Chef Kyle Wisner’s Lunch Break Demo @the Book Larder

One overcast Monday morning, I ventured over to the Book Larder, a community cookbook store on Fremont Ave of Seattle. I’ve ridden past there many a time by bike and by bus, and always meant to go. Finally, I found time and managed to sign up for classes a few days ahead.

Note: if you are scrambling for last minute gifts for people who love to eat, cooking classes may be a good option that ships instantaneously! Be mindful to check if it’s a demo, or hands-on, as that may matter depending on how much your loved one likes to cook (i.e. more hands-on for those who are into working with their hands, more demo for those who are more into eating the final product). Go ahead, click away from this post, I won’t mind.. 🙂

Chef Kyle Wisner did a delicious demo for the group on some straightforward recipes for swift home cooking, perfect for a hectic holiday season. Below are some recipes he shared, editorial commentary is my own.

Pork Roast


Center-cut pork roast
Enough za’atar spices to cover surface of the roast
kosher salt to preference

Tools: oven, , baking dish, meat thermometer


  1. Salt the roast “aggressively”, like any steak or other big cut of meat, rest the roast out to room temperature before roasting. Preheat oven to 400 (or 425F if your oven is weak sauce).
  2. Cover surface in za’atar spice.
  3. Bake roast in oven until it reaches an internal temp of 120F, approximately 18-30 minutes. It will likely still be a little pink in the middle, but the juices will disperse back and finish as you let the roast rest a while before serving.
  4. Optional: bonus points for drawing a depiction of “aggressively salting.”

– Like steak, or any other big chunk of meat, let the pork rest to room temperature before roasting.
– Chef Kyle loves Big John’s PFI as a great source of imported spices.
– Meat thermometer broken? In a pinch, stick a small knife through the middle of the roast, let it sit in there a moment, take it out and wipe it off, touch lightly to the lip and if it’s like “a warm summer day in Miami,” you’re close to “rare”!

Chef Kyle Wisner demos pork prep

Kale Salad


For Salad:
4 bunches kale*
Optional salad stars: carrots, parsnips, butternut, zucchini + mint, parsley, or cilantro (gasp)
1 Tbs salt
1/2 a lemon of juice

For Dressing:
2 lemon’s juice
1 shallot, chopped (alt: 1 small onion)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup tahini
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar (subs can be rice vinegar, red wine vinegar other vinegars, &c.)
1/2 bunches of herbs such as mint, tarragon, parsley, dill (or cilantro if you must), roughly torn
1/2 cup water, added gradually

1/2 Tbs salt

Useful tool but not critical: food processor or blender.

Steps for Salad:

  1. Strip kale leaves from stalks and clean. Massage salt into kale (use your hands!), add lemon juice and set aside for it to soak in, at least 10 minutes.
  2. Add other salad stars, e.g. ribbons of carrots, parsnips, butternut, zucchini. Optional: sprinkle in some bright herbs such as mint.

Steps for Dressing:

  1. Pulse the shallot and garlic together (otherwise use a knife to mince).
  2. Add tahini and blend until lumpy and”gross-looking” chunky.
  3. Add water gradually, blend until it reaches the consistency of dressing. Machine will sound louder and “slappy.”
  4. Throw in lemon juice, vinegar and herbs, blend.
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Serve on top of kale, and use leftovers for marinating, dressing, or just as a dip for vegetables.

– Tahini will keep in your fridge for about a week (unless you portion and freeze if or later).
– For travel: skip the initial salt, put the lemon juice in the kale, and mix the dressing in before a 30-60 minute drive and it will tenderize the greens.

Creme Fraiche


equal parts:
heavy cream


  1. Heat cream to “blood temp,” i.e. same temp when you put your finger in.
  2. Mix together equal parts buttermilk and creme in a jar (e.g. 1: 1 cup), shake, set aside at room temp for 1-3 days somewhere warm.
  3. Serve once the mixture sticks in the jar when you hold it upside down. In a Minnesota house, that’s probably 3 days. In a Florida house, probably 1.
  4. Yum. In this instance, this was served underneath the roasted veggies.

This demo was ostensibly around the theme of roasting, thus the pork roast. He also did some potatoes and leeks in the oven by standard methods. Two key tips included:

-Give the vegetables room to breathe, so they roast/bake instead of steaming each other. You should be able to poke your finger in between them and see the baking sheet.

-Crank up the temp to 450 until done, forget the lame and more lengthy 350 or 400 option!

12 o’clock demo start time means I was really hungry by the time this was plated, so you didn’t get a full snapshot.

Chef Kyle also threw together a great squash cake (shown above), you can find the recipe here at Milly’s Kitchen: Kuri Squash and Olive Oil Cake with Dark Chocolate by his friend Olaiya Land, who also offers cooking demos at the Book Larder. It was delicious. As an ardent anti-food-waste-thinker, I asked him for any recommendations for what to do with leftover kale stalks, and he suggested pickling them.

Recipes Recap
Novelty Rating: 3 of 5 I have cooked or heard of combinations of most of these before, but the tips were good.
Lesson Learned: After the second cooking class showing me how to make creme fraiche, I guess I better give it a shot. Also see photo below.
Likelihood of Repeat: 30% Weekday lunching feels like an excessive luxury, although at $30, this class is definitely more affordable than the $90+ classes at the Pantry (those are also more involved and multi-hour sessions).

100% for tahini sauce repeat. You know how sometimes you learn a new word, and suddenly it’s everywhere? That’s how I’m feeling with tahini. I mean, I knew it before, but ever since K_____ suggested we try to replicate this dish from Stoneburner of blasted broccoli and tahini and we did, it just keeps popping up in other places. Maybe it’s also because I spent 30+ minutes at Safeway a few weeks ago hunting down the elusive single jar of tahini they had tucked away next to the bread, a hard-earned find. The demo at Book Larder confirmed and expanded on tahini as a useful and delicious multi-purpose sauce. Very exciting.


Kale stems: will know in about two weeks how this pickling went..


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