Baker and Cookbook Author Vallery Lomas Knows How to Make Weeknight Dinners Easy—Get Her Tips Here
Lawyer-turned baker, winner of The Great American Baking Show, and author of the new book Life Is What You Bake It: Recipes, Stories, & Inspiration to Bake Your Way to the Top ($21.96, amazon.com), Vallery Lomas laughs when asked about what she cooks for weeknight dinners. "My strategy is, you make dinner; I'll make dessert!" We'd gladly take her up on that offer. Her book brims with mouthwatering recipes for Candied Sweet Potato Pie, Cranberry Orange Torte, Raspberry Coffee Cake, and more. All kidding aside, though, Lomas may be a great baker, equally adept at classics and witty reinventions of them, but everyone's got to eat dinner. That includes her. And most of the time, that means simple, unfussy meals that are familiar and comforting at the end of the day.
What You Can Do with Pie Dough
Take, for example, Lomas' Cake Pan Quiche Lorraine. She learned how to make it when she was living in France, and it's as simple as unrolling a round of pie crust (store-bought is fine) and fitting it into a pan with some whisked eggs, cream, cheese and crisped pancetta or bacon. And in a brilliant twist, Lomas bakes the quiche in a cake pan since she finds a tart pan too shallow to hold in all the delicious possible fillings. Another one of her go-tos you can also make with store-bought pie dough? Crawfish Hand Pies. You can use shrimp if you can't find crawfish, and Lomas describes the dish as basically an étouffée encased in a crust—"it's baked deliciousness," she says. If you have leftover filling, it's terrific the next night over rice or any other grain.
Don't Make Everything
Lomas is also a big fan of partially homemade weeknight dinners. For instance, she'll serve lentils with a jarred Indian simmer sauce, and then she'll make homemade hush puppies or cornbread to go with it. Or she'll bake dinner rolls when she has extra time, freeze them, and then just refresh them in a hot oven later. "It allows you to have a homemade element, even if the rest of the dinner wasn't from scratch," she says.
Breakfast for Dinner
Like many of us, Lomas also loves breakfast for dinner. Scrambled eggs with grits, or pancakes are two of her favorites, and her book includes recipes for both a Bananas Foster Oven-Baked Pancake, as well as Crispy-Ridge Buttermilk Pancakes.
One more piece of advice? It's perfectly wonderful to eat leftovers for dinner—and make dessert.