In a new video from ICE and PEOPLE magazine, ICE Chef Jenny McCoy
 shares the secret to impressing your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day (hint: it’s CHOCOLATE).

Chef Jenny layers her ultra-rich chocolate cake — with an extra dose of delicious from the addition of espresso — with piles of velvety Nutella-mascarpone frosting and adds an exciting crunch from chopped hazelnuts. What’s more; though it looks and tastes impressive, this simple recipe requires minimal ingredients and no stand mixer or fancy tools — who needs the extra stress on the big day? Trust us: it’ll be love at first bite. Watch Chef Jenny demonstrate how to create the cake in the video below — then keep scrolling for the full recipe and her pro tips for whipping it up at home.

Here are some cake-baking tips from Chef Jenny, so you can stress less about dessert and focus more on giving that romance a chance. We can hear Barry White already…

  1. The components of the cake can be made up to two days in advance and assembled right before serving.
  2. Don’t let the cakes cool in the pans for more that 10 minutes, as this can cause them to shrink and stick to the pans.
  3. Can’t find mascarpone? Swap for cream cheese!
  4. Use the plate and wheeled ring in your microwave as a cake turntable substitute. (Want to see how? Check out this video.)
  5. If you don’t have a pastry bag and pastry tip, just use a spatula to spread the filling over the cake layers.
  6. Lining your cake pans with parchment will ensure they don’t stick — but how to cut a circle of parchment to perfectly fit the size of your pan? Watch this.
  7. Thinking about going pro with your cake deco? Check out ICE’s Professional Cake Decorating Program.

Decadent Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe with Nutella-Mascarpone Filling

For the Dark Chocolate Cake
Yield: Makes two 8-inch round cake layers

Ingredients:

1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1¼ granulated sugar
1 cup brewed coffee, at room temperature

Preparation:

  • Position rack in center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray. Sift flour, cocoa, espresso, salt and baking soda together in a bowl or onto a piece of parchment.
  • In a large bowl, add eggs, sugar and coffee, and whisk until thickened and light in color. Gradually whisk in dry ingredients until smooth.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer cake pans to a cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Gently invert and cool to room temperature before using.

For the Nutella-Mascarpone Filling
Yield: Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients:

3½ cups Nutella or chocolate-hazelnut spread
1½ cup mascarpone cheese

Preparation:

  • In a large bowl, fold the Nutella and mascarpone together until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use or up to 3 days. If needed, stir the filling to soften before using.

To assemble:

Ingredients:

1 recipe Dark Chocolate Cake
1 recipe Nutella-Mascarpone Filling
1 cup roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Preparation:

  • Place one Dark Chocolate Cake layer on an 8-inch cardboard cake round. Pipe a 3/4-inch thick layer of the Nutella-Mascarpone Filling, starting at the edge of the cake and working your way into the center. Scatter the top of the filling generously with the chopped hazelnuts. Gently place the second layer of cake on top of the filling. Pipe the remaining filling on top of the cake, swirling into a decorative pattern, and sprinkle with remaining nuts.

Want to take your pastry & baking skills to the next level? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.

By James Distefano – Chef Instructor, School of Baking & Pastry Arts

When I was the executive pastry chef at the original Rouge Tomate, my job was to incorporate more fruits and alternative grains into my baking while cutting back on the refined sugar and flours. I saw this directive as a positive challenge — one in which I could expand both my knowledge of ingredients and also my palette.

My medjool date sticky toffee pudding is a great example of this. It combines sweet medjool dates with whole wheat and buckwheat flours. Using the dates allowed me to cut back on the sugar and still retain the cake’s sweet decadence. I added a touch of cocoa powder to play into that richness while counterbalancing with the cocoa powder’s bitter qualities. Finally, I topped it off with a little banana caramel sauce. You might think that’s bananas, but who doesn’t love a date on Valentine’s Day?

sticky_pudding

Medjool Date Sticky Toffee Pudding
Servings: Makes about 8-10 servings.

