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Meatless Monday: Baked Sweet Potato Chips


This is one of the easiest dinner side dishes of all time. Drew and I make this at least once a week and sometimes more. I bet that kids would love these.

Sweet Potatoes

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash one organic sweet potato per person and slice them into 1/8″ thick coins or rounds. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.


Seasoned Sweet Potatoes

Toss the potatoes with olive oil and then season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly browned and crisp.


Baked Sweet Potato Chips


Mine looked like this when they were done.


Sriracha Aoili

If you mix Sriracha chili sauce in with some Vegenaise or Mayonnaise you have a fantastic spicy-garlicy-creamy dipping sauce for your sweet chips. Happy Monday indeed.



Meatless Monday: Fig and Raspberry Crostata


fig tart recipe

This is it, my sweets. The transition point.  Call it summer’s last hurrah or fall’s hello.   At our house we marked the moment with a fig and raspberry crostata.  Jammy and fragrant with crushed almonds, this tart takes all of 5 minutes to assemble.

I thawed a dough ball made from this recipe, placed my pizza stone on the middle rack and preheated the oven to 400 degrees.  You can also use a lined baking sheet, but I got the idea for this tart from Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse Fruit, the beautiful book Lydia gave me for my birthday.  Alice uses a pizza stone for her crostata.

The base of this tart can be used with any fruit.  Mix 1 tablespoon flour, 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons ground almonds.  Done.  The almond flavor works beautifully with summer fruit and berries as well as pears and apples when the time comes.  You can change it up with the same amount of ground walnuts.  Whatever floats your boat.   The touch of flour keeps your fruit from getting too runny and the sugar sweetens it all up.

On a piece of parchment paper, roll your dough into a 12-inch round about 1/4- inch thick and sprinkle with your sugar/flour/almond mix, leaving a 1-inch border all the way around.

cut figs

Cut 1 pint fresh figs into quarters the long way. Toss with 2 tablespoons sugar.  Placing each fig on its bottom cut side up, arrange them in concentric circles on your almond base, working from the outside in.  Planting each fig on its chubbiest part gives your tart a little height and creates a pretty layered effect.  Gently fold the extra inch of dough up and over the fruit filling, crimping as you go.

fig tart recipe

Brush your crust with a little melted butter and sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar.  Transfer the crostata, parchment paper and all, to your preheated pizza stone and bake for 40 minutes, rotating once halfway through baking.  After 40 minutes, toss a few fresh raspberries on top and continue baking until the berries are warm and soft, about 20 minutes more.

fig tart

Enjoy plain or with almond-scented whipped cream.

The verdict? At first I was unhappy with the raspberries.  They detract from the beauty of those crowns of figs.  But taste and you’ll know, the softly sour raspberries are what let you really savor the sweet figs.


Meatless Monday: Roasted Ratatouille


Ratatouille Vegetables

I love all the flavors and vegetable involved in ratatouille (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini and onion) but I often don’t end up liking the dish when I eat out. There is a BIG range of texture issues with ratatouille it seems. Some restaurants barley cook the veggies, they are all too hard and the flavors are separate, not melded together. Others saute the veg for hours until they all blend together into a slimey mess and you can’t tell eggplant from zucchini. I decided to Goldy Locks this dish and make a recipe that was just right.


vegetables to be roasted

I diced the eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and onion into similar sized cubes and roasted them in a hot 400 oven. Meanwhile I sauteed the tomatoes and garlic to make a quick tomato sauce. When the vegetables were perfectly roasted, sweet with flavor but not too mushy, I tossed them with the quick tomato sauce and fresh basil. Then I cooled the dish and chilled it over night for maximum flavor! It turned out really well and I converted 2 former ratatouille haters over a game of Risk (sadly I lost the game.)


Quick Tomato Sauce


Drew and I lived off this dish for a whole weekend. We ate it cold for breakfast topped with poached eggs and brought it to a BBQ as a room temperature side dish. We warmed it and topped it with grilled chicken breasts the next night. I dreamt about spooning it onto thick slices of grilled bread rubbed with garlic, but alas it was all gone.


Roasted Ratatouille


Roasted Ratatouille

Serves 6-8

3 fat zucchini, diced into medium sized cubes

1 large eggplant, diced into medium sized cubes

1 large red onion, diced

3 small bell peppers, diced into medium sized cubes

3 springs of fresh thyme, leaves removed from the stems

4 large Roma tomatoes, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

Dash of red chili flakes (optional)

Olive Oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

10 leaves fresh basil, coarsely chopped


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and toss the zucchini, eggplant, pepper and onion chucks with lots of olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh thyme leaves. Distribute in an even layer on the two baking sheets. Roast for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are fork tender and lightly browned on the edges. While the vegetables are roasting, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and saute the garlic over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the tomatoes are cooked down into a rustic sauce, add salt, vinegar and a dash of chili flakes. Stir well and continue to cook for 5-10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the roasted vegetables, gently stirring to coat each piece with tomato sauce. Allow the ratatouille to cool to room temperature and then add in the chopped fresh basil and taste for salt and pepper. Serve immediately or let chill overnight for maximum flavor. This dish tastes great warm, room temperature or cold.



