A collection of my latest ideas for everyone to play with

Foie Gras Shortbread

If you are like me and you love foie gras, then you are sure to have some scraps of the uncooked product after you have finished cleaning it.  This is especially the case when you get a lower  than “B” grade of foie gras.  One of my favorite things to do with foie scraps is to fold them into a terrine, the low cooking temperature prevents the fat from being rendered out, or make foie gras butter.  The butter is great because of its versatility and its amazing flavor.  I mean come on, its butter and foie gras!  The recipe below has been adapted from the following site The Chopping Block.  At the chopping block they use all foie gras, which is perfectly acceptable, but I do enjoy the flavor of the butter being substituted for half of the foie gras.

Foie Gras Shortbread

4oz  Foie Gras (Chilled)

4oz Butter (Room Temperature)


1oz Balsamic Vinegar

1/2t  Sugar

1/8t  Black Pepper (Ground)


2C  AP Flour or AKI AP Flour^GF


2ea  Egg Yolk

AN Flaked Salt or Sea Salt

Foie Gras Butter

  • Place the foie gras and butter in a food processor and blend until smooth.  This step is optional, place the butter on a sieve and press it through using a rubber spatula.  This process will remove larger chunks that did not get pureed and sometimes if there are chunks of foie the fat will render out while baking and could cause the shortbread to spread into a thin mess.Foie Butter.jpgFoie Butter.jpgFoie Butter.jpg

If you are going to use the butter as is, I recommend using it on top of steaks and adding truffles, sea salt and black pepper.  To do this, after the steps above, place the foie butter in a mixing bowl and fold in the your choice of ingredients to your liking.  On  a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper, scoop out the foie butter and place it on the front third of the plastic, spread it the length of the plastic, side to side, leaving two inches of plastic on both sides.  Then take the end of plastic nearest you and pull it over the butter and start to roll the butter along the table in the plastic.  You are essentially make a log of butter, then grab the ends and lift and roll the butter on the counter to twist of both ends.  Place the butter in the fridge or freezer for later use, if freezing be sure to place it in the fridge 24 hours before use.

Foie Gras Shortbread

  • Place the foie gras butter into the bowl of a stand mixer with the sugar, balsamic, and black pepper.  Cream until well combined.
  • Add the flour to the mixing bowl and carefully mix until well combined, you will need to scrape the bowl to ensure an even mixture.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl, wrap in plastic, and place in the fridge to chill.
  • After a few hours, or when ready to use, remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit at room temp for 30 minutes before rolling.  Pre-heat an oven to 325°F


  • Roll the dough to the desired thickness and cut to fit the dish it will be served with.



  • Beat the two egg yolks then place the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with the egg.  Sprinkle with the sea salt or flaked salt and bake for approximately 20 minutes, may take longer in conventional ovens.




The foie gras shortbread cookies go great on Caesar salads or on their own.

GF Parmesan and Black Pepper Gnocchi

Who doesn’t love a fluffy potato dumpling in their soup or smothered in marinara?  This classic Italian potato dumpling is a great accompaniment to chicken, pork, and fish, or served with fresh vegetables!  The key to a great gnocchi is to make sure your potatoes are dry after they have baked and to mix your dough while the potatoes are still warm, not a tricky feat to accomplish both but it does require you to have everything in place and ready.  The best part, the gnocchi’s can be stored in the freezer and cooked when you need them!

Gluten Free Linzer Torte

My great Aunt would bake us one of these decadent Austrian tortes for our birthday’s, and every time I make one it brings me back to growing up in Colorado. Make sure to splurge on the jam, it will make a difference.

This recipe uses almond and hazelnut meal, if you do not have them you can grind whole or slivered almonds and hazelnuts in a food processor until it is a fine consistency. The fresh ground almonds and hazelnuts adds a lot of flavor to this decadent dessert. We used a cast iron skillet instead of a tart pan to make our Linzer Torte but either can work.

Linzer Torte Dough

1/2# Butter (Room Temperature)
1/2# Brown Sugar

2ea Eggs
1t Cinnamon
3/4t Ginger
1/3t Clove

6.5oz AKI AP Flour^GF
2/3# Hazelnut Flour
2/3# Almond Flour


AN  Your favorite jam, we used raspberry.

If you are making nut flours start here, if you already have nut flours skip this first step. This recipe will make more than you would need for the cast iron skillet that we used, which is about a 5″, so any extra can be wrapped well and stored in the freezer

  • Place the roasted hazelnuts and almonds into a food processor and pulse until coarse, then add the AKI AP Flour^GF and pulse until you can get the nuts to a fine consistency. It is okay if the mixture is slightly coarse.


