By Chef James Distefano

Is there anything better than corn in the summertime? To me, corn is one of the highlights of the season’s produce. As a kid spending summers at the Jersey shore, the last thing I wanted to do was leave the beach early and shuck corn for dinner (but I did love eating it!). Now, it’s one of my favorite summer ingredients to work with, its subtle sweetness giving it the versatility to work in many dishes. What’s more: whether you’re using it in a soup, salad or simply grilled and buttered, corn is an ingredient that doesn’t need a lot of gussying up.

When thinking about fresh ways to eat corn, I wanted to highlight its sweetness by combining it with another summertime staple: ice cream. You may not believe corn and dessert go together, but consider this: while we commonly think of corn as a part of a savory dish, it’s also in plenty of your favorite breakfast cereals.

The inspiration for this homemade corn ice cream comes from a former boss of mine, Richard Leach. Rich has an amazing talent for creating and pairing desserts with uncommon ingredients. When I was a young kid working for him in the mid-90s, putting corn in a dessert was a mind-expanding notion. One day when we were talking about food, he calmly asked me if I’d ever had a bowl of corn cereal with peaches in it. “Of course, I have,” I said quickly—and then realized what he was getting at. My mind melted. Corn: it wasn’t just for dinner anymore!

The best part about this recipe is that you can make it without an ice cream maker. If I haven’t convinced you of corn’s delicious virtues as a dessert, you can try adding different flavors (see my tip below) or keep it easy by just adding the vanilla extract to the cream for a simple ice cream. Here are some pro tips to help you out:

  1. The scoop on the scoop: To get picture-perfect scoops of ice cream, dip your scoop into a tall container of warm water. The water will warm the scoop enough to enable you to dig into the ice cream and shape it into a nice round ball without the ice cream sticking to the surface. Just make sure to tap any excess water off of the scoop before digging in to avoid any messy dripping.
  2. Flavor-ific: If you’d like to add another flavor, such as a spice, you can whip it with your egg yolks. If you’re keen on adding something else such as chocolate chips, candy or nuts, replace the amount of roasted corn kernels with the ingredient of your choosing. If you’d like to try adding fresh herbs, mint, cilantro or tarragon would all taste delicious with the corn! Add any of the above to the batter at the end when you’re folding in the whipped cream. For this recipe, two to three tablespoons of chopped herbs should be enough.
  3. End results: To get the best from your eggs, let them come to room temperature because they will whip up more quickly and easily and hold more air (volume). To get the best results from your heavy cream, the cream and the bowl you will be using to whip in should be as cold as possible to whip up more quickly and easily and hold more volume. When you maximize the volume of both, your ice cream will be lighter and creamier!
  4. Bowled over: Since most of us only have one KitchenAid bowl to work with at home, I’d recommend whipping the cream first and storing it in your refrigerator while you whip up the egg yolks, followed by the egg whites. Whipped cream tends to hold its volume (the air trapped during the whipping process) longer than either whipped yolks or whites.
  5. Whip it good: To get the most out of your whipping cream, set the speed on your mixer between seven and eight or medium-high. At this speed, as the cream is whipping, the whisk will “cut” more evenly sized air bubbles into the cream. This is important because uniform air bubbles will “pop” closer to the same rate, whereas if you whip your cream on high speed, you will have irregular sized air bubbles—some large, some small—meaning your whipped cream will deflate more quickly than you want…and nobody wants to feel deflated!

 

Sweet Corn Ice Cream
Yield: 3 quarts

For the Roasted Corn Kernels:

Ingredients:

3 ears corn (approximately 1 ½ cups kernels), shucked, silks and husks reserved for corn-infused heavy cream (recipe below)
1 tablespoon canola oil
2-3 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt

Preparation:

  • Heat the oven to 350 F°.
  • Remove kernels from the cob and set aside. Cut cobs in quarters and reserve for corn-infused heavy cream (recipe below).
  • Spread kernels on a parchment paper-lined baking tray.
  • Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of canola oil.
  • Sprinkle with the sugar and season with a pinch of salt.
  • Roast in the oven at 350 F° for 15 minutes or until the corn begins to color.
  • Remove from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days.

For the Corn-Infused Heavy Cream:

Ingredients:

3 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 cups reserved husks, silks and cobs

Preparation:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in one large pot.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Turn the heat off and steep for 15 minutes, covered with a lid.
  • After 15 minutes remove the lid and cool to room temperature.
  • Store corn-infused heavy cream in an airtight container for at least 24 hours or up to two days in the refrigerator.
  • The following day, strain the infused cream through a colander to make the corn ice cream base (recipe below). You need to make sure you wind up with three cups. Add fresh cream to make up the difference if needed.

