No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake!

This is my homemade version of a 1960s dessert. The original recipe could have been found on Strawberry Jell-O package or CoolWhip containers. I thought it was brilliant, despite the fact that it was overly sweet, too stiff from the Jell-O and, if one were being picky, they may point out the slight chemical after taste. But, in its defense it was fast and very pretty. My version is made with nothing but fresh sweet strawberries, cream cheese, real whipped cream, and just the slightest bit of gelatin to keep it standing tall until you bite into it, then it melts in your mouth. No oven required, which makes it ideal for the sultry summer days.

Watch my quick video on how to make and assemble the cheesecake.  (more…)

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Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

nutellabananabread zb 15

The first time I tried nutella was in France, on my honeymoon. I thought French kids were the luckiest people on earth. There was no way my mom would have given me a chocolate hazelnut spread on anything. (For the record it was the 1960s, she was a hippy and didn’t allow any sugar at all. Hence my full on sugar rebellion and career as a pastry chef.)  French kids get nutella for breakfast, on their bread at lunch or as a late night snack. They all seemed healthy enough, so I think the French moms are on to something. My honeymoon was 23 years ago and in the meantime we Americans have had a hazelnut spread revolution of our own. Now you can find it on the shelves of costco and seven-eleven. My house is never without a jar.

I’ve spread nutella on just about everything, but one of my favorites is freshly baked banana bread. In an “aha! moment” I decided to swirl the nutella right into the batter and bake them together. I’m not claiming to have discovered this combo, but I believe this may be the tastiest pairing ever there was. I now always make two loaves, otherwise it disappears too quickly. One we eat while it is still warm and a bit gooey, the other sits for breakfast the next day. It is magnificent and super simple to make. (more…)

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How-to Videos: Easy Pie Dough and Double Crusted Apple Pie


Today is national Pie Day according the National Pie Council, so there is no better time to perfect our crust.

Pie dough is one of those things that once you master it, your life in the kitchen is a happier place. It frees you to make fruit pies, quiche, potpies and anything else, sweet or savory that requires a crust. But, mastering the dough is not always as easy as one would hope. In my first video I’ll show you how I create a tender and flaky crust that make pies delicious, no matter the filling. Then, I follow up with a video on how to successfully roll out, fill, top and decorate a double crusted apple pie. With these videos I hope you’ll be making pie with confidence. (more…)

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Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day is out TODAY, check out our Video and an Invitation!

pizza party

Today Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day is finally available in stores. That sound you hear is me clinking a glass of bubbly. Please join us on our book tour, which starts TODAY at noon in the Har Mar Barnes & Noble. To find details and dates in your city click on the Events page.

Jeff and I wrote this book because we love pizza. So, when it came to making a video about the process, it had to reflect what a riot we have creating these recipes. You basically can’t bake a pizza without creating a party, whether it is for a night in front of a movie or a big gathering of friends in the back yard. Pick the crust and toppings to suit your mood and within minutes you have pizza, lots and lots of fresh pizza. In fact, we invite you all to join us for a #PizzaPartyin5 on November 15th, see below for more details.

We knew instantly who could capture the heart and soul of this project; Todd Porter and Diane Cu of White on Rice Couple. Their work is visually stunning and they have such a joy about them, which is captured in their images. When they said they would do this video with us, I danced around my kitchen, I haven’t stopped yet. We hope you enjoy watching the video just as much as we did making it.

Here are some more images captured the day of the video shoot. All the pictures in this post were created by Todd Porter and Diane Cu and used with their permission. Thanks you two, they are all gorgeous. (more…)

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How-to Video: Piping Icing on a Cupcake 101 (Ovaltine Cupcake with Nutella Buttercream)

I was amazed recently to find Ovaltine on the shelves at the grocery store. I hadn’t had or thought about it in about 35 years. There are certain memories of childhood that hold space in the brain in a sensory way, and Ovaltine is one of them. I can’t remember an actual occasion of drinking it, but I do remember the excitement and malty flavor from way back. When I drink it now I recall our black and white television, big cars with no seat belts, sans-a-belt slacks and the Brady Bunch. These were simple days, so it seemed to a 7 year old, and Ovaltine was one of the glimmering bonuses that life had to offer. Keep in mind that my household was without Twinkies or Soda, so when Ovaltine hit the threshold it was an occasion, a glorious one at that. It was like drinking a malted milk ball and I was in heaven.

In order to make the cupcakes look as gorgeous as they taste, you’ll want to decorate them like a pro. I’ve put together a video on how to pipe on a perfect base of icing. It can be the foundation for other decorations or leave it alone and it is a classic finish. I will share some tips on how to use the pastry bag and the key to piping anything from stars to roses.


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How-to Video: Crumb Coat your Cake (Cake decorating Series)

There is nothing more disappointing than having a cake that is speckled with crumbs, unless of course that is the look you are going for, like my Brooklyn Blackout Cake. However, sometimes you’ll want pristine white or a perfectly smooth surface to write on. Once you have the dome trimmed off the top of your cake, the layers cut and then assembled with your favorite filling, it is time for a crumb coat. This is a quick and simple step that acts as a guarantee that your final layer of icing will be clean and crumb free. This technique is particularly helpful when you are working with Devil’s Food Cake and White icing, the ultimate combination in taste and pesky crumbs.  (more…)

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