Category Archives: Baking

i8tonite with Forking Good Authors Valya Dudycz Lupescu and Stephen H. Segal & Recipe for I Kant Believe It’s Not Buttermilk Pancakes

Have you seen the new cookbook, Forking Good: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of The Good Place by Valya Dudycz Lupescu and Stephen H. Segal? Like the show, Forking Good combines food humor with moral philosophy for a delightfully unexpected cooking experience.

Valya Dudycz Lupescu and Stephen H. Segal are the coauthors of Geek Parenting and the cofounders of the Wyrd Words storytelling laboratory. They live in Chicago in an Art Deco building that dates to the days of pulp magazines and Prohibition. Their weird family enjoys fan conventions, well-considered color palettes, and lots of music.

Valya is the author of the novel The Silence of Trees. She earned her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her poetry and prose have appeared in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2019, Kenyon Review, Culture, Gargoyle Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Chicago Reader.

Stephen is a journalist who has covered artists, scientists, musicians, and makers for Philadelphia Weekly and WQED Pittsburgh. As the chief editor at and, formerly, Weird Tales magazine, he has encouraged writers of both fiction and nonfiction to dig deep for unexpected truths. He grew up at the Jersey Shore.

~What is your favorite food to cook?

Valya: Vegetables—the variety, color, texture, and taste of them in different combinations depending on the season and my mood. I find them so satisfying to all the senses, especially roasted/sautéed and well-seasoned! I tend to go on kicks for a few months, exploring the different things one can do with them. For a while it was brussels sprouts, then asparagus, then red cabbage, and it’s been cauliflower since the summer. Oven-roasted cauliflower with different types of spices is one of our current family favorites.

~What do you always have in your fridge at home?

Stephen: More than actually fits! Two kinds of milk and three mustards and four salad dressings and five raw vegetables and six juice boxes and honestly more maple syrups than you would think anyone would have….

~What do you cook at home?

Valya: We make a lot of curries, stir fries, and pasta. Each of those has so much room for creative improvisation (and spices!)

~What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?

Valya: Curiosity. I enjoy sharing a meal with someone who is curious, from their openness to savor new flavor experiences to their willingness to answer and ask provocative questions in conversation.

~What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?

Stephen: At meals, I’m happy either to chat or eat together quietly — but if we’re talking at the table, one thing that always riles me up is when someone asks me questions and then keeps interrupting me before I can finish answering. Hey, if you’re gonna ask, listen!

~Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?

Valya: Pyrex, hands down. I prefer the non-porous surface of glass for storing food and for dishwasher cleaning.

~Beer, wine, or cocktail?

Stephen: Cocktail — something complicated yet cohesive, a layered flavor profile that goes on expanding from the scent right on through the aftertaste.

~Your favorite cookbook author?

Valya: I have many cookbooks that I love, but one of my favorite cookbook authors is a dear friend and fellow writer, Mary Anne Mohanraj. Mary Anne is a fantastic cook and writer who has been sharing her recipes on Patreon for years. Her most recent cookbook, A Feasts of Serendib: Recipes from Sri Lanka, is available on her website:

~Your favorite kitchen tool?

Stephen: Three-way tie: the Vitamix (it has ten speeds!), the apple corer (it’s so geometric!), and the pizza cutter (it rolls so satisfyingly!)

Valya: My Wüsthof paring knife and my cast iron skillet.

~Your favorite ingredient?

Stephen: Soft cheese. Chevre, mascarpone, soft manchego, whatever. It has a happy place in breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, and desserts.

~Your least favorite ingredient?

Valya: Cilantro. I’m one of those “cilantro tastes like soap” people.

~Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?

Stephen: The third load of dishes in the same day.

~Favorite types of cuisine to cook?

Valya: I love to cook Ukrainian cuisine. I don’t do it often, usually on holidays and special occasions, but the hearty, comfort foods like pierogis (which are called varenyky in Ukrainian), borsch, Ukrainian breads and cakes, all connect me with my heritage and my ancestors.

Stephen: Hm. To cook? Mediterranean. Flipping falafels is fun.

~Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?

Stephen: Humanely farmed chicken.

~Favorite vegetable?

Valya: Onions. I use onions in most of my dishes, especially caramelized. It’s such a perfect flavor, alone or layered with other flavors.

Stephen: More beets, please.

~Chef you most admire?

Valya: The chef that had the greatest impact on me growing up was Julia Child. I loved watching her cook on PBS; there was so much joy in it. Hers was the kind of passion I try to apply to all my meals. I also deeply admire Grant Achatz for his incredible perseverance and his fearless creativity. Eating at Alinea was an unforgettable and inspirational experience.

~Food you like the most to eat?

Stephen: At a meal: Indian cuisine — it’s such a perfectly satisfying blend of sweet, salty, savory, and spicy. As a snack: frozen dark chocolate-covered banana slices.

~What is your favorite non-food thing to do?

Valya: Our apartment is full of books. We are definitely a family of readers and music-lovers.

~Who do you most admire in food?

Valya: Melissa Clark. A dear friend and fellow foodie turned me onto Melissa’s videos, and I did a deep dive into her work. I love the way she writes about food, it’s such a pleasure watching her cook, and her “Weeknight Kitchen” podcast is one of my favorite things to listen to on my way home from work.

~Where is your favorite place to eat?

Valya: Honestly, I love to eat at home—ours and other peoples. I appreciate the intimacy and personality. Outside of home dining, we really love our neighborhood Ethiopian restaurant, Ras Dashen. Also high on our list is Band of Bohemia, such wonderful food and cocktails. w

Stephen: As an East Coaster relocated to Chicago, I thank the heavens for Jimmy’s Pizza Cafe, which is the place to get real New York pizza in town.

~How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?

Stephen: None.
Valya: Two. None of food, though.
Stephen: Yet.

I Kant Believe It’s Not Buttermilk Pancakes

Excerpted from Forking Good: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of The Good Place by Valya Dudycz Lupescu and Stephen H. Segal. Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books.

