Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens? Why Not?!

The recipe below is one of the many wonderful and fun recipes in Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens by Chef Jennifer Schaertl.  It’s just one of the many fun, delicious, and creative recipes in the chef’s first book.

My Big Fat Greek Salad Recipe

The colorful fresh veggies in this recipe make the presentation beautiful on its own, and its mixture of flavors and textures makes it impressive for the most discerning guests.

Serves 8

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced anchovy (1 or 2)
1/4 cup fresh oregano
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup diced English cucumber
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for garnish
1 cup thinly sliced romaine lettuce (use your bread knife to make thin slices from a head of romaine)
4 slices sourdough bread, toasted

1.  In your blender, pulse the mustard, anchovy, and oregano until mixed. Add the sherry vinegar and pulse until well combined. While blending at medium speed, drizzle in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
2.  In a large bowl, toss the cucumber, tomato, onion, olives, feta cheese, and romaine with 1/2 cup of the dressing. Taste the salad to see if it needs more dressing, salt, or pepper.
3.   Mound the salad in a large serving bowl. Cut the toasted bread into wedges, tuck the wedges around, and garnish it with more crumbled feta. For individual portions, hold the toasted bread wedge in the center of each small plate, and pile the salad high around it. This makes each plate look like a sailboat. You could also serve individual salad portions in margarita or martini glasses with the toast jutting out like a sail.
4.  Store the leftover dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can toss the leftover salad as well as the dressing with some pasta for a great Greek pasta salad.

This is Chef Jennifer Schaertl’s cookbook debut but I’m certain it won’t be her last.  Everything about the cookbook has a super cool vibe – from the title and the cover to the recipe names to the recipes.

As for the cookbook’s title, it’s because the concept behind the book is that you don’t have to have a huge, tech-licious, gadget-filled dream kitchen to turn out great food. Chef Jennifer Schaertl believes that “…..cooking in a crappy little kitchen builds character and personality – two attributes of downright delicious gourmet meals.” Learning from her own experiences cooking in a crappy little kitchen in her first tiny apartment in Brooklyn, Jennifer created Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens

Jennifer begins the book with The Art of Cooking in Your Crappy Little Kitchen, covering topics such as:

  • CLK Basics
  • It’s Not What You Have, It’s How You Use It
  • The CLK Pantry
  • Preventing Crappy Little Casualties
  • Nine Gourmet Rules

Recipes cover everything needed to create a delicious meal, including “A”-Game Appetizers, Toss Everything but These Salads, Dignified One-Pot Creations, Artful Accompaniments, Saucy Sauces, and Desserts to Die For. The fun Jennifer had creating recipes in her own crappy little kitchen shows through in every page. She makes home-cooking an adventure with recipes such as:

  • When the Saints Come Marchin’ in Gumbo
  • Smokin’ Leftover Turkey Soup
  • Scallops Ceviche
  • Hot-and-Bothered Dragonfly Prawns
  • Wassup! Wasabi Chicken Salad
  • Caramelized Fennel and Goat Cheese with Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette
  • Hunka Hunka Monkfish
  • The Perfect Pot Roast
  • Snake-Charmin’ Moroccan Lamb Chops
  • Barbequeless Barbequed Salmon
  • Rum-Infused, Caramelized Pork Chops
  • Leaning Tower of Tofu Lasagna Stacks
  • The-Morning-After Pasta Frittata
  • The Best Paella You’ll Ever Eat
  • Rock-‘n’-Roasted Vegetables
  • Butternutty Squash Bread Pudding
  • Under-the-Sea Timables
  • Fig and Lavender Honey Yogurt Pie
  • Coconut Poached Pears with Burgundy Sauce

Packed with color photos, line drawings, interactive sidebars, and chef tips and information, readers of GOURMET MEALS IN CRAPPY LITTLE KITCHENS will learn:

  • Why a Crappy Little Kitchen can actually be an asset, not a liability
  • The must-haves for every Crappy Little Kitchen pantry
  • Crappy Kitchen Saboteurs: Pointless items that eat up small spaces
  • How to enhance the functionality of your Crappy Little Kitchen space—emphasizing the surprising attributes of working in a small kitchen, plus space-saving ideas that help expand space and utility, allowing for the creation of the most complex dishes
  • How to double or triple the function of utensils to eliminate clutter
  • Swap It Skills: Replacing hard-to-find, gourmet ingredients with everyday items without sacrificing taste
  • How to cohabitate in Crappy Little Kitchens—Jennifer tells readers how to share the tight space and avoid Crappy Little Casualties with chef-proven techniques she learned working in busy and cramped restaurant kitchens
  • Ways to create beautiful plating presentations with secretly guarded tricks of the trade

“Don’t fall prey to the misconception that having a crappy little kitchen limits your possibilities or confines your pallet,” Jennifer explains. “In fact, the opposite is true. My own experiences shows fine food and cramped kitchen quarters are not mutually exclusive. Remember, what sets your Crappy Little Kitchen apart from all the others, is the gourmet chef – – you.”

Jennifer Schaertl met her first crappy little kitchen when she moved to New York and found the perfect brownstone apartment in Brooklyn. After all her worldly possessions arrived, she found out just how small 300 square feet truly was. Armed with determination, Jennifer learned a million little tricks in her crappy little kitchen. And so “Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens” was born. Deciding to become a chef, she moved back to Texas to study culinary arts at El Centro in Dallas, where she received a technical education about cooking, food style, and preparation, as well as Old World knowledge about recipes and techniques. Jennifer’s first job inside a professional crappy little kitchen was actually that of a dishwasher, where she eventually worked her way up to sous chef. Since that humble beginning Jennifer has worked as a chef in some of Dallas’ top restaurants, including Savory, Taste, and The Grape, and even as a pastry chef at Suze, all the while creating and documenting her own recipes both for her restaurant menus and her family gatherings. A native of Texas, Jennifer Schaertl now lives in Dallas working as an Executive Chef at the North Central Surgical Center. She has already completed the pilot episode of the television series Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens. To view this episode and join her monthly mailing list “The Crappy Little Newsletter,” visit www.crappylittlekitchens.com. From here you can also see her latest press, and get recipes and CLK tips.

Grab a copy of Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens on Amazon today!

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  1. says

    I love the sound of this salad! I was going to make a greek roasted chicken tomorrow and this just gives me the perfect side salad. Thanks for sharing the recipe and your thoughts on this book.


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