Friday, May 5, 2017

Champagne Taittinger's Ricotta Lemon Berry Waffles With Lavender Cream


Nothing says breakfast like digging into a big plate of waffles. These can be made using store-bought waffle mix, jazzed up with ricotta and a zing of lemon zest. Top your waffles with fresh berries and a delicate floral lavender cream that sits in cold cream to infuse overnight.


This recipe is courtesy of Champagne Taittinger

Ingredients

1 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender
1 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups prepared waffle mix
1/2 cup ricotta
zest from one lemon
sugar to garnish
strawberries, to garnish


Steep lavender in cold cream, cover and refrigerate overnight. Strain the cream, sweeten to taste. Whip until soft peaks form. Make waffle mix, fold in ricotta and lemon zest. Cook waffles according to manufacturer’s directions. Top waffles with berries and lavender buds.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Toll House Cookie Pie

No matter what decadent desserts I bring for family gatherings, this is always the biggest crowd pleaser. The kids and the adults love this giant cookie! It's beyond simple to make and trust me you're going to enamored with this pie recipe.

Ingredients 

1 refrigerated pie crust
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 granulated sugar
1/2 brown sugar
3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9 inch pie plate with a refrigerated pie crust. Set aside.

Beat the eggs until light and foamy, mix in vanilla extract. Beat in the flour, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Add the softened butter and beat until combined.
Stir in the chocolate chips (many recipes use walnuts however I'm not a fan, feel free to add a cup of chopped walnuts at this stage if you wish).

Spoon the batter into the prepared pie crust and bake for 1 hour.

Although it may be tempting to dig in right away, let the pie cool for 15-20 minutes first. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Enjoy!


Friday, March 3, 2017

New Diet Secret: Only Eat One Sweet A Day


One sweet a day is what my doctor prescribed. Alas he didn't specify how big my indulgence could be, silly man. This recipe will become a household favorite and who knows, maybe a giant doughnut will replace someone's birthday cake.




Ingredients: 
2 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup shortening
5 cups flour

For frying:
Vegetable oil as needed
For the glaze:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 warm water (as needed)

Sprinkle yeast over warm water. Let stand for about five minutes, or until bubbles form. Set asidc.

In a large bowl mix together the yeast, milk, salt, sugar, shortening, eggs, and two cups of flour. Beat on slow speed until a dough begins to form. Add the remaining flour and beat together. Switch to a dough hook and mix for an additional three minutes (until the dough becomes smooth and elastic).

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a towel and let stand in a warm place. Allow the dough to double in size.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out your desired shape; you don't have to make these doughnuts huge like I did. Let the doughnuts sit again to double in size.

Heat the oil to 350 Fahrenheit. Slide the doughnuts into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, then drain and cool on a wire rack.

For the glaze: 
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add in the vanilla and confectioners sugar. The mixture will be thick, add hot water till you achieve the desired consistency.
If you choose not to glaze the doughnuts toss them in granulated sugar immediately after removing them from the fryer
Personalize the recipe by adding a filling like raspberry jam




Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Better Than Sex Chocolate Pudding

I developed this recipe while working at Fenway Park for a season. Making desserts for a clubhouse of Red Sox players wasn't ideal, since I am a Yankee fan, but I still managed to give those guys some delicious sweet treats. This was a clubhouse favorite, deemed 'better than sex'. 
By Laura Pucillo


Ingredients 

4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 bag Ghirardelli 70% cacao chocolate chips
2 cups heavy cream (for whipping)

Pour milk into a medium pot; whisk in cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Bring the milk mixture to a full boil, then remove from heat. Add chocolate chips and vanilla. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Next return to heat and bring to a second boil, while constantly whisking. The pudding will start to thicken rapidly, when you've reached your desired consistency remove the pot from the stove and allow the pudding to cool.

In a chilled bowl whisk the heavy cream with 1/4 cup off granulated sugar until stiff peaks form.

Serve the pudding warm or cool, I suggest warm, topped with a large dollop of whipped cream!


Monday, January 30, 2017

Fave e Cicoria | Fava Bean Puree With Wild Chicory


Especially Puglia shared this amazing recipe with me and after making it I can tell you that it's definitely something you'll want to try. This company highlights seasonal produce, but the best part? You can trace all of their products back to the farmers and producers. Their supply chain is short and easy to follow. A breath of fresh air in today's market. And if you've never had the pleasure of eating a fava bean puree, you are in for a treat.