“In this realm, IHOP stands for Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes. You don’t really eat these pancakes. It’s more like they eat you.”—Michael, Season 2, Episode 10, “Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent”

When Chidi agrees to teach Eleanor about ethics, he turns to Immanuel Kant’s The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. In it, Kant creates a basis for defining what behaviors are ethically acceptable (and, further, what behaviors are ethically required). Kant believed that ethical action was guided by the so-called categorical imperative of rules that produce ethical behavior if they are followed. It was his opinion that immorality is the result of a person holding others to a different standard of behavior than they do for themselves.

In Season 2, Episode 10, Chidi struggles against the obvious need to lie to maintain the Soul Squad’s aliases when they find themselves in the Bad Place. He tells Eleanor that according to Kant, lying is always wrong. He tells her, “Principles aren’t principles when you pick and choose when you’re gonna follow them!” Eleanor declares herself a moral particularist, invoking the philosopher Jonathan Dancy to make the argument that, “You have to choose your actions based on the particular situation.” Eleanor wins that round, and the conflicted Chidi tries to blend in.

The limitations of Kant’s categorical imperative don’t seem to apply in the absurdity of the afterlife. Kant may have argued that the contradiction of standards was immoral, but what happens when you have a completely different set of rules to follow, because you’re literally in hell? Or when you find yourself at . . .

In Season 3, the Soul Squad arrives in the Neutral Zone between Good and Bad, at the Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes—the crossroads of all dimensions, where the pancakes contain interdimensional portals and want to eat you as much as you want to eat them. The Judge augments reality to make this place appear as a regular IHOP, but dangers still exist. As Michael warns the humans, “If you eat anything in this IHOP, you will literally explode.” Chidi missteps and falls into a portal, shrinks, and tumbles through time and space. Before he’s retrieved, he gets a glimpse of the Time Knife, which he describes as “a trillion different realities folding onto each other like thin sheets of metal, forming a single blade.”
For the indecisive deontological philosopher who spent his life in perpetual conflict for being unable to make the simplest of decisions, what does it mean to see so many dimensional possibilities at once? We’re not sure; he seems to snap back into their dimension fairly easily. Fortunately, the glimpse of the fractalesque reality did not launch him into the existential crisis that Jeremy Bearimy did.

So how does this influence our pancake recipe?

Some version of it has been part of the human diet for thousands of years, so it’s fitting that the crossroads of all dimensions is a symbolic house of pancakes. The earliest written reference to a pancake is the tagenia from ancient Greece, mentioned in the writing of the fifth century B.C.E. poets Cratinus and Magnes, and made with flour, olive oil, honey, and milk.

There are versions of pan cakes all over the world: Ethiopian injera and Indonesian serabi, French crêpes and German Pfannkuchen, Chinese bing and Indian cheela— some sweet, some savory, all grain based. In America, the earliest pancakes were likely made with cornmeal or buckwheat and called flapjacks or johnnycakes. Buttermilk pancakes, which are perhaps the most popular iteration in the United States, are believed to have come from Scotland, where they are called drop scones and made with a leavening agent that produces a taller cake than the typical crêpe-like British pancake.

Our vegan version drops the buttermilk and eggs but still captures the delicious fluff and flavor. And they won’t try to eat you.

I Kant Believe It’s Not Buttermilk Pancakes
MAKES: 25–30 silver dollar pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly (use refined for a neutral flavor or unrefined if you want a stronger coconut taste)
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
Vegetable oil or coconut oil to grease the griddle/pan
Powdered sugar and fresh fruit, for topping

• Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
• In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, combine melted coconut oil, milk, and syrup.
• Add dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until just incorporated. Don’t overbeat the batter or the pancakes will be tough.
• Allow batter to sit for 5 minutes while you heat a griddle or a cast-iron skillet on medium-low heat. The pan is ready when a drop of water sizzles upon contact.
• Lightly grease the griddle with vegetable oil or coconut oil.
• Using a large spoon, ladle small portions, about a heaping tablespoon, of batter onto the griddle. (You want the pancakes to be bite-sized.)
• When bubbles form in the batter, use a spatula to flip pancake and cook for another minute or two. Transfer cooked pancakes to the prepared baking sheet and warm in the oven while you cook the remaining batter.
• Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with the fruit of your choice.

I8tonite: A New York Pizza Experience

Pepperoni Pizza

On a recent work trip to the Big Apple, I found myself working voraciously from one area of the boroughs to another, with only an opportunity to grab a quick slice of pizza for lunch, before hailing an Uber (Who takes cabs?) or jumping on the subway, repeating this action until dinner. I did this for five days. By the end of the trip, exhausted and not feeling well plus I felt bloated from the amounts of consumed dairy and wheat. (Yes. I  realized that milk products including trace amounts of butter and I are no longer friends.)

With this said, the trip provided me a rewarding experience that only Lactaid can cure the next time I venture forth with so much mozzarella. And, although, the New York slice, the version that you dab with a napkin to relieve of extra grease, rolling-up like a New York Times straphanger, is becoming extinct like said transit-rider, it still is served deliciously — and for me, gratefully.

On Quora – the internet answer for everything — someone tried to figure out the number of shops, reckoning it’s anywhere from 3200 to 32500.  Suffice it to say it’s a broad number. They even try and figure out how many per day a pizzaiolo must toss, bake and sell (about 50) to stay in business.

Whatever the case and take this with a grain of well-tossed salt hidden in the folds of rising dough, here are my selections for a few grand pizzas – in today’s Manhattan.

Prince Street Pizza

Formerly known as Ray’s when I lived was a poor New York student in the eighties, I would stumble by for a pepperoni slice after nightclubbing, something to soak up the alcohol. Purchased a decade ago, the existing owners kept the place alive and very much a Soho tradition. Instead of the fold-and-go variety of pies, they execute a Sicilian square loaded with small circles of spicy pepperoni. When baked onto one of the gooey delicacies, they become mini-cups of flavor, holding liquid fat, ready to drip down your chin or shirt. There are only a line and a counter so may do like a New Yorker and eat while walking.

27 Prince Street (between Elizabeth and Mott Streets)

(212) 966 – 4100


Days of cheese and pepperoni

 I came by the Romanesque pizza shop after Uber hightailing from a meeting in Brooklyn to Lexington and 78th only to be thirty minutes early. Rarely do opportunities arise with time on your side, so I sought out a quick place to eat and came across Farinella Pizza and Bakery.  Here the pies are elongated rather than round and the dough stretched rather than tossed. Regardless, it’s really delicious with a crispy under-carriage while it grips onto the selected toppings. The margherita is divine Italian simplicity at it’s best.

