Four Thanksgiving Dishes to Please Any Crowd

If you want something as a "ta- da" dish -- a centerpiece that's not meat, I've got some dishes to consider. First, think of the all the sides that we love. Many or most of them don't require any meat or meat stock to be crowd pleasing. People love stuffing and gravy. Why not do leek-mushroom-herb stuffing in muffin tins and a mushroom gravy? No bones and no griping.

The Main Dish

For an elegant centerpiece dish: try the Kale Butternut Squash Phyllo Pie made in a springform pan. Elegant and beautiful with bright colors and crispy phyllo.

Try cashew cheese and skip pancetta (or use porcinis for umami), use Earth Balance butter substitute and you're meat-free, dairy-free.












Another of Kim's recipes that even carnivores have asked for in subsequent meals: the Lentil-Chard Shepherd's Pie.




Sides that Wow

The sage butter sweet potato- white potato casserole (below)  is easy to make dairy-free and if you use gluten-free bread, it can be GF, too. Again, your potato ricer is your friend. Light fluffy potatoes get mixed with browned sage butter and topped off with fresh breadcrumbs. I modify Martha's recipe and make it dairy-free and delicious.

Sage_butter_potato_casserole Another dish that is a real favorite, I've taught it to Kitchen Confidence clients and they adored it. I love it. Red rice pilaf stuffed Delicata squash. The recipe is from Kim O'Donnel's Meatless Celebrations. It's colorful, delicious and substantial enough to use as a vegetarian/vegan main course.


Both of these could certainly be main courses for a meat-free meal that won't leave you wanting.




The Clafoutis Collective, and a Fan of Flaugnarde

What is that divine scent? Clafoutis, Clafouti "cla-foo-TEE"! So fun to say, this French dessert is making converts of us all. A baked custard with fruit is about the closest description that works. Trust me, it's fast, delicious and will quickly become a regular in the rotation.

Eating Well Lately

A girl has to eat something besides oysters. Balanced diet and all, I’ve been pretty lucky in the food department lately. From the ten pounds of cucumbers gift, to oysters, to Dungeness Crab, to lobster feasts, it’s been a great run.

good eats

The first nectarines of the season and another delicious pint of blueberries had me thinking about crostata, tart, crumbles, cobblers...then a colleague of Doc’s gave us a gift of farm fresh eggs, I decided a clafoutis was in order. Or is it a clafouti?


Word geek detour: 

In English-speaking countries it’s often spelled “clafouti” but the French call it “clafoutis” since it is a French dish, we go with the s; and it’s pronounced “cla- foo-TEE”

[French clafoutis, from Old French : claufir, to attach with nails (from Latin clv fgere : clv, ablative sing. of clvus, nail + fgere, to fix) + foutis, nominalized form of foutre, to stuff; see footle.]

Who knows, maybe some early French roofer's wife decided it looked like a shingle studded with nails? I just love these word mysteries. Technically, if not made with cherries as it is in Limousin (the traditional clafoutis is made with un-pitted cherries!) the dessert becomes a flaugnarde. Clafoutis is just more fun to say, ne c'est pas?

Making it Delicious AND Dairy-free 

Once we've settled on the etymology, the next step is finding a recipe that doesn’t call for heavy cream and figuring out how to make a dairy-free version of the dish that’s just as tasty. Denise at Chez Us has this gorgeous baby:  Gluten-free Cherry Clafoutis. She goes traditional with pits in.

Using the ever-handy, I scour my cookbook collection in a fraction of the time it would take me to pull books one by one. I find that Romney Steele’s Plum Gorgeous has a recipe, as does Yvette Van Boven’s Home Made. Julia’s got one in The Way to Cook but it places the clafoutis in a pastry shell. I settle on Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook. Its recipe is simple, doesn’t call for heavy cream and comes with a lovely story in the headnote. God I love cookbooks.