For the Corn Ice Cream Base:

Ingredients:

4 eggs, separated
Salt
1 ½ cups sugar
3 cups corn-infused heavy cream, strained
1 ½ cups roasted corn kernels

Preparation:

  • Combine the egg yolks, ½ cup sugar and a pinch of salt in the bowl fitted for the electric mixer with a whisk attachment.
  • Whip on high speed until pale, thick and ribbony, make sure all of the sugar has dissolved. This should take three to four minutes. Remove whipped yolk base from the bowl and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Keep cold. Wash the mixing bowl and whip for the mixer because you will need it to whip the egg whites.
  • Place egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl fitted for the electric mixer and begin whipping on medium speed until medium peak.
  • Once egg whites are at medium peak, slowly add in the remaining one cup of sugar. Once all of the sugar is in, turn the machine up to high speed and continue to whip until the meringue looks like shaving cream. It will be light, fluffy and glossy looking.
  • In three separate stages, gently fold the meringue (egg white mixture) into the egg yolk base, only folding about three quarters of the way. This will help prevent over mixing. After the third addition of meringue has been folded in, place back into the refrigerator to keep cold.
  • Wash the mixing bowl and whip for the mixer because you will need it to whip the corn-infused heavy cream.
  • Whip the corn-infused heavy cream to medium peaks in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment.
  • Fold one quarter of the whipped corn-infused heavy cream into the ice cream base and mix three quarters of the way.
  • Add the last three quarters of the whipped corn-infused heavy cream along the with the roasted corn kernels to the ice cream base.
  • Gently fold everything together until no visible streaks of whipped cream remain.
  • Pour corn ice cream into an airtight container with a tight lid and freeze immediately.
  • Allow to freeze for 24 hours before serving.

*Ice cream will last for up to four days in the freezer.

Want more delicious dessert ideas from ICE’s expert chefs? Click here to learn more about ICE’s professional pastry program.

By Robert Ramsey — Chef Instructor, School of Culinary Arts

Joseph Day is the director of horticulture at Agecroft Hall, a museum in Richmond, Virginia. Previously he ran the historic gardens at George Washington’s estate, Mount Vernon, worked in the gardens of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and studied roses at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Joseph Day and ICE Chef Instructor Robert Ramsey are lifelong friends who have been wilderness adventuring together for years. In this blog post, Chef Robert interviews Joseph about one of their favorite shared pastimes.

eggs and foraged ramps

Drifting slowly downstream, Joseph suddenly yelled out, “Pull over to the right bank — to that small island over there!” We were floating down the meandering, bucolic south fork of the Shenandoah River, not far from the nation’s capital. It was an unseasonably warm April day, and the dark storm clouds rolling over the Alleghany highlands made it feel even more like summer.

As we veered our canoe toward the starboard side, my buddy Scott wondered aloud why we were stopping. It turns out Joe had spotted a large crop of garlic mustard, an edible, leafy green plant. While it may have felt like summer on this particular day, these tasty, wild edibles reminded us that it really was April, after all.

foraging

tent view

To the untrained eye, it may have looked like just another grove of weeds growing on the forest floor, but for Joseph Day, Scott Parker and myself, it was dinner (and tomorrow’s breakfast to boot). The aptly named bitter greens have strong flavors of horseradish, pepper and, of course, garlic and mustard. As the storm clouds rolled in and the rain began to fall, we decided to stay put, harvest some greens and remain under the still-thin leaf cover of the early spring forest. By the time the storm cleared, we had gathered two hefty grocery bags of freshly picked greens, removed of their grit and sand by the rain. We were satisfied.

There is wild food all around us — we just have to stop, look and know what to look for. Foraged foods are pure, fresh, delicious and almost always rewarding. Guided by Joseph, the more experienced forager in the group, we were able to find fresh herbs and produce, full of nutrients and free for the taking, without ever leaving our campsites. Following this particular adventure, I reminisced with Joseph about our many exploits in nature. We started thinking about ways to share the joys of finding your own food with others. In this Q&A, we tackle some of the key questions that a novice forager might have, and developed a recipe using some of the best wild spring crops that the East Coast has to offer.

Robert: A lot of outdoor enthusiasts are interested in, but afraid of, foraging. Do you have any advice to help people feel at ease eating what they find?

Joseph: My first piece of foraging advice would be: learn the forest. Like fruits and vegetables, foraged foods are ripe only certain times of the year. The rest of the year, the plant is doing something else. Learn the whole life cycle of the plant, from early basal foliage to fruit and seed production. This will give you more confidence in what you are searching for.

R: How can someone who has never tried foraging get started?

J: In an ideal world, I would make contact with a local expert who can take the time to explain the life cycle of the best foraging plants. Otherwise, I would start with foraging flowers. The bright colors are easy to spot from your commute or your daily stroll. An example of this would be Cercis canandensis, commonly called eastern redbud. The bright purplish-red flowers are unmistakable and easy to find when quickly scanning the wood line.

R: Are certain times of the year best for foraging? Can you forage during all seasons?

J: I forage in all seasons, if not directly for the kitchen then just with my eyes. The dead of winter can be tricky, but if you keep your eyes open you can still find a decent crop. I would recommend early spring for the unguided novice forager. The early spring brings you the simple but flavorful greens and spring tonics that you missed during the winter. Late summer/early fall is when you find big fruit and nut crops which can be a much more substantial meal.

R: There is a common perception that foraging comes with the risk of food poisoning. What can people do to minimize this risk?

J: Information is key. I have been foraging since my early teens and have never had anything but a delightful meal of the local harvest. I also don’t take risks when it comes to foraging, I am certain in my identification before I harvest. If I am harvesting for a plant that has medicinal value, I consult an expert before I start using it. 

R: What are you favorite foods to find? This can include plants, nuts, seeds, fungus, animals… anything.

J: I enjoy garlic mustard, passionflower for tea, verbascom for smoking, a good persimmon, pawpaws and the black walnut.

R: Are there foods/plants that people should avoid — either because they are dangerous, unhealthy or just plain unpleasant to eat?