1132 Lexington Avenue (between 78th and 79th Streets)

New York, New York, 10075

(212) 327 – 2702


Pepperoni Pizza

Who knew that pizza – an import foodstuff brought over by Italian immigrants – could be so delicious in the hands of a Turk? Hakki Akdeniz worked for many years making $300 per week to learn the tasks of pizzaiolo trade. The outcome is a true slice of New York pizza. Folded in half, paper plate underneath – and a walk to the subway – or hanging out at one of the few tables. Eating the chewy dough and cheese with just that right amount of giving made me feel like all is right with the world – that Andy Warhol, Deelite and Nell’s where still around.

17 Cleveland Place, New York, New York

The end. Go eat.

(P.S. Apologies for the long space between posts. Life happens.)

[prosperInsert gtm=”merchant” id=”123522~123477~” ft=”fetchMerchant” imgt=”original” fb=”123522123477″ ni=”true”][/prosperInsert]

i8tonite: One New York Woman’s Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Gluten-Free to Industry: Allie Luckman Overcame Food Allergies for Her Family and Found a Calling

Allison Wolin Luckman. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery“Do you mind if we chat while I’m driving?” starts CEO and owner of Allie’s GF Goodies, Allison Luckman. “I couldn’t find allergen-free gumdrops, so I’m on my way to the store to buy the ingredients to make them.” With that as an intriguing conversation starter, how could one not want to talk to her via Bluetooth? The Long Island, New York-based Luckman, like many of today’s mothers, found that she had genetically passed her many food allergies onto her kids. Therefore, she started baking for them to make sure her kids could eat baked treats just like their friends – without feeling left out of any celebration.

Black and White cookie. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Starting with a hobby crafting cakes and muffins for tiny tots birthdays and celebrations in 2012, Luckman found the flowering enterprise grew into a bakery. The certified gluten-free and qualified kosher shop concentrates on baked goods free of potential allergens such as dairy, egg, soy, gluten, coconut, peanuts, tree nuts, or sesame. Hence, most of the products are also suitable for vegans. As her business grew, Luckman developed a following among those in the entertainment business. Her clients have included rapper Snoop Dog and hip-hop impresario Steve Lobel, as well as having been featured on A & E’s Married at First Sight and on an episode of Millionaire Matchmaker.

Allison Wolin Luckman. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning BakeryAlmost two years ago, Luckman found a growing need to serve the gentile and Jewish communities by turning her baking business into a complete kosher pareve (dairy-free) enterprise. “I was getting more calls to omit eggs and milk products, so we decided to make a go. Our business gets supported by the many rabbis recommending our goods,” Luckman comments.

When asked what she finds the hardest to do, she doesn’t pause. “Finding good bakers. If they have been working for as a baker for a while, they don’t understand how to work with my recipes that I have personally developed, sometimes working on them for weeks, if not months. When someone fresh comes in, I can train them to work with the types of flours we use. It’s a specific process particular to our products.”

Luckily, those with allergies can now have some of the best in award-winning baked goods (TasteTV’s “Healthy Gourmet Snacks of the Year Awards” and ““People’s Choice Award for Most Innovative New Product” at the International Food Service & Restaurant Show) in the world including bagels, black and white cookies, and challah. Seriously, what child or adult could go through life without devouring a bagel and a smear? They won’t have to go without, due to Allie Luckman and her GF Goodies. #nochildleftout.

Bagels. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Allie GF Goodies are available online and can be shipped throughout the U.S. Follow on Facebook, website:, or by calling (516) 216 – 1719.

Allie's GF Goodies. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
I love to make either a full roasted turkey or chicken. My family loves it, giving them the feeling of comfort. Along the same lines I love to make them traditional chicken soup, and they have always loved mine the best.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
In my fridge at home, we have freshly sliced turkey breast, a variety of cheeses, and kosher pickles, both half sour and garlic dill.

Mandelbread (Jewish Biscotti). From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I enjoy eating with people who enjoy and appreciate good food.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I hate eating with people with bad table manners.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
I am definitely a wine person.

Your favorite cookbook author?
My favorite cookbook author has always been Mark Bittman.

Buddies. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Your favorite kitchen or bar tool?
I have three favorites in the kitchen. Every baker/ chef needs a whisk, a KitchenAid stand mixer, and a food processor.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
I like to cook all types of cuisine as long as there is flavor, room for personal flair, and not too spicy (although my husband will eat as spicy as I give him)!

Beef, chicken, pork, seafood, or tofu?
I’m either a chicken or beef person. Never tofu.

Favorite vegetable?
I love asparagus and broccoli, although I’m not personally allowed many vegetables.

Chef or culinary person you most admire?
I admire Florian Bellinger, the pastry chef.

Hamantaschen. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Food you dislike the most?
I truly dislike mushrooms. I loathe the texture. However, I don’t mind the flavor in a sauce or soup.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
My favorite nonfood thing to do, aside from catching up on sleep, is spending time with my husband and grown children, either watching television or traveling.

Whom do you most admire in food?
I admire Ron Ben Israel for his cake business that he’s created.

Where is your favorite place to eat/ drink?
I live on Long Island. My local faves are 388 Restaurant, where they make excellent family style Italian food. They carry and use my products, and are hyper vigilant about my celiac disease so that I can eat safely. I have always been a Peter Luger’s fan—like every New Yorker. And my go-to in Manhattan these days is Felidia, where they take celiac disease very seriously.

Crumb cake. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I do not have a tattoo, nor will I ever. I’ve had so many surgeries that I’m marked up enough.

Recipe: Allie’s Banana Bread

Recipe: Allie's Banana Bread. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

2 c Allie’s flour
3/4 c sugar
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 t salt
1/2 c unsalted butter or Earth Balance, softened
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon
2 eggs
1/3 T lowfat or hemp milk
1/4 c chocolate chips or blueberries (optional)

• Preheat oven to 350.
• In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar
• Beat eggs in separate bowl and add butter/sugar to the mixture. Then add bananas, milk, and vanilla until well blended.
• In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Then add to the banana mixture until fully blended.
• Add chocolate chips or blueberries, if desired.
• Pour into greased pan and bake 50-60 minutes for loaf.



– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake Recipe

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake RecipeSimon Thibault is a Halifax-based journalist and radio producer whose work focuses on food. His written work has been featured in The Globe and Mail and East Coast Living. He has contributed to CBC Radio, and The Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy podcast. He was also a judge for the 2015 James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Awards.

Thibault’s new book, Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food, is a fantastic read – and resource. This expertly written and beautifully produced new title is part cookbook and part history guide exploring the culinary legacy of Canada’s Acadian Diaspora located within the eastern Maritime region. We don’t know enough about Acadian history and food – and I am glad to have the opportunity to learn more, in this book.


i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake RecipeAcadian food is humble, homey, and comforting, which is what inspired Thibault to highlight the cuisine. It is made with love and devotion from a larder that is small but mighty, and holds history within itself. Each recipe is adapted from Thibault’s own family collection or from various women’s auxiliaries within the region – the result is a cookbook of extraordinary value and uniqueness.


Tip: Make the apple pie (it was the first thing I made from the book!). It’s incredible.

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake Recipe

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
I think readers of cookbooks falsely imagine that the authors cook nothing but the food they extoll in their books. I did do so when I was recipe testing. I think I ate more lard and molasses than one perhaps should on a regular basis while living a semi-sedentary lifestyle. But I tend to cook, for lack of a better term, Pan-Asian food at home. I’m lucky that I know farmers here in Nova Scotia who grow a lot of northern Chinese/Korean/Japanese vegetables. So I often will cook extra rice in a rice cooker while I am doing other things, and then will cook the vegetables à la minute. I usually top things off with an egg or two.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Eggs. Always. At least a carton and a half. That way the older eggs can be used for boiling, the fresh ones for poaching and frying. Salted onions, which is a condiment from my book. It lends a nice salty/umami kick to soups.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
For them to chide me when I say, “I screwed this up, this could be better,” when realistically, they are right. it’s usually quite good. I just always have this platonic ideal of a dish in my head, and it doesn’t always happen. But the other person is happy that someone has cooked for them. And cooking for another is something I love to do.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
If I am in a restaurant, if they are dismissive of staff. As someone who has worked the front of house in various places and times in my life, I find that to be especially heinous.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
If I am at home, amaro. I am learning to embrace the bitter. And all I need is an ice cube. If I am in a bar where I can see what’s behind the bar in terms of booze, I tend to go for a cocktail.

Your favorite cookbook author?
I have to say Naomi Duguid. She wrote the foreword to my book, Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food, but the books that she wrote with her former partner, Jefferey Alford, taught me how to cook. I am still very grateful that I have gotten to know her. I even cooked an apple cake from her book, Home Baking, today.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
A food mill. Apple sauce is magical, and the best whipped/mashed potatoes you’ve ever eaten. And they’re very inexpensive.

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake Recipe

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Chinese. Grace Young’s “The Breath Of A Wok” was the beginning of my understanding of how chinese food works from the act of cooking.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Grass-fed beef, that has been well-reared. Preferably something like a flank, or a hanger steak.

Favorite vegetable?
Chinese long beans. The season is short, and you can cook them in a minute or two, or make a variation on the Vietnamese Som Tam, or green papaya salad. Just substitute the long beans cut into pieces and flattened with the side of a knife.

Chef you most admire?
The people who work at America’s Test Kitchen, behind the scenes. They teach so many people to feel comfortable in kitchens, and answer all the questions you may have when creating a recipe. I admire any chef who thinks it’s important to give people agency in a kitchen.

Food you like the most to eat?
Anything made with flour. I live for carbohydrates, whether sweet or savoury.

Food you dislike the most?
Although I love Japanese food in so many forms, and I like fermented foods, I can’t wrap my brain around natto. It’s fermented soybeans that have long white mucilaginous tendrils when you pull it apart. I can’t.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
I can’t stop reading about food. I have a (bad? good?) cookbook habit. I went to Kitchen Arts and Letters in New York City, and walked out $700 poorer. And I practiced restraint in doing so.

Who do you most admire in food?

Where is your favorite place to eat?
An apple, in my parent’s orchard.

What is your favorite restaurant?
In Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I live, there is a wonderful spot called The Highwayman. Small plates, Basque-inspired cuisine. In New York, I have a love for Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune. Every. Little. Thing. Is. Thought. Out. From the amount of servers on staff, to the wine list, to the price point, to the friendliness of staff. I went there with my friend Sofia, who is a native New Yorker, and she and I ate like kings and queens.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I don’t actually, though I can see why people would assume. If I did, it would probably be of fruit that grows in my parent’s orchard. Peaches for my sister, who passed away and loved them. Apples for my parents, who taught me the value of work. Blueberries for my nieces, who love picking them. And I would be a quince.

Molasses Cake Recipe

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake Recipe

Excerpted from Pantry and Palate by Simon Thibault © 2017, Text by Simon Thibault. ©2017, Photographs by Noah Fecks. All rights reserved. Published by Nimbus Publishing

2 cups molasses
1 cup lard or shortening
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon all spice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (optional)

• Preheat your oven to 375˚F.
• Grease a 10×10-inch cake pan, and then dust generously with flour. Alternatively, add greased and floured parchment paper and place into cake pan.
• Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, fold the flour and lard
together on low speed until completely combined, about 4–5 minutes.
• Add the molasses, cinnamon, fresh ginger (if using), and allspice, and mix on low. Make sure to occasionally stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the molasses, lard, and seasonings are blended.
• Add the baking soda and salt, then the milk to the batter, and stir until well incorporated.
• Pour the batter into the pan, and place into the oven.
• Bake for 50 minutes, or until the cake has receded from the edges of the pan and a toothpick placed in the centre comes out clean. Depending on the size of your pan, it may take a bit more or less time. Just keep checking until it comes out nice and clean.
• Leave cake in pan for about 20 minutes, and then invert onto a rack.

Serve on its own, or as a dessert with Maple Whipped Cream (page
176), Easy Caramel Sauce (page 177), or Brown Sugar Sauce (page 202).

