"It's so beautifully arranged on the the plate – you know someone's fingers have been all over it." – Julia Child

Posts from the Vegetarian Category

Have you ever been to the supermarket and not found a tomato? Probably not. We live in a seasonless era where produce exists year-round. You can buy peaches in the dead of winter and strawberries in the fall, but they never taste good. The same goes for tomatoes. These sci-fi versions with their lipstick red hue and taut skins are more decor than food.

I’ve become used to perennial produce, just like many, and I buy those out of season fruits (mostly tomatoes, because, I just really, really want one in my sandwich) only to eat them and feel deep disappointment.

It’s now late summer and the proper time to eat tomatoes, finally. There are so many beautiful, sun-ripened, juicy ones available you might have a hard time selecting among them, but they’re only around for a short while so eat as many as you can and store the memory of their proper flavor in your mind and belly until next season.

A favorite way we have of eating them is the most simple: salt and pepper, maybe some olive oil, good bread, and whatever cheese you may have, like mozzarella or goat cheese or sharp cheddar (try a cheddar, tomato, and mayonnaise sandiwich!).

We also love this take on a BLT with pork belly and herbs, and a vegetarian ensemble with green and yellow tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, cucumbers, and basil.


1 1/4 pounds pork belly
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons malt vinegar
1 tablespoon sharp mustard
1 cup water

– Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.

– With a sharp knife, score (gently cut) the top of the pork belly in a cross-hatch pattern. Season with salt, pepper, and the dry mustard.

– Whisk the remaining ingredients together in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Place the pork belly in a small baking dish and pour the sauce over it (it should come up at least halfway up the sides of the belly, otherwise, transfer to a smaller container). Cover with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake 1 hour until tender.

– Cool the belly completely (preferably refrigerated overnight) and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices. Cook the slices in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. If you like, you can simmer the cooking sauce and use it to glaze the pork.

– For the sandwich, spread toast with mayonnaise or mustard, then top with the pork belly and ripe, salted tomatoes. Add herbs like lemon thyme and basil and serve.

Finally, eggplant and tomatoes in a version of caponata. Caponata is a Sicilian classic, with myriad interpretations, but mostly it starts with eggplant cooked until tender. Other ingredients include the aforementioned tomatoes, onions, and celery, plus carrots, capers, olives, pine nuts, and herbs. The flavor is agrodolce (sweet-sour) and all of these ingredients combine to hit your palate in multiple locations at once.

This edition is a bit loose, having been made quickly from what was on hand. The dish, as you can see in the photo, is meant to look like a thick, fruit-heavy compote. Our caponata starts with eggplant and includes bits and pieces of fresh tomatoes. It’s actually a great way to rescue leftover bits of tomatoes you might have from having made a sandwich or a salad. You can use anchovies, or sardines as this recipe does—don’t worry, they won’t be “fishy” but will impart a heady dose of umami.


Olive oil
2 black-skinned eggplant (2 to 2 1/2 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
6 ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed olives (chopping optional)
1/3 cup capers, rinsed and drained
2 sardines packed in oil
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
2 rosemary sprigs
Lemon juice
Red wine vinegar
– Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the eggplant and onion and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant begins to soften and the onion is translucent, about 20 minutes. It’s ok if the eggplant turns a bit brown, but do lower the heat if any excess charring begins to happen.

– Add the garlic and a pinch of Aleppo pepper and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and any juices and continue cooking, stirring, until the mixture is becoming homogenous and thick. Stir in the olives, capers, sardines, raisins, and rosemary and cook for 10 minutes longer.

– Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and vinegar.

– Cool to room temperature and serve as an appetizer with garlic toast or alongside grilled fish or chicken.

Our bodies are about half water, making us, essentially, land-friendly fish. Makes you think, right? Those 8 glasses of water a day are a must, but we like to give them a little more oomph. Delicately flavored and iced waters are livelier, lovelier, and more refreshing than plain Jane tap. A few of our standards are watermelon cubes and fresh mint sprigs, cucumber and lime slices, lemon rounds and green apple slices, and mint tea. The construction is not difficult: ice, the fruits, vegetables, or herbs you prefer, and cold water. Stir gently and allow to chill thoroughly. Another cool suggestion: add iced coffee to your fridge and morning routine, and for an extra wake-me-up, a swipe of chilly toner on your face is a must-try.