Ingredients:

170 grams medjool dates, pitted
6 grams vanilla extract
10 grams baking soda
392 grams water
85 grams butter
227 grams dark brown sugar
75 grams eggs
122 grams all-purpose flour
85 grams whole-wheat flour
14 grams buckwheat flour
56 grams cocoa powder
6.3 grams baking powder
1.5 grams salt

Preparation:

  • Heat oven to 350° F.
  • Place the dates, vanilla extract and baking soda in a medium-size bowl and set aside.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then pour over the dates and cover with plastic wrap to soften them. This should take about five minutes.
  • Once the dates have softened, puree them into a smooth paste utilizing a blender. Set this loose date paste aside.
  • In a bowl fitted for an electric mixer, cream the butter and dark brown sugar on medium speed until it is light and fluffy.
  • Turn machine down to low speed and gradually add the eggs.
  • Alternately add your dry ingredients and the loose date paste, beginning and ending with your dry ingredients until all of the dry ingredients and the date paste have been incorporated.
  • Portion batter into individual molds and bake at 350° F until set. They will feel lightly firm with a soft spring to them.
  • Allow them to cool to room temperature before unmolding.
  • Serve with Banana Caramel (recipe below) or store until ready to serve. These cakes will last up to one day stored in an airtight container.

Banana Caramel Sauce                  

Ingredients:

75 grams granulated sugar
375 grams banana (about 3), very ripe, chopped into small pieces
125 grams whole milk
125 grams heavy cream
3 grams vanilla extract
1.5 grams salt

Preparation:

  • In a small pot heat the whole milk and heavy cream. Set aside.
  • In a second small pot, begin caramelizing the granulated sugar utilizing the dry sugar method.
  • Once all of the sugar has been added to the pot, allow it to turn a deep amber color, right before it begins to smoke.
  • Add the chopped banana to the caramelized sugar and gently stir, allowing the bananas to cook in the hot caramel for one minute.
  • Deglaze the pot with the warm milk/heavy cream and simmer the caramel sauce for five minutes.
  • Place the banana caramel into a blender and begin to process, making sure the blender is on its lowest setting first.
  • Gradually increase the speed until the blender is on its highest setting. Blend for 30 seconds more.
  • Strain the banana caramel through a chinois and immediately chill over an ice bath until it is cold.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

This is a great sauce for the Date Sticky Toffee Pudding and for just about anything else you’d serve with a traditional caramel sauce.

Sweet tooth piqued? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.


This Valentine’s Day, skip the reservations race and treat your special someone to a decadent homemade meal. To help you conquer the most important step — menu planning — ICE Chef Robert Ramsey came up with the perfect, balanced, veggie-forward three-course meal, beginning with a winter citrus salad, followed by fig and ricotta toasts and ending with a rich truffle mushroom tart. The only things missing are a bottle of wine and a good playlist.

By Robert Ramsey — Chef Instructor, School of Culinary Arts

People often forget that citrus comes into season in the winter. This time of year, the fruit is at its sweetest, juiciest and most alluring…perfect for Valentine’s Day. If you can’t find every variety used in this recipe, use any mix of citrus fruit you desire. Here, we top it with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, also a winter crop. According to legend, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, is credited with planting the first pomegranate tree.

Veg_Valentine_3

Winter Citrus Salad
Servings: Makes about two servings

Ingredients:

1 navel orange
1 blood orange
1 ruby red grapefruit
2 tangerines
½ medium red onion
½ fennel bulb
½ bunch fresh mint
Seeds of 1 pomegranate
4 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoons crushed pink peppercorns
Maldon salt for finishing

Veg_Valentine_1

Preparation:

  • Peel all citrus using a paring knife. Make sure all white pith is removed.
  • Cut citrus into various shapes — segments, wedges and slices add visual interest. Toss together in a mixing bowl and reserve at room temperature.
  • Slice red onion and fennel very thinly. I like to use a Japanese mandolin to ensure even cuts. Add the fennel and onion to the citrus mixture. Sprinkle a good pinch of Maldon salt (or any large flake salt) and the pink peppercorns. Toss well and allow salad to sit for 15-20 minutes.
  • While salad is sitting, rough chop or tear the mint, leaves only.
  • Finish the salad by tossing the mint, olive oil, pomegranate seeds and citrus mixture together.
  • Transfer to two plates, finish with a sprinkle of Maldon salt and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

Interested in studying culinary arts with Chef Robert? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs. 

