Tomato, Kale, Gruyere and Bread Casserole

If you want something hot, easy and loaded with veggies, give this French-style casserole a try!

Here’s what you need:

2 bunches kale, stems removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup white wine

1.5 cups broth (chicken or veggie)

1.5 pounds large tomatoes (beefsteak, or “on-the-vine”), sliced into 1/2-inch thick pieces

1 loaf French/white/country bread, at least a day-old, sliced into 1/2-inch thick pieces

1 block gruyere cheese, shredded (about 5-8 oz.)

Here’s what you do:

1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the kale for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and once it has cooled enough, squeeze out the excess moisture and roughly chop.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and butter a baking dish.

3. In the same pot where you cooked the kale, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and thyme, and cook for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the wine to the onion, and then the kale, and simmer until the wine is reduced. Remove the kale mixture from the pot. Using the same pot, heat the broth.

5. In the pan, make a single layer of slightly less than half of the bread. Top with half of the tomato slices. Season with salt and pepper. Add half of the kale mixture, and then half of the cheese mixture.

6. Layer the second slightly-less-than-half of the bread again, topped with the remaining tomato slices. Season again with salt and pepper. Add the remaining kale mixture and the remaining cheese. Top with the remaining few slices of bread.

7. Push the casserole down with a spatula. Pour the hot broth over the top and press down once more.

8. Cover and cook for about an hour. Then, remove the cover and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, and up to an hour. Serve warm.


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L.A. Kalbi, but with Chicken

Another recent find in the L.A. Times Food Section. This recipe was originally for Korean style short ribs, marinated in a sweet sauce and grilled. I was intrigued by the marinade–Asian pear and maple syrup–but wanted to make a healthier version. We made this with chicken, baked in the oven and then finished on the grill, and it was delicious! (And we served it with steamed rice and homemade potato salad, as suggested.)

Here’s what you need:

2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken thighs

1 Asian pear, cored

6 garlic cloves, peeled

1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice wine

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons sesame oil

4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch thick disks (optional)

Here’s what you do:

1. Make the marinade: In a blender or food processor, combine the pear, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice wine and maple syrup. Puree until smoothish. Then add salt, pepper and the sesame oil.

2. Place the chicken thighs in a dish or bag, add the carrot pieces, and pour the marinade over the chicken/carrots. Allow to marinate at least an hour, up to 4 hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the chicken and carrots, covered, for about 45 minutes, then uncovered for another 15 minutes. Check to be sure the chicken is cooked through.

4. If you’d like, finish the chicken on the BBQ or stovetop grill to give it a bit of char, and allow the sauce to carmelize.


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Bistro-Style Meatloaf

My grandma–Simon and Jacob’s gigi, has been saving the LA Times Food Sections for me. I pulled this recipe from one of the more recent ones, simplified the ingredients and preparation a bit, and it was great.

Here’s what you need:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 white or yellow onion, peeled and quartered

1 cup parsley leaves (if you don’t have them, you can always add a teaspoon of dried parsley to your meatloaf; you could also replace with green onions, or cilantro)

juice from 1 lemon

1.5 pounds ground beef (the second time I made this I did half beef and half turkey, and while I usually love turkey meatloaf, this recipe was a little dry for turkey)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1.5 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

approx. 1/2 cup ketchup (you can also add a couple of tablespoons hoisin sauce if you’d like)

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a food processor, combine the butter, garlic, onion, parsley and lemon juice, and process until you have a smooth paste.

3. In a bowl, mix the beef with the butter mixture, salt and pepper, cumin, oregano, breadcrumbs and egg.

4. On a piece of foil, shape the beef mixture into an 8.5 x 4.5 rectangle, about 1.5 inches thick.

5. In an oven proof pan, heat the oil over high heat for two minutes. Using the foil as a “utensil,” flip the shaped meatloaf directly into the pan. (You will hear it sizzle.) Spread the ketchup on top, trying not to let it drip down.

6. Place into the oven and bake about 28-30 minutes.


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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

My dad grows all kinds of delicious fruits and veggies, so when I went to his house this weekend, he provided me with a very large bag of homegrown tomatillos. The below recipe is adapted from a Food Network recipe, but kicks up some of the flavor a bit, as well as extends the cooking time. Once Simon tasted this salsa, he couldn’t get enough, and probably ate about 4 servings with chips for dinner. I spread some on fish tacos.

