- Courtesy Clare Barboza
- Chicken kale meatballs with CBD-infused cherry tomato and pesto sauces
Alice B. Toklas gets misplaced credit for spreading the gospel of pot brownies. That's thanks largely to the 1968 movie I Love You, Alice B. Toklas, in which a young woman bakes up brownies liberally laced with an extra leafy ingredient.
In fact, The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book does include a Haschich Fudge recipe, as well as vignettes of the author's life with her partner, Gertrude Stein. Toklas' recipe, however, is not for brownies or even fudge, but for dried-fruit-and-nut balls spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper and a "bunch of canibus [sic] sativa ... pulverised."
Toklas' cookbook was published in 1954, but American readers didn't see this recipe until the 1960 paperback appeared. The foreword to the 1984 edition explains that Haschich Fudge was omitted from the first U.S. printing "for legal reasons."
How times have changed.
In 2021, an internet search for "cannabis cookbooks" turns up a plethora of options, including one solely about "cannabutter," a key ingredient in many baked goods; one of vegan recipes; and several with punny titles, such as Bong Appétit: Mastering the Art of Cooking With Weed.
This month, Essex Junction author Tracey Medeiros steps into that crowded ring with her fifth cookbook, The Art of Cooking With Cannabis: CBD and THC-Infused Recipes From Across America.
Unlike Toklas, Medeiros does include a brownie recipe. Rich with chocolate and cannabis, topped with marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs, S'Mores Brownies was contributed by Hope Frahm, corporate executive chef of Love's Oven, a bakery and producer of cannabis edibles in Denver, Colo.
- Courtesy Julie Bidwell
- Tracey Medeiros
Frahm is one of 45 chefs, farmers and cannabis entrepreneurs whose recipes, expertise and stories appear in the book. Each of its three chapters is devoted to one type of cannabis ingredient and liberally interspersed with information on the science, complexity and caution involved in cooking with cannabis.
The first chapter, "CBD — Cannabidiol," focuses on one of the nonpsychoactive cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Among the recipes are CBD-infused flax seed crackers and a grilled, smoky eggplant dip enriched with CBD oil.
In the second chapter, "Hemp," recipes showcase hemp seeds and their oil, hemp-infused products, and hemp leaves. One recipe is for a vegan pesto made with raw hemp leaves; another, for spicy maple cauliflower wings with toasted hemp-seed coating. Hemp, Medeiros explains, is a variety of Cannabis sativa that contains CBD but no significant levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component found in cannabis plants.
That ingredient is the focus of the third chapter, "THC — Tetrahydrocannabinol." Here the recipes include cannabis flower, THC concentrate, THC-infused oils or butter, and specialty ingredients such as chocolate made with THC.
Alongside recipes for dishes such as cannabis-cured salmon and Sh'mac and Cheese, Medeiros offers notes on moderation and safety. The macaroni and cheese recipe, for example, bears a warning that it is a "high-dose recipe not for beginners."
Five Vermont businesses contributed recipes to the CBD or hemp chapters. Green Goddess Café in Stowe offers a Jamaican Me Shake CBD-spiked smoothie with fruit, spinach and avocado. (See sidebar on opposite page.) A recipe for hemp-infused chocolate coconut bars comes from Luce Farm Wellness in Stockbridge. Zenbarn in Waterbury, 5 Birds Farm & Regenerative Wellness in Woodstock, and Elmore Mountain Therapeutics also made contributions.
The book includes profiles of many of the contributors, who share their personal paths to cooking with cannabis, often to alleviate symptoms of conditions ranging from inflammation to anxiety to cancer.
Stories like these were what initially piqued Medeiros' interest, she told Seven Days. The culinary school graduate and cookbook author had never cooked with cannabis, but she kept coming across articles about what she described as its "wellness properties."
For those who use cannabis for health reasons, Medeiros believes that integrating it in food provides "creative variety. You cannot get chicken-and-kale meatballs at a [medical marijuana] dispensary," she said, referring to a recipe in her book for meatballs with CBD-infused cherry tomato and pesto sauces.
Medeiros is careful to clarify that "CBD and THC are never a substitute for professional health care." She also emphasizes responsible, informed and legal consumption. "This is not the type of book [that says,] 'Oh, let's go party,'" the author said.
