Make dinner tonight, inspired!

Wondering what to make for dinner tonight? This is your place for quick and healthy meal inspirations. Here you'll find recipes for seasonally focused dinners, desserts, breakfasts, and everything in between.

My cooking focuses on the freshest ingredients prepared in a simple and careful way, to highlight their uniqueness. My own diet is primarily vegetarian, but does include sustainable fish and seafood, and is gluten free.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to sharing some of my favorite recipes with you!

24 September 2010

Ratatouille with Baked Farm Eggs

Thank you, Martha for another yummy inspiration. All of my favorite flavors in one dish plus baked farm eggs. This is my idea of comfort food. I adore ratatouille, the simplest of cooked veggies packed with savory flavor and a hint of vinegar in every bite. Now is the perfect time to enjoy it with all the last of season eggplants, peppers, and zucchini that are so ripe and delicious.

This is a good way to end the week or a nice cozy meal to tuck into this weekend.


Ratatouille with Baked Farm Eggs:
Yields 2 servings

4 large farm eggs
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, smashed
1, 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
2 medium zucchini, diced 1"
2 medium Japanese eggplant, diced 1"
1 medium bell pepper, any color, diced 1"
2 fresh bay leaves (or 1 dried)
2 sprigs fresh majoram (or oregano)
1/2 tsp red chile flakes
2 TB olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1) Place the tomatoes in a 5 quart dutch oven or heavy bottomed stockpot. Break them up a little with a fork. Simmer the tomatoes, stirring occasionally, until they become thick and reduced by about 1/2. This should take about 20 minutes.

2) In the meantime, dice the eggplant and toss with 1/2 tsp salt. Place in a strainer set over a bowl. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

3) When the tomatoes have reduced, remove them from the pot and set aside. Using the same pot, heat 2 TB olive oil in. Add the garlic and the onions and saute until translucent. Add the drained eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes. Stir in the bay leaf, majoram, and red chile flakes. Season with salt & pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes.

4) Place 2 cups of ratatouille in an oven proof casserole dish (or 1 cup each in 2 individual dishes). Make indentations for the eggs and crack them on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the whites are fully set and the yolks are just set. Serve warm with a crusty piece of bread to mop up the vegetables and egg.

23 September 2010

Tuna, White Bean, & Tomato Salad

This is one of my most often made dinners, especially on those days when I'm short on time. I typically have all the ingredients for this salad in my pantry so I don't have to think too hard or make a special trip to the store. It's best if you can make the tuna and white bean mixture an hour or so before and chill it before serving. But, don't worry if you don't have time for that. It will still be great.

Make sure you seek out the best quality canned ingredients you can find. It really makes a huge difference in flavor. A few fresh veggies and tomatoes also go a long way here to brighten up this dish.


Tuna, White Bean, & Tomato Salad:
Yields 4 servings

1, 15 oz can Navy or Cannelini Beans ( I like Eden brand)
2, 3 oz cans line caught Tuna, packed in olive oil
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1, 5 oz bag pre-washed 'spring mix' lettuces
1 large tomato, sliced into wedges
2 TB red wine vinegar
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1) Drain and rinse the white beans and add them to a small bowl. Drain the tuna, reserving 2 TB of the olive and add it to the bowl as well. Gently flake the tuna with a fork. Add 2 tsp of the red wine vinegar and season with salt & pepper. Stir to combine. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes- 1 hour, if possible.

2) When ready to serve, add the baby greens to a large serving bowl. Drizzle the lettuces with the remaining red wine vinegar & olive oil. Toss gently to coat. Add the sliced cucumber and radishes to the tuna mixture and stir to combine. Spoon over the salad greens. Add the sliced tomatoes and serve.

13 September 2010

Grilled Eggplant, Tomato, & Mozzarella Timbale

This is a simple yet impressive dish that can be prepared well in advance. In fact it's better if it sits in the refrigerator for at least a few hours before serving. The flavors exemplify the end of summer when tomatoes, eggplant, and basil are plentiful. I generally make this in an 8" x 4" ramekin/ souffle mold with straight sides but it would also be fine in a loaf pan or a springform pan. You can substitute flavors based on what you have in your garden and what you prefer. Roasted peppers or grilled zucchini would both be nice additions. These are some of my favorite late summer flavors.


