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Meatless Monday: Slow Roasted Tomatoes


This is a NON recipe for one of the most delicious foods on earth! I first discovered slow roasted tomatoes from Orangette and then Gwyneth put a recipe for them in her book which I also made (they were excellent as is her book, don’t hate.)  Basically you take any small sized tomatoes, cut them and half, add salt and EVOO and let them sizzle and shrivel in a low oven for 2-5 hours. Even the crappiest tomatoes condense as they roast into the richest, tangiest, sweetest flavor on earth. Make these and eat like an Etruscan King. Drew calls them “Umami discs.”


Farmer's Market Roma Tomatoes

Farmer's Market Tomatoes in Baggu Bag

I’ll walk you through the process. Buy some tomatoes, I got these at the Farmer’s Market but I’ve also done this recipe with (gasp) grocery store, out of season, non-organic cherry tomatoes and it was just as yummy. Wash them and take the tops off. Cut them in half.


Roma Tomatoes for Roasting


Toss the tomato halves with a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lay cut side up on a baking sheet (I line mine with these parchment paper sheets, best product ever.)


Tomato Halves with Grey Salt

See how much salt I use, this gives the tomatoes lots of flavor. Now put them in a 250 degree oven for 2-5 hours depending on the size. These Roma halves took 3.5 hours.


Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Roast them til they look like this picture. Shriveled but not burnt or crisp.


Slow Roasted Tomatoes- close up

Aren’t they pretty! Let them cool and store them in your fridge in an airtight container drizzled with olive oil for up to a week. Toss them with pasta, puree them into soups or hummus, add them to sauteed lentils, each them on steak sandwiches or with fresh mozzarella. Eat them off the baking sheet for all I care, just make these.






Meatless Monday: Dutch Baby Pancake


Dutch baby pancake, dutch baby recipe, dutch baby

You can’t order an apple pancake every single time you go to The Pancake House. Sometimes you need something lighter but equally delicious.  In The Walker Bros. original Pancake House family tree, a.ka. the menu, the Dutch Baby stands in breezy blonde opposition to her rounder, denser, deceptively sweet but totally over-the-top Apple Pancake sister.  One lifts you up and the other does you in.

If you’re from the North Shore of Chicago, you know what I’m talking about.

For everyone else, I’ll admit it never occurred to me that the Dutch Baby might have originated anywhere other than Wilmette, Illinois until I read this entry in Orangette a few years ago.

No, the Dutch in the name didn’t tip me off.

Homer attitude aside, I’m grateful Molly Wizenberg brought the Dutch Baby back, because it makes a near-magical appearance on nights when there isn’t a thing in the fridge except an old lemon, a few eggs and some combo of milk/cream/half & half.  Now we’re making these dramatic puff pancakes at work and serving them the Walker Bros. way with sliced lemon wedges and powdered sugar, plus a side of lemon curd and fresh blueberries.

Walker Brother's Pancake House Dutch Baby pancake

The three of us in the kitchen yesterday morning ate this one straight from the pan.

Dutch baby recipe

Get the lemon and sugar on the pancake while it’s still piping hot and you achieve alchemy: the juice moistens the sugar, the heat lightly caramelizes it, and the eggy air pockets crackle with warm lemon sweetness.

If any Chicagoans are still reading, I’m gearing up to make an apple pancake.


Dutch Baby
adapted from Molly Wizenberg
Makes 1 large for sharing or 2 individual pancakes

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
½ cup half-and-half

For the topping:
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Powdered sugar
Fresh berries
Lemon curd

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide the butter between two 6-inch or pour into one 12-inch cast-iron skillet and melt it over low heat. (we sued a deeper 12-inch pot for the pancake below but only because our skillets were already being used.  The pot works just fine too).

In a blender, blitz the eggs, flour, sugar, salt and half-and-half.

Pour the batter into the skillets over the melted butter. Place immediately in the hot oven and don’t open the door until the Dutch Babies are puffy, golden brown soufflés, about 20-25 minutes.

Remove the puffed pancakes from the oven, transfer them to a serving plate, dust with powdered sugar, squirt with lemon juice and serve immediately with other toppings as desired.




Meatless Monday: Raw Kale Salad with Strawberries and Almonds


Raw Kale Salad with Strawberries and Almonds

Sarah wanted to develop a summery version of our favorite raw Kale Salad with Apple and Currants to accompany our Memorial Day Picnic menu. She suggested we use strawberries and I added the creamy vegan basil dressing (originally developed as a dip for steamed artichokes). Grassy ribbons of kale+ sweet basil dressing= heaven. Tangy strawberries and crunchy almonds add sweetness and depth of flavor. Teamwork friends.