This traditional Pugliese dish is simple to prepare and showcases the rich flavors of Puglia's harvest. Like any Italian dish, it is best served with a drizzle of fresh extra virgin olive oil.

Ingredients:

500 g dried, peeled fava beans
1 kg wild chicory (or dandelion greens)
extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
2-3 bay leaves, salt, pepper, water


Serves 4

Preparation:


Cook the beans and bay leaves with 3-4 pinches of salt, add enough water to just cover. Cover and leave to simmer for 2-3 hours until it has a puree consistency. Add water if needed and season to taste with salt and pepper. Meanwhile wash chicory leaves and cook in boiling water with a pinch of salt for 20-30 minutes. Heat olive oil in a different pan and add crushed (with pestle and mortar, not to a mush but rather just broken up a little) garlic. Add drained, cooked chicory almost right away. Cook for 10-15 minutes and season with salt and pepper at the end. Serve together by spooning fava bean puree on one side of the plate and the chicory leaves on the other. Drizzle with olive oil. Eat chicory like you would spaghetti, by twirling it on your fork. The bitter taste of the leaves are in perfect harmony with the fava bean’s sweet, creamy texture. 
In collaberation with Especially Puglia 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

20 Minute Marshmallows


Most of my recipes aren't the most friendly to home cooks. While it is more accurate to weigh your ingredients and use certain tools, I'm well aware that most people cooking at home aren't going to those lengths. Here's a simplified marshmallow recipe that's so easy you'll be making them all winter.

Ingredients

3 packets unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water

1 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
50/50 mixture of confectioners sugar and corn starch (for dusting)

Pour 1/2 cup of cold water in a mixing bowl and add in the gelatin. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup of water, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Then cook the sugar mixture until it has reached 240 degrees F (softball stage).

Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly stream into the gelatin, while mixing on high speed. Add in the vanilla extract. (You can flavor with any extract you choose, but vanilla is traditional)
The mixture will thicken and double in size.

Dust a 12"8 baking sheet with the cornstarch/confectioners sugar mixture. Using a greased rubber spatula, scrape the marshmallow mixture onto the prepared pan and smooth.
Dust with additional cornstarch/ confectioners sugar. Let set for 20-30 minutes.

Remove from pan and slice into desired shapes. Enjoy!




Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Hidden Gems of Paradise Coast

Florida’s west coast food scene has been seriously overlooked

Florida is known as a retirement safe haven and a winter getaway for us snowbirds up north. But what about its food scene? With access to fresh seafood, bordering states that are known for Southern cooking (Georgia, Alabama), and weather that is ideal for growing, it’s a mystery how this area hasn’t prospered into a culinary mecca.
Though there are must-try local favorites, there are also some talented chefs that want to make Florida a food destination. By bringing their own style of cooking to the state, these chefs are elevating the way Floridians eat.
The western area of Florida is home to Naples and Marco Island, aptly named Paradise Coast. While on a mission to eat the best these towns have to offer, I went up one pant size, met three remarkable chefs, and experienced Florida’s renewable food source.

Located in Naples, Florida, this restaurant is a pioneer in fresh food. The Local’s fearless leader, chef Jeff Mitchell, has been in the restaurant industry for 20 years. He took great pride in explaining the different produce he serves and why it’s featured on the menu. One of the first courses served was his version of a tomato soup. Included in this small bowl were subtle nuances of orange, basil, pomegranate, and pistachio, and it was topped with a dollop of ricotta. This may seem like a muddle of flavors, but the fruits kept the soup — which otherwise could have been heavy — very light.

But dessert was the real star. Mitchell fried zeppolis, made from a dough using a ricotta-like cheese that he makes himself, and served them on a bed of crème anglaise paired with jam. This fried dough seemed to never fill me up and I ended up eating the whole plate, though I did restrain myself from licking it clean.
One of the main highlights for locals is the whole pig that Mitchell orders weekly from local farmers, truly embracing the concept of nose-to-tail cooking. When I was there, two customers came in looking for the house bacon and were heartbroken that the restaurant was sold out.
The Local is technically a farm-to-table restaurant, but Mitchell expressed how he’s not particularly fond of the term. “This is the way we were meant to eat,” he said.
This place seems to be a well-kept secret among locals, so make a point to stop by if you ever find yourself in Naples.

