Tag Archives: vegetarian

herb-parmesan dutch baby recipe


Brunch on Sunday is my favorite meal of the week. Unless someone is craving dim sum, we rarely go out. Instead, I scour the fridge for anything edible and create a gleeful explosion of pots and pans in our own kitchen.

This morning, I was inspired by my Smitten Kitchen cookbook, which features a recipe for a gingerbread dutch baby. That was an adventure in itself. We’re not really sweet-breakfast people. Sometimes we eat pancakes, but mostly our brunches are eggs and bacon and toast. But I pulled out my cookbook, which hasn’t yet failed to impress us, and 25 minutes later my oven gave birth to a gingerbread dutch baby.

Gingerbread Dutch Baby

Gingerbread Dutch Baby

As promised, it was tasty. We loved the texture – a little crispy, a little custardy – and it was a perfect cross between a pancake and crepe. Not bad. But I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if I took that sweet little baby and made it savory. There are so many options because it’s spring. Just last night while walking my dog, I swiped a few branches of rosemary from a neighbor’s giant front-yard bush. Fresh herbs would be the perfect addition to the dutch baby. Parmesan would help it grow up a little.

So I riffed on the book recipe. I omitted the molasses, brown sugar, and spices. Instead, I used herbs and grated Parmesan cheese. And during the butter-melting stage, during which the pan and its sides are coated in the stuff, I sauteed a little minced shallot for flavor and texture. The pancake came out of the oven puffy, with high crispy edges.


Almost immediately, though, it sank into submission on the plate. I sprinkled it with a little bit of grated cheese and minced herb.


Then we dug in. It was everything that I’d dreamed of. That perfect crunchy-custardy texture was enhanced by little nuggets of crispy shallot. And the flavor was everything I’d hoped it would be: bright from the herbs, deep from the cheese. I will absolutely be making this again and I hope you give it a shot, too.


Herb-Parmesan Dutch Baby

(adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman)

2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup milk
40 grams flour
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, etc) or 1 tablespoon dried herbs
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat your oven to 400.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the salt, pepper, Parmesan, milk, and flour. Whisk until well-combined, then stir in the herbs. (Alternatively, you can do this in a blender).

In a 9-inch sauté pan, melt the butter over high heat. While it’s melting, add the shallot. Be sure to brush the sides of the pan with melted butter. When the butter is fully liquid and the shallot is beginning to sizzle, add the batter.

Pop the whole thing in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve hot, garnished with fresh herb and a little more Parmesan. I thought the pancake was custardy enough that it didn’t need sauce, but you could also serve it with a little bit of whipped cream cheese or creme fraiche.

artichokes francaise recipe

As a college senior, I waitressed at an Italian restaurant and gained ten pounds almost instantly. It was hard not to: the food was great. I lived for the staff meal at the end of each shift, a small dish of pasta with gravy and a single meatball. And more often than not, servers would order additional food from the kitchen. We spent hours around those delicious plates. Cravings would build up over the course of an evening, usually to be satisfied in the darkened side dining room towards the end of a shift.

My first few months at this restaurant were an educational experience. I learned how to tie a tie, to uncork wine with grace, to reel off ten cuts of pasta from memory. And there was always something new to try. One night, another server had ordered Artichokes French after her shift. She was enjoying them in the darkened side dining room when I wandered in to chat.

“How are those?” I asked.

“Oh, they’re amazing,” she told me around a mouthful of artichoke.

“I’ve been serving them a lot, so I was wondering,” I replied. “I’ve never even had artichokes.”

“Well, you’ve got to try these,” she insisted, holding out a forkful.

I chewed. Wow. The artichokes were a little crispy at first bite. They had been battered in egg before a quick pan-frying. Within, they were tender and delicious. Their flavor was great by itself, but I loved the buttery sauce they were doused in. There was definitely lemon in there, and some white wine, but it was perfectly balanced. The artichokes were phenomenal.

(Side note: this took place in 2007, and I’d just met that girl. I didn’t know it then, but she would eventually become a very good friend. And if you try these, you’ll understand just how generous she was to share: if I had ordered these, I’d want every bite for myself).

Artichokes French became one of my favorite dishes when I worked at that restaurant, but the chef refused to give away his recipe. Since I’ve left, I’ve tried to figure it out on my own. I’m not sure how these would compare to the original, which I hadn’t seen before and haven’t seen since. But you know what? They’re pretty good on their own.

I call my recipe Artichokes Francaise in the original spirit of the dish. (I suspect that restaurant went with “french” to ease pronunciation difficulties; their patrons had enough difficulty ordering “pasta pollo”).


