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Meatless Monday: Mac and Cheese


Macaroni and cheese is so appropriate this time of year. Hearty, gooey and satisfying to the soul. Pair it with a big kale salad for dinner and you have a vegetarian feast for a crowd. Serving just your family? Portion the recipe into two smaller baking dishes and freeze one of them before baking for another night.

Mac n Cheese with orange tomatoes

Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 8-12 people


1 pound elbow macaroni

1 quart of milk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

10 ounces Gruyere, grated (3 cups)

8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)

1 cup Parmesan cheese grated

1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2  pint fresh cherry tomatoes

1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a large pinch of salt. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes, do not overcook. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan but be careful not to bring it to a boil. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and and slowly whisk in the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring often. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, Parmesan and 1 tablespoon salt, pepper. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart buttered baking dish.

Stud the cherry tomatoes on top of the dish and then sprinkle the bread crumbs in an even layer. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top. Serve warm.

*The mac and cheese seen in the photo had slices of orange tomato on top instead of cherry tomatoes in honor of Halloween but I really love the pop of fresh tomato in every portion that the little guys provide.

Meatless Monday: Apple & Onion Fall Tart


My first attempt at an apple and onion tart yielded something that smelled delicious but looked like onion-spiked applesauce in a cookie crust—none too desirable!  The next time I thought ahead and decided to borrow elements from our favorite French tarts: the pissaladière, an anchovy and olive tart from the south of France that has a luscious base of caramelized onions and the classic tarte aux pommes with its beautiful decorative pattern of thinly sliced apples.  We then added cheese for a more nutty fall flavor and bit more ooze.  The resulting tart smells and tastes fantastic and looks the part.

Lydia took such gorgeous photos I had to share them all!


Apple and Onion Tart

Yield: Makes one 9-inch round tart (with a little dough left over) or one 1 9×13-inch rectangle tart,  one large crostata or 4 minis.

Note: dough must rest at least one hour and onion mixture needs to cool completely before assembling tart. Both can be done the day before.

1 Recipe pate brisée

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Tart ingredients

3-4 yellow onions, sliced into half moons

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt, to taste

3 tablespoons fresh thyme, roughly chopped, plus several whole sprigs for garnishing

3 teaspoons fresh rosemary, roughly chopped

1/4 pound gruyère cheese

3 red apples (Gala or other sweet and firm variety)

1/2 lemon

Egg Wash

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon milk or cream

To make the tart crust:

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Alternatively, cut the cold butter into small cubes.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar.  Add the butter cubes and work to combine, using your thumb and forefinger to pinch the butter into the flour mixture.  Keep pinching until the mixture has a sand-like consistency.  Add a few splashes of the ice water and continue mixing with your hands until dough comes together in one ball, adding more water (up to the full half cup) bit by bit if necessary.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

To make the tart:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and slice yellow onions into thin, half moon slices.

In a medium-sized skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter and add onions slices, tossing to cover with butter.  Cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle to taste with kosher salt. Add chopped herbs (reserving the sprigs of thyme to decorate the finished tart) and continue cooking until onions are a rich golden brown, about 10 minutes more.  Set aside to cool.

Please note that onions must be cooled before assembling tart.  They can be prepared the day before and kept covered in the refrigerator.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one dough ball to 1/8-inch thick.  Place in tart pan of your choice (you can use any shape tart pan), using the side of your hand to gently mold the dough against the scalloped tart pan edge.  Alternatively make one free-form crostata or cut the dough into 4 same-sized rounds to make mini-crostata.  Freeze the remaining dough ball for another time.

Using a sharp knife or cheese slicer, slice thin rectangular strips of the gruyere cheese.  You want enough to fill the whole tart.  Set aside.

Cut the apples in half and remove the core.  Cut thin slices, drizzling the exposed apple flesh with lemon juice to keep it from browning. Set apple slices aside.

Spoon the prepared onions into the tart shell, spreading them out to make an even layer.  Alternate apple and cheese slices on top of the onions in a desired pattern.  For example, if using a square or rectangular pan, build rows of apples and cheese.  If using a round tart pan, build circles from the outside in.  Crostata also look lovely if you build in a circular shape from the outside in.  If making crostata, leave a 2-inch border all the way around the pastry and simply fold the sides in and over the apple and cheese slices.

