The Dish: Hollywood food stylist Susan Spungen previews "casual" recipes from her new cookbook

Food stylist previews recipes in new cookbook

Born in Philadelphia, Susan Spungen turned her love of food into a career as a magazine editor at "Martha Stewart Living." She produced, cooked and styled tasty creations right from the publication's first issue.

Spungen then made the leap to Hollywood where she became a top Hollywood food consultant and stylist, working on "Julie and Julia," "Eat Pray Love," and other hits. She is also the author of several cookbooks, including her latest: "Open Kitchen: Inspired Recipes for Casual Gatherings," to be published on March 3.

She joined "CBS This Morning: Saturday" to preview some of her favorite recipes from the highly-anticipated book.


WINTER CITRUS SALAD WITH RED ENDIVE, AVOCADO, DATES, AND OLIVES (serves 4 to 6)

Ingredients:

  • 2 blood oranges
  • 1 Cara Cara orange
  • 1 Minneola tangelo
  • 2 Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped
  • ½ cup pitted black oil-cured olives, finely chopped
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon citrus juice (from the fruit) 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 heads Belgian endive, preferably red, petals separated
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and sliced
  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts 
  • Flaky sea salt
winter-citrus-salad.jpg
"Open Kitchen" by Susan Spungen

Directions:

Zest one of the oranges into a small bowl. Peel all of the citrus, removing all of the white pith. Cut some of the fruit into wheels and supreme the others (cut the sections of fruit out, leaving the membrane and pith behind). Remove any seeds. Set aside.

Into the bowl with the zest, add the dates, olives, shallot, parsley, vinegar, oil, orange zest, and citrus juice and season with pepper.

Spread out the endive petals in a large, shallow serving bowl. Arrange the avocado over the endive and spread the citrus over the top. Spoon half of the date mixture over the top and sprinkle with the walnuts and some flaky salt and pepper. Serve the remaining date mixture on the side.

TIMING TIPS:

  • Up to 1 day ahead: Make the dressing; store in the fridge.
  • Up to a few hours before: Prep the citrus and endive; toast the walnuts.
  • At the last minute: Cut up the avocado and assemble the salad.

WHIPPED GOAT CHEESE TOAST WITH PEAS, SHALLOTS, AND BACON (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon (3 to 4 ounces) cut into ½-inch crosswise strips
  • 2 small shallots, cut into rings (about 1⁄3 cup)
  • 1 cup shelled or frozen peas
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices crusty bread
  • ½ cup Whipped Goat Cheese
  • Fresh tarragon or basil leaves

WHIPPED GOAT CHEESE (makes about 1 cup)

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces soft goat cheese
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons milk, as needed  
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

Combine the goat cheese, 6 tablespoons milk, and oil in the bowl of a food processor and process until completely silky smooth. Add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to thin to a creamy, spreadable consistency. Season to taste with salt. Chill until needed.

TIMING TIPS:

  • Up to 1 hour ahead: Make the pea mixture.
  • Up to 2 days ahead of time: Make the Whipped Goat Cheese.
  • At the last minute: Toast the bread.

NOTE: Though the pea topping can be made an hour ahead of time, it's nice to warm it up again just before serving.


TOMATO TOAST WITH LABNEH AND HARISSA (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices good bread, preferably with sesame seeds
  • ¾ cup labneh or plain Greek yogurt, any fat content
  • Harissa, to taste 
  • Olive oil, to taste
  • 1 recipe Oven-Dried Cherry Tomatoes
  • Fresh mint leaves Flaky sea salt

Directions:

Toast or grill the bread and spread each slice with 2 to 3 tablespoons labneh. If your harissa is a thick paste, thin it out with oil and drizzle the harissa over the labneh.

Top with the tomatoes and mint leaves and sprinkle with flaky salt.

OVEN-DRIED CHERRY TOMATOES (makes about 1 cup)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (½ pint) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Scant ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (not only to keep your pan clean, but also   to avoid any reaction between the metal pan and the acidic tomatoes).

Toss the tomatoes with the oil, salt, and pepper to taste right on the baking sheet. Spread them out evenly cut-sides up.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the tomatoes are wrinkly on the edges and just starting to brown on the bottom. Timing will vary based on the juiciness and size of the tomatoes. Let cool slightly, and use warm or cold.

