind, I chose mangos for the topping for this pandan-scented dessert. March is prime Ataulfo—aka Champagne—mango season, so be sure to search them out. They are those smaller, kidney-shaped yellow mangos you’ll find at any grocer with a good produce section, but especially at Asian or Latin markets. With extra sweetness and richer flavor than other mangos, they’re perfectly delicious just diced—no need to macerate in sugar or employ other such tricks. But a sprinkling of crushed pink peppercorns on top does add pretty color and a little fragrant punch to complete the dish.I first tried this recipe with the dried pandan leaf tea I’d brought back from Vietnam, but stateside it’s easier to find frozen pandan leaves in the freezer aisle at Asian markets; they revive beautifully once thawed.
I’ll never forget the lecture and meticulous demonstration our instructor gave on the “proper” way to cook a duck breast during the last week of culinary labs before my fellow classmates and I were turned loose to operate our school’s restaurant. With all the pomp and circumstance afforded a chef in a 2-foot-high toque, he went through a completely overwhelming tutorial devised to scare us into thinking duck breast is too challenging for the average human to cook.While the method I learned in culinary school did deliver a beautiful medium-rare breast with a crisp, golden brown crust, achieving that same outcome doesn’t have to be so complicated or intimidating. Pan-searing duck breast, it turns out, is actually a relatively simple process, as long as you follow a few key steps.It’s important to score the skin and fat with a sharp knife before cooking the duck breast. Scoring provides more surface area for the fat to render so the skin crisps and develops a gorgeous deep golden color and crisp texture. It’s also key to let the breast come to room temperature and to start cooking the breast skin side down in a cold pan, both of which help the fat render at just the right pace.Once the fat is mostly rendered and that enviable crust forms, I flip the breast to finish cooking the meat to medium-rare briefly on the other side. What’s left in the pan after the meat is set aside is liquid gold—in the form of duck fat. In this recipe, you’ll use that liquid gold to finish fluffy couscous that’s steamed with orange juice and turmeric, then tossed with dates, almonds and fresh herbs. Consider this a Moroccan twist on duck a l’orange. The duck is seasoned with ras el hanout, a bold spice blend that complements the full-flavored meat. Duck breast may not be your typical weeknight fare, but with this recipe it can be.I often think of a bold yet refined Bordeaux for pairing with duck, but here the Moroccan spices seem to lean toward a more rustic, wild red. I poured an aged Tempranillo from Spain’s Ribera del Duero region—understudy to the more celebrated Rioja—and found the concentrated red-fruit notes balanced by the decent acidity of wines from this region partner nicely.
You know that episode of Sex and the City where Miranda makes a chocolate cake, has a nice big slice, then continues to go back into the kitchen to cut small slivers throughout the evening and into the next night before she eventually has to throw it away, but then fishes one more bite out of the garbage can before pouring dish soap on it and calling Carrie to suggest she be checked into the “Betty Crocker Clinic”? Well, that’s what this chocolate tart will do to a person. It lingers on your palate and in your mind, beckoning you back for more.That’s why it’s really best to make it for a dinner party. My intent with suggesting a chocolate recipe in February is naturally inspired by Valentine’s Day. But this year I’m thinking about inviting friends over, and not just couples. Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day is the worst day of the year if you’re single and looking, so wouldn’t it be lovely to have a convivial dinner party to attend—especially if there’s a decadent slice of chocolate tart awaiting at the end of it?Here a typical press-and-bake graham cracker crust is spruced up with chocolate grahams and flecked with black sesame seeds for a striking assemblage. (Side note: Once when I made this, the grocery store was out of chocolate graham cracker sheets so I used animal-shaped chocolate graham cookies and it turned out just the same.) The nutty, crunchy crust lays the foundation for a velvety-smooth filling that would have Miranda rinsing off the dish soap for just one more bite.I like desserts a little more savory-sweet than super sweet. The addition of miso mixed with melted dark chocolate adds depth and umami, an almost buttery quality, and saltiness to balance the sweetness in the truffle-like ganache. All desserts need salt, and usually more than a small pinch—remember that and all your sweet endings will be the better.
