Caramelized Onion & Chanterelle Mushroom Tart

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Last month we were in Portland, OR, visiting our son Kyle and daughter-in-law (still just love saying that!) Calla.  It was blustery and rainy and very fall-like, which was a nice change for us, because when we left San Diego it was like 80 degrees.  Leaves were changing colors and we got to wear sweaters and boots and raincoats (and, believe me, for a San Diegan, this is exciting stuff!)

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So what does one do in Portland when it’s grey and a little rainy?  Go foraging for chanterelle mushrooms! And now I have to preface this story by saying that every year, around this time, Kyle starts calling us just to brag about the tens of pounds of chanterelle mushrooms they’ve foraged.  I get a little envious. Some culinary experts call chanterelles the “king of mushrooms”.  According to, “…they sprout from September to February, and grow wild in woodsy areas. They’re difficult to cultivate, but they sprout easily from forest floors….they have a firm flavor and texture and stand up to cooking and heavy sauces very well. The aroma of a chanterelle is sometimes described as being like a fresh apricot. A warning, though. Chanterelles are expensive!”  (Are they ever!  I bought them once.  At that high-end natural foods market.  $24.99 a pound!)

Okay, back to the foraging…Kyle and Calla and their roommate Jesse are quite the mushroomers. They have several “secret” spots around Portland.  Kyle took us to one of them.  We didn’t find a lot, but enough.  And it was really fun.

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Father-son foraging team!

That night, we made dinner at the kids’ place.  We decided that we would use the chanterelles that they already had in the fridge so that Tony and I could bring the ones we foraged back to San Diego with us.  Kyle pulled out his favorite recipe…pappardelle pasta with a chanterelle mushroom and lamb ragout and I made Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad.  Yu-um!!  What a delicious dinner and a really fun evening that culminated with Kyle, Calla and Jesse’s band Gallop  practicing in the living room and Caramel Salted Dark Chocolate ice cream from nearby Ruby Jewel.  Doesn’t get much better than that!!


Gallop. Calla has a voice like an angel. Really.

When we got home with our little bounty of mushrooms, I was super excited to try a recipe I had clipped from Relish magazine a month or so prior…Caramelized Onion-Chanterelle Tart. Of course, when I first saw it, knowing that our little mushroomers had an abundance of them, I scanned it and sent it to Kyle, who made it the very same night and said it was delicious.  After our own foraging expedition, I could hardly wait to try it myself!

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Well, it was worth the wait.  Kyle was right, it was delicious. I mean, really delicious!  The combination of flavors is incredible…savory-sweet onions and earthy mushrooms, Dijon mustard and Gruyere cheese.

Of course, you can make this with any kind of mushroom. But how cool is it that we actually foraged the mushrooms we used???  Forest to table!!

Caramelized Onion & Chanterelle Mushroom Tart


1 refrigerated pie crust
1 tablespoon Dijon country-style (course-grain) mustard
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
Sprigs of fresh thyme
4 ounces chanterelle mushrooms (or your favorite mushroom) sliced lengthwise
2 large eggs
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.

Roll out pie crust to fit in a 12-inch tart pan. Place in pan and press into the sides. Coat surface with mustard. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool.

To prepare filling, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté 15 minutes. Add salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Scrape into a small bowl.
In the same skillet, melt remaining butter. Add mushrooms and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Combine eggs and half-and-half and beat until well blended.

Sprinkle about half the cheese on the bottom of tart shell. Spoon in onions. Pour in egg mixture. Place mushrooms all over the top, along with remaining cheese.

Bake 40 minutes, or until tart is golden brown and filling is set. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 12.


Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce

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The November/Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appétit is my second favorite issue (first being July’s “Barbecue”).  But this November, it wasn’t a Thanksgiving recipe that caught my attention.  It was this tomato pasta sauce recipe.  The description read, “Roasting coaxes depth from canned tomatoes, instilling a long-cooked flavor. A generous amount of garlic and anchovies adds even more character.”  Hmmmm.  I was pretty skeptical when I read through the recipe…I thought it actually looked too easy (and didn’t have enough ingredients) for that to be true.  Plus, one of the few ingredients is anchovies (read on).  But I know that one of our favorite restaurants when we visit our son in Portland, Nostrana, makes a gnocchi with butter tomato sauce, so I decided to try it.

