Tomato and Goat Cheese Galettes

It’s been hot lately, so when my parents planned to visit for lunch last weekend, I wanted to serve light dishes that could be eaten at room temperature or made ahead. The first course was Vichyssoise, followed by these galettes and a healthy barley and herb salad.




We all recently saw Julia & Julia, and I had promised to make Boeuf Bourguignon the next time they came over. But the weather had other plans, so I opted for a French-inspired brunch and the beef stew will have to wait for the cooler months.

I first made galettes about a year ago, and since then have integrated them into my routine on a more regular basis. Once you master the dough (made sweet or savory by adding or subtracting sugar), they’re a template for many ingredients and can be served warm or at room temperature. You can make one large galette or individual tarts. Cover them with mounds of fruit or bake them with a mixture of fresh vegetables and cheese. Eat them with a fork and knife or shove them into your mouth like pizza. To sum up galettes, they’re versatile.


Tomato and Goat Cheese Galettes

Recipe inspired by Gourmet, Ina Garten, and trial and error. Makes 6 individual galettes, or one large galette.

Tomatoes are at their peak this month, so use them while you can. This particular recipe is wonderful at room temperature. They can be made the day you plan to eat them and left on the counter to cool, or sealed in plastic bags for up to 1 day.

For pastry

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water

For filling

3 roma tomatoes, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 sprig thyme, leaves removed
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
fresh basil, cut into ribbons
Parmesan cheese
olive oil

Make dough:

Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps.

Drizzle 1-3 Tbsp ice water evenly over mixture and gently pulse in food processor until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 Tbsp at a time, pulsing until incorporated, then test again. Less is more with the water--too much will make the dough soggy. Although I've made galettes with semi-soggy dough, well-mixed dough should leave an imprint of your finger when squeezed, and not be crumbly.

Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and with heel of your hand, smear the dough once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together, with a pastry or bench scraper if you have one, and press into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Make the filling:

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. If making individual galettes, cut the dough in half, and then into thirds. With your hands, roll each piece into a ball, and, working with a rolling pin, gently roll the dough into about a 6-inch circle. Repeat with remaining dough and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, leaving a 1/2 inch edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart. Crimp up the sides and brush with an egg wash or melted butter.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.


With all the buzz surrounding French cooking these days, (thanks, Julia!) I couldn’t help but try this classic, chilled soup. And the timing was right, since all summer I’ve wanted to find a soup fit for the season, something I could rely on any day of the week, for any occasion, and still be interesting enough that I wouldn’t tire of eating it. Let's just say my expectations were high.

After a few failed attempts at two versions of gazpacho this summer, I returned to a tabbed page of Fine Cooking magazine and instantly knew, even before I made it, that this soup would be the one. I hope you’ll believe me when I tell you that this soup is absolutely divine. It’s actually the only chilled soup you’ll ever need to learn because once you dip a spoon into the bowl and taste the creamy, almost custard-like consistency of leeks, potatoes and a fresh sprinkle of chives, you’ll understand.

The warmed-up version of this soup is nothing new here. I make it once a week during fall and winter, without thinking now. But it’s been hot, and the recent wave of wildfires hasn’t exactly been helping the air quality in Los Angeles. Even though summer is coming to an end (sigh), there is still plenty of time to give this recipe a try. As easy as this soup is to make, there are a couple of tricks that will ensure it’s always impressive and impeccably smooth.

The Blender. I normally go on and on about my immersion blender. I’ve dedicated entire posts to how obsessed I am with this kitchen appliance, and when it’s a bit cooler outside it always stays plugged in on the counter in case I decide to make soup on a whim. But this time, I set it aside and pulled out my red KitchenAid blender instead. The blender is essential, and while I don’t tend to give orders around here, absolutely mandatory to getting the consistency right. The blade configuration will give the soup its silky, wow factor.

The Sieve. I had really, really small Yukon potatoes, and the prospect of peeling them was an experience I wasn’t ready to commit to, so I threw them into the pot, skins and all. Even if you do peel the potatoes (which is recommended), you must, must put the blended soup through a sieve. It’s Part 2 of the blending process that will ensure that no lumps or bits of skin remain in the soup. It might take a little time (and elbow grease), but the final product is absolutely worth the effort.