Raw Kale Salad with Strawberries

Raw Kale Salad with Strawberries and Almonds
Serves 4

1 bunch kale, cut into chiffonade
1 x Creamy Vegan Basil Vinaigrette, see recipe below
1-1/2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
¼ cup slivered almonds or pine nuts, lightly toasted
¼ cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonade

Wash and dry kale ribbons.  Toss with basil vinaigrette 10-15 minutes before serving so kale has time to soften.  Arrange on serving platter then top with berries, almonds and fresh basil just before serving.


Creamy Vegan Basil Dressing


Creamy Vegan Basil Dressing
makes ¾ cup

1 tablespoon shallot, minced
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
10 grinds freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup basil
2 tablespoons Veganaise or mayo
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor or blender.  With mixer running, add olive oil in a slow steady stream until dressing is emulsified.  Keeps in refrigerator for about a week. Yay this salad got featured on the Meatless Monday site!



Meatless Monday: Potato Salad Gribiche


According to Wikipedia:
Sauce gribiche is a mayonnaise-style cold egg sauce in the French Cuisine, made by emulsifying hard-boiled egg yolks and mustard with a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed. The sauce is finished with chopped pickles, capers, parsley, chervil and tarragon. It also includes hard-boiled egg whites cut in a julienne.
Sauce gribiche may be served with boiled chicken, fish (hot or cold) or calf’s head.

Potato Salad Gribiche

Ok well this may be the proper definition of sauce gribiche but my version of this French classic is much lighter. I took our basic vinaigrette potato salad recipe and added chopped capers, cornichons, hard boiled eggs, parsley and chervil. A nod and a wink to this classic suits me just fine. The warm fingerling potatoes drink up the shalloty vinaigrette and the capers, cornichons and herbs add a tangy brightness to the earthy studs. The eggs offer a creamy surprise though you could easily omit them for a Vegan version. I served it at a dinner party last week to rave reviews.


Potato Salad Gribiche 2

Potato Salad Gribiche
serves 8 generously

3 pounds mini fingerling potatoes, cut in half
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 shallots, finely diced
8 tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cornichons, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons capers, roughly chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
½ cup chopped chervil, roughly chopped

Wash and clean the potatoes. Cut them in half so that all pieces are approximately the same size and approximately 1-1/2 inches. Place in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a rolling boil and add 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Let boil until knife tender, approximately 8 minutes. Drain and place back in the pot, covering with a lid, so that the potatoes stay warm until they are dressed.

While the potatoes are boiling, whisk together the mustard, vinegar and shallots.  Add the olive oil in a slow steady stream, whisking continuously so that the vinaigrette emulsifies. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over the drained hot potatoes using a spatula to gently turn the potatoes so that the vinaigrette coats them all. Let the dressed potatoes cool to room temperature. In the mean time chop the capers, cornichons and hard boiled eggs. Mix them into the potatoes in vinaigrette.

Reserving some of the herbs for topping the plated dish,  Generously sprinkle the potato salad with the chopped herbs, gently mixing so that every potato bite will have some herbs. Scoop the potatoes into a serving platter and top with the reserved herbs. Enjoy chilled or at room temperature.



Meatless Monday: Cold Tofu with Green Onions and Ginger



After ten days of travel, parties and dinners out with family and friends, I’m craving the gustatory equivalent of an all-white room. And so I woke up with cold tofu on my mind.  Like the perfect white room, cold tofu shouldn’t be boring, but fresh, clean and bold in its details.

This is a super simple dish that sings.  Every taste and texture is clean and clear–cold, custardy tofu and sharp, green ginger and scallions.  The soy sauce–not too much or it will overwhelm the delicate tofu–pulls it all together.  I eat it over warm rice to catch the soy and tender bits of tofu as they start to fall apart.


Cold Tofu with Green Onions and Ginger


1 package (12 oz) extra-firm silken (Japanese-style) tofu

3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

Soy sauce


Take tofu out of the package and drain.

Cut the tofu in half and place each piece on a serving dish or over rice.  Sprinkle with scallions and ginger.  Drizzle a little soy over each  and serve immediately.

Meatless Monday: Deconstructed Vegetarian Niçoise Salad


The spring holidays are upon us and most of you out there are scouring cookbooks and recipe sites planning your Easter and Passover menus. While it can be difficult to accommodate dietary restrictions and still plan an elegant and festive menu, Sarah and I have a great idea for a vegetarian lunch or brunch for a crowd. Deconstructed Nicoise Salad!


Deconstructed Nicoise Salad Buffet

Take all the components of the classic French cafe salad and separate them into their own flavorful dish on a buffet table. Guests can help themselves to how ever much or little of a particular dish they want. Vegetarians feast on herbed green beans, deviled eggs, tomatoes with olive vinaigrette and steamed potatoes. Meat eaters add poached salmon to their salads and everyone goes home happy, after a fresh muffin and a mimosa of course. (For table decor ideas click here.)