J: Like everything else in the produce world, when it comes to harvesting it’s all about timing. Plants become less palatable and lose their freshness and taste profile as they go through their life cycle. For example, dandelions lose their tenderness as they mature, persimmons are almost inedible before the frost and pawpaws have a shelf life of about a day before they become too mushy.

R: Mushroom hunting is its own specialty. Do foragers need different skills or experience to take on this task?  

J: Mushroom hunting requires much more research and knowledge: it can be dangerous. I would recommend a novice mushroom hunter to do their reading and forage with an expert at first. I also recommend using a mesh bag, like a leftover citrus or onion bag from the grocery store. Using a bag like this when harvesting fungus allows for dispersing spores for the next season.

R: Hardcore foragers are known for being secretive about the location of their finds. Do you know of any lore or anecdotes about the adventures of a forager?

J: Near my grandmother’s farm in Sperryville, Virginia, morel hunting was a major pastime in the spring months. There lives a professional morel hunter who searches and sells to local restaurants for top dollar — he starts out before dawn and doubles back to make sure he isn’t followed. These clandestine foragers were envied for their skill set and often accused of trespass. As a boy, I recall being jealous of their ability to find the best crop and of their knowledge of the land. Most morel hunters are gathering for their own table and are usually happy to share the harvest, but will never tell you where they found the crop. I’ve seen fights and rifts between families.

Another anecdote about morel hunting: Very often in Rappahannock County, Virginia they call morels “miracles.” This is because it’s a miracle to find one.

R: What can an amateur forager expect to find in the New York region this time of year?

J: Dandelion greens, flowers from the eastern redbud, crest, ramps, violet flowers, garlic mustard.

Sunnyside Eggs Over Sautéed Wild Greens With Morels and Ramps
Yield: serves 4 

This recipe is simple and made with plants that are ready to harvest…RIGHT NOW! It’s so easy you can make it on your next camping trip — all you have to bring is the eggs and a little butter.

dish with foraged ingredients

Ingredients:

8 high-quality fresh chicken eggs
1 pound mixed wild greens (like mustards, chicory, dandelion or watercress)
1 small bunch ramps (about 5 or 6)
1 pound morel mushrooms (can be purchased, only forage if you are an expert)
4 ounces (1 stick) butter
¼ cup salt
Salt and pepper to taste

foraged ingredients

Preparation:

  • Mix the salt with approximately one gallon of water, mix thoroughly and add the morels to soak for one hour.
  • While the morels are soaking, carefully wash and dry the wild greens and ramps (in a salad spinner if you have one).
  • Cut the greens and the ramp tops (the green, leafy part of the ramps) into a chiffonade, or long, thin strips. Mix together in a large mixing bowl. Reserve the ramp bulbs (the white and pink part at the bottom).
  • Remove the morels from the water and use paper towels to gently dry them.
  • Returning to the ramp bottoms, remove the furry looking roots, and then mince the rest of the ramp.
  • In a large sauté pan, melt half the butter over medium heat. When it begins to bubble and brown, add the morels, a pinch of salt and sauté. If the morels are too wet, they will cool down the pan and you won’t hear any sizzling. If this happens increase the heat of your pan until it sizzles again. Sauté until browned and wilted, about five minutes.
  • Add the minced ramp bulbs to the pan. Cook, constantly stirring, until the ramp bulbs turn translucent, about one minute. Add the mixed greens to the pan, another pinch of salt and pepper, and sauté until wilted, another three to four minutes.
  • Remove the mixture from the pan and reserve (outside of the refrigerator).
  • Reduce heat to medium low and melt the other half of the butter. Crack the eggs into the pan and cook sunny side up to desired doneness, remembering to sprinkle each one with a little salt and pepper. Work in batches if your pan is not large enough to fit all eggs.
  • To serve, divide the mushroom and greens mixture between four plates, or just one platter if you’re eating family style. Top with a sunny side up egg and enjoy nature’s bounty!

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

 

Chef Cara Tannenbaum’s first childhood memory of eating real chopped liver (on fresh rye bread, of course) goes back to the day her family moved to their new home on Long Island. As the years passed, healthy eating became a way of life in the Tannenbaum household and they replaced the traditional schmaltz-filled chopped liver with a vegetarian version loaded with caramelized onions, mushrooms, peas and walnuts — to add plenty of savory yumminess. As sometimes happens, the progeny eclipsed the original and vegetarian “chopped liver” has become a Passover staple in Chef Cara’s home. Try her recipe for yourself and you’ll see why.

mock chopped liver

Vegetarian Chopped Liver
Servings: makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup (3 ½ ounces) walnut pieces
2 large eggs, hard-boiled
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Matzoh crackers or sliced rye bread (for serving)

Preparation:

  • Heat the oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add the onion, season with one teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. It will take that long to caramelize the onion and cook it to a deep color that reveals its characteristic flavor. Keep the heat low, move the slices occasionally in the pan and have patience.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms soften and release their liquid, about five minutes. Add the peas, cover the skillet and cook the mixture for an additional five minutes, or until the peas are cooked through. Overcooking the peas won’t hurt here; a dull green color will help duplicate the look of liver. Remove from the heat and cool.
  • Roughly chop the walnuts in the work bowl of a food processor. Add the cooled vegetables and process until a thick paste forms, about 45 seconds. Remove the mixture from the bowl and set it aside. Without cleaning the bowl, process the eggs until they are roughly chopped, about 10 seconds. Fold them into the vegetable mixture.
  • Season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and the pepper and chill for at least three hours or up to three days in a well-sealed container. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Serve with matzoh crackers or freshly sliced rye bread.

