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.

Roasted Asparagus with Eggs

I know eggs are a treasured ingredient in the culinary world. People put them on everything: toast, tomato sauce, tortillas. I've just never seen what all the fuss is about. My egg memories are of Saturday mornings as a child, when my dad would make them sunny side up  in bacon grease and fold it into a buttered piece of toast. Delicious, yes. But I’m really not a breakfast person.


When Bon Appetit named eggs as one of the food trends of 2009, I dog-eared a couple of the recipes, but still haven’t come around to making them. Then I saw a recipe for roasted asparagus and eggs and something in my brain shifted. First, I had all of the ingredients at home – no extra trip to the store required. Second, aside from eggs, each ingredient has a permanent place in my kitchen (balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, asparagus).

Oh. My. Goodness. The creamy yolk, sweet balsamic vinegar and salty Parmesan are just perfect together. I was convinced after one bite. I knew my husband would be hesitant to try it, but after his first bite, he too was surprised at how much he enjoyed it. We agreed it would be perfect with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a salami and cheese platter, so come summer, you can bet we’ll be making this again for a light dinner on a warm evening. Actually, you could eat this meal for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. Just pick your favorite time of day, and  enjoy.

Roasted Asparagus and Eggs

Recipe courtesy Whole Living

1 medium thick asparagus bunch, tough ends removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
4 large eggs
2 ounces shaved parmesan


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet with a rim, toss asparagus with oil. Season with salt. Bake until asparagus is lightly browned and tender, 15 to 18 minutes (timing will vary depending upon thickness of asparagus).

2. In a small saucepan, cook balsamic vinegar and sugar over medium-high heat until syrupy and reduced to 3 tablespoons, about 6 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large skillet with 2 inches of water to a simmer over medium heat. Add cider vinegar and season with salt. Break one egg at a time into a cup, then tip cup into pan. Simmer until whites are set and yolks are soft but slightly set, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spatula, scoop out eggs one at a time and drain on paper towels. With a paring knife, trim edges.

4. Divide asparagus among four plates and drizzle with reduced balsamic. Top with shaved Parmesan and an egg.

Rustic Canyon’s Cranberry Orange Ricotta Cake

Since relocating to Los Angeles in September, I haven’t spent many evenings dining out. Aside from the two weeks of forced exile to eateries because of a broken fridge, my recent dinner at Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen in Santa Monica was our first real night out in a few months. It was a night where reservations were made after several restaurants were carefully considered before settling on Rustic Canyon, and I was genuinely looking forward to it.

Rustic Canyon appealed to me because of its emphasis on local, seasonal ingredients (they shop at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market) and, based on their website and online reviews, what seemed to be a commitment to simple, quality food. 

Bouchon, my favorite restaurant in Santa Barbara, follows a similar method of using Farmer’s Market fare. Once we arrived for dinner at Bouchon at 5:30 and ordered a scallop appetizer – one of the last the kitchen had available that night. When they run out of the good stuff, it’s gone.

So, it’s safe to say my expectations were high. While I love to cook at home, I’m usually overcome with giddiness at the thought of a night out at a really, really good restaurant. It’s my chance to order food I don’t normally make at home, try wines I don’t usually buy. I should also mention that I crossed out Wine Resolution #17: Try a wine you think you don't like. Blame it on Sideways, but Merlot sales went downhill when that movie became popular. I drank Merlot only when it was offered at tastings, but tonight I took the advice of our server and paired a Napa Merlot with my scallops. I'm happy to say I was not at all disappointed.


Side note: I don’t tend to take pictures in restaurants. While part of me is dying to capture the moment, another, more pronounced part says no, don’t interrupt the moment with a flash that causes other diner’s to look your way, or incessant plate spinning for just the right angle. I can’t do it. But check out the link above. Their food is as clean and inviting as their website.



We started with artichoke ravioli, which was good, but not overly exciting. Then my scallops arrived, perfectly browned on both sides with a celery root puree and red wine reduction. The next fifteen minutes were blissful as I savored every bite. You might be wondering where the cake comes in. I stumbled upon the recipe in the LA Times during my Google-research phase and was thrilled to see that it was on the menu the night we went. (We also ordered the donuts with dark chocolate sauce – an absolute must if you visit.)

