Bryn at Jungle Jim Cooking School

Upcoming cooking class: Pesto!

Join me on Tuesday, September 22, for a fun class at The Cooking School at Jungle Jim’s in Fairfield — we’ll be exploring pesto and talking about its cousins (including romesco, chermoula, pistou and more variations).

You may know pesto as the traditional blend of basil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. This simple idea – herb, nut, cheese – extends to all kinds of ingredients. Explore pesto and other versatile variations to complement any recipe – from pasta salad to grilled meats. We’ll also talk about making and storing big batches of pesto.

  • Bruschetta with Goat Cheese-Tomato Pesto Spread
  • Caprese Salad with Basil Pesto and Fresh Ricotta — learn to make homemade ricotta!
  • Pasta Salad with Shrimp, Cherry Tomatoes and Parsley-Walnut Pesto
  • Grilled Hanger Steak with Romesco
  • Strawberry Fool with Amaretti

Sign up for the class here. See you there!


fresh tomato salad with goat cheese and warm bacon dressing recipe |

BGT salad: bacon, goat cheese and tomato.

This perfect summer tomato salad recipe is inspired by a recent trip to La Soupe to grab a bite for lunch. I had a simple tomato salad with bits of crispy bacon and goat cheese. I got to thinking … what if you used bacon drippings instead of olive oil to make a sort of vinaigrette for fresh tomatoes?

Um, YEAH! Pouring a dressing of warm bacon drippings and balsamic over a pile of perfectly ripe tomatoes coats the tomatoes with flavor and coaxes them into releasing their juices. You can skip the arugula base if you’d like, and just dive into a big bowl of tomatoey-bacony goodness. Goat cheese is delicious here, but you could certainly swap in fresh mozzarella or Feta.

bacon, goat cheese and tomato salad recipe

(serves 2)

1 very large (or 2 medium) ripe heirloom tomato
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Handful baby arugula
1 ounce fresh goat cheese
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the tomato into large chunks and transfer to a bowl; sprinkle well with coarse sea salt. In a small skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings; add the balsamic vinegar to the remaining drippings in the pan. Cook over medium-low heat about 1 minute, until the mixture is hot and syrupy. Pour the hot balsamic-bacon mixture over the tomatoes and stir gently to coat. Let sit for 10 minutes so tomatoes release their juices. Scatter a big handful of baby arugula on a serving platter; top with tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese and bacon. Season well with salt and pepper; serve immediately.

homemade tomato sauce recipe

Classic tomato sauce for canning or freezing.

At the Ohio Ecological Food & Farming Association conference last spring, I attended a session on home canning and food preserving. The speaker shared a simple three-step technique for making tomato sauce, and it struck me as a truly genius recipe for homemade tomato sauce.

Here’s the deal: First, puree whole tomatoes in a blender. Second, run the puree through a food mill to extract the peels and seeds. Third, let this sit overnight to separate some of the liquid before cooking it into sauce.

If you’ve made homemade tomato sauce before, whether you can it in jars or freeze it to enjoy during winter, you know that it’s kind of a pain in the neck. A rewarding one, to be sure — it’s extremely satisfying to see those jars full of deliciousness at the end of the process. Peeling tomatoes is a pain, even if you use a speedier technique like blanching them to slip off their skins. You end up with a lot of waste, because it’s hard to extract every last bit of tomato flesh from those skins. And because the raw tomato mixture is so liquid, it takes a longer time to reduce it to sauce consistency.

This method beats those problems: Pureeing then milling the tomatoes yields every last bit of pulp. (From about 3/4 bushel of tomatoes, I ended up with just 4 cups of seeds/skins.) It’s much easier to mill tomato puree than whole raw tomatoes. Letting the tomato puree sit overnight allows some of the clear tomato broth to settle out so you can skim it off. (Reserve this tomato broth — it’s great for mixing Bloody Marys, cooking rice or making soup.) That step means you start with a more concentrated puree that requires less cooking time to reduce to sauce.

What follows is not so much a recipe for homemade tomato sauce, but more of a technique. Adapt it for a larger or smaller quantity of tomatoes. Tinker with the seasonings as you like. (I’m going to try another batch of homemade tomato sauce with yellow tomatoes and spices, based on this recipe for Spiced Sun Gold Tomato Sauce).

One last tip: Buy “canners” or “uglies” — blemished, overripe or bruised tomatoes — at your farmers’ market. At my market, canners were $1 per pound; I made 7 pints of sauce for $6.

classic Italian tomato sauce

(makes 6–7 pint jars)

You can begin with any quantity of tomatoes and adjust the seasonings as you go. Wash and quarter about 1 bushel ripe red tomatoes. Working in batches, puree the tomatoes in a blender. Transfer the puree to a food mill and, working over a very large bowl, process to remove seeds and skins. When you've processed all the tomatoes, re-process the seeds and skins to extract the maximum amount of pulp. Cover the bowl(s) and refrigerate overnight. From 1 bushel of tomatoes, you may have about 28 cups of liquid.

