Techniques at Williams-Sonoma: Crostini with Humboldt Fog and Pear Chutney

In this class we learned to use Humboldt Fog, a subtly tangy California goats’-milk cheese with a beautiful gray-blue line of ash running through it, is the perfect counterpoint to a mildly sweet chutney made from fresh pears. If you can’t find Humboldt Fog cheese, try Morbier, a French cow’s milk cheese, or a fresh California goats’-milk cheese. The chutney can be prepared a few days in advance and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the crostini.

1 lemon
1 orange
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 lb. (1 kg) pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch (6-mm)
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) pear brandy or cognac
1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) firmly packed brown sugar
Arugula for serving
Toasted baguette slices for serving
Humboldt Fog cheese for serving
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemon and orange in large strips. Juice the lemon and set aside 2 Tbs. lemon juice. Juice the orange and set aside 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) orange juice. Wrap the lemon and orange zest, rosemary, bay leaf and cinnamon stick in a piece of cheesecloth and tie closed with kitchen twine.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and pears and cook until the pears begin to release their juices, 6 to 8 minutes. Carefully pour in the brandy and deglaze pan, stirring with a wooden spoon, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by a third, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar, reserved orange juice, reserved lemon juice and the herb sachet. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the liquid has reduced, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chutney to a bowl and remove the sachet. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

To assemble the crostini, place a few arugula leaves on top of a baguette slice and top with 1 or 2 thin slices of cheese. Top with a dollop of chutney. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, arrange the crostini on a platter and serve. Makes about 2 dozen crostini.


Knife Skills 102

I added to the corporate course offerings at Williams-Sonoma in Bridgewater NJ by adding two classes; Knife Skills 101 and Knife Skills 102!  Both classes allow me to work with customers and teach them how to use their new knives.  Im so grateful for the students who took the course as the first group!  It went incredibly well.  Ive heard so much great feedback.  The store manager has asked me to run them again in November.  Here are some great pictures from the prior classes:

Look at this student chef go!
Look at this student chef go!
Fabricating a chicken
Fabricating a chicken
Frenching the wing bone
Frenching the wing bone
Removing the wishbone
Removing the wishbone

Luke’s Lobster: Raising the Standard on Take-Out on Wall Street

File Sep 28, 12 33 25 PMIve been working in the Wall Street area for many years and finding a decent, tasty,  nutritious and affordable lunch has never been easy.  Its either fine dining or Chinese takeout.  Today I found Luke’s Lobster on William Street.  They specialize in lobster, shrimp and crab rolls.  And, for a mere $25.00, you can enjoy a special meal deal!  A lobster roll, a cup of clam chowder and a side of slaw.   YOLO!  I grabbed my non-descript brown paper bag and headed back to my office.  The bag seemed very light for that much cash!  Once at my desk I laid out my lunch.  Not much to say for a visual but the freshness was very apparent.  The New England style clam chowder was clean and smooth, not heavy at all.  The clams tasted as if they were plucked out of the ocean minutes before I arrived. The potatoes had the proper amount of bite and the creamy broth was seasoned perfectly.  I would go there just for the soup.  The lobster was tossed very lightly in an herb dressing paying close attention as to not cover up the delicious meat.   The “roll” was a traditional toasted white bread roll that had been slathered with butter.  No surprises here, the first bite delivered as expected.  The lobster was firm indicating that it was cooked correctly.  The seasoning complimented the lobster without hiding the flavor.  The crunchy buttery toast was very good too!  The side of slaw was the biggest surprise.  It was fresh and vinegary just like I love it!  A little sweet and just the right amount of sour to balance.

As I paid for my lunch, I was handed a loyalty card.  Buy 10 lobster rolls and get one free!  I don’t know if I’ll make it that far, but Im holding on to my card just in case!

