Sunday Bake–Savory Pop Tarts

Ever since I abruptly decided to jump off the crazy train that was my day job (or more like leaping off a runaway train a few stops before it plowed spectacularly through the main station), I’ve spent my time working on consulting projects (aka playing with food).  Consequently, I find myself with a whole lot of odds and ends in my refrigerator–leftover ingredients from various recipe experiments, like thick béchamel sauce, caramelized onions, and black forest ham.  I’d already managed to use some of it on a pizza, mixing together the béchamel and caramelized onion and using the savory concoction as the base for my pizza bianco. But what to do with the rest?  There was only a scant cup left over, not really enough for a pot pie and I was pretty much done making croque monsieurs (one of my experiments).  As I was standing near the empanadas food truck waiting for my friend at the Farmer’s Market this morning the idea hit me.  Why not make Savory Pop Tarts!  I could bulk up the leftover caramelized onion béchamel with sautéed mushrooms and cheese to make enough filling for at least ten pop tarts.  Layer in some chopped black forest ham and we’ve got a winner.

Now you can make pop tarts with any variety of doughs, from puff pastry to pie.  My pastry of choice is a buttery, flaky pate brisee.  It’s richer than pie dough, more tender than puff pastry, and provides just the right structure for pop tarts.  A word about Pop Tarts (the boxed kind)–I’m not a fan.  I tried to like them as kid, but simply couldn’t get past the dry texture and teeth achingly sweet frosting and filling.  I think my mom bought me a box once, which I refused to finish…much like that box of Lucky Charms…and that was the end of that.  During my sophomore year in college, my roommate used to get care packages laden with boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Rice-a-Roni, and Pop Tarts.  I gave Pop Tarts another go…no dice.  It really wasn’t until I began re-making pop tarts with handmade pastry dough and filling them with really tasty stuff–homemade preserves, Nutella, caramelized fruit, peanut butter, etc.–then I became a convert.  Like Lorelei Gilmore, I had a pop tart epiphany (only not about the crappy artificial kind).

The tricky thing about pop tarts is getting the consistency of the filling, whether it’s sweet or savory, just right.  If it’s too wet or loose the filling will leak and explode out the sides, leaving you with a sad deflated pop tart.  A rich thick béchamel sauce, for example, is an excellent binder for all kinds of savory fillings.  Also, it’s important to brush the edges of only one side of pastry with egg wash or cream so the seams will stick together securely.  Brushing both the top and bottom halves will merely cause the pastry to slip and slide.

For my savory pop tart filling, I sautéed about 1/2 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms with a little olive oil, fresh thyme, salt and pepper, hard apple cider, and chicken stock, then added 1/4 cup frozen organic corn, and a tablespoon each chopped fresh parsley and chives.  I combined this mixture with the leftover caramelized onion béchamel and 1/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese.  I placed a heaping tablespoon of the filling at the center of 10 pate brisee squares (cut approximately 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″),


layered on a little julienned black forest ham, brush the edges with heavy cream, then topped each one with another pastry square, sealed the edges and crimped them with a fork.

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Each pop tart was brushed with more cream, pierced with a fork to allow steam to vent, and sprinkled with grated parmesan and black pepper.


I baked the pop tarts at 400°F for about 25 mins., until they were golden brown.



Savory Pop Tarts are the kind of “out of the box” pastry worth making!

Bechamel Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Whole Milk, slightly warmed
  • ½ tsp. Sea or Kosher Salt
  • ⅛ tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • Pinch of Ground Nutmeg

On medium low heat, melt the butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour to form a paste.  Stirring constantly, cook the mixture for about two mins., then gradually whisk in the warm milk a little at a time to avoid lumps.  Turn the heat back up to medium and continue whisking until the mixture begins to boil.  Lower the heat and cook for another three minutes, seasoning with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Transfer the thickened sauce into a bowl and press a film of plastic onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming as the sauce cools.  Chill the sauce until set to use for filling.

Pumpkin Spice Be Damned!