  • Place butter and sugar in a bowl and cream together.
  • Add the spices and to the creamed sugar and butter followed by one egg. Mix until incorporated then add the other egg and mix again until incorporated.
  • Add the flour blend and mix until a uniform dough has formed. The dough should be fairly tacky, scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll it up. Store in the fridge until you are ready to use.
  • When ready to make the torte, preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and plastic then cut a piece of the dough off. Dust the counter top with AKI AP Flour^GF and roll the piece of dough out to 1/4″ thickness.
  • Place the dough in the tart pan or cast iron skillet and press it into any grooves. If baking in a skillet you want the dough to come up the sides about 3/4″.
  • Place the jam on top of the dough, about 6oz, again that all depends on what type of vessel you are using to bake it in. Typically you want the same amount of filling as you have dough on the bottom. in this case about 1/4″.
  • Roll out smaller pieces of dough and cut the lattices and place them on top of the jam.
  • Place the skillet into the oven and bake until the jam is starting to bubble out of the gaps and the crust is golden. You will want the crust to be a little on the darker side to ensure the jam has set.
  • Once cooled you can remove the torte from its vessel and place on a cooling rack until ready to serve, best to let cool on the rack for a few hours and even better after a few days.

Food Pairings

My own worst enemy on the internet is wikipedia, with all of its “knowledge” and endless links I get trapped staring at my screen for longer than I want to admit. So here is my food pairing “wiki”, which is open for people to submit their favorite pairings, so add it in a comment or an email and I will add it to the list.
-Happy Clicking-

Banoffee, with a Gluten Free Twist

I am a huge fan of any dessert made with bananas whether it’s in the form of a brulee, in a pie, or cooked in rum and sugar and served with ice cream.  Banoffee, in my opinion, is very similar to a banana cream pie with a few changes.  This English style pie has a graham cracker crust, caramel, bananas, and a whipped cream topping which can have chocolate sauce or nuts sprinkled on top.   This version of banoffee was inspired by chef Joe Kim from 5 Fusion and Sushi Bar in Bend, Oregon.  Before leaving the west coast 5 Fusion became on of my favorite restaurants to dine at and his banoffee was the dessert of choice.

This dessert will show you the versatility of AKI’s AP Gluten Free Flour and whether you are on a gluten-free diet or not this dessert will make your taste buds dance and one bite is only the start to a great evening.

Graham Cracker Crust

1/2C  GF Graham Cracker Crumbs

1 & 3/4T  Sugar

1oz  Melted Butter

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Combine all ingredients and mix well.  If you squeeze the crumbs in your hand after mixing it should hold its shape and not crumble too much.  If it is too dry you can add more melted butter.
  • Press the crust into a baking dish and place into the oven.
  • In a conventional oven, bake for 8 minutes, in a convection oven bake for 5 minutes or until crust begins to color.

Toffee Caramel

1/2C  Sugar

1/4C  Brown Sugar


1/2C  Cream

1T  Butter (Cold)

Pinch  Salt

  • Combine sugars in a pot and heat on medium heat on the stove top.
  • As the sugars heat and melt they gently shake the pan or pot to redistribute the sugar.
  • Continue to do this, and stir with a heat-resistant spatula if needed, until all of the sugar looks like caramel.
  • Remove the spatula and replace with a whisk and add the cream.

**Be extremely careful when pouring the cream into the sugar, splash back can occur and the sugar is upwards of 330°F.  We recommend either wrapping your hand in a towel while you pour our pour the cream down the side of the pot while your hand is on the outside of the pot.

  • Once the cream is added, gently whisk and bring to a simmer.
  • Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until most of the hard pieces of sugar have dissolved.
  • Strain the caramel into a bowl and whisk in the butter and salt.
  • once the butter is melted drizzle a thin layer of caramel onto the cooked graham cracker crust.

Enjoy the remaining caramel!

Tempura Bananas

~5C  Canola Oil

1.5ea  Bananas

1 batch  Basic Tempura

  • Preheat frying oil or fryer to 350°F
  • Peel bananas and cut into quarters
  • Place the banana sections into the tempura and roll them around to ensure a good coat of the batter is on them.
  • Carefully place the bananas in the hot oil, do not do more than can fit in the oil.  It is best to hold the bananas half way in until they begin to fry, this will help prevent them from sticking to the fryer basket or pot.
  • **We use our fingers but we recommend using tongs and depending on how firm the bananas are you can use a long toothpick.
  • When the bananas begin to turn a golden brown, remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to cool.
  • Once all bananas are fried begin to make the whipped topping.

Whipped Topping and Assembly

3/4C  Cream

1.5T  Sugar

Pinch  Salt

  • Combine all and whip to medium/stiff peaks, this can be done by hand or with and electric mixer.
  • Place the fried bananas on top of the graham cracker crust with the caramel then top with whipped cream.
  • Chocolate sauce and nuts are optional.