TIMING TIPS:

  •  Up to 1-2 days ahead: Make the oven-dried cherry tomatoes (store in a flat, airtight container and bring back to room temperature before serving)
  • At the last minute: Toast the bread and assemble the toasts.

KALE TOAST (serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale (about 1 pound)
  • 1¾ teaspoons salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 thick slices ciabatta or similar airy, chewy bread

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Choose 6 nice small kale leaves and set them aside. Strip the stems from the remaining leaves. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon of the salt.

Blanch the kale and garlic until the kale is wilted and bright green, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Put the garlic cloves in a food processor and squeeze all the water out of the kale. Transfer to the food processor along with ½ cup of the oil and ½ teaspoon of the remaining salt.

Rub the reserved kale leaves lightly with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Put them on a small baking sheet and bake, turning occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until crisp and barely browned. Time will vary depending on the thickness of the leaves, and the leaves will crisp a bit more as they cool. Toast or grill the bread. Warm the kale puree and spoon it over the toast slices. Top each with a kale leaf.

TIMING TIPS:

  • Up to 2 days ahead: Make the kale puree.
  • Up to 1 day ahead: Make the crisp kale leaves.
  • At the last minute: Top the toast with the puree and garnish.

ROASTED TOMATO AND BURRATA TOAST (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 4 small brown tomatoes (such as Kumato or Brunetta), cut in half crosswise
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • Freshly ground black pepper olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, slivered 4 slices crusty bread
  • 8 ounces burrata cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves, preferably opal

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sprinkle the tomatoes with the salt, season with pepper, and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with the garlic.

Spread out over the prepared baking sheet and roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes, until shriveled but still juicy. Let cool slightly, then slip off the skins.

Toast or grill the bread. Tear the cheese into pieces and top the bread with it. Top each piece of bread with 2 tomato slices. Drizzle with more oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tear the basil leaves over the top.

TIMING TIPS:

  • Up to 1 day ahead: Roast the tomatoes; warm slightly before serving.
  • At the last minute: Toast the bread and assemble the toasts.

NOT-FRIED EGGPLANT PARM (serves 4 to 6)

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • 4 small (8 to 12 ounces each) Italian or graffiti eggplants
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe for basic tomato sauce (below)
  • 6 cups torn airy bread, such as ciabatta, hard crusts removed
  • 2 cups fresh mini San Marzano, cherry, or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 8  ounces burrata cheese 
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
not-fried-eggplant-parm.jpg
"Open Kitchen" by Susan Spungen

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease a baking sheet with oil and set aside.

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise (I like to leave the stems on not only for looks but to hold the flesh together). Score the cut sides lightly in a crisscross pattern, sprinkle with the salt and some pepper, and brush with 2 tablespoons of the oil.

Arrange cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until soft and turning golden and creamy but not totally collapsing (remember, you'll be cooking them again).

Arrange the eggplant halves cut-side up in 2 large baking dishes, leaving plenty of space between them. Spread the tomato sauce on top of the eggplant and dribble it around the bottom of the dish too. Arrange the torn bread in between the eggplant, then do the same with the tomatoes. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with the red pepper flakes and Parmigiano cheese.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven. Tear the burrata and sprinkle it all over the eggplant. Continue baking for 5 to 10 minutes more, until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown. Top with the basil leaves and serve immediately.

TIMING TIPS:

  • Up to 3 days ahead: Make the tomato sauce; refrigerate.
  • Up to 1 day ahead: Roast the eggplant; refrigerate.
  • Up to 4 hours ahead: Assemble the dish; refrigerate (If done only 1 hour ahead, you can leave at room temperature).
  • At the last minute: Bake the assembled eggplant dish.

BASIC TOMATO SAUCE (makes about 2 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • One 26- to 28-ounce can or box chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 or 3 fresh basil leaves, torn

Directions:

Heat a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, followed by the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until light golden.

Add the tomatoes and water (rinse out the can or box) and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a low, steady simmer. Add the salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper to taste, and the basil. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until slightly thickened but still a little loose.



