Archive for January, 2012

Seven Layer Yum Pie from Culinary Arts

January 30, 2012

My students must create a recipe, demonstrate it in front of the class, and serve it nicely, for one of their final semester projects. This is one of those projects…..

Imagine soft, caramelish chocolate chip cookie dough for the base, about 1 inch high

next comes rich fudge, the creamiest fudge ever made with dark chocolate, on top of the cookie dough, about 1 inch high

then comes a layer of Reese’s Peanut butter cups, stacked 2 high on top, remember to take them out of their little papers!

now, take a package of dark chocolate instant pudding mix and whip it with 1 cup of milk to make a very thick, rich pudding and spread this over the peanut butter cups

whew! next layer on Oreos, Sammie and Lydia used double stuffed, but apparently you can use mint, peanut butter, sugar free, vanilla, what ever you like, and these can be stacked 2 high as well, if you wish

for the top, whip 1 cup of cream until stiff, whip in a bit of sugar and vanilla, then slather that over the cookie

it wouldn’t be finished without the cherry on top….as many as you like, read the ingredient label before eating!

then for that mountain look and texture you may crumble 2 oreos over the top and this completes the 7 Layer Yum Pie…..or mountain, complete with glaciers, boulders, snow and …..chocolate. Nice job chefs!


Winter’s Tale

January 25, 2012

Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin, was published in 1983. It has been on my favorite book list ever since. This winter I decided to read it again during the month of January, a perfect time, as the title might hint.

If only for the rush to the dictionary and the thrill of understanding these bell ringing made-up words I would tell you to read this book. If only for the way in which the concrete world/ideas are made light, diaphanous, ridiculous and the meta-physical world is given possibility/real edges I want you to read this book.

Yes, it is a book about romance and tragedy and, I suppose, the triumph of the human spirit which can drive any serious reader to mark the page and put it down and find a nice warm beverage and the op-ed column, but the huge, beautifully articulated paragraphs, the intricately yet sometimes obscurely linked events and folks will bring me back every time. I am in love with Virginia Gamely. I want to feel the cold beauty of somewhere upstate New York.

This book appears to ramble, if you work too hard to keep track of what year it is, who is related to whom, worry too much about Athansor, you will miss the wonder of the moment, which, as i write that I am aware of it’s own ridiculousness. What if we could suspend time? Didn’t we invent it originally? Would we go mad with intention, hold everything at once with senses cratered so deep we could finally stop………our deadening love affair with duality? This book will make you think like that.

I love a good movie…I am grateful no one has tried to make one of this book. I am afraid of the mess that would be made. The book’s possibilities/positions are best left to imagination at it’s first turn, just gathering in the colored strings without much raveling is best.

It will make you take long walks in the snow, glad for the cold, the light, the days off from school. It will make you feel strong, able to take on any momentous task that falls upon your path. Perhaps winter is not the time for hibernation and dreams. The path is never empty.

Winter Treats

January 25, 2012

Oh Butternut!

Who could say what grows under your awkward bulbousness,

that thin exterior the color of an old Barbie doll torso,

that hollow yet hallowed center,

until your flesh was split.

Oh Butternut, who knew you contained the essence

of a star crystallized, as well as the most coveted

liquid in the universe, your fragrance

steeped in centuries of early morning mist.

Oh Butternut, who knew the myriad consorts you might favor

in the name of flavor.

The spicy Italian Sausage with his garlicky breath and Asiago


the sautéed Chanterelle drunk with wine, sly and praising

of your tenderness.

Oh Butternut, only you could tame the narcissistic Gorgonzola,

wrapping him in ravioli, napping him with cream.

You, Blistered Chard, toasted Pine Nut, what a manage a trois you make!

And oh, Butternut, the sacrifice you make,

your blossoms before the fruit, a last splash of eros,

stuffed with black beans, chilies, urfa biber,

as September wanes, turning us back towards summer

as though it might never end.

This is the sauteed Italian Black Kale with toasted Pine Nuts, some baked Chicken chunks and the Most Honorable  Roasted Butternut. I cannot say any more about it. Let us pull up chairs, enjoin our forks and eat.

Buche Noel

January 20, 2012


This is the dessert my students often want to make for the holidays. It gives them practice in cake baking, buttercream making, fondant and marzipan work, and building a flavor profile.

I like to give them choices for cake: chocolate, almond, vanilla. Choices for buttercream are chocolate, mocha, espresso, and vanilla. Fillings can either be a buttercream of flavored whipped cream. We then make mushrooms, leaves, berries, flowers, birds, out of fondant or marzipan.

It is always interesting to see what colors they use for decor. We use paste colors, a small amount goes a long way. I like the non traditional colors like juniper green, and mixing reds and oranges. It is sometimes tricky to get a warm blue. Most blues straight out of the jar are too cool for my taste.

I have some concerns about food dyes. I try to keep my usage to just a couple of times a year and the winter holidays are definitely the time to bring out the color. It’s important to talk about that with students, balancing our celebratory needs and health concerns appropriately.

Warm and Rich Pie for Winter

January 20, 2012

This kind of pie is eaten slowly, small bites, waiting minutes between, because we don’t want it to ever end. Perhaps there is a dollop of fresh whipped cream, taken without sugar and vanilla, because we want the perfect clean foil for the intensity, the majesty, of this pie.

This pie has everything a winter pie deserves and expects. It has crunch, it has a saucy, sweet, southern mouth, and it commands your attention like Elizabeth Taylor in her tiara and pearls. You can’t say no. Even after seconds of mashed potatoes.

This pie is an adaptation of the pecan pie in Joy Of Cooking, the old version. Bruce wanted walnuts, fresh, crunchy, full of fat, walnuts. So we chopped some of them fine, left some chunky for a crunchy top, traded maple syrup and dark corn syrup instead of the light, giving it voodoo status, added my special vanilla that will take your hair down and maybe one layer of clothing off.

We blind baked the pie crust (you remember the crust recipe from last summer?) and then filled and baked at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Don’t over bake. Filling can still be somewhat soft. If the top darkens cover with foil last few minutes. You want it while it is still warm, crunchy top, soft filling, buttery golden crisp crust. Ice cream will deflect it’s perfection. Simple whipped cream….this is an earth tilting closer to the sun kind of moment. Make it last.