By Jenny McCoy
—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

Drinking vinegars, also known as shrubs, have become increasingly popular. Restaurants like Pok Pok NY in Brooklyn are now bottling drinking vinegars and selling them in grocery stores across they country. Even though not everyone knows about shrubs, drinking vinegar for health purposes has been done for a very long time.

Long ago, the Romans and Babylonians were mixing vinegar with water. The word “shrub” is derived from the Arabic word “sharbah,” which translates as “drink.” Even sailors from the 16th-18th centuries drank shrubs to prevent scurvy! Today, they are infused with every flavor one can imagine and lauded for their health benefits, some even claiming weight loss.


Shrub cocktail from the Spoon University event at ICE (credit: Katherine Baker)

Here’s the skinny

Shrubs are made with a combination of fruit, sugar and acid. More traditionally, they are made with equal parts fruit, sugar and vinegar. My preferred ratio is two parts fruit, one part sugar and one part vinegar—I tend to like my shrubs on the fruitier side, so I double the fruit. To make something so simple just slightly more complex, shrubs can be prepared in two ways—hot and cold—and they have infinite flavor combinations.

As for their health benefits, I can’t imagine anything made of four parts, one of which is sugar, to be very healthy. However, drinking vinegar itself has its merits: vinegar helps keep blood sugar levels in check by preventing your body from fully digesting starch. In doing so, your body will have a lower glycemic response to the starch you eat, which may decrease your chances of developing heart disease and diabetes. So, the next time you plan to eat a ton of bread, drink some vinegar first. Drinking vinegar is also considered to be healthful for an assortment of other reasons. But since this isn’t a post about diet (and instead includes recipes for alcoholic drinks), we’ll skip that talk for now.

To make a shrub—the cold way

This method will create a shrub that tastes fresh, light and slightly more acidic because the mixture will not be cooked.

Combine two parts chopped fruit and one part sugar in a large airtight container. Refrigerate the mixture for two days, allowing the fruit to macerate and the juices to release from the fruit. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing as much liquid from the fruit as possible. Transfer the mixture to a large airtight container and add the vinegar. Refrigerate the mixture for one week before using.

To make a shrub—the hot way

This method is quicker, but will deliver a less fruity flavor and be a bit mellower because the mixture will be cooked.

Simply combine all of the ingredients—two parts chopped fruit, one part sugar and one part vinegar—in a large pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer for three minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain and refrigerate until cold. It can be used immediately.

Flavoring a shrub

When making shrubs, you can use any fruit you’d like. Certain fruits may work better with either the hot or cold method. If you choose a fruit that doesn’t cook well, such as watermelon, consider the cold method. If you choose a fruit that tastes great raw or cooked, such as a pineapple, you can use either method. But if you choose a fruit with a very delicate flavor, such as a pear, consider the hot method to amplify its flavor.

I also love to infuse other flavors into my shrubs. Vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns or any other flavor that infuses easily into a liquid are a great option. Herbs, freshly grated ginger or turmeric root are also knockout alternatives. You should also consider the vinegar you use: distilled, for example, tends to be too acidic. Instead, use cider or rice vinegar for a mellow flavor. And don’t think you need to stick with just those options. White or red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, even a bit of balsamic vinegar make for special shrub combinations. Lastly, you can use any variation of sugar you prefer—give demerara sugar or raw honey a try.

Flavor recommendations

Hot method

  • Quince + star anise + brown sugar + cider vinegar
  • Bing cherries + vanilla bean + dark brown sugar + cider vinegar

Cold method

  • Strawberries + basil + turbinado sugar + champagne vinegar
  • Grapefruit + fresh bay leaf + granulated sugar + honey + rice wine vinegar

You’ve prepared your shrub…what now?

Once you’ve prepared your shrub, you can serve it as a nonalcoholic spritzer—combine equal parts shrub and seltzer, and add more seltzer or shrub to taste. Or, better yet, you can use the shrub as the base for a cocktail. A good rule of thumb is two ounces of shrub, two ounces of your choice of alcohol and two ounces of seltzer. From there you can doctor your cocktail to taste. Don’t forget to garnish either version with some fresh herbs or slices of fresh fruit.

Here is a peach shrub recipe I recently concocted for a mixology demo performed at ICE for Spoon University. For the demo, I lined my tabletop with over a dozen varieties of fresh herbs from our hydroponic garden at ICE and encouraged guests to concoct their own cocktails by choosing herbs to mix into the drink they wanted to try!


(credit: Caitlin Gunther)

Peach Shrub with Catskills Provisions Honey Whiskey

Servings: makes about four cups shrub (enough for 12 or so servings)

For the shrub


3 large ripe peaches, chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup honey
1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt


  • In a large pot, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for about three minutes.
  • Remove mixture from heat and let stand until cooled to room temperature. Pass mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and chill until cold.


For the cocktail


2 ounces peach shrub
2 ounces Catskills Provisions Honey Whiskey (or any other brand you prefer—but if using a non-honeyed whiskey, you may want to add a teaspoon of honey or simple syrup)
2 ounces seltzer
Lemon wedges
Fresh herbs, such as lavender, thyme, rosemary or basil


  • In a glass filled with ice, combine the shrub and whiskey and stir. Top with the seltzer.
  • Garnish with a wedge of lemon and fresh herbs.


Boozy Blueberry Basil Shrub

Servings: makes about four cups shrub (enough for 12 or so servings)

For the shrub


3 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1 bunch basil, leaves torn or roughly chopped


  • In a large pot, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for about three minutes.
  • Remove the mixture from heat, add the torn basil leaves and let stand until cooled to room temperature. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and chill until cold.