Spilled Milk

IMG_1051While attending my niece’s wedding in Buffalo, NY, I had the opportunity to eat at Betty’s restaurant. Betty’s bills itself as moderately priced eclectic cuisine served by a funky wait staff! That couldn’t be more accurate. Bettys menu offered every finicky eater in our crowd a very pleasing choice. We had vegans, celiac, vegetarians and your average caveman in our group and there was something delicious for everyone. Some special items not to be missed include the French toast casserole, the tofu mash with black beans and grilled corn bread! My coffee was great too! Be sure to stop by and try Betty’s on 370 Virginia Street
Buffalo, NY 14201.

Slightly Vegetarian

I was reading through my FaceBook page this morning when I came across a friend who announced that he is moving toward a “slightly vegetarian” diet plan.  Kudos for him!  Decreasing the amount of animal protein is a great way to reduce dietary cholesterol while not losing out on the other positive values animal proteins add to our diets.  By using smaller amounts of animal proteins instead of omitting them,  you still get to enjoy all the great flavors and textures! Keep reading for some recipes that I think will meet your criteria, Bob!

Slightly Vegetarian Chili

This recipe requires more prep time than cooking time. Its well worth the effort, this chili keeps in the refrigerator or freezer very well!  For those of you who would like to learn how to prepare the ingredients for this recipe, come take a Knife Skills 101 class with me at Williams-Sonoma Bridgewater Commons!  Call the store for my class schedule!


1/2 pound ground turkey

2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil (for sautéing )

1 Large onion, small dice

3 celery stalks, small dice

3 carrots, small dice

1 green, 1 red and 1 orange sweet pepper, small dice

2 large tomatoes, small dice

1 can white beans, rinsed

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 can red beans, rinsed

1 or 2 packets of your favorite chili seasoning

Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste (NOTE: you will be adding salt throughout the entire cooking process.  Salt is not only for flavoring your food, it also helps break down the cellular structure during cooking.  Use it in small amounts so that you don’t end up over salting.  For example, I pick the kosher salt between my fingers and add that twice each time i indicate to season with salt in the recipe)

Serve with the following condiments:

Sour cream

Chopped black olives

shredded cheddar


  1. In a large stock pot on medium heat, sauté the ground turkey in a small amount of vegetable oil until the turkey is golden in color.  watch it carefully to be sure it doesn’t burn!  You’ll need the fond (the residual stuff at the bottom of the pan that remains after you cook the protein) to flavor your chili.  If it burns, get rid of it!  Once its burned it will only make the chili bitter!  Remove the turkey to a bowl and set aside for later.  Reserve the fond and fat in the pot.
  2. Allow the fat to come back to medium high temp, add additional oil to bring the amount to approximately 2 tablespoons in total.
  3. Place the onions in the pot, season with kosher salt.  Sauté until translucent, about 5 mins.
  4. Add celery, carrots, and 3 types of peppers. Season with more salt and continue to cook about 5 more minutes.
  5. Add chopped tomatoes, season with salt and continue to cook for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add beans, chili seasoning, cooked turkey and stir carefully as to not break all of the beans.  If your chili seems like it needs liquid, you can add tomato sauce, veggie broth or beef stock.  This is your choice!
  7. Allow to simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes to allow all of the flavors to meld together. Stir periodically to prevent chili from sticking to bottom of pan.

Serve with sour cream, cheese and olives!

One Month in Hells Kitchen

I recently invited some friends over to enjoy great food and a beautiful sunset over the Hudson River. Preparing a meal for friends is one of my favorite passions. I love to plan and prepare seasonal food for people. My friend Anike helped me out and made half of the dishes. She also loves to cook even on her days off as a chef at the Mandarin Hotel in NYC.

We decided on a menu that included; delectable zucchini carpaccio with shaved parmesan cheese, fresh sea bass ceviche, cold and spicy strawberry/tomato gazpacho, and pulled chicken sliders with dill pickles. We had a lovely bottle of sparkling dry red lambrusco. For desert we had a wonderful blueberry clafoutis. A clafoutis is a baked French desert with seasonal fruit in a flan like batter which we served with freshly made whipped cream.

Judging from the compliments we had a successful evening. Take time out to enjoy your friends with love and good food.