Schnitzel has become a regular weeknight fix in my house. It’s quick and easy to prepare, but it also has a certain something extra. Not to mention how stress-relieving it can be to pound out a pork cutlet at the end of a long day.The idea for using crushed pretzels for the breadcrumb coating came to me years ago when I was working on my first cookbook, Pretzel Making at Home, and I had a surplus of homemade hard pretzels on my hands. I turned them into pie crust; I baked them into cookies; I used them as a calamari coating; I even retooled Austria’s national dish into a pretzel-crusted version. Pretzels deliver an extra crunch, and that curious alkaline flavor that can only be described as “pretzely.”On a trip to Germany many years ago, I had a thing with schnitzel. I ordered it at almost every restaurant I visited to try it with the various sauces and accompaniments. Potatoes and spaetzle are of course delicious, but my favorite pairing was the contrast of a bright green salad with the crispy, pan-fried cutlets. At home, that may be arugula, simply dressed with lemon and olive oil, but in winter, I find this heartier shaved brussels sprouts salad with mustard dressing and sharp pecorino cheese perfectly fits the bill.Let’s talk about pan-frying. It can be intimidating, but the simple thing to remember is to get the oil hot enough so that a few crumbs sizzle on contact. Be patient and wait for this to happen, and your crust will turn out crisp rather than oil-soaked and soggy. You also want to avoid getting it so hot that the oil starts to smoke, because that results in off flavors. Speaking of smoke points, it’s a good thing to fry in olive oil. It’s a myth that extra-virgin olive oil shouldn’t be used for frying, or cooked at all, for that matter. On the contrary, it’s a stable oil with a high-enough smoke point to make it ideal for pan-frying, and it’s better here than other oils for both taste and nutrition. A few pats of butter make it even better.As for what to drink with your Pretzel Schnitzel, an everyday-priced Grüner Veltliner from Austria is the ideal, if somewhat expected, choice for pairing, with its refreshing tartness and notes of fresh green herbs and citrus zest. It’s the perfect lift for a comfortingly crispy, just-rich-enough weeknight dish.
Swiss Army Stew
Rating: Unrated
New!
On a recent visit to the Valais, a region in southwest Switzerland known for both the highest mountain peaks and most vineyards in the country, I attended a small wine festival in the German-speaking village of Saas-Balen. One of the food stalls bore a sign that read “Militär Landküche”; inside, a group of Swiss Army veterans wearing camouflage fatigues and crimson berets were cooking in a real-deal Swiss Army field kitchen. From giant iron vats perched in the back of the mobile kitchen trailer they ladled up a stew of beef, cabbage, and root vegetables in a thin but richly flavored broth. The dish was called spatz, and it was humbly served in a paper bowl, accompanied by a plain slice of brown bread on a paper napkin. Though I had been eagerly anticipating a feast of melted raclette, naturally, I had to try it. It was both unexpected and fascinating, an ideal pairing to the alpine red wines I’d tasted at the event.This dish is simple, utilitarian fare meant for feeding a large group, and it’s deeply nourishing. Every male in Switzerland is required to serve in the military, so the stew is well-known throughout the country, with infinite variations based on the region and season. When I asked my friend Olivier Roten (who is a third-generation Valaisan winemaker of Caves du Paradis in Sierre) about the stew, he recalled eating it regularly from the standard-issue mess kit soldiers carry with them that features two compartments: one side for the stew and the other side for bread and other starchy sides. He explained that stews like this are not only ubiquitous in the military, but to Swiss cuisine in general—so much so that the word for the evening meal in French-speaking Switzerland is le souper, as opposed to le dîner, which is more commonly used in France.I’ve read that spatz is a variation of French pot-au-feu, although certainly a less fussy one. I love it for its simplicity. Everything goes into one pot; a few hours later a meal ideal for the depths of winter emerges. It’s just the right kind of healthy eating for that post-holiday detox, without sacrificing flavor and satisfaction.Swiss wines are wildly underrepresented in the United States, but do seek them out. Perhaps you’ve heard of Chasselas, called Fendant in the Valais, and its kinship to all things cheese, from fondue to raclette, but here’s an opportunity to try a Swiss red. Pinot Noir thrives in the Valais, where it grows in the terraced foothills of the Upper Rhône River Valley alongside Gamay and more rustic indigenous varieties like Humagne Rouge and Cornalin. I found Roten’s 2017 Avalanche Pinot Noir a delicious match to this recipe, with its characteristic silky-smooth texture and hints of holiday spice that mirror the clove and nutmeg found in the broth.