PINK PASTA
(serves 6 to 8)

Ingredients:

  • Unsalted butter, for the baking dish
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick wedges
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 large head radicchio, cored and sliced into ½-inch-thick ribbons
  • Salt
  • 8 ounces soft goat cheese
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 pound short pasta, such as gemelli, strozzapreti, or penne
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into bite-size pieces (optional)
  • 6 ounces fontina cheese, cut into
  • ½-inch cubes
  • Generous gratings of nutmeg 10 to 12 grinds black pepper
  • 1 fluffy cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1 ounce)

Directions:

pink-pasta.jpg
"Open Kitchen" by Susan Spungen

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a large (3-quart) baking dish and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until lightly browned and softened, 10 to 12 minutes total. After the first 7 minutes, add the garlic.

Add the radicchio and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Crumble in the goat cheese, add the cream, and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Cook the pasta in a pot of liberally salted water until shy of al dente. You want it a little firmer than usual, as it will continue to soften while baking. Scoop out 1 cup of the pasta water, drain pasta, and add the pasta and the water to the skillet with the vegetables, stirring.

Fold in the prosciutto (if using) and two-thirds of the fontina cheese. Toss well and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Dot the top with the remaining fontina cheese and sprinkle with the Parmigiano cheese.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling at the edges. Serve immediately. Alternatively, let the assembled dish cool, cover with foil, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Take out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before baking and bake 45 to 50 minutes.

TIMING TIP:

  • The entire dish can be made and assembled 1 day ahead. Refrigerate until 1 hour before ready to bake.


WHOLE MEYER LEMON MERINGUE BARS
(makes 12 to 16)

Ingredients (CRUST):

  • 9 whole graham crackers (1 package), broken into pieces (or 1½ cups crumbs)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients (FILLING):

  • 1 whole (preferably organic) Meyer lemon, scrubbed
  • Juice of ½ regular lemon (1 tablespoon)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • Pinch of salt

Ingredients (MERINGUE TOPPING):

  • 4 large egg whites 
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
lemon-meringue-bars.jpg
"Open Kitchen" by Susan Spungen

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8" by 8" baking pan with two pieces of parchment trimmed to fit, going in both directions, with some extra hanging over for easy removal of the bars later.

To make the crust: Place the graham crackers, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until fine crumbs form. Add the melted butter and pulse until well blended.  It should look and feel like wet sand. Transfer to the prepared pan and mix it up with your hands to make sure the butter is well distributed. Press into the pan, going up the sides a bit, and bake for 10 minutes, or until just golden. Let cool while you make the filling.

To make the filling: Trim the stem end of the whole lemon and cut it into 8 pieces. Remove the seeds. Add to a blender jar (preferably of a high speed blender) along with the lemon juice, egg yolks, butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt and blend until very smooth. Pour over the crust (it's OK if it's still warm) and bake for 30 minutes, or until it is bubbling and browning around the edges. It won't look at all set, but it will set up as it cools. Place on a cooling rack. After about 10 minutes, run a small, sharp knife around the edges. Cool completely, then chill until cold. When completely chilled, carefully remove the parchment and, using a spatula, transfer to a small baking sheet (you can do this just before adding the topping).

Up to a few hours before serving, make the topping: Combine the egg whites, sugar, vanilla, and salt in the metal bowl of a stand mixer (or just use a metal bowl if using a hand mixer) and set over a pan of simmering water. Keep the mixture moving, hand-holding the whisk attachment until the sugar is completely melted and it's hot to the touch, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a stand mixer and beat on high speed until glossy and very stiff, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the top of the lemon bars, smooth out, and use a large serving fork to create a pattern in the meringue.

When you're ready to finish, preheat the broiler and position a rack in upper third of oven.

Place under the broiler briefly, watching carefully (or, alternatively, use a kitchen torch), to brown the meringue. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into 12 to 16 squares, depending on how large you want them.

TIMING TIPS:

  • Up to 2 days ahead: Bake the base of the bars, reserving the egg whites in a clean glass or metal  container. Store both in the fridge.
  • Up to 2 hours ahead: Make the meringue and toast it under the broiler. They hold up surprisingly well for a few days in the fridge but are best eaten right away.