In choosing her contributors, Medeiros said, she sought out experts "who look at this seriously and try to use this plant not only to elevate the culinary landscape but also to help folks."
Historically, cannabis cooking has often involved masking the plant's naturally strong taste and smell. Now, though, Medeiros said, cannabis is gradually being taken more seriously as an ingredient that contributes unique and desirable flavors. Chefs with expertise sometimes specify the strains that work best in a particular dish.
Medeiros envisions a day when people will show a recipe to a budtender at their local cannabis retailer and ask for specific recommendations, just as they might at their fishmonger, butcher or wine merchant. While the cookbook's target audience is cooks of all levels who want to know more about cooking with cannabis for themselves, she hopes it will also be useful to culinary professionals.
- The Art of Cooking With Cannabis: CBD and THC-Infused Recipes From Across America by Tracey Medeiros, Skyhorse, 424 pages. $29.99.
Medeiros acknowledges that it's difficult to dose with precision when consuming cannabis as part of a home-cooked meal. The actual amount per serving can vary with the strain, the processing method and how the portions are measured. Hence, although one could easily plan and execute a multicourse dinner from The Art of Cooking With Cannabis, she recommends that novices test the waters gradually.
Though all of the recipes were tested with cannabis ingredients, they can be made without them, using substitutes when appropriate, Medeiros said. Newbies could cook some of the recipes without cannabis, or cook for a group and offer (clearly distinguished) versions of a dish both with and without cannabis, just as hosts offer mocktails beside cocktails. Medeiros said she wanted the recipes to stand alone, so that "if you took the cannabis out, this was a cookbook in itself."
Customizing a menu to individual comfort and experience levels sounds sensible to Amy Bacon, who has worked for more than six years to incorporate CBD and THC into edibles and potables that are typically used for symptom relief. She's a professional chef and production manager for Champlain Valley Dispensary and Southern Vermont Wellness, whose sister organization, Ceres Natural Remedies in Burlington, will be selling The Art of Cooking With Cannabis.
While Bacon's work is all about lab testing and precise dosage, she sees the appeal of home cooking with cannabis and thinks Medeiros did a solid job of illuminating the complex subject.
People who are newer to cannabis edibles, Bacon said, may want to start with recipes that call for purchased tinctures, oils or infusions with certified concentrations. "Pay attention to the serving size," she added. "These are hard things to measure, [and] not many people really have scales at home."
The chef also noted that cannabis works slowly, and its effects vary with the person: "When you ingest it, it takes time to start working." A THC-infused meal should be planned as a leisurely evening, with ample time between courses for those who are unsure of their tolerance levels.
"Cannabis is not a one-size-fits-all," Bacon said. "It's hard to say what five milligrams would do to Grandma sitting next to you."
From her perspective developing products for the medical marijuana clients of Champlain Valley Dispensary and the customers of Ceres Natural Remedies, Bacon liked "the food-as-medicine aspect" of Medeiros' cookbook. She also found plenty of appealing recipes in its pages — for instance, the Korean-style CBD-infused short ribs, and the sweet corn ice cream flavored with cannabis flower and thyme and topped with brown sugar crumble. She would be most likely to make them without cannabis, she said with a laugh, "because these sound so delicious, and you don't want to overconsume."
"I like that it's just bringing cannabis into more of a mainstream," Bacon said of Medeiros' book, "[like] people thinking of it in relation to what they might have for dinner that night."
Green Goddess Café Jamaican Me Shake
- Courtesy of Brent Harrewyn
- Green Goddess Café Jamaican Me Shake
From The Art of Cooking With Cannabis: CBD and THC-Infused Recipes From Across America by Tracey Medeiros
Makes one 15-ounce drink. This refreshing, creamy, drinkable treat is best enjoyed right away.
- 8 ounces organic apple juice
- ¼ cup fresh pineapple chunks
- ¼ cup mango chunks, fresh or frozen
- ¼ cup organic coconut milk
- ½ Hass avocado, pitted and peeled
- ¼ cup fresh local baby spinach, packed
- 20 milligrams CBD oil, preferably Sunsoil
- Garnishes: whipped cream, cannabis leaf and cantaloupe slice (optional)
- Place all of the ingredients except garnishes in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a chilled 15-ounce glass. Top with whipped cream and garnish with a cannabis leaf and a cantaloupe slice, if desired. Serve at once.