Just FYI, usually if a recipe calls for anchovies, I leave them out.  But I guess I’m getting a little braver in the trying-foods-you-always-thought-you-hated department in my old age so I decided to go for it.  And, I’ve reading a lot lately about anchovies adding “umami” (you know, “Umami /uːˈmɑːmi/, a savory taste, is one of the five basic tastes…together with sweet, sour, bitter and salty”).  And FYI again, did you know that Worcestershire sauce is made from anchovies?  And I happen to really like Worcestershire. Alright. I’ll add the anchovies.

But back to the tomato sauce.  Once again, BA did not disappoint.  This is so unbelievably easy and delicious.  It takes almost no time to make and you’d think it had been simmering in a pot all day. Honestly the best tomato sauce I’ve ever had.  I don’t believe I’ll ever simmer again!  And, yes, I’ll be adding the anchovies.

Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Bon Appétit, November 2013


1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

8 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed

2 anchovy fillets packed in oil

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes plus more for serving

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti

Finely grated Parmesan (for serving)


Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine tomatoes (crushing them with your hands), garlic, anchovies, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a 13×9″ baking dish; season with salt and black pepper.

Roast, tossing halfway through, until garlic is very soft and mixture is very thick, 35–40 minutes. Using a potato masher or fork, mash to break up garlic and tomatoes. (I mixed it a little bit with my hand blender.)

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Return pasta to pot and add tomato sauce and pasta cooking liquid. Cook over medium-high heat, tossing until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Serve topped with Parmesan and more red pepper flakes.

DO AHEAD: Tomato sauce can be made 4 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat before mixing with pasta.

Kale and Quinoa Salad

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So, a year ago I would have told you that I don’t like kale. In fact, I probably would have pouted, stomped my foot and said, “I don’t like kale.” Then I had a Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad that converted me. A month ago, I would have told you that I don’t like quinoa. Then I had a Quinoa and Kale (whaaaat?) salad at Great Maple and it forever changed my mind about quinoa.

What is quinoa anyway? It’s not a grain. It’s some weird seed-type thing. We were told last year at the Urban Solace Passover Seder that it’s okay to eat on Passover because it’s not a grain. I had to look it up on Wikipedia. Also learned from Wiki – 2013 is International Year of Quinoa. Seriously. “The objective is to draw the world’s attention to the role that quinoa plays in providing food security, nutrition and poverty eradication, in support of achieving Millennium Development Goals.” Go, Quinoa!


Uncooked quinoa

Uncooked quinoa (Trader Joe’s Organic Tricolor Quinoa)

Okay, so back to the quinoa salad story… Great Maple is a new-ish restaurant in San Diego, housed in what used to be an old-school coffee shop. It’s funky and cool and the food & cocktails are really good. Tony and I went a couple of Friday’s ago. They do this cute thing every Friday at 6:30pm…they bring a glass of champagne to every patron and do a toast called “Cheers to Charlie”, basically saying thanks for a great week. Very cute. (Oh, and did I mention the cocktails? I had a Great Maple Honey Mule…honey vodka, mint, lime & ginger beer. Served in a really cute bear glass. Heaven.)

great maple mule

Sidetracked again.  The salad. Great Maple calls it Suzi’s Farm Kale Salad: fresh local kale, quinoa, Pecorino cheese, fresh tomato, red onion and shallot vinaigrette. It was delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So the Sunday after we ate there, I created a similar recipe. And we’ve had it twice three times since. Might be my new favorite salad.

Kale and Quinoa Salad (sorta like Great Maple’s)



(adapted from Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette from Jan Birnbaum, Food & Wine)

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1-1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to tasted

In a blender, combine the lemon zest and juice, shallots, mustard, vinegar and garlic and puree until smooth. With the machine on, slowly add the olive oil until emulsified. Pour into a bowl and season with salt & pepper.