It’s Friday, and I’m going out. Although I don’t suffer from hangovers (knock on wood), I’m always thirsty for a Bloody on the weekends (with gin, please).

There are quite a few ingredients in this drink, so I suggest making it today or tomorrow, before your headache strikes in the wee, too-sunshine-y, why-don’t-I-have-blackout-curtains? hours of the morning after your parranda. You won’t even have to get it together to go out to brunch.

(Ice + premade Bloody + straw) + 10 (water + Advil) = Good morning

A special sneak peek from our upcoming book, Summer Cocktails

Serves 1

Hangovers happen, and cures for them have been peddled and promoted for as long as the perpetrator has existed. Magic cures, potions, rituals, whatever the antidote is purported to be, the Bloody Mary has withstood the test of time as the companion to that morning misery. This Bloody is a stepping stone: add and subtract condiments to suit your palate.


For the Salt Rim
2 tablespoons coarse salt, such as kosher or Maldon salt, crushed
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt, optional
Finely grated zest of half a lime, lime half reserved

For the Cocktail
¾ cup V8, chilled
2 tablespoons clam juice, chilled
2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish*
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 ounces gin or vodka
Ice cubes
Celery stalk, for garnish
Pimento-stuffed olives or Picholine olives for garnish
Beer chaser, optional

In a small saucer, combine salt, pepper, celery salt, and lime zest, rubbing zest into mixture with fingertips. Cut the lime half in two to make wedges, and run one along the rim of a chilled highball glass to dampen. Dip rim into salt mixture and reserve.

In a shaker, combine all ingredients and stir to combine. Adjust flavor with condiments to taste. Serve in an ice-filled highball glass and garnish with celery stalks and olives.

Freshly grated horseradish will be much sharper than prepared. If you’re unfamiliar with horseradish in general, think about eating wasabi or strong mustard. The nasal passage clearing effects are the same. The prepared version that you find in the refrigerated section of the supermarket will do in a pinch, but it will require a significant amount more to reach the heat level of the fresh root. Also, horseradish oxidizes quickly; don’t let it sit out once it’s grated.

There is some debate as to whether the original Bloody Mary was made with gin or with vodka. Allegedly, a Bloody made with gin is called a Red Snapper, but the famous King Cole Bar a the swank St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan claims the fishy moniker was the original name for the Bloody Mary, made with the usual vodka. Use and call it whatever you like — it won’t matter after a couple.

I always feel like I need to bring something to a party, aside from my sparkling personality. I’m a cook and a stylist, and it just wouldn’t do for me to show up empty-handed, or worse yet, with a store-bought dessert. Sometimes, I bring booze. When I do, I start stuttering through a series of excuses, “Oh! It’s been madness! All of this travel! I’m never home anymore! I…etc.etc.etc.” Ultimately, I’m sure no one cares, but I feel dreadful.

Enter this dessert. It’s one of those Key lime pie recipes that you can find in the Wild West that is the Internet, or even on the side panel of a box of Grahams or a tin of sweetened condensed milk. You can make this thing blindfolded, even those of you who proclaim themselves non-bakers. AND! While there is a crust recipe here, go ahead, get one of those ready-made things if you want.

Top this tart with the most seasonal fruits you can find, like raspberries and plums, and not only will this be a refreshing and delicious dessert, it’ll look very “wow!”


Makes 1 (9-inch) tart, serving 8

1 ¾ cups Graham cracker crumbs
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

– Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula, then scrape into a 9-inch round pie plate. Press crumbs into bottom and up sides of plate.

– Bake until golden, 7 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and reserve.