The next day, skim off all the pulp and some of the juice, leaving about 4 cups of clear liquid behind. (Transfer this tomato broth to a container and freeze for later use.) In a large pot (or 2 medium ones), heat the tomato puree over high heat until boiling; reduce heat and simmer (the mixture should bubble gently) until thickened and reduced by about 1/3, about 90 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste), 1 tablespoon kosher salt (or to taste) and 1 tablespoon dried Italian herb blend (or to taste).

Meanwhile, heat a generous glug of olive oil in a large skillet. Add 1 large onion, minced, and 1 head garlic, minced; season with a generous pinch of salt. Sauté until the vegetables are very soft and translucent but not brown, about 8 minutes. Stir the mixture into the tomato sauce. Continue cooking for 20 minutes blend flavors. Taste and adjust seasonings.

At this point, you can either cool the sauce to portion into freezer-safe jars or bags for freezing, or ladle it into pint or quart jars and process according to instructions at


Fantastic local food fundraiser.

If you’ve been following along here, you know my love for Findlay Market. It’s truly a gem of Cincinnati, a hub where people who grow, produce, raise, sell, buy and love local food come together. Findlay Market is about more than simply transactions, it’s about connections and community.

I’ve been involved in Findlay Market in different ways for many years (including, um, that cookbook I wrote). So you bet I’ll be there for the market’s signature annual fundraising event, Eat Local for the Globe.


It’s such a fun time, a great value (c’mon: where else in town can you enjoy creations by folks like Stephen Williams, Julie Francis, Todd Hudson, Jean-Robert de Cavel, Molly Wellmann and Todd Kelly for $75?) — and a great cause.

Plus, I’ll be there signing cookbooks! Join us, won’t you? Mark Thursday, September 10 on your calendar and get yer tickets now.

tomato salad dressing made in the sunshine |

Fresh tomato salad dressing.

You know how perfectly ripe summer tomatoes taste like sunshine? Well, this super easy salad dressing tastes like sunshine times two.

That’s because those perfectly ripe summer tomatoes, chopped and mixed with garlic and herbs, spend some quality time — again — in the sun. That’s right: You simply mix the ingredients for this fresh tomato salad dressing recipe in a big jar and let it sit in the sunshine for a few hours. Delicious, right?

Even better: this easy tomato dressing is super versatile. Use it on salad, for sure. (During my recent tomato-themed class at the Cooking School at Jungle Jim’s, we served this over grilled romaine with shaved Parmesan — AMAZING!) But also on pasta salad. On grilled fish or chicken. As a dip for pita chips or topping for crusty bread.

Make this tomato dressing recipe while those red beauties are perfectly sun-ripened and the afternoons are long and warm. There’ll never be a better time!

sunny day tomato salad dressing

2 large perfectly ripe, right-out-of-the-garden summer tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 clove garlic, smashed with a pinch of salt to make a paste
2 Tbsp. (packed) chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
pinch of sugar
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine everything together in a lidded glass jar or bottle; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cap the container and place it in a sunny spot [like, I dunno, in your kitchen herb garden?] for 4 or 5 hours. Dressing can be refrigerated, but be sure to serve it at room temperature.

18 best recipes to make this summer.

We’re in prime summer produce season here in the Midwest, when tomatoes are still going strong, sweet corn has a few weeks left, squashes are abundant. I love this time of year, as summer yields to fall and it seems we have the best of both. In that spirit, I give you 18 best summer recipes that you absolutely must make while all this great food is available. Don’t wait: The offerings at your farmers’ market will change before you know it!

baked corn and ricotta dip for tortilla chips |

Creamy baked sweet corn dip.

Into my email inbox last week landed a headline touting grilled sweet corn dip. We’ve been feasting on sweet summer corn in all sorts of ways this summer, so this Saveur recipe totally captured my attention. I hopped down to our neighborhood truck market to pick up several ears of sweet corn to go with the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses I had already on hand.

I tinkered with this recipe quite a bit, primarily by not grilling the corn as instructed. I find grilled corn to be unpleasantly chewy, and I wanted just the pure sweetness of summer corn to come through. I reduced the recipe by two thirds, though you could certainly double or triple the recipe below for a big backyard party.

