Flavor ABC's

Caramel is the chardonnay of burned sugars, versatile and universal. Dulce de Leche, made with sweetened milk, is like a smooth, medium-body merlot. Cajeta is burnt sweetened goats milk. Cajeta is the old, Burgundian pinot of the group. It’s funky and charming.

Coronado makes a lovely, thick version. Don’t bother with Lechera, which tastes like wet brown sugar. Yesterday Paris brought a case of the good stuff home, and this is how we made it disappear in a week.

Cajeta Oreos

These “Oreos” are made with galletas Marias, which you can find in most grocery stores for about $0.90

Cajeta Obleas

I don’t know how Paris got Obleas back from Mexico without breaking them – each one is about 8″ in diameter

Cajeta and Apples

Apples, meet cajeta

Cajeta Sandwich 2

An almond butter-banana-cajeta sandwich, like most things, improves with a pinch of Maldon sea salt


Braised Short Ribs

Flavor ABC's


Braised meat and hot chocolate help get me through the Winter. In the CIA’s American Bounty Restaurant, Chef Roe makes a shredded short rib on soft polenta with mascarpone, capers, and sun dried tomatoes. It is a dish to warm the body and sustain the soul through the bitter months. Since the week’s been grey and Spring is still a distant promise, it’s time to stew.

I browned 2 pounds of short ribs on all sides and prepared my sauce components. Although the standard ratio for mirepoix is 2:1:1 onion, carrot, celery, I prefer a 2:2:1 onion, carrot, celery mix. I like the carrots’ sweet, earthiness, and I’m not convinced that celery has much to contribute. After caramelizing the mirepoix I threw in 1/4 bottle of a decent Syrah, used a wooden spoon to free the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, nestled the meat in, and added enough beef stock to mostly cover the meat along with a bunch of thyme and a bit of garlic.

Upclose Braise 1

Once the braise came to a simmer, I let it burp and mingle in the oven for five hours at 225°F. After removing the solids I purified the sauce of pools of shimmering fat, then simmered it down to 1/3 of its original volume.

My friend Lydia, who I met in pre-school when we both had mushroom haircuts and sucked our thumbs, drove from Philadelphia to visit. I whipped some polenta with mascarpone and honey, finished the dish just like chef Roe, and poured the rest of the Syrah. Winter, for once, didn’t seem so bad.

Citrus Segmenting Demo

Demo Time

I landed my first full-time cooking gig at the Vineyard Gourmet, a street-side lunch and coffee store in Martha’s Vineyard. Dilly, the owner, asked me to suprème an orange, and, seeing my dull reaction, she showed me how. “So this is how they make canned mandarins,” I thought, imagining factories of children in rural china quickly carving with their wee fingers for twenty hour shifts. I’ll never be as quick or precise as the mandarin kids, but I enjoy the process and results of the technique. I’ve broken it down below. Steps 1-3 also apply to cutting most round fruit (watermelons, cantaloupe, kiwis, etc.).

Citrus Segmenting 1-1Citrus Segmenting 2
Citrus Segmenting 3
Citrus Segmenting 4


Flavor ABC's

“It nourisheth and strengtheneth the body, corroborating the spirits and procuring lust exceedingly.” -King Charles II’s physician on avocados

I spent the first twenty-five years of my life avoiding avocados (some weird childhood aversion),  and I’ve spent the last three years making up for it.

Sandwich Assembly

Mexico and Italy: Same colors, different ingredients

Sandwich Half Horizontal

Looks healthy, but it’s still delicious

Salat Bowl 1-2

Avocado Grapefruit Salad
Here’s a chance to practice segmenting (if you don’t know how, check out the demo in the next post)

1 avocado, sliced
1 grapefruit, segmented (reserve 2 tablespoons of juice)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon dijon
2 tablespoons oil
4 cups greens (I like watercress when I can find it, and find it looking healthy)

-In a small bowl mix reserved grapefruit juice, salt, honey, and dijon. Whisk in oil. Toss with greens, grapefruit and avocado. Add nuts, fresh cheese, herbs, turkey, etc. as desired.


Not Really Guacamole

I was the intern in charge of making guacamole every day in a restaurant that charged $100 for the plate containing it. According to Paris, no true Mexican Guacamole would have olive oil. Ever.

2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 teaspoons minced jalapeño
2 avocados, small diced
1 teaspoon salt (for this and past/future reference I always use Kosher Salt unless specified)
dash of cumin
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cilantro

-Stir all ingredients to combine.