Recipe: Apple Tarte Tatin with Whipped Creme Fraiche


Drool. Apple Tarte Tatin is one of the most classic French desserts. It translates to an upside-down tart where pastry is baked over apples caramelized in sugar and butter. Those French sure do know a thing or two (or a million things) about dessert. I think I doubled my body weight in a week when visiting Paris this past October. Foie? Yes please! Fresh baked croissants with your coffee sir? Well, don’t mind if I do. Try this unpasteurized Camembert? Of course I must.

This dish is super simple and involves only 5 ingredients. Yes 5. Imagine popping this dessert out of the pan, the suspense building as your guests watch, seeing this delectable sight above. Warm homemade caramel slowly oozing around the tart. Anyone would be impressed with this easy dish. And they never have to know it took only 5 ingredients.

You start with 6 Granny Smith apples. This type is key because they are firm throughout the cooking process, and not overly sweet. Peel all the apples, remove the core, and slice into quarters. Squeeze one lemon over the apples to prevent browning, and toss in some sugar. Let this sit in a bowl for about 10-15 min to let the excess liquid leave the apple. If you don’t do this, your caramel will be quite loose.

Now you need a large sauté pan. I prefer a non-stick pan. You want one about 9 or so inches in diameter. Over medium heat, add the butter and sugar. This will look quite broken. You will be worried. But no fear, using a whisk, the mixture of the sugar and butter will come together after a couple minutes to form a very light colored caramel. Once this occurs, add the apples rounded side down. Place over medium-low heat to simmer in the caramel for about 15 minutes. Occasional go in and move around the apples to ensure all are cooking evenly and they are getting some caramel loving.

The last ingredient you need is puff pastry, found in the freezer at your grocery store. Once thawed completely, cut into the same sized circular shape to fit your pan with 4 slits near the center. Place over the apples and then into the oven. This needs to bake about 15-20 minutes until it puffs up and is nice and brown.

Now this is the moment. While still hot, you need to flip it out of the pan onto another surface. Place a plate of similar size on top of the pan, and in one swift motion, turn it over. If any apples stick, just use a spatula to put them back on the tart. After this, let it cool for a couple minutes so the caramel doesn’t burn your mouth. Serve with this whipped Creme Fraiche for a treat that helps to balance the sweetness of the tarte.


Recipe (serves 8):

Apple Tarte Tatin

-6 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored, cut into quarters
-1 Lemon, juiced
-3 oz Butter
-1 Cup plus 1/3 Cup of Sugar
-1 Sheet Puff Pastry, cut into a circle to fit your pan, with slit marks

1- In a bowl, mix your apples with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar. Let sit 10-15 minutes for excess liquid to drain. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2- Meanwhile, in a medium sized sauté pan over medium heat, add butter and remaining sugar. Whisk together until caramel forms. Now, off the heat, add in your apples rounded side down. Place back on the burner for about 15 minutes or until the apples soften. Periodically, go in and move around the apples to ensure all are cooking evenly. Spoon some of the liquid caramel over the apples so all are covered.
3- Once ready, place the puff pastry over top of the apples and place in the oven. Let bake for 15-20 minutes until puffed and brown. Remove from oven. Place a plate the same size as the pan on top. In one swift motion, flip them. If any apples happen to stick, just place them back on the tarte. Let cool a couple minutes then serve warm!

Whipped Creme Fraiche

-1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
-1/2 Cup Creme Fraiche

1- In a bowl, whisk heavy cream to stiff peaks. Then whisk in the Creme Fraiche.



Recipe: Carbonara with Herbed Bread Crumbs


From time to time, I like to change up my usual go to recipe of homemade spicy red sauce with rigatoni. Rigatoni is the best dried pasta for red sauce, no contest. But for my super awesome and easy carbonara sauce, I prefer bucatini, or a thick spaghetti with a thin hole running through it. While it is a specialty pasta and sometimes hard to find, I’ve seen it at my local grocery store. Spaghetti or angel hair will also do in a pinch. Hot pasta just pulled from the water is tossed in rendered pancetta fat an a egg yolk mixture with a little heavy cream and a lot of Parmesan. Toss back in the crispy pancetta and cover with a lemony/garlicky herb bread crumb an of course, more Parmesan.

We are going to start with the bread crumbs.


