Panna Cotta

I learned to make several delectable desserts in pastry school, but most are time consuming and a bit complicated. It’s hard enough to cook up a fancy dinner without worrying about a fancy dessert. I really needed a simple, homemade “go to” dessert that still had the “wow” factor. It sounds impossible, but I discovered that Panna Cotta is one of the simplest desserts to make. It’s literally easier than baking cookies, but no one would ever know because of its incredible taste and texture. Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert that translates to “cooked cream”. It can be described as silky, smooth, refreshing, light, and just delightful. This is also the perfect dessert for entertaining, because it can be made up to two days in advance and kept refrigerated until ready to serve.

I made a vanilla bean version dressed with strawberries and chocolate ganache. You can garnish and flavor to your heart’s desire. A caramel sauce with toasted almonds would be a nice touch. A citrus berry compote would also be wonderful in the summer. Instead of vanilla bean, flavor the cream with orange/lemon zest, espresso, chocolate etc. Just make it your own!

See Recipe!


Raspberry Ancho Pork Chops w/ Raspberry Caramelized Onions

Pork chops don’t have the best reputation. It’s often thought to be dry, bland, and boring. And if you’ve tried a majority of the recipes, this is probably all true. But, chefs have put a lot more emphasis on this lean “other white” meat, and there are several creative, exciting recipes out there. Get rid of those boring, apple sauce pork recipes, and give your chops a makeover with new flavors.

So, I came across two recipes that I thought combined would be perfect. One recipe called for the pork to be spiced with ancho chili spice and glazed with a raspberry sauce. Another recipe had pork chops smothered in orange marmalade onions. Well, I ended up with the picture above. I think it’s a keeper! I also posted a picture of a hot pepper Raspberry preserves I found. I thought it gave a nice kick to the recipe. If you can’t find the same jar, just add some crushed red pepper flakes to your preserves. And be creative with this. I think switching up the recipe to blackberries would be interesting too!

See Recipe!



If you read my 2 Amy’s post, you know that pizza is my absolute favorite food. Growing up, pizza was our Friday night treat, and more often than not, it was homemade. We always looked forward to Pizza Friday’s, and my mom always made the perfect pizza having the perfect crust! I’ve had many unsuccessful attempts at a homemade crust, but I finally perfected it after a lesson from my pastry arts chef, Brian Ross. Without getting into the scientific details, it’s the flour, yeast, and kneading that make all the difference. A high gluten flour gives pizza dough a chewier texture and gives the dough the ability to stretch and capture more air bubbles. Most grocery stores don’t sell “high” gluten flour. The closest I’ve found (and recommended by Chef Ross), is King Arthur’s Bread Flour. This has worked out great for me. As for the kneading, he explained to us (in much more scientific terms) that before the kneading process, your yeast is “straggly” in all directions. When you knead correctly (which I’ll try to explain in the recipe), you force the yeast into straight horizontal and vertical lines. In short, this greatly improves the texture of your crust as it rises. He also recommends using rapid rise yeast as opposed to regular, indicating that the only difference between the two, is that the rapid rise has a higher proportion of living yeast to dead yeast.

As for toppings, anything goes! Recently, I had a really fun pizza at Liberty Tavern, the “Vermont”, topped with caramelized onions, sharp white cheddar, sage, prosciutto, and granny smith apples. So, I recreated it at home with great results, as seen above. But, your toppings won’t really matter if you don’t have a solid crust. The crust makes the pizza! Although, my crust is nothing in comparison to 2 Amys (wish I could get my hands on that recipe), I still think it’s a hell of a good homemade version.

See Recipe!



I previously posted a recipe for mahi mahi that sat on a bed of saffron risotto. The recipe usually results in leftover risotto. If you've seen leftover risotto, you know that it's basically a glob of mush. But, this is a good thing! I take the leftovers, and refrigerate or freeze it. And when I have guests coming over, I thaw the risotto, and easily make arancini (fried risotto balls). The end result is a crispy exterior, with an extra creamy and deceivingly rich interior. It's always been a hit. The method is super simple. All you have to do with the risotto, is shape, bread, and fry. You can refrigerate leftover risotto for up to a week before making the arancini. If it's any longer, I would freeze it, and thaw before making your arancini.

If you're watching your figure, and prefer not to deep fry, shape your risotto into cakes, as shown below. Just bread them in the same manner as the arancini, and pan sauté with a little bit of olive oil.

See Recipe!


Seared Mahi Mahi w/ Saffron Risotto & Spinach Coulis

The inspiration for this dish is from Mark & Orlando's restaurant in Dupont Circle. On one of my visits there, my friend ordered a crab cake that sat on a creamy bed of saffron risotto surrounded with a spinach puree. I loved the medley of flavors! I thought the combination would work great with a mild white fish. Neil has high cholestoral, so I try to limit shellfish. Mahi Mahi is one of my favories. I googled the hell out of recipes for saffron risotto and spinach coulis and ended up with a delicious, simple concoction.

The life of risotto is rather short, and should be served immediately. But, always save the leftovers to make risotto cakes or arancini (fried risotto balls) the next day.

I recommend getting a squeeze bottle to nicely border the coulis around the risotto. As you can see from the picture, I didn't have one at the time. And don't get this from Sur La Table or anything of the llke...just go to Home Depot. It's a lot cheaper!

See Recipe!