The Pastry School Diaries: A Sweet Snack Attack

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences! 


After spending five rigorous days mixing, folding, rolling, shaping and baking puff pastry, it’s safe to say I’m very relieved that this section of the curriculum is over. Puff pastry is incredibly versatile in how you flavor and shape it, and although there are plenty of written recipes and formulas to make items such as palmiers, mille feuille and—my favorite—cheese straws, the dough lends itself to the imagination very well.


My favorite part, however, about experimenting with a slew of ingredients, spices and herbs is a little unexpected for a pastry program: snack time!


In culinary programs, the students are surrounded by scraps and plates of food that are actually edible: some chopped vegetable here, a chicken entree there–you get the idea. However in pastry, we are mostly working with raw ingredients that can’t be consumed, like sugar, flour, eggs and butter. This was the case for our entire bread unit and during most days of my intro unit, until the final product was out of the oven. But I’ve found a way to wrangle all of the ingredients going into our dough creations and turn them into a delicious mid-class snack. I’ve also discovered some awesome flavor combinations on the way! For example:

I dipped fresh fruit into extra lemon curd from our fruit tartlets. I also took a container of the curd home and added a spoonful into Greek yogurt. It adds the perfect amount of sweet-tartness to my breakfast or snack!


To make apple tarts, we peel and thinly slice multiple apples. Since the apples add to the aesthetic of the tart, we only use the prettiest slices. Can you guess where the ugly ones end up?

These puff pastry braids were coated in parmesan cheese and paprika. The extra shards of parmesan make for a delicious pairing with my apple slices!


Finally, I’ve found my new favorite garnish or flavor profile for any sweet dough: a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger went into these palmiers. I am calling them “a chai’s best friend.”

Check back next week for more sweet tips!

7 Recipes to Help You Clean Out Your Fridge

Have you ever stared into your fridge (for what seems like hours) feeling uninspired by its contents? You see a smorgasbord of produce, dairy and condiments but can’t figure out how to make a cohesive meal out of what you have left? We’ve been there too, but the good news is that there’s hope! Whether you’re stuck with a bunch of herbs from that sauce you tried to make from scratch, a half-bottle of wine that didn’t get drunk or just some eggs that are about to hit their sell-by date, there are plenty of ways to use up these ingredients in creative and delicious ways. Here are some to try this week.


Got an open jar of marinara? Throw it into this Spicy Egg Bake with any extra eggs you have. It’s the perfect B-L-D!

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Al Fresco Dinner Recipes

After spending a long day in an office, we can’t wait to get outside and enjoy the weather. We like to take every opportunity we can to dine al fresco with a fabulous meal that looks just as beautiful as the sunset. If you’re looking for some warm-weather inspiration (veggie-packed pastas, grilled kebabs, you name it), we’ve got you covered.


Penne with Asparagus, Mint and Pistachios


Beefsteak Tomatoes Stuffed with Tuna & White Beans


Tropical Chicken & Rice


Greek Salad with Beef Kebabs


Skinny Crab Cakes and Peach Summer Slaw

5 Rainy Day Recipes to Make During Those April Showers

April showers are almost always a guarantee, but just because you’re stuck inside all day doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it. Try one of these delicious recipes that are cozy enough for a rainy day but still remind us of spring. Who needs May flowers with recipes this good?


Turkey Cheeseburgers with Beer-B-Q Sauce on Pretzel Rolls

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Cooking School Lesson 4: Fix Flavor FAST!

Want to transform humdrum dinners into mealtime magic? It’s easy! Hit the kitchen armed with these genius tips and simple recipes from our Every Day experts, and your friends and family will wonder if you went to cooking school on your lunch break!

Lesson 4: Fix Flavor Fast

It’s happened to all of us: That pot of soup, piece of fish or bowl of pasta is just plain boring. Don’t worry! These four simple ingredients can turn a one-note dish into a plate-licking hit in a matter of minutes.