Meatless Monday: Sweet Coconut, Tofu and Mint Spring Rolls


coconut spring rolls

Do not reserve these for Meatless Monday only.

You’ll be missing out all the other days of the week.

Gingergrass, one of our favorite Silver Lake restaurants, makes a Bo Bia spring roll in which coconut adds sweetness to a rich and savory cooked egg and vegetable combo.  It’s a delicious roll, but the coconut is what floors me.  So simple and so unexpected. I tried it last week in a raw roll, where the chewy decadence of sweet coconut makes the crisp vegetables and herbs taste even fresher.

how to roll a spring toll

Extra-firm Japanese-style tofu was my starting point, but you can go straight veg if you prefer.  Then, a few piece of cucumber, bell and jalapeno peppers all cut into matchsticks.  I balanced them on the damp rice paper, centered in the quadrant closest to me.  Then I topped my little pile of joy with sweetened coconut and fresh mint leaves.  Go bold with the mint; you want some in every bite.

How to make spring rolls

Here’s the first roll, where you cocoon the filling into a little torpedo, using your fingers to gently pinch and even out the roll.

How to make spring rolls

Then you fold in both sides of your little see-through burrito and continue rolling, tightening with each step until you seal the end.

coconut and tofu spring roll recipe

Use a sharp knife for a diagonal cut.

How crunchy and fresh do those veggies look?  Add a spicy peanut dipping sauce and let me know how you like it.


P.S. Angus and I are having my birthday dinner at Son of a Gun tonight.  Angelenos, any menu suggestions?  Anjali says the shrimp toast can’t be missed.


Meatless Monday: Cold Zucchini Noodles with Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes


Zucchini Noodles with pesto and roasted tomatoes

This recipe is for the HOT late summer nights where you can’t imagine turning on the stove too make dinner. Shred up some raw zucchini and toss them with fresh spinach and basil pesto. Roast some cherry tomatoes in your toaster oven or blister them in a pan for a pop of sweetness in your cold “noodles”.


Mandolin Zucchini Ribbons

Zucchini Noodles with Pesto and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Serves 4

8 zucchini
1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 clove garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh spinach leaves

3/4 cups olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon
½ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated (plus more for serving)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400. Rinse one pint of cherry tomatoes in a colander with cold water, allow to drain dry. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper toss 1 pint of clean cherry tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes until blistered and splitting. Allow to cool slightly. Can be done in advance.

2. Meanwhile shred the zucchini into ribbons using a mandolin or a food processor fitted with the grating blade. If using the food processor, make sure to place the zucchini into the feeder horizontally so you get long strips of zucchini. Can be done up to 5 hours in advance and kept in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap.

3. Rinse out the food processor to make the pesto. Fit the bowl with the the sharp blade. Add 1 clove of  garlic and pine nuts to the bowl and pulse well. Add fresh basil and spinach, 1/2 a teaspoon salt and pepper and pulse 5 times. Turn the machine on and slowly add the olive oil and lemon juice until well incorporated. Add Parmesan cheese, combine and taste for seasoning. Store for later if not using immediately.

4. Just before serving toss the zucchini noodles with the pesto in a large bowl, add Parmesan cheese and roasted cherry tomatoes. Serve cold or at room temperature.




Meatless Monday: Curried Tofu Salad


curried tofu salad, Meatless Monday

My mom always made her chicken curry salad with red globe grapes and served it with real tortilla chips.  A similar recipe was a hit with our clients when made with turkey instead of chicken and served with fresh pita chips sprinkled with sea salt and dried oregano.  It’s one of my favorite warm weather dinner salads.

So why not tofu?


If you like tofu, then there’s no reason why not.  But tofu haters need not apply.  Even with all the ingredients that make this curry salad spicy, sweet, nutty, crunchy and tangy, you can still taste the tofu.

Which means it’s ideal for a certain sect of our Meatless Monday readers.  Angus and I ate the whole bowl during move-in weekend.


Curried Tofu Salad

Serves 6

Note: Like most soups, curried salads taste better the day after they are made.  For optimum crunch, wait to add the cashews until you are ready to eat.


1 blocks extra-firm tofu (not silken), drained and cut into small cubes

2 cups non-fat Greek yogurt (we like Fage brand)

1/3 cup dry white wine

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup mango chutney (I like Major Gray’s)

2 tablespoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 tablespoon agave nectar or honey

2 stalks celery, cut into small dice

1 cup seedless red grapes, halved

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

2/3 cup roasted salted cashews, roughly chopped

Sea salt, to taste


Let tofu cubes continue to dry while you mix the curry. Whisk together the yogurt, wine, lime juice, chutney, curry powder, ground ginger and agave.  Stir in the celery, grapes, scallions and cilantro, reserving the cashews until just before serving.  Carefully fold in the tofu.  Season to taste.  Chill, covered, at least 6 hours before serving.  Add the cashews and enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Squished Squash


It’s Beach Week at A & O! Sarah is investigating the beaches in Fiji so we’re celebrating all things sand and sun. First up is a FABULOUS meatless addition to any summer dinner. Squished squash takes plain old yellow summer squash and turns it into a “pass the seconds” star of any dinner. Serve them along side grilled vegetables (or meat Tues-Sun), cold cucumbers doused in vinegar and fat slices of fresh tomato for an authentic Southern beach dinner.


Squished squash, tomato and cucumbers

This recipe comes from my mother in law, Janice Howerton, she learned it from her mother in law who learned it from her mother. A method more than a recipe for turning sweet and mild squash into a creamy pile of golden goo akin to mashed potatoes but lighter. We always have this dish on our Howerton-Ristine family beach vacation in North Carolina, usually twice because someone has to have it one more time before going home.


 Squished Squash

Beach Dinner 2010


I must warn you that Squished Squash is a vintage “non-recipe” that 3 generations of Howerton women have learned from cooking with each other and then “just made to taste”, not following any notes or recording amounts. Hopefully my written version will capture the same magic, don’t be afraid to just add more of this or that if you think it needs it.


Beach Dinner 2011

Beach Dinner 2011


Hope y’all enjoy it as much as we do!


Squished Squash-

Serves 6


8-10 yellow summer squash, cut into large cubes

2-5 tablespoons butter

2-5 tablespoons heavy cream

salt and pepper


Remove the top and bottom ends from the squash and cut into large chunks. Place into a large pot and cover with cold water. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water and squash and bring to a boil. Cook until the squash are soft and pierce easily with a knife. Drain very well in a colander and return the squash to the pot and place over a low heat. Add 2 tablespoons each of butter and cream and mash it up well with a potato masher. Squash should be totally mashed, no visible chunks remaining. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Don’t be afraid to add more butter and cream if needed for flavor and texture, this is a Southern dish after all. Serve warm and with love.



Meatless Monday: Blackberry Country Cake



BLackberry buttermilk cake recipe

Mildred Pierce and her lady pals knew whipping up a fruit-topped cake was no biggie, but most of us were born a generation or two away from women who baked cakes for afternoon coffee and weeknight desserts.  I learned only recently that there’s no magic to making a berry upside down cake.  All you need are fresh berries and a cake you love.  And this cake, I love.

You already have the recipe for Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Buttermilk Country Cake.  Words cannot express how soft and tender it is.  You should play around with it-lemon or orange zest are bright additions.  Or almond instead of vanilla extract.

Making a blackberry upside down cake, how to make an upside down cake

Yesterday morning, I buttered and floured my pan then filled it with a layer of fresh blackberries.  Then dolloped the batter on top and smoothed it out with a spatula.

blackberry buttermilk with powdered sugar

35 minutes in the oven, 10 minutes total work time.

last bites of blackberry country cake

Last bites.


Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Picnic


I am a very lucky because the WAGS (wives and girlfriends) of Drew’s buddies are all super fun, cool and very into food. At this point I just think of these ladies as dear friends, but back when we were thrown together at social functions and barely knew each other, we bonded over food. These girls love to eat, cook and drink the best of the best. A potluck in our gang is something to brag about as you can see below.


Picnic Salads

We had a picnic in Barnsdall Art Park to celebrate Anjali’s birthday. Everyone brought something really beautiful and meat free since the birthday girl only eats sustainably raised meats. So considerate. Elan made a version of this snap pea and radish salad with mint, Sandra made a fruit salad with mint and fresh lime and I brought honey-ricotta stuffed apricot halves. We shared this Mango-Cucumber Wine Cooler and I brought A & O Sherry Lemonade too!


Basil Aoili Deviled Eggs

Anjali and her sister made these DIVINE basil aioli deviled eggs, which toppled in transport but tasted delightful none the less.


Apricot and Raspberry Tart

Dessert was fantastic, apricot and raspberry pie with homemade ginger ice cream (The Perfect Scoop recipe is perfection) care of the Prasertong Sisters.


Anjali + Pie


Pie serving was made easy with a Darth Vader spatula. We washed down our gourmet picnic with the afternoon sun and then disbanded when it dipped behind the buildings of Sunset Boulevard and into the ocean. It was one of those evenings that reminded me why I love living in LA. Friends + Food + Fun + Frank Lloyd Wright.




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