Anthony Bourdain is right–this pumpkin spice madness must stop! What started out as a harmless cup of pumpkin spice latte to signal the beginning of fall has turned into a marketing tsunami that’s threatening to engulf us in a sea of mediocrity.  I won’t go so far as Bourdain in wishing the trend “drown in its own blood”–because after all I admittedly still have a jar of pumpkin pie spice in my pantry (hey, it’s used judiciously to occasionally spice up actual pumpkin). But I would like to do away with a great many of the pumpkin spiced products out on the market, especially the non-food variety–pumpkin spice body lotion/bath gel (no, I’d rather smell like pumpkin pie because I’m actually baking one), pumpkin spice air freshener (again, better to get that smell from baking the real thing), pumpkin spice dish soap (ugh, really?).  Over saturation of pumpkin spice reminds me of that commercial for Febreeze–you know the one about becoming “nose blind to odors.”  In a way, all this generic pumpkin spice can dull your senses and fatigue your taste buds.

Years ago, long before the pumpkin spice mania took hold, I worked with a chef who barred me from putting pumpkin creme brûlée on the restaurant dessert menu–well, any pumpkin pie-like custard actually, including pumpkin cheesecake (unless it was in bar cookie form).  His reasoning, other than his own personal distaste for the American classic, was that it was too pedestrian, too expected, and unimaginative. Consequently, I had to come up with other, more creative ways to incorporate pumpkin into my fall repertoire, like roasting a medley of autumn squash/pumpkin in brown butter, maple sugar, and warm spices for a sweet crostata filling, then serving this alternative pumpkin pie with a scoop of almond brown butter ice cream.  Being forced out of my comfort zone not only expanded my creativity but made me appreciate pumpkin for all its natural beauty and tasty potential…beyond the pumpkin pie of my childhood.  Truth be told, I wasn’t even that big of a fan of pumpkin pie when I was a kid.  It was simply a vehicle for the whipped cream.

Pumpkin spice is like that whipped cream.  It’s a way for people who don’t necessarily love pumpkin pie, or pumpkin for that matter, to enjoy the trappings of fall– call it pumpkin lite.   I’m sure there are also plenty of pumpkin pie lovers out there who are obsessed with pumpkin spice, but I would venture to say a vast number of pumpkin spice aficionados probably wouldn’t eat pumpkin…perhaps unless it was heavy masked in that particular spice blend.  That’s a shame really, because pumpkins and other autumn squash are fantastically versatile, delicious in sweet and savory applications.

To take the chill off of a crisp fall day, I like to whip up a hearty batch of Pumpkin Vegetable Curry, using a combination of Japanese curry paste, curry powder, and coconut milk for a rich and flavorful sauce.


While a bright orange firm fleshed pumpkin is the star of this dish, you can add any combination of vegetables to compliment it.  At the Farmer’s Market, I found some deep dark purple long beans, vibrant red bell peppers and zucchini.  The vibrancy of the vegetables reminded me of the peak fall colors in Maine.


To make the curry, I simply sweated some chopped onions and garlic in hot oil until translucent, then added all the vegetables and tossed them around with a little bit of curry powder, salt and pepper for a 3-4 mins.  I then added in some chicken stock, water, a can of coconut milk, and 3-4 squares of Japanese curry paste (conveniently packaged and portioned out like a chocolate bar), and simmered everything on low heat for 10-15 mins., until the vegetables were tender.  Serve the curry over some steamed basmati or jasmine rice.


On the sweet side, I like to compliment my pumpkin desserts and baked goods with equally deep, warm flavors like bourbon and maple.  I haven’t banished pumpkin spice, but I tend to use less of it in proportion to the other ingredients in my recipes.  My tender Maple Bourbon Glazed Pumpkin Scones are a delightful way to start the morning…or rejuvenate your afternoon.

