Brigit Binns

Brigit Binns
Did you know?

Brigit and her husband, actor Casey Biggs, relocated to California's central coast wine country a few years ago. Casey promptly (and accidentally) became the viral Youtube sensation "Paso Wine Man," a suave, funny Old Spice Guy-meets-Most Interesting Man in the World advocate for the fast-growing wine region.

Brigit Binns
Brigit's Featured Recipe
Fresh Peaches Stuffed with Mascarpone and Macaroons

Click here for recipe

Brigit Binns is the author or coauthor of 29 cookbooks (eleven of her books were for Williams-Sonoma), and editor of more than 40. She has collaborated on books with some of the country’s most respected chefs, including New York's Michael Psilakis and Los Angeles’ Joachim Splichal. She adapted all the recipes for Chef Psilakis book, How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking, which was nominated for a James Beard Award. Her collaboration with San Francisco butcher Ryan Farr (the "King of Meats"), Whole Beast Butchery was also nominated.

2015 saw the publication of her iconic road-trip book for Sunset Magazine, Eating Up the West Coast: The Best Road-Trips, Restaurants, and Recipes from California to Washington.

In her beautifully-photographed book The NEW Wine Country: Recipes from California's Central Coast, she writes a love letter to the wine, food, and pioneer spirit of the fastest-growing wine region of her home state.

Her latest Williams-Sonoma book The Cook & the Butcher gained widespread critical acclaim, adding to her large meat-centric oeuvre. Other Williams-Sonoma titles: The NEW Slow Cooker, Pizza, Small Plates, Salad, and Bride & Groom Entertaining.  She also created 150 original recipes for the Tavern on the Green Cookbook.

Other books include The Low-Carb Gourmet; The Palm Restaurant Cookbook; Cuisine Naturelle (coauthor); and Cowboy Cocktails (coauthor). Brigit’s humorous memoir-cookbook The Relaxed Kitchen: How to Entertain with Casual Elegance and Never Lose Your Mind, Incinerate the Soufflé, or Murder the Guests chronicles her disastrous early dinner party mistakes—and how she learned from them.

Brigit was an early blogger; The Huffington Post called her (now-retired) cult drive-eat-drink-think blog, Roadfoodie, “One of the Best Food and Drink Websites.” 

She received a B.A. in Chinese studies from Lewis & Clark College and also studied at Georgetown University in D.C., Soochow University in Taipei, and the Monterey Institute of International Studies. During ten years living in Europe, she graduated from England’s Tante Marie cooking school, received certification from The Wine and Spirits Education Trust, owned a catering business in southern Spain, and edited the English-language magazine of Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Brigit has traveled extensively in Italy, France, Spain, Britain, and the interior of the U.S.A. She has been published in Saveur, Food & Wine, and Variety, among others.

Brigit lives on the central coast of her beloved home state, California.

With her husband, she owns Refugio Paso Robles. A culinary event space in the heart of the Central Coast Wine Country, Refugio also boasts two luxe vacation rental suites, and is the venue for regular cooking classes taught by Brigit and a roster of highly respected chefs from all across the country and the globe.

Latest Recipes

Marbled Hazelnut-Brownie Cheesecake for a Crowd

I am indebted to the hugely talented dessert-meister of the Palm, Jeff Bleaken, for the original recipe on which this variation is based. You will probably have to invest in a new pan the first time you make it, since so few people actually have a 10-inch spring-form pan lurking about the kitchen, but once you have the pan you can place the cheesecake firmly in your repertoire of formidable desserts (it travels well, in the pan, too). Note dont be tempted to make it in a 9-inch pan itll be too thick to cook efficiently.

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Muffuletta for a Picnic or a Boat-nic

To save time, you can make the olive salad the night before. Or, you could substitute a well-made store-bought tapenade for the base of the olive salad, but be sure to add the fresh herbs, garlic, roasted pepper, and lemon juice to brighten it up. Assemble the muffuletta from 1 to 6 hours (better) before cutting and serving.

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Fresh Peaches Stuffed with Mascarpone and Macaroons

I like the tartness of mascarpone against the sweetness of ripe fruit, but taste the mascarpone and, if desired, whisk in a little sweetness in the form of raw sugar, honey, or maple syrup (the macaroons will also add a lovely sweet crunch).

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Lobster and White Bean Spoons

These are rather decadent and filling little bites that nevertheless can lay claim to a certain rusticity. Beans will do that. If lobster is unavailable or too expensive, feel free to substitute cooked crayfish or crab.

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Taleggio en Croute

Ideally, thaw the phyllo dough in the refrigerator for 24 hours, to prevent it from sticking together. You can refrigerate the assembled package overnight, covered with plastic wrap transfer directly to the hot oven. You will not use the whole box of phyllo, so be prepared to re-wrap it securely, air-tight if you do, it will keep for up to one month in the refrigerator.

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Cannellini Bean, Corn, and Frisee Salad

If necessary, thaw the corn kernels. Cook the corn, chop the shallot, and snip the chives. Open the bean can rinse and drain the beans. Rinse and spin dry the frisee.

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Buffalo Mozzarella, Tomato, and Pesto Tarts

Thaw the puff pastry for at least 2 and up to 4 hours at room temperature. For this recipe, you will not be rolling the pastry out any further, so all you have to do is remove it from the package and unfold.

