haman1sender: my brother


e-mail content: “I figured I’d make some for purim in a couple weeks; do you have any tips? I was planning on somewhat following the king arthur recipe.”

While I have not tried the King Arthur recipe, I have tried and enjoyed the recipe from the 2nd Avenue Deli Cookbook, a classic for the New York Jew. Purim this year came at a very busy time of year. At the shop we are fulfilling a huge order of chocolate figures that requires most of my free time. This past weekend however I was able to spare a few minutes to make some hamantaschen for my coworkers and friends. I decided to go with nostalgia this year and make poppyseed and apricot filling. The 2nd Avenue Deli Cookbook hamantaschen recipe is dairy free and the dough lasts a few days if you don’t want to make it all at once.

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Happy Fall and a chocolate cake


What? How can it be November already!? I feel like I was just making bagels yesterday and hoping for an early day to take a bike ride. Now I would have to leave work at three just to catch the sunset! Fall in the Napa Valley brings the wine harvest and with wine, comes food of course! I was invited to my first beefsteak this week and let me tell you, it was an experience. Beefsteaks are native to New York and were popular many years ago but became too expensive for most people to continue. The rules: no forks, no napkins, just meaty greasy food. Upon arrival all guests were provided aprons and drinks. Our courses came in “waves’ starting with ground beef patties and fried onions. From there we moved on to some small bites of chicharrones, rillettes, rendered beef tallow, and home made potato chips (they had four mini fryers going). The first wave came out and was a delicious brisket with a vinegar based sauce that nobody could seem to get enough of. From here I should backtrack and say that the hosts, along with my boyfriend, built a smoker and had started smoking the meat the day before. The second wave was smoked pork butt. We moved on through the biggest rib eye I’ve ever seen served on sourdough toasts and covered with gravy-that was a fun one to eat with no forks- then onto pork ribs, and we finished with a rack of lamb. For those that had survived the clogged arteries I of course brought chocolate cake.

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TiraMiSu: Lift Me Up

IMG_0010_2 The term Tiramisu, which translates to “lift me up” in Italian, apparently refers to the coffee used to soak the lady fingers (another interesting dessert story).  I have tried various recipes for the dessert and am still looking for the perfect one. Today’s however came out much better than those of the past. I have had trouble with stability and have had more a Tiramisoup. So, using a variation on my recipes from school I came up with this one. Next time I would like to use Marsala but I liked the idea of trying out a bit of Frangelico and Coffee Liquor.  Continue reading

Peanut Butter Pie

IMG_0709 - Version 2The biggest competition in food service is none other than mom. Can you remind people of mom’s cooking? Can you beat mom’s cooking? It is one of the challenges of working in the kitchen. Work versus love. Luckily I love my work. Today’s special I feel will be one of those desserts that everyone will compare to their own experience with it in the past–myself included.  My lovely assistant made a beautiful peanut butter pie today. My only complaint is that she was not there to plate up her masterpiece! Before she even started I had in my mind a peanut butter pie I used to love as a child. It was made by one of my mother’s community theater friends and every time they had a party I hoped with all my heart that the peanut butter pie would be there. As many of my childhood memories are probably warped it is hard to say how much of the pie I ate but I remember I could not get enough and probably ate myself to sleep.

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Bourbon Peach Tart


After months of creating a dessert cycle my boss vetoed peach cobbler as a dessert even though it was a top seller. Because of the nature of my place of employment I have to choose desserts that are very traditional as many of the patrons are older and expect to see things that are familiar. While I would love to use unique flavor combinations I am limited as to what I can serve that my boss will approve. With peach cobbler vetoed due to its simplicity I started to brainstorm as to what could take its place. I knew I still wanted to use peaches and desserts with alcohol always sell so I thought why not make a bourbon peach tart? With a combination of recipes from Nancy Silverton, Cook’s Illustrated, and my own, I came up with this dessert. Happy Eating! Continue reading

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake



pumpkincheesecake - Version 3I have to apologize for this terrible photo I have posted however this cheesecake is one of my favorites. I found it originally in the book Simply in Season, a book which has sections of recipes based on what fruits and vegetables are in season. I make this almost every year for the holidays and it always goes fast. I have tried it with both fresh pumpkin and canned and both work, although I have to admit I like the fresh pumpkin just a little bit better. It has a fresher and lighter taste. And now for something completely delicious…

Simply in Season Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake
1 cup / 250 ml chocolate wafer or graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon oil
Combine with a little water and press into the bottom of a 9-inch /1-L springform pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.

3 cups / 750 ml low-fat cottage cheese (don’t use non-fat)
12 ounces / 350 g cream cheese(softened)
1 1/4 cups / 300 ml sugar
1/4 cup / 60 ml cornstarch or arrowroot powder
Puree cottage cheese in blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour into a bowl.

2 eggs (beaten)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix in. Remove 1 1/2 cups / 375 ml batter and set aside.

1 1/2 cups / 375 ml pumpkin (cooked and pureéd — canned is fine)
1/4 cup / 60 ml brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Add to remaining batter.

1/3 cup / 75 ml baking cocoa
1 cup / 250 ml chocolate chips
Add to the reserved batter. Stir until thoroughly blended.

Pour pumpkin mixture into crust-lined pan then spoon chocolate mixture on top in small rounds; swirl together with a knife.

Bake in preheated oven at 325F / 160C until edge of filling is set, 60-65 minutes. Let cheesecake stand in oven with door closed for 30 minutes. Remove and cool on rack to room temperature, about 3 hours. Cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Petit Gateau

Little cakes.

This dark chocolate dome is filled with gianduja dipped potato chips layered with blackberry gelee and flourless chocolate cake. Potato chips you ask? I was instructed to blanch them in sugar syrup, bake them at low heat for about an hour and let them dry overnight with the pilot light on. It was something I never thought to try. Perhaps other vegetables would add a nice crunch to a petit gateau. Do I see carrot chips in a layered carrot cake in my future?