Here’s what you need:

2 pounds of tomatillos, husked and well rinsed

1-2 jalapenos

1 medium white onion, quartered

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1 cup cilantro leaves

juice from one lime

2-4 teaspoons kosher salt

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. On a large baking sheet, toss the tomatillos, jalapenos, and onion with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

3. Roast in the oven for 7 minutes.

4. Add the garlic cloves to the tray, turn it around and roast for another 15 minutes. Check to see if the veggies are starting to look slightly roasted and charred. If not, roast another 5 minutes.

5. Remove the veggies from the oven and allow to cool. Then, remove the garlic from the peel, and seed and stem the jalapenos. (Note, I only put one of my jalapenos in the salsa, and it was not spicy at all, but had great flavor. If you want more bite, feel free to add the second one.)

6. In a blender, combine the roasted veggies (tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapeno), the cilantro, the lime juice, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Blend to combine, adding the remaining olive oil while the mixture is blending.

7. Adjust to your taste (e.g., more salt, more lime, more cilantro, more heat).


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Carrot, Broccoli and Egg Terrine

Going down the rabbit-hole of reading about “genius” cooking tips online, I came across a list of carrot recipes, which included a Wolfgang Puck recipe for a terrine similar to the one I assembled. Today, I gave it a try. It was both beautiful and delicious.

Here’s what you need:

4 tablespoons butter

2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced in circles about 1/4 inch thick

1/2 cup water



6 ounces broccoli, chopped

4-6 ounces shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 eggs and 3 egg whites

4 ounces feta cheese (or shredded gruyere or sharp white cheddar)

Here’s what you do:

1. Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy pot with a lid. Add the carrots and water. Cover and lower heat to moderately low. Allow carrots to cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then uncover, turn up the heat, and allow remaining water to boil off. Put carrots in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

3. In the same pot used for the carrots, add half a tablespoon butter and the broccoli. Cover and cook over moderately high heat for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a smaller bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Lightly beat one whole egg and stir into the broccoli.

4. Coursely chop the carrots.

5. In the same pot used for the carrots and broccoli, add the remaining half tablespoon of butter and the shitake mushrooms. Cook over moderaly high heat for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and then add to the carrot bowl.

6. Lightly beat the remaining four eggs, and add to the carrot/mushroom mixture along with the cheese and a bit more salt and pepper. Mix to combine.

7. Line a loaf pan with foil, and grease the foil. Spread in half of the carrot mixture, topped with all of the broccoli mixture, and then the remaining carrot mixture. Smooth down.

8. Place the loaf pan in a large baking dish. Fill the baking dish with hot water until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Cook in the oven for an hour and 15 minutes.

9. Remove from the oven. Allow to stand for ten minutes, then invert the terrine onto a plate and remove the foil. Slice.


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Almost Instant Soft-Serve

After making this recipe, I think it’s highly unlikely I’ll be buying much ice cream again. It’s so easy, so delicious, and made up of mostly fruit that it’s kind of like a smoothie. I made this round with strawberries and peaches, and can’t wait to try some new flavors too!

Here’s what you need:

1.5 pounds of fruit, chopped into chunks and frozen (at least overnight)

3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

generous pinch of kosher salt

Here’s what you do:

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until the fruit is finely chopped.

2. Then puree another 2-3 minutes until the mixture is smooth (scraping down the sides if needed). I found that some of my fruit just wouldn’t break down, so we ate around it.

3. Eat right away, or freeze until just firm. If eating it the next day, let it stand at room temp about 5-10 minutes before serving.


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Oven-Roasted Tomato Vodka Sauce

I always love a good tomato sauce, especially one you can eat on pasta or as soup. This one had a small list of ingredients, simple steps, and didn’t require anything too seasonal. We gave it a try and loved it!

Here’s what you need:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or none if you don’t want any heat)

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 cup vodka

2 28-oz cans whole, peeled tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons sugar

about 1 cup heavy cream, or fat-free half and half, or some combination

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In an ovenproof pan with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes (if using) and oregano, and cook for another minute. Add the vodka, and simmer for about 5-7 minutes.

3. In the meantime, add the salt and black pepper to one of the cans of tomatoes. Turn off the heat, and add the two cans of tomatoes to the onion mixture. Stir to combine.