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe“Who doesn’t love cake?” Thus my introduction to Holly Farrell began, when I called her at her gardener’s cottage on an estate in the UK, near the Shropshire/Herefordshire border. Farrell is a serious gardener, mom of a toddler, and the author of Grow Your Own Cake: Recipes from Pot to Plate, a genius book that is both a backyard gardening guide and cookbook. The beautiful, inspiring photos are by Jason Ingram.


i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread RecipeFarrell has a delicious twist to her cake recipes, though – she has a vegetable garden devoted to all things cake. How did this come about?

In college, Farrell majored in history. Which led, curiously, to gardening. What? Yes, well, love entered the picture, too, as you’ll find out in a moment. She got the growing bug working at a chili pepper farm, after which she trained at RHS Gardens Wisley, where she gained the Wisley Diploma in Practical Horticulture and the RHS Certificate and Diploma, both with Commendation – and met her husband! They now live on the country estate where he is the Head Gardener.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread RecipeSoon, she started writing garden books – and freelancing on kitchen gardens for private clients. Now one thing that’s a bit unusual, you’d think, for gardeners – sometimes the accommodations where they lived didn’t have big gardens, because the estate had such extensive gardens! So, she has been growing her own fruit and vegetables for many years, in a variety of settings, from allotments to container gardens. I think for Farrell, gardening is like breathing – something you do no matter where you are. It was amazing to hear her clear passion for gardening –  and her love of teaching how to grow things – from across the pond.

Farrell has always cooked, and always liked cake. This book is a glorious combination of the two, where ingredients you never thought would be in a cake are the stars – or the firmament.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
lavender shortbread cookies

She hopes to inspire people to expand their gardens – and palates. This book will appeal to gardeners who are already growing, and bakers who have never gardened, too. Using freshly grown ingredients (including herbs and flowers) – especially from your own hand and land – makes such a difference. Can’t grow much? Start with herbs in pots on your windowsill, and get the rest from local farmers at your farmer’s market.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Rose cake

I love this book, for it teaches much in both the garden and the kitchen. If you know one, skip ahead to the other. But the recipes (50 of them!) shine, I will be honest. Her chapters include spring and summer cakes, autumn and winter cakes, afternoon tea, pudding, and savory bakes. When I asked what readers might be surprised about her book, Farrell mentions that she while she loves gardening, she doesn’t grow her own wheat, or raises cows and chickens – and the recipe that raises the most eyebrows is the savory cheesecake (you know I flipped right to that page after our afternoon chat, and indeed, I was both intrigued and impressed. Making soon!).

As a mom, I asked Farrell for tips were to get kids started baking (and gardening) early. She said to start early by baking sweet stuff! And while plenty of people are great at hiding vegetables in a cake, that’s not what she’s about. She prefers getting kids to appreciate growing things, picking, and then cooking them. Their time and efforts are rewarded and they’ll want to try it again (and again).

I was impressed with Farrell’s philosophy on gardening, eating, and life. She noted that, “so much goes into the experience of eating – where you are, who you’re with, if the sun is shining, etc. The cakes in the book will taste good, but hopefully you’ll be in a good place, a garden, and the satisfaction of having grown it yourself will make it better.”

To that end, she’s shared two recipes to inspire you.

Questionnaire, with a nod to Proust:

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Cake! Or anything involving cheese.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Butter and eggs, and parmesan cheese (see above).

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I’m terrible at deciding between dishes in restaurants, so it’s always nice when they order the other choice so I can try both!

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Poor table manners.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?

Your favorite cookbook author?
Too many to choose, but for the writing, Nigel Slater and recently Ruby Tandoh.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My silicone spatula.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Anything sweet – pudding, dessert, cake…

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Chicken, but I couldn’t live without pancetta for ragu.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Pea Cheesecake (told you. Make one!)

Favorite vegetable?
Broccoli – it’s what I crave when I’m under the weather, but for baking with, carrots.

Chef you most admire?
Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall do great work with their campaigns for better food.

Food you like the most to eat?
I couldn’t live without chocolate.

Food you dislike the most?
Visible fat on meat – I just can’t stomach chewing it. Or semolina and rice puddings, a school-dinner legacy.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?

Who do you most admire in food?
Michael Pollan writes so well, and his Food Rules is brilliant.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At the kitchen table with my husband and daughter.

What is your favorite restaurant?
The best meals I’ve ever had out were at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir, and at a little place called Da Enzo in Rome.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Hah! No, sorry, I’m not nearly rock and roll (or brave) enough for tattoos.

Growing Carrots & Carrot Cake Recipe

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Grow your own carrots…

When I first started growing my own vegetables, I had a friend who thought carrots is carrots is carrots. I presented him with my home-grown roots for dinner, pulled from the soil that afternoon. ‘Oh’, he said, ‘so that’s what carrots are supposed to taste like.’

For recipes that call for blended or grated carrot, sweet, juicy, long, blunt-ended varieties are best, such as ‘Sugarsnax 54’, ‘St Valery’,
any of the ‘Nantes’ type or the shorter ‘Amsterdam Forcing’ for growing in pots. When using whole carrots, as in Root veg
tarte Tatin, baby carrot varieties such as ‘Paris Market’ are a good choice, and also suitable for growing in pots.

Sow carrots in a sunny spot in spring, and again at intervals until late summer. Scatter the seed thinly in a drill in well-prepared soil free from large stones. Small carrots can be grown in pots, and this is actually preferable to growing them in heavy clay soils.

Carrot flies are attracted by the scent of the foliage so avoid brushing it while tending the plants. To protect the crop from such pests, cover with horticultural fleece or fine mesh. Clear plastic tunnels can also be used if aired daily. Check the edges and folds regularly for slugs and snails. Thin the seedlings once the roots have grown to a usable size, leaving one plant every 10cm/4cm or so.

Satisfying as it is to just pull up carrots using the foliage, this should be avoided so the root does not break; instead use a fork to lever them out of the ground. Carrot thinnings provide the first harvest, while the main crop will be ready around four months after sowing.


i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
for this amazing carrot cake!

Perhaps the most well-known of all the vegetable cakes, and with good reason, carrot cake comes in many guises. This sponge version is lightly spiced, moist and includes a zesty buttercream. It is light enough for baking with fresh, sweet carrots in summer.