For the cocktail


2 ounces blueberry shrub
2 ounces gin, Hendrick’s recommended
2 ounces seltzer
Lime wedges
Fresh basil sprigs


  • In a glass filled with ice, combine the shrub and gin and stir. Top with the seltzer.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of fresh basil.

Want to study pastry arts with Chef Jenny? Click here to get more info about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

By Jenny McCoy—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

As the summer nears its end, tables at the greenmarket abound with gorgeous fruits and veggies—produce that will be sadly missed in just a few months time. Yet in the modern kitchen, an age-old cooking technique exists to keep enjoying those summery ingredients during chillier months—preservation.

market peaches

For ages, humans have applied a variety of methods to preserve food, through drying, curing, fermentation, pickling and salting. But in 18th century France, Nicolas Appert, a maverick chef, began researching how to preserve foods in a new way, one that would maintain foods closer to their original fresh state. Initially, he believed that removing the presence of air from stored foods would help them last longer. Though a lesser amount of air can aid the preservation process, he wasn’t quite right. Inspired by a contest organized by Napoleon as a means for feeding the military, Appert continued his food preservation experimentation. Eventually, he found a heating process that could allow foods to remain unspoiled for long lengths of time. A decade and a half of his research resulted in a method we still use today: glass jars filled with foods, then corked and sealed with wax. The jars are then boiled until hot enough to kill microbes that cause food to rapidly spoil, pasteurizing their contents. Appert is credited with the “how-to” of this technique; yet it was later that we learned why it works (thanks, Louis Pasteur). Today we have incredibly easy-to-use canning jars which have screw-top lids and rubber rings in place of cork and wax, which create a vacuum when heated, resulting in a hermetic seal (thank you, John Landis Mason).

mason jars and canning

credit: Casey Feehan

Coming back to the present day, I recently paid a visit to Grand Army Plaza, home of Brooklyn’s largest farmers’ market, and loaded up my son’s little red wagon. Courtesy of the enormous assortment grown by Phillips Farms, I did a one-stop-shop and rolled away with flats of blackberries and blueberries, more than a stone of white nectarines, pluots and Jersey peaches, Kirby cucumbers, serrano chiles and jalapeños, and enough varieties of tomatoes to warrant a separate blog post. My neighbor and I shared the bounty and eight hours of canning commenced. We deviated from the classics and made nectarine-coriander mostarda, blueberry-thyme jam and tomato-peach salsa. But we also honored tradition and made good old peach preserves with a hint of lemon and vanilla bean, garlic and dill spears, blackberry jelly, bread and butter slices, and a pack of pickled peppers. After all the gallons of water boiled and dozens of jars filled, the following recipe stood out from the rest, plus: I’ve included a set of simple steps on how to properly can using the water bath method.


credit: Casey Feehan

Recipe: Blueberry-Thyme Jam

Yield: About 4 cups


2 pints blueberries

2 cups granulated sugar

½ cup water

Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

8 to 12 sprigs of fresh thyme

¼ teaspoon salt

Pectin, as needed


  1. In a medium saucepan, cook the blueberries, sugar, water, lemon zest and thyme until mixture is simmering and berries are broken down.
  2. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens to a jam-like consistency. (For faster cooking, mix 1 teaspoon of pectin with 1 teaspoon of sugar and slowly sprinkle over blueberries while stirring constantly. Allow the mixture to boil for a minute to activate the pectin.)
  3. To test the jam for doneness, drop a small spoonful on a cold plate. If the jam develops a skin once cooled, it is thick enough. If it is too thin, continue to either reduce the jam or add more pectin and sugar until desired thickness is achieved. Can the mixture while it’s hot or let cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to can (using the below steps).

How to Hot Water Bath Can:

  1. Sterilize your canning jars prior to filling. You can do this by placing them in boiling water for one minute (without the lids on!), or by running them through the dishwasher. Wash the lids in hot soapy water. Allow the jars and lids to air dry (do not towel dry as this will negate your sterilization efforts).
  2. Fill your jars with hot, warm or room temperature foods (you can also can cold foods, but they take longer to pasteurize so I don’t recommend it). I suggest filling the jars with really hot foods to speed up the canning process. Also, a canning funnel will make life a lot easier. Gently tap the jars on a hard surface to remove air bubbles.
  3. Be sure to wipe any spills or drips on the edge of the jars with a clean paper towel, as they must be clean and dry before closing. Do not use a kitchen towel or your fingers, as this will introduce bacteria into your sterilized jars. When you screw on the lids, secure them tightly—but not as tight as possible.
  4. Set a metal rack on the bottom of a large pot. (The pot must be at least two inches taller than your canning jars.) If you don’t have a rack, fashion a ½- to 1-inch thick pad made of scrunched up aluminum foil. This helps the jars from being set directly on the bottom of the pot, which causes them to rattle around as they boil.
  5. Fill the pot with water to a couple inches from the top and bring to a rolling boil.
  6. Using tongs, carefully place each jar into the boiling water, allowing at least an inch of space around each jar and making sure that there is at least one inch of water above the tops of the jars. You may need to remove some water if your pot threatens to overflow. Cover the pot.
  7. Once the water has returned to a full, rolling boil, set a timer.
    • For jars filled with hot foods, boil the jars for at least 30 seconds for every ounce. For example, an 8-ounce jar will boil for 4 minutes.
    • For jars filled with room temperature foods, boil the jars for 1 minute for every ounce. For example, an 8-ounce jar will boil for 8 minutes.
  8. Once the timer goes off, carefully remove the jars with tongs and set them on a towel-lined countertop. Let them stand at room temperature until completely cool, up to several hours. Do not touch the lids until they are completely cooled, as you may inadvertently seal them by hand. If you hear snapping sounds, don’t worry—that is the vacuum sealing doing its job. Once the jars are at room temperature, any of the jars that did not seal properly can be stored in the refrigerator and eaten immediately. Otherwise, the rest of the canned goods can be stored in the pantry until the seasons change and you crave deliciously sweet raspberries in the dead of winter.