Maple Bourbon Glazed Pumpkin Scones

Yield: 12 scones

  • 2 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tbsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea or Kosher Salt
  • 4 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice (or 1 tsp. Cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. Ginger, 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg, pinch of Clove)
  • 4 oz. or 1 stick Chilled Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2/3 cup Buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Heavy Cream or Egg Wash for brushing tops

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Add the butter pieces, then using either two forks or your fingers quickly work the butter into the dry mixture until the butter pieces are the size of popcorn kernels.  Make a well in the center.  Whisk together the wet ingredients, pour the mixture into the well, and stir everything together to form a dough.  Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic film, lightly dust with flour, and pat it down into a 1″ thick square, wrap and freeze the dough for about 15 mins. to firm up.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.   Turn the chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface, dust with more flour, then pat or roll the dough out into a 3/4″ thick rectangle.  With a pastry cutter or chef’s knife cut the dough in half horizontally, then into thirds vertically to form six squares.  Cut each square in half diagonally. Place the pieces on a parchment-lined sheet pan and brush with cream or egg wash.  Bake the scones for 18-20 mins. until golden and test done. Cool the scones completely before drizzling on glaze.

Maple Bourbon Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp. Maple Extract
  • pinch of Sea or Kosher Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Bourbon
  • 1 Tbsp. Whole Milk

Whisk together ingredients until smooth.



Take heart John Oliver, not everything “pumpkin” has to taste like candle wax!

Taste for Travel…Or Where to Eat in Maine

One of the joys of traveling back to Maine, aside from the obvious pleasure of spending time with good friends, is eating fabulous food.  Those who follow my posts on Instagram and Facebook are well-acquainted with my seemingly endless appetite for good eats.  So in the interest of those who are thinking about a trip to Maine, or Portland in particular, here are my top five food/drink destinations:

Back Bay Grill –  If you’re going to splurge on a fancy dinner, then do it here.  Regardless of the fact that my friend Jesse works at this fine establishment, it is still hands down one of the best restaurants in Portland.  Their seasonal menu is exceptional, but what really keeps me going back time and again is their foie gras.  The accompaniments change with the seasons but the preparation is essentially the same–handled with utmost attention to detail, seared to perfection.  I recommend starting your evening off with an artfully crafted cocktail from the bar and a nibble of truffle popcorn.

Duckfat – The name pretty much says it all–duck is the fat of choice and forget about the calories.  They love the stuff so much it’s in quite a number of their dishes, including duck egg aioli, duck fat Belgian fries, duck confit, and duck fat fried donut holes (have them with the Duckfat milkshake if you’re feeling extra decadent).   A poutine aficionado, I’m obsessed with their version–duck fat fries, studded with locally sourced cheese curds and drenched in duck gravy.  Since the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, be prepared to wait.  I guarantee it’ll be worth it.


Hot Suppa – While they do serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I’ve somehow managed to only go there for brunch.  The fact that you can order a Bloody Mary or Mimosa to go with your French Toast and Pulled Pork Hash is no doubt the attraction–makes having a cocktail at breakfast entirely respectable.  Like all great brunch places, this one’s especially busy on the weekends, so put your name on the list and stroll down a couple of blocks to Tandem Coffee and Bakery for a latte and maybe a small pastry to tie you over until your name is called.

Eventide Oyster Co.– Yes, this is yet another popular, often busy restaurant (just down the street from Duckfat), which specializes in phenomenally fresh and tasty seafood.  I’m a late bloomer when it comes to my love and appreciation of raw oysters, only having begun enjoying them in the last seven years or so.  Eventide’s selection of these “kisses from the ocean” is extensive, about ten Maine varieties and another six from other regions, not to mention a choice of eight accoutrements–from the traditional cocktail sauce to kimchi ice.  If their raw seafood menu isn’t enough to satisfy you, I highly recommend their version of lobster roll (glistening with brown butter, served in a Chinese steamed bun) and buttermilk fried chicken sandwich.