Corn chips make a sort of meta accompaniment to this corn dip.

creamy baked sweet corn dip

serves 4

2 ears of corn, shucked
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cups ricotta
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Pimenton (smoked paprika) or sweet paprika
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Snipped chives (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a small baking dish with cooking spray. Into a large bowl, grate one ear of corn on a box grater, being sure to extract all the juice. Cut the kernels off the remaining ear of corn into the bowl. Add the cream, ricotta, flour, thyme and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine well. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Top with grated Parmesan, dot with butter and sprinkle liberally with pimenton or paprika. Place the dish on a foil-lined baking dish and bake until the mixture is bubbly and the Parmesan is browned, about 1 hour. Serve with corn tortilla chips.


no-cream creamed corn recipe |

Two-ingredient ‘creamed’ corn.

Do you ever hit on a simple dish and fall so in love with it that you eat it at least once a week?

This summer, this no-cream creamed corn has been in constant rotation on our dinner menu.

My brother first turned me onto this simple cooking technique a couple of summers ago, and then I spotted something similar in The New York Times Cooking app. It’s one of those no-recipe recipes: You can tinker with it and make it your own.

The key is grating fresh corn on the large holes of a box grater. Really go at it: Be sure to get all the kernels plus the soft, starchy goodness nearest the cob and all the milky juices, to boot. That, plus butter (and, OK, two more ingredients: salt and pepper) and you’re good to go.

This creamed corn works perfectly as a “go-under” side dish: as in, it goes under everything, from grilled scallops to sliced grilled pork tenderloin. Last weekend, we used creamed corn as the “grits” in a shrimp-and-grits dinner.

It’s the summertime equivalent of mashed potatoes: starchy, filling, flavorful, with just the right amount of butter to make it satisfying. Give it a whirl!

2-ingredient creamed corn

serves 4

4 large ears fresh summer corn, husks and silks removed
4 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped fresh herbs (optional): thyme, parsley, chives, tarragon

Grate the corn on the large holes of a box grater into a shallow bowl; be sure to grate all the way down to the cob to extract the soft, starchy interior of the kernels and the milky juice. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat; reduce heat to medium-low and add the corn. Add a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring often to prevent scorching, until the corn is warmed through, 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining butter and herbs, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

recipe for white gazpacho with grapes and cucumber |

Cool white gazpacho.

Come summertime, I feast on tomatoes, and gazpacho is one of my favorite ways to use them. Over the years, I’ve shared a couple of recipes for gazpacho, including this super-easy food processor gazpacho and a smooth and creamy gazpacho that’s just as tasty.

Several years ago, I came across a recipe for white gazpacho in an issue of Food & Wine. I dogeared the page and recently made the recipe again. Come to find out, this version with cucumbers, apples and grapes is just as traditional in Spain as the tomato-based gazpacho. Who knew?

I made several adjustments to the original recipe, adding Greek yogurt for example. This soup is bright and flavorful, much more interesting than a basic cold cucumber soup. Give it a try!

Cool white Gazpacho

serves 4

1 cup of bread cubes, cut from stale white bread or a baguette with the crusts removed
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted
1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber
1 green apple, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 cup seedless green grapes
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup good olive oil (plus more for serving)
1–2 tablespoon sherry or champagne vinegar
Salt and pepper (white pepper, if you have it)
Garnishes (see below)

In a small bowl, place the bread cubes; pour the vegetable broth over and let sit while you peel/chop/prep the rest of the ingredients. In another small bowl, whisk together the milk and Greek yogurt until perfectly smooth.

Transfer bread cubes and any remaining broth, the almonds, chopped cucumber, apple, grapes, garlic and olive oil to a blender. Puree until very smooth. Place a strainer over a large bowl and pour the soup through, pressing firmly on the solids to extract as much liquid and flavor as possible. (I found that I had about 1 cup of solids left in the strainer, so I ran that back through the blender and again through the strainer to get as much liquid as I could.) Whisk in the yogurt mixture and 1 tablespoon of vinegar; add 1/4 tsp. of table salt and a pinch of pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a splash more vinegar if you want more tartness.


  • snipped fresh chives
  • thyme leaves and flowers
  • nasturtium flowers
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • teeny, tiny dice of cucumber
  • a sprinkling of toasted sliced almonds
  • very fine, toasted breadcrumbs

Join me for a cooking class next week.

It’s tomato season, people! Looking for fun ways to use this summer’s best produce, plus tips to stash tomatoes for those dreary days of winter?

Join me on Thursday, August 6 at The Cooking School at Jungle Jim’s for a demonstration class on all things tomato, from appetizer to main course to, yes, dessert! On the menu:

  • Crostini with whipped goat cheese and oven-dried tomato pesto
  • Crisp green salad with sunny day tomato dressing
  • Pasta with no-cook tomato sauce
  • Summer corn and tomato pie — one of my very favorite recipes ever!
  • Heirloom tomato sorbetto from The Findlay Market Cookbook

Class begins at 6:00, and there are just a couple of spots left. (Psst! There’s wine!) You can learn more and register here. And check the sidebar at right for more upcoming classes and events!