Main courses


I never can resist a pun – last year I paid $91 for a t-shirt because it had a vegetable pun on it. Yup, I am a sucker for a pun. But the title here, play on words though it may be, is no joke. These tarts, galettes, or whatever you want to call them, are savory and so good. I can only take a little credit, since they borrow heavily from other sources, and I encourage you to riff still further on their basic elements.


The starting point was this post on My Name is Yeh (congrats on the new book, by the way!). That everything bagel topping, I started dreaming about putting it on, well, everything. Except, apparently, pie crust. I envisioned a crust that was somewhere between a thin-crust pizza and a cracker, so I turned to a standby recipe that I’ve used plenty of times in the past, this whole wheat yeasted olive oil pastry from the NY Times. To make a more substantial dinner, I filled it with sauteed spinach, FINALLY delicious heirloom tomatoes, and a liberal sprinkling of Gruyere. There’s something really amazing about the garlic-onion-sesame that’s just bang-on with the slight funk of the cheese, and I couldn’t be more proud of these tarts if I’d thought of them myself!


Spinach galettes with tomatoes and everything
Serves 4
Spinach, tomatoes and rich Gruyere in a crisp crust that brings to mind your favorite bagel.
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Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
2 hr
For the dough
  1. 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  2. ¼ teaspoon sugar
  3. 1 large egg
  4. ¼ cup olive oil
  5. 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  6. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  7. ¾ teaspoon salt
For the filling
  1. 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  2. 1 Tbs olive oil
  3. 12 ounces baby spinach
  4. 4 medium tomatoes
  5. 4 ounces grated Gruyere cheese, about ¾ cup
  6. 1 egg, beaten
For the topping
  1. 2 tsp dried minced garlic
  2. 2 tsp dried minced onion
  3. 1 Tbs poppy seeds
  4. 1 Tbs sesame seeds
  5. ¼ tsp table salt
  1. Make the dough, about an hour and half before you want to eat.
  2. Stir together the dry ingredients. Stir in the oil and egg, plus about half a cup of warm water. Using the dough hook of a stand mixer or your hands, knead the dough until it comes together in a smooth ball. It's not necessary to work it too long. Place dough in a clean, oiled bowl, cover with plastic and leave to rise until doubled, about an hour.
  3. While the dough rises, heat the tablespoon of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach, a handful at a time, letting it cook down and release its liquid.
  4. Slice the tomatoes (tip: slice from the bottom of the tomato for slices that hold together the best) and place the slices on a couple of paper towels to absorb some of their liquid.
  5. Mix together all the topping ingredients in a small bowl.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  7. When dough has doubled in bulk, divide it in half; re-cover the half you're not working with while you form the first galette.
  8. Roll out the dough into a circle about 10 inches across. It should be quite thin, about an eighth of an inch.
  9. Place the dough circle on a piece of parchment paper. Brush the surface of the dough with the beaten egg to help keep the bottom from getting soggy.
  10. Place half the spinach in a thin layer over the dough, leaving a generous inch uncovered at the edge. Lay slices of tomato on top of the spinach, and then sprinkle with half the cheese.
  11. Fold the edges of the dough over the toppings, making the prettiest folds you can. Brush the crust with egg wash, and sprinkle the topping mixture generously over the dough.
  12. Repeat the whole process with the second half of the dough.
  13. Carefully slide the galettes on their paper onto a large baking sheet.
  14. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown and the cheese is beginning to crisp on top.
  15. Let rest for 5 minutes on a cooling rack before slicing.
Adapted from Molly Yeh & Martha Rose Shulman
Adapted from Molly Yeh & Martha Rose Shulman
Emperors Crumbs

It was the last week of summer in our house, more or less: school started on Thursday, so we crammed in three days of fun and intensive idleness before returning to our schedules and routines. It was properly warm, too.  Around here, it’s not as though the seasons change on cue, we’re likely to have another couple of months of shorts-and-sandals weather. Just as well; for whatever reason this year, I was not quite ready to say goodbye to summer. I burn easily, sweat unattractively, and like to sleep under a nice pile of covers, so hot weather usually isn’t my thing, yet I felt a little pang as I got the kids’ backpacks ready for school. Too soon, too soon! They’re getting old enough to have some independence, roaming our block with friends, staying up later with a book, so maybe it just feels more like the unstructured summers I remember from my own childhood. Good times – and more to come, I hope.

