My Grill Pan

I'm a sucker for my grill pan. It's the one pan I can use to make a panini at lunch, grill some veggies at dinner, and flip to the griddle side to make like 10 pancakes at once in the morning. In the summer when I don't want to turn on the oven or use a lot of dishes I'll often make entire meals using the grill pan. Roy is happy since it's his job to do the dishes. He's really happy if what's coming off of the grill pan is some sort of burger. He requests the "Tomatillo Burger," as he calls it, quite often so I made it the other night. I saw this recipe in Gourmet a few years ago and it has been a favorite in our house ever since. Something about a crisp, raw tomatillo is so good on this burger. You can round out this meal by throwing some corn on the cob or zucchini on the grill pan as you cook the burgers. No grill pan? No problem. You can obviously use a real grill or even a cast iron skillet. But seriously, you should get one.

Pork Burgers with Tomatillo and Avocado

1 lb ground pork
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 teaspoons minced chipotle in adobo sauce, plus 1 teaspoon of sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 slices Muenster cheese
3 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed and sliced
1 avocado, sliced
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 hamburger buns
Vegetable oil, for pan

Preheat grill pan over medium-high heat. Mix the ground pork with garlic, chipotle, salt, and pepper. Form into 4 patties. Brush grill pan with vegetable oil and grill until patties are cooked through, about 4 -5 minutes per side. During last minute or two of cooking on second side, place a piece of cheese on each to melt the cheese. Also during the end of cooking, toast the buns on the grill pan until golden.

Spread 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise on the bottom of each bun. Top with meat, tomatillo slices, avocado slices, and a few sprigs of cilantro. Place top bun on top and serve immediately.

Serves 4


A Different Kind of Salad

Panzanella is an Italian salad that uses bread and tomatoes as the main ingredients. It is a good way to use up old bread, and it is a nice break from traditional lettuce salads. To me panzanella says "summer." It is so light and refreshing that it is perfect for a hot day. 

It was hot the other day, so Miles and I went for a walk along the beach. What a nice departure from being cooped up in the house with postpartum recovery! Finally, it felt like summer. Wanting to keep the feeling of summer going, I went to the store on our way home to pick up some ingredients for panzanella. A couple of pints of raspberry and blood orange sorbets also helped to extend that summery feel. 

When I make panzanella I like to combine elements from recipes that I have seen from both Michael Chiarello and Ina Garten.


1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 hothouse or 4 Persian cucumbers, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch half moons
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 orange bell pepper, large diced
1/2 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped basil

1 baguette, ciabatta or other crusty bread, crusts removed and cut into one inch cubes (you need about 6 cups total)
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dijion mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To make the croutons: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat butter and olive oil in large skilled over medium heat. When butter is melted, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bread cubes and toss to combine. Transfer bread cubes to rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Toss with hands to evenly coat the cubes with the cheese. Place in oven and bake until crisped on outside but still slightly soft in the center, about 8-9 minutes, turning once halfway through baking. Set aside to cool completely.

To make the dressing: Whisk all ingredients together to combine. Set aside.

When ready to serve toss vegetables and croutons with dressing.

Serves 6-8

Notes: Croutons can be made one day in advance. Store in air tight container at room temperature. Dressing can also be made one day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. 


Back to the Blog

It's hard to blog with a baby. It's actually hard to do most of the things I used to do with a baby. Cooking, going to the store, visiting friends. These things all need to be carefully planned now. So, my blog has really been the last thing on my mind since Miles was born. When I was still pregnant, a friend told me to be prepared for your life to change drastically when a baby comes. She said, "On some days you will feel accomplished just by having managed to brush your teeth, and that's okay because that is something." At the time I thought that seemed a little crazy - would I really feel accomplished having just brushed my teeth? Now I completely understand what she means. The good news is that Miles is now seven weeks old, and I have found myself becoming more adjusted to being a mom with each passing week. Things are still tough, but I now feel like I can take care of him while also taking care of myself and other things that need to get done.

Despite the fact that my life is very different, I wouldn't trade being a mom for anything. As you can see from the picture, I have the cutest, sweetest little boy in the world (yes, I'm biased, but that's how it feels). I love the way Miles stares at me with his big blue eyes, the way he kicks his little chubby legs and flails his arms, and seeing his crooked smiles that have recently begun to appear.

Well, yesterday I had a few spotty bananas and realizing that I hadn't baked anything since he was born, I thought about making banana bread, and ended up deciding to make banana coffee cake. So, in a world where brushing your teeth is a significant achievement, baking a coffee cake makes me feel like a rock star. It turned out pretty good, so I thought I would share the recipe. After looking at several dozen recipes online, here's what I came up with:

Banana Streusel Coffee Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 very ripe bananas, mashed (you should have about 1 cup)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
3/4 cups chopped toasted walnuts, divided
1/3 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a nine inch springform pan with cooking spray.

To make the streusel, place 3/4 cup chocolate chips, 1/2 cup walnuts, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and brown sugar in small bowl. Mix with fingers to combine. Set aside.

In large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. In a separate bowl whisk together bananas, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until barely combined. Gently fold in 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/4 cup walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle streusel evenly over the top. Bake for 35-45 minutes until tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer to rack to cool.

Serves 8

Notes: The cake tastes great slightly warm from the oven. It will also keep nicely stored at room temperature for three days.