Category Archives: Fruit

Bryan Voltaggio’s Baked Applesauce

The beginnings of this applesauce.

The beginnings of this applesauce.


The applesauce of my youth was light and bright, the taste of sunshine in the park.

This applesauce, in contrast, is like autumn by a crackling fire.

“Baked Applesauce” is by Bryan Voltaggio, chef-owner of Volt, Lunchbox, Family Meal, Range , and Aggio restaurants in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virgina.

You probably also remember him as a finalist on “Top Chef” Season 6, my personal favorite season of the show because of the outstanding caliber of its contestants that year. Voltaggio lost to his brother Michael, who owns MVink in Los Angeles.

The recipe is from Bryan’s first cookbook, “Home: Recipes to Cook with Family and Friends” (Little, Brown and Company), of which I received a review copy.


As the name implies, these 100 recipes are the ones he makes in his family kitchen.

Sure, a few recipes do call for a whipped cream canister or xanthum gum, items not necessarily found in your everyday home kitchen. But in general, these are recipes that are not geared for a brigade of cooks or fancy equipment. In short, they are accessible with familiar flavors and a sense of fun and comfort.

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When Life Gives You Too Many Bananas, Make Bananamon

Bananas and cookies make this ice cream old-fashioned delicious.

Bananas and cookies make this ice cream old-fashioned delicious.



That’s bananas plus cinnamon in a wonderfully homey ice cream.

With crumbled Nilla Wafers for added enticement.

It’s a creation from Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn.

I received a review copy of its “Ample Hills Creamery: Secrets and Stories from Brooklyn’s Favorite Ice Cream Shop” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang; 2014) cookbook last year. Ice cream shop owners Brian Smith, a screenwriter, and Jackie Cuscuna, an alternative high school teacher, opened their first shop in 2011, followed by a second one in 2014. The shops’ name was inspired by a poem by Walt Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.”


The cookbook is full of fun and inventive ice cream flavors to make including, “The Munchies” (pretzel ice cream with mix-ins of Ritz crackers, mini pretzels, potato chips and M&Ms), “Cotton Candy” (made with cotton candy flavor extract and blue food coloring), and “Sunday Brunch” (maple cinnamon ice cream with baked french toast spooned into it).

With the recent heat wave, I couldn’t help but have ice cream on my mind. “Bananamon” appealed because of its nostalgic bent. A milky, creamy spoonful that tastes of vanilla, cinnamon, banana and old-time cookies — what’s not to like, right?

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Going Bananas For Banana Polenta Upside Down Cake

Move over, banana bread. Make way for banana upside down cake.

Move over, banana bread. Make way for banana upside down cake.


There’s no denying banana bread is so comforting, so nostalgic, and so easy to make.

But I think it’s high-time to branch out of that ol’ banana rut.

It’s time to flip things around. Upside down to be precise.

As in “Banana Polenta Upside Down Cake.”

This delightful recipe is from “Vanilla Table” (Jacqui Small LLP) by Natasha Macaller, a pastry chef and restaurant consultant who splits her time between London, Los Angeles and New Zealand.

As the name implies, this cookbook, of which I received a review copy, showcases vanilla in every recipe, both savory and sweet.


If you’ve ever accidentally left out vanilla extract from a cookie recipe — ahem, yes, I have so blundered on one occasion — you know exactly how flat tasting it ends up. Vanilla adds an unmistakable lovely, natural sweetness to anything it touches.

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Sacramento — America’s Farm-To-Fork-Capital

Chef Ravin Patel holds cute little mason jars of baby root veggies in edible "soil.''

Chef Ravin Patel holds cute little mason jars of baby root veggies in edible “soil.”


When one thinks of California’s top food cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles come to mind immediately.

As for Sacramento? Not nearly so readily.

In fact, a publicist for the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau told me that when arranging a tour recently for an out-of-state food writer, the visiting scribe’s first question was, “Is there an airport there?”

Why, yes, there is. It is the Golden State’s capitol, after all.

Indeed, Sacramento is home to nearly half a million people, as well as 1.5 million acres of farmland. With a year-round growing season, it produces more than 120 different crops that are enjoyed not only locally but abroad.

It grows more sushi rice than any other place. In fact, chances are if you eat any sushi in California, the rice was grown in Sacramento. The city produces 80 percent of the nation’s caviar. The breadth of the bounty includes everything from almonds to Kobe beef to wine grapes.

The fork in Farm-To-Fork.

The fork in Farm-To-Fork.

Even the table was decorated with freshly grown provisions from Sacramento.

Even the table was decorated with freshly grown provisions from Sacramento.

I was reminded of just how crucial Sacramento is to our plates when I attended a special private dinner last week in San Francisco that spotlighted the city’s culinary treasures. It was a Sacramento roadshow, as Executive Chef Oliver Ridgeway of Grange Restaurant & Bar and Chef Ravin Patel, chief culinary officer of Selland Family Restaurants, trekked down from Sacramento to EatWith’s South of Market event space in San Francisco to prepare a multi-course feast for a dozen food journalists and bloggers. All of it featured fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood sourced from Sacramento.

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Introducing a Revolutionary New Product — Coffee Flour

Get to know Coffee Flour, an intriguing new product you're going to be seeing a lot of.

Get to know Coffee Flour, an intriguing new product you’re going to be seeing a lot of.


Did you know that for every pound of coffee beans produced, there’s nearly an equal amount of waste created?

Coffee Flour aims to tackle that immense problem. It is the first company to dry and finely mill that pulp waste on a large scale to create a type of flour that has five times the fiber of whole wheat flour and more iron than any other grain.

Surprisingly enough, the resulting flour tastes nothing like coffee, either. Instead, the gluten-free coffee flour tastes heavily of citrus and cherry.

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