The Cream. Did I mention this soup was French? You don’t actually need a lot (I used slightly less than the recommended 1 cup). It’s like giving a gift wrapped without a bow—you just wouldn’t do it. (Ok, you might, when time is short or you just don’t have enough spools of ribbon, but you get the idea.) In this case, the cream finishes the soup and imparts a subtly sweet flavor that lingers in the mouth after every bite.
Presentation. Not as essential as the blender or sieve, but a soup this lovely deserves a proper presentation. When I eat this alone, any bowl will do, so long as it’s sprinkled with freshly cracked pepper and garnished with minced chives. But for company last weekend I poured some into martini glasses, which was a fun way to add some visual interest at the table.

Vichyssoise (Chilled Potato and Leek Soup)

Recipe courtesy Fine Cooking

4 medium leeks, trimmed and washed as directed opposite, sliced 1/8 inch thick (about 3 cups)
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick (about 4 cups)
2 cups whole milk
Kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives, for garnish


Combine the leeks, potatoes, milk, and 2 cups water in a 4-quart pot.

Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add 1-1/2 tsp. salt, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until a potato slice falls apart when you poke it with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the cream, and let cool briefly.

Purée the soup, preferably using a regular blender and working in batches, filling it only half way each time.

Strain the puréed soup through a fine sieve. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally (stirring prevents a skin from forming), and then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Before serving, thin the soup with water if necessary—it should be the consistency of heavy cream. Season to taste with salt. Serve cold in chilled bowls, garnished with the chives.

Roasted Tomatoes with Ricotta

Tomatoes look cute all dressed up, don’t they? This dish might be an appetizer, but it became an entrée last week when we had an unexpected snag in the kitchen. I came home from work (planning to make grilled fish and these tomatoes), and smelled gas leaking.
We called the gas company (around 6 pm), who arrived hours later (at 8:30 pm) and munched on cereal while waiting for them to arrive. The fish was saved for another day, but I decided to put these together and keep them in the fridge so we’d have something more savory to eat as a late night snack. As soon as the front door closed (gas problem fixed!) I popped these into the oven, and we devoured them almost before I had a chance to take their picture.

For the recipe, head over to The Pioneer Woman

Arancini (Fried Rice Balls)


I've been waiting to make these for a long time. It's not that I don't make enough risotto. The real problem is that when I do make it, we never have any leftovers. So you can imagine my surprise when we actually had some risotto left on the stove after a lovely meal last weekend. I was so excited!


Arancini, or fried rice balls, can be made with any risotto you have. And if you think leftover night is less than appealing, think again. These little morsels are anything but boring. Especially when you melt some goat cheese with heavy cream to make a decadent dipping sauce to go alongside.


Fried Risotto Balls

Vegetable oil, for deep frying

2 large eggs, beaten to blend

2 cups Risotto, cooled

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1 1/2 cups dried Italian-style bread crumbs



Pour enough oil in a heavy large saucepan to reach the depth of 3 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F.

Stir the eggs, risotto, Parmesan, and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs in a large bowl to combine. Place the remaining breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. Using about 2 tablespoons of the risotto mixture for each, form the risotto mixture into 1 3/4-inch-diameter balls. Roll the balls in the bread crumbs to coat.

Working in batches, add the rice balls to the hot ail and cook until brown and heated through, turning them as necessary, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rice balls to paper towels to drain. Season with salt and Parmesan cheese. Let rest 2 minutes. Serve hot.

Potato and Zucchini Latkes

I discovered latkes last year and I’m hooked. So when Ralph’s had a heavy bag of potatoes on sale for $1.99 last week, I grabbed it and didn’t look back. It was a starch-filled week: soup, gnocchi, French fries, and these cute, crunchy latkes.



I used the same yogurt-brown-butter-pine nut mixture as last time (minus the sage) and it made for a perfectly light meal. Latkes might be more traditional in December, months and months from now, when the weather is a bit colder, but don’t wait until the end of the year to make these. They’re really perfect any time.