Fill in the empty space between rows with the reserved sprigs of fresh thyme.

Filling in the gaps with fresh thyme

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and milk or cream.  Using a pastry brush or your fingertips, brush the exposed dough with the egg wash.  This will help the crust brown beautifully.

Place in a hot 400 degree oven and bake until golden brown, rotating once halfway through cooking, about 1 hour.  If making crostatas, check oven regularly after the first half hour as the smaller tarts will brown faster and be ready anywhere between 40-55 minutes depending on the size.

9 x 13-inch tart

Free-form crostata

Round tart with red apples

Meatless Monday: Tofu Lettuce Cups


tofu lettuce cup

I created this recipe years ago at work when some (last minute, eek) weekend guests requested Vegan fare. This dish satisfies all the textures of the rainbow with the soft warm tofu filling nestled in a cup of cold crisp iceberg lettuce. Monday morning the guests requested the recipe and we’ve been making these ever since.

tofu lettuce cup fixings

Tofu Lettuce Cups

serves 2-4

1/2 red bell pepper, minced

1 small carrot, minced

1/2 a small zucchini, minced

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

3 scallions, minced

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1 lime, juiced

1 tablespoon sesame oil

8 oz baked tofu (Thai or Teriyaki flavored options work well), finely diced

1 small can of water chestnuts, drained and finely diced

1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped

1 head of iceberg lettuce, cut in half and separated into “cups”

sriracha chili sauce for garnish (optional)

fried mung bean noodles for garnish (optional)

Prepare the friend mung bean noodle per the package instructions and separate the iceberg lettuce into cups and set aside. In a saute pan over medium heat saute the diced red pepper, carrot, zucchini and scallions in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. Add the fresh ginger, tofu, hoisin sauce, lime juice and sesame oil to the pan. Turn the heat to low and gently mix until well incorporated and the tofu is warmed through. Taste for seasoning and add salt and black pepper if needed. Off the heat toss in the diced water chestnuts. Serve a heaping spoonful of warm tofu mixture into a cold lettuce cup and garnish with fresh cilantro, sriracha and a sprinkle of fried noodles. Serve with extra hoisin sauce too.

tofu lettuce cup close up

Meatless Monday: Beet Soup


When the mercury hit 113° last week all I had were root vegetables and little desire to go the store.  I made this soup by simmering the beets instead of roasting them which would have been unbearable in the heat.  Its flavor is as delicate as its color is bold.  The photo, sadly, doesn’t do the soup justice.  In real life it’s the exact shade of the magenta Crayola crayon.  Made me wish I knew a few 6-year olds in princess tiaras to invite over for pink soup in china tea cups.  Seed-laden bread, toasted and spread with soft chèvre, a drizzle of olive oil and Maldon sea salt added crunch.  I ate it for lunch three days in a row.


8 medium-sized beets, trimmed and washed with skins intact
1 tablespoon butter
1 yellow onion, cut into medium dice
8 cups vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh dill, roughly chopped

In a soup pot, cover the beets with water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover and reduce the heat to low.  Let simmer until beets are fork tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool

While the beets cool, return the pot to the stove over medium-high heat.  Add the butter and then sweat the onion until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the vegetable stock and keep warm over low heat.

When beets are cool enough to handle, cut each into quarters and slip off the skins.  They should come off easily.  Add the naked beets to the vegetable stock and carefully puree the soup using an immersion blender or in batches in an upright blender.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and the juice of 1/2 a lemon.  Warm and enjoy with a sprinkle of fresh dill or chill for a few hours.  If chilling, taste again for seasoning once the soup is cold.  Lacking the aroma that comes from heat, chilled soup needs an extra bump up in flavor.  Add fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper as needed.