My mom's mother was the "model" grandmother; she sewed doll clothes, made homemade Play-Doh, and baked for every family gathering. My dad's mom—Grandma Slonecker— was quite the opposite; an avid traveler and socialite, she was not necessarily known for her domestic prowess. However, there are exactly two "recipes" I remember Grandma Slonecker making when we'd visit: One was 7UP floats; the other were these quirky holiday hors d'oeuvres that appeared at every Christmas gathering. Her "pizza toasts," as she called them, is the one hand-me-down recipe my family still makes every December. In researching the origin of her recipe, I discovered that little cocktail rye toasts topped with ground sausage and melted Velveeta cheese were a popular mid-century party snack in the Midwest. And they were the reason that I was full every year before the roast came out of the oven, even before the presents were unwrapped and the Tom and Jerry cocktails were poured. They were salty and cheesy, gooey and crunchy—basically, my ideal. For food-minded people like me, holiday cooking is one part revisiting nostalgic flavors and one part taking those family favorites to a more sophisticated place. Though I grew up on Velveeta casseroles, and still enjoy it in Tex-Mex queso dip on occasion, I tend to prefer the flavor of more artisanal cheeses in my own cooking. That velvety texture isn't easily replicated, but I found that melting a combination of mascarpone (or cream cheese) with robust Taleggio brings a similar gooey, saucy consistency and an elevated taste. But not too elevated—this is still retro pre-holiday-feast fodder. The topping for these toasts can be made a few days ahead, and it's as straightforward as browning some Italian sausage and melting in the cheeses. I throw in some chopped parsley for freshness and color, but otherwise, this recipe is nearly identical in taste to my grandma's. Which is exactly what I was going for. Passing recipes from one generation to the next, to modernize or simplify, making adjustments to meet current tastes, is part of our ongoing evolution in cooking. What's old is new again. What better time than the holidays to revive a family favorite of your own?
Crab Macaroni Gratin
Rating: Unrated
2
My mid-December birthday marks the start of Dungeness crab season in the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps I’m biased, but in my opinion, Dungeness is the tastiest crab there is, and worth celebrating in and of itself. Several years ago, I started inviting friends over under the guise of a birthday party, but really, it’s a celebration of the season, the past year, and, yes, the fresh catch of the best crab on the planet.My guest list includes too many friends to fit around my dining table, so we’re packed like sardines, snug in the candlelit room with magnums of Champagne and piles of steaming whole crabs to be cracked and dipped in melted butter. It’s messy and a bit chaotic, but fancy at the same time. I’d have it no other way.I like to choose a theme for the annual menu, usually inspired by a travel experience I had that year. Last year I visited one of my favorite cities, New Orleans, not once but twice, so it seemed fitting to laissez les bons temps rouler come December. The crab was cooked with Creole seasonings in the boil, classic and delicious, but the surprise hit was this macaroni au gratin served with it.To make it, I channeled iconic restaurants like Galatoire’s, Clancy’s, and Brigtsen’s—some of my favorites to visit when I’m in the Big Easy. A glorious amount of crabmeat baked with shell-shaped pasta in a three-cheese cream sauce —tangy white Cheddar, nutty Gruyère, and sharp Parmigiano-Reggiano—is no-joke delicious, and trés riche. That’s where the Champagne comes in. The tingly bubbles give your palate an ultrasonic scrub between each creamy, cheesy, blissful bite. Blanc de blancs, or Chardonnay-based Champagnes, are particularly good here. They can be saline like shellfish, complex like great cheeses, and bring enough acidity to play counterpoint to both.This recipe is not cheap, but it is easy. Once you shred the cheese, the rest is simple assembly. I buy the crabmeat picked, because, as I’m told by my fishmonger, it averages out to be about the same price as cooking whole crabs and picking the meat yourself, and it saves precious time. If you don’t have access to Dungeness, try this with your local variety, or whatever type of crab you can get your hands on.