Grilled Eggplant, Tomato & Mozzarella Timbale:
Yields 6 servings

1 large globe eggplant, sliced into 3/8" rounds (about 12 slices total)
5 medium tomatoes (early girl or similar), sliced into 3/8" rounds (about 20 slices total)
3 large balls fresh mozzarella (ovolene size)
20 basil leaves
2 TB black olive tapenade
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp fennel pollen (optional)

1) Line your mold completely with plastic wrap. Make sure the bottom is entirely covered and the sides are lined, all the way to the top. Allow enough overhang for folding the plastic over the top of the dish.

2) Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Grill until tender, about 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside to cool.

3) When you're ready to assemble, place a layer of the grilled eggplant on the bottom. Arrange decoratively since when the dish is turned out, this will be the top. Add a layer of tomatoes and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fennel pollen. Place a layer of mozzarella on top of the tomatoes, followed by a layer of basil leaves. Spread 1 TB of the olive tapenade over the basil. Repeat the layers, starting with tomatoes and ending with eggplant which will be the top layer in your mold.

4) Fold the plastic wrap over the top of the dish and press down firmly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

5) When ready to serve, fold back the top plastic wrap and place your serving plate face down on the top of the mold. Invert the mold onto a serving plate. Pull away the mold and peel off the plastic wrap. Slice into wedges (if using a round mold) or into slices (if using a rectangular mold). Serve chilled.

11 September 2010

Buttermilk Biscuits

I made these biscuits last night to serve with my Fresh Corn Chowder . They were great hot out of the oven, perfect for topping with butter and dipping in the soup. I just finished eating one for breakfast this morning, with plenty of butter and jam. It was equally delish at room temperature and was still light and flaky.

To flavor the biscuits, I generally toss in whatever herbs I have about. Sometimes I'll add chopped olives or sundried tomatoes. I've even added a bit of sugar and tossed in golden raisins and fennel seeds for a sweeter biscuit. The recipe is very adaptable and it's a good one to memorize as it's such a nice compliment for so many mains.

The most important thing to remember when making biscuits is not to overwork the dough. If you do, they'll be dense and tough. The dough should be shaggy and loose when you roll it out. I generally don't even bother with a rolling pin and just pat it into a circle with well floured hands. Once you get a feel for the dough and the optimal thickness, you might also find this an easier method.


Buttermilk Biscuits:
Yields 8, 2.5" biscuits

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/4 cup sugar plus 2 TB dried fruit (raisins, currants, cranberries...) & 1 tsp spices (cinnamon, fennel seed, 5-spice...)
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme, chives...)
1/4 cup grated cheese (cheddar, parmesan, gruyere...)
1/4 cup chopped vegetables (olives, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers...)

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, xanthan, and salt. Add the butter and mix, either with a pastry blender, or with your hands, working quickly to incorporate the butter before it gets too warm. The butter should be about the size of peas.

2) In small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and the egg.

3) Add any of the additions above (herbs, cheese etc....), and the buttermilk & egg. Reserve about 1 TB of the buttermilk/ egg mixture for washing across the top of the biscuits before they bake. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry with a fork until you form a shaggy mass.

4) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and gently knead a few times, taking care not to overwork the dough. Roll or pat into a 9" diameter round x 3/4" thick. Using a 2.5" round biscuit cutter, punch out biscuits and set them onto the prepared baking sheet. You can re-gather and re-roll the dough scraps to form the full 8 biscuits if needed.

5) Brush the tops lightly with the remaining egg and buttermilk mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and puffed. Serve warm or at room temperature with butter.

10 September 2010

Fresh Corn Chowder

Corn is very much in season now. It's sweet, and plentiful, and inexpensive.... a perfect time to buy several ears for this chowder. This soup is both satisfyingly creamy yet light at the same time. The sweet, distinctively corny flavor really comes through. The soup is actually quite low-fat and takes most of its creaminess from the pureed corn and the potatoes. It does contain some milk, but 2% or skim work quite well.

I'm serving this tonight with an arugula and raddichio salad featuring apples from our tree and toasted walnuts. I also whipped up a batch of buttermilk biscuits, some with chives and some with olives. They're so super easy, always flaky and delicious. I'll share that recipe here in the coming days.


Fresh Corn Chowder:
Serves 6 as a main course

1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 stalks celery (about 1/2 cup), diced
1/2 medium jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, diced
3 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
6 ears corn (about 4 cups), kernels removed from cobs
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup milk (low-fat is fine)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2 TB parsley, chopped
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 TB olive oil

1) In a 5 quart stockpot or dutch oven, heat the 2 TB olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and jalapeno and saute until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the potato, salt & pepper and saute another 3 minutes until the potato is just beginning to soften. Add the stock and the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes until the liquid has reduced some and the potatoes are fully cooked. Add the corn and simmer another 3-4 minutes.