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened*
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
Pinch salt
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, from about 12 limes
3 cups assorted fruits, such as berries and sliced peaches, plums, and nectarines

– With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in a large bowl until light and fluffy. With machine running, gradually beat in condensed milk, lime zest, and salt. Slowly add the lime juice and beat just until mixture is combined.

– With a rubber spatula, scrape mixture into prepared pie shell. Top with fruits and refrigerate until chilled and set, about 2 hours. Serve.

*SOFT AND SUPPLE: Don’t try to beat this cream cheese when it’s cold: you’ll wind up with a filling that’s lumpy, like cottage cheese. If you’re in a rush and don’t want to wait for the cheese to come to room temperature, buy cream cheese in the carton with the foil wrapper on the cheese. Massage the cheese while still wrapped.

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

We know: it’s freezing. We’d offer to come over and snuggle, but, no way we’re leaving home today. Try our remedy instead!


A dark, rich, and perfectly seasoned elixir from our book,  Winter Cocktails

In this variation, sugar cooks down to an amber, bittersweet caramel that blends seamlessly into hot chocolate.
Cooking Tip: You will need a large saucepan for this recipe: the addition of cream to the caramel causes the mixture to bubble aggressively.

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
6 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Maldon salt, plus additional for garnish
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
4 cups whole milk
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or chocolate chips
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Ingredient Tip: Maldon salt is a sea salt whose large flakes are ideal for seasoning: they melt slowly but easily into warm items, and also provide a nice crunch and textural contrast. See page 000 for resources.

– Stir sugar and water together in large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until sugar turns dark amber and just begins to smoke, 6 to 8 minutes. Immediately add cream and salt, stepping away from pan while bubbling and sputtering subside. Reduce heat to medium and stir just until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.

– Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa and brown sugar and stir with whisk until a paste forms. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Whisk in caramel. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat, then, reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in chocolate and cook, stirring until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Serve in warm cups and sprinkle with Maldon salt.

– Spike each serving with 1 1/2 ounces Amaretto per serving, if desired (trust us, you desire).

Serves 4



Guest Chef: Dean Sheremet

We spend a lot of time thinking of recipes and images to share with you on this blog, and sharing food, even if just virtually, is in effect the backbone not only of this blog, but the notion of food in general.

With that in mind, Cookin’ and Shootin’ will start introducing you to the chefs, creatives, and food lovers that inspire us (and sometimes, feed us!).

We start what will hopefully begin a delicious series with Dean Sheremet, fellow FCI graduate (ahem, we both graduated top of the class – just saying), Nobu and Jean-Georges alum, culinary TV presenter, and pal. This end-of-summer biyaldi, layered with vegetables, is a warm, deeply flavored, and robust dish that will bridge the gap between the seasons.

The recipe follows, as do details on where you can find Dean on social media, so be sure to add him to your list of people to follow. Lastly, a little Q&A, based on the ever-entertaining Proust questionnaire.

Cooking background: French Culinary Institute class of 2010, Nobu, Jean-Georges

Currently: TV projects, writing, recipe developing

What is your idea of perfect happiness, were it food? Any meal shared with friends.
And wine.

What is your greatest food fear? (Insert flashback) Not having mise ready at service.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself as a chef?  In the heat of service, I can be very stringent.

What is the trait you most deplore in fellow cooks? Laziness and lack of accountability.

What is your greatest food extravagance? The time I went to the French Laundry, and I wanted to experience everything. I couldn’t turn down the bread, and 21 courses later, I literally felt like I was going to throw up.

What is your favorite food journey? I’m still on it.

On what occasion do you lie in the kitchen?  I sometimes gloss over ingredients that I put in food that they may not eat. (Apologies to my vegetarian friends – read: duck fat).

What do you dislike most in a food’s appearance? I hate dead herbs on a plate. Or herbs on the rim of a plate. Actually, just any misguided herbs.

Which living chef do you despise the most? It’s more a quality than a person: Egotism.

What is your greatest food regret? Sending out overcooked salmon. Sorry, table 56.

What or who is the greatest culinary love of your life? Doing prep – it’s when I feel at peace.

When and where were you happiest cooking? Cooking on the line at JG, at a really high level, and cooking without fear.