So with gratitude for all the cookbooks I reviewed, and re-loved this morning, I bring you my clafoutis. Thanks to Brigit Binns (AKA the Roadfoodie) for the roasting suggestion.

Clafoutis Collage

Dairy-free Roasted Nectarine and Blueberry Clafoutis

Note: this flaugnarde/clafoutis ended up a little too sweet for my taste though others declared it “perfect”, “delicious”, “amazing.” If you like things sweet, do as is. If you prefer less sweet, I think you could reduce sugar and/or vanilla a bit and it would be fine. You could also omit the Cointreau.

One thing we can all agree upon: clafoutis is just a fun word to say. Clafoutis is also a good way to use fruit that might be just a tad past its prime, as the baking and the custardy blanket hide the odd bruise or blemish. Try to use the best fruit you can though, save the really soft stuff for smoothies.

  • 1/4 C Earth Balance Nondairy Natural Buttery Spread (or butter), unsalted, melted
  • 4 small to medium nectarines, pitted, roasted drizzled with Cointreau (about 1 TBSP)
  • 1 pint (about 2.5 C) blueberries, rinse, stem
  • 1/2 C sugar (I subbed in about a TBSP of light brown sugar to enrich)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 C unbleached AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 C Soy milk (enriched with 1 TBSP vegan sour cream, whisk right into measuring cup)
  • 1 TBSP vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp orange blossom water
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp organic lemon zest
  • confectioner’s sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 375, convection roast or bake.
  2. Wash, pit section nectarines. Make cleanup easier by covering a small cookie sheet with foil. Drizzle nectarines with Cointreau and roast just until edges begin to caramelize. You could also skip this step but I think that roasting does make the flavor deeper or richer.
  3. Remove to a bowl to cool.
  4. While nectarines are cooling, position rack to center of oven and set to 400 bake.
  5. Measure other ingredients. Melt butter in microwave safe bowl or ramekin at low power for a minute. Pour butter into 13x 9x 2 baking dish.
  6. In medium bowl, toss fruit with half the sugar and the lemon zest. Toss gently then turn into the buttered baking dish.
  7. Using same bowl (why dirty another?) whisk eggs, then add remaining sugar, flour, salt.
  8. Whisk in (enriched) milk, vanilla and orange flower water.
  9. Pour whole shebang over fruit and bake for about 45 minutes.
  10. It will puff up and turn golden brown around the edges, and should remain somewhat jiggly in the middle.
  11. Cool on a wire rack (it will collapse so be sure to show off the golden puffy masterpiece first. Grab a neighbor, the cat, whoever is handy. Should be easy to find someone as the fragrance will draw attention.)
  12. Dust with confectioner’s sugar (a tea infuser works really well) slice and serve.


dusted clafoutis

In this photo, you can see that the clafoutis begins to sink pretty quickly. Not to worry! It is delicious anyway. Fear not the flaugnarde! Allons-y! Come enjoy a clafoutis.

What's your favorite clafoutis?

A Grain with a Great Backstory

Don't you love a grain with with a good back story?

Kamut - King Tut's Wheat

Diving into the DIY granola craze, I've discovered a new grain with a great history. Okay, so I've made granola at home three or four times and inspired a few Twitter followers to make their own with this Homemade Granola the DIY Delicious Way with a Touch of Chocolate. In my book, we now officially have a "craze."

I noted that the fabulous DIY Delicious: Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food from Scratch author, Vanessa Barrington was marvelously "flattered" by the New York Times who ran a DIY Cooking Handbook piece w/nary a mention of the woman who, literally, wrote the book. They should know better. So maybe they were inspired, too. See? It really is a trend!

So what the heck is Kamut? I have to admit, when I saw this at Whole Foods:

I had to buy it! Roasted, good. Cooks in three minutes, good. Eden Organic. Good!

I enjoyed my first bowl as an oatmeal stand-in. Made simply and mixed with some leftover bulgur, and a drizzle of this insanely good maple syrup aged in Bourbon barrels.

