Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

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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Get to Know Einkorn — The Only Wheat Never Hybridized

Scones made with the most ancient type of flour.

Scones made with the most ancient type of flour.


Chances are you’ve never heard of einkorn.

I know it was new to me — until I received a sample of the intriguing flour, along with the new cookbook, “Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat” (Clarkson Potter).

The cookbook is by Carla Bartolucci, who started growing this ancient grain known as einkorn with her husband at their home in northern Italy six years ago. Today, they are the largest growers in the world of what is purported to be the most ancient species of wheat and the only variety of wheat that’s never been hybridized.

Why is that important?

Because, Batolucci writes, not only is einkorn is much more nutritious than modern wheat (with 30 percent more protein to boot), but genetic testing has found that it lacks certain gluten proteins that people with wheat intolerances cannot digest.

That is not to say that einkorn is gluten-free. It has about as much gluten as modern wheat. The makeup of its gluten is different, however. It lacks high molecular weight proteins, making it tolerable to people who are gluten sensitive, but not for those who suffer from celiac disease.

A type of flour that may be suitable for those who suffer from gluten sensitivity.

A type of flour that may be suitable for those who suffer from gluten sensitivity.

As such, Batolucci’s daughter, who suffers from gluten insensitivity, is able to eat pasta, bread, crackers, cookies and other baked goods made from einkorn with no problem whatsoever.

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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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Miraculous Minute-Oatmeal Puffs in the Microwave

Start the morning off right with this oatmeal puff made in the microwave.

Start the morning off right with this oatmeal puff made in the microwave.


With school back in swing, mornings are even more hectic than usual.

There’s no excuse to skimp on breakfast, though. Not when you can make a whole-grain one loaded with fiber, protein, calcium, and fruit in a microwave in a flash.

That’s the beauty of “Minute-Oatmeal Puffs with Anise and Grapes.”

The recipe is from “Simply Ancient Grains: Fresh and Flavorful Whole Grain Recipes for Living Well” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. The book is by Maria Speck, a food journalist and cookbook writer who lives in Massachusetts.

As the name implies, this cookbook is all about cooking with grains, many of which are gluten-free, too. Inside you’ll find info on everything from black rice to red quinoa to farro to golden Kamut berries, and delicious ways to enjoy them morning, noon and night. You’ll be inspired to try new grains in dishes such as “Lemon Pancakes with Millet and Amaranth” and “Spelt Spaghetti with Lemony Parsnips and Olives.”


This gluten-free oatmeal puff caught my attention not only because oatmeal is a staple in my pantry, but because of the microwave trick similar to making a mug cake.

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