These bread crumbs are very versatile. In addition to the application here, they can be used as a topping to mac and cheese, baked clams/mussels, or even chicken. In a large pan over medium heat, add your butter. Sauté the minced shallot for 1 minute, then add the minced garlic and sauté 1 minute more. You don’t really want any color at this point. Now add the breadcrumbs and stir occasionally making sure they do not burn. You are looking for a deep golden color. Once finished, add in the zest of a lemon and some minced parsley. Not only will this add some crunch and some depth of flavor to the pasta, the lemon and parsley help to brighten the otherwise decadent sauce.


Now we start on the carbonara. In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks with heavy cream, freshly grated Parmesan, pinch of salt, and a lot of freshly cracked black pepper. It is ideal that this mixture comes to room temperature first. Remember that the pasta is going to be cooked in heavily salted water, smothered in pancetta fat, and covered in Parmesan, so you do not want to over salt this.


In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add some EVOO and the cubes of pancetta. It is best that you buy thick cut pancetta from the counter at the grocery store, not the thin precut kind. Sauté until the fat has been rendered and the pancetta is nice and crispy. Remove pancetta, lower heat to very low, and leave the pan with rendered fat to stay warm. Please note, below picture does not reflect an accurate count of how much pancetta is in the recipe, as I ate a lot of it. The struggle is real.


Now, boil the pasta in a large pot filled with water and heavily salted. Once ready, immediately remove right from the water and transfer to the pan with the warm pancetta fat. Turn off the heat. Pour the egg mixture over top.


Toss the hot pasta with the warm pancetta fat and egg mixture so that everything is nicely covered. Yes, the yolks are not “cooked” in the literal sense. But the hot pasta and pancetta fat will “cook” the eggs. Toss in the reserved crispy pancetta.


Serve immediately…topped with the herbed bread crumbs. Definitely not a meal for everyday life, but one that breaks up the monotony of the normal pasta dish. Try this update on the classic!

Recipe (serves 2-4):

Herb Bread Crumbs

-3 Tbsp Butter
-1/2 Shallot, minced
-1 Clove Garlic, minced
-1/2 Cup Panco
-1/4 Cup Parsley, minced
-1/2 Lemon, zested

1- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter and shallots. Sauté 1 minute then add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more. You are not looking for any color.
2- Add in the breadcrumbs and stir occasionally until deep golden brown color forms. Do not burn. Remove from heat and mix with parsley and lemon zest. Reserve until pasta is ready.


-1# Bucatini (or your choice on pasta)
-1 Tbsp EVOO
-1/2# Pancetta (cut about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick), cubed
-4 Yolks
-1 Cup Parmesan (good stuff), freshly grated
-1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
-Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
-Parmesan, grated (extra for garnish)

1- In a mixing bowl, whisk together yolks, cream, Parmesan, pinch of salt, and black pepper. Reserve.
2- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add your EVOO and pancetta. Sauté until all fat is rendered and pancetta is crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove pancetta and reserve. Lower heat to lowest setting and leave fat in the pan to remain warm.
3- In a large pot filled with water over high heat, bring to a boil and season heavily with salt. Add pasta and boil until al dente. Remove from water and transfer to warm pan with pancetta fat. Turn off heat. Pour the egg mixture over top and toss with tongs until evenly coated. Add reserved crispy pancetta.
4- Plate immediately. Top with herb bread crumbs.


Chef Matt

Recipe: Olive Oil and Sea Salt Lemon Bars

I have such terrible memories of the lemon bar. Not for the taste, the mix of tart lemon with the sweet buttery short bread is basically perfection. Because when I was young, in an attempt at a nice gesture for my mom, I made lemon bars. Or I should say, tried to. This was my first major adventure in baking other than sneaking behind the counter in my parents bakery as a child to steal some sweets. This amateur baker forgot to put any sort of lubricant in the baking pan before adding the short bread. And forgot about it in the oven, having to completely toss out the whole baking pan, as not even it could be salvaged from my terrible mistakes. Well, never again. Here, I have really up’ed the game on this whole lemon bar incident and I believe, corrected all wrongs. The addition of fruity olive oil along with butter to the lemon curd works to not only mellow the tartness of the lemon, but bring even more floral notes. Add in some flakey sea salt (see fleur de sel) to really make this bar shine.