Banoffee with tempura bananas.

For more pictures of making the banoffee and other GF recipes please see AKI’s website

Pastrami Style Sweetbreads

Sweetbreads are one of my favorite things to cook as of late.  This delicacy is very easy to execute, they do not over cook easily and they will melt in your mouth every time.  Of the odd-ball things to eat from animals (foie gras, bone marrow, etc)  Sweetbreads are the least intrusive in terms of flavor, getting past the fact that they are glands is another story.  Sweetbreads usually come from calves/veal but often come from lamb and pork.  The glands that are most commonly used are the thymus, which come from the neck, gullet, or throat and the pancreas, which come from the heart, stomach, or belly.  To some it is very hard to eat sweetbreads because of what it is, I always tell people “If you like foie gras, then sweetbreads are no problem”, not always true but I have found it to be a good way to get more people to try them.

The dish below is one that took a few days to get together , as the sweetbreads needed to sit in a brine.  Once brined they needed to develop a pellicle so they would hold the smoke.  After sitting in the cooler for 12 hours they had a nice pellicle, a dry rub was added that had paprika, black pepper, and brown sugar as its main ingredients, then we put them in a vacuum bag and cooked them in a water bath.  Once removed from the water bath we pressed them with a weight so we could get a nice uniform piece, which was then cut into the desired sized pieces.  The accompaniments were a caraway shortbread, sautéed chard, candied pine nuts, and a huckleberry confiture.


The Last Special

As I counted down the days at Black Butte Ranch I felt the urge to go all out when making this special entrée.  Not only was this dish vegetarian, but I used as many ingredients from our garden that I could, and since the seasons were beginning to change and get a little cooler I decided to make a risotto, one of my comfort foods.  I started by taking a look at the massive amounts of cherry tomatoes that we had in our garden and started to pick them.  We had to variety’s, sun-golds and sweet 100’s, sun-golds have a nice golden color to them and have a sweetness reminiscent of honey, the sweet 100’s are a deep red with a strong and sweet tomato flavor that bursts in your mouth.  As I finished picking them I noticed an excessive amount of squash blossoms among the prickly vines of our squash plants.  We have two different types of squash planted in our garden, butternut and spaghetti, both of which we used seeds that we saved from our squash plants the year prior.  Spaghetti squash blossoms are a little bit smaller than the butternut but they will both work for what I am going to do, which at this point was unknown.  When picking squash blossoms you want to make sure to pick the male flowers only, male squash blossoms do not produce fruit, or in this case a squash.  Male blossoms will have a much longer stem than the female variety and the females will grow vary close to the vine that they grow off of.  as the plant gets older sometimes the female flower will be roughly two inches from the base vine, so anything longer than that is a male.  After I picked the squash blossoms I ventured over to the herb garden and picked some basil to use as a finishing herb in the risotto.

When we make risotto for the restaurant we cook the rice until it has been 80% cooked, this will keep the rice firm enough to store yet it will finish cooking relatively quickly. It is common for me to cook the rice this same way at home and I can just reheat and finish as needed, you can see the process here, this recipe makes enough risotto 10-12 people, so you may want to cut back on the recipe to accommodate your needs. For this dish you will finish the risotto with equal parts chicken stock and cream, and three tablespoons of cold butter.

As I began to prepare the special I had the wild idea to make a type of burrata, but I did not have the time to make the curds for the mozzarella so I used some pre-formed mozzarella, warmed it, and filled it with fresh ricotta instead of an Italian sweet cream with mozzarella scraps


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • I started by making a solution of water salted like you would pasta, then added a little rice vinegar (until you can begin to taste it in the water).  Reserve about one cup of the brine for cooling and storing the finished product and put the rest onto the stove over medium heat.  Try to maintain a temperature of 180°F.
  • Then I placed five pieces of ciliegine mozzarella in a colander and placed it into the solution, and let it sit for 30-40 seconds.
  • Be very careful when removing the mozzarella from the water and working with it, it will be very hot, work the mozzarella in your hands to get it to a more consistent shape so it heats more evenly.
  • Place it back into the water for another 30-40 seconds.  Remove and work it in your hands again to create a smooth and consistent piece of mozzarella.
  • Place it back into the solution for about 20 seconds then remove and stretch the mozzarella so it is an even thickness then add two tablespoons of ricotta to the center and close it up, trying to leave no room for air.
  • Place the finished cheese in the brine to cool.

After the process of making buratta I made another bold move with my squash blossoms.  We had some local quail eggs on hand so I decided to drop a quail egg inside of the squash blossom and then dip the blossom in tempura and fry it.  The results were more amazing than the pictures can can actually show.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once you get the hang of opening a quail egg and the process of battering and frying them it goes very quickly.  For best results you should make these just before you serve the risotto, you can par fry them and re-fry them later but it might cook the yolk a little too far.