4. Cover the pan and bake in the oven for 1.5 hours. Remove and stir in the sugar.

5. Working in batches, puree the tomatoes until they are smooth and creamy. Add the cream to the tomato sauce. Stir and enjoy!

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Just Cauliflower Soup

Simon randomly requests different vegetables–cauliflower, eggplant, zucchini, broccoli. Most recently, he asked for cauliflower, in part because Highlights Magazine had a recipe for cauliflower “popcorn.” Well, we didn’t make that, but when I came across this super simple cauliflower soup recipe, I figured we should try it. There are so few ingredients, but it still tastes great!

Here’s what you need:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, sliced (can be yellow or red)

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

5 cups water, divided into 1/2 cup and 4 1/2 cups

salt and pepper

Here’s what you do:

1. Place the olive oil and onion in a pan with a tight fitting lid, uncovered. Turn the heat on low, and allow the onions to softly cook without browning for about 15-20 minutes.

2. Add the cauliflower, the 1/2 cup of water, and some salt and pepper. Turn the heat up higher, cover with the lid, and allow the cauliflower to cook until tender, about 18-20 minutes.

3. Add the remaining 4 1/2 cups water, bring to a low simmer, and cook an additional 20 minutes, uncovered.

4. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until velvety smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow the soup to stand for about 20 minutes to thicken.


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Gingery Japanese Ground Beef Bowls

I’ve started printing recipes to a “Try” folder whenever I come across them so I have some ideas ready when it’s time to go to the store. This time I tried a super simple and quick ground beef recipe, and it is so good. I also think it would be great with ground turkey.

Here’s what you need:

1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup water or furikake “tea” (soak 1 tablespoon furikake in 1/2 cup water, then strain and use 1/4 cup)

1/3 cup sake

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar

3/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

2 green onions, sliced into circles

handful of fresh cilantro, mint or both (optional)

4 cups steamed rice

Here’s what you do:

1. Place the beef, water/tea, sake, soy sauce and white sugar in a heavy bottomed pot over high heat. Stir often to keep the beef from cooking in large clumps, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the peas, ginger and green onions, and continue to cook until the liquid has mostly boiled off, about 5-7 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove from heat, stir in the optional herbs, and then divide into four portions and serve over rice.


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Maple Blueberry Scones

When you aren’t afraid to bake with some butter, but you also want a recipe that doesn’t require serious baking skills–but still tastes fancy bakery delicious–these scones will do the trick. This recipe is adapted from one posted in the NY Times, as provided by Joanne Cheng of Flour Bakery + Cafe in Boston, a place I’ve never been but truly hope to visit some day.

Makes 8 large scones

Here’s what you need:

For the scones:

2 2/3 cups flour [Note: the recipe called for 1 cup all purpose flour and the rest whole wheat, but I didn’t have much whole wheat, so I did 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal, and the rest all purpose]

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 sticks cold butter (3/4 cup), cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 cup sour cream (room temperature, or at least taken out of the fridge a little while before added to the recipe)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup buttermilk (room temperature, or at least taken out of the fridge a little while before added to the recipe)

1 egg yolk (room temperature, or at least taken out of the fridge a little while before added to the recipe)

1 cup fresh blueberries

For the glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

3-5 tablespoons maple syrup

Here’s what you do:

1. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, briefly mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, on low speed. Then, add half the butter on medium speed until fully mixed, about 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the remaining butter to the bowl. Pulse 3-4 times to mix the pieces into the dough while keeping them whole.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, maple syrup, buttermilk and egg yolk. Then stir in the blueberries.

4. With the mixer on low, pour the blueberry mixture into the flour mixture and allow to paddle for about 10 seconds to incorporate. Then, turn off the mixer and mix the rest with your hands, until all the loose flour is mixed in. Make the dough into a ball, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to one day.

5. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

6. Using a half-cup measuring cup, or an ice cream scoop, or a ladle, scoop the dough into eight domes, and place about 1/2 an inch apart on the baking sheet.

7. Bake the scones 35-45 minutes, turning halfway through, until they are golden brown and firm to the touch.

8. While the scones are baking, make the glaze. Add the maple syrup to the powdered sugar, one teaspoon at a time, ensuring that the glaze stays thick but spreadable.

9. When the scones are done baking, remove from the oven, and spread the glaze evenly over the 8 scones while they are still warm. Allow to cool about 30 minutes.


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