Once Upon a Chef - Jennifer Segal

Once Upon a Chef: The Cookbook: 100 Tested, Perfected, and Family-Approved Recipes by Jennifer Segal provides the reader the tools needed to improve their cooking one recipe at a time, with helpful tips on topics such as how to season correctly with salt, how to balance flavors, and how to make the most of leftovers.

The author went to culinary school and worked in fancy restaurants before marriage and having two children. She created her blog, Once Upon a Chef, to share her culinary skills with readers so that they too can prepare delicious, fresh, family-friendly meals. Today, Jenn cooks dinner for her family every night and in her debut cookbook she shares 100 recipes that will up your kitchen game and surprise you with their ease and bold flavors. 

Written with the authority of a chef but in a style of teacher, Jenn provides a wealth of information on ingredients, make ahead tips and more. Measurements are provided in both weight and volume and the author's headnotes are helpful and tell the story of the dish. Recipes range from homespun Savory ham & cheese waffles to creating your own Garlic & herb ciabatta. Step-by-step pictorials for Spanakopita rolls, Braided honey challah to Almost Southern buttermilk biscuits are included. 

The novice cook will appreciate the care and detail Jenn provides and the more experienced cook, like myself, will appreciate the pro tips and range of recipes. Overall, this is a beautiful book filled with stunning photographs and recipes for every occasion.

Special thanks to Chronicle Books for sharing the following three recipes with our members today and for providing three copies of this book in our contest below. Jenn's events are available on our calendar.  


Black bean & corn salad with chipotle honey vinaigrette
Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

PERHAPS THE BEST COMPLIMENT this salad ever received was from one of my readers, who confessed to me, "I'm having an affair with this salad . . . please don't tell anyone." Another reader told me that she made this salad for a party, and later found one of her guests in her study, printing out copies of the recipe to hand out. It's just one of those crowd-pleasing, make-ahead recipes that everyone loves. Whether I serve it as a salad with grilled chicken or as a dip with tortilla chips (highly recommend!), the bowl is always empty and the plates are always full.

Serves 6


  • 2 ears fresh corn
  • 1 cup [140 g] finely chopped red onion
  • One 15½-oz [445-g] can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup [10 g] loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, plus a bit more for garnish
  • 1 avocado


  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, from 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp [90 ml] vegetable oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 small chipotle chiles in adobo sauce from a can

1. To make the salad: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the corn, cover, and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the corn from the pot and let cool.

2. Meanwhile, place the chopped red onion in a small bowl and cover with water. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then drain completely in a sieve and set aside.

3. One at a time, holding the cooled corn upright in a large bowl, cut the kernels off the cobs in strips.

4. Add the beans, onion, bell pepper, and cilantro to the corn.

5. To make the dressing: In a blender or mini food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine all of the ingredients and process until smooth.

6. Pour the dressing over the bean and corn mixture and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight.

7. Right before serving, cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Using a butter knife, cut a grid in each half. Holding each avocado half over the salad, use a spoon to scoop out the diced flesh. Toss the salad gently, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary (I usually add a squeeze of fresh lime to freshen it up). Garnish with a bit of fresh chopped cilantro, if desired. Serve cold.

MAKE AHEAD: This salad is best made a day ahead of time, but wait to add the avocado until right before serving.

heads up: Allow at least 1 hour for this salad to chill in the refrigerator.

sourcing savvy: Canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are small dried and smoked peppers (usually red jalapeños) that come in a spicy, smoky tomato sauce. You can find them in the Latin section of most supermarkets. Once you open a can, you can transfer any remaining chiles to a plastic or glass container and store in the refrigerator for up to a month, or freeze in a sealable plastic bag for up to 6 months.

pro tips:  When boiling corn on the cob, be sure to add enough salt that the water tastes like the sea. Try adding a few tablespoons of sugar to the water as well-you'll be amazed by how much it enhances the corn's sweetness. Or, if you don't want to steam up the kitchen, you can roast the corn. To remove the sharp taste from raw onions, soak them in cold water for about 10 minutes, then drain.