Monday: Fajitas from the grill. Valerian didn’t use a recipe for the marinade, but the meat eaters polished off all the steak so I guess it worked out OK! I sliced up onions and peppers and cooked them in a skillet to make something approximating rajas poblanas, also very good.


Tuesday: We got deli sandwiches and went to The Cheese Factory for a picnic lunch; dinner was a salad for grownups and the second half of the sandwiches for the kids, and of course, cheese.


Wednesday: School night! I made a kid favorite, this sheet pan pasta gratin, with broccoli instead of kale. I use less butter and  cheese, so it’s not quite so rich, and it’s still delicious. The key is to sprinkle the majority of the cheese on top, you won’t miss it in the sauce.

Thursday: I had planned to make fried farro with pickled carrots and runny eggs but got home too late to pickle the carrots, so I toasted the farro, sauteed some mushrooms and greens, then topped it with some pan-fried halloumi cheese, which the kids love and refer to as “squeaky cheese”. So in the end, not much like the original recipe at all, but good!

Friday: Another unexpectedly late day at the office for me, so I got in the door just as Valerian was serving yellow rice with peas and tofu. Last-minute but delicious! Valerian is the king of making a random set of ingredients into something good.


Saturday: We had a salad, kids had a toothpick dinner, and then we all ate ppopcorn on the sofa and watched The Naked Gun, which turned out to have a lot more inappropriate stuff in it than I remember, but the nine year-old laughed and laughed.

Sunday: Corn on the cob with all kinds of add-ons – recipe(s!) to come.


Today it was my turn to make dinner. Originally I planned to make Jamie Oliver’s incredible “tray bake”, but I had some ripe plums peeking at me so I decided to try something different. A friend of mine makes this amazing Moroccan chicken, and that inspired me to use these plums as a base for this recipe. It turned out pretty well, even the kids liked it. Feel free to play with the recipe and let us know what you think and how you improved it.

Plum Chicken with Pistachio
Serves 4
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 20 min
  1. 4 chicken thighs
  2. 4 ripe plums
  3. strip of bacon (optional)
  4. 6 cloves of garlic
  5. 1/4 cup of dried cherries
  6. 1/4 cup of dried raisins
  7. 1 cinnamon stick
  1. Preheat the oven to 390F
  2. In a dutch oven render the bacon fat
  3. Once rendered set the bacon aside and add the chicken skin side down
  4. Brown the skin
  5. Cut the plums half and get rid of the seed
  6. Turn the chicken
  7. Put the plums around the chicken and sprinkle the rest of the ingredients (including the bacon) around the bird
  8. Put on the lid and put the chicken into the oven for 1h
  9. When 1h is done turn off the heat and leave the chicken in the oven
  10. After 1h and 20min take the dutch oven out and let it cool covered for another 20-30min
  11. Serve with rice
  1. If you decide to skip the bacon and sacrify the smoky meaty flavor, use olive oil when you brown the chicken
Emperors Crumbs

There is a glaring lack of pineapple in this recipe. When you read “Hawaiian style” anything, doesn’t it always have pineapple in it? According to my poor niece, who is allergic to pineapple, everything seems to have pineapple in it, even the least tropical-sounding suspects.

The inspiration for these lovely little bites came from our trip to Maui, though, so for me, they’re Hawaiian. They were served as an appetizer, but are easily filling enough to make a meal. As an aside, we got some of these to bring up to our room for a party the last night of our stay. My mom sent me into uncontrollable laughter by announcing that she had to “go pick up the pu-pu platters” so, apparently, I am the emotional age of our nine-year-old. It’s good to have something in common with your kids.
Back to the recipe – I wanted to lighten up the version that we had on vacation, but at the last minute, I decided to try a variation that is a little closer to the creamy original. First I made a zingy, lime-based dressing that has a funky note from fish sauce. I know, not-so-vegetarian, but for some reason I’ll make an exception for fish sauce, even though I don’t really like fish. Leave it out if it’s not your thing. For the second batch, I stirred together the magical combination of ginger, garlic, and peanut butter, thinned out with soy sauce and vinegar. In the end, I am not sure which of the two dressings I liked better; it wasn’t for want of taking a bite here and a bite there for comparison’s sake, though.

