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What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food + Heirloom Cherry Tomato Tart + Win a copy!

Abrams Books sent me a copy of What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart. 

Ottawa summers are like Zac Ephron: short and hot. California hot. Too hot to think about what to have for dinner, but too short not to make the most of all of the fresh fruits and veggies in season. Luckily people like Gaby Dalkin have done the thinking for us. The LA recipe blogger from What’s Gaby Cooking just released a cookbook with the same name, and it’s full of everyday dishes designed to be made and enjoyed in an easy, carefree, Cali state of mind. The 125+ recipes use fresh seasonal produce and readily available pantry staples for dishes for any occasion, from a day at the beach or a picnic at the park, to a Mexi-Cali fiesta and outdoor pizza party. Nourishing smoothies and salads and veg-and-grain-packed bowls are balanced with indulgent treats like Strawberry Shortcakes, Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares (sooooo deelish!) and a Summer Fruit Galette. Here’s a look inside the book and a recipe to try (we did!), the Heirloom Cherry Tomato Tart. 

“If there’s one thing that California does really, really well — besides yoga pants — it’s produce. It’s just about impossible to go to the market and not get inspired by all the fruits and veggies on offer.” — Gaby Dalkin, What’s Gaby Cooking

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Gaby’s Breakfast Flatbread with Ricotta and Strawberry-Basil Jam uses store-bought pizza dough and a 10-minute jam that can be made in advance.

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“I always hear from people that they’re on the hunt for the perfect meatball recipe because the ones they make are too bready, too beefy, or too dense with just meat,” Gaby says about her Perfect Meatballs with Cherry Tomato Sauce. “Well your search ends here. The key is tossing a combination of beef and pork with panko bread crumbs, which gives the meatballs the perfect texture and balance of flavor.” (Ground turkey can stand in for pork in a pinch.)

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Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Pops, “perfect for summer parties or just passing around on a warm afternoon.”

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And the Heirloom Cherry Tomato Tart on the cover, which I made earlier this week. The three-cheese mixture and fresh herbs make it a pricey dish (less so if you grow your own greens), but it’s tasty and pretty and will make your guests feel loved. The book includes a recipe for ricotta cheese, but I used store-bought.

Heirloom Cherry Tomato Tart

This is the perfect recipe to have in your back pocket when you’re having a vegetarian over for dinner (or lunch or brunch) — or when you just want something super-tasty that doesn’t involve meat. It has a pine nut crust that gets topped with homemade ricotta cheese (such an impressive crowd-pleaser that’s so completely easy) and studded with cherry tomatoes. It’s as delicious as it is gorgeous. Slice it up and serve with a salad alongside.

Serves 6 to 8. Total time: About 2 hours (Prep: 20. Cook: 35 to 40.)

For the dough:

3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

1¼ cups (155 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

Pinch of kosher salt

½ cup (1 stick/155 g) European-style unsalted butter

2 to 4 tablespoons (30 to 60 ml) ice-cold water

For the filling:

1 cup (245 g) fresh ricotta cheese 

4 ounces (115 g) cream cheese, at room temperature

½ cup (50 g) grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the topping:

3 cups (435 g) heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large

1/2 shallot, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the garnishes:

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Handful of microgreens

1/2 cup (20 g) fresh torn basil

1/2 cup (20 g) oregano leaves

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

To make the dough: Place the pine nuts in a spice grinder and grind until pulverized.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, ground pine nuts, and salt. With your hands, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture, leaving some pea-size pieces of butter. Add the cold water starting with 2 tablespoons, stirring with a wooden spoon and gradually adding as much water as you need to bring the dough together without making it too moist.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a disk, wrap it up, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

To make the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, and pecorino with a rubber spatula, blending well. Fold in the lemon zest, lemon juice, basil, and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).

To assemble the tart: Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured work surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12-inch (30.5-cm) circle. Place the dough into a 10-inch (25-cm) nonstick tart pan with a removable bottom, trimming the sides to a ½-inch (12-mm) overhang. Fold in the excess dough and pinch into the sides of the tart. Prick the bottom of the tart all over with a fork. Place the tart pan in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove the tart pan from the freezer and place it on a baking sheet. Line the tart shell with parchment paper or foil and fill with dried beans or baking weights. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment and beans and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes.

To make the topping: In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes and shallots with the oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the tart from the pan and place it on a serving plate. Fill with the cheese mixture and top with the tomato topping.

To garnish: Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts, microgreens, basil, oregano, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and a dusting of pecorino cheese.



For a chance to win a copy of What’s Gaby Cooking (thanks Abrams Books!), tell me what dish says California to you in the comments below. (It could be one mentioned here or another you’ve seen or tried.) This entry is mandatory.

For an additional entry, visit try small things on Facebook and like (or love!) this post and leave a comment, then tell me you did so and your name on Facebook in the comments below. (Shares aren’t necessary, but you know I really appreciate it!) 

And feel free to tweet the following once per day and leave the url for your tweet in the comments below (one entry per tweet). Make sure you’re following try small things on Twitter for your entry to count.

California on your plate! #Win “What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food” from @trysmallthings https://wp.me/p4xBed-6Jc  CAN 7/31 

The contest is open to Canadian residents 18+ excluding Quebec and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on July 31, 2018. The potential winner (chosen at random) must respond to prize notification within 48 hours and provide the correct answer to a skill-testing question, otherwise another winner will be selected.

Update August 2, 2018: Congratulations Victoria S! 

What’s Gaby Cooking recipe and photos shared here with permission from the publisher. Text copyright © 2018 Gaby Dalkin. Cover © 2018 Abrams. Photography © 2018 Matt Armendariz. 

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  1. losingalovedoninyourtwenties

    Looks really good, thanks for sharing.

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