Meatless Monday: Fresh Tomato Sauce


I must preface this post with a disclaimer: this is not the “proper” way to make tomato sauce nor is it the right way to “put them up” for winter. Proper tomatoes sauces call for removing the skins of the tomatoes and sterilizing jars and other such respectable actions. This is a fast and dirty way to eek some of that magical sun drenched summer produce into my winter meals. If you have an abundance of tomatoes in your garden or purchased a load of beauties this weekend, cracking with ripeness and begging to be used immediately, then this recipe is for you.

chopped heirloom tomatoes

Fresh Tomato Starter Sauce

10 lbs ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped (multi-colored heirloom tomatoes pictured)

2 tablespoons olive oil

6-8 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

10-15 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped

salt and pepper

Wash the tomatoes and remove the cores. Roughly dice and set aside. Mince the garlic cloves while warming the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium low heat. Add the garlic to the pot and stir for 2 minutes, being careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the tomatoes to the pot and stir until well coated in garlic and oil then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Allow the tomatoes to simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally until completely soft. Add the chopped fresh basil and allow to simmer covered for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool completely. Pulse the tomatoes with an immersion blender or in an upright blender until a chunky-smooth texture is reached. Pour into freezable containers in single dinner portion sizes (pasta sauce for 2 people requires about 1-1 1/2 cups of sauce.) Label and freeze.

simmering tomato sauce

For the next 6 months when you need a little hit of fresh tomato flavor you defrost the sauce in the fridge (pull it out of the freezer the night before you need it), add it to a pan with some sauteed onion and any extra seasoning you may want. Toss it with whole wheat pasta or spread it over roasted eggplant slices, top with mozzarella cheese and call it dinner.

tomato sauce for the freezer

Simple, healthy, and ecologically responsible as you will not be buying as many canned and shipped tomatoes this coming winter with this sauce in your freezer.

blender in the sink


Meatless Monday: Vegetable Dinner-Summer


table setting

A few weeks ago Drew’s cousin Chris visited town and we celebrated the flavors of the late summer Farmer’s Market with an all vegetable dinner. Armed with our vegetable bounty and kitchen staples like good salt, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, garlic and a very hot oven, we made magic.

Roasted Eggplant

Roasted eggplants in assorted varietals (Japanese and Chinese) and radicchio drizzled with olive oil, chopped garlic and fresh basil.

cherry tomatoes with basil

Fresh yellow cherry tomatoes halved and dressed with salt, pepper, olive oil and fresh basil.

Roasted red peppers

Colorful bell peppers roasted in the oven and peeled then sliced and tossed with olive oil, a splash of vinegar and salt and pepper.

Vegetable Dinner

The feast of roasted vegetables served alongside an arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette and shaved Parmesan.

figs and cheese

Figs and Cypress Grove Midnight Moon goat cheese for dessert!

Meatless Monday: Eggs in Purgatory


On our first date my now-husband told me that he had been a vegetarian for 15 years.   I responded with polite interest: asking how he had made the decision and what he liked to eat.

I had already decided that this wasn’t going to work.

My knee-jerk reaction is one I imagine many people share.  Even though I cook professionally and my own single girl diet featured plenty of vegetarian dishes, the prospect of dating a real vegetarian still derailed me.  How could I share what I love, share me, with someone who wouldn’t eat half of it?  I lacked the foresight (and, I’m ashamed to say, the optimism) to anticipate how thoughtfully including vegetarian dishes into our weekly rotation would recharge my love of cooking, enliven both our palates and expand my repertoire.

Lesson learned!

That’s why Lydia and I are thrilled to begin devoting our Monday posts to the Meatless Monday Campaign.  The folks there came up with the brilliant idea to integrate just one day of vegetarian eating into your regular diet, whatever that diet may be.  The benefits are manifold:  for your health, for your community, and for the eco-system at large.

Going meatless for one day will also improve your palate.  I have no scientific evidence to support this claim, but food lovers know that absence not only makes the heart grow fonder, it also makes the tongue more aware of what flavors it craves.  No burger tastes better than that burger, the one with the caramelized onions and mushrooms melting into a thick, rich sweetness that you’ve dreamt about for days.  Privation makes us think, period.  And thinking about food helps us plan for and savor it.  When it comes to meat, hopefully we’ll consider how we should go about buying, preparing, and enjoying it more.  If it  worked for Meathead

Going meatless also de-centers our plate, challenging us to focus our attention on vegetable flavors and how they interact without a meat anchor.  Meatless Monday may make vegetable connoisseurs of us all.  We won’t lust after that burger only, but also those sweet potato fries—the ones with the paprika burn and sea salt sparkle.