Central Provisions –  It’s taken four trips to Maine, but I finally made it here.  Central Provisions is the type of place that defies expectations–an ever-changing small plates menu hyper focused on seasonality, so much so that there’s a new menu every week, taking cues from a variety of global influences.   The night I went, the menu featured both Japanese and Spanish inspired dishes–from the gorgeously presented blue fin tuna crudo served with rice cracker, avocado creme and goji berry puree to the suckling pig with marcona almonds to the squash cheesecake with housemate rum raisin ice cream.  All the flavors were on point, from the small plates to the expertly fashioned cocktails.


Vena’s Fizz House –  I discovered this gem on my last day in Portland.  For fans of mixology and craft cocktails, this place is the real deal.  The front section is a haven for mixology enthusiast with shelves brimming with bitters, syrups, shrubs, tonics, infusion kits, mixers, and cocktail paraphernalia of all kinds.  I spent a good fifteen minutes just browsing the bitters section alone.  For more inspiration, take a seat at the bar and sample their dizzying menu of craft cocktails, mocktails, and housemate sodas.  If I didn’t have to fly out that afternoon I would’ve spent a few more hours there.



Travel Log — Autumn in Maine

I’m back in Maine again…this time to experience the technicolor splendor that is Fall, in what has become my “happy place.”  Summer in Maine is all about sunshine, ice cream, big fat juicy berries, crisp pink rhubarb, warm days kayaking on the lake, and bbq.  During the fall peak, however, Maine is a spectacular feast for the eyes, the lush greenery of summer briefly transformed into a vibrant kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, yellows, greens, browns and plums.

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Having spent most of my life in California, where the change in seasons seems a mere suggestion by comparison, my time in Maine has been a glorious sensory overload.  It’s not that there aren’t opportunities to experience the wonders of fall in the Bay Area–like driving up to wine country for the first crush or visiting a pumpkin patch in Half Moon Bay.  But when you wake up to this intoxicating scenery every morning, the instinct to head to the nearest orchard to go apple and pumpkin picking seems almost a moral imperative!

Rocky Ridge Orchard
Rocky Ridge Orchard
Already harvested cortlands
Already harvested cortlands
Heading to the back orchard...
Heading to the back orchard…
Cortlands ripe for the picking
Apple pickers
Photofinish pumpkins
 Picture Perfect Pumpkins

Fortunately, I’m staying with friends who are granting me all-kitchen access, so I can indulge my culinary whimsy…because you gotta cook what you’ve picked…otherwise you’d sitting on a pile of apples and pumpkins!

Not one to pass up an opportunity to mix a little business with pleasure, I came up with a kind of “deconstructed” apple crisp, topped with an apple cider zabaglione.  I dusted the surface with a sprinkling of turbinado sugar then used my handy dandy blowtorch to caramelize it to crispy perfection.

Brown Butter Spiced Apple Crisp with Cider Zabaglione

Serves 4


  • 5-6 Medium Tart Apples (Cortland, Granny Smith, Pink Lady), peeled, quartered & sliced
  • 4 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • pinch of Sea Salt
  • ¼ Vanilla Bean, split & scraped
  • ¾ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp. Cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tbsp. Hard Apple Cider

In a large sauté pan on medium heat, cook the butter until it turns a nutty dark golden brown. Add the sliced apple, brown sugar, salt, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and ginger, and sauté until the apples begin to get tender. Dissolve the cornstarch in the lemon juice and cider, then stir into the apple mixture. Continue simmering until the apples are tender. Remove from the heat and discard the vanilla pod.

Oat Streusel Topping:

  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ cup Rolled Oats
  • ½ cup Light Brown Sugar
  • ¼ tsp. Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 6 Tbsp. Butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle in the melted butter, then working with your hands, rub the ingredients together to form a coarse crumble topping.  Spread out the crumble in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 12-15 mins. or until the streusel is a golden brown.

Deconstructed Apple Crisp
Deconstructed Apple Crisp

Cider Zabaglione:

  • 5 Large Egg Yolks
  • 3 Tbsp. Honey
  • ¼ cup Hard Apple Cider
  • ¼ cup Apple Cider
  • pinch of Sea Salt
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream, whipped to medium soft peaks

In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the yolks, honey, ciders, and salt. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk continuously until the mixture is very pale and thick (should register 160 degrees).  Remove the bowl from the heat and chill the mixture over a bowl of ice.  Fold the whipped cream into the chilled zabaglione.