I like a softer lemon curd top and thick short bread crust. The balance of the two is a match made in heaven. For me, just like the beignet, the lemon bar is the vehicle to get as much powdered sugar into your mouth as possible. I mean this is a judgement free zone, right!? I prefer a blizzard to a light snowfall. To start, you will make the crust which is as easy as mixing the flour with sugar, then adding in some butter, sea salt, and lemon zest. I’m talking a chef’s pinch of sea salt which is much more substantial than a baker’s pinch. This covers your average size baking pan which could be glass or aluminum, square or rectangular. Just make sure first you line it with parchment paper!

I form the dough into the pan with my hands, ensuring an even layer for baking. The crust is going to be covered so beauty does not matter here. Place in the oven to bake while you work on the lemon curd. Key note: leave excess parchment on both sides to easily pull the bar out of the pan once it is completely ready.

The lemon in all its glory. Tart citrus that brings a fresh clean flavor to any dish. Use the fresh stuff you guys. Roll up your sleeves and squeeze everything you can out of those lemons. Hell, you can even pretend it was your workout for the day. I mean, I didn’t do that. Would never even consider it. To this, you will add some eggs and yolks, sugar, sea salt, and cornstarch. Place on high heat and bring to a boil. It is crucial it reaches the boil as this will activate the cornstarch, hence thickening the curd. Once it boils for about 30 seconds, whisking constantly to prevent curdling, remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Now whisk in your butter/fruity olive oil combo.


Once combined, pour over your just finished short bread crust, and return to the oven. Bake in the oven until the curd does not giggle. Remove from the oven, let cool completely at room temperature, then place in the fridge for at least 6 hours.

Now you are ready to top with more sea salt and all that powdered sugar.

Recipe (1 9×9 pan or something similar):

Short Bread Crust

-1.25 Cups Flour
-.5. Cups Sugar
-2 tsp Lemon Zest
-.5 tsp Sea Salt
-10 Tbsp Butter, cold, small diced

1- Preheat oven to 325. Take your baking pan and line it with parchment paper. Remember the handles!
2- In a mixer with a paddle attachment, add your flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Now pulse in the butter until a crumbly dough forms. Should be pea sized. Press this dough into the parchment lined pan and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Lemon Curd

-8-10 Lemons or 1.5 Cups Lemon Juice
-1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
-3 Cups Sugar
-4 Eggs plus 3 Yolks
-1 Tbsp Cornstarch
-.5 tsp Sea Salt
-8 Tbsp Butter, small diced
-.5 Cups Fruity Olive Oil
-Powdered Sugar
-Sea Salt (fleur de sel)

1- In a sauce pan over medium heat, whisk together lemon juice, sugar, eggs, egg yolks, cornstarch, and sea salt. Continue whisking over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. It should reach a boil, and remain there for about 30 seconds, whisking the whole time. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer.
2- Whisk in the butter and olive oil. Lower oven to 300 degrees. Pour lemon curd over the finished short bread, place back in the oven to firm up, about 30 minutes but really depends on the size of your pan. Once the curd is set, allow to cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge to cool at least 6 hours but ideally overnight. Sprinkle with copious amounts of powdered sugar and sea salt. Devour.



Recipe: Homemade Ricotta


Wow homemade ricotta is easy to do. I’ve always been taught the method of adding an acid in the form of lemon juice to whole milk, over the heat, in order to start the curdling process. Well it’s time for an update. Here I combine whole milk with buttermilk and half and half in a large pot over high heat. The naturally acidic buttermilk will do all the curdling on its own without the addition of more acid.


While over high heat, stirring occasionally, you will start to see some curdling like the above picture. Once the milk mixture reaches a simmer, reduce the heat to low and let slowly simmer away for about 25 minutes. You should not stir! The curds will naturally float to the top and form a thick layer. Once ready, remove from the heat and cool completely in the fridge uncovered. Now pour this mixture over a cheesecloth lined fine mesh sieve and let drain, overnight, covered in the fridge.

And that’s it! Salt is optional but I do not find it necessary. I’m going to smear this stuff all over grilled breads with salty toppings (recipes to come after my cheese party tonight). Or you can combine it with artichokes and italian sausage for filling in stuffed shells, manicotti, or lasagna. Or in pancakes with lemon and blueberries. Ugh. Too many options not enough time. 

Once you try this method, you will never look at store-bought ricotta the same again. I’ve died and gone to cheese heaven.