Wheat on Wheat - proving that have no issues with gluten.

Yes, I said Bourbon barrel-matured maple syrup. A real treat, if ever there was one. Honestly, I could eat King Tut's dessicated foot with that maple syrup and be happy.


Back to our mysterious ancient grain...

The legend is that someone brought back some grains appropriate from some Egyptian tomb and grew it out back here in the states. Originally named "King Tut's Wheat" it is now registered to the enterprising farmers who nurtured it back to a crop we can now all enjoy. Several things make Kamut a great grain for your table.

First, it was most definitely enjoyed by ancient Egyptians, and who wouldn't want to dine like Cleopatra and Tutankhamun? What this really means for us is that this is a wheat that was not bred for modern agriculture, making it nutritionally superior and able to be grown without artificial fertilizers and pesticides. A sustainable super grain! Modern wheat varieties were bred for higher output, resistance to pests, etc. but had to sacrifice nutrition along the way. (See what Nature does? Mess with her and you get something inferior that causes digestive problems and necessitates more and more chemicals, depletion of the soil...well you get the picture.)

Interestingly, there is some evidence that this is better tolerated by those with gluten sensitivity, too. Kamut has 20–40% more protein, is higher in lipids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals than our modern varieties.

Another great grain with a good story is Quinoa. Unfortunately, it seems that we Norte Americanos have grown so fond of this nutritional powerhouse, that indigenous peoples can no longer afford it. The grain (it's actually a seed, but that doesn't sound as nice) that sustained them against all odds, including marauding Spaniards, is now too dear for the locals to buy. I'm hoping we have a nice fair trade operation step up to the plate and fix this unfair situation. I really would like us to enjoy quinoa with out guilt.

One thing I've learned via my support of the Joslin Diabetes Center's Spoonful of Ginger event, is that a bowl of white rice has as much sugar as a can of soda. Asian-Americans are at a much higher risk of diabetes, it seems that our physiology cannot tolerate the influence of the American diet as well as Caucasians can (and let's face it, the standard fare of most Americans could use a little help no matter who the consumer is.)

Since we are definitely kids who grew up loving our bowl of white rice, we have a hard time imagining living without it. As you know I'm a big fan of small steps. Rather than banish our beloved Ba Fan or Gohan - I'm trying to add other grains to the rotation so that we enjoy a broader, healthier variety. A recent experiment cooking white rice mixed with quinoa in the rice cooker, was a hit.

Look at this beautiful bowl:

This even worked well in fried rice the next day.


This is really easy and delicious. By adding 1/3 C of rinsed quinoa to the rice, you add protein and replace sugars. It's not perfect but you know what? It's a step in the right direction.


If ancient Egyptians joined the DIY craze...

My Kamut granola is cooling, scenting the house with Arvinda's Chai spice blend and Neilsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla. I can't wait for breakfast!

Granola fit for a Pharoah


  • 1 1/2 C Kamut flakes
  • 1 1/2 C Oats
  • 1 C flaked coconut
  • 1/4 C crushed cocoa nibs
  • scant 1/2 C pepitas
  • 1/4 C sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 C pistachios
  • 1/2 C chopped peanuts
  • 1 C chopped dates, dried cherries
  • 1/4 C wheat germ and ground flax
  • 1 tsp Arvinda's Chai spice
  • 1/2 tsp Neilsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • scant 1/3 C hexane-free expeller-pressed canola oil
  • 1/3 c honey


Everything but the honey and dried fruits gets mixed up and spread out over two cookie sheets. Bake at about 330 for about 10 minutes and toss to ensure it toasts evenly. Bake another 7-10 minutes and remove from the oven. Toss with dried fruit and warmed honey. Cool and resist picking out the toasty coconut flakes.


Here's a tip: make any hot breakfast grains sing by dropping a couple drops of really good vanilla in the bowl first. When the hot grains hit the vanilla it's magic.