You know you should be drinking more tea. Heaps of it. But what you probably don’t realize is how creative you can get with tea, especially in its powdered form. That’s why, in a new video from ICE and Direct Eats, Chef Jenny McCoy shows us how to make three sweet and tasty dishes using tea powder: Tropical Tea Ice Cream Sandwiches with Pineapple and Macadamia Nut Cookies, Chai White Hot Chocolate with Chai Marshmallows and Green Tea Cake with Raspberries. Check out the video to see how Chef Jenny gets it done, and then keep scrolling to get the complete recipes.

Tropical Tea Ice Cream Sandwiches with Pineapple and Macadamia Nuts
Servings: makes 12 servings

For the tropical tea ice cream:

Ingredients:

2 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons tropical tea powder
5 large egg yolks
Ice bath

Preparation:

  • In a large bowl, whisk the yolks and ¼ cup of the sugar together until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
  • Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, cream, ¼ cup of the sugar, salt and tropical tea powder to a full, rolling boil. Slowly pour the hot liquid over the egg yolks, whisking constantly as to prevent the eggs from curdling. Set the bowl over the ice bath and stir until cooled to room temperature. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and freeze in ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and let freeze for at least four hours to set.
  • To assemble the ice cream sandwiches, place one scoop of ice cream between two pineapple-macadamia cookies (recipe below). Serve immediately or store in the freezer for up to four hours before eating.

For the pineapple and macadamia nut cookies:

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups rolled oats
1 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
½ cup dried pineapple, roughly chopped

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and dark brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Slowly add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and mix until well combined. Add the oats, nuts and pineapple, and mix until just combined.
  • Evenly drop heaping tablespoons of the batter on to the prepared baking sheets, and gently flatten the cookie dough. Bake until light golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on the pans until at room temperature before filling with ice cream.

Chai White Hot Chocolate with Chai Marshmallows
Servings: makes 4 servings

For the chai white hot chocolate:

Ingredients:

4 cups milk
2 teaspoons chai tea powder, or to taste
2 pinches salt
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preparation:

  • In a medium pot, combine the milk, chai tea and salt together and bring to a simmer. Remove from the stovetop, add the chocolate chips to the hot mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour into cups and garnish with chai marshmallows (recipe below).

For the chai marshmallows:

Ingredients:

½ cup cold water, divided
4 ½ teaspoons powdered gelatin
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chai tea powder
½ cup powdered sugar, to coat
½ cup cornstarch, to coat

Preparation:

  • Lightly coat an 8×8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine ¼ cup of the water and vanilla extract. Sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the surface of the water and vanilla and stir to combine. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer, fit with the whip attachment, and mix on low speed.
  • Meanwhile, combine the remaining ¼ cup of water, sugar, corn syrup and salt in a small saucepan. Fit the pan with a candy thermometer. Over medium-high heat, cook the mixture until it reaches 245° F. Immediately remove the cooked sugar mixture from the stovetop and slowly pour into the stand mixer while running on low speed.
  • Increase the speed of the mixer to high, add the chai tea and whip until light, fluffy and just slightly warm. Immediately transfer the marshmallows to the prepared pan and let stand overnight to set.
  • Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Cut marshmallows with a knife lightly coated in nonstick cooking spray. Toss the cut marshmallows in the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Store in an airtight container for up to five days.

Green Tea Cake with Raspberries
Servings: makes one 9×5-inch loaf pan

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
5 teaspoons green tea powder
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups cake flour, sifted
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 325° F. Lightly spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and green tea powder until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Slowly add the flour and baking soda, and mix until well combined. Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix until smooth. Gently fold the raspberries into the batter.
  • Transfer the batter into the loaf pan and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove the cake from the pan and let cool on a rack. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to three days.

Have a sweet tooth for the pastry arts? Click here for more information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

By David Waltuck — Director of Culinary Affairs

As the cold and dreary days of late January and February approach, the thought of a bowl of hearty and warming soup becomes especially appealing. When I was a kid, my Aunt Gertie, who loved to cook, would often talk about hot beef borscht with garlic — a dish that she remembered from her childhood. Although her taste memory of it was vivid, she was never able to make a version that matched the one she remembered.