(adapted from Great Maple…via my memory)

2 cups cooked Quinoa (I used Trader Joe’s Organic Tricolor Quinoa)

2 cups chopped kale (cut thick center stem pieces out)

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced into rings and then halved

1/2 cup coarsely grated Percorino Romano cheese

1/4 cup pine nuts (the salad at GM may or may not have had pine nuts; I thought I remembered them, but I don’t see them listed on the description on their menu online)

Cook quinoa according to package directions. Fluff with a fork & set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, add kale, tomatoes, and red onion. Gently toss.

When cooled, add quinoa, gently tossing with a fork to further fluff & separate the quinoa. Drizzle dressing over and toss gently. Add cheese and pine nuts. Gently toss again, adding more dressing if necessary.

Best if made a little ahead of time, chilling for at least half an hour.

Chilled Tomato and Stone Fruit Soup (aka Gazpacho)

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Gazpacho. That Spanish, tomato-based, chilled vegetable soup. Sometimes there’s just nothing better than a nice gazpacho on a summer evening. Last month when we were in Sonoma for our son Kyle’s wedding, I had gazpacho twice. At two different restaurants. Lasalette and Glen Ellen Star. They were both delicious, but I gotta say, the one at Glen Ellen Star was the best. Probably the best I’ve ever had. And the presentation was absolutely beautiful…the prettiest red color, with a little purple heirloom basil flower floating in the bowl. OMG. Tony and I went there for lunch, the day after the wedding. I’m not sure if it was that we were still floating on clouds post-wedding, but it was one of the best lunches ever. Gazpacho. The “sheet music” salad with mixed lettuces, cucumber, avocado, tomato, tahini dressing. A wood-fired white pizza with guanciale and arugula and a wood-oven roasted chicken skewer with tzatziki. OMG.

So when we got back to San Diego, the tomato plants in our garden were going crazy. Still on a high from the wedding and post-wedding gazpacho, I decided that would be a very good use of all our tomatoes. I’ve made gazpacho before. Our daughter Ally loves this grilled vegetable one from Bon Appétit several years ago, but it’s a pain in the a** to make. Delicious, but a pain. I thought I remembered seeing a recipe in a recent BA that sounded interesting, with cherries and peaches, in addition to the tomatoes. Found it. They actually call it Chilled Tomato and Stone Fruit Soup (not sure why they don’t just call it gazpacho?).

I made it. It was delicous. And so easy (I opted for the frozen cherries). Refreshing with just a touch of spicy from a jalapeño and a touch of sweet from cherries and peach. And it was a beautiful color. I actually served it twice – Tony and I had it the first for a light dinner, with a Caesar salad, and then a couple days later, I brought what was left to a friend’s for gazpacho “shooter” hors d’oeuvres (and talk about a nice presentation…garnished with a fresh cherry skewer!) I think it was even better a couple days later!


Sorry, Ally, this will be the new gazpacho in our house.

Chilled Tomato and Stone Fruit Soup (aka Gazpacho)

(Bon Appétit, August 2013)


2 pounds tomatoes (about 4), quartered

1 large English hothouse cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into pieces

1 large ripe peach, peeled, halved

1/2 jalapeño, seeded (or with seeds for a spicier soup), chopped

1/2 garlic clove

1 cup fresh (or frozen, thawed) cherries (about 8 ounces), pitted

2 tablespoons (or more) white balsamic or Sherry vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more

Freshly ground black pepper

Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)


Pulse tomatoes in a blender until finely chopped and transfer to a large bowl.

Pulse cucumber, peach, jalapeño, garlic, and cherries in blender until finely chopped and add to bowl with tomatoes. Mix in vinegar, 1/4 cup oil, 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 cup cold water; season with pepper. Cover and let sit at room temperature 1 hour (I did this and then stuck it in the freezer just to get it chilled…I mean, it’s gazpacho, it needs to be chilled!) or chill at least 12 hours.

Season soup with kosher salt, pepper, and more oil and vinegar, if desired. Serve soup drizzled with oil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD: Soup can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Grilled Zucchini and Bell Pepper Fattoush

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Another one of our all-time favorite go-to recipes from Bon Appétit (July 2007).  Grilled Zucchini and Bell Pepper Fattoush.  Fattoush is a Middle Eastern take on panzanella, or Italian bread salad (which, of course, is another of our favorite salads…you’ve seen the recipe, here, on the blog, right?) And isn’t it just fun to say?  Fah-toosh.  What’s for dinner?  Fattoush.