Learn how to make all of our chefs’ holiday favorites — click here to browse ICE’s recreational cooking and baking courses.

“Once you’ve tasted this Irish soda bread, you’ll never buy a loaf from the bakery again,” says ICE Chef Instructor Sarah Chaminade. Members of the ICE team, who had the chance to sample the goods, would happily concur — that this is truly the best Irish soda bread recipe. But what exactly is soda bread? According to Chef Sarah, “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 seeds 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.” Baked with caraway seeds, currants and even a shot of whiskey, Chef Sarah’s recipe departs from the original yet still captures the essence of this classic Irish goody. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, there’s no better time to master Irish soda bread. 

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

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

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • 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.
  • Add the caraway seeds, honey, orange zest, currants and, finally, the buttermilk and whiskey. Mix until just combined.
  • 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.
  • 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 bake like a pro with Chef Sarah — click here for information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.


Chef James Briscione recently traveled to Bahia, a state on the northeast coast of Brazil. Through daily trips to the market, tasting indigenous ingredients and getting into the kitchen with local chefs, Chef James discovered Bahian cuisine. Here’s one of Chef James’ favorite recipes from his Brazilian culinary exploration: UXUA moqueca — a rich, delicate seafood stew, with white fish, shrimp and creamy coconut milk. Balanced and delicious, this stew’s always in season.

moqueca

UXUA Moqueca
Servings: 2

Ingredients:

6 ounces shrimp
6 ounces firm, white fish (like halibut or cod)
1 green pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 white onion, diced
24 fluid ounces coconut milk
3 red chilies, diced
Fresh parsley and fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons palm oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper

moqueca

Preparation:

  • Season the shrimp and fish with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Set aside.
  • Heat palm oil in a large pot. Add the onion, tomato and peppers, cook for a minute, then add the fish and sauté well. Add the coconut milk and simmer for about three minutes. Next, add the shrimp, chili, parsley and coriander. Stir gently and cook for around 10 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  • Reserve about 1½ cups of the cooking liquid to make the pirão (manioc cream).
  • Serve with white rice, plantain farofa (the above-pictured dish to the right of the seafood stew — see recipe below), manioc cream and pepper sauce.

Pirão or Manioc Cream

Ingredients:

1½ cups cooking liquid
¼ cup manioc flour

Preparation:

  • Place liquid in a small pot over low-medium heat.
  • While whisking constantly, gradually add manioc flour. Continue to whisk until consistency is firm and creamy like porridge.

Plantain Farofa

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons palm oil
1 tablespoon salted butter
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small plantain, sliced
1½ cups manioc flour
Salt
Fresh parsley, chopped

Preparation:

  • Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add butter and garlic and sauté for one minute. Add the plantain and sauté for another minute.
  • While continuously stirring with a spatula, add the manioc flour. Cook until the flour is well toasted, about three minutes.
  • Season with salt and finish with the parsley.

Explore the culinary arts with Chef James – click here for information on ICE’s career programs.


Alternative flours — like chickpea flour, banana flour and grapeseed flour — can add a nutritional kick and a tasty nuance to many everyday recipes. Though substituting your tried-and-true AP flour may seem a little intimidating at first, once you have a few recipes under your belt you can add these alternative flours to your regular cooking and baking repertoire. To help you get there, Chef Sarah Chaminade is sharing three new recipes that she developed for ICE and Direct Eats using alternative flours. First, Chef Sarah uses chickpea flour to add a sweet and creamy texture to her chickpea canapés. Then, Chef Sarah demonstrates how to make a gluten-free angel food cake using banana flour —with all of the lightness and none of the gluten. Then, she uses merlot grapeseed flour in her chocolate chip cookies to create a gluten-free and vegan take on the classic recipe. Watch the video below, and then scroll to get the recipes.

Chickpea Canapé
Servings: three to four dozen individual canapés, depending on the size of each

In Liguria, the region flanking Genoa along Italy’s northwest coast, farinata is a classic dish. Farinata is a thin chickpea cake typically cooked in a wood-burning oven. In Liguria, bake shops put signs in their windows announcing the time that the farinata will be ready and customers line up to buy it. It’s a perfect snack when eaten like a piece of pizza on waxed butcher paper. Farinata, just like pizza, can be stuffed or garnished with any vegetable, cheese or sauce.

Ingredients:

3 cups chickpea flour
5 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano, chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Optional garnish: dollop of creme fraîche, crispy prosciutto or micro herbs like micro arugula

Preparation:

  • Preheat convection oven to 450 °F (or 475 °F for a conventional home oven).
  • Combine chickpea flour and water with whisk until smooth — let sit for 1 hour to allow batter to thicken slightly.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients.
  • Pour the batter onto a silicone baking mat or a baking sheet lined with parchment. Spread evenly with spatula and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
  • Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut farinata into squares (5×7 or 6×8, depending on the size you prefer) and top with optional garnish.