lettuce wraps with ham

Hawaiian-style lettuce wraps
Serves 6
Flavorful rice with peanuts nestled in cute lettuce cups.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 2 cups uncooked rice (brown or Basmati)
  2. 3 3/4 cups water
  3. 1 head butter lettuce
  4. 4 slices Canadian bacon or ham
  5. 1 cup fresh or frozen edamame (out of the pod)
  6. 1 large carrot, julienned or finely sliced
  7. 3 scallions, green and white parts sliced
  8. Handful of fresh cilantro, larger stems removed, to serve
  9. Roasted peanuts, chopped, to serve
For the lime dressing
  1. 1 lime
  2. 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  3. 1 tsp brown sugar
  4. 1 tsp fish sauce
  5. 1 clove garlic, minced
  6. 2 tablespoons peanut oil
For the peanut butter dressing
  1. 1 Tbs peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
  2. 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
  3. 1 clove garlic, minced
  4. 2 Tbs soy sauce
  5. 1 Tbs rice vingar
  6. 1 tsp honey
  1. Cook the rice: bring the water to a boil, add the rice, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until water is absorbed (this may take longer for brown rice). Place rice in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Make the dressing(s): for the lime dressing, zest and juice the lime, then whisk in the remaining ingredients. For the peanut butter dressing, stir together all ingredients - this is easiest if the peanut butter is at room temperature.
  3. Saute the ham or bacon in a small skillet until slightly browned, then dice finely. You can either cook the edamame in the same pan, or boil them for 5 minutes in a little salted water.
  4. Add the ham, edamame, carrot and sliced scallions to the rice, and stir in your dressing.
  5. Prepare the lettuce: Separate the leaves, using care to keep them intact. Wash and dry the leaves, then, setting aside the larger, floppier outer leaves for another use (salad? sandwiches?), fill the leaves with about a quarter cup of the rice mixture. Sprinkle chopped peanuts and cilantro over the top to serve.
  1. You can definitely add more veggies to this recipe - diced red pepper, mushrooms, or zucchini come to mind right away. Leave them raw or give them a quick saute along with the ham. A scrambled egg or tofu can be substituted for the ham to make it vegetarian.
Emperors Crumbs

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This week didn’t go as planned. But it ended up working out just fine, although I have to say it was luck more than my own generous flexibility or anything. We ended up staying out late Monday night (we are now the proud owners lessees of a cute plug-in Ford C-Max!) so we stopped for burgers on the way home. I shuffled things around for the rest of the week, and cut the kid-requested breakfast for dinner because it doesn’t depend on fresh veggies or meat the way the other dinners did. Maybe it’s worth planning a night where we clean out the fridge or cupboard each week as a just-in-case option. So we did end up having burgers twice this week, but no one complained. The kids have been keeping busy at their various camps this summer, so they’re coming home hungry.

Monday: In & Out Burgers

Tuesday: Panko-crusted chicken, zucchini with Pecorino, sticky rice.

Wednesday: Pita sandwiches with falafel from Trader Joe’s, tomatoes, and shredded cabbage with a tahini-lemon drizzle.

Thursday: Pasta salad with tomatoes, raw corn from the cob, arugula, and cubes of smoked mozzarella.

Friday: Burgers on English muffins, green salad with home-made buttermilk ranch dressing. I read through a couple of recipes for ranch dressing and then kind of winged it. Results were… mixed. It ended up being closer to chimichurri than ranch. I may try to actually follow a recipe next time. Do you have a favorite to recommend?

Saturday: Homemade sushi with carrots, cucumber, avocado, canned salmon, and in the case of the rolls made by our boy, prosciutto.

Sunday: Tomato, corn & zucchini galette . I didn’t look closely at this recipe before shopping, so I bought too much zucchini and corn; never mind! I cobbled together a quite different pastry crust, using about half whole-wheat flour and subbing olive oil for some of the butter, and it turned out really well, I thought. And we had home-made ice cream for dessert. Recipe here!