And I have to apologize. I don’t know what I did with this recipe. It happens, sometimes, with all the recipes I pull out of magazines and e-mail to myself that I can’t remember where I found it. So I’ve included a few places you can find your new favorite latke recipe:

Gourmet’s Potato Latkes
Food Network’s Zucchini Latkes
Saveur’s Perfect Every Time Latkes
Giada’s Crispy Zucchini and Potato Pancakes

Kale Chips

In case you haven’t tired of kale this winter, this is a fun and easy way to eat your greens. With ten minutes of cooking time left, I slipped my hand in the oven and grabbed a small chip to test. As I took a bite, the chip crumbled in my mouth. I looked at the leaf in my hand and marveled at how the simple act of roasting leaves tossed with salt and pepper could result in such a simple but lovely appetizer. The flavor had a bit of heat – slightly spicy and warm in the back of your mouth, a touch of bitterness, and a soft crunch.

I was starting to think I’d eat them all even before they’d finished cooking and before I had a chance to snap a photo. I managed to stop myself from devouring them, but it was hard. They melt in your mouth and you’ll want more than one, so use a few bunches if cooking for a crowd.

It’s not laborious, fancy, and doesn’t require a long list of ingredients. Plus they look pretty standing tall for their portraits. I used Tuscan kale, which Bon Appetit explained is easiest to handle and quickest to cook, thanks to crinkled leaves that are smaller and more tender than leaves of curly kale.

Kale Chips
Recipe courtesy Bon Appetit


12 large Tuscan kale leaves, rinsed, dried, cut lengthwise in half, center ribs and stems removed
1 tablespoon olive oil


Preheat oven to 250°F. Toss kale with oil in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange leaves in single layer on 2 large baking sheets. Bake until crisp, about 30 minutes for flat leaves and up to 33 minutes for wrinkled leaves. Transfer leaves to rack to cool.

Kale and Potato Galette


I’ve been introduced to kale this winter (Thanks, Bon Appetit). Kale is so good for you, it’s really something worth putting on the menu once a week while it’s in season. This galette is a wonderful way to start, especially if you’re unfamiliar with kale, because the leaves are sautéed with garlic and hide between layers of thin potatoes to surprise your taste buds. The flip maneuver takes a bit of finesse, but it’s easy enough and ensures that both sides are golden and slightly crispy. I served this with a dollop of sour cream and chives, and it was perfect for a light dinner.


Kale and Potato Galette

Recipe courtesy Gourmet

1 lb kale, tough stems and center ribs discarded

1 tablespoon stick (1/2 cup) butter, 6 of the tablespoons melted and cooled

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 lb russet (baking) potatoes (4 medium)

Cook kale in a 4- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Drain well, squeezing handfuls of kale to extract excess moisture, then coarsely chop. Heat 2 tablespoons (unmelted) butter in skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1 minute.

Add kale, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and sauté, stirring, until kale is tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and clean skillet. Peel potatoes and thinly slice crosswise (1/16 inch thick) with slicer. Working quickly to prevent potatoes from discoloring, generously brush bottom of skillet with some of melted butter and cover with one third of potato slices, overlapping slightly.

Dab potatoes with some of melted butter. Spread half of kale over potatoes and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cover with half of remaining potato slices and dab with butter, then top with remaining kale. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Top with remaining potatoes and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Brush a sheet of foil with melted butter, then brush galette with any remaining butter and place foil, buttered side down, on top. Place a 10-inch heavy skillet on top of foil to weight galette.

Cook galette over moderate heat until underside is golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove top skillet and foil. Wearing oven mitts, carefully slide galette onto a baking sheet and invert skillet over it. Holding them together, invert galette, browned side up, back into skillet. Cook, uncovered, over moderate heat until underside is golden brown and potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Slide onto a serving plate. Galette can be made 6 hours ahead and cooled, uncovered, then kept, on a baking sheet covered with foil, at room temperature. Remove foil, then reheat in a 425°F oven until heated through and crisp, about 20 minutes.