Deconstructed Vegetarian Niçoise
Serves 10
Butter lettuce
Truffled deviled eggs
Tomatoes in olive vinaigrette
Steamed green beans with fresh dill
Steamed tri-colored fingerling potatoes
Yogurt herb dressing

The idea here is to serve the individual components on separate platters on a buffet table so guests can build their own salad.  We like to use a variety of platters in different heights and sizes–e.g. a wooden board for the truffled deviled eggs, a tall white compote dish for the tomatoes in olive vinaigrette– to add interest and height to the buffet table.  Start by gently breaking your butter lettuce into individual leaves and plating them in a large bowl.


Vegetarian Nicoise

Truffled Deviled Eggs
Serves 10

12 large eggs
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise plus 2 teaspoons
4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon truffle oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh chives for garnish

Place eggs and water to cover in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and let stand, covered, 9 minutes. Drain eggs, and rinse with cold water for several minutes. (this can be done 1 day ahead and the hard-boiled eggs kept refrigerated).

Peel eggs, and cut in half lengthwise.

Carefully remove the egg yolks and place in a medium bowl.  Add mustard, mayo, yogurt and truffle oil. Use a fork to mash the yolks and combine to a smooth consistency.  Use two small spoon to gently scoop the filling back into the whites or place mixture in a pastry bag with a plain or star-shaped tip (or a small zip-top plastic bag with a corner cut out), and pipe mixture into egg halves. Garnish with chives if desired–one chive sliver on each looks nice.

Veg Nicoise close up

Tri-Colored Fingerling Potatoes
3 pounds multicolored fingerling or new potatoes, cleaned and cut in half the long way
2 tablespoons salt

Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill to cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, add the salt and turn the heat to a simmer.  Continue simmering until the potatoes are just fork tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Drain immediately and let steam, covered with a dishcloth, in a colander until tender, about 15 minutes more.  Let cool.

Steamed Green Beans
1-1/2 pounds green beans or haricot verts, stems removed
2 quarts water


1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Fresh dill for garnish

In a large pot over high heat, bring the water to a boil.  As the water warms, prepare an ice bath by adding ice cubes and water to a large mixing bowl.

Add the salt to the boiling water then add the beans.  Blanch the beans until they turn bright green, about 1-2 minute, then remove them with a slotted spoon to the ice bath.  When the beans have cooled, drain and set to air dry on a lined sheet tray before enjoying with salad.

Just before service, toss with the olive oil and season to taste with sea salt.  Pile in a serving bowl or platter and top with with fresh chopped dill.

Veg Nicoise ECU

Tomatoes in Olive Vinaigrette

4 pints cherry tomatoes, washed and cut in half
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients through olive oil in a mixing bowl about 20 minutes before service.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve alongside remaining salad ingredients.

Yogurt Herb Dressing
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (we use Fage brand Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup avocado or canola oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1.4 cup chopped fresh chives
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
Fine sea salt

Whisk the first 4 ingredients in small bowl. Add in the herbs and season dressing to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Thin with hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary.  Serve immediately.



Meatless Monday: Spicy Carrot Soup


Spicy Carrot Soup

This soup is perfect for an April showers afternoon or an “it’s still so light outside” evening. Velvety smooth texture, sweet carrot base pumped up by warm Moroccan spices like cumin and allspice and lots of garlicy heat from the sriracha. Very little fat, vegan (swap out the honey for maple or agave syrup) and naturally gluten free this soup is delightfully sin free.

Spicy Carrot Soup

Spicy Carrot Soup

serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped white onion

1 pound large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 2/3 cups)

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

2 teaspoons sriracha (plus more for garnish)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)


Warm olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté 2 minutes. Mix in carrots. Add broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove soup from heat. Carefully puree in batches in blender until smooth. Return to same pan. Whisk in honey, lemon juice, sriracha, cumin allspice. Season with salt and pepper and add more lemon juice if needed. Serve warm with a garnish of sriracha or freshly chopped cilantro.






Meatless Monday: Garlic Cheddar Biscuits


I debated sharing this recipe.  It’s not original.  It’s not even homemade.  It is, however, crave-worthy.  A client fell for these biscuits at a corporate breakfast and requested the recipe.  Imagine our surprise when asked to bake directly from the back of a Bisquick box.

But good food is good food and these biscuits are good.

Kerrygold makes a perfectly balanced garlic and herb compound butter which you can use instead of the homemade butter wash.   Semi-homemade the Bisquick and Irish butter way!