Florida is lacking in elevated eating establishments. Some chefs are tackling this challenge head on and are looking to transform the big state. Chef Vincenzo Betulia is a Sicilian native who is looking to tap into this area of the market that has long been overlooked.
Dinner at his restaurant, Osteria Tulia, was a slice of heaven. Upon being seated and served bread with an eggplant caponata, you’d think you have died and gone to Italy. Instead of serving his diners butter before the meal, Betulia has opted for this classic topping, a recipe passed down from his grandmother. For those of you who are mourning the loss of your bread and butter ritual, there is a method Betulia’s madness. Butter coats your mouth in fat and in many ways will mask any flavors you eat immediately after. Besides, the caponata is infinitely more delicious. It was meant to be a small bite for customers, but has been received so well that the restaurant now sells the topping by the pound.
Main courses range from classic osso bucco to the chef’s whimsical take on pizzas, like “Mary Had A Little Lamb” (pizza topped with lamb sausage, ricotta, chile, and onions). The pasta is all made fresh in house and Betulia oversees all aspects of his kitchen. While I was eating, the chef personally made rounds in the dining room and offered an addition of shaved white truffle. I chose to dine on a garganelli pasta with a cream sauce and white truffle. The balance of flavors cannot be overlooked. The pasta was cooked to perfection and the truffle, which can be easily overdone, was a welcome addition.
Betulia will be opening a French dining option in downtown Naples as well, something I learned while helping myself to a second helping of tiramisu. And the real surprise? He insists on running both kitchens! Though many chefs choose to appoint a head chef or a trusted sous to their restaurants in their absence, Betulia will be running back and forth up the street of Fifth Avenue to ensure the quality of his food doesn’t falter.

The stone crab claw harvest is highly anticipated in Florida and for good reason. The season is from October to May, but these fishermen aren’t just catching the crabs. In order to harvest the most desirable part, the claw, fishermen detach the claws at the joint and then throw the crustaceans back. Stone crabs have the ability to regenerate their claws every one to two years, making this Florida’s most coveted sustainable food source.

Over at City Seafood in Naples, they have the cooking process down to a science. The claws are boiled and then chilled rapidly to ensure the delicate white meat doesn’t stick to the shell. The cold crab claws are then served with a creamy mustard on the side, which, when eaten together, is a revelation of flavor. Some locals cook with the crab meat in bisques or tacos, but nothing comes close to eating the crab straight from the shell.
Like a true seafood shack, City Seafood also dishes up mountains of fries drenched in malt vinegar. Maybe not so typical is the alligator basket I also enjoyed here. Deep-fried gator served as a side dish to the cold seafood rounded out the whole meal.


Pazzi’s can be found tucked away at the J.W. Marriott on Marco Island. It’s a more casual dining option for families, but the food is far from “just for kids.” While eagerly awaiting the delivery of the appetizers, I enjoyed a glass of Planeta Noto Nero D’avola. This is just one of the many wines on tap Pazzi’s has to offer, of which the wait staff seemed knowledgeable and offered suggestions.
The starter of focaccia bread with a pesto for dipping had an unusual flavor. Chef Brooke Lawson includes mascarpone cheese in her pesto for added creaminess. 

Between the pesto and the burrata with tomato, I could have fed myself solely on appetizers. But the pizza that followed had a crust that was one of the better ones I’ve had the pleasure of eating outside of New York. The topping combination of arugula, prosciutto, and goat cheese was wonderful. The aged fig balsamic drizzled on top added a symphony of flavor that begged to have every inch of the crust dipped in it.
Chef Lawson was whisked away from her stay at Trump Towers and serving the president-elect to cook for the new luxury J.W. Marriott. Her menu can best be described as using quality ingredients in dishes that people want to eat. The food is polished and refined, and it’s transformed into dishes like peanut butter cheesecake with brûléed marshmallow. Needless to say, this was a mouthwatering completion to the meal.   

It’s not entirely the consumer’s fault that Florida hasn’t had the chance to prosper in the food industry. Chefs flock to main cities to make a name for themselves in famous restaurants like Alinea, The French Laundry, and Per Se. How comforting to know that some chefs are taking it upon themselves to deliver excellent food to a Southern state that’s been snubbed out of being a culinary destination. After seeing what Florida has to offer, there is no doubt in my mind that this state will flourish in the food world.