Recipe (yields about 2-3 cups Fresh Ricotta):

-2 Quarts Whole Milk
-2 Cups Buttermilk
-1 Cup Half and Half

1- In a large pot over high heat, combine all three milks. Stirring occasionally, milk will begin to curdle at about 8ish minutes. Once the milk starts to simmer, reduce the heat to medium/low, and let slowly bubble away.

2- At this point you cannot stir! Let simmer about 25 minutes more.  Once ready, remove from the store and place in the fridge, uncovered, until completely chilled.

3- Now, pour this mixture over a cheesecloth lined fine mesh sieve. Cover with plastic wrap and let drain overnight in the fridge. All set! Use every where and anywhere.



Recipe: Apple Thyme Caramel Lacquered Pork Belly with Apple Slaw

It is the very beginning of apple season and that makes this chef very excited. Pork and apples have been paired together for quite sometime, but this might be one of the coolest ways to do it. Apples are used in three different ways here to make this one hell of a Fall dish. First, the pork belly is braised in the apple cider for hours in the oven. Then, once meltingly tender and crisped in a pan, it is lacquered in an apple thyme caramel made from more cider and calvados, an apple liquor. Lastly, the pork belly is topped with a quick apple slaw with crunchy toasted peanuts. Apple trifecta.


Pork belly can be a bit hard to find sometimes, but my good old Whole Foods has been carrying it constantly now. Love to just have some pork belly on hand at all times in case of an emergency. What do you mean you don’t do that? Time to reevaluate. Submerge the seasoned belly in chicken stock and apple cider with a bunch of thyme. You want the liquid to almost cover the meat. Cover the pot, place in a 350 degree oven for 2 hours or so until the belly is super tender.


Now while that is simmering away becoming all sorts of magical, we make the caramel. In a pot, bring sugar and apple cider to a simmer and let bubble away for about 15 minutes until dark amber color forms. Whisk in some salt, calvados, fresh thyme leaves, and let simmer a couple minutes longer. Now, off the heat, whisk in some heavy cream. Watch out for splatter. But you must keep whisking to incorporate the cream in the sugar. Yum, now you have a delicious apple thyme caramel.


This slaw is crazy simple and perfect for the Fall. Combine shredded green cabbage, radicchio, carrots, sliced scallions, and apple matchsticks. For the zesty dressing, whisk together, lemon juice, mayo, sour cream, mustard powder, stone ground mustard, and apple cider vinegar. Don’t forget a healthy dose of salt and freshly ground black pepper.


By this time, the house smells amazing and the belly should be done. Remove it from the braising liquid, let cool, and cut into large chunks. In a hot saute pan, add the belly and sear until crispy on all sides. Now, pour over the caramel.


Let the caramel coat the pork and get all sorts of sticky. Ugh. Gimme that. Even the guy next to me right now on my flight to LAX wants some. I can’t blame him either. Poor guy.

Now garnish the plate with some peppery micro greens and some toasted peanuts. They compliment the caramel and apples wonderfully.


Recipe (serves 4 for dinner):

Apple Cider Braised Pork Belly

-2# Pork Belly, skin removed, cut into 1/2# pieces
-2 Cups Apple Cider, local
-2 Cups Chicken Stock
-8 Sprigs Thyme

1-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season belly with salt. In an oven safe dish, add belly and pour in cider/stock. Should almost cover the pork. Amount of liquid needed will vary based on the size of the pot. Add in the thyme, cover the pot, and place in the oven for 2 hours.
2- Once tender, remove from the oven, and let cool to room temperature. Cut into large pieces and sear them in a hot pan over medium heat until crispy. Add in a couple spoonfuls of the caramel to coat the belly. Sauté until sticky and belly is nicely lacquered.

Apple Thyme Caramel

-1/2 Cup Sugar
-1/4 Cup Apple Cider, local
-1/2 tsp Thyme Leaves
-1 Tbsp Calvados
-1/8 tsp Salt
-1/4 Cup Heavy Cream

1- In a pot over medium heat, add sugar and apple cider. Bring to a simmer and let bubble away for about 15 minutes until dark amber. Whisk in the thyme, calvados, salt, and let simmer a couple of minutes more. Remove from the stove and add the heavy cream, whisking the whole time. Watch for splatter. Hold warm until belly is ready.