Divide the sautéed apples between four plates, then scatter a generous amount of oat streusel topping on each one.   Ladle about ½ cup zabaglione over the apple crisp. Sprinkle the surface of the zabaglione with a teaspoon of raw or turbinado sugar and caramelize with the blowtorch on medium flame.


More delicious recipes to come…

Cruffins…Or when a muffin just won’t do

It was my friend Kimberly’s birthday.  I knew she was having a hard week at work…my quitting as her boss didn’t help matters…so I wanted to make her something special.  While I’m sure she would’ve appreciated a birthday cake (I mean who wouldn’t) to go with one of my homemade pizzas (her favorite), I went for the unexpected–Cruffins.  I’d never made them before, much less eaten one (yeah, I know, hard to imagine).  But my friend Karen told me about waiting in a long line at this bakery in the city called Mr. Holmes Bakehouse just to try one of these much buzzed about towering creations–a heavenly marriage of croissant and muffin.  Apparently it’s the next big thing, following in the footsteps of the beloved Cronut.  At Mr. Holmes, the cruffins are filled with an ever changing selection of fillings like strawberry custard and chocolate with passion fruit creme.


The Mr. Holmes cruffin has developed such a cult following, in fact, that when the recipe was stolen in an overnight heist a while back, the story made headlines!  Given all the hype, I figured why not give it a go.

Okay, full disclosure…I still haven’t made it to Mr. Holmes to try the real thing.  I have, however, tried something similar recently at another bakery, which was what got me thinking about the cruffin in the first place.  I’ve made croissant dough in the past.  I’ve also made kouign amann, a round crusty, melt in your mouth flaky pastry–essentially croissant dough layered with butter and sugar, which when baked becomes beautifully caramelized and crispy.  It’s nirvana in your mouth!  Whereas the kouign amann starts out as a square of dough layered and crusted in lots of butter and sugar, folded onto itself, the cruffin is a wide strip of dough rolled into a pinwheel log and cut down the middle lengthwise. Each layered strip is then pinwheeled and set into a buttered muffin mold.  The wider the roll the taller the cruffin.

Needless to say making large commercial-sized batches of croissant dough for work is completely different than making a small batch for home.  Consequently, I’ve tried out numerous “home recipes” over the years, some using all-purpose flour, some all bread flour, some 50/50, some using instant yeast, some dry active.  The one I like the best so far is the butter croissant recipe from Standard Baking Co.  Their recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but I decided to sub out a portion of it with bread flour for just a little more gluten action.

Butter Croissant Dough (courtesy of Standard Baking Co)

  • 3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Bread Flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp. Instant Yeast
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter, room temp cool, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup Water, about 70 degrees
  • 3/4 cup Whole Milk, about 70 degrees
  • 10 oz. Butter, chilled (for the butter block)

Laminated doughs like croissant require time and patience.  You have to commit to all the steps, letting the dough rest enough in the between “turns.”   In other words, plan at least 2 days ahead.  I laminated the dough one day, let it rest for a good 16 hours before shaping it.  This croissant dough recipe yields about 2 dozen cruffins, so I cut the laminated dough in half, with the intention of saving half of the dough for later use…later being the next day as it turned out.

I kept it fairly simple for my first batch of cruffins–just cinnamon and sugar.



There was a bit of a time crunch getting the cruffins and pizza baked in time for Kimberly’s birthday lunch delivery, so I decided to forgo piping a filling into the cruffins.  They were by no means as tall and regal looking as the cruffins at Mr. Holmes, but they were delicious nevertheless and definitely a nice sweet surprise for the birthday girl.

Not satisfied with baking off just one batch of cruffins, the next day I decided to turn the other half of the croissant dough into caramelized apple cruffins–this time stuffing the center with slices of honey crisp apple sauteed in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon…and showering them with even more cinnamon sugar!