2) In a blender, puree about 2 cups of the soup. Stir the blended portion back into the remaining soup. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Sprinkle the top with cheese, fresh cracked pepper and fresh parsley.

*I completely forgot to take a photo before devouring this. This lovely photo is courtesy of Food & Wine Magazine. If any of you make this soup, please do take a photo and send it to me so I can use it here. Thank you!!

09 September 2010

Apple, Yogurt & Olive Oil Cake

I've adapted this recipe from the fabulous Cannelle et Vanille blog from which I always gather tremendous inspiration. Aran's photos are beautiful and her recent posts conjure up daydreams of France. Truth be told, it doesn't take much to get me dreaming of France, but that's another story.

This is a simple cake, the kind of cake you could put out with cheese and fruit for a weekend brunch, or that you could serve with caramel sauce and sauteed apples for a lovely fall dessert. I happen to love yogurt & olive oil cakes in general. There's something very 'french breakfast' about the yogurt cake, not too sweet & just the sort of thing that's perfect with a morning cup of tea. The olive oil keeps the cake moist but also has a fruity quality that's distinctly different from butter.

I chose to bake my cake in a 9" Savarin mold which is very similar to a bundt pan, which is what I'd suggest here, assuming you don't have a Savarin mold lying about. I think bundt cakes are so old fashioned and completely non-fancy and I love that. Don't worry that the batter will only fill the bundt pan about halfway. I've adjusted the baking time for that. You could just as easily make this in a loaf pan if you don't have a bundt pan. But, it does lead me to ask, why the heavens not?! Just go buy one already!


Apple, Yogurt, & Olive Oil Cake with Walnuts:

1, 6 oz container plain yogurt (low-fat or whole milk are both fine)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs (room temperature)
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups blanched almond flour
1 TB baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
2 medium apples
2 tsp butter
3 TB sugar

1) Butter and flour the inside of a bundt pan or spray with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2) Slice one of the apples thinly. Heat 1 tsp butter and 1 TB sugar in a nonstick saute pan. Add the slices of apple and cook for about 1 minute on each side, just to soften slightly. Set aside to cool and then line the bottom of the bundt pan with the slices.

3) Dice the remaining apple and saute in the remaining butter and sugar. Set aside to cool.

4) In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugars, eggs, olive oil, and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and stir to combine. Fold in the chopped apples and the toasted walnuts.

5) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan about 30 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate to cool completely.

05 September 2010

Peach Galette with Lemon Thyme & Lavender Honey

I was inspired by my dear friend Jodi for this recipe. Jodi is a very talented pastry chef and creator of a wonderful blog, Milk & Honey with beautiful photos, stories, and of course, wonderful recipes. Her recipe was for a 'cheery little peach galette' and it sounds divine. This is my take on the peach galette, using lavender honey, lemon thyme, & Amaretto. I generally love Amaretto's sweet almondy flavor with fruit, especially stone fruit.

It's Sunday and I was feeling less than energetic but happened upon some last of season beautiful peaches at the market this morning. As such, I went for a store bought puff pastry crust here. Jodi's pate brisee would be equally as delicious if you're feeling a little more 'do it yourself' than I was today. If you're using store bought Puff, look for the best all butter brand you can find. I like 'DuFour' and it's readily available at most good markets. Making a 'quick puff' of your own is truly easy as well and oh so satisfying. I'll share that recipe with you here one day very soon. For now....


Peach Galette with Lemon Thyme & Lavender Honey:
Yields 1, 10" galette

4 medium peaches, ripe but firm
1 tsp lemon thyme leaves
2 tsp Amaretto liqueur
1/2 tsp fleur de sel
12 oz sweet pastry dough, rolled to 12" diameter
2 tsp heavy cream

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the peaches into 1/2" thick wedges. Place them in a bowl with the lavender honey and Amaretto. Toss gently to coat and allow to macerate for about 10 minutes while you prepare the pastry.

2) Lightly flour your counter or a cutting board. Roll out the pastry to a 12" diameter circle. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Arrange the peach slices in 'spoke fashion' (ie: loose concentric circles) in the center of the dough working out towards the edges. Leave about 2" perimeter around the edge. Fold up the sides loosely, in rustic fashion, so they just cover the outer edges of the peaches. Sprinkle the peaches with the fleur de sel and the lemon thyme. Brush the outer pastry crust with 2 tsp heavy cream.

3) Bake for about 35 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the peaches are tender, maybe slightly charred, and still hold their shape. Remove from the parchment while still warm and slide onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature with ice cream or creme fraiche.