What is the cooking talent you would most like to have? Patience.

What is your current state of mind? Restless.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I have a hard time letting go.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? I’d have my grandmother back on this earth.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Work ethic.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Working brunch.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Trustworthiness.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Wit.

What do you most  value in your friends? Knowing they  have my back no matter what.

Favorite hero of fiction? Sherlock Holmes.

Who are your heroes in real life?  My grandmother.

What is it that you most dislike? Ignorance.

How would you like to die? Happy.

What is your motto?  Memento mori.


Mixing and Tasting

Assembly Time

Baked & Ready to Eat


Serves 6 to 8

For the Orange Braised Fennel

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½  yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small fennel head, core removed and
Sliced thin
Finely grated zest plus 1/3 cup juice (from 1 orange)
¼ cup Sauvignon Blanc
1 cup ricotta cheese (your choice of skim or full-fat)

Heat the oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the orange zest and juice and white wine and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated, another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in the ricotta.

For Eggplant Purée

3 Japanese eggplant, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
½  yellow onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
Pinch of Aleppo or cayenne pepper
1/3 cup store-bought tomato sauce of your choice
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the eggplant, onion, and a bit of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is golden brown and onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the tomato sauce and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Set aside to cool slightly, then stir in the vinegar and Aleppo pepper and pulse it in a food processor just until chunky. Season with salt and set aside.

For the Biyaldi and Assembly

2 small Japanese eggplant, sliced thinly lengthwise (ideally on a mandolin)
Olive oil
2 Gold Bar yellow squash, sliced thinly lengthwise (ideally on a mandolin)
1 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ cup plain panko
1 rosemary sprig, chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
½ cup store-bought tomato sauce

– Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

– Toss the eggplant with just enough oil to coat, and arrange the slices in a single layer on one of the prepared baking sheets. Roast the eggplant until golden and soft, about 10 minutes.

– While the eggplant is roasting, arrange the squash in a single layer over a few clean kitchen towels and season liberally with salt, after about 10 minutes, wipe them dry of any moisture and excess salt.

– Grease a 13- by 9-inch casserole with olive oil. Spread the bottom of the dish with tomato sauce. Arrange half of the sliced eggplant to the bottom of the dish, gently overlapping the slices. Dollop and gently spread, first, with some of the braised fennel, then with some of the eggplant purée. Top with a layer of squash slices, then repeat procedure with remaining ingredients.

– Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Combine the cheese and panko in a small bowl; drizzle enough olive oil to moisten the mixture. Remove the foil and sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs. Place under the broiler until the cheese starts to melt and the breadcrumbs gently brown

– Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Find Dean’s recipes at and follow him on Twitter ( and Instagram deansheremet

And of course, you can find us cavorting on Instagram as well @tstriano and @sacasastylist

I have been remiss… It always happens that I get bulldozed with work and other distractions and I allow the blog to gather dust, much to the more diligent Tara’s annoyance. This post, along with a surprise guest-starring one coming up soon, begs to be paid attention to as the summer goes bipolar between summery hot flashes and incoming fall’s feverish chills.

This salad is actually something I hope to drag into the cold with certain variations in ingredients – it’s a salad that leaves those plastic bowl, carry-out, romaine chopped things in the dust with a robust smoky backbone of flavor. Oh, and, granita! I make a lot of granitas, for desserts and cocktails mostly, but a few months ago at one of my favorite restaurants (Blood & Sand in St. Louis) I had a lovely English pea and pea shoot tangle topped with a buttermilk frost that was divine in a very delicate sort of way.

This granita is salty lime and mint, and melts into the salad and its drizzle of olive oil for a refreshing and surprising twist on vinaigrette. Look out for some MacGyver action in this recipe, too: grilling, indoors!

Serves 4

For the Lime Granita
1 ½ cups water
¾ cup fresh lime juice (from about 6 limes)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup packed mint leaves

– Stir 1 cup water and lime juice together in an 8- by 8-inch metal baking dish or other similar-sized vessel.