Honey's coconut cupcakes
Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

THEY SAY THAT TRAITS usually skip a generation, but in my case they skipped two. My great-grandmother, who was called "Honey" by everyone who knew her, was a baker and caterer. She baked cakes for the whole city of Buffalo, New York, and was especially well known for her coconut cake. Unfortunately, she left no real recipe when she passed, only scribbled notes on an old index card from my mom's green tin recipe box. Once I became the family baker, I took it upon myself to recreate Honey's famous coconut cake. I could never get it quite as "coconut-y" as the original but, finally, I nailed it. The trick was adding coconut milk and shredded coconut to both the cake and the frosting. Makes 24 cupcakes


  • 1 cup [240 ml] canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, from
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups [315 g] all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup [30 g] cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) [220 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups [400 g] granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup [85 g] sweetened shredded coconut


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) [110 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 oz [170 g] cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 cups [460 g] confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup [60 ml] canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 1-1/2 cups [130 g] sweetened shredded coconut, for topping

 Pro Tip: Adding cornstarch to the flour mimics cake flour, which makes a lighter and more delicate cake.

1. To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C] and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Lightly spray the top of the pans with a nonstick cooking spray with flour, such as Baker's Joy or Pam Baking Spray with Flour, just in case the cupcake tops stick to the pan (don't worry if the spray gets in the liners).

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk and lemon juice. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

5. Turn the speed down to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the coconut milk-lemon juice mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add another one-third of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining coconut milk-lemon juice mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture, then scrape down the bowl and beat again until the batter is just combined. Quickly mix in the shredded coconut; do not overmix.

6. Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake pans, filling each cup about three-fourths full. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, until the cupcakes are set, lightly golden, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean (note that one pan may finish baking before the other). Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

7. To make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), beat the butter and cream cheese until creamy and well combined. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar, and then beat in the vanilla, coconut milk, and salt.

8. When the cupcakes are completely cooled, use a butter knife or small offset spatula to swirl the frosting lavishly over the top. Sprinkle with the shredded coconut, pressing it gently so it adheres, and serve.

MAKE AHEAD: The cupcakes can be made and frosted up to 1 day ahead of time. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Maryland-style crab cakes with quick tartar sauce
Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

heads up: Allow 1 hour for the crab cakes to set in the refrigerator before cooking.

WHEN YOU LIVE IN MARYLAND, eating Chesapeake blue crabs is practically a religion-and in my family, we are all loyal devotees. Every summer, we hit all of our favorite crab shacks, from local joints all the way to the Eastern Shore, where you can look out over the bay and put your feet in the sand.

I'd never attempt making steamed crabs at home. Live crabs, giant steamers-yikes! But I do often make Maryland-style crab cakes, which are just as delicious and easier to prepare (not to mention eat). These are made with fresh lump crabmeat and just enough filler to bind the crabmeat together. I love them with the Quick Tartar Sauce below, but you can also serve them with lemon wedges or cocktail sauce.

Celery is not traditional in Maryland crab cakes, but I love the little crunch it adds. Feel free to leave it out if you're a purist. Makes 12 mini crab cakes

sourcing savvy: If you can only find jumbo lump crabmeat, you may need to break the pieces up a bit. If the clumps are too large, the crab cakes won't hold together well.


  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's, Best Foods, or Duke's
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup [30 g] finely diced celery (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 lb [455 g] lump crabmeat
  • 1/2 cup [30 g] panko
  • Vegetable or canola oil, for cooking


  • 1 cup [240 g] mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's, Best Foods, or Duke's
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp minced red onion
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, from
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.

2. To make the crab cakes: Combine the eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, Old Bay, salt, celery (if using), and parsley in a large bowl and mix well. Add the crabmeat (be sure to check it for any cartilage) and panko; gently fold the mixture together until just combined, being careful not to shred the crabmeat. Shape into 12 mini crab cakes, about ¼ cup [50 g] each, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

3. Preheat a large nonstick pan over medium heat and coat with oil. When the oil is hot, place the crab cakes in the pan and cook until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Be careful, as the oil may splatter.

4. Meanwhile, make the tartar sauce: Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

5. Serve the crab cakes warm with the tartar sauce. MAKE AHEAD: The crab cakes can be formed, covered, and refrigerated a day ahead of time before cooking. The tartar sauce can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.

Recipes reprinted from Once Upon a Chef by Jennifer Segal with permission from Chronicle Books. Photography by Alexandra Grablewski. 