Want to study with Chef Jenny? Click here to get more info about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.


By Robert Ramsey

You all know Alice Waters, Dan Barber and Rene Redzepi, right? These are the elevators of the humble beet, disciples of the heirloom tomato, pioneers of the potato pedigree. Each is a master chef, overseeing wildly successful restaurants and molding industry practices in the process. These top toques and the hordes of “slow food movement” followers they’ve inspired seem to be gaining ground in one of the most prolific trends in restaurants today: meat in moderation, veggies in abundance. These are the non-vegetarian vegetable eaters. But, like that pair of bell bottoms you picked up in the vintage store, everything old is new again, and vegetable forward cuisine is no exception.

Pea Soup by Chef Robert RamseyIf we trace this trend back…way back…we might find ourselves on the fertile hilltop estate of Monticello, in the rolling piedmont of Virginia. Here, at the home of founding father and devout culinarian Thomas Jefferson, we would have seen some of the most spectacular vegetable gardens in the new world (and still do, in fact, as the property’s gardens are maintained to exacting historical accuracy). The numbers alone are staggering, as Jefferson, who kept extensive records, grew 170 varieties of fruit trees, 330 varieties of 89 different species of vegetables and 15 types of English peas. He grew broccoli imported from Italy, fiery Mexican chilis, French globe artichokes, Native American lima beans and African okra. His garden, pantry and kitchen were a worldly melting pot that came to define American culture and the country’s cuisine.

As United States Minister to France, Jefferson was able to stock his pantry and cellar with the best the world had to offer, returning with wines (680 bottles to be precise), cheeses and all manner of foods never seen before in the Americas. While he is often incorrectly credited with inventing ice cream, he did popularize it in the United States, along with macaroni and cheese, a dish he became so obsessed with that pictures of a “ macaroni machine” were found in his sketchbooks. French fries, Parmesan cheese and Champagne were all first documented in the U.S. by our favorite founding epicurean.

It is in his writing that we discover Jefferson’s incredibly uncommon use of the “meat as garnish” ethos on dining. He took his vegetables as his main course, using meat to flavor, or, accompany his meals. At Monticello he claimed vegetables “constitute my principal diet,” and meals were described as “served in half Virginian, half French style, in good taste and abundance.”

Fast forward two and a quarter centuries to a world where nutrition, food science, environmentalism, global markets and industrial food production all play vastly different roles in how we eat, and we discover Jeffersonian principles on food may still have their place. American foodways are changing every day—and that’s a good thing. Food writer Michael Pollan simply sums up a contemporary approach to Jeffersonian food philosophy: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” As more and more people are thinking this way, chefs are being given creative freedom to invent new and exciting vegetable dishes without the fear that they will sit in the back corner of the restaurant walk-in, waiting to become tomorrow’s family meal. As a native Virginian and classically trained chef in French technique, a lover of vegetables and an insatiable investigator of American regional cuisine, I for one am very excited to see Jefferson’s garden-focused cuisine on the plates in our highest-ranked restaurants (even if he doesn’t always get the credit).

Chef Robert Ramsey

Here at ICE, we are embracing that trend in many ways, but none is more obvious than our hydroponic garden. To be clear, in lower Manhattan, we may never have the opportunity to grow 170 varieties of fruit trees, but we can grow five different varieties of basil and taste the difference straight from the source. We can encourage students to taste vegetables growing right outside the classroom door. We can show them firsthand what it’s like to harvest lettuce five minutes before we make a salad for lunch. And we can show them that vegetables can, in fact, be the star of the plate…again.

The following recipe, in honor of Thomas Jefferson and his favorite vegetable, the pea, checks all the boxes when it comes to a classic Monticello-inspired meal.

Chilled Pea Soup with Virginia Country Ham and Garden Herb Salad


for the soup

  • 2 oz canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small head fennel, bulb only, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 pound English peas, shelled
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or broth
  • 1 cup cream
  • 4 oz extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

 for garnish

  • 8 oz VA cured and smoked ham (I like Edwards Wigwam ham), diced
  • ½ bunch each: mint, chives, sorrel, fennel fronds, bush basil
  • 1 oz lemon juice


  • In a large soup pot over medium heat, “sweat” onions, celery and fennel in a small amount of canola oil.
  • When vegetables are soft and translucent, deglaze with white wine and reduce by half. (Deglaze = pour cold wine into the hot pot, scraping anything stuck to the bottom.)
  • Add stock, cream and a few pinches each of salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook 20 minutes or so.
  • Transfer to a blender pitcher, working in batches if necessary.
  • Carefully add the peas to the hot liquid and purée until completely smooth.
  • Slowly stream in olive oil and continue to purée.
  • Let soup cool, then chill in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours.
  • Toss herbs with lemon juice. Serve directly on top of chilled soup. Sprinkle diced country ham on top, serve and enjoy.

Pea Soup by Chef Robert Ramsey

Want to study culinary arts with Chef Robert? Click here for more information on ICE’s culinary arts program. 

By James Briscione—Director of Culinary Development


I love the creativity of cooking. Inspiration and culinary discoveries can come from anywhere. Sometimes they’re right under your thumbs. A few nights ago, I was scrolling through Twitter and stumbled across Daniel Gritzer (@dgritzer) talking about an egg white mayonnaise that he and Stella Parks (@thebravetart) had made earlier that day. If you’re not hip to the homemade mayo game, it’s a popular misconception that emulsification requires egg yolks.

The egg white mayonnaise conversation reminded me of a discussion I had with Hervé This a few years ago when he visited ICE to give a demonstration to our Culinary Arts students. In short, his visit culminated in him telling me that he could (though, he insisted, he never would) make an emulsion from his spit! He reasoned that all that is required to create an emulsion, such as mayonnaise, is water and protein—both readily available in human saliva.

Returning to Daniel and Stella’s egg white mayo Twitter talk, reading through the conversation inspired me. My first idea was to substitute the water in the egg white with a flavored liquid—like carrot juice—and use an egg white powder as a source of protein. The next day, I went into the kitchen at ICE and made carrot “mayonnaise” with my students by emulsifying oil into a mixture of carrot juice, fish sauce and lime juice. It worked, and truth be told, it was delicious. As we tasted and discussed, one of my students suggested making it again with tomato—tomayo if you will. I immediately liked the idea and knew where this tomayo should go: on a BLT! After all, a great BLT begins with good bread and mayo, so why not make that mayo out of tomato? Here’s a recipe for tomayo for your next BLT.


Tomayo (Tomato “mayo”)


  • 50g tomato juice
  • 5g sherry vinegar
  • 10g soy sauce
  • 6g egg white powder
  • 225g canola oil


  • Combine the tomato juice, sherry vinegar, soy sauce and egg white powder in a small bowl and whisk until dissolved—the mixture should become a bit foamy.
  • Gradually add the canola oil, pouring in a steady stream while whisking vigorously until the oil is emulsified.

Or, following the same steps as above, try this variation with carrot juice!

Carrot “mayo”


  • 28g carrot juice
  • 5g lime juice
  • 10g fish sauce
  • 5g egg white
  • 265g canola oil

Carrot mayo

Want to study culinary arts with Chef James? Learn more about ICE’s career programs! 

By Chef Jenny McCoy

July Fourth-fetti Cake

As the Fourth of July approaches and we eagerly anticipate colorful firework displays and backyard barbecues, why not celebrate with a red, white and blue sprinkle-covered confetti cake? This delicious lemon-almond cake, filled with fresh strawberries and blueberries and layered with cream cheese icing, is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

The number of steps may seem daunting, and this recipe does take some finesse—but don’t let that stop you! They don’t call me “Chef” for nothing, so here are some of my favorite pro tips for success:

  1. Use some shortening to make the cake a brighter white, which also makes it easier to color. If you prefer butter, you can substitute the shortening with more butter.
  2. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl as you add the ingredients to your cake batter. This will ensure your batter is buttery smooth.
  3. If you want to customize the results, your cake batter can be flavored with a variety of extracts. One of my favorite combinations is vanilla and coconut extracts. Alternatively, if you prefer a plain vanilla cake, replace the almond extract with an additional one teaspoon vanilla extract, for a total of two teaspoons.
  4. I love to use a cardboard cake round to invert my cakes from the pans. It gives them a sturdy surface to fall on, which prevents the cake layers from tearing. Ask your local bakery for a few or cut out some rounds from a cardboard box.
  5. Don’t have a cake turntable? Not to worry! My favorite kitchen hack is to use the plate and wheel from a microwave to layer and frost my cakes.
  6. Instead of worrying about your cake layers sliding around as you frost the top and sides of the cake, try this trick—use a long bamboo skewer to hold everything in place.
  7. A flat, metal bench scraper (more often used for cutting bread dough) makes for amazingly straight sides on your frosted cake. If you don’t have a bench scraper, use a metal icing spatula, like the one featured in the video.
  8. Don’t worry about having a perfectly frosted cake for this recipe. As long as it’s relatively smooth, once it’s covered in sprinkles, it will be a showstopper no matter what!

One last trick: to make sure the cakes don’t stick to the pan, cut parchment paper into a circle to line your round cake pan. Here’s how:

Remember how you used to make paper snowflakes from folded paper in elementary school? Well, that same technique will now serve you well as an adult. If you enjoy baking cakes, that is.

For a round cake pan, simply fold a piece of parchment paper in half three times to make a triangular wedge of paper (kind of like a slice of cake—what a coincidence!). Turn your cake pan upside down and place the tip of the paper wedge directly in the center of the pan. Trim the wider edge of the paper wedge to the length of the radius of the pan, or the very edge of the cake pan. Unfold and voila! A circle of parchment paper to perfectly line the inside of your round cake pan. Check out this video on ICE’s Instagram feed to see how it’s done.

July Fourth-fetti Cake

Makes one three-layer cake


2 sticks (8 ounces) butter, softened

½ cup (4 ounces) shortening

3 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

3 large egg whites

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup milk

½ cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

Red food coloring

Blue food coloring

3-4 tablespoons red, white and blue sprinkles



  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Lightly spray three eight-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, egg whites, almond extract and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth.
  1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and stir together. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the milk and mix until combined. Add the remaining half of the dry ingredients, followed by the buttermilk and mix until well combined and smooth.
  1. Divide the batter evenly between three bowls and add blue food coloring to one bowl and red food coloring to the second bowl, mixing in and adding coloring in drops as necessary until the desired color is reached. Add sprinkles to the third bowl and stir until evenly combined. Pour the batter into the three prepared cake pans and bake until very light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans for five minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.


Lemon-Almond Simple Syrup

Makes ½ cup


½ cup simple syrup

2 teaspoons almond extract

2 teaspoons lemon extract



  1. Combine the simple syrup, vanilla extract and lemon extract and refrigerate until ready to use.


Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 6 cups


2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups (16 ounces) cream cheese

6 cups powdered sugar, sifted

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract



  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until soft and very smooth. Add the cream cheese and mix until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar and salt and mix until fully combined. Add the vanilla extract and whip on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days.