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The Olive Bar

Good supermarkets and virtually all respectable specialty food shops offer a plethora of olivesloose and in glass jars or plastic tubsthat can run the gamut from brine-cured to oil-cured, from luminous green to dull green and from deep black to a rather unnatural red. Assembling your own personal best olive bar will involve research and experimentation. Think of it in the same terms you do when designing a cheese platter offer a range of textures, shades, and flavors along with accompaniments, like bread and good olive oil spiked with a few drops of your best balsamic vinegar for dipping, or sun-dried tomatoes and peppers, that compliment the true stars of the bar, the olives.

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Secret Salad

I created this salad for Christmas dinner at our friends Jareds lovely Victorian home in Athens, New York. We were still doe-eyed from our most recent Chianti experience, and missing sheeps milk cheese and truffles. This seemed a perfect way to provide both. The unexpected presence of the melty cheese, hiding shyly underneath the tender greens, and the perfume it imparts to them, are a blissful revelation.

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Soft-Boiled Egg Salad with Arugula and Pancetta

There is no more elemental dish in this book. The soft-boiled eggs are most easily pulled apart with your fingers, which will be salty and oily from handling the thick slices of pancetta. From barn to vegetable garden to chicken coop, this salad brings all the best pastoral ingredients onto your plate with simple honesty. Use the best eggs you can lay your hands on, and serve outdoors in the sunshine, if possible.

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Chimichurri Skirt Steak

Season the steaks the night before (you are essentially dry-brining them). Pull the parsley and oregano leaves from the stems and make the chimichurri sauce (without the vinegar) 4 to 6 hours before serving.

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A Summer's Day Tomato Gratin

You may increase this recipe with impunity, and will probably want to. Generously thick-cut and mounded with crisp and garlicky breadcrumbs, one tomato slice is probably enough for one non-gluttonous person, but chances are almost everyone will want seconds of this more-ish dish. Remember that, although they can overlap slightly, the tomatoes really must bake in a single layer, so bring all your gratin, baking dishes, and shallow casseroles into play.

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Melting Potatoes with Thyme and Cheese

As an homage to one of my heroes, Nigel Slater, I set out to create the sine-qua-non of potato comfort-in-a-pan. But, in order to qualify for inclusion in The Relaxed Kitchen, it had to be 80 percent hands-off, and then, once finished, capable of hanging out uncompromised until I was good and ready to serve. This heavenly dish is the result.

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Roast Chicken Strewn with Thyme Branches

This recipe came about through laziness the hillside outside my front door in Spain was covered with wild thyme. I couldnt be bothered to strip the little leaves from the stems so I started throwing handfuls of thyme branches over the chicken while it roasted.

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Summer Seafood Platter

My lifelong friend Ronda is the Queen of the Cold Platter, the Maven of Mixology, the raven-haired Empress of Effortlessif rather expensive--Entertaining. When time is short, which I gather it tends to be with two diminutive little darlings dashing about, her strategy is to forget making it herself, just Buy Buy Buy!

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Cinnamon Popovers

There is virtually no difference between a popover and a Yorkshire pudding, the ubiquitous accompaniment to roast beef throughout the Bri...

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Pancakes with Blueberries and Crème Fraîche

The blue and gold of these pancakes reminds me of spring on the central coast of California. When I was little, we spent all our vacation...

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Baked Polenta with Eggplant, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Basil Sauce

For this dish, the polenta can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time, or the whole dish can be assembled and held for a few hours before c...

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Homemade Chicken Stock

If you have the time, it is well worth making your own stock. Save backs, wings, and other raw or cooked chicken trimmings in the freezer...

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Baby Greens with Blood Oranges and Sage-Prosciutto Polenta Croutons

When I arrived back in America after years of living in Spain, my choice of where to live was based on the availability of baby salad gre...

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Grilled Polenta Crostini

This is a master recipe. Not only is it masterfully good but it can be used as the model for literally hundreds of crostini with differen...

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Gorgonzola Puffs

These nuggets of flavor could be served on tiny doilies or in little paper muffin cups for passing at a cocktail party. Then they can jus...

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Duck Breasts with Port Sauce and Wild Mushroom Polenta

When I discovered boneless duck breasts in England years ago, they became my favorite special occasion dish, and this way of cooking them...

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Soft Polenta with Braised Italian Sausage, Oven-roasted Tomatoes, and Swiss Chard

I learned about these oven-roasted tomatoes while working on the Patina restaurant cookbook and they have been part of my repertoire ever...

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Polenta Lasagna with Spinach, Zucchini, Herbs, and Fontina

This is a variation of pasticciata, a traditional northern Italian polenta dish that is often made with cheese only. The addition of vege...

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Chicken Pot Pie with Cornmeal Crust

Sometimes you just need a chicken pot pie. I learned to love savory pies during my year in England. Cornish pasties, raised game pies wit...

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Lemon and Oregano Polenta Muffins

Not your usual muffins by any means, these little gems go perfectly with grilled dishes such as a Greek-style chicken. Add a cucumber and...

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Pan-Fried Tomatoes with a Cornmeal Crust

In the American South cornmeal is often used to coat oysters, catfish, and chicken before frying them, but this dish, with its crunchy ex...

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Fennel Seed and Rosemary Breadsticks

When I tested these crunchy breadsticks, with their herb flavor and welcome salty bite, my friend Richard couldn’t get over the fact that...

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Polenta Pound Cake

This golden cake is dense and slightly crunchy, not a lighter-than-air pound cake, though it certainly looks like one. Topped with a warm...

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