The restaurant version was as I expected – moist and the perfect combination of sweetness and tartness. It was especially nice when paired with a small bite of cool vanilla bean ice cream. When I made it at home, the friends I had over noted its versatility – perfect for breakfast, brunch an afternoon snack, and a great alternative to Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving. It seems this cake can be eaten at any time of day, and for any occasion, making it a great recipe to keep in your files when you need something just right.

Rustic Canyon’s Cranberry Orange Ricotta Cake

Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Servings: 18

Adapted from pastry chef Zoe Nathan of Rustic Canyon

2 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
Zest of 1 orange
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups cranberries, divided

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round by 3-inch tall cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, salt and zest. Mix just until thoroughly combined; do not overmix.
4. With the mixer running, slowly incorporate the egg mixture into the butter just until combined.
5. With the mixer on low speed, add one-half of the flour mixture to the batter and quickly mix for 5 seconds. Turn off the mixer and add the rest of the flour, the ricotta and one-half of the cranberries. Mix the remaining ingredients into the batter over low speed just until combined, being careful not to overmix.
6. Gently pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top. Scatter the remaining cranberries over the top of the cake, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
7. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Place a loose piece of foil over the top of the cake if it starts to darken. Cool the cake on a wire rack before removing it from the pan.

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.

Cranberry Orange Scones

Before I studied abroad in college…many years ago…tea did not occupy much space in my mind. But after spreading my first London scone with rich, clotted cream and taking my tea with milk and sugar, I was smitten with this English tradition.

Tea arrived in Paris (mid-17th century) before it became popular in England, but according to legend, one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting is credited as the creator of afternoon teatime. Between the noon and evening meal, she was itching for something more. She first had her servants sneak tea to her, but then began inviting friends to join her for an afternoon spread of small cakes, sandwiches, and of course, tea. Since then, afternoon tea has been a popular pastime, and one that I have jokingly (and not so jokingly) suggested we implement at each of my three post-college jobs. But we American’s have this terrible habit of working more hours than we should and harboring stress, which complicates this mid-week, mid-afternoon period of ultimate relaxation and reflection.


Well, at least we have weekends. I love to prepare these scones on Sunday morning for a leisure breakfast, or tuck them into my purse for a work snack. It might not be office policy, but I can certainly warm my scone in the microwave and make a cup of tea to take back to my desk…and you can bet whenever I make these, I’ll be dreaming of England for a few minutes around three o’clock…

Cranberry Orange Scones

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

Makes 14-16 scones


4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced (3 sticks)
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn't stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes, then serve with prepared honey butter.

Honey Butter

Recipe courtesy Anne Burrell

1/2 pint cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
lemon zest

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add all ingredients and whip on high speed until the cream starts to clump and turn light yellow. Continue mixing as butter forms and the buttermilk begins to separate out. Scrape sides and continue mixing until mixture is one lump of butter. Place butter into a clean container or serving dish and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Butternut Squash Muffins + Two Toppings


I had leftover squash from Sausage Stuffing with Fennel and Roasted Squash and wanted to try something new. One thing I appreciated about this recipe is that you could make the entire batter in a food processor. The recipe makes at least 18 muffins, or more if you prefer them smaller. I made 12 and froze the rest of the batter for another day.



For the Frosted Cream Topping, I didn’t have a Clementine and just used lemon. I was concerned it would make the frosting too tart, but it wasn’t as disastrous as I feared it would be (though the Clementine zest would certainly help round out the flavor). The frosting really complimented the cinnamon in the muffins, which turned out incredibly moist (after 22 minutes of baking time). When the time came to defrost the extra batter, I topped the muffins with chopped pecans and brown sugar, which is another great option to try (see photos above).



Butternut Squash Muffins

Recipe courtesy Jamie Oliver


14 ounces butternut squash, skin on, deseeded and roughly chopped
2 1/4 cups light soft brown sugar
4 large free-range or organic eggs
Sea salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
Handful of walnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the Frosted Cream Topping:

1 clementine, zested
1 lemon, zested
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup sour cream
2 heaping tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
Lavender flowers or rose petals, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line your muffin tins with paper cups.

Whiz the squash in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the sugar, and crack in the eggs. Add a pinch of salt, the flour, baking powder, walnuts, cinnamon and olive oil and whiz together until well beaten. You may need to pause the machine at some point to scrape the mix down the sides with a rubber spatula. Try not to overdo it with the mixing - you want to just combine everything and no more.

Fill the paper cups with the muffin mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to see whether they are cooked properly by sticking a wooden skewer or a knife right into one of the muffins - if it comes out clean, they're done. If it's a bit sticky, pop them back into the oven for a little longer. Remove from the oven and leave the muffins to cool on a wire rack.

