Alison Roman knows what she likes: she prefers savory over sweet, doesn’t love chocolate or cookies (despite her most famous dessert recipe being a chocolate chip shortbread), and she’s a fan of creating dishes that are rustic, not polished.
The superstar author’s personal tastes and strong opinions are all over her fab new book,
, which is filled with recipes that put a fresh twist on traditional desserts — think savory toppings for her Perfect Pancakes, Perfect Waffles recipe, and plenty of sour cream in her chocolate pound cake. The book also features savory dishes that nod to Alison’s days as a columnist at Sweet Enough Bon Appétit and The New York Times, including A Very Tall Quiche with Zucchini and Greens, and the Caramelized Onion and Anchovy Tart, reminiscent of her viral Caramelized Shallot Pasta recipe from a 2020 NYT column. (The recipe was so popular, she later sold shirts emblazoned with images of the dish.) Alison sat down with us to talk about the new cookbook, her kind of dessert and the food shop she plans to open in Upstate New York.
Why the focus on desserts and sweets? H&H:
It was time to take a break from the general all-purpose books I’d been doing, and this felt like a challenge. If you like the savory food I make, this book will feel familiar because I take the same approach to dessert. I believe you can be a relaxed person in the kitchen, customize and make last-minute mistakes, and still end up with something wonderful. And don’t worry, my usual savory crutches — anchovies and dill — are also in the book. Alison Roman:
What’s your favorite recipe from this book? H&H:
The Lemon Shaker Pie is a classic. It’s inspired by the Shaker community, which never wastes anything, so I used the whole lemon in this recipe, creating a tangy and bitter flavor from the rind. It’s probably my favorite dessert of all time. AR:
Lemon Shaker Pie
“Whole lemon slices are marinated in sugar to soften and release their juices, then you mix that with eggs, melted butter and sugar, and bake it until the inside has a lemon bar texture.” – Alison Roman
Caramelize Onion and Anchovy Tart (A Perfect Snack)
“Topped with caramelized onions and anchovies, and dotted with black olives for good measure, this is my version of the pissaladière, a popular dish in France and Italy.” – Alison Roman
H&H What makes the perfect Alison Roman dessert? :
AR: Sweet Enough is a nod to the desserts I like to bake and eat. There’s a good amount of salt and they’re often quite punchy. The things with lemon are very acidic, and none of the recipes are that sweet.
Simple Fruit Tart
“I want people to be more flexible with desserts, and this tart teaches you how to make a good basic crust and vanilla pastry cream that you can use with other toppings.” – Alison Roman
We heard you’re opening a food shop in the Catskills this summer! Can you tell us about it? H&H:
Yes, it’s a pantry shop in Bloomville called First Bloom, after the magnolia tree in my yard in the Catskills. It’s going to be a fun, practical shop where you can get your basics — and, hopefully, a helpful addition to the area. AR:
Blueberry Cornmeal Shortbread Tart
“All you need is fruit and your hands, and this comes together easily. It travels well and keeps at room temperature — it’s the answer to everything in the summertime.” – Alison Roman
Perfect Pancakes, Perfect Waffles
“I made this recipe work for either waffles or pancakes because the same principles apply. You want brown, crispy edges and a soft, custardy interior.” – Alison Roman
Where do you like to eat when you’re Upstate? H&H:
There’s not a single restaurant in Bloomville but, nearby, there’s AR: Brushland Eating House, Hamden General Store (which makes amazing food Thursday through Sunday) and a coffee shop and bar called Hollow. The Catskills is a small area with a lot of amazing cooks, farmers and people who really care about food.
A Very Tall Quiche with Zucchini and Greens
“While I feel like most quiches rely heavily on the cheese of it all, here, it’s the vegetables that are doing most of the work.” – Alison Roman
Which restaurants are you eating at in NYC? H&H:
My go-tos lately have been AR: Cervo’s, Wu’s Wonton King and a newer spot called Casino that has fun snacks and drinks. I always end up going to the same places, but I’m trying to find some new options that I like.
What’s happening with the TV show you were working on for CNN before the channel shut down its original food programming? H&H:
We’re shopping it around to different distributors. It’s a cooking show that we shot in my house in Upstate New York because my landlord wouldn’t let me do it in Brooklyn. I also go to Italy, Greece and Vietnam to explore the origin of specific ingredients and the stories behind them. If you’re into cooking shows or travel, it ticks those boxes. AR:
What’s next for you? H&H:
I’m excited to travel somewhere new this summer, eat at some new restaurants and start making new recipes again so I can get to work on the next book! AR: