Archive for July, 2009

A Summer Galette

July 13, 2009


Way back in February, I told you about galettes from the Macrina Bakery here in Seattle.  I shared the recipe for an extraordinary one starring butternut squash.  I’m here to share another.

My brother Alex and his family came for dinner last night.  (I just have to brag again.  Alex was – and still is – the personal trainer for Jason, a.k.a. last season’s The Bachelor.)  Randy hadn’t grilled salmon yet this summer and I know how much Alex loves salmon, so it was certainly time.  My sister-in-law Amy is also a vegetarian, so I wanted to make something special as a side, something that could be more of a main course for us.  Immediately I thought of this galette.


This  beauty is a classic savory tart crust filled with an intoxicating mixture of Fontina and Ricotta cheeses all bound together with some egg and flavored with fresh oregano and thyme.  It is topped with arugula that has been tossed with olive oil, lemon zest, and Kalamata olive halves.  That part is topped with roasted tomato slices.  Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery and Café Cookbook actually has four galette recipes, three savory and one sweet.  I almost can’t wait for fall so I can make the Roasted Pear Galette with Chèvre and Pomegranates.  Until then, I will certainly make this lovely roasted tomato topped one again.
One Year Ago:  Leek Fritatta

Roasted Tomato and Olive Galette with Fontina
Adapted from Macrina Bakery and Café Cookbook
Serves 8-10

When writing about the butternut squash galette, I mentioned that it is easier, and more attractive, to make several small galettes rather than one big one.  I didn’t follow my own advice last night and I should have.  Everything tasted great, but the large dough was a bit hard to work with and crimp attractively.  Note that the crust recipe below makes enough for two of these large galettes.  I place the unused half of dough in my freezer for next time.

2 cups grated fontina cheese
2 cups ricotta cheese
3 eggs
Kosher salt
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (DT: I used more like 2 tbsp. of each.)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 recipe Flaky Pie Dough, chilled (recipe follows)
Egg wash made with 1 egg and 1 tsp. water
5 Roma tomatoes
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 handful fresh arugula leaves
1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
Zest of 1 lemon

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine fontina cheese, ricotta, eggs, 1 tsp. kosher salt, oregano, thyme, and a little freshly ground black pepper in a large bowl.  Mix well and set aside.

Form chilled pie dough into a ball and place it on a lightly floured work surface.  Flatten ball slightly, then roll it into a 14-inch circle, about 1/8th of an inch thick.  Carefully lift it onto a prepared baking sheet.  Spoon ricotta mixture onto center of circle and flatten to cover 10 inches, leaving a 2-inch border.  Lift border over top of the filling, tucking and folding the dough to create a gathered, or pleated, finish.  Lift each of the folds up and brush underneath with egg wash to seal the crust.  Brush all exposed dough with egg wash, then place the galette in the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Wash and core tomatoes, then cut them into 12 pieces each.  Combine chopped tomatoes and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a bowl and toss together.  Pour tomatoes onto a prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast on center rack of oven for 35-40 minutes, or until edges are deep brown.  Set aside to cool.  Leave oven on.

Remove tart from refrigerator and bake on center rack of oven for 55-60 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.  Let cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Place the arugula in a bowl with the olives, lemon zest, and the remaining olive oil.  Add a little salt and pepper, and toss together.  Arrange arugula mixture on center of galette and scatter roasted tomatoes over the top.  Serve at room temperature.

Flaky Pie Dough
Makes enough for 2 double-crusted (9-inch) pies, or 2 galettes

I always make pie dough in my food processor, but this amount is too much for it, so I do it by hand with a pastry blender.

5 1/4 cups flour
1 tbsp. kosher salt

12 tbsp. (1
1/2 sticks) butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3/4 cups solid vegetable shortening, chilled
1 cup ice water

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and toss together. Add butter and cut it into the flour until the texture is coarse and crumbly. You can use a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers. Cut the shortening up and add it in small pieces. Cut in the shortening until the dough is crumbly again. Add ice water and mix just until the dough sticks together when pinched. Pull dough from bowl onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a block. Cut it in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or wrap it again in foil and store in the freezer. One day before you are going to use frozen dough, transfer it to the refrigerator and allow it to thaw there.

One for the Kids

July 11, 2009


Summer.  ‘Tis the season for casual al fresco dinners with family and friends.

I needed a couple of desserts for this weekend and, because ours and other kids were going to be present, I figured I would make them a little something in addition to the “adult” desserts.  Well, that’s one of the reasons I made these bars.  Another reason is that the other desserts I had planned did not have any chocolate in them, and it is very hard for me to serve dessert without chocolate somewhere in sight.  Another reason is that I have a 6 pound bag of pretzels in my basement – the product of a Costco impluse buy.  We are pretzel lovers in this family, but I fear we may never actually get through this bag.

Enter the Chocolate Chip-Pretzel Bar.  This recipe comes from this month’s Food and Wine.  It is rare that I get to a magazine recipe in the actual month it was written for.  I am perpetually 6-8 months behind.  But in reading through the August issue, this recipe jumped out at me as a perfect kid dessert.  Yes, it helped me in the pretzel department, but it’s also easy and has chocolate sprinkles on top.  What adult…er, I mean kid…doesn’t like sprinkles?


Chocolate Chip-Pretzel Bars
Adapted from Food and Wine
Makes 2 dozen 2-inch squares

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips (DT: I used semi-sweet.)
1 1/2 cups mini pretzels, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. chocolate sprinkles

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing overhang on the 2 long ends.

2.  In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with both sugars at medium speed until light, 1 minute.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.  At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients.  Stir in the chips and pretzels.

3.  Spread the batter in the pan and top with the sprinkles.  Bake for 30 minutes, until golden; the center will still be a little gooey.  Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely.

4.  Run the tip of a knife around the side of the pan and lift the bar out using the parchment paper.  Cut into 24 squares and serve.

(The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.)

Vietnamese Tofu Sandwich

July 9, 2009


Whenever I return from vacation, especially if we have been back East visiting the Baltimore clan, I feel the need to eat really healthy and clean.  This past trip was a little better than others because we were staying in a house.  This meant I was able to cook a few meals and eat some healthy food.  One night I made Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas and another I made a Niçoise Salad.  By contrast, one night we ate at a crab shack where my choices were limited to the side dishes part of the menu.  When I asked the waitress if I could have just a baked potato instead of “cheesy smashed potatoes” she said, “I’m not sure if I have ever seen a whole potato back there.”  True story.

I ate a lot of salad but I also ate a lot of french fries off my boys’ plates.  I also fully enjoyed happy hour.  In other words, by this week I was definitely feeling the need for some tofu.  When I’m feeling that need, I turn to Asian food.


I made these sandwiches last spring for my clients.  I remember having an “oh wow” moment with my first bite.  That is always a good sign.  I’m happy to report I had an “oh double wow” moment with last night’s first bite. A “why don’t I make this every week?” moment.  If you like these flavors, you will love this sandwich.

A few notes on the recipe.  By all means, make the pickles in advance.  I made them the day before but the recipe states you can keep them for several weeks in the refrigerator.  You will want to dry your tofu very well before pan-frying it, otherwise it will splatter something fierce when it hits the oil.  I dry each piece individually with a paper towel.  The tofu mixture can be made several hours in advance and sit out at room temperature – I think the flavor improves if you do so.


One Year Ago: Raspberry Cream Cookies

Tai’s Vietnamese Tofu Sandwich
Adapted from Everyday Greens
Makes 4 sandwiches

Carrot-Daikon Radish Pickles (recipe follows)
1 package extra firm tofu, 12-16 ounces
Vegetable oil for frying (DT: I used peanut oil)
Salt and pepper
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 cups flavorful chopped canned tomatoes, with their juice
2 tbsp. Tamari or other soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sugar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 soft French rolls (DT: I used small ciabatta)
12 to 16 cilantro sprigs

Make the Carrot-Daikon Radish pickles.

Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch-thick slices, cut each slice into quarters, and each quarter into two triangles.  Pour enough oil into a large non-stick skillet to thoroughly coat the bottom and heat just until below the point of smoking, when the first wisp of vapor appears.  Fry the tofu until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes per side.  Drain the tofu on paper towels, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp. of the tofu frying oil in a skillet, add the shallots, 1/4 tsp. salt, and a pinch of pepper, and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Sir in the garlic and ginger, adding a little water if needed to keep everything from  sticking to the apn.  Add the tomatoes, tamari, sugar, and the cayenne and cook until the tomatoes thicken, about 15 minutes.  Add the tofu and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Cut the rolls in half and scoop out the centers.  Spoon the filling into the bottom halves of the rolls, making sure to include all of the sauce.  Scatter 1/4 cup of the pickles and a few sprigs of cilantro over the filling.  Place the top on each sandwich, press it down to hole the filling in place, and slice in half on the diagonal.


Carrot-Daikon Radish Pickles
Makes 1 quart

2 large carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 large daikon radish, peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno chili, seeded, and finely chopped
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Place the carrots, daikon, onions, and chili in a bowl.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and pour over the carrot mixture.  Set aside for at least an hour to pickle, or transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate.

Coconut Bars

July 8, 2009


Is it fair to say that everyone has a hard time coming back from vacation?  I know I always do.  Back in the days when I had a desk job, I would feel an almost overwhelming depression when I was finally back in my house and realizing I had to go to work the next day.

Now that my life is very different, I don’t feel that same despair but it certainly is hard to get back into the regular routine.  This time around it’s especially hard because my husband is going to basically be gone for the next three weeks, essentially making me a single parent.  When Randy is not here, I don’t put that much effort into cooking.  I know some people delight in cooking for one, but I am not one of those people.  In some ways I welcome the break.  In other ways I miss cooking.

I am lucky to have my family living close by and when Randy is out of town, I always invite my parents and my brother Michael over for dinner.  I invite them most weeks anyway, but it’s especially nice to have them here when I’m flying solo.  I welcome the company but I also welcome the chance to cook.  They are enthusiastic eaters of my food.


Since my brother is a cookie monster of the highest order, I can’t have them here without some kind of baked good to send him home with.  I usually make something I’m certain he will like, but since he really loves anything in bar or cookie form, this time I decided to cater to my parents.  Both my mom and dad love coconut.  I have a recipe from Food and Wine for a sophisticated take on a Mounds bar that I have been meaning to make.  The problem is, it’s one of those recipes that takes up the entire page of the magazine.  There are three elements to the bar, each one fairly time consuming and complicated.  Not quite the right thing to tackle this week.

Instead I offer you this fairly simple Coconut Bar from Vegetarian Classics.  It’s not perfect but it’s easy.  If you are a coconut fan, this is a great way to satisfy a craving.


One Year Ago:  Tasty Asparagus and Brown Rice, Artichoke Panzanella, White Beans with Roasted Tomatoes

Coconut Bars
Adapted from Vegetarian Classics
Makes 16 bars

The original recipe calls for only 1/2 cup of chocolate chips but I used a full cup.  Because I am a chocolate person, I think it could have used even more but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

The Crust:
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt

The Topping:
6 oz. Neufchatel (light cream cheese), softened
3 tbsp. butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 tbsp. flour
3 cups (about 12 ounces) sweetened coconut
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly butter a 9×13 baking pan.

2.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until blended.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth and creamy.  Sprinkle in the flour and salt, and beat just until combined.  Scrape the batter into the prepared dish and use a rubber spatula to spread it evenly on the bottom.  It will be very thin.  Bake 15 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, make the topping using the same bowl and beaters (you don’t have to wash them.)  Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add the sugar, egg, and almond extract, and beat until combined.  Stir in the coconut.

4.  When the crust is done, spoon the batter into it.  Carefully spread it around to cover the crust evenly.  Bake 18-20 minutes, or just until the top off the batter begins to get a tiny bit of color.  Place on a wire rack to cool.

5.  While the bars are still hot, fill a medium-size saucepan halfway with water, bring to a boil, and remove the pan from the heat.  Place the chocolate chips in a small Ziploc bag and tilt the bag so the chocolate chips collect in one corner.  Lower the bag into the water, keeping the chips in the corner, and let them melt, about 2 minutes.  Squeeze the chips occasionally to see if they are melted.  Remove the bag from the water.  Keeping the bag tilted, snip off a very tiny piece of the corner.  Squirt the chocolate all over the coconut surface in an abstract pattern.  When everything is completely cooled, cut into bars.

The Beach and a Photo

July 6, 2009


I didn’t grow up going to the beach.  Oh, we have beach here in Washington state.  Miles and miles of it.  Contrary to what some people might think, Seattle is not actually on the coast.  I like to think of our state in the shape of a square root sign.  Seattle is in the “v” of that sign on Puget Sound.  If you want to get to the ocean,  you have to drive south and then west across the Olympic peninsula.  After about 2 1/2 hours, you reach the Pacific Ocean.  It’s beautiful and it’s cold.

The towns out there aren’t all that nice so when we would go to the coast, we would actually head to Oregon.  The entire coast line of that gigantic state is public beach and it is absolutely breathtaking.  You may have seen photographs of Haystack Rock, a 235 foot monolith sitting just a few feet from the shore – that’s in Cannon Beach and that is where my family usually stayed.  We went there for the beauty, we went for long walks on the beach, we didn’t go there to swim.

One year my brother Alex was in a small sailboat that tipped over in Puget Sound.  He had on a life jacket and was rescued about 20 minutes after he went in.  He got hypothermia.  This was in August.  If the water in the Sound is that cold, imagine the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean.  No, we don’t swim out here on this coast.

My mom always says one of the hardest things about leaving New York to move to Seattle was not going to the beach in the summer.  Jones Beach was a big part of her childhood.  In my childhood, aside from a few trips to Hawaii, most of our warm weather vacations involved a pool.  Actually, come to think of it, most of our vacations were spent skiing.  Not a lot of beach when you are skiing.

In contrast, Randy and his family would head to the Maryland shore every summer.  Almost his entire extended family (and they are Catholic so there are a lot of them) lives in Baltimore and they would all descend on Ocean City for the week around July 4th to rent various houses.  Randy’s immediate family didn’t live in the area, so this was a chance for them to all reconnect.  Randy doesn’t have much of a memory, but there are lots of things he remembers about going to the beach.  He feels strongly that we go every few years so our children can build some of these same memories.

I’m happy to go.  I love this large extended family.  I love how his uncle Dan goes down early in the morning and stakes out territory with all kinds of umbrellas and fancy folding chairs.  This year we were 55 people so that is a lot of space to stake out.  I love the warm sun and the sea air.  I can’t say I love the sand, but I’m getting used to it.  I love the lazy day that involves nothing more than meals and walking to and from the beach.  Happy hour starts early and the nights go late.  There is always singing and guitar playing involved which creates some anxiety for me, but once I get my first song over with, I’m usually ready to sing more.  It’s a really nice vacation.  Before we left, we were thinking we would go every third year.  Once we got there (we were at Bethany Beach which is actually in Delaware), I told Randy I thought we should make it every other year.  I’m already looking forward to next time.

A word about the above photo.  My mother-in-law likes to have photos.  Not just a snapshot, although she likes those as well.  There are lots of photos of Randy and his sisters growing up posed in their Sunday finest.  It’s actually very sweet.  Somehow I didn’t get the memo that there would be a photo this year so I didn’t pack appropriate clothes for the boys.  Actually, I don’t even know if I have appropriate clothes for the boys – we live in Seattle after all.  So, while I was out sunning myself, Randy took the boys to a cute shop in town and bought them these super preppy and totally adorable outfits.  He never ceases to amaze me.

For those of you who are wondering when-oh-when I will get back to talking about food…soon, I promise.  Just need to shake the sand out of my suitcase.

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