As soon as the muffins are in the oven, make your runny frosted topping. Place most of the clementine zest, all the lemon zest and the lemon juice in a bowl. Add the sour cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds and mix well. Taste and have a think about it - adjust the amount of lemon juice or icing sugar to balance the sweet and sour. Put into the fridge until your muffins have cooled down, then spoon the topping onto the muffins.

Serve on a lovely plate (on a cake stand if you're feeling elegant, or on a rustic slab if you're more of a hunter-gatherer type!), with the rest of the clementine zest sprinkled over. For an interesting flavor and look, a few dried lavender flowers or rose petals are fantastic.

Individual Zucchini, Lemon, and Ricotta Galettes

Let me begin this post with a warning: Do not attempt this recipe after five. Between sautéing, chopping, cooling, rolling and baking, you’ll be lucky if you eat by eight o’clock. I would instead suggest the following: Prep the ingredients on Saturday and bake them the morning of Sunday brunch with your in-laws or friends. When you finally cut a bite from these individual galettes, you should share your labor with as many people as possible.

Personally, I found the most laborious task for this dish to be all the dishwashing. Now, this might not affect those of you with dishwashers, but I did more loads of dishes than I can remember now. I think it may have put me in a bad mood…I have to admit that when I began drafting this post, I had just pulled the plastic-wrapped pastry dough from the refrigerator, done another round of dishes, and had yet another fifteen minutes to wait before beginning the next step. But when the galette’s started baking and the smell of a buttery crust began filling the kitchen, I started to relax.
Because of its numerous steps and waiting periods, the saving grace of this recipe is that it can be served at room temperature. Again, unless you have an entire afternoon free, I highly recommend making each component the day before you plan on serving them. The dough can be made 2 days in advance. The zucchini and onion mixture can be sautéed, then cooled in a separate bowl, as well as the ricotta mixture. On the day of all you’ll have left is to roll out the dough (where I used lots of flour, though the recipe failed to mention it), fill them, and bake.
I tend to not do well with pastries or baking of any kind (yes, I’m working on it), but I was pleased that it seemed that even I couldn’t mess up this dish. The result is a flaky crust with a creamy, flavorful inside. I particularly enjoyed the addition of lemon. It hits your palette at the end of your bite – just enough to harmonize with the other flavors but not overpower them.

Individual Zucchini, Lemon, and Ricotta Galettes

Bon Appétit | October 2008


2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons (or more) ice water


5 2/3 cups coarsely grated zucchini (about 1 1/3 pounds)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
4 tablespoons butter, divided
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Fleur de sel*

For crust:
Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl. Using fingertips, rub butter into flour mixture until coarse meal forms. Add 4 tablespoons ice water, 1 tablespoonful at a time, stirring until dough forms moist clumps, and adding more water by teaspoonfuls as needed if dough is too dry. Form dough into 2 balls; flatten each into disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before rolling out.

For filling:
Place zucchini in colander set over large bowl. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt and toss to coat. Let drain 30 minutes. Working in batches, squeeze zucchini in kitchen towel to remove as much liquid as possible.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add zucchini and lemon juice; reduce heat to medium-low and cook until zucchini is tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Whisk ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan, egg, lemon peel, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Stir in cooled zucchini mixture.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out 1 dough disk to 1/8-inch thickness. Using 6-inch-diameter plate, cut out 3 dough rounds. Repeat with remaining dough. Place 3 dough rounds on each baking sheet. (Nicole note: I cut each round into thirds, gently rolled those into small circles, and rolled them out using plenty of flour. I used the plate technique only once. It’s easy enough to keep the dough in a fairly even circle, and any unevenness won’t really matter when you roll up the sides before baking.)

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Spoon 1/2 cup filling into center of 1 dough round, leaving 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inch border. Carefully fold up border, pleating dough edges to create round pastry with about 2 to 21/2 inches of exposed filling in center. Repeat with remaining filling and dough rounds. Brush crusts with melted butter. Drizzle any remaining melted butter over filling in centers. Sprinkle galettes with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel.

Bake galettes 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake until crust is golden and filling is set and begins to brown, about 25 minutes longer. Run spatula under galettes to loosen. Let rest 5 minutes. do ahead Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Serve individual galettes hot or at room temperature.

*A type of sea salt; available at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.