2 x deep, round cake tins, 20cm/8in diameter, greased and base-lined

200g/7oz peeled carrots
2 tbsp natural yogurt
1 tbsp orange juice
330g/11oz plain flour
300g/10oz light brown muscovado sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1½ tbsp baking powder
180g/6oz unsalted butter
3 eggs

Candied carrot:
1 peeled carrot
70g/2½oz caster sugar
70ml/2½fl oz water

300g/10oz icing sugar
150g/5oz unsalted butter
3 tsp lemon juice, to taste

1 lemon, zest
75g/2½oz walnuts and/or pecans, toasted

• For the cake, preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Grate the carrots, then blitz in a food processor or blender with the yogurt and orange juice to form a rough purée. Set aside. Sift the flour, sugar, spices and baking powder into a large bowl, then beat in the butter until it has coated the dry ingredients and the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Beat in the eggs until just incorporated, and then the carrot purée for 2–3 minutes. Divide between the two tins. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Then remove from the oven and turn out the cakes to cool on a wire rack.
• For the candied carrot, using a zester or small knife, pare long, thin strips of carrot into a small saucepan. Then add the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until a thin syrup has formed. Hook out the carrot strips and leave to cool on a wire rack.
• For the buttercream, sift the icing sugar and beat with the butter to combine, then add lemon juice to taste. Beat for 5–10 minutes until light and fluffy.

Use half the buttercream to sandwich the two layers of cake together, and the other half to cover the top. Grate over the lemon zest and finish by sprinkling over the toasted nuts and candied carrot.



i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe

Soda bread, which is created using baking powder rather than yeast, requires no kneading and no proving. It is best served warm, making it an ideal choice for a quick weekend lunch. Tradition has it that the cross sliced into the top of the bread is to ward off the devil, but whatever the origin it makes each loaf easy to tear apart into
chunks to share.


1 × baking sheet, dusted with flour

500g/1lb 2oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
4 tsp baking powder
150g/5oz grated pumpkin
100g/3½oz grated
gruyere cheese
300ml/½ pint buttermilk

• Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Mix the flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, pumpkin and three-quarters of the cheese quickly and thoroughly in a large bowl. Then make a well in the centre.
• Pour in the buttermilk and stir until it comes together as one ball of dough. Work as quickly as possible until the ingredients are all incorporated, but do not mix for longer than necessary to do this.
• Divide the dough into two equal pieces, and shape each into a ball. Put on to the baking sheet and flatten slightly. Cut a deep (almost to the base) cross in each ball, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and dust with a little flour.
• Bake for 25–30 minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Serve warm or cold. The loaves will last 2 days at most, and are best eaten as soon as possible after baking.


Inspiration, indeed. Spring is here – what are you planting, with a mind to bake and eat?

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Eleni’s New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos

i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni GianopulosEleni Gianopulos began her career in the media world working at the venerable Time Inc., eventually moving into the editorial division of Life Magazine. Through a twist of fate, Eleni, who had a passion for baking, began a small catering business in her apartment. What began as a side business featuring Eleni’s mother’s famous oatmeal-raisin cookies quickly outgrew her home kitchen and evolved into a full-fledged cookie empire. Eleni is a business owner that is also committed to giving back to female entrepreneurs trying to start their companies today. Eleni is about to share some exciting news regarding her mission to help female entrepreneurs. Stay tuned!

i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos
Language of Love cookies

Since 1997, Eleni’s New York has been a must-stop at Manhattan’s iconic Chelsea Market, later followed by her website, where irresistibly designed custom “Conversation Cookies TM” and other treats, including Color Me Cookies, await for fans located around the world. Today, Eleni’s custom cookie creations are a favorite of celebrities, luxury brands, Fortune 500 companies, and cookie lovers alike. Her cookie concierges design cookies around events, holidays, and popular trends. All of Eleni’s cookies are certified nut free. We love them.

i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos
Eleni’s Day of the Dead cookies

Eleni and I had a lively chat about parenting, cookies, and growing and running a business. Eleni noted that it was challenging to be a mom in business, but it’s also rewarding and exciting for her kids to see that their parents have careers they love. She grew up watching her father, who owned his own company, going to work every day and loving it. Her kids are happy that their mom owns a bakery (lucky kids!), and Eleni said that she’s a better boss for having kids.

Eleni's New York butterfly cookies. i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos
Eleni’s New York butterfly cookies

Eleni remarked that she feels fortunate and is strategic in finding employees that are in different phases of their lives – many of her employees have kids of all ages. It is this wide range of experience within the company that helps Eleni’s New York continue with their business expansion – a recent Valentine’s Day partnership with 650 Target stores in the Northeast (crisp chocolate chip, butterscotch, and pink sugar cookies!), a new grocery line that will be launched at the Fancy Foods Show this coming July, as well as more retail locations and an expansion of the very popular Color Me Line of cookies.

i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos
Eleni’s New York Sea Breeze cookies

What I loved most, as a non-New Yorker, was talking about living in the city with Eleni.  She’s moved to keep close to her work – starting in Chelsea Market, when she first opened; then a move to be near her cookie plant in Long Island City; and recently a move back to the center of the city to be closer to all the action as they open locations in Manhattan this coming year. When talking about the local bakery (Maison Kaiser) that she heads to every morning with her King Charles Cavalier, Lovey Pie, to pick up croissants and breads for the kids every morning, her love of her neighborhood shone through – she mentioned stores, spaces, colors, and flavors. And while she hits the farmer’s market many times a week, it’s closed on Sundays – and is a perfect place for her young kids to ride their bikes.

i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni GianopulosEleni and her team are surrounded by design inspiration, so look for new cookies inspired by this neighborhood – as well as museums, parks, something from one of the kids’ schoolbooks, etc. And yes, they all still sketch on the back of a napkin at times, to save their ideas. But Eleni’s cookies are also influenced by technology. An exciting development in cookie design at Eleni’s is a new process which allows them to put ink onto a cookie with no sugar film. This adds more and more layers and intricacy – you can see this in the upcoming Easter cookie line, inspired by Faberge designs.

It is this creativity, passion for her work, and inclusion of family that makes Eleni’s work shine.


Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking? Over 20 yearsi8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos

What is your favorite food to cook? Cookies, pies, cakes, and Greek specialty appetizers like dolmathes, spanakopita and baklava.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Milk for my coffee, butter for kids’ toast, and Pellegrino

What do you cook at home? Mexican food. I love America’s Test Kitchen Favorite Mexican Recipes and test new recipes on my family often.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? Direct and to the point.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? This customer requested the most beautiful design, my team executed to perfection. The client received the order and complained that the frosting was off ¼”. From that point on, we insist on sample approval for custom work. And I just knew even if we remade the order this customer would never be satistfied, so I quickly accommodated the request and moved on. I have only seen something like this happen 2 times in 20 years, though.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Tupperware

Beer, wine, or cocktail? Cocktail

Your favorite cookbook author? America’s Test Kitchen Series of Cook Books, I love how they start off every paragraph…we made this recipe 34 times and found that …

i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos
Eleni’s Lemon Cupcakes

Your favorite kitchen tool? The plastic pastry bags I bring home from work, I use them for everything.

Your favorite ingredient? Lemon, I add it to everything.

Your least favorite ingredient? Orange, I don’t like orange in desserts nor entrees.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Dishes – my husband says when I cook at home I think I’m at work! I tend to make a big mess, and use every pot and pan in the house.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Greek, Mexican, Italian

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu? Chicken

Favorite vegetable? Broccoli

Chef you most admire? Thomas Keller

Food you like the most to eat? Indian

Food you dislike the most? Eggs, cottage cheese, odd scary meat.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? 0

Recipe: The Crispy Roast Chicken recipe from America’s Test Kitchen!

The Crispy Roast Chicken recipe from America’s Test Kitchen! From i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos -
The Crispy Roast Chicken recipe from America’s Test Kitchen!

For best flavor, use a high-quality chicken, such as one from Bell & Evans. Do not brine the bird; it will prohibit the skin from becoming crisp. The sheet of foil between the roasting pan and V-rack will keep drippings from burning and smoking.

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds), giblets removed and discarded
1 tablespoon kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


1. Place chicken breast-side down on work surface. Following photos above, use tip of sharp knife to make four 1-inch incisions along back of chicken. Using fingers or handle of wooden spoon, carefully separate skin from thighs and breast. Using metal skewer, poke 15 to 20 holes in fat deposits on top of breast halves and thighs. Tuck wing tips underneath chicken.

2. Combine salt, baking powder, and pepper in small bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle all over with salt mixture. Rub in mixture with hands, coating entire surface evenly. Set chicken, breast-side up, in V-rack set on rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for 12 to 24 hours.

3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Using paring knife, poke 20 holes about 1 1/2 inches apart in 16- by 12-inch piece of foil. Place foil loosely in large roasting pan. Flip chicken so breast side faces down, and set V-rack in roasting pan on top of foil. Roast chicken 25 minutes.

4. Remove roasting pan from oven. Using 2 large wads of paper towels, rotate chicken breast-side up. Continue to roast until instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 135 degrees, 15 to 25 minutes.

5. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees. Continue to roast until skin is golden brown, crisp, and instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, 10 to 20 minutes.
6. Transfer chicken to cutting board and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Carve and serve immediately.

Recipe and photo: America’s Test Kitchen


– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits

Warm, flaky, steam rising, slathered with creamy Irish butter… you’re visualizing my favorite food in the world: BISCUITS.

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Brush the tops with butter

It started when I was small. No tube biscuits for this family, oh no. We’ve got strong southern blood in our veins, and it shows at biscuit time. My gramma or my mom would make them, and I’d sit in the kitchen and “help” by taste testing. Of course, anyone knows that when you have this kind of help, you need to double the recipe. It’s worth it for the hot biscuits, enjoyed before dinner with someone who appreciates them. Who GETS YOU. You know who you are.

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Hungry yet?

There are (vast) differences between southern biscuit culture and northern biscuit culture. Here’s a bit of history from our family, showing just how different they are. My gramma and her mother (full south, all the way) went over to my grampa’s mom’s house (northerners, every one). Biscuits were on the menu. My paternal great gramma pulled the biscuits from the oven, and SET THEM ON THE COUNTER TO COOL. Gramma and Gramma Lillie waited, aghast, for these northern biscuits. Who eats cold biscuits on the first bake? Sure, for leftovers (ha! who has leftover biscuits?), with country ham for a sandwich, or buttered and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and put under the broiler until the tops are crunchy. Those are all great uses for old, cold biscuits. But to not eat them hot? Well, I can’t even imagine. I’d have stared, too, sad at the warm biscuity goodness rising into the air and not into my mouth.

One of the ways my gramma served up biscuits was with southern ham (a country ham, salty and chewy) and milk gravy. Sometimes, she’d make redeye gravy (with coffee). Now, the only gravy I want to touch my biscuits is sausage gravy – homemade, because everyone else puts too much pepper in, and I don’t do hot.

But mostly, I love biscuits hot, buttery, and plentiful. For my birthday this year, I asked for biscuits for dinner at my parents’ house. My mom asked what I wanted for sides – ribs? salad? coleslaw? She gets me.

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Melted butter works best like this: put a large slab of butter on one half, then put the two halves back together and flip upside down, so the butter melts one way – then flip it and let it melt another way. IF you can wait, that is. Here, I obviously could not wait. That poor biscuit half needs more butter.

Recipe: Flaky, buttery biscuits with yogurt

This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

2 cups all-purpose flour or cake flour
3 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t sea salt, fine grain
5 T cold butter, plus a bit more, melted, to brush the tops
7/8 c plain yogurt (I love Trader Joe’s European whole milk yogurt) or buttermik

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in your food processor. Add the butter, cut into bits, and pulse until it is crumbly. If you don’t have a food processor, mix it with your hands until it is completely blended.

Add the yogurt and stir until it is just mixed into a ball – no more! Knead 10 times. Too sticky? Add a tiny bit of flour. It will stick to your hands – this is normal.

Scoop out onto a floured board and pat it into a 3/4 inch rectangle. Cut rounds with a biscuit cutter or glass. Bittman notes this will produce 10-14 biscuits. Au contraire for me – 9 max. So, you might want to double or triple it. Note: In the photos below, my dough is a bit too thick – I could have gotten a few more biscuits out if it was patted out a bit more.