To assemble the cake:


1 blue cake layer

1 sprinkle cake layer

1 red cake layer

½ cup Lemon-Almond Simple Syrup (recipe above)

6 cups Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe above)

1 cup blueberries

1 cup sliced strawberries

1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups red, white and blue sprinkles, to decorate



  1. Slice the tops off the cake layers to create a flat surface. Place the blue cake layer on top of an eight-inch round of cardboard. Use a pastry brush to lightly soak the blue cake layer with the simple syrup. Spread about one cup of the frosting on the blue cake layer and cover with fresh blueberries. Top with the sprinkled white cake layer and repeat by soaking the cake layer with simple syrup and covering with one cup of frosting, and top with the fresh strawberries. Place the red cake layer on top. Frost the tops and sides of the cake with the remaining four cups of frosting. Freeze cake for 20 to 30 minutes.
  1. Place the sprinkles in a large bowl. Hold the cake over a rimmed baking sheet and gently cover the sides and tops of the cake with the sprinkles by pressing them against the frosting and allowing the excess to fall back onto the tray. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to two days. If refrigerated before serving, let cake stand at room temperature for one to two hours before serving.


Want to learn how to make tasty desserts with our ICE instructors? Get more information about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.


By Carly DeFilippo

Breaking bread may be the traditional cornerstone of any feast, but I’ve always found it to be one of the more intimidating—and time-consuming—food products to make by hand. Beyond the naturally leavened, French-style bread that consumes so much of the current culinary conversation is a whole world of international loaves—many of which are far easier to recreate at home.

hot bread kitchen flatbreads

In New York City, Hot Bread Kitchen is the leading purveyor of unique global breads. Known as much for their social mission—providing job training to female immigrants, many of whom have gone on to work in the city’s top bakeries—as for their products, HBK has become a staple at the city’s markets and upscale groceries.

I have been a longtime fan of the brand’s Moroccan m’smen—which sells like hot cakes—so I was delighted to learn that the team would be sharing their recipes for the m’smen and other international breads in a hands-on class at ICE.

While anyone can purchase an entire cookbook of Hot Bread Kitchen’s diverse recipes, taking an in-person class with HBK founder Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and the director of the Bakers in Training program, Karen Bornarth, was incredibly helpful. As Karen walked us through each recipe, she shared tips for home cooks working without a stand mixer and bakery deck ovens. She also explained how those of us with busy schedules could break up the baking process into steps (see “notes” in the recipe below), making the dream of home bread baking all the more possible.

Since that night at ICE, I’ve mixed, shaped and fried several batches of m’smen by hand, without a stand mixer! For this ambitious home cook, the dream of homemade bread is finally a reality, and I can’t wait to test out more of Hot Bread Kitchen’s inspiring international recipes.

Click here for upcoming baking classes at ICE or learn more about our professional bread baking program at

m'smen hot bread kitchen cookbook


Makes 12 (7-inch/18-cm) squares

  • 4 cups/500 g all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/100 g Semolina, plus more for shaping
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1¾ cups/400 g water
  • 2 teaspoons, plus 6 tablespoons/95 g canola oil, plus more for shaping
  • 6 tablespoons/85 g salted butter, melted
  1. Put the flour, semolina and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the water and 2 teaspoons/10 g of the oil and, with the mixer on low, mix until everything is combined well, about two minutes. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth, shiny, elastic, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about six minutes. (Note: If mixing by hand, gradually incorporate the dough into your dry ingredients in the bowl with a spatula. Once all the water has been added, knead by hand for about two minutes. The dough may look a bit shaggy, but will improve upon resting.)
  2. Generously coat a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Coat a large, smooth work surface with oil (a granite, stainless steel or Formica countertop is ideal). Transfer the dough to the oiled surface. Using oiled hands, form a ring with your thumb and index finger and use it to squeeze off pieces of the dough into 12 equal balls (each should weigh about 3 ounces/85 g). Put the balls on the oiled baking sheet and roll them around so that they’re coated with oil, but keep the balls separate from one another. Put the entire baking sheet in a large plastic bag or cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Note: those with busy schedules can chill dough overnight in the refrigerator. Simply remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator 30 minutes before continuing on to step three.)
  3. Meanwhile, put the remaining 6 tablespoons/85 g oil in a small bowl, add the melted butter and stir to combine.
  4. Re-oil the work surface. Working with one piece of dough at a time, use the palm of your hand to flatten the ball and then continue to apply downward pressure with your palm to stretch it out into a rough circle about 10 inches/25 cm across—so thin it’s nearly translucent.
  5. Using your hand, cover the surface of the dough with 1 tablespoon of the butter mixture and then sprinkle with a dusting (about 1 teaspoon) of semolina. Use a rubber spatula to lightly mark the midline.
  6. Fold the top of the dough circle down so that the edge extends about ½ inch/1.5 cm beyond the line. Repeat that fold from the bottom so that the two edges overlap the center. Then fold in each of the other sides in the same way to form a 3-inch/7.5 cm square. Transfer the m’smen squares to the oiled baking sheet seam side down and let rest for at least 15 minutes. Form the remaining bread in the same manner, warming the butter mixture if it begins to solidify.
  7. Proceeding in the same order in which you formed the bread, put each square on a lightly oiled piece of parchment paper and stretch it with your palm until it has slightly more than doubled in size. If it resists stretching, let it rest a bit more before proceeding. Each finished m’smen should be a 7-inch/18 cm square. Cut the parchment so that it extends just slightly beyond the square. Do not stack the bread as you stretch them—they will stick together.
  8. Heat a large griddle over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles away almost immediately.
  9. You can cook as many m’smen as your skillet or griddle will hold at a time. Lay the bread paper side up in the skillet and then peel off the paper as soon as the bread begins to firm—it will come away easily. Cook the m’smen until it turns first translucent and then brown in spots, two to three minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack while you continue cooking the rest.
  10. M’smen is most delicious eaten warm, but once cooled it can be stored for up to five days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It freezes well for up to three months. Reheat m’smen for one minute on each side in a hot, dry skillet before serving.

Reprinted from The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook. Copyright © 2015 by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez. Photos copyright © by Jennifer May and Evan Sung. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.


By Sarah Chaminade—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

Like many non-Irish descendants, when I think of St. Patrick’s Day, it’s all about four leaf clovers, corned beef, cabbage, whiskey and Irish soda bread. But what exactly is soda bread? Some say it resembles more of a scone than bread since it doesn’t contain any yeast. You can find hundreds of different recipes—some include caraway, and others even add eggs. If you ask true Irish lads or lasses, they’ll tell you soda bread must have only four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. To them, anything more is a tea cake.

irish soda bread recipe

As a chef, it’s always interesting to research where a certain recipe originated and how it has been adapted throughout the years. After doing some investigating, I found that the oldest reference to a published soda bread recipe was found in an Irish newspaper in 1836*.

Now, while I’m all for authenticity, as a pastry chef it’s my job to constantly question tradition and seek ways to transform the simple into something extraordinary. Over years of experimenting, I’ve found what I believe is the perfect balance of flavor and texture—with a little added surprise at the end. I’m willing to bet that once you’ve tasted this Irish soda bread, you’ll never buy a loaf from the bakery again! 

Irish Soda Bread

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 cup dried currants
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, or combine 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice for every cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup Irish whiskey
  • Flour for kneading
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix on low speed to combine. Raise the speed to medium low and add the butter, a piece or two at a time, until all of the butter has been incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. This will take 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the caraway seeds, honey, orange zest, currants and, finally, the buttermilk and whiskey. Mix until just combined.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times to smooth the mixture into a round loaf and transfer to a nonstick baking sheet. Make a cross hatch design (just breaking the skin of the dough) on top of the loaf with a knife and sprinkle with a bit of flour.
  5. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the loaf is set and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let the bread cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Learn to make soda bread with Chef Sarah at ICE! Click here to register for her class on Monday, March 14.


*From November 1836 Farmer’s Magazine (London) VOL 5 p.328 referencing an Irish newspaper in County Down:

“A correspondent of the Newry Telegraph gives the following receipt for making “soda bread,” stating that “there is no bread to be had equal to it for invigorating the body, promoting digestion, strengthening the stomach, and improving the state of the bowels.” He says, “put a pound and a half of good wheaten meal into a large bowl, mix with it two teaspoonfuls of finely-powdered salt, then take a large teaspoonful of super-carbonate of soda, dissolve it in half a teacupful of cold water, and add it to the meal; rub up all intimately together, then pour into the bowl as much very sour buttermilk as will make the whole into soft dough (it should be as soft as could possibly be handled, and the softer the better,) form it into a cake of about an inch thickness, and put it into a flat Dutch oven or frying-pan, with some metallic cover, such as an oven-lid or griddle, apply a moderate heat underneath for twenty minutes, then lay some clear live coals upon the lid, and keep it so for half an hour longer (the under heat being allowed to fall off gradually for the last fifteen minutes,) taking off the cover occasionally to see that it does not burn.” This, he concludes, when somewhat cooled and moderately buttered, is as wholesome food as ever entered man’s stomach. Wm. Clacker, Esq., of Gosford, has ordered a sample of the bread to be prepared, and a quantity of the meal to be kept for sale at the Markethill Temperance Soup and Coffee Rooms.”


By Jenny McCoy—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

This Valentine’s Day, you can do better than chocolate-dipped strawberries. Impress your sweetheart with a foolproof recipe for romance: a heart-shaped pastry that’s easier to make than it looks. At ICE, we’ve teamed up with People magazine to reinvent the palmier—or “elephant ear”—with homemade pink sugar for an extra DIY twist.

Pink Palmiers

Makes about 18 cookies


  • 1 cup sugar
  • Red food coloring
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten


For the Colored Sugar:

Place one cup of sugar in a bowl and add a few drops of food coloring. Wearing gloves, rub the food coloring into the sugar using your hands. Continue to add food coloring until you have reached the desired intensity of color.

To Assemble the Palmiers:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place puff pastry on cutting board horizontally.
  2. Brush the entire surface with a thin layer of egg white. Sprinkle with an even layer of sugar. Fold the left and the right sides of the dough inwards so they meet in the center. Press the dough lightly to adhere the two layers together. Repeat this process.
  3. Brush the surface of the dough with egg white again, and sprinkle with sugar. Fold the left column of pastry dough onto the right, like a book. Brush the entire outside surface of the folded dough with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
  4. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/4-inch slices. Lay the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving 2- to 3-inches of space in between each cookie. Pinch the bottom and gently spread the top portions of the cookie to create a heart shape. Cover with parchment paper and another baking sheet to ensure the cookies stay flat while baking.
  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cookies are light golden brown. Remove the top baking sheet and parchment paper and cool until just warm, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to completely cool.

Pro Tips:

  1. Be sure to buy all-butter frozen puff pastry. It may be a bit more expensive, but it’s well worth the flavor and light, flaky texture.
  2. Frozen puff pastry thaws quickly, so remove it from the freezer about 10 minutes before you are ready to assemble the cookies. Folding it while still cold makes it easier to handle.
  3. Brushing egg white over your dough ensures the sugar stays in place during folding.
  4. Spice things up by adding ground cinnamon or a vanilla bean to your pink sugar.
  5. Transfer your cookies to a cooling rack while they are still a bit warm. If you let them cool entirely, the caramelized sugar will cause the cookies to stick to the paper.
  6. This is a great make-ahead cookie recipe. Simply assemble the cookies, slice, shape and freeze. They can go directly from the freezer into the oven when you are ready to bake.

Ready to take your pastry skills to the next level? Click here for free information about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

By James Briscione—Director of Culinary Development

Preserving seasonal produce is one of the world’s oldest culinary traditions. Growing up down South, the end of summer meant two things: the start of football season and time to start “puttin’ up.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term, puttin’ up is the act of harvesting seasonal produce and preserving it to last throughout the winter. This meant canning ripe tomatoes or peaches, blanching and freezing field peas, making jam with figs, berries and persimmons, and pickling every vegetable in sight. It’s not just a Southern thing: across the globe, you’ll find a wide range of traditional methods for extending the life of seasonal flavors.

citrus mandarin buddha's hand, meyer lemon

However, down South, this mindset only seems to strike at the end of summer. I’m sure it has something to do with those stories we read to children about the little squirrel storing up his acorns before the snow falls. Yet winter can be puttin’ up season too. After all, cold weather provides us with an incredible bounty of citrus, including some highly aromatic fruits that are, in some cases, only available for a matter of weeks. This year, I’m picking my favorite unique citrus and puttin’ ‘em up!

Buddha’s hand citron is a wild-looking fruit that looks like a cross between a lemon and an octopus. It has no pulp or juice and is made up entirely of delicately perfumed rind. 

Meyer lemon is less sour than the standard lemon and has a complex, floral aroma that falls somewhere on the spectrum between lemon and orange.

Mandarin orange is a small, squat orange that is closely related to (and sometimes labeled as) a tangerine. They are slightly sweeter than the standard orange, and mandarin rinds boast aromatic hints of vanilla and spice.

Kumquats hail from Southeast Asia and look like tiny, oblong oranges. Their taste can range from sour to sweet, depending on the variety. Unlike most citrus, kumquats are typically eaten whole (rind and all).

Unlike other vegetables and fruits, heat is often your enemy when preserving citrus. Of course, heat is the safest way to preserve foods—ensuring no bacteria remains behind to cause spoilage—but the delicate aromas that are unique to each citrus varietal are destroyed when heated. For that reason, we prefer to use salt or acid to create an environment where bacteria is killed and aromas survive. Below, you’ll find pickling, preserving and candying recipes for preserving seasonal citrus.


Pickled Kumquat

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, sliced
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 1 lb kumquat, sliced and seeds removed

Combine the sugar, vinegar, ginger and cardamom in a saucepot. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and then set aside to cool. (It is important to make sure the liquid is fully cooled before pouring over the citrus, to ensure the protection of the fruit’s nuanced flavors.) Place the kumquats in a clean jar and pour the pickling liquid over the fruit. They will be ready to eat in 24 hours.

Preserved Mandarin and Meyer Lemons

For the mandarins:

  • 8 mandarin oranges
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ vanilla bean, split
  • 3 pods star anise
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorn
  • 5 tbsp kosher salt
  • 7 tbsp sugar

For the Meyer lemons:

  • 8 Meyer lemons
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 2 pods star anise
  • Pinch saffron
  • 5 tbsp kosher salt
  • 7 tbsp sugar

Wash the fruit well in warm water and dry. Cut the fruit into quarters and remove any visible seeds. Place the fruit in a bowl with your spices, salt and sugar. Mix thoroughly. Pack the mixture into clean jars or heavy-duty zip-close bags. If using jars, fill to top. If using bags, press out all of the excess air. Seal tightly.

Store at a cool temperature (below 70˚F or in the refrigerator) and leave to cure approximately three weeks (refrigerated preserves will take longer), occasionally turning the jars or bags to shift the contents. Rinse citrus well before using.

Candied Buddha’s Hand

  • 1 Buddha’s hand citron
  • 1½ cups sugar, plus more as needed for finishing
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Candy thermometer

Wash and dry the citron. Separate the “fingers” from the body and slice into ½-inch thick slices. Dice the body into ½-inch cubes. Taste a piece of the fruit: if it is bitter, place the pieces in a pot, cover completely with cold water and bring to a simmer. Drain the citron, discarding the water and cover with fresh water again. Bring back to a simmer and repeat one more time. (If the fruit is not bitter, you can skip this step.)

In a clean pot, combine sugar, salt and 1½ cups water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the citron and cook at a low boil, until the temperature on a candy thermometer reads 230˚F. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Once cooked, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

When cool enough to handle, place the pieces on a rack and leave, uncovered, at room temperature to dry overnight. The next day, lightly toss the dried citron pieces in a bowl with granulated sugar to coat completely. Shake off any excess sugar and store in an airtight container.

Learn more about pickling, preserving and other advanced culinary skills in our career culinary arts and continuing education programs at ICE.


By Chef Jenny McCoy—Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

The two questions I hear most often are:

1) What is your favorite dessert? In some ways, this is like asking a mom, “Who is your favorite child?” I do my best not to be rude, but really, I want to shout, “I love them all, duh! That’s why I’m a pastry chef!”

2) Do you create your own recipes? This answer is a hard one. Yes, and no. Let me explain.

jenny mccoy recipe developer

In my experience, gaining the skill—and comfort level—to write an original recipe takes time and practice—a lot of time and practice. So what’s the point? You could simply use recipes already written by other chefs, right? But then again, what if those recipes aren’t quite perfect? What if there were ways you could build on ideas in other recipes to create something even better?

Below, I detail the route I took to pursue perfection in my own original recipes. For those of you who are aspiring chefs, I hope my experience can give you a sense of direction. I really enjoyed my journey and feel my experiences served me very well.

