Summer Friday with Michelle Mannix of Cookspace Brooklyn

Written by Leighana Lynn

Summer Reads Bookshelf:

  • Permission to Feel, Marc Brackett
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had, Claire Lombardo
  • Untethered Soul (2nd time reading), Michael Singer
  • The Ten Year Nap, Meg Wolitzer
  • Life, by Keith Richards
  • Permission to Parent, How To Raise Your Child With Love and Limits, Robin Berman
  • Stray, Stephanie Danler

Summer Soundtrack:

  • Adore you, and Watermelon Sugar both by Harry Styles
  • WFUV public radio all day
  • The National

Summer Beauty/Skincare Essentials:

  • Being outside, fresh air, swimming in the ocean
  • Eating lots of local, real food
  • Vitners daughter
  • Olie -E- Osso Balm No. 4 stain

Your favorite summer routine/ritual:

  • Beach dinners with driftwood fires on the long island sound

Go-to Poplar product for summer:

  • Rosebud CBD

Summer Cannabis Rituals:

  • I tossed a seed in my vegetable garden bed last year and lo and behold it grew well! Saved a few and will try again this summer!
  • My friend Nini Nyguyen sent some cannabis rice krispie treats for my birthday party last year that were a huge hit that people are still talking about - I'm hoping she’ll be able to bring in person this year!

Thing you’re missing most in this post-COVID summer:

  • Live music. The thought of it not coming back for a while makes me appreciate all that I’ve managed to see over the years and can’t wait to go back to Forest Hills Stadium, Prospect Park - any of their amazing shows.

Go-to summer look/outfit combination:

  • Sleeveless jumpsuits, bare feet

Favorite summer activity to get your heart rate up:

  • The class by Taryn Toomey (any season!)
  • Swimming laps

When not social distancing, what is your favorite summer travel destination?

Orient, Long Island

Go-to Summer Recipe:

  • Tomato sandwiches and Tomato pie in late summer

Go-to summer cocktail:
Margaritas are my go-to -Classic lime or Watermelon, lime and mint

  • Smash up watermelon with a fork, drain seeds and large pieces of pulp, pour into shaker or quart container, add fresh lime juice, torn mint leaves, your favorite tequila, shake and pour over ice in a salt rimmed glass

Tomato Pie Recipe

This is a bit of a project but well worth the effort and something I look forward to making every summer.

I make several as they freeze well and are perfect for having friends share or as a gift. If i'm going to be committing to making one - may as well make a few.



- Tomatoes at the peak of the season/their ripeness. [I use a mix of Roma’s, local beefsteak and a few heirlooms - but any type will be fine. Depending on how many pies you are going to make - you’ll need at least 24.]

- Onions - yellow or Spanish - any kind but not red. At least 12

- Mayonnaise - to taste but at least have a cup

- Asiago cheese or other cheese you like - a grated cup/cup and a half

- Parmesan cheese - at least a half cup

- Handful of basil - totally optional

- Salt (always)

- Sugar

- Pepper

- Olive oil

- Pie crusts [you can make your own if you like - I never do and am lucky to find Four and Twenty Blackbirds frozen pie crusts, but any kind has and will be fine. Use whatever you like]

Tools/Things you might need/use

- Large saute pan

- Large sheet tray

- Cutting board/Knife

- Small mixing bowl

- Large prep bowl

- Sieve or colander


This takes time. Set yourself up to be in the kitchen a bit, to enjoy it, to have fun. For me, its music, often a tiny toke of sativa - and then I gather all the ingredients and the tools i'll need and get into it.

  1. Caramelize the onions. 
    This will take 1.5-2 hours and can be done while you are prepping all the other ingredients - preheat the oven when your onions are getting close to done.

  2. Prep tomatoes

    - Rough chop tomatoes and place into a sieve or colander on top of a bowl to catch the juices (save them for bloody mary’s or whatever you fancy) while you are cutting them

    - Chop them all up filling a large bowl - you’ll want at least 4 cups per pie

    - Gently squeeze the chopped tomatoes to release the seeds and juice (over something to catch it) and place half of the tomatoes on a sheet tray and the other half in a bowl

    - Don't forget to to check on onions - stirring, tasting and adjusting as needed

  3. Roast half of the tomatoes

    - Layer an even spread of chopped tomatoes on a sheet tray - not overlapping taking note to discard any seeds still hanging around. Drain off any juice

    - Drizzle with olive oil, generous amounts of salt and slightly less generous amounts of sugar directly on the tomatoes.

    - Into the oven for about 30-45 minutes. Check them - timing will depend on how many you are roasting, the size of your cut, the tomato. What you are looking for is softly roasted, some edges will be a bit ‘charred’ - but not burnt. They will ‘shrink’ considerably and darken in coloar and the flavor will intensify

    - Check onions - stir, taste adjust.

  4. Season the other half of the tomatoes

    - Ensure drained and as seedless as can be - add salt and sugar. Mix well with hands or spoon and taste. They should taste sweet and savory and like the best tomato
  5. Make topping

    - Depending on how many pies you are making add the following to a bowl and mix well, Mayonnaise - at least a cup per pie, grated asiago or other similar cheese - at least a cup per pie, grated parmesan cheese - at least a half cup per pie. Stir, taste, add ground pepper - adjust as you see fit.

  6. Pre-bake pie crusts as directed

  7. Make tomato mixture

    - Put slightly cooled roasted tomatoes in a bowl with the raw seasoned tomatoes, add caramelized onions - at least a cup per pie and mix. Add salt and pepper, sugar if needed.

    - Add torn basil leaves (optional)

  8. Assemble Pies
    - Place tomato mixture into prepared pie pan(s). Filling to your desired size/heft of pie

    - Top each pie with the cheese topping and spread around leaving about an inch of the tomatoes uncovered from the edge. Use as sparingly or as generously as you like

  9. Place pies in the oven (I put mine on a sheet tray to catch juices that may bubble out) and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

    - Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving

I serve mine with a large green salad and occasionally grilled chicken or sausage but its fine on its own too!

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