In joining Meatless Monday, we’re creating a dedicated Apples & Onions space for developing vegetarian recipes and menus and sharing our thoughts on the experience.  Will you join us in making the pledge?  It’s only one day a week and we promise to help you along the way, beginning here with my recipe for eggs in purgatory.  It’s the first dinner I ever made for Angus.  After spending half the day fretting about how to impress him, I resorted to this 15-minute cooking-for-myself standby and was reminded of how easy and beautiful vegetarian can be.

Eggs in purgatory is usually made with a classic tomato sauce, but two pints of red and yellow cherry tomatoes inspired this play on the classic.


Eggs in Purgatory
Serves 2

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 pinch dried red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 eggs
Parmesan cheese, for grating
Fresh basil, roughly chopped

1. Preheat the broiler

2.  Heat an oven-safe sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the cold olive oil to the hot pan and add the garlic, stirring, until the garlic warms and infuses the oil.  Add the cherry tomatoes, stirring occasionally as they blister and pop.  You can give them a hand with the side of your spatula, but stand back, the hot seeds fly!

3.  When the tomatoes have almost all softened and popped, season to taste with red pepper. I like to use a generous pinch so the red pepper makes the tomato sauce “hell” for the eggs.  Then break each egg into a little pillow of molten tomato.  Continue cooking on the burner for another minute, until the whites begin to solidify.  Transfer the pan to the oven and broil until the egg whites are set and the yolks are done as you like them.  I like my yolks runny, so 2 minutes is good enough for me, but leave it for 3-4 if you prefer a firm yolk.

4.  Remove from the oven and scoop an egg and tomato sauce into each serving bowl.  Top with salt, pepper, grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.  Serve with (or on top of) crusty bread that’s been drizzled with olive oil, toasted and, if you love garlic, rubbed lightly with the cut end of a raw garlic clove.

Enjoy with mixed greens and Basic Vinaigrette.

Serves 2

Forks Over Knives



Friends, I’m way behind in vegan news.  Like, waaay behind.  Mostly because I’m not a vegan.  Or even a vegetarian.  Until recently, the word vegan practically made me roll my eyes.

Imagine my surprise when a meat-eating, iron-pumping, protein shake-chugging pal of mine told me Forks Over Knives, last year’s vegan documentary, was the best movie he’d seen in a while.

It took a serious head cold and a gray day for me to NetFlix it, but I did.  And I really, really liked it. Sure, there’s propaganda sprinkled here and there but we’re all savvy enough to see through it.  The doctors, however, and the medical findings they share are nothing short of astonishing.  To paraphrase Roger Ebert in his review: this is a movie that will change your life so you should probably skip it.

And no, it’s not a gory this-is-what-happens-in-a-slaughter-house kind of movie.  It’s a positive look at how a plant-based diet changes the lives of sick people around the world.

I’m still not a vegan or a vegetarian, but I’d be lying if I said this movie hasn’t made me more committed to eliminating meat on Meatless Monday and other days of the week.

Have you watched Forks Over Knives?

xoxo Sarah



The Weekend Dish: Hints of Spring


Image: Vanessa Jackman

Hi, loves.

I spy spring.

Can you see it?

Flowers in the snow

Crab apple blossoms

Fresh fashion campaigns

Image: Jimmy Schonning

Pops of pink

Nars Schiap

Have a wonderful weekend, whatever the weather.

Next week, Meatless Monday returns!


A & O Weekly Menu: 11.8-11.12.10


Spinach quiche and mixed greens with persimmons and pomegranate seeds

Happy Monday, loves!  Here’s what we’re cooking this week, complete with a Meatless Monday and links to related recipes.  Enjoy.



Lunch-Tofu spring rolls with sweet soy dipping sauce

Dinner-Mixed mushroom ragu over “Zuni Cafe” polenta and bitter green salad


Lunch-Tuscan white bean soup with an open-faced roast turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich

Dinner-Pan-roasted chicken with shallots and raw kale salad with apples and currants


Lunch-Southwestern grilled chicken salad with cilantro lime vinaigrette

Dinner-Fillet of beef tenderloin with mustard sauce, tomato gratin and green beans


Lunch-Spinach and Swiss cheese quiche and mixed greens with persimmons and pomegranate seeds (see image, above)

Dinner-Ground chicken chili with butternut squash


Lunch-Chopped Chef’s Salad with roast turkey breast, hard-boiled eggs, chickpeas, veggies and mustard vinaigrette

Dinner-Miso black cod over forbidden rice with braised bok choy

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