* Recipe adapted from Ciao Italia by Mary Ann Esposito

Gluten-Free Banana Flour Angel Food Cake
Yield: one cake

1 10-inch angel food cake pan with removable bottom
15 egg whites, room temperature (note: it’s essential that they are at room temperature!)
1 pinch of salt
½ cup plus ¾ cup coconut sugar
1½ cups banana flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
* Flavor variations:
Replace vanilla with zest of one lemon, two limes or half an orange, or replace vanilla with two teaspoons of cinnamon

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  • In a very clean, dry mixing bowl combine egg whites and salt and whip to soft peaks. Gradually add ½ cup of coconut sugar. Continue to whip egg whites to medium peaks, being careful to not over whip.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the remaining coconut sugar and banana flour.
  • Gradually sift dry ingredients into the whipped whites, folding gently to be careful not to deflate.
  • Fold in vanilla extract and vanilla bean.
  • Pour batter into an ungreased angel food pan, spreading carefully to distribute batter evenly — do not bang the cake pan, as this will cause the batter to deflate.
  • Bake for 50 min, or until golden brown and cake springs back when lightly touched.
  • Remove from oven and invert onto a cooling rack without removing the mold.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely before unmolding.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Merlot Grapeseed Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: one dozen cookies

2 ½ cups almond flour
¼ cup merlot grapeseed flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup agave
1 cup 72% bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 325 °F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Melt the coconut oil in microwave or on stove top. In a medium bowl, combine all wet ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  • Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, mixing with a rubber spatula or spoon to combine.
  • Stir in the chocolate chunks, and allow the mixture to chill in refrigerator at least 30 minutes.
  • Using a cookie scoop, scoop mixture onto your prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Let cool before enjoying. Because these cookies stay nice and moist, they taste great the next day too.

Master culinary or pastry arts with ICE’s expert chef instructors — click here for information on our career programs.

 

If you haven’t added cardamom, za’atar and berbere spice to your pantry, you’re doing it wrong. These unique, flavor-packed spices can turn an ordinary dish into something extraordinary (and delicious). In a new video from ICE and Direct Eats, Chef James Briscione shares a few recipe ideas that will be sure to excite your palate and inspire your own spice exploration: Berbere Roasted Chicken Pizza with Berbere BBQ Sauce; Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Za’atar and Sumac-Yogurt Dressing; and Cardamom Roasted Pork Tenderloin. Watch the video to learn how you can prepare these dishes at home.

Berbere Roasted Chicken Pizza and Berbere BBQ Sauce
Makes two (8″-10″) round pizzas

For the pizza dough
Yield: makes two (8″-10″) round pizzas or one (18×13) pan pizza (full-size baking sheet)

Ingredients:

1¼ cups lukewarm water (100° F)
1 packet (2½ teaspoons) dry active yeast
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup whole-wheat flour
3 cups high-gluten flour (bread flour)
3 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation:

  • Combine water and yeast in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the salt, flours and olive oil, and mix well. With the mixer running, add the water and yeast to the bowl. Mix on low for two minutes, then turn to medium and mix three to four minutes more, or until the mixture forms a smooth ball.
  • Transfer the dough to a large bowl that has been lightly greased with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and set aside on the countertop for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl to a floured work surface. Punch the dough down by flouring your hands, making a fist and pressing the air out of the dough. Divide dough into two pieces. Roll the two pieces into balls under the palm of your hand. Then roll each ball into a flat disc with a rolling pin. Gently stretch the dough by hand until it’s between 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick.
  • Dough can be reserved in tightly wrapped plastic and refrigerated for up to three days.

For the berbere BBQ sauce

Ingredients:
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cider vinegar
1 tablespoon berbere spice

Preparation:

  • In a medium bowl, combine ingredients and whisk until evenly mixed. Reserve for preparing the pizza.

For the berbere roasted chicken

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon berbere spice
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon sugar
2 3½- to 5-pound whole chickens (“roaster” size)
Olive or vegetable oil, as needed
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups minced yellow onions

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  • To make the seasoning mixture, combine the berbere spice, salt and sugar in a small bowl and mix well.
  • Lightly coat the chickens with oil, then sprinkle generously with the seasoning mixture.
  • Combine the tomatoes, garlic and onions in a large roasting pan and place the two chickens on top, breast-side up. Roast for about 45 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 160° F (as the chicken rests, the temperature will rise to 165° F). Transfer the chicken to a large carving board to rest. When chicken cools slightly, use your hands and a fork to shred chicken.
  • In a medium pot, combine the brown sugar and vinegar. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Once the sugar is dissolved, simmer five minutes to reduce the liquid by approximately half. Add the tomato mixture from the roasting pan to pot and simmer 10 minutes more. Add the berbere spice and purée with a hand blender or transfer to a blender to process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To prepare the pizza

  • Preheat oven to 500 °F (or as high as your oven temperature goes).
  • Spread a base of berbere BBQ sauce over stretched pizza dough.
  • Top with shredded chicken, mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
  • Bake for six to eight minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown. Remove pizza from oven and let it cool for two to three minutes. Top pizza with dressed arugula and serve.
  • Repeat with remaining dough.
berbere spice pizza

Berbere Roasted Chicken Pizza and Berbere BBQ Sauce

za'atar roasted sweet potatoes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Za’atar and Sumac-Yogurt Dressing

Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Za’atar and Sumac-Yogurt Dressing
Makes four to six servings

Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 pounds)
2 medium red onions, cut into wedges
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons za’atar
toasted walnuts for garnish

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 450° F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Wash and peel sweet potatoes, and cut lengthwise into wedges. Peel and cut red onions into wedges. Transfer ingredients into a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, kosher salt, crushed black pepper, za’atar and gently toss to evenly distribute. Transfer onto your prepared baking sheet and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until browned on the edges and tender inside (pierce one piece with a fork to test).