These are best served hot and fluffy just before breakfast or split and toasted with a fried egg on top.


Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

Makes about 16-18 biscuits


Butter, for lining the baking sheets, plus 3 tablespoons for brushing biscuits

1 clove garlic minced

1 teaspoon dill, finely chopped

1 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped

1 teaspoon basil. finely chopped

4 cups bisquick baking mix

1 1/3 cups whole milk

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Butter and line 2 baking sheets.

In a small saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter.  Add in the garlic and herbs and let steep while you make the biscuits.

Combine mix, milk and cheddar in a bowl by hand.

Use your palm to pat biscuit dough out on a lightly floured surface until about 1-1/2-inches thick.  Cut with a biscuit cutter or the top of a juice glass, patting scraps together as needed to use all the dough.  Brush cut biscuits lightly with melted garlic herb butter.
Bake until puffy and light golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.

Brush again with melted garlic butter and serve immediately.

Meatless Monday: Zucchini and Ricotta Tart


Flaky buttery puff pastry slathered in a lemony layer of fluffy ricotta cheese topped with sweet zucchini and savory fresh thyme. Sounds good right?

zucchini tart

This simple to make (we promise this time) tart is one of our new favorite recipes. We are recommending it as an elegant appetizer in our Dinner Party Blueprints and it is garnering rave reviews at work as a lunch dish paired with a mixed green salad.

zucchini tart

Zucchini and Ricotta Tart

Serves 2 for lunch or 4-6 as an appetizer

1 sheet all butter frozen puff pastry, thawed per the package instructions

1 1/2 cups good quality ricotta cheese

zest of one small lemon

salt and pepper

1-2 zucchinis, sliced into 1/4inch thick rounds

1/4 cup grated gruyure cheese

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

1 egg, beaten for egg wash

Defrost the puff pastry sheet according to the package instructions which takes at least 45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lay the rectangle of puff onto a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Using a fork, make pinpricks all around the center of the tart dough leaving a 1 inch border on each of the four sides. Mix the ricotta with a pinch of salt and pepper and the lemon zest. Top the pricked section of the dough with the ricotta cheese into a thin but even layer. Slightly layer the sliced zucchini on top of the ricotta. Sprinkle the zucchini with a dusting of salt, shredded gruyere and chopped fresh thyme. Brush the exposed edges of puff dough with egg wash. Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes until the dough if puffed and the edges have browned. Try not open the oven door while it bakes, use you oven light if possible. Allow to cool for 10 minutes to room temperature and them slice into wedges or small, bite sized squares.



Meatless Monday: Skillet Pizza


It took moving to California for me to like pizza.  Makes no sense, I know, but I just can’t hack the spicy sauce and unctuous bricks of melting mozzarella that characterize a true Chicago pie.  Milder cheeses and oven-roasted greens on nutty, toasted flatbread, however, make me happy.

This pizza works with whatever toppings you like.  Add roasted butternut squash for another colorful Meatless Monday option.

Lou Malnati’s it isn’t, but California-style pizza is its own special dish.

I took the idea for a skillet pizza from the cover of last month’s Sunset Magazine.  You can also use a pizza stone or baking sheet.


Skillet Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Ricotta and Kale

Yield: 4-6 servings


2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil, divided

1 onion, sliced into thin half moons

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bunch kale, washed, stems removed and sliced into chiffonade

1 ball (~1 lb) pizza dough (I like using one ball from the Martha recipe or buying Whole Foods prepared whole wheat dough at the pizza counter)

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Red pepper flakes, to taste


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Add 1 teaspoon oil to a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over gentle heat until caramelized, about 10-12 minutes.  Add the garlic once the onions have caramelized, stirring occasionally until fragrant and just brown, about 2 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

While the onion caramelize, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add 2 teaspoons salt and the kale, boiling until the kale softens and turns bright green, about 3 minutes.  Drain and cool.

Heat a large, oven-proof frying pan over medium-low heat.  Add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl so that the oil coats the pan.

Working on a lightly floured surface, press the dough down with your hands until you’ve formed a 13-inch round.  Lay the round into the hot pan (the sides of the dough will come up the sides of the pan).  Cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip the dough out onto a plate.  Coat the pan with the remaining tablespoon olive oil and return the dough to the pan, golden side up.  Be sure to press the dough down into the pan so all the uncooked dough comes into contact with the hot surface.

Spread the ricotta over the golden brown surface of the cooked dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around.  Sprinkle with caramelized onions and then the kale.  Add a sprinkle of sea salt, pepper and red chili flakes to taste. Brush the outer crust with 1 teaspoon olive oil to give it extra sheen and flavor.

Bake in pan in oven until crust is crisp and cooked through and the kale has just started to char, about 20 minutes.  Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

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