– Bring the remaining ½ cup water, sugar, mint, and ½ teaspoon salt to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Stir mixture into the lime mixture and adjust seasoning to taste.

Place dish in the freezer and scrape with a fork once every 45 to 60 minutes, until mixture is completely frozen and has the consistency of a slushy. Reserve in freezer until needed.

For the Salad
5 chayotes
4 poblano peppers, scrubbed
10 scallions
Olive oil oil
6 radishes, scrubbed, tops and bootoms trimmed, thinly sliced
½ cup (about 2 ounces) queso fresco or other Latin American hard cheese, crumbled
½ cup packed cilantro leaves

– Peel the chayotes, cut them in half, scoop the seed out with a metal 1-teaspoon measure or melon baller, and cut into thin matchsticks. Prepare an ice bath by combining 3 cups of ice and 3 cups of cold water in a large bowl. Set up a strainer in the sink. Bring a large bot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the chayotes and cook for 2 minutes. Drain them and immediately plunge them in the ice bath. Once cool, drain them again. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and spread chayotes out in an even layer to dry.

– If you have a gas stove, char the poblanos over an open flame, turning with tongs occasionally, until their skins are black and blistered. Wrap them in foil and allow to cool about 10 minutes. Remove the stems and tear out and discard the ribs and seeds, then slice the poblanos thinly (lengthwise), and place them in a large bowl.
If you don’t have a gas stove,  heat a large dry skillet or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the poblanos until black and blistered and follow steps above.

– Again, if you have a gas stove, toss the scallions with olive oil, then lay them on a metal gridded cooling rack over an open flame and cook them until charred. Otherwise, cook them in the same skillet as the poblanos. Transfer them to a cutting board, trim off and discard the root end, then coarsely chop and transfer to bowl with poblanos.

– Add the radishes, cheese, and cilantro and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and drizzle with olive oil.  Plate the salads and top with granita. Enjoy immediately.





I will never turn town a potato chip or a French fry, the starch, the grease-slicked fingers, the lips split by the salt as if they had enjoyed a long night of kissing…but a fried plantain can be a scene-stealer. Fried until crisp in long, thin strips until the color of marigolds, they look like sleek surfboards. Cut into chips, they become edible coins from a slot machine, completely addicting. And of course, the double-dip method in which the plantain is fried twice is a favorite preparation.

Tostones begin by being cut into thick pieces, fried in vegetable oil, then flattened with a tostonera (see image) or the back of a small skillet, and returned to the frying pan. When finished, tostones resemble an exploding gold bloom. Seasoned with salt and served as an accompaniment to many meals, tostones can also be served as a “boca” or “botana” (appetizer) with crumbly or creamy Latin American cheeses like cotija and quesillo, refried beans, and vinegary cabbage slaws.

This is a basic method for making tostones. On average, each plantain will yield about 10 tostones; make as many or as few as you’d like. I’d recommend making more because the crunchy exterior and starchy, satisfying bite of the interior of the tostón calls for gluttony.


Fun fact: plantains in Mexico are called “plátanos machos”!

Green plantains
Vegetable oil

– Cut off and discard the ends of each plantain. Cut the plantain crosswise into 4 pieces. With a paring knife, score the skin, cutting just enough to reach the flesh of the plantain. Use the knife to pry off the skin. Cut each plantain quarter crosswise into 1- to 1 ½-inch pieces.

– Line a baking sheet with paper towels. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering and reaches 350°F. The oil should be about ½-inch deep in the skillet.

– Fry a batch of the plantain pieces (don’t overcrowd the skillet) until golden, turning once halfway through frying, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer pieces to prepared baking sheet and repeat procedure with remaining plantain pieces.

– Using a tostonera or a small skillet, press down on the plantain pieces until they are flat. Fry the tostones once more, until crisp and golden, turning once halfway through frying, about 3 minutes per side.

– Transfer tostones to prepared baking sheet and immediately season with salt. Serve immediately.

And, for ongoing food pics, follow us on Instagram!  Tara: tstriano and Maria sacasastylist

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