For the sumac dressing

Ingredients:
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons sumac
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
1 cup full-fat greek yogurt
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed.

Preparation:

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. 
cardamom pork tenderloin

Cardamom Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Cardamom Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Makes four servings

Ingredients:

1 pork tenderloin, fat trimmed
4 garlic cloves, skin on
6 branches fresh thyme
3-4 whole cardamom pods
2 tablespoons butter
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
canola oil, as needed

Preparation:

  • Season the pork with salt and pepper. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and add a thin film of canola oil. Allow the oil to heat for three minutes before adding the meat.
  • Pat the pork dry and place in the pan skin-side down. Without moving or flipping the pork, let cook until the first side is well browned. Turn and cook until browned on each side. Maintain the heat carefully: If the edges of the pan begin to smoke, reduce heat.
  • Add the garlic cloves, thyme and cardamom. Roll the meat around to expose all sides to the aromatics. Turn the heat to low and add the butter. Using a spoon, swirl the butter around the pan and baste the pork with butter as the aromatics infuse in the mixture. Continue basting and turning the meat until it reaches an internal temperature of 150˚F.
  • Remove the meat to rack to rest. The temperature should rise to 155˚F before serving. Slice and serve.

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In a new video from ICE and Direct Eats, Chef James Distefano, former executive pastry chef of the acclaimed Rouge Tomate, delves into baking with alternative butters. First, he shares the recipe for a mouth-watering maple butter crepe cake. Then, he shows us how to whip up blondies made with cashew butter, with an added touch of yum from chocolate chips and salted cashew brittle — delicious and (sorta’) nutritious. Finally, for those of you with peanut allergies, Chef James has a new best friend for you — sunflower butter, a great alternative for recipes calling for peanut butter. He uses sunflower butter to bake his sunflower seed financiers, a light, airy and peanut-free sponge-cake with just a hint of vanilla. Grab a whisk and check out this inventive butter exploration, then scroll down for the complete recipes. 

Cashew Butter Blondie
Yield: Makes about 18 1½” x 1½” squares

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 cups cashew brittle
1½ cup chocolate chips
6 ounces unsalted butter, lightly softened
⅓ cup salted cashew butter
2 cups light brown sugar
2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Stir together the all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • Combine about two tablespoons of your dry mix with your salted cashew brittle and your chocolate chips in a separate bowl and set this aside as well.
  • Place the lightly softened butter, cashew butter and both sugars in to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on to medium speed and allow the mix to blend sufficiently until it is light and fluffy and well mixed. It should not look waxy.
  • Combine the vanilla extract with the eggs.
  • Turn the mixer down to low speed and slowly add the eggs to the mixer (one at a time) making sure the egg is fully absorbed into the sugar base. Repeat until all of the eggs and vanilla have been incorporated.
  • Add all of your dry ingredients (not including the brittle and chips) and mix on low until barely combined.
  • Turn the mixer off, add in the bowl containing the brittle and the chips and turn machine back on and mix until no flour is visible.
  • Spread blondie batter onto your prepared baking tray. Be sure to spread the batter evenly.
  • Bake the blondie for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the blondie is firm to the touch with a golden brown color.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to fully cool (overnight is best) prior to cutting.
  • Cut into small 1 ½ x 1 ½ inch squares and store in an airtight container for up to three days.

For the salted cashew brittle:
Yield: Makes 3 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
¾ cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
¼ stick unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1⅔ cups cashews, toasted (toast for 7 minutes at 350°F)
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preparation:

  • Line a baking tray with a nonstick silicone mat.
  • Place sugar, light corn syrup, water, butter and salt in a medium sauce pot. Gently stir to combine.
  • Bring syrup to a boil over low to medium heat. Be sure to wash the sides of your pot down to prevent the sugar syrup from crystallizing. To do this, dip a pastry brush into a small container of water and apply the wet brush to the sides of the pot.
  • Once the syrup comes to a boil, insert a candy thermometer and allow the syrup to cook until it reaches 300° F. Once it reaches 300° F, turn the flame off and remove the pot from the stove. Be sure NOT to stir the syrup as it boils.
  • Stir in your vanilla extract and the toasted cashews.
  • Wait about 30 seconds before stirring in the baking soda. The addition of the baking soda helps aerate the brittle and gives it a more delicate bite.
  • Pour the hot brittle on your prepared baking tray and, working quickly, spread the brittle as thin as you can with a buttered spatula.
  • Allow the brittle to cool sufficiently before breaking it apart into small, bite-size pieces.
  • Store the brittle in an airtight container for up to two days.