I can see why people have become obsessed with cruffins.  They are fun to make…that is if you can get past the time it takes to make the actual croissant dough…and the possibilities for creating new and exciting flavors are endless.

Now if only I had a commercial dough sheeter at my disposal for those impromptu late night croissant-making dates…







Whipping Up For Fall

Give me a new kitchen toy and watch me geek out.  The culinary nerd in me comes out in full force when I’m being paid to be creative and let loose in my favorite playground–the kitchen.  Such was the case when I was tasked with testing out a new prototype whipped cream dispenser (called Max Whip), capable of retaining heat and cold for an extended period of time, by my friends at Whip It.  What better way to put the dispenser through its paces than to come up with a menu to bid farewell to summer and say hello to fall?


My first instinct was to head straight to the Farmer’s Market to see what’s up.   I was happy to find the last sweet corn of the summer, alongside a bounty of fall squashes like butternut and pumpkin.  This gave me the idea to start off the meal with a light velvety smooth bacon-infused corn chowder.  I say smooth because in order to give my warm hearty chowder a sophisticated twist with the help of the Max Whip (and test its heat retention capabilities, which by the way was very good), I had to cook down, puree, and strain out all the chunky bits before I could put the soup into the canister, where it would get an injection of N2O. The N2O creates lots of lovely air bubbles, giving the finished product, when dispensed, an airy ethereal texture.  I served my Frothy Bacon Corn Chowder with a garnish of crispy bacon bits and kernels of sweet grilled corn on the side.

Modernist Bacon Corn Chowder

Of course, if you want to skip the whole “foaming” process and go with the traditional hearty chowder, I suggest cooking some peeled diced potato in the soup to thicken it up, leaving all the chunky bits intact, and topping each bowl with crispy bacon bits and grilled corn kernels.

Frothy Bacon Corn Chowder

Yield:  about 2 quarts

  • 2 ears Fresh Corn
  • 3 strips Thick-Cut Smoked Bacon, diced
  • 1 Celery Stalk, diced
  • 1 Carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 Leek (white part only), washed and sliced
  • 1 Minced Garlic Clove
  • 2 Fresh Thyme Sprigs
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock
  • 1 quart Whole Milk
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Smoked Gouda Cheese

Now, for the fall part of the menu I decided to make a simple, easy butternut squash “ravioli” using wonton wrappers for the pasta.  I cut up a small butternut squash and sautéed it along with diced yellow onion and minced garlic in a sage-infused brown butter until the squash began to get soft, seasoning it with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg, then deglazed with some dry white wine, added some chicken stock and let it simmer until most of the liquid had evaporated.  I then pureed it a little, leaving some tiny bits for texture, adding some grated parmesan cheese and a small amount of bread crumbs to bind the filling.  I piped about 1 tsp. of filling in the center of each wonton wrapper, brush two adjacent sides with egg white and folded the wrapper in half, tucking in the filling. The raviolis were quickly cooked (in batches) in salted boiling water for only about 2 mins. then drained and tossed into a hot skillet of brown butter and sage.  To serve, sprinkle with more grated parmesan.

Easy Butternut Squash Ravioli in Brown Butter and Sage

  • 1 Small Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 Small Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1 Minced Garlic Clove
  • 1 Tbsp. Chopped Parsley
  • 4 Sage Leaves, chopped
  • 1 Sprig Sage Leaves, whole
  • 4 oz. Butter, browned
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of Nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • 1/3 package Medium Wonton Wrappers
  • 1 Egg White, to seal ravioli
Butternut Squash Ravioli in Brown Butter and Sage
Butternut Squash Ravioli in Brown Butter and Sage


To test out the cold retention of the Max Whip (equally impressive as the hot retention), I decided to turn a classic cocktail into a dessert.  My Modernist Manhattan combines the dark, smoky flavors of whiskey bourbon, sweet vermouth, and spiced barrel-aged cherry bitters, with an exquisitely airy orange and honey-scented foam spiked with orange liqueur, for a taste and textural sensation like no other.


