“Have you ever had pot brownies from a boxed mix that tasted vaguely of burnt rubber tires and were way too strong (discovered, regrettably, after it was all too late)? We’ve been there. Let’s chalk it up to being young and undiscerning. That was then, and this is now.”
So begins Stephanie Hua’s first cookbook entitled, “Edibles: Small Bites for the Modern Cannabis Kitchen,” which takes marijuana edibles to the next level. Stephanie, the founder of gourmet cannabis marshmallows company Mellows, collaborated with award-winning cannabis chef Coreen Carroll to produce a medley of 30 low-dose recipes intended to enhance consumers’ experiences, not impair them.
These recipes, which are ideal for entertaining, range from The Elvis Cookie and Booty Call Brownies to Green Eggs & Ham and PB&J Chocolate Cups, and are dosed at about 5 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per serving. “What we’re going for here is more of a rosé-all-day vibe,” state Stephanie and Coreen in the cookbook, which hits stores on Nov. 6.
For those new to cannabis, “Edibles” provides a quick tutorial on strains, terpenes, cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. Meanwhile, the cannasseur can skip ahead to calculating marijuana dosage, decarboxylating, making an infusion and then trying out the “gorgeous, gourmet and carefully dosed” recipes, many of which are accompanied by colorful, mouthwatering images.
We sat down with Stephanie (pictured above) to learn about how “Edibles” came to be, how she and Coreen chose the 30 recipes, and what they hope folks will get out of the cookbook.
How did you decide to go with Chronicle Books as the publisher of your cannabis edibles cookbook? What was the start of it all?
Stephanie Hua: It all started at the San Francisco Cooking School. That's where I met Coreen about five years ago. Coreen was my schoolmate. In any case, the founder of the school, Jodi Liano, introduced us to [publicist and agent] Andrea Burnett. Andrea had previously worked at Chronicle Books for a long time, and after we had first met, she came back to us and said, “Hey, you know, I'm really interested in doing a cannabis edible book.”
I had already come up with this concept of really focusing in on low-dose cannabis edibles with my business Mellows. I’ve been a believer in low-dose products for a long time now. And so I was really excited about taking that philosophy, and growing and expanding it to cover a lot of other recipes that wouldn't necessarily work as a packaged product. The recipes that we love and have had in our back pockets for a long time.
What year did your cannabis marshmallows company Mellows get its start, and when did the idea for the book come to be and then take off?
SH: So, Mellows first got started in 2015. We’ve been making low-dose, gourmet, hand-crafted marshmallows for the past few years.
We started working on the book close to about a year ago. That’s when it was first conceptualized. I brought Coreen in because there’s no one I would want to share this project with more than her.
And we had so many recipes. It was hard to narrow them down. Deciding on the right ones was much harder than I thought it would be. So that process was pretty fast, and then we shot the photographs last October and developed the recipes, tweaked and tested them in four months.
It was a really fast timeline, especially with legalization this year and the recreational market opening up. We wanted to get the book on shelves in time for the holiday season. So, we crunched through it to make sure we could get it out in time.
There’s no doubt your cookbook would make a great gift for a lot of home cooks. The recipes photos are drool-worthy. What are you hoping folks will get out of your cookbook?
SH: Part of our goal is to inspire people to think beyond their current perception of what a cannabis edible can be. We really wanted to be creative with the recipes and showcase how elegant and elevated it can be.
We feature some of our favorite makers in California. And so, for example, we feature the The Elvis Cookie, which is a Venice Cookie Company cookie by Kenny Morrison. We were trying to figure out which cookie to feature, and that one really caught our eye—the flavor profile of it. And when he sent us the recipe, it had 1,000 mg of THC per cookie. And I said, “OK, let’s scale this way, way down.”
So, I think it'll be fun for people who always wanted to try that cookie, but can't necessarily commit to a 1,000 mg cookie to be able to finally get a taste of what it's like.
I love how you spend time laying the groundwork with infographics and visuals, how you start off giving folks a primer on cannabis. I think that it really helps folks new to the plant break into cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. What was your thought process there?
SH: Yeah, thank you. It was really important for us—part of our overall goal for this book is education. For a lot of people, the photos are what catches their eye, and a lot of times they tend to gloss over the introduction.
But I think with cannabis cooking, it’s so important to really understand the ingredients, and it's something that a lot of people aren't aware of. They don't realize that there are hundreds of cannabinoids, for example.
And so we thought it was really important to include a pretty robust cannabis 101 upfront just as a primer—before you even get into the kitchen, know what you're working with.
I like that. And so you mentioned that you had so many recipes that it was hard to bring it down to the 30. How did you make that selection for the cookbook?
SH: Well, the thing we ended up on was “Small Bites for the Modern Cannabis Kitchen”—so, small bites, low dose. What would be easy to do as a one-bite dosage. And so that really helped us narrow down. We aren't doing huge potluck style. Everything is very party-ready, mostly sweet. So, desserts, hors d'oeuvres, finger foods, things that people can really entertain with.
And so, that was also a guiding theme: What can people entertain with? For us, we love to entertain obviously as cooks, and we love to feed people. And I think that a large part of edibles is being able to showcase it in a way where you're sharing it, and you're bringing people around our table and sharing this experience together.
And we also looked at seasonality. The book is very much a reflection of how we cook and eat. And so being fortunate to live in San Francisco, we have such amazing access to local, seasonal produce. And so we celebrate summer tomatoes, strawberries, green garlic in the spring. We try to work in those special ingredients.
What do you recommend to folks who don’t have that local, seasonal access? For example, folks in the Northeast who have shorter summers—and therefore shorter growing seasons—and cold, snowy winters.
SH: Yeah. We also make a lot of substitution options in the book. For example, when peaches aren't in season, and you want to make this delicious peach cocktail, you can easily use frozen peaches. It won’t quite be the same, but it'll still be delicious.
Also, chocolate is always in season. We have a lot of chocolate recipes.
With your cannabis edibles cookbook, are you hoping to encourage people to be adventurous, to try different foods and flavor combinations?
SH: Absolutely. There are a lot of unexpected twists. For example, we have a blood orange blondie in the book. We call it our shatter. We have a caramelized sugar shard that we add on top of the blondie; it’s a little nod to our friends who dab.
But yeah, we had a lot of fun with it and tried to walk a nice line between things that were accessible and familiar, and things that were a little bit unexpected.
What do you hope people will come away with if they pick up or go through your cannabis cookbook?
SH: I would love for people to pick up this cookbook, read through it and walk away with a sense that cannabis can be totally normal. This idea of normalizing cannabis is a huge goal of this book, and to think, “Hey, I can have this on my coffee table and not feel weird about, and it’s a beautiful coffee table book. It should feel right at home on my cookbook shelf with all of my other cookbooks.”
And so normalization is definitely a big goal of mine with this book, and putting it out there and really presenting it as something that isn't scary, and that’s accessible and delightful.
Do you have plans to create more cannabis edibles cookbooks?
SH: Yes. We had so many recipes to draw from that we could easily fill another book or two. So, fingers crossed this does well. I would love to continue sharing recipes with the world.
Photo credit: Linda Xiao
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