What follows is my attempt at a borscht that matches the one that Aunt Gertie so fondly remembered. During colder months, we used to serve this as a staff meal at Chanterelle. Though I’m quite happy with the recipe, I always wish I could have tasted original.

beef-borscht

 

Aunt Gertie’s Hot Beef Borscht
Serves 6-8 as a main course

Ingredients:

3 pounds beef brisket
5 cups veal stock
3 tablespoons chicken or duck fat
1 large onion, sliced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
3 quarts chicken stock
5 cups peeled and shredded raw beets (5-6 large beets)
1/3 cup lemon juice
6 cups shredded cabbage, preferably savoy
7 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
Sour cream for garnish (not optional)

Preparation:

  1. Place beef in a large saucepot and add the veal stock. Add water if needed to cover the meat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beef is tender, about two hours. Let the beef cool in the broth. Drain the meat — reserving the broth — and cut into half-inch dice.
  2. Heat the fat in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the broth from the beef and the chicken stock, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add beets and lemon juice. Simmer, uncovered, until the beets are tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. Add beef and cabbage, bring back to a simmer and cook until cabbage is soft and beef is heated through, about 10 minutes. Season with the sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper and caraway seeds (if desired). Simmer for a few more minutes to let the flavors blend, then taste and adjust seasoning as desired — the borscht should be sweet, sour and peppery. Serve topped with sour cream.

Want to study culinary arts with Chef David? Click here for information on ICE’s career programs.

No New Year’s celebration is complete without good friends and great (bubbly) cocktails. That’s why ICE and People Food teamed up to bring you these three Champagne-based drinks: the classic Champagne Cocktail, a French 75 and a Rosemary-Infused Pomegranate Sparkler. Watch below to learn from ICE’s Director of Beverage Studies Anthony Caporale how to prepare each one — then put a few bottles of bub on ice and watch your party go from festive to fantastic.

*Bubbly tips from ICE Beverage Director Anthony Caporale

  • Never shake a drink that contains Champagne or any carbonated beverage, as the mixing glass may explode out of the cocktail shaker.
  • Pour Champagne down the side of the glass to decrease the amount of head; pour it into the center of the glass to increase the amount of head.
  • Liquids lose carbonation as they warm up, so keep your Champagne bottle on ice after opening to help maintain the bubbles.

The Champagne Cocktail
Servings: Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

1 sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Champagne
Strawberry or lemon

Preparation:

  1. Place a sugar cube into a Champagne coupe.
  2. Add 2 dashes of Angostura bitters to the sugar cube.
  3. Fill glass with Champagne.
  4. Garnish with a sliced strawberry or lemon twist.

French 75
Servings: Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

Ice
1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce lemon juice (or, juice of 1 lemon)
Champagne
Lemon twist

Preparation:

  1. Fill cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add gin, simple syrup and lemon juice, and shake.
  3. Pour mixture into a champagne flute.
  4. Top with Champagne.
  5. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Rosemary-Infused Pomegranate Sparkler

Servings: Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups boiling hot water
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 ounce pomegranate juice
Champagne
Pomegranate seeds

Preparation:

  1. Add sugar and water together in a pitcher.
  2. Add rosemary and stir; allow to infuse for one hour.
  3. To a glass, add pomegranate juice and 1 ounce of the rosemary-infused simple syrup.
  4. Top with Champagne.
  5. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.

 Want to learn to mix cocktails like a pro? Check out ICE’s wine and beverage programs.


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.

spoon-university

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!

catskill-provisions

(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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

  • 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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

  • 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

Ingredients:

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

Preparation:

  • 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

Ingredients:

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

Preparation:

  • 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.

plumcots

credit: Casey Feehan

Recipe: Blueberry-Thyme Jam

Yield: About 4 cups

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

  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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

  • 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

Tomayo_BLT

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_BLT_2

Tomayo (Tomato “mayo”)

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

  • 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”

 Ingredients:

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

Carrot mayo

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