Manchego with Honey Butter Sauce


Write these items on your grocery list: Manchego cheese, honey, and butter. Now, don't think. Just get what I told you and you will not be sorry. Manchego on its own is a delicious cheese, but just imagine the nutty flavor of brown butter and the sweetness of honey harmonizing in your mouth. Plus the light crunch of a water cracker…I can’t believe I almost didn’t post this because it was “just a little appetizer!”

I sat for several minutes thinking of how I could describe this to you, which adjectives could convince you of its magic, but I concluded that words, in this case, are somewhat useless. And the more of them I use, the more you must read before heading to the store for the main ingredient.

Manchego with Honey Butter Sauce

Ingredients 4 tbsp. butter

1 tablespoons honey

Manchego cheese wedge

Sea salt

Directions Melt butter in small saute pan, and cook until it turns a golden brown. Drizzle in honey and stir to incorporate. Pour over cheese wedge and sprinkle with sea salt.

Spelt Everything Crackers

Ok, this is genius. Until reading this post, it really never occurred to me to make crackers. But since I love a good cheese platter, I didn’t think twice before marching over to Whole Foods for spelt flour and Humboldt Fog cheese. This was going to be good.


The time it takes to whisk, knead and roll takes about ten minutes, maybe less. After I placed them in the oven I said out loud “that was easy,” and happily began typing my thoughts for this post. But I was so excited I forgot to sprinkle the sea salt on top before placing them in the oven. I quickly pulled the rack out to correct my error. I also didn’t add dried rosemary to half the cracker sheet (my original plan), and had no sesame seeds in the pantry so sea salt had to do. And boy did it.


When I smeared some cheese greedily over one of these crackers, I vowed to never by store-bought crackers again. But let's be honest, I got caught up in the moment. However, it is wonderful to know that crackers are much, much easier to make then I ever imagined.

Spelt Everything Crackers
Via Smitten Kitchen: Adapted from the New York Times Magazine, 11/28/08 who adapted it from the Hungry Ghost in Northampton, Mass.

Makes 1 large cracker sheet

1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups white spelt flour, plus more for flouring surface
Coarse sea salt, dried onion bits, poppy seeds and sesame seeds (for the everything bagel effect) or a seed combination of your choice

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve the salt in 1/2 cup of cold water. Stir in the spelt flour until combined. Knead the dough a few turns until a ball forms.

2. Flour an overturned 12-by-17-inch cookie sheet and roll out the dough on top of it, using as much flour as needed to prevent sticking, until the dough covers the sheet from edge to edge. Do your best to get them as thin as possible, because the thicker parts become quite hard when baked. Using a spray bottle filled with water, spray the dough to give it a glossy finish. Prick the dough all over with a fork. If you choose, sprinkle with sea salt or seeds. For neat crackers, score the dough into grids.

3. Bake until the dough is crisp and golden and snaps apart, 15 to 25 minutes. (Check after 10 minutes to make sure it does not overcook.) Break into pieces and serve.

Butternut Squash Latkes with Sage and Pine Nut Yogurt Sauce

I think we’re all a bit surprised that December is already here. There are cards to address, gifts to be wrapped, and new traditions to be made. Even with all the chaos this time of year brings, it’s a great time to try new dishes at your dinner table.



If a recipe calls for butternut squash and sage, you don’t have to ask me twice. I was instantly sold on Bon Appetit’s “Festival of Latkes” feature in December’s issue, and this Jewish potato pancake made a surprise appearance the afternoon my husband and I decorated our Christmas tree. Cumin adds an unexpected warmth, and brown butter and toasted pine nuts….well, need I say more?


Butternut Squash Latkes with Sage and Pine Nut Yogurt Sauce

By Jayne Cohen, Bon Appetit
Makes 38 to 40


Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 2-pound butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
4 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin), divided, plus additional for frying
8 large fresh sage leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup chopped shallots (about 6)
3/4 cup fine dry unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, beaten to blend

Sage and Pine Nut Yogurt Sauce (recipe follows)


Preheat oven to 425°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray foil with nonstick spray. Brush cut side of squash halves with 2 tablespoons oil. Place 2 sage leaves on cut side of each half. Place garlic clove in each cavity. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn squash, cut side down, on prepared sheet. Roast until tender and brown in spots, about 1 hour. Cool on sheet.