My favorite taster Karen declared it one of the best and coolest Manhattans she’s ever had!  As you sip the cool dark liquid, it carries a luscious mouthful of the orange-honey perfumed foam through your lips.

The secret to making a foam that is both fluffy and stable, is to add a binder or thickener to the orange-honey syrup, orange juice, lemon juice, and orange liqueur.  In this recipe, I used two readily available ingredients–unflavored gelatin powder and pasteurized egg whites.


Once the base was properly chilled,  I poured it into the chilled canister and injected two N2O cartridges, gave the canister several good shakes (upside down) and let it chill some more (at least an hour).  When I was ready to dispense the foam I simply pointed the nozzle vertically upside down over the surface of the mixed drink…and magic happened.  The foam will keep in the chilled canister for a couple days…or through several drinks, depending on how many cocktails you’re making.


Modernist Manhattan

Serves Two

  • 4 oz. Whiskey Bourbon (i.e Maker’s Mark)
  • 2 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • 5 dashes Spiced Cherry Bitters
  • 4 oz. Chilled Seltzer or Club Soda
  • 2 Maraschino Cherries (preferably the natural variety)
  • Orange-Honey Foam*

Combine the whiskey bourbon, sweet vermouth, and spiced cherry bitters in a shaker with 4-5 ice cubes.  Shake to blend then strain liquor into two glass over ice, then top each with seltzer and cherry.  Holding the whipped cream dispenser vertically over the glass, dispense the Orange-Honey Foam until it reaches the rim of the glass.

Orange-Honey Foam

  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Honey
  • Peel from 1 Orange
  • 1 tsp. unflavored gelatin powder, softened in 2 Tbsp. cold water
  • 1/3 cup Fresh Orange Juice
  • 1/3 cup Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 oz. Orange Liqueur (i.e. Grand Marnier, Cointreau)
  • 1/4 cup Pasteurized Egg Whites
  • 2 N2O cartridges

Combine water, sugar, honey, and orange peel in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat and let the peel steep in the syrup for 10-15 mins.  Stir in the softened gelatin, then the juices and liqueur.  Strain the mixture into a bowl and cool to room temperature.  Using a hand blender, blend in the whites just until fully incorporated.  Pour the mixture into a chilled canister, twist on the top and inject the N2O cartridges.  Give the dispenser several good shakes upside down, then place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.

Now I’m ready for the fall.










Sweet Fry Therapy

It’s been a crazy, turbulent couple of weeks, full of anxiety, sleepless nights and one category five meltdown…which has forced me to do a little soul-searching.  Not surprisingly, I find that I always seem to think better when I’ve got something sweet to soothe my soul…even better when it’s sweet AND fried.  The first thing that came to mind was donuts.  But then I decided I wanted something NOW and donuts (even the cake variety) still took too long to make.  As I was watching the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off on YouTube (don’t even get me started on how devastated I am that this will most likely to be the last season!), which was all about batters, the idea hit me.  Yes, I can make a batch of churros! Fresh out of the hot oil and liberally bathed in a shower of cinnamon sugar, these crispy yet tender batons of love provided me with a much needed dose sweet fry therapy.  They were so good on their own I didn’t even need to dunk them in thick hot chocolate…but if you are so inclined, go for it!


Yields:  about 2 dozen 4″ batons

  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar mixed with 2 tsp. cinnamon

The process of cooking the churros batter is very similar to pate a choux.  Make sure that you beat the flour in well to avoid any flour lumps.  Since there is only one egg in the recipe, the batter will be very stiff and harder to pipe so if you are using disposable plastic piping bags, double up, and don’t cut the hole for the star tip too big because the pressure you exert from piping might force the tip out of the bag.  The batons should be firm enough for you to pick up easily and drop into the hot oil.


Roll the freshly fried churros in cinnamon sugar.
Roll the freshly fried churros in cinnamon sugar.