The Beginning

When I began my pastry career, I simply followed others’ recipes. At first, that meant learning the traditional methods through the pastry arts program at my culinary school. These recipes were designed to familiarize students with traditional baking techniques, as well as the tools and equipment used in commercial kitchens. They weren’t recipes I continued using throughout my career but they were a perfect starting point. They helped me build a skill set, while I simultaneously developed my palate and personal preferences.

pastry student pastry school

Starting a Career

After culinary school, I began working in restaurant kitchens. There I followed the recipes of my pastry chef to a T. That was a tricky time in my budding career to navigate. Many pastry chefs will just hand you a list of ingredients and say, “Make a double batch of this,” without any further instruction.

It was my job to draw from the skills I learned in culinary school, to decipher the code of ingredients and decide which technique fit the equation. When that didn’t work, a simple request worked exceptionally well: “Chef, can you talk me through this recipe so I know exactly what you would like?” (This is a very helpful trick, turning your lack of knowledge into an opportunity to appear detail-oriented.)

This early stage of my career was also dedicated to collecting as many recipes as possible from a variety of chefs. It meant pouring over cookbooks and testing recipes at home in my spare time. I made studious notes about what worked well and tasted best, as well as notes for improvement. My cookbooks became covered in food stains and ink. And I had a drawer filled with little notebooks of recipes I jotted down from restaurant kitchens.


Additionally, I spent a lot of time eating out and volunteering at other restaurants, taking notes on flavor combinations, collecting more recipes and analyzing the work of successful pastry chefs. I drew diagrams of desserts I loved, so I would remember the various components in a dish. I always kept a copy of the dessert menu and archived them for future reference. In short, I created a kind of catalogue of sweets—stuffed with inspirational references, cookbooks, recipes and menus. This was before the invasion of digital photography, so I have very few images of the desserts from my early days. But today, I highly recommend snapping pictures of every dessert you love and filing them away too.

Trying Something New

When I finally reached the level in my career where I was able to begin developing menu items, all this research and hoarding proved incredibly helpful. I was able to cobble together original desserts, using a combination of other chefs’ ingredients. I would combine one pastry chef’s vanilla panna cotta with another chef’s strawberry gelée, toss in a tuile from a cookbook and voila: I created a new dessert. While these weren’t truly original recipes, the combinations of components were and that was perfectly acceptable by industry standard. But eventually, that got a little old.

After repurposing so many ideas from chefs I admired, I found a new desire to develop recipes to my personal standards and taste. I began by adjusting the flavors in the recipes I already knew well. The vanilla panna cotta became a lavender panna cotta; the strawberry gelée became blackberry-lime. I added a little black pepper to the tuile batter. When my flavor adjustments worked, great! When they didn’t, I went back to the drawing board. This resulted in some excellent results and some really disgusting desserts. It involved a lot of botched batches in the trash. Soon enough, I graduated to a new method of perfecting recipes. These new recipes were less about superficial changes—I focused less on swapping flavors and more on textures and consistencies.

panna cotta jenny mccoy

Milk chocolate panna cotta, cacao nib tuile, cherry cola sorbet and sauteed cherries

The Next Level

Let’s take a yellow cake, for example: instead of making four different recipes and using the recipe I liked best, I would line up four yellow cake recipes side by side. I added up the measurements of each ingredient and came up with the average. From there, I had a base recipe to test. Once the recipe was tested, I’d begin to alter the amounts of ingredients to my liking. I would make each recipe over and over, making the tiniest of alterations until I executed a final product that I thought was perfect.

This exploration really helped me to understand the functionality of each ingredient in a recipe. I gained a knowledge of baking principles. For example, adding more baking powder is not always the best method for making a cake’s layers rise higher. And you can’t always swap cake flour for all-purpose flour just because you’re making a cake. This process also led me to create some of my very first “original” recipes. Understanding the purpose of each ingredient—not just on paper, but in the application—is critical when readying yourself to write your own recipes.

Mastering Originality

Seriously, it took me about ten years of hard work to arrive at this point. Though, that’s not too bad when you think about the length of a lifetime, right?

Once I fully understood how each ingredient in baking worked—after falling down wormholes full of, say, hundreds of panna cotta recipes—my memory and confidence reached a new level of creativity. When I want to create a new recipe nowadays, I can easily combine techniques and ratios of ingredients that I’ve committed to memory. When it comes to panna cotta, I know exactly how much milk to cream I prefer, how much gelatin will set the custard just so, and I have an arsenal of flavors that I can incorporate into any recipe to make it my own. That doesn’t mean that panna cotta has suddenly become “easy” to make. The mastery of ingredients and techniques that comes with years of practice has allowed me to reinvent even the most finicky of desserts.

jenny mccoy pastry chef

What’s more, this solid comprehension of ingredients—combined with my personal preferences—allows me to read new recipes by other chefs and determine if they will work well. I can reverse my knowledge, not just to write recipes, but to know how to alter recipes in a cookbook I might be reading, to improve a dessert before I even try making it. So in the end, I find I no longer follow others’ recipes at all, but simply use them as a touchstone for inspiration.

A Gentle Reminder

Every pastry chef I know acknowledges that nothing is truly original. Yes, I am completely contradicting all of the advice I just shared. But, it’s the truth. You can learn to write recipes from scratch—and I strongly suggest you pursue the ability to do so. But, once you write what you think is original, don’t be upset when you find a recipe published elsewhere that is exactly the same. A panna cotta can only be so original, right? Instead of feeling a sense of defeat, recognize that you have arrived at a level of understanding that’s sweet in its own unique way.

Want to study with Chef Jenny? Click here to learn more about our Pastry & Baking Arts program.

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