Discard sage leaves; reserve garlic. Spoon enough roasted squash into large measuring cup to measure 4 cups packed (reserve any remaining squash for another use); add garlic. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Scrape shallot mixture into processor; add 4 cups squash with garlic, breadcrumbs, cumin, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Blend until just smooth, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Transfer squash mixture to large bowl; mix in eggs.

Add enough oil to heavy large skillet to coat bottom generously; heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches of 7 or 8 and adding more oil as needed, drop 1 heaping tablespoonful batter for each latke into skillet. Dip back of fork into oil in skillet and flatten batter to 2 1/2-inch rounds. Fry latkes until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer latkes to rimmed baking sheets. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm uncovered in 350°F oven 15 minutes.

Serve latkes with yogurt sauce.

Crostini alla Romana



If a recipe calls for sage butter, I must make it. These appetizers would be tasty on their own (who doesn’t love melted cheese?) but the sage butter adds a decedent touch that is undeniable. Plus, it’s a good way to use up any extra sage you might have leftover from other holiday recipes.

Crostini alla Romana

Recipe courtesy Giada de Laurentiis

12 1/2-inch thick slices ciabatta bread
12 slices thinly sliced prosciutto (about 6 ounces)
1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into thin slices
3 tablespoons butter
6 sage leaves
Pinch salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Place the slices of ciabatta on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until crisp and golden around the edges, about 8 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven. Place the prosciutto slices and mozzarella on the crostini toast and return to the oven to melt the cheese, about 8 more minutes.

Meanwhile combine the butter and the sage leaves in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the butter is melted and starting to brown in spots and the sage leaves are crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Transfer the crostini to a serving plate. Drizzle the crostini with the sage butter and serve immediately.

Tuscan White Bean Dip


A version of this recipe appeared in Bon Appetit several months ago, and after adding a few (easy) ingredients, it’s the perfect snack I can’t get enough of. I'll even admit to skipping dinner and eating this instead – it’s that delicious. My crudites of choice are freshly steamed green beans, toasted pita chips, and cauliflower, but any combination will work.

Tuscan White Bean Dip

1 can canellini beans, drained

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp. olive oil (or more depending on desired consistency)

1 tbsp. basil, chopped

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

zest of 1/4 lemon

1/2 tsp. sesame oil

salt and pepper to taste

Toast pine nuts in sauté pan over medium heat, tossing frequently until golden brown. Set aside.

Rinse beans under cold water and add to food processor. Add balsamic vinegar, sesame oil, salt and pepper, and pulse until beans begin forming a paste. Stream in olive oil to desired consistency.

Place in serving bowl and add basil, lemon zest and stir to combine. Scatter pine nuts over the top and a small drizzle of olive oil (if desired). Serve with assorted crudites.

Notes: 1 can of beans serves two generously as an appetizer course. For a crowd, use two or even three cans.

Goat Cheese and Herb Crostini

Creamy goat cheese, fresh herbs, and sweet lemon – can an appetizer be any simpler? Bonus: You can make this hours ahead of time, and did I mention it’s a crowd pleaser? These will be gone in minutes, though I have seen guests savor them between main course bites at the dinner table.

This recipe will feed 3-5 as an appetizer, but can be easily doubled for a larger group.

Goat Cheese Crostini

½ a baget, sliced
1 8 oz. log of goat cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice baget in ½ inch rounds and arrange on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt. Bake 10-12 minutes, until edges are golden brown.

In a shallow bowl, combine goat cheese, herbs, and lemon zest. Stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, arrange goat cheese in the center of a platter and layer crostini’s around the bowl. This is the interactive approach, as guests will spread the mixture themselves. Alternatively, to control the flow (since guests will likely cluster near these), spread the mixture yourself so no one will be fighting over the knife.