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Cutting out biscuits – just push STRAIGHT down, do not twist.

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Cutting out biscuits – if the dough goes over the top of the biscuit cutter, as this one shows, you need to pat it out a bit more.

Place onto an ungreased cookie sheet, with or without a silpat. Take the last bit of scraps and form into the tester biscuit (cook’s reward!).

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Place biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
If you put them close together, the sides that touch will be extra tender

Bake 7-9 minutes, until golden brown. If you want to gild the lily, brush those tops with melted butter. My dad eats them with honey. My daughter eats them with jam. I just eat them.

Eat. Be Happy. Biscuits are good.

Pin for later:

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Abby Dodge, Pastry Chef and Cookbook author … and her Lemon Ginger Mousse Soufflés

What began as a love for baking at a young age, developed into a i8tonite with Abby Dodge: Pastry Chef and Cookbook author…and her Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffléspassionate and successful career for Abby Dodge. A widely respected, award-winning expert in baking and cooking for both kids and adults, as well as a popular food writer, instructor and media personality, Abby has a simple mission: To streamline baking and cooking for home cooks of all ages.

She studied in Paris at La Varenne and worked under superstars Michel Guerard and Guy Savoy, specializing in pastry. She has held food editorial posts at Parents and Woman’s Day, and has contributed to over seven dozen special-interest publications focusing on baking and family cooking. Abby is currently a contributing editor at Fine Cooking magazine, where she has been on the masthead since its first issue in 1994. She founded the magazine’s test kitchen, has written and contributed to over eighty articles to date, and serves as the magazine’s guru for all things baking.

In addition to her regular blog postings, Abby hosts a Baking Boot Camp video class on the popular site, where she teaches and encourages an international group of bakers of all skill levels to become better bakers.

The Everyday Baker. Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffle. Recipe by and interview with cookbook author and pastry chef Abby DodgeHer tenth book, The Everyday Baker ~ Recipes & Techniques For Foolproof Baking (The Taunton Press, Dec. 2015), has just been released to much critical praise – including my own! I love this book – and have recommended it far and wide. It’s the most comprehensive – and interesting – baking cookbook I’ve ever seen (and I own more than 5,000 cookbooks). I love the detailed instructions (with photos), as well as the creative, intriguing recipes (176 of them!). I’ve reviewed many of Abby’s cookbooks through the years – they are all amazing, and keep getting better. Highly recommended.

Abby’s  Ten Popular and Award-Winning Cookbooks:

  • The Everyday Baker ~ Recipes & Techniques for Foolproof Baking, 2015 (Washington Post Top Ten Cookbooks of 2015; Dorie Greenspan Top Baking Cookbooks of 2015)
  • Mini Treats & Handheld Treats ~ Delicious Desserts to Pick Up & Eat (September, 2012)
  • Desserts 4 Today – Flavorful Desserts with just FOUR INGREDIENTS , 2010 (a viral & critically acclaimed sensation)
  • Williams-Sonoma Mini Pies, 2010
  • Around the World Cookbook, 2008 (Good Morning America Top 10 Cookbooks of 2008; Parents Choice Recommended Award 2008; Cordon d’Or Culinary Academy Award 2008)
  • The Weekend Baker, 2005, reprinted 2008 (Food + Wine Top Ten Cookbooks of 2004; IACP Cookbook Award Finalist)
  • Kids Baking, 2003 (Over 347,000 copies in print, translated into Spanish)
  • Williams-Sonoma Dessert, 2002 (Over 300,000 in print, translated into Spanish)
  • The Kid’s Cookbook, 2000 (Over 368,000 copies in print)
  • Great Fruit Desserts, 1997 (Translated into six languages)

Abby has also contributed or co-authored many cookbooks, including:

  • Baking Out Loud (Hedy Goldsmith, Clarkson Potter 2012)
  • B. Smith’s Southern A to Z (Scribner, 2008)
  • The Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary Edition, 2006
  • Savoring America, 2002 (James Beard Award finalist; Ben Franklin Award winner)
  • Cookies for Christmas, 1999
  • The All New Joy of Cooking, 1997


Banana Rum Truffle Tart. i8tonite with Abby Dodge: Pastry Chef and Cookbook author…and her Lemon Ginger Mousse Soufflés
Banana Rum Truffle Tart


Food Questions (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Eggs. Easy & options abound.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Unsalted butter.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Keeping it real – no posers at my table.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Open-mouth chewer.

Beer, wine or cocktail?
Yes, please.

Maple Pear Slab Pie. Banana Rum Truffle Tart. i8tonite with Abby Dodge: Pastry Chef and Cookbook author…and her Lemon Ginger Mousse Soufflés
Maple Pear Slab Pie

Your favorite cookbook author?
I’m promoting a book so.. me.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My Oxo kitchen scale

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
French… Italian… Greek… Spanish… don’t make me chose.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Easy: Chicken

Favorite vegetable?
Brussel sprouts but ask me again tomorrow, I happily bounce all over the veggie aisle.

Chef you most admire?
Alfred Portale – insanely gifted, a bear to work for & surprisingly shy.

Food you like the most to eat?
Cake. Make mine chocolate and in big pieces, please.

Food you dislike the most?
I’ll take some heat for this one but… beets. Chalk it up to a bad childhood experience.
Don’t ask.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Watching RHOBH with my darling daughter- a guilty pleasure.

Who do you most admire in food?
Michael Rulhman. A straight talker and brilliant writer worth listening to.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
On a warm day, I’ll be sitting at an outside table, preferably by the water. Please pass the Rose.

What is your favorite restaurant?
See above.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
My Motto: Don’t answer questions that you don’t want your kids to read.

Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffle. Recipe by and interview with cookbook author and pastry chef Abby Dodge
Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffle

Recipe: Lemon Ginger Mousse Soufflés from The Everyday Baker

Serves 6

These light, billowy individual soufflé-like mousses are a variation on a pie filling in my book, The Weekend Baker. Instead of adding heavy cream to the mousse, I use puréed ricotta (for a smooth texture) to add richness without heaviness. The lemon and fresh ginger make for a refreshing flavor profile, but it’s the ginