Thursday, June 26, 2014

Blackberry Crostata with Cornmeal Crust (Gluten and Dairy Free)


Have you made a crostata before? It's the Italian version of the French galette. Crostatas and galettes are actually the exact same thing: a free-form fruit pie cooked on a baking sheet instead of in a pie or tart pan. I called this one a crostata though, because in my head galettes are fancy, where you layer the fruit in concentric circles and use apricot glazes and all that fussy-business, and crostatas are rustic (read: uglier) and easier. Anyway, crostatas are awesome.  All the benefits of a pie, without all the fussiness of crimping and topping. Plus they cook faster (this one is done in 35 minutes!) and the outside is crisper too! The short cooking time is great for summer berries, which don't need to be cooked all that much anyway, so I wanted to try it out for this months blackberry pie. This crust was inspired by the amazing tart crust from Melissa Clark's gorgeous tomato crostata combined with my favorite gluten free crust dough from Joy the Baker. They worked beautifully together and the dough was supple and easy to roll out (it pays to add an egg to gluten free pie doughs!). The cornmeal isn't really discernible but does give the crust a bit of a pleasant crackly-ness. The blackberries though! I used 4 cups of blackberries from the farmers market, and they were super tart.  I sprinkled a quarter cup of sugar on top of them and thought, man, that looks like a lot of sugar! I didn't want the filling to be overly sweet, so I stopped there.  It was a mistake! The berries were still crazy crazy sour. Next time I'll add a full half cup of sugar (that's what I'm writing in the recipe below) and then taste and add even more if needed. Sour or no, it was still warm and rich and fruity, and that's good enough for me!

Blackberry Crostata with Cornmeal Crust

  • 1 cup (125 grams) gluten free all purpose flour blend
  • 1/2 cup (75 grams) fine cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons earth balance or butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk, shaken and chilled
  • squeeze of lemon (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or more as needed)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • egg wash (one beaten egg mixed with one tablespoon water)
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top
1. For the crust: Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.  Using a pastry knife, cut the butter into the flour mixture until only a few pea-sized pieces of butter remain. Combine the coconut milk and a squeeze of lemon juice, then beat in 1 whole egg and stir until well combined. Fold  the coconut milk mixture into the flour and butter mixture with a rubber spatula. Use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball using a few folding squeezes, and then flatten it into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least an hour, or up to overnight. 
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the chilled dough on a well-floured counter until it is approximately 12 inches in diameter, then carefully transfer to your lined baking sheet. Put the sheet pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
3. For the filling: Put the blackberries in a medium bowl and gently toss with the 1/2 cup of sugar. Taste your sugared berries and decide if they need more sugar, then add the cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and mix gently.
4. Assemble the crostata: Take the baking sheet out of the fridge and tumble the berries and their juices into the center of the dough circle, leaving a 3 inch or so margin around the edge of the dough. Fold the dough up around the filling, pleating it here and there, and pinching closed any cracks that form. Brush the crust with egg wash and sprinkle the whole top (crust and filling) liberally with turbinado sugar. Put the sheet pan in the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the crust is deep golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Enjoy warm or at room temperature, with a scoop of something resembling vanilla ice cream!



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (Gluten and Dairy Free)


Time has once again snuck up on me. I'm posting my May pie in mid-June and that really is just the best I could manage! Side note: blogger says that snuck isn't a word. But it is, right? Blogger sucks. As soon as I can get my act together I'm gonna move to WordPress. Anyhow, I've had a great summer so far with these very fine fellows:

Henry and George, tiny birds in a big nest

George generally loves everyone and everything. He has just begun to take his first steps and is an intrepid explorer. Henry has been quite the little innovator lately! Yesterday, he was playing with some straws and toothpicks that were left out after a party this weekend (a baby shower for my sister!!! cannot believe she's having a baby in less than 2 months!). He started by dropping toothpicks through the straw and very quickly worked out a way to rest the toothpick in the straw and then shoot it out by blowing into the straw like a dart gun! It made for an exciting afternoon. As I type this he's stabbing the toothpicks into the upholstered coffee table to make a sort of fence. It's just so cool to watch him figure things out.

Anyway, on to pie! I am in love with this pie crust recipe. It's from Joy the Baker and it's the same one I used for April's pie and I'm going to have a hard time using any other pie dough recipe from here on out.  It's made with cup4cup flour, but with an egg yolk added, which makes the crust a dream to roll out and not at all crumbly like other gluten free recipes, and with buttermilk instead of ice water (i use an equal amount of full-fat coconut milk mixed with about a teaspoon of lemon juice to make it dairy free) which makes the crust a bit softer and cake like instead of my regular crunchy crust. So good. The filling is deliciously bubbly and I just love the musky tartness of rhubarb. Don't we think it's a little musky? Something kind of weird about rhubarb. Anyway, I think it's a fun weird and I love this pie.

Strawberry Rhubarb Lattice Pie
adapted slightly from Joy the Baker

For the Crust:
  • 3 cups Gluten-Free all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance (or butter), cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup cold well-shaken coconut milk mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice (or 1/2 cup buttermilk)

For the Filling:
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch thick sliced rhubarb (about 1 pound)
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • large pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
To make the Crust:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.  Add cold, cubed Earth Balance (or butter) and, using your fingers or a pastry knife, work the butter into the flour mixture.  Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. In a small bowl, stir together the egg and coconut milk/lemon juice mixture.   Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture.  Use a fork to bring to dough together.  Try to moisten all of the flour bits.  On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture.  It will be moist and shaggy.  Sprinkle generously with flour. Shape dough into two disks and wrap in plastic wrap.  Allow dough to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.  Dough is easiest to roll out when it’s cold and rested.

To make the Filling:

Toss together the rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, corn starch, salt, and lemon juice.  Toss until all ingredients are well coated.  Allow mixture to rest in the fridge while you roll out the pie crust.

To assemble to Pie:

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

When you’re ready to roll out the crust, on a well-floured work surface, gently roll out the pie crust into about an 11-inch circle.  Press together any spots that might tear.  Carefully lift down and place into the 9-inch pie plate.  Use a pairing knife to trim the edges of pie dough, leaving about 1/2 inch extra dough overhang.  Fill pie plate with strawberry rhubarb filling.  Brush edges of the pie dough with a bit of water.  Repeat the dough rolling process and slice the rolled dough into one inch strips. Carefully place every other strip in parallel lines across the pie, leaving one inch spaces in between. Fold back alternating strips and place the remaining strips perpendicularly across the others, one at a time, folding the strips down between strips. If that made no sense at all, check out this tutorial (it's got tons of pictures).  Trim edges to 1/2-inch overhang.  Fold the excess dough under and crimp with fingers, pressing together.

Brush top of pie with beaten egg.  Sprinkle generously with granulated sugar.  Place pie on prepared baking pan and place in the oven.  Bake on 425 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 30-55 minutes (mine took a lot longer than the original recipe called for) or until crust is a gorgeous golden brown, and the juices are bubbling from the pie. Remove from the oven and allow pie to cool to room temperature before slicing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Beach Eats


We spent last weekend at the beach near Sargent, Texas (which is near Bay City, which is kind of near Houston). It was lovely and quiet and just so good. The first night there, we ate a crawfish boil courtesy of my brother-in-law's dad, Vince, who is an absolutely amazing cook. This photo is of the kid-friendly batch of crawfish, and it was still delicious, but the real batch came out after the sun had set (so no pictures) and oh my god was it good.  Spicy, salty, rich, and buttery. We ate pounds of the stuff.


My sister makes a phenomenal pasta salad.  She's got a couple tricks- she uses tortellini instead of regular pasta (amazing) and makes a pesto heavy on the walnuts and parmesan. The whole thing is rich and creamy and delightful, and is enlivened by bursts of lemon-y asparagus, briny olives, and sweet roasted tomatoes.


Cheddar and Black Pepper Cornbread! So good! It's got a lot of sugar, and Jeff said it tasted like a big corn cookie- he's so right!


A strawberry rhubarb pie with coconut and oat crisp topping. Delicious! My May pie of the month is a gluten and dairy free version with a lattice top- I'll post it soon.


 Dinner the next night was fish tacos featuring giant snapper caught by Jordan on an earlier trip and grilled up beautifully by Jeff. This is my sister's delicious mango salsa.


All the cheese!


My gluttonous plate!


More tacos!

It was such a lovely and relaxing weekend with great food and friends. We were completely offline that weekend, and it was the first time in ages for me to be so- it felt so nice. We played all day and my little family all went to bed at the same time at night and I just felt so happy and connected.  Will strive to live that way a bit more often in our regular lives!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Strawberry Ginger Pie (Gluten and Dairy Free)


This was my very first strawberry pie. I mean, I've had the sort of semi-homemade cafeteria icebox strawberry pie where you mix halved strawberries with jello and top it with some sort of non-dairy whipped topping affair, and yeah, that's ok. But a pie with cooked strawberries? You just never see them do you? I always assumed it was because cooked strawberries in a pie just weren't that great- that they should really be kept bright and fresh. Boy, was that wrong! I'm here to tell you that strawberry pie is amazing. I'm going to spend the rest of my life making strawberry pies! The strawberry flavor intensifies, but they keep their beautiful bright red luster. And this fluffy crust, brushed with egg yolk and sprinkled with sugar is very much like a great strawberry shortcake biscuit. It's a juicy pie, but it'll still slice pretty cleanly, and the juice will be more like a lovely little pool to drag your fork through after you've finished your slice than a messy nuisance. This recipe is adapted only slightly from Joy the Baker's recipe, which calls for freshly grated ginger in the filling. Don't skip this! I thought about omitting it because it seemed a little fussy, but the ginger flavor just goes perfectly with the strawberries and keeps it from being too sweet and simple.  

Oh yeah, and this is my April pie :/ Please pretend it's not already May.

Strawberry Ginger Pie
adapted very slightly from Joy the Baker

For the Crust:

  • 3 cups Gluten-Free all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance (or butter), cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup cold well-shaken coconut milk mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice (or 1/2 cup buttermilk)

For the Filling:

  • 5 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (do a bit less if your strawberries are sweet)
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca starch or cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger 
  • 1 large egg, beaten and granulated sugar for topping the unbaked pie


To make the Crust:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.  Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers or a pastry knife, work the butter into the flour mixture.  Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. In a small bowl, stir together the egg and coconut milk/lemon juice mixture.   Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture.  Use a fork to bring to dough together.  Try to moisten all of the flour bits.  On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture.  It will be moist and shaggy.  Sprinkle generously with flour. Shape dough into two disks and wrap in plastic wrap.  Allow dough to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.  Dough is easiest to roll out when it’s cold and rested.

To make the Filling:

Toss together strawberries, sugar, tapioca starch, lemon juice, salt, nutmeg, and ginger.  Toss until all ingredients are well coated.  Allow mixture to rest in the fridge while you roll out the pie crust.

To assemble to Pie:

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

When you’re ready to roll out the crust, on a well-floured work surface, gently roll out the pie crust into about an 11-inch circle.  Press together any spots that might tear.  Carefully lift down and place into the 9-inch pie plate.  Use a pairing knife to trim the edges of pie dough, leaving about 1/2 inch extra dough overhang.  Fill pie plate with strawberry filling.  Brush edges of the pie dough with a bit of water.  Repeat the dough rolling process and carefully place second crust on top of filled pie dough.  Trim edges to 1/2-inch overhang.  Fold the excess dough under and crimp with fingers, pressing together.

Brush top of pie with beaten egg.  Sprinkle generously with granulated sugar.  Cut 4 small vent holes in the top of the pie.   Place pie on prepared baking pan and place in the oven.  Bake on 425 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 30-55 minutes (mine took a lot longer than the original recipe called for) or until crust is a gorgeous golden brown, and the juices are bubbling from the pie. Remove from the oven and allow pie to cool to room temperature before slicing.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Torchy's-Inspired Fried Egg Breakfast Tacos (with bonus recipes from Ginger's Kitchen!)


Learning about Torchy's secret menu is like being handed the key to a city made of candy. It feels like dancing through streets made of spicy breakfast meats with rivers of poblano cream sauce. In other words, it is exciting. These tacos are outrageously over-the-top. In my pre-secret-menu innocence, my favorite taco was the green chile pork. Essentially shredded pork in a corn tortilla. The secret menu version, Missionary-style green chile pork, adds pickled red onions, guacamole, jack cheese, and chipotle sauce, and then the whole thing is deep fried so the corn tortilla gets beautifully crisp, and then that's wrapped in a flour tortilla so your hands don't get greasy. It's deliciously clever. Another taco, the Jack of Clubs, is easier to recreate at home and just as delicious. It's black beans, potatoes, a fried egg, tortilla strips, jack cheese, sour cream, and cilantro. I am so enamored with the missionary-style technique of combining a fried corn tortilla with a soft flour one that I added that technique to this taco, in lieu of the crunchy tortilla strips on the Torchy's version. I omitted the potatoes (which almost seemed mashed in the Torchy's taco and were quite tasty) because the taco was a lot easier to make without them, but you should add them if you've got the time.

I made this the taco in my friend Abbie's kitchen, with a group of fellow food52ers. We call ourselves Ginger's Kitchen (after Abbie's sweet pup) and bounce ideas off of each other and come up with collaborative recipes.  Here are the two we developed that morning for that week's food52 contest, Your Best Weekday Breakfast. None of our recipes were selected as possible finalists, but I can assure you they were all quite tasty!


Johnny McGriddle Sandwich
Our homemade spin on a McDonald's McGriddle, replacing the pancakes with johnny cakes (cornmeal pancakes) and the sausage with a Mexican chorizo patty.  There's maple sugar in the pancake batter, but you could go the extra step of making your own maple sugar crystals, which will then melt into delicious pockets of syrup in your finished pancake a la this recipe- it's easier than it sounds and so good!


S'More Grilled Cheese, Please
A grilled "cheese" sandwich featuring cream cheese, almond butter, dark chocolate, and strawberries. I can assure you that you won't be disappointed if you put chocolate on bread and grill it in butter. The rest of the ingredients are definitely gilding the lily, but we devoured it all the same!

The Ultimate Fried-Egg Breakfast Taco
inspired by Torchy's Jack of Clubs taco

makes 2 hearty tacos
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 corn tortillas
  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup cooked black beans (canned or homemade, recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar or jack cheese
  • 1 handful of cilantro
  • 1/2 lime
  • pickled jalapenos
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  1. Get out two skillets. Heat both over medium heat. Put a flour tortilla in one and toast it a bit on both sides until it has puffed up. Repeat with the second flour tortilla. Meanwhile, put the 2 tablespoons of oil in the other skillet and, when the oil is hot and shimmery, put a corn tortilla in and shallow-fry it on both sides, until it has crisped up a bit but is still malleable, about 30 seconds per side. Repeat with the second corn tortilla. Put one flour tortilla on each of two plates and top each with the fried corn tortilla. (Yes, each taco will have two tortillas!) 
  2. When the tortillas are done, put the black beans and a splash of their cooking liquid into the dry pan where you toasted the flour tortillas and heat them gently and season to taste. Melt the tablespoon of butter in the pan where you fried the corn tortillas (leaving the remaining oil in the pan) and crack in two eggs. Cover this pan with a lid and cook until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny, about 2-4 minutes (check them often!). You might need to spoon some of the fat in the pan over the top of the whites to finish them off. 
  3. Assemble the tacos by spooning some of the black beans onto the tortillas and top with a sprinkling of cheddar. Put the fried egg on next and season with salt and pepper. Put a good handful of cilantro on next and squeeze some lime juice over it, and then add 3-4 pickled jalapeno slices. Enjoy!
Great Homemade Black Beans

This is the same basic formula I use for any kind of bean (pinto, cannelini, garbanzo) and it works beautifully with all of them. I don't always include the bacon strip but it adds a wonderful hint of smokiness.
  • about 1 pound dried black beans, soaked in plenty of water overnight
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 slice of bacon
  • Kosher salt
Put the soaked beans in a large dutch oven and cover with two inches of cold water. Add the bay leaves, garlic, and bacon slice, and then season the water with plenty of kosher salt (as much salt as you would use for pasta water- several tablespoons). Bring the pot to a boil over high heat and then lower the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beans are done, 1-2 hours. (I prefer to transfer the covered pot of beans to a 300 degree oven after they've come to a boil because that keeps it at a very even and gentle simmer without having to constantly monitor and regulate your stove's burner.) Test your beans at the one hour mark by eating a few- they should be soft and creamy. If not using all the beans right away, transfer them to mason jars and cover with their cooking liquid.  You can freeze them like that too.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Bacon and Spinach Quiche with Latke Crust


It's the last day of the month, so that must mean it's time for another gluten&dairy-free-pie-of-the-month post! Strawberries (and delicious ones too!) have already made their way to my farmers' market, and so I seriously thought about a strawberry pie this month, followed by two more strawberry variations for April and May, but opted instead for a savory one.  I saw a Martha Stewart recipe for a quiche with a hash brown crust and was immediately smitten with the idea. But the recipe was a bit lacking- you dump a bag of frozen hash browns in a pie pan and bake it for a measly 25 minutes, which didn't seem like enough time to get the potatoes sufficiently crispy. Then, on instagram a few days ago, mrswheelbarrow posted a pic of a gorgeous potato crust all ready for the oven.  She very kindly explained her technique to me (which is listed in the recipe below) and the results were just as I'd hoped for.  Like a delicious latke, beautifully seasoned, firm but easy to cut through on the bottom of the quiche and delightfully light and crisp around the edges. The inside of the quiche features local bacon from Flying Pig, spinach from my garden (planted as a lovely surprise by the Kitchen Gardener!) and my favorite easy quiche filling, with the normal heavy cream and milk mixture replaced by a can of full-fat coconut milk. I was very happy with it, and it is one of those blessed results where you miss neither the gluten nor the dairy.

Bacon and Spinach Quiche with Latke Crust
filling adapted from Cooks Illustrated's quiche lorraine, crust slightly adapted from Mrs. Wheelbarrow

  • 2 medium-large russet potatoes
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • lots of kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 oz bacon
  • small bunch spinach, washed and chopped into rough 1-inch pieces
  • more kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • one 14oz(ish) can of full-fat coconut milk
  • still more kosher salt and black pepper
  1. For the crust: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel the potatoes and onion half and grate them, by hand or with the grater attachment of your food processor if you've got one.  Put the grated potatoes and onion in a colander set in the sink, and let sit for a few minutes. Grab one small handful at a time and squeeze as much water out as possible, until you've squeezed it all, then let sit for another 5 minutes or so and squeeze all the water out again. The more water you're able to squeeze out the better your final product will be- it's worth being meticulous here! Transfer the squeezed-out vegetables to a medium bowl, and toss with the two beaten eggs and plenty of salt and pepper. Press the potato mixture into a pie pan or a springform pan, pushing the mixture up the sides.  Bake the crust for 40 minutes. Then take the crust out of the oven, brush all over with the canola oil, and put back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes. 
  2. For the filling: Meanwhile, dice the bacon into roughly 1/2 inch pieces and put in a cast iron skillet set over medium heat. Cook, tossing occasionally, until most of the bacon is crisp, 5-7 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Pour off all but about a tablespoon of the bacon fat into a small bowl for another day and add the washed and chopped spinach to the bacon-greased skillet. Cook until the spinach has wilted and much of the water has evaporated, about 3 minutes, and season with salt and pepper. 
  3. For the quiche: When the crust is done, lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Sprinkle the bacon in the bottom of the crust and distribute the sauteed spinach on top of that, as evenly as possible. Put two whole eggs and two egg yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk gently and then add the can of coconut milk and a good amount of salt and pepper (at least a teaspoon of kosher salt) and whisk again so that the ingredients are well blended. Pour the egg mixture over the bacon and spinach and put the quiche in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the center of the quiche is set when you jiggle the pan. Let cool a bit and eat warm or at room temperature. 



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Who Wants Seconds? A Cookbook Review


The Piglet, food52's annual tournament of cookbooks, is one of my very favorite things to read on the web, and I look forward to it with the fervor and fanaticism that most people reserve for their home town football team. The reviews cover 16 of the most notable cookbooks from the year, and they are pitted against each other in a bracket-style tournament. The winning book this year was selected because it was deemed to be the one that cooks would reach for most often in their day-to-day cooking, a metric I completely agree with. But if that's the case, then Jennie Cook's new cookbook, Who Wants Seconds?, may very well have won my personal vote for cookbook of the year.

My delightful sister Helen worked for Jennie at her much loved restaurant in Culver City, the Double Dutch Dinette, where she said everyone was a regular. It was the type of place where if you wanted to learn how to cook, they would teach you. Jennie encouraged everyone to cook and made everyone feel like an important member of the team. All of her employees were viewed as artists and creative people and if someone had a good idea she would use it. Art on the walls was from the waiter or the chef's girlfriend. If you were good at writing you worked on the website. If you had an idea for food or the menu, even if you weren't a chef, your idea was taken seriously. Helen, in a bad mood one day, made herself an ice cream sundae, which ended up being a feature of every Sunday dinner service. Helen describes her time there as the absolute best place to learn and grow. This love of teaching and creativity is infused through Jennie's beautiful cookbook. She has picked up recipes and techniques through the people she has met and worked with, and the end result is a cookbook that blends the classic comfort food she grew up eating with more modern and global flavors, sprinkled with great tips for hosting parties and planning meals from the queen of LA catering.



Jennie's recipe for Slow Roasted Baked Beans is one of the first ones in the book, and I knew I had to make it after reading her headnote: 

"Every Saturday night we had the same meal: charcoal-grilled steaks, baked beans, home fries, and a salad. We always ate late on Saturday nights. Cocktail hour still started at 5, but the weekend pace was leisurely, pushing diner till 7. This meant more time to dance in the kitchen. (As party people we love to dance.) I loved watching Ma and Pop gently swing around the kitchen to Sinatra, with Ma harmonizing in her sexiest voice. I still also love a little piece of steak and a big plate of slow-roasted baked beans. Saturday night steak dinner will always have a hold on me."

Wonderful, right? I love the familiarity, the nostalgia, and the casual tone of Jennie's writing. The bean recipe itself is simple and delicious. (I've copied it at the bottom of this post). I used canned whole tomatoes squished up a bit with my fingers instead of tomato sauce and really liked it that way, because the larger chunks of tomato got sweet and roasty and it really reminded me of a full english breakfast. One important note about this recipe and the other bean recipes in this cookbook though. Jennie recommends not salting the beans before cooking, which she says makes them tough, and her recipes also include a bit of vinegar in the cooking water, a vegan old wives tale of sorts about making the beans easier to digest. I recommend you do just the opposite. ALWAYS salt beans while cooking (this won't make them tough but will make them taste better- see why here and here), and never add an acid like vinegar or tomatoes to beans before they're cooked- this is what causes beans to seize up and stay too firm. The best way to make beans easier to digest is to eat more beans. Your body gets used to it and you won't be plagued by GI issues.



Farro al Fresco - this is a wonderful formula for making any grain salad, which includes something green, some nuts, dried fruit, crumbled chevre, and a simple vinaigrette. 


Green Beans with Chile Pecans and Sesame Dressing were light and satisfying. I'm not a huge fan of green beans, but the sesame oil plus chile pecans made them much more palatable!


Feijoada, a Brazilian black bean and sweet potato stew was a delight. Jennie's recipe is vegan and served with a delicious pineapple relish. As with the the baked bean recipe above, I'd recommend that you omit the vinegar from the cooking water and add plenty of salt instead. This is a great party recipe (it makes a ton!), and is naturally gluten free and vegan too.


Cumin Scented Turkey Meatloaf with Creamy Gravy and the Amazing Corn Sensation. This turkey meatloaf is easily worth the price of the cookbook- it is my new go-to meatloaf and absolutely perfect.  Most meatloaf recipes call for 3 different meats (pork, veal, and beef) to get the texture and flavor right. Jennie manages to make the most sublimely-textured meatloaf using just ground poultry and a few tricks. I used ground chicken because it was readily available at my farmer's market and it was still fabulous. Jennie calls for 3/4 cup of quick oats to be mixed in, which she says "create an almost creamy center." It's true! And I didn't have quick oats, only the thick old-fashioned rolled oats, and they still disappeared into the meatloaf and made it creamy and delicious. The cumin really adds a delicious note too.  I can't say enough good stuff about this meatloaf. Get the book and try it!

The creamy gravy and amazing corn sensation were both lovely and perfect accompaniments to the meatloaf, but they definitely played second fiddle in my book!

Jennie's book is filled with tons of appealing recipes, and the recipes themselves are very thoughtfully written and just the sort of thing I like to cook on a weeknight. A lovely book written by a lovely person.

Slow Roasted Baked Beans
adapted slightly from Who Wants Seconds?

prep time: overnight soaking
cooking time: 4 1/2 to 5 hours
serves 10 as a side dish

  • 1 pound dried white beans, soaked overnight in 4 quarts water
  • kosher salt
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups tomato sauce or crushed whole tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large stockpot, cover the beans with water by 2 or 3 inches, add thyme, bay leaves, and enough kosher salt to make the water taste like the sea, and bring the beans to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are soft, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine onion, sugar, tomato sauce, and mustard in medium bowl. When beans are soft, drain the cooking water, remove bay leaves and thyme stems, and stir beans into sauce mixture. Pour into greased 4-quart glass, ceramic, or stainless pan and bake, covered, for 3 hours. Check and add more water, one cup at a time, as necessary, keeping it saucy but not watery. Uncover and continue cooking until beans are caramelized on top, 30-55 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. 

Variation: Grammy added a pound of chopped raw bacon to the pot, and I'd certainly understand if you chose to do the same.

What a delightful book! I hope you get a chance to read and cook from it!