 

Sunflower Seed Financier
Yield: Makes about 15-18 3” cakes

1½ sticks unsalted butter
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped
½ tablespoon salt
1¼ cup egg whites (about 8-10 eggs)
4 tablespoons sunflower seed butter
⅔ cups sunflower seeds, toasted (toast for seven minutes at 350° F)
3½ cups powdered sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¾ cup dried cranberry

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. (If using a convection oven, lower your temperature down to 325° F with low fan.)
  • Prepare your molds or baking tins with cooking spray, or butter
  • Place butter, vanilla bean and salt into a small pot and begin to melt over a very low flame.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together your egg whites and sunflower seed butter to form a smooth paste. Set aside.
  • Combine the toasted sunflower seeds, powdered sugar, all-purpose flour and the cornstarch in the bowl of a food processor process until the sunflower seeds are finely ground.
  • Place the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  • Add the egg white-sunflower paste and whisk to evenly combine and form a stiff batter. Turn the speed down to low while you check on your melting butter on the stove.
  • Increase the flame on your melting butter and continue to cook the butter until the butter begins to turn a deep golden brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Whisk the butter to incorporate the toasting milk solids at the bottom of the pot and continue cooking until it foams. Once the butter is a dark, amber brown, turn the flame off.
  • Turning back to the stand mixer, increase the speed to medium and steadily pour the browned butter into the bowl containing the cake batter.
  • Once all of the butter has been incorporated, turn the mixer on high to thoroughly blend all of your ingredients.
  • Turn the machine off and using a piping bag or spoon, divide the batter into your prepared molds.
  • Garnish the individual cakes with some dried cranberries.
  • Bake the cakes at 350° F until they are golden brown around the edges and gently spring back when lightly touched.
  • Allow the cakes to cool in their molds for 15 minutes before unmolding on to a clean tray or plate. Cakes will last up to one day in an airtight container.

Maple Crepe Cakes
Yield: Makes 1 cake

For the crepes batter:
Makes about 30 crepes

Ingredients:

⅞ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup oat flour
1½ teaspoons sea salt
⅓ cup sugar
1 tablespoon maple butter
1⅓ tablespoons maple syrup
1½ cups milk
5 eggs
¼ stick butter

Preparation:

  • Crack the eggs and whisk them together with the whole milk, maple butter and maple syrup. Reserve in a pitcher and keep cold.
  • Combine your dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, oat flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Create an opening in the center of the bowl and begin to slowly pour your liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients a little bit at a time to avoid any lumps from forming. The batter will be very stiff initially; however, as you incorporate more liquid it will begin to thin out. Use all of your liquid, making sure to avoid any lumps from forming.
  • Melt the butter in a small pot then whisk the warm butter into the crepe batter. Stir to evenly combine.
  • Strain the crepe batter through a large mesh strainer making sure to remove any large lumps in the process. Store the crepe batter in an airtight container for up to two days.

To make the crepes:

  • Gently heat a nonstick pan or a cast iron pan over low heat. Allow the pan to sufficiently warm up.
  • Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Using a small ladle, add some crepe batter to the pan and quickly rotate the pan to evenly coat the bottom in a thin layer.
  • Cook the crepe until the batter has set and it begins to curl up around the edges. Flip the crepe over (you can use a small rubber spatula for this) and cook the other side. The whole cooking process for one crepe is roughly two minutes.
  • Place crepes onto a parchment-lined baking pan in a single layer, cover with another sheet of parchment paper and repeat until all of the crepe batter has been used.
  • Wrap the crepe-filled baking pan with plastic and refrigerate until you are ready to use them.

 

For the pastry cream:
Yield: Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

2 cups milk
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
4 egg yolks
½ stick + 1 teaspoon butter
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation:

  • Whisk together the cornstarch and the sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Place the milk into a medium pot and slowly bring to a boil over a low flame.
  • Whisk the whole eggs into the cornstarch mixture, then whisk in the egg yolks.
  • Pour one third of the boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to thoroughly combine. Return the remaining milk mixture to a boil.
  • Whisk the egg mixture into the remaining boiling milk. Make sure to whisk and stir with a spatula until the pastry cream comes back to a boil. Maintain the boil for another minute, whisking and stirring continuously with a spatula to avoid any scorching.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract.
  • Pour the pastry cream onto a plastic wrap-lined baking pan and spread it out into a thin layer. Place another piece of plastic wrap directly touching the hot pastry cream so it doesn’t form a skin. Poke a few small holes with the tip of a small knife in the plastic to vent out some of the steam.
  • Place the pastry cream in the refrigerator until it cools down and feels cold to the touch.

To assemble the layered crepe cake:

  • Place a crepe on a clean flat plate.
  • Spread enough pastry cream onto the crepe to evenly coat it without it being too gloppy or overly thick. There should be just enough pastry cream on there to thinly and evenly coat the crepe.
  • Place another crepe on top of the pastry cream and gently and evenly press down to “glue” the crepes together.
  • Repeat steps two and three until you have used 17 layers of crepes and 16 layers of pastry cream.
  • Once the layered crepe cake has been built, wrap with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight so it can set firm. When ready to serve, top with maple-glazed bananas (recipe below).

For the maple-glazed bananas:
Yield: Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter
2½ tablespoons maple butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
⅓ cup maple syrup
¼ teaspoon sea salt
5 ripe bananas

Preparation:

  • Melt the butter in a 12” sauté pan over a medium-low flame.
  • Stir in the maple butter, vanilla extract, light brown sugar, maple syrup and the sea salt.
  • Bring this mixture to a boil and allow to boil for one minute.
  • Peel the bananas and cut them into half-inch slices.
  • Immediately place the bananas into the maple-butter mixture and glaze the bananas for one minute in the hot mixture.
  • Remove the crepe cake from the refrigerator and generously spoon the maple-glazed bananas on top of the crepe cake, allowing the maple glaze to run down the sides of the cake.
  • Cut the cake into wedges and serve immediately.