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Farmers Market Ideas: Ramps

If you’ve made a visit to the farmers market within the last two months, you may have noticed an influx of a scallion-looking vegetable called a ramp. These spring onions have gained some serious popularity within the last few years, and for good reason: their strong flavor of garlic and onion is rich and enticing, and keep any spring dish tasting fresh and flavorful. Though they are also known as wild leeks, ramps are more similar in taste, texture and cooking method to scallions. Due to their potent flavor, though, you can use less of a ramp to add flavor to a dish than you would need of  a scallion, leek or chive.


Can’t find a recipe that calls for ramps? Here are some good substitutions:


Blend them into pesto with pasta


Chop up the greens for hush puppies


Fold them into a goat cheese tart


Just remember! Ramps are only in season until early spring, so get ‘em while you still can!


Related Links

#trendingtuesday: zucchini

technique tuesday: amazing braising

supermarket smarts: coconut oil


Saturday Supermarket Smarts: Cracking the Coconut Oil Code

With new products hitting the grocery stands every day, it’s hard to keep up with the latest food trends. Have no fear; we’re here to help! Each week, we’ll be highlighting a new product that’s worthy of a spot in your shopping cart and your kitchen.

The Product

Coconut oil is making its way from the grove to the grocery store. It comes in a jar as a creamy semisolid, but once heated will resemble more familiar oils like canola and peanut.


Why You Should Buy It

Coconut oil is a milder-tasting alternative to other oils, butter and shortening. In addition to raising levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol, it contains lauric acid, which research suggests may boost your immune system and stimulate your metabolism.


How You Should Use It

It makes the perfect substitution for vegetable or canola oil in cooking and baking.

With a high smoke point, coconut oil can withstand high temps without burning, so swap out the vegetable oil in our Vegetable-Noodle Stir Fry.

Make your baked goods feel just a little healthier, since it contains a low amount of unsaturated fat and lots of antioxidants. Replace the canola oil in Gigi’s Apple Cake.

A neutral smell and pleasantly nutty flavor make coconut oil a great dairy-free substitute for frosting recipes that call for cream cheese or butter, like our Triple-Layer Carrot Cake.


We’re seriously nuts for coconut oil! Just remember, as with any fat, moderation is key.


Related Links

Decadent Chocolate Desserts

Asian Noodle Recipes

Stuffed Holiday Cookies




Rocca Stars in the Kitchen

Guess who’s here to dish on cooking with the nation’s most beloved nannas (and poppas)! Daily Show vet Mo Rocca, whose Cooking Channel series, My Grandmother’s Ravioli, kicks off its second season this month.

By David Farley


Q: How did the show get its name?

A: My granmother made pasta from scratch, and her ravioli were big pockets stuffed with ground beef, spinach and garlic with a light tomato sauce. They were delicious – and large and light and delicate. So when Nora Ephron was a guest on my NPR show, Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!—and I was talking about the inspiration for my new cooking show—she pointed out that My Grandmother’s Ravioli was the obvious name. I loved going back to the network people to say not only did I have a great name, but Nora Ephron helped me come up with it.

Q: How do you decide who will be featured?

A: We want people who really care about cooking. They also have to have a good personality, but not in that crazy reality TV way. These are people you actually want to be related to.

Q: The show has you cooking with grandmas from everywhere. Have you found a universal ingredient?

A: Garlic. Everyone uses it. In fact, my own Italian grandmother’s apartment always smelled like garlic.

Q: What’s been the biggest surprise?

A: Almost none of the grandmothers measure ingredients. And grandfathers measure even less! They’re extreme non-measurers!

Q: Beyond recipes, what have you learned?

A: How to cut onions without crying. From a Pakistani grandfather, actually, I learned that you should drink a glass of red wine before cutting them. Though he may just have wanted an excuse to drink wine.



Explore more of our celebrity interviews here.

Produce Primer: How To Fix a Leek

Mild, oniony leeks are delicious in everything from savory tarts to potato soup. The only problem? The veggie’s many layers can trap a lot of grit–something you don’t want to crunch down on during dinner. To get them really clean, give this quick and easy method a shot.

How to Prep a Leek

Illustrations by Alan Witschonke


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