Profile: Designer Alexis Hartman
Alexis Hartman is a very good cook. We met in 2001, when she started a design job at an L.A. fashion brand where I worked. One day, we bonded at the lunch table. I had brought a store-bought TV dinner; she brought her homemade roasted chicken. Mine was insipid; hers was inspired.
She still makes that dish once a week. “The most important thing is to salt the whole bird heavily and air-dry it in the fridge overnight,” she says. “And before you stick it in the oven, smother butter all over it to get that fantastically crisp skin.”
Alexis always loved food and had a big appetite, and growing up, her single mom made sure she was well fed. “Starting in elementary school and continuing through adolescence, she cooked these great, gigantic breakfasts for me,” remembers Alexis, smiling. “Most often it was pasta, with tuna or chicken, sometimes chicken and potatoes, sometimes eggs. Always a full meal.”
She occasionally assisted her mom with baking their favorite cookies—oatmeal chocolate chip raisin. But her gastronomic education accelerated in college, when she lived alone and cooked for herself. “I really got into Jamie, Nigella and Mario,” says Alexis of watching the popular Food Network stars. “They were entertaining, and it was fun trying their recipes.”
Currently, however, cooking for fun is on the back burner. In 2013, Alexis launched Lake August, a sustainable textile and wallpaper company that uses only natural materials and traditional techniques. And last October, she and her husband Andrew became parents to a baby boy named Hugo. Still, she spends time in the kitchen whenever she can. “We enjoy making fewer dishes, but really perfecting them.”
Age 35 — Hometown Los Angeles — Where do you live? Los Angeles — Occupation Designer/owner of a fabric & wallpaper line — Signature dish Roasted chicken — Who taught you how to cook? Equal parts mom, dad, Nigella Lawson — Favorite kitchen tool My onion goggles look ridiculous but really work! — Always in your pantry Raw almonds, fennel and sesame seeds, lemons, Maldon salt — Go-to snack Coconut milk chia seed pudding — Favorite cuisine Indian, Southern, Japanese — Do you diet? No — Food addictions Peanut butter. I have tried to switch to almond butter but I can't quit you peanut butter! — Food allergies Sugar is my Kryptonite — Food fad pet peeve "Have you ever dined with us before? Let me tell you how the menu works." — Who’s your sous chef? Husband — Drinking while cooking? Sure — What’s for dinner tonight? Pasta with sardines, arugula and lots of lemon — Do you ever cry over spilled milk? I put the cat down next to it! — Best meal you ever had Don't really have a best one, but one that stands out in memory—in 1991 we went to Campanile for my brother's high school graduation. I had something I'd never even heard of before—fried squash blossoms stuffed with goat cheese. Delicious and very exotic to an 11 year old. — Contact lakeaugust.com
Grain-Free Chocolate-Almond Muffins
“I always experiment with eating less grains,” says Alexis. “I feel better and healthier.” Enter these moist and airy, gluten-free, grain-free, not-so-sweet muffins. They have been her staple breakfast food for years.
Feel free to play with the ingredients—substitute your favorite nuts, seeds and sweeteners (honey or agave syrup instead of maple syrup). If you don’t like cacao, you can skip it. You can also pour the batter into a loaf pan and bake a bread version of this recipe; just note the baking time is a little longer—about 35–40 minutes.
- Makes 12 muffins
- 6 eggs
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups almond flour
- 2 tablespoons cacao
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup raw almonds, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line your muffin tin with paper cups.
- In a bowl, whisk the eggs and stir in the olive oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, mix the almond flour, cacao, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder together. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring gently, until there is no flour visible. Fold in the almonds.
- With a spoon, fill the muffin tins with the batter, almost to the top. Bake on the center rack of the oven until springy when pressed, about 20–25 minutes. Let cool in the tin for a few minutes, and then remove.
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