The publisher is offering three copies of this book to EYB Members in the US and Canada. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on July 17th, 2018.


  • jigglesfrog  on  5/30/2018 at 6:46 PM

    Deviled eggs with candied bacon & chives

  • Laura1  on  5/30/2018 at 6:47 PM

    Mini savory cheddar dijon scones

  • lean1  on  5/30/2018 at 6:52 PM

    Middle Eastern Chopped Salad sounds like a good place to start. All the recipes look terrific!

  • ravensfan  on  5/30/2018 at 7:00 PM

    Maryland-style crab cakes with quick tartar sauce

  • Kristjudy  on  5/30/2018 at 7:07 PM

    Grilled beef satay

  • MadMom  on  5/30/2018 at 7:18 PM

    The salad looks delicious, or the grilled beef satay, or any of the recipes!

  • Angryyew  on  5/30/2018 at 7:23 PM

    Cajun spiced popcorn.

  • southerncooker  on  5/30/2018 at 7:29 PM

    Lots of ones to choose from in this book that I'd make. Black bean & corn salad with chipotle honey vinaigrette sounds delightful.

  • lauriesk  on  5/30/2018 at 8:15 PM

    I would try first the Warm caramelized onion & Gruyère dip.

  • Quitecontrary  on  5/30/2018 at 9:28 PM

    Eggplant and chickpea tapenade

  • eatysmith  on  5/30/2018 at 9:34 PM

    "Which recipe in the index of this book would you like to try first?" Sweet, salty, spicy pecans!

  • lpatterson412  on  5/30/2018 at 9:59 PM

    Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce!

  • davisesq212  on  5/30/2018 at 10:14 PM

    Braided honey challah please!

  • matag  on  5/30/2018 at 10:14 PM

    Moroccan-style brisket with dried fruits & capers

  • JRumi  on  5/31/2018 at 7:33 AM

    Blueberry scones with tart lemon glaze

  • smartie101  on  5/31/2018 at 11:07 AM

    peanut butter granola bars

  • sgump  on  5/31/2018 at 11:36 AM

    I'd try L'Auberge Chez François herbed cottage cheese spread (trusting that all one needs is a knife and a bowl).

  • janv  on  5/31/2018 at 1:33 PM

    Andouille sausage & shrimp gumbo

  • ktwalla  on  5/31/2018 at 2:10 PM

    Blueberry Scones with Tart Lemon Glaze

  • lhudson  on  5/31/2018 at 2:12 PM

    Maryland-style crab cakes with quick tartar sauce

  • sarahawker  on  5/31/2018 at 3:23 PM

    Addictive almond biscotti

  • contest718  on  5/31/2018 at 4:57 PM

    Ahi tuna poke with avocado & rice crackers

  • JulieQC  on  5/31/2018 at 5:17 PM

    Cheesecake ice cream

  • jlemoine  on  5/31/2018 at 7:18 PM

    There is so much that looks delicious but I would have to say the Peruvian chicken with green sauce would be my first pick.

  • MiMi60  on  5/31/2018 at 7:56 PM

    I think Sausage & cheddar bread pudding would be so nice for a Sunday breakfast.

  • topdawg11  on  6/1/2018 at 8:29 AM

    Joanne's refrigerator dill pickles.

  • bching  on  6/1/2018 at 10:00 AM

    It's summer and tomato sandwiches really appeal to me, so I would first make the tomato, avocado, bacon, and pickled onion sandwic.

  • RSW  on  6/1/2018 at 1:25 PM

    Autumn curried carrot & sweet potato soup

  • Blacey  on  6/1/2018 at 7:06 PM

    Honey's Coconut Cupcakes

  •  on  6/1/2018 at 9:46 PM

    I want to make braided honey challah

  • riley  on  6/2/2018 at 2:33 AM

    I would make Joanne's refrigerator dil pickles as my farmers market has baby cucumbers.

  • Frogcake  on  6/2/2018 at 7:12 AM

    I will be making Honey’s coconut cupcakes.