I love the combination of grilled veggies and fresh veggies in this salad.  It’s a great accompaniment with your favorite grilled chicken (Sriracha Chicken Skewers or Paillards?) or lamb or even as a light main dish salad on a warm summer evening.

Grilled Zucchini and Bell Pepper Fattoush


On the grill

3 medium orange or red bell peppers (about 1 pound), stemmed, seeded, quartered

4 to 5 slender zucchini (about 1 pound), trimmed, cut lengthwise in half

2 (5- to 6-inch) pita breads, each cut horizontally into 2 disks, or two 6x4x1/2-inch slices country white bread

Olive oil (for grilling)

For the dish

1 (8-ounce) cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

12 cherry tomatoes, each halved

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 cup (scant) pitted Kalamata olives, halved

1/2 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 4-ounce piece feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (scant 1 cup)

Ground sumac* (optional) I can honestly say I’ve never used the sumac – I think I couldn’t find it the very first time I made the recipe and have made it so many times without, that I forgot it was even supposed to be included!

 *A fruity, tangy seasoning powder made from ground dried sumac berries; available at Middle Eastern markets


Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Brush peppers, zucchini, and bread on both sides with oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Grill peppers and zucchini until slightly charred and just tender, turning often, about 6 minutes. Transfer vegetables to foil-lined baking sheet. Grill bread until lightly charred and just crisp, turning often, about 3 minutes. Transfer to sheet with vegetables and cool. Tear bread into 1-inch pieces. DO AHEAD Vegetables and bread can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Cut peppers lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide strips, then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Cut zucchini lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in large bowl. Add cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, olives, mint, and cilantro and toss to combine. Add bread pieces. Whisk 1/2 cup oil, lemon juice, and cumin in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Add dressing to salad; toss to coat. Add feta and gently mix into salad.

Transfer salad to large bowl. Serve, passing ground sumac for sprinkling over, if desired.

Grilled Artichokes with Parsley and Garlic and Creamy Champagne Vinaigrette

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My new favorite appetizer.  Artichokes grilled and then tossed with some fresh chopped Italian parsley and garlic and served with a creamy champagne vinaigrette for dipping.

We had these at a friend’s house about a month ago (thank you Margo!) and I couldn’t stop eating them.  Like literally could not stop eating them.  They were really delicious. (The rest of the dinner was delicious too…Margo is an amazing cook.  But these artichokes! Mmmm…mmm…mmm!)

Of course, I had to ask where she got the recipe and she said from Food Network’s Giada de Laurentiis.  And then, of course, as soon as I got home, had to Google “Giada grilled artichokes”.  There were actually two recipes that were pretty similar; one called Grilled Artichokes with Parsley and Garlic and the other Grilled Artichokes with Creamy Champagne Vinaigrette.  Aha!  I believe Margo used the one with parsley and then made the vinaigrette dipping sauce.

So that’s exactly what we did when we made these last week. Again, I couldn’t stop eating them. I could make a meal of just these artichokes.  (And I just might!)   I’ll be serving them a LOT this summer!

Grilled Artichokes with Parsley and Garlic and Creamy Champagne Vinaigrette

adapted slightly from two Giada de Laurentiis recipes


6 fresh artichokes

2 lemons halved, plus 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Trim the stem from each artichoke to 1-inch long.  Using kitchen scissors, remove the thorns from the tips of the artichoke leaves. Cut top inch of artichokes with serrated knife. Quarter each artichoke. Using a small, sharp knife, cut out the choke and remove the purple, prickly tipped leaves from the center of each wedge.

Place finished artichokes in a large bowl of cold water and squeeze 2 lemons into the water and stir. Continue with remaining artichokes.  Once finished, drain the artichokes and place into boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, about 12 minutes.