Ready to master pastry & baking with Chef James? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs. 

This is the third part of a three-part Valentine’s Day menu. Get the first course here and the second course here!

By Robert Ramsey — Director of Advanced Culinary Center

Round out your vegetarian Valentine’s Day with this savory main course. The presentation is beautiful and it’s actually a lot simpler than it looks to create. Plus, the rich buttery crust and truffle-infused mushroom duxelles scream decadence and luxury. If any of the mushrooms are unavailable, you can substitute any type of fresh mushrooms that are available.

mushroom tart

Truffle Mushroom Tart
Servings: Makes about two servings

For duxelles (filling)

Ingredients:

8 ounces button mushrooms
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms
4 ounces oyster mushrooms
1 large portobello cap
1/2 yellow onion
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
4 ounces white wine
1 ounce truffle oil
2 ounces + 1 ounce butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  • Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Process mushrooms in food processor, pulsing until mushrooms are finely minced, but not puréed into a paste. Reserve.
  • Finely mince the onion, rosemary leaves and thyme leaves. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they cook down to about half the original volume. They should have a very dark color. Add the onion, thyme and rosemary and continue to sauté until onions are soft, about five minutes.
  • Next, add the white wine and continue to cook over medium heat. Allow the wine to reduce and absorb into the mushrooms, about five more minutes.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the butter and truffle oil, and season with salt and pepper. Chill and reserve.

mushroom tart crust

mushroom tart filling

mushroom tart egg wash

For the crust

Ingredients:

2 sheets puff pastry
1 egg
Small amount of flour for dusting work surface.

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 425° F.
  • Remove puff pastry from the freezer and allow it to warm up slightly at room temperature on a lightly floured work surface. It should remain firm, but slightly pliable, about five minutes.
  • Using the bottom of an 8-inch tart pan, or just an 8-inch plate as a guide, cut two matching circles from the puff pastry. Place one circle on a baking sheet and the other back in the freezer.
  • Next, pile the duxelles filling into a mound in the center of the puff pastry, leaving a one-inch ring around the edges. Transfer back to the freezer for five to ten minutes to re-firm the puff pastry.
  • While the crust is in the freezer, make your egg wash by beating together one whole egg with one ounce of cold water.
  • Remove both the top and bottom crust from the freezer and return to your work station. Before proceeding with the tart assembly, cut a small hole directly in the center of the top crust (the one with no mushrooms on it), about the size of a pencil. Brush the bottom crust (the one with the duxelles filling on it) with the egg wash, covering just the portion of crust not covered by duxelles. Place the now pliable top crust on and press the two sheets of puff pastry together. Be sure to seal the seams tightly — you can really pinch the edges together.
  • At this point you’re ready to decorate the crust. First, using the backside of a paring knife blade, pull the edge of the dough inward at one-inch intervals to make scalloped edges (see photo). Once you have scalloped all edges of the tart, cut curved lines into the tart top with the tip of the paring knife. The lines should connect from the center vent hole to each of the scallops on the edge, making a graceful curve as they go (see photo). The cuts should not go more than halfway through the puff pastry dough.

mushroom tart

mushroom tart

mushroom tart

To finish

  • Brush the entire tart carefully with the remaining egg wash. Make sure it is evenly coated and that there is not excessive egg wash pooling anywhere on the tart or it will burn.
  • Place the tart into preheated oven. The tart will need to bake for about 20 minutes. It should be rotated about halfway through the cooking to ensure even browning.
  • Once the tart is a dark, golden brown, puffed up and shiny, it is ready. Remove from the oven and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes before cutting.
  • This dish is beautiful served with a simple green salad, dressed with just a little oil and vinegar.

mushroom_8

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

This is the second part of a three-part Valentine’s Day menu. Get the first dish here

By Robert Ramsey — Director of Advanced Culinary Center

Figs and honey have long been considered aphrodisiacs by cultures the world over, so we’ll use both in this sweet and savory combination. Figs were supposedly the favorite fruit of Cleopatra and honey was prescribed by Hippocrates to boost libido. In short, this is the perfect Valentine’s Day appetizer, regardless of whether you stick to a vegetarian diet or not.

Fig Toasts with Ricotta

Fig and Ricotta Toast
Servings: Makes about two servings

Ingredients:

1 pint fresh figs
1 small shallot
2 ounces wildflower honey
3 ounces extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large handful arugula
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
Salt to taste
4 slices of crusty, country style bread

Fig Toast with Ricotta

Preparation:

  • Start by slicing your figs in half. Then mince the shallot. Reserve in a mixing bowl together.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together ricotta, half the olive oil, the black pepper and a pinch of salt. Whisk this mixture vigorously until smooth. Reserve.
  • Next, separately whisk together the honey, remaining olive oil, vinegar, paprika and another small pinch of salt to form the dressing.
  • Toast the sliced bread until lightly crisp.
  • Add the arugula to the bowl with the figs and shallots, and gently mix with the dressing. Be careful not to overdress, you may not need it all.
  • To assemble, spread a quarter of the ricotta mixture on each slice of toast. Pile the fig mixture on top. Drizzle with a little extra honey dressing if desired.

Ready to get into the kitchen with Chef Robert? Click here for more information on ICE’s culinary arts program.