Artichokes Francaise

2 cans whole artichoke hearts, drained and halved
1/4 cup Sciabica Mission Spring Harvest olive oil, or extra virgin oil of your choice
3/4 cup flour
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, divided
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Splash of chicken stock (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper

First, you’ll prepare the artichokes for pan-frying by battering them. In a medium bowl, mix the flour with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. In another medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, Parmesan, 1 tablespoon of parsley, and a few pinches of salt and pepper.

Roll the artichoke halves into the flour, then dip them in egg.

Next, cook them. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium. Pan-fry the artichoke halves, flipping once, until crispy and golden brown on each side. Do this in batches if necessary so you don’t crowd the pan. Let them drain on a paper towel.

When the artichokes are done and the saute pan is empty, you’ll make the sauce. Deglaze the pan with white wine. When almost all of it has bubbled away, add the lemon juice, and chicken stock (if using). Stir everything together and let it cook down to almost nothing. At that point, add the butter bit by bit, then parsley, salt, and pepper to taste.

Place the artichokes in a serving platter, pour the sauce on top, and serve as a side dish or appetizer.

Lemon Curd

What do you do when a friend from California mails you a giant box of beautiful Meyer lemons? This was the difficult question I was faced with earlier this winter. And by difficult, I mean the hard part is choosing between all of the options. Because if regular lemons are an exciting kitchen bounty, Meyer lemons are like the culinary equivalent of winning the lottery – or at least a scratch-off.

Where regular lemons are pale yellow, Meyer lemons are golden yellow-orange. Where regular lemons are sour, Meyer lemons retain all of the lemon flavor without that puckering aftereffects. Where regular lemons can be thick-skinned and hard to juice, Meyer lemons seem to contain more potent liquor than possible in such a small fruit.

One of my first projects with the lemons was to make lemon curd. Lemon curd is kind of like jam in that you can use it anywhere. On toast? Sure. Between layers of a cake? Of course. As the base for a brisk dessert mousse? Easy. Eaten plain from the jar? Yeah, this is the most likely.

I set up an assembly line. Zest, slice, juice. Strain all the seeds out of the juice.

In a saucepan, combine the juice with butter and sugar. Keep the heat low and stir occasionally until the butter is melted and everything is smooth.

In another bowl, crack a couple of eggs, and add a couple more yolks to keep things extra-rich. Save the whites – you can make meringues later!

When the butter-lemon-sugar mixture is melted, add a little bit of the warm liquid to the eggs. Whisk it together.

Pour everything into the saucepan and whisk, keeping the heat on low. After a few minutes – ten tops – you’ll see the mixture begin to thicken. When it is the approximate consistency of mayonnaise, you’ll know you’re done.

Strain the mixture over a new bowl so the little clumps come out. You will be rewarded with a quivering mass of delicious lemon curd. Now the possibilities are endless.

Lemon Curd (makes approximately 2 cups)
1/2 c lemon juice
1/2 c sugar
6 tbsp butter
2 large eggs & 2 egg yolks
In a saucepan over low heat, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, and butter.
Place the two large eggs and two yolks in a separate small bowl.
When the lemon juice, sugar, and butter are melted together and smooth, transfer a spoonful of the mixture to the eggs. Whisk it together, then add back to the saucepan.
Stir or whisk constantly over low heat, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan. When the curd is about the consistency of mayonnaise, stop – strain it into a clean bowl through a mesh strainer.
If you can stop yourself from eating the whole thing with a spoon minutes after it comes together, it makes a wonderful addition to cakes, pastries, tarts, or pretty much anywhere else you’d use jam.

green garlic casserole recipe

I was really excited when the Piedmont Park Farmer’s Market opened up this past weekend. Last fall, the market was something of a Saturday morning ritual. We’d wake up as early as possible, haul the dog into the car, and park the car as close to Piedmont Park as we could get. Once at the market, we’d share a cup of iced almond coffee from our favorite vendor and buy a little bit of whatever produce looked good. Even little Riley got to sip water and sample dog biscuits from one of the stalls.

It’s very easy to get overwhelmed at the farmer’s market, much more so than at a grocery store. When you walk into the Publix or Pathmark closest to your house, there’s tons of fruit and vegetables to peruse. While the offerings might look shiny and inviting, it’s mostly smoke and mirrors creating an illusion. Have you ever gotten strawberries in November? They’re watery and tasteless. They were picked unripe so they’d hold up for transport, gassed with ethylene to give them color, and then shipped across the country for you to buy at a ridiculously high price. Yum.

On the other hand, at the farmer’s market, you can be reasonably sure that everything came from the ground very recently. If you see strawberries for sale, it’s because they’re actually in season. Therefore, they are probably delicious. This makes me want to go nuts and buy everything I see.

But it’s best to not go nuts, especially when it comes to fresh and highly perishable produce. My goal for this season is to keep my purchases limited to staple items and a couple of things that I’ve been craving, or want to experiment with. At least on this first weekend I was able to stick to this. We left the farmer’s market with a relatively light load: eggs, strawberries, kale, and green garlic.