Drain the cooked artichokes and place onto preheated grill. Cook until tender and lightly charred in spots, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, add remaining lemon juice (1/3 cup) parsley, garlic and salt and pepper, to taste. Gradually drizzle in olive oil.

Toss the grilled artichokes with the garlic/parsley mixture.  Arrange the artichokes on a platter and serve with champagne vinaigrette alongside for dipping!

Creamy Champagne Vinaigrette


1/2 cup crème fraiche

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


In a medium bowl, whisk together the crème fraiche, olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper until smooth.

Potato and Chorizo Tortilla

chorizo fritatta

This dish came to be one night when I just didn’t feel like going to the grocery store and decided to make something from ingredients that we already had.  There was a package of Trader Joe’s Soy-Chorizo (tastes like regular pork chorizo, but it’s made from soy…personally, I like it better than regular chorizo) that had been in the fridge for a while.  There was a little leftover arugula, some eggs, a lot of cheese and a couple potatoes.

I remembered that my friend Jessica had posted a picture on Facebook of a Spanish tortilla she had made.  (A Spanish Tortilla, btw, has nothing in common with the Mexican tortilla except its shape and its name.  Basically, it’s an open-faced potato and egg omelet.)  I tried to find Jessica’s post, but couldn’t, so turned to Google.  I found a recipe from Food Network’s Tyler Florence that looked good and easy.  His version calls for Spanish chorizo, which is more like a hard salami, but all I had was that soyrizo, so that’s what I used.

It turned out to be a really wonderful, light and easy dinner that I’ll definitely make again.

Potato and Chorizo Tortilla

(adapted from Tyler Florence)


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 ounces (about half a 12-oz package) Soy-Chorizo (sometimes called Soyrizo)

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1/2 medium onion, chopped

4 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 cup arugula (or baby greens) for garnish

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup Cotija cheese (or feta cheese), crumbled, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 375°.

Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a non-stick, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the potato and onion and fry until the onions start to soften, about 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat and cover the skillet; cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove the cover, raise the heat, and cook until the potatoes are brown and crispy, about another 5 minutes.

Remove the chorizo from the casing and crumble into potato-onion mixture and stir a couple minutes, just until heated through.  Note:  if you are going to use regular (not soy) chorizo; it will have to cook longer;  so cook it from the beginning with the potatoes and onions.

Meanwhile, break the eggs into a large bowl, add the milk, season with salt and pepper, and whisk until frothy.  Pour the egg mixture into the pan, shaking the pan to distribute the eggs evenly.  Put the pan into the oven and cook until puffy and set, about 12 to 15 minutes.  Turn out onto a cutting board and let it cool a little.  In a bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.  Place the greens on top of the tortilla.  Crumble the Cotija cheese over top.  Cut into wedges and serve.

Nacho Mac

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Okay, the official name given by Bon Appétit (March, 2007) is Nacho Macaroni and Cheese. We call it Nacho Mac, but you have to say it like “Not CHO Mac”, as in, “my mac…not YO mac”. Get it? LOL. Alright, it’s a silly little Bruser family thing. But this is definitely one of the Bruser family’s favorite dishes. It goes without saying that any time one or both of the kids are home, I’ll make it.

It’s really easy and one of the best macaroni & cheese’s I’ve ever had. I mean, come on…tortilla chips and salsa verde baked into macaroni & cheese? Make it. And then you’ll walk around saying “Not CHO Mac”, too.


2 cups elbow macaroni

1/2 cup bottled thick and chunky salsa verde

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

3 cups (packed) coarsley grated sharp cheddar cheese (12 ounces), divided

4 teaspoons flour

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup tortilla chips


Preheat oven to 425°F. Cook macaroni in large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, blend salsa and cilantro in food processor or blender. Toss 2 cups cheese and flour in medium bowl to coat.

Bring milk, cream, and cloves to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cheese mixture. Whisk until sauce is smooth, about 1 minute. Mix in macaroni; season with pepper.

Spread half of macaroni mixture in a casserole/baking dish. Drop half of salsa mixture over in dollops. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining macaroni mixture and salsa mixture. Sprinkle chips over. Top with 1/2 cup cheese. Bake until heated through, about 10 minutes.