I’m Making Cheesecake on the Cooking Channel this Saturday!

Kelsey Nixon and Zoe Francois

On a lark I entered my Chocolate Glazed Praline Cheesecake in a Cooking Channel contest and WON. Oh my, what an adventure. It meant a trip to NYC, an appearance on The Cooking Channel’s Kelsey Nixon Show, a tour of the Food Network Kitchens and an excuse to eat my way across NYC. All of that happened in February and the segment we taped is airing this Saturday 6/30 on the Cooking Channel. I hope you will tune in and see my cheesecake on TV.

As if that wasn’t enough I also met one of my baking/writing/career/life mentors, Dorie Greenspan… (more…)

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Chocolate Glazed Praline Cheesecake with Candied Hazelnuts

There are certain things that happen in a professional kitchen that strike me as magic. They seem unmanageably gorgeous and too difficult to attempt at home, but usually with a bit of guidance anyone can do it. These hazelnut candies are on the list. They look like delicate jewels, standing impossibly tall and thin. They are the perfect accessory to a sleek chocolate covered praline cheesecake and not at all difficult to make.

This cake is about as smooth and rich as is possible. To flavor the cheesecake I used a product by love n’ bake, which is just ground praline made into a paste. You can replace it with nutella (for even more chocolate) or even peanut butter (go smooth for this). The trick to the texture is baking in a water bath at a low temperature to prevent the cake from baking too fast.


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American Masala’s Sticky Toffee Cake!

Update 3/3/11 – Suvir Saran will be appearing on Top Chef Masters, April 6th on Bravo! I could not be more excited for him and for all of us to get the opportunity to watch him in action!

My ideal day consists of  walking around NYC, eating oysters, going to museums to see great quantities of art and then finishing with an incredible meal. This is precisely what I did with my family during our trip last month. My boys were fine until about hour 3 at the Met, when they just wanted to leave to grab a hot dog and run wild. They were fed up with all the talk of brush strokes, juxtapositions, impressionists and cubists. Yeah, it was a stretch for them, but I figure someday they will appreciate me for it, or not? We grabbed them a snack to take the edge off and then headed to dinner. I was so excited for this meal, not only because devi is the restaurant owned by my dear friend Suvir and his food always brings me joy. I was also thrilled to be sharing the evening with my family, including my mother and my aunt and uncle. My aunt Sally’s mother grew up in India and had introduced me to Indian cuisine when I was a kid, in fact, Sally introduced me to most foods when I was a kid. I knew she would fall quickly in love with devi.

(picture of Suvir by Charlie Burd, picture of devi by Ben Fink)

I met Suvir several years ago at a pastry conference hosted at the CIA. Suvir was one of the presenters. He talked about blending more flavors of the world into the palate of American desserts. He was confidence Americans want to experience flavors beyond vanilla and chocolate, I whole heartedly agree with him. His food at the conference was intense and fresh and clean. You could taste every spice and ingredient, it was unlike any other Indian food I’d ever eaten. I was in awe and have been ever since. He has become a mentor, a brother and a dear friend to me. His skills go way beyond the kitchen. He and his partner Charlie have established a farm where they raise animals and run the American Masala empire, they design kitchen accessories, write cookbooks and Suvir is on a team at Harvard to educate people on how to eat a healthier diet. Now you see why I am in awe. But, the reason I fell in love with this chef was only partly because of his food, it is also his generosity and heart. He and Charlie give back to their community and to society as a whole. They are the epitome of good people!

More about our meal at devi, a Sticky Toffee Cake with Nut Brittle Ice Cream recipe:


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Cream Puffs and a Nest of Nuts!

It is my birthday and I decided to make myself something fun to celebrate. Now that I am squarely in my 40s I find it especially important to make this occasion a special one. I was in the mood to play with sugar. It has been years, many years, since I have worked in the restaurant world and had the opportunity and excuse to do over-the-top fanciful things with sugar.  It is more the act of creating these wisps of golden caramel that thrills me, even more than eating them. To sit on top this ethereal nest I decided I needed something creamy and decadent; cream puffs filled with pastry cream in three flavors.

The tale of two puffs: (more…)

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