Apple Slaw

-2 Honey Crispy Apples, cut into matchsticks
-1 Lemon, juiced used to coat apple to prevent oxidation, zest used for dressing
-1/2 Head Green Cabbage, shredded
-1 Head Radicchio, shredded
-1 Bunch Scallions, sliced, green only
-1/4 Cup Carrot, matchsticks
-1/2 Cup Mayo
-1/4 Cup Sour Cream
-1 tsp Mustard Powder
-1 Tbsp Stone Ground Mustard
-2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
-Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

1- Cut apples and toss in lemon juice. Combine apples, cabbage, radicchio, scallions, and carrots. Reserve.
2- In a separate bowl, whisk together mayo, sour cream, lemon zest, mustard powder, mustard, and vinegar. Season heavily with salt and black pepper. Toss with reserved cabbage mixture.


-Micro Greens
-Peanuts, toasted



Recipe Repost: Tomato Cobbler

Take a look at this post I did last summer for one of my all time fav recipes Tomato Cobbler. It’s a savory play on a cherry cobbler complete with cheddar and chive drop biscuits on top of a filling of local cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions, and jalapenos. While baking, the cherry tomatoes burst to form the incrediably tasty filling. I promise, you will be glad you tried it.




Recipe: Black Cherry, Rosemary, and Parmesan Skillet Focaccia Bread

Alright, it has been too long. The usual hellish summer schedule at work has overtaken my life. Food doesn’t just walk itself on the plane. So when the opportunity finally came to create a new recipe, I jumped at the chance. Obviously it involved carbs. Delicious chewy focaccia crisped up in a seasoned cast iron skillet, spiked with tart dark cherries from Michigan, earthy rosemary, and salty parmesan. I’m overwhelmed with yum.

You’re going to start with an incredibly simple dough that involves so little work I still question how it turns out so awesome. This is a double recipe and could easily be cut in half for a smaller focaccia. Which is honestly better for people like me because then I don’t eat the whole double portion on my own. Ugh. You would too. Shame.

So you start with warm water, sugar, and active dry yeast. It is key that the water is warm and not hot or cold. Hot water will kill the yeast, cold water will not activate the yeast, and warm water is just right. The sugar is also key because that is what the yeast will feed on. Let this sit for 2 minutes or so until the yeast is activated (you can tell by the bubbles forming), and then mix using a dough hook with EVOO, flour, and salt.

Once just incorporated, take out of your mixing bowl and knead for about 1 minute. The dough should not stick to your hands or your table. Now this is where you would typically let the dough proof for 1-2 hours in a warm spot. Well I don’t have time for that. So I cheat this process. I preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Once the dough is ready, I form it into the cast iron skillet that has been brushed with EVOO.

Now turn off the oven, and cover the dough with a damp towel. Place in the warm oven with the door slightly ajar. Let proof for 20 minutes then remove. Will look like this:

So quick! To punch the dough down, I take the halved cherries and push them into the risen dough. Then brush the top with melted butter, sprinkle with rosemary, and microplane parmesan all over. See first picture above. Now place in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Totally should be eaten when warm. Dipped in even more EVOO sprinkled with parmesan. Also with lots of grilled meat.


-1.5 Cups Warm Water
-1 tsp Sugar
-1 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
-4 Tbsp EVOO
-4 Cup Flour
-1 tsp Salt
-1 Cup Black Cherries, pitted, halved
-2 Tbsp Butter, melted
-2 Tbsp Parmesan, microplaned
-1 Tbsp Rosemary

1- Preheat oven to 225 degrees. In the bowl of your mixer with bread hook attachment, add warm water and sugar. Whisk to ensure sugar melts. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and let sit 2 minutes. Bubbles should form. With mixer on low, add in the EVOO, flour, and salt. Mix for about 30 seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and then mix 30 seconds more.
2- Pour out the dough on a clean surface and knead for about 1-2 minutes. In your cast iron skillet, brush with EVOO and form dough into the bottom. Take a kitchen towel and wet with warm water then squeeze out the excess. Place over the dough. Turn off the oven, place the skillet inside, and leave the door ajar. Let the dough proof for about 20 minutes. Should double in size. Remove from the oven.
3- Preheat oven to 350. Using the cherries, push them into the dough. Brush the top with melted butter. Then sprinkle with rosemary and parmesan. Place in oven for about 20 minutes or until bread is just cooked through. Let cool slighty then devour warm.



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