  • ebs  on  6/2/2018 at 8:29 PM

    Nutty wild rice salad with dried cranberries, apples and orange vinaigrette

  • jmay42066  on  6/3/2018 at 12:40 PM

    Maryland-style crab cakes with quick tartar sauce

  • rivergait  on  6/3/2018 at 12:46 PM

    Black bean and corn salad...first produce ready to come out of my summer garden. Looks beautiful!

  • t.t  on  6/3/2018 at 3:40 PM

    Persian kofta with tzatziki

  • Nancith  on  6/3/2018 at 3:49 PM

    Soft and fluffy pull-apart dinner rolls sound delish.

  • rchesser  on  6/3/2018 at 7:29 PM

    Savory Ham & Cheese Waffles.

  • kmn4  on  6/3/2018 at 8:00 PM

    Chilled cucumber & yogurt soup

  • hillsboroks  on  6/4/2018 at 8:52 AM

    Honey's Coconut Cupcakes would be my first choice.

  • EmilyR  on  6/4/2018 at 1:20 PM

    Warm caramelized onion & Gruyère dip

  • Katiefayhutson  on  6/7/2018 at 5:21 PM

    Peanut butter granola bars

  • mpdeb98  on  6/7/2018 at 9:38 PM

    Warm caramelized onion & Gruyère dip

  • bangss  on  6/9/2018 at 6:42 PM

    I've been looking for a really good recipe for pickled red onions!

  • Shipley90  on  6/9/2018 at 10:54 PM

    I really want to try the Spaghetti with kale & walnut pesto!

  • infotrop  on  6/10/2018 at 2:09 PM

    Sparkling white sangria with nectarines, oranges & frozen grapes sounds perfect for a backyard BBQ

  • LaurenE  on  6/10/2018 at 3:15 PM

    Warm caramelized onion & Gruyère dip

  • ket06e  on  6/11/2018 at 8:30 AM

    Thai Crunch Salad!

  • lindaeatsherbooks  on  6/11/2018 at 5:04 PM

    I want to make the Grilled beef satay with peanut sauce.

  • ckbkcollector  on  6/11/2018 at 9:01 PM

    Thai crunch salad with peanut dressing

  • NaomiH  on  6/14/2018 at 10:28 AM

    Peruvian chicken with green sauce (Pollo a la brasa)

  • vinochic  on  6/14/2018 at 2:25 PM

    Roasted eggplant and chickpea tapenade

  • Lucicat  on  6/15/2018 at 11:23 PM

    Chilled cucumber & yogurt soup

  • debbiehb  on  6/16/2018 at 6:42 AM

    Maryland-style crab cakes with quick tartar sauce

  • Shelley.b  on  6/21/2018 at 6:34 PM

    Crab cakes

  • ladybrooke  on  6/21/2018 at 9:34 PM

    Creamy wild mushroom soup with herbs

  • Wojtanowski  on  6/23/2018 at 3:53 PM

    Honey's coconut cupcakes!!!

  • keizerfire  on  6/24/2018 at 5:33 AM

    Chunky pea guacamole or the spicy pecans!

  • JoanneJ  on  6/25/2018 at 8:46 PM

    Braided Honey Challah. I love a Sunday bread project, makes the house smell divine, and the kids go nuts for it.

  • miggsy  on  6/25/2018 at 9:48 PM

    Coconut cupcakes sound tasty!

  • mlanthie  on  6/26/2018 at 10:35 AM

    Sausage & cheddar bread pudding

  • artthecat  on  6/26/2018 at 7:25 PM

    Creamy wild mushroom soup with herbs!

  • Scotsman61  on  6/26/2018 at 8:48 PM

    Mini savory cheddar dijon scones. As a master of Scones myself, different flavors intrigue me!!

  • tennyogirl  on  6/27/2018 at 12:38 PM

    Buttery Cajun-spiced popcorn

  • eboos  on  6/27/2018 at 7:42 PM

    Warm caramelized onion & Gruyère dip

  • sequoia55  on  6/28/2018 at 1:48 AM

    Blueberry Scones with Tart Lemon Glaze

  • Julia  on  6/28/2018 at 11:18 AM

    Blueberry scones with tart lemon glaze

  • daniellespinato1  on  6/28/2018 at 1:06 PM

    Spanakopita rolls

  • VeryVigario  on  6/28/2018 at 6:18 PM

    Hearty beef, barley, & vegetable stoup

  • Sfgordon  on  6/28/2018 at 6:55 PM

    Pan-seared halibut with cherry tomatoes & basil sounds good!

  • Dmartin997  on  6/29/2018 at 9:59 PM

    Moroccan-style brisket with dried fruits & capers

  • dduvall  on  6/29/2018 at 10:12 PM

    nutty wild rice salad with dried cranberries, apples and orange vinaigrette and creamy wild mushroom soup with herbs

  • antpantsii  on  6/29/2018 at 10:27 PM

    Chunky pea guacamole

  • circ2000  on  6/29/2018 at 10:34 PM

    Grilled beef satay

  • mrscahughes  on  6/29/2018 at 11:56 PM

    crab cakes!

  • Magicmelissa  on  6/30/2018 at 3:29 AM

    Sweet salty spicy pecans

  • bookguru  on  6/30/2018 at 6:41 AM

    I would have to say the Maryland style crab cakes but I would also try making the tuna poke. I checked this book out from the library where I work but I want to get my own copy. There are a lot of great recipes.

  • Terrill  on  6/30/2018 at 7:49 AM

    Broccoli Tots-sounds fun!

  • Mariarosa  on  6/30/2018 at 10:14 PM

    Spaghetti with kale and walnut pesto

  • Dannausc  on  7/1/2018 at 10:04 AM

    Chicken tortilla soup

  • RickPearson54  on  7/1/2018 at 1:28 PM

    Thai crunch salad

  • bdmltm  on  7/1/2018 at 5:46 PM

    There are several recipes that catch my eye, but I'd probably start with Maryland-style crab cakes with tartar sauce.

  • blazin  on  7/1/2018 at 6:20 PM

    Joanne's refrigerator dill pickles

  • eileen2015  on  7/1/2018 at 9:45 PM

    Dill pickles

  • tcjanes  on  7/1/2018 at 9:55 PM

    Mini savory cheddar Dijon scones

  • orchidlady01  on  7/2/2018 at 1:05 AM

    Maryland-style crab cakes with quick tartar sauce

  • starzine  on  7/2/2018 at 7:00 AM

    I would like to try Maryland-style crab cakes with quick tartar sauce.

  • thewoobdog  on  7/2/2018 at 8:35 AM

    Grilled Beef Satay with Peanut Sauce!

  • madelainelc  on  7/2/2018 at 11:36 PM

    Autumn curried carrot and sweet potato soup. I love orange soups!

  • jemans  on  7/2/2018 at 11:43 PM

    The braided honey challah looks divine!

  • kennethjohngilmour  on  7/3/2018 at 8:37 AM

    always wanted to but have never tried so would start with Joanne's Refrigerator Dill Pickles found on page 25 from Once Upon a Chef: The Cookbook: 100 Tested, Perfected, and Family-Approved Recipes by Jennifer Segal

  • stjones  on  7/3/2018 at 12:26 PM

    Sausage & cheddar bread pudding

  • Nkrieda78  on  7/5/2018 at 11:53 AM

    I for sure need to make the Peruvian Chicken with Green Sauce!

  • debgonewest  on  7/6/2018 at 2:51 PM

    Maryland-style crab cakes with quick tartar sauce

  • lgroom  on  7/9/2018 at 7:18 AM

    Middle Eastern Chopped Salad

  • Lmocooks  on  7/11/2018 at 8:16 AM

    Smoked Gouda & pesto grilled cheese sandwiches

  • linded  on  7/11/2018 at 11:14 AM

    Maryland crabcakes - takes my back to my childhood in Virginia!

  • elysek  on  7/12/2018 at 12:41 AM

    Thai crunch salad with peanut dressing

  • BMeyer  on  7/16/2018 at 6:54 AM

    corn and black bean salad

  • ejsimpson  on  7/17/2018 at 3:41 PM

    Lordie! Way too many wonderful things to try...the first that caught my eye was: Warm caramelized onion & Gruyère dip Then I saw the Ahi Poke and Avocado recipe. .. sticking with. Warm caramelized onion & Gruyère dip

  • pipinita21  on  7/17/2018 at 6:30 PM

    Oh my the crab cakes!!!

Post a comment

You may only comment on the blog if you are signed in. Sign In

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!