Pineapple + Chocolate

Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake
Macadamia-coconut caramel, pineapple-buttermilk sherbet, candied pineapple.


Lemon Tart with Italian Meringue
Lime-mint sorbet, candied kumquats, mint syrup

Not What It Appears To Be

Some things just don't look like part of the food world. The first photo looks like a sea creature that was discovered deep into the Mariana Trench. The second picture appears to be a hybrid corn, perhaps chocolate corn on the cob?

Candied Pineapple

"Torchon" of Chocolate Coated Cocoa Puffs

The Savory Side of Sweet

My fascination with injecting traditional savory ingredients into desserts has led to some interesting experiments.

Applewood Smoked Bacon Praline
Watch out ice cream here we come...

Popcorn Cake
This was made with buttered popcorn milled down to a flour consistency.

Ice Cream Machine

Last week our Italian ice cream maker arrived and we immediately put it to use. The initial flavors we made were, macadamia praline, roasted carrot & ginger, pineapple-buttermilk sherbet, blueberry pie, mint-lime sorbet, and of course vanilla.

Dos Brisas

We don't do very many 2nd party posts but we thought this was notable. A friend of mine, Mike Hizney, ate at Dos Brisas and shot these pictures. Thanks Mike.

Here's a little backround on Dos Brisas:
Jason Robinson, executive chef at The Inn at Dos Brisas, was raised in Southern California, where he was exposed to a style of cooking that fused unique Asian culture and traditional American influences to create a flavorful masterpiece.

From early on, Robinson knew he enjoyed creating food to please his friends and family. Taking advice from his father, Robinson decided to make sure he would like working in a professional kitchen and applied for the job as a prep cook at Fog City Diner, Las Vegas, where his sister was a hostess. Robinson didn't just like it, he loved it and his professional career was born.

After two years in Las Vegas, Robinson moved to Chicago to assist with the opening of Fog City Diner in the Windy City. Four years later, Robinson began a serious culinary study under the tutelage of star chef, Rick Tramanto at Tru in Chicago.

After 5 years of working at Tru, to which he eventually became the chef de cuisine, Robinson's cooking evolved to the point that he became chef at Goodfellows in Minneapolis in the summer of 2004. He stayed at this world-class restaurant until it closed its doors after nearly two decades of service.

Dos Brisas Herbs & Truffle Sunburst Garden Tomato, Mascarpone

Ahi Tuna Sashimi, Garden Cucumber, Ginger Tobiko Housemade Chile Oil, Ponzu Drizzle

Grilled Fresh Sardines, Tiny Tomato & Watercress Salad, Parmesan, Olive Dressing

Seared Cage Free Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Organic Peaches, Berry Gastrique

DOS Brisas Organic White Tomato Soup

Roasted Scallop, Organic Spinach Puree & Fried Ipswich Clam, Lemon Essence

Texas Wagyu Beef Filet, Garden Bush Beans, Caramelized DOS Brisas Onions, Beef Jus

Dos Brisas Housemade Pyramid Aged Goat Cheese, Garden Figs, Vanilla Syrup

Dos Brisas Organic Carrot Cake, Roasted Carrot Ice Cream, Carrot Reduction


Coffee Service

Ghirardelli Chocolate Experiment

The pictures tell the story. The applications for pliable chocolate are endless.

Grand Central Market

How great is this? So you work in NYC and you're a commuter leaving from the Grand Central Terminal, but before you go home you do a little shopping at the Grand Central Market located inside the terminal. They have so much nice food available it's like being a kid in a candy store.

Cooking, Learning, Evolving

This is probably our final experiment in frozen desserts for the summer. There's been great learning combined with great ingredients, what more could you want?

At the beginning of the summer my 16 year old foodie son was a willing prep cook, he even did the dishes, and if you're a parent you know how monumental this is. As the summer progressed Dylan became more technical, he had his own ideas, and began to have a "Food Voice". He's always had a voice, a pretty load one, but not one that spoke food.

This week he took over and went solo. At the same time I was having an extremely busy week at work, we had four food reviews and showed a total of 68 new dishes, it was intense to say the least. But to come home one night and have the kitchen set up like "Test Kitchen #2" was absolutely mind blowing, I walk out of one test kitchen, go home and walk into another.

There was Dylan with his prep done, kitchen cleaned, camera set up and just waiting for me to arrive. He had done a multitude of strawberry preparations; strawberry gelee's, strawberry "leather", strawberry ice cream, plus shortbread biscuits with sea salt and crème fraiche whipped cream. He had evolved in three short months from being a participant to formulating his own concepts and doing it himself.

I was extremely proud of his efforts, but what impressed me most was the fact that he was convinced it could be better the next time he did it. Self critiquing, self evolving.....the hallmark signs of someone deeply engaged in what they do.

Here's the final dish, plus I've posted a collage of this summers frozen dessert experiments.

Shortbread with sea salt, strawberry ice cream, strawberry gelee, strawberry "leather", creme fraiche whipped cream.

Strawberry cylinder with creme fraiche whipped creme, strawberry gelee, shortbread with sea salt, strawberry ice cream.

Collage of frozen desserts from summer 09

Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen

Cindy Pawlcyn has been involved in the creation of over a dozen new restaurants in the Bay Area including, Fog City Diner, Bix, Roti, Betelnut, Buckeye Roadhouse and Tra Vigne. Her latest creation is Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena.

Roasted Artichoke, lemon & chervil-tarragon aioli

Rabbit Tostada, red chile salsa, black beans & feta

Pablo’s Pollo Loco, chopped avocado salsa & stuffed green chile

Duck enchilada special

Kitchen Filming

Most days in the kitchen start out the same, turning on the hood system, firing up the grill and ovens, going through the coolers and reachins, etc. But not today, today it began with cameras hanging from the ceiling, lighting galore, a spiderweb of wiring and monitors, wireless mikes and of course the mandatory makeup to compensate for the irregular complexion shared by most people who cook for a living.

We shot a series of instruction cooking videos. These videos were more about ideas instead of exacting recipes. They're geared toward the avid home cook.

Setting up for the day

Any closer and he'd be on the cutting board

Olive Oil Ice Cream

As our summer experiments with frozen dessert development continues we find ourselves pushing the envelope. Pastry Chef at Le Bernardin, Michael Laiskonis, is the catalyst for the basic idea of using olives, basil and olive oil as a dessert match. His Workbook site is a creative source that tempers thought provoking ideas with the formulations of a scientist.

Of course, with this idea, like any good idea, we began to expand the parameters and move beyond the base idea and traditional thinking as we approached these desserts.

Fromage Blanc Ice Cream Infused with Basil & Olive Oil
Mediterranean olive “cannoli”, strawberries, mangos, dark cherries, julienne of basil.

Black Olive “Taco” Tuile
Seasonal fruit, basil and olive oil infused fromage blanc ice cream, mango puree.

Fruit Compote with Mango Coulis
Olive oil-basil ice cream, black olive tuile with orange zest.

Passion Fruit Ice

This simple passion fruit granite is a quick dessert or intermezzo for the summer. Passion fruit >> strain pulp >> add adjusted version of simple syrup >> freeze >> "Rake" often during the freezing process with a fork to produce large pieces of "Ice".