  • To start pick some quality squash blossoms that are complete and don’t  have any holes in the petals.  If there are small holes the egg white will fill them and stop any leaks, just avoid larger holes.
  • Prepare a tempura batter, the best tempura is made with rice flour which you will see the recipe below.
    • 3C  White Rice Flour
    • 2ea  Large Egg yolks
    • 2C  Soda Water
  • In a bowl place 1 cup of the rice flour and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl place the remaining two cups of flour, soda water, and egg yolks.  Mix until just combined.
  • Prepare a fryer or a pot of oil and heat to 350°F.
  • Once hot, carefully open a squash blossom flower and set aside.  Open a quail egg, now the best way to approach this is to use a paring knife and cut it across the top (more pointed end).  the membrane between the shell and egg is a lot thicker than a chicken egg and can be difficult to crack and pull open.  Removing the top allows you to hold the egg in one hand and open the blossom up with the other.  I have also found that if you are holding the blossom in one hand and an egg in the other, the blossom will not stay open.  You can either recruit some help or try blowing into the flower to open it up while pouring the egg into the center.  Try to avoid the stamen as it might break the yolk, so it is best to pour it down the side of the petals.
  • once the egg is inside pinch the petals together and while holding it closed roll it around the rice flour, carefully.  Then dip the blossom into the tempura and gently place it in the fryer.  The hot oil should cook the tempura quick enough to prevent the blossom from opening in the process of cooking.
  • Once the blossom shows a hint of browning remove from the oil and set aside and continue to the next one.  If you are quick enough you can get a second blossom in the oil as the first one is finished frying.

The end result is just wonderful, a nice set white with a stiff but not hard-cooked yolk.

The next stage of this special was to clean up the cherry tomatoes that I picked.  I removed a handful and set them aside to make a tomato sauce that I regretfully did not write a recipe for because it came out very well.  I cooked the tomatoes with shallot, olive oil, basil, and garlic in my immersion circulator for 45 minutes then I pureed it and seasoned it.  It was nice and rich with a bright tomato flavor and a beautiful orange hue to it.

The remaining tomatoes got an “X” scored in the bottom of them and I prepared a pot of simmering water to blanch them in.  Once the water boiled the tomatoes jumped in the hot tub for twenty seconds which then they immediately got transferred to an ice bath to stop the cooking process.  As they cooled I began the process of peeling the tomatoes, to some it is tedious and annoying, but to me it is relaxing and gives me a sense of greater satisfaction for my special.  If everyone could see the work that goes into a lot of classically prepared food I think there would be a lot more appreciation for the knife cuts that we perform and a beautifully peeled cherry tomato.  The tomatoes did not need to be peeled but the texture and the feel of it as you eat it is indescribable.

For a few finishing touches I took the basil from our garden and rolled it up and slice it thin, also known as a chiffonade.  I then noticed some black quinoa on our line, so I put some aside to add a little texture and contrast to the risotto.  Next I took a piece of Reggiano cheese and grated it on my micro-plane and set that next to my basil.  I used some praline pine nuts to garnish, they have a sweet and crunchy texture that lends nicely to the dish.  For the pine nuts I used the same process as I did for my candied green coriander.  I also cut some cut corn to help add some sweetness.  Finally, I mix a few cups of water with an equal amount of cream, this liquid will be used to re-heat and finish my risotto.

Now comes the fun part, assembly, the process above is considered “mise en place”, meaning everything in place.  We have all of our components lined up and it is now time to assemble with ease and confidence, this is very important when working in a restaurant to ensure that all of the food can be produced quickly and consistently.

  • I started by placing equal parts of chicken stock and cream in a pot with corn, quinoa, and the partially cooked risotto.  Once this started to warm up I continued to add liquid as it finished cooking and to adjust the consistency.  Once warm i stirred in the chiffonade of basil and checked the seasoning.
  • The Risotto then went into a bowl, the buratta was placed in the middle, this would let the cheese warm up a little bit before eating.
  • I then drizzled the top with the tomato sauce, place a few cleaned cherry tomatoes from the kitchen garden, added pine nuts, and the tempura squash blossom.
  • And now you have a risotto fit to fill you up.


Some people think that a chefs special is old food that is priced cheap to run it out of the kitchen before it goes bad, this is only partially true.  Yes, I want to use the tomatoes before they go bad, and yea I had quinoa on my line that was available for use, was it about to go bad, “no”.  A chefs special is more often something personal, it is a dish that can truly express the passion and the love that we put into our work, we use the products that are on hand and that spark our imagination.