I was intrigued when I saw something that looked like somewhat like leeks, but had a thicker bulb at the end. The vendor told us it was green garlic. When we cut into the bulb at the bottom, he said, pieces of garlic would be inside. I’d never seen garlic looking like anything but a bunch of cloves bound by papery membrane. In the spirit of adventure, we brought some home.

I brought it home to investigate. The greens on top still looked somewhat like leeks. I sliced them off and saved them for later use.

Next, I removed the hairy root end. What remained looked like a big clove of garlic – instead of papery skin, it had a thick oniony covering.

Cutting into the head yielded whole cloves of garlic, nestled within the layers.

Of course I tasted the baby garlic to compare it to the cured garlic that we see in stores. It was surprisingly delicious. It definitely had a garlicky taste, but it was milder, sweeter, and not at all pungent. The next question was, what should I cook with it?

My significant other has an extremely sensitive nose and is quick to show it off. Whenever I eat garlic out of his sight, he knows. Even if I brush my teeth and chew tons of gum, he can always tell that I had falafel for lunch that day. While this is charming in its own way, my top priority was to take advantage of the garlic’s delicate flavor. I decided that I would make pesto. It was a breeze: the garlic, basil, walnuts, parmiaggiano, olive oil, salt, and pepper went for a spin in the food processor. I used more garlic than I would usually would, and the resulting pesto was delicious. Its flavor was bright, garlicky but not overwhelmingly so. Furthermore, it went completely undetected by Xavier, so that was fun.

With the rest of the fresh garlic, I decided to riff from a New York Times recipe. The author originally envisioned a gratin fashioned from beet greens, green garlic, and barley. A bit of Gruyere cheese was to deepen the flavor. Mine used farmer’s market kale and arborio rice, and mozzarella. Sometimes you just have to use what’s already in the fridge. Regardless of the changes, this dish was amazing. I’m excited to obtain beet greens later at some point – I’ll make a gratin the way Martha Rose Shulman intended.

I’m really excited that the farmer’s market is open again, and I can’t wait to experiment with more new vegetables as spring and summer continue. And for the record? The strawberries that we bought were the tastiest that I’ve ever had.

israeli spinach fritters recipe

A few months ago, we learned how to make latkes like a Jewish grandma. Now we’re going to move down a generation and you can learn how to make delicious spinach fritters like a Jewish mom, or at least, the way my Jewish mom did.

Here’s the thing about spinach fritters. They’re made out of spinach, which pretty much means that you can eat as many as you want and call it a healthy treat. They’re green, after all. In the scale of healthy, green overrides fried, every single time.

Here’s the other thing about spinach fritters. They don’t sound very appealing. If I had discovered them on my own, in recipe form while browsing blogs or a magazine, I would not have taken the initiative to make them. But I discovered them because they appeared in my house, on a platter next to some potato latkes that my mom made, and from the first bite it was true love. Everyone else who’s tried them has agreed. Initial hesitation is followed by eyes widening in enjoyment, and then reaching for another fritter. They’re delightfully crispy outside, yielding and yummy inside, what’s not to love? And did I mention they’re green? That means healthy!

They’re pretty simple to make. For me, the first step is always finding bulk baby spinach. I like to use at least two pounds of spinach for this, and buying eight pre-packed grocery store bags at $3 each isn’t how I roll. This most recent batch was inspired by spinach for $1/pound at the farmer’s market.

So you start with fresh spinach (I guess you could use frozen and thawed, but I’ve never tried). It gets sauteed it for a few minutes, just until it’s wilted.

Drain it, chop it. Then, stir it into a simple binding mixture: eggs, matzo meal, scallions, cumin, cayenne, and salt.

You’ll form the mixture into little patties and pan-fry them, turning once so you get crispy spinach exteriors.

My mom always served these with potato latkes when she was feeling ambitious in the kitchen. Fortunately for us, that was often. They work well as a side dish for steak, or if you’re like me, as a meal onto themselves. Because they’re green, and therefore healthy – or so I tell myself. Whatever they are, they’re surprisingly delicious.

Recipe: Israeli Spinach Fritters
adapted from Joan Nathan. serves 2-4 as entree, 4-6 as appetizer

1 lb spinach
2 eggs
1/4c scallion, sliced thin
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/3 c matzo meal
Grapeseed or vegetable oil, for pan-frying

Wash, drain, and saute spinach until wilted. Drain and chop roughly.

In a large bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients (except oil). Add chopped spinach and mix everything together well.

Heat a large cast-iron or saute pan over medium-high. Add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When oil shimmers, drop in spinach balls. Around a tablespoon of mixture works well. Flip after bottom browns. Cook in batches, replenishing the oil as necessary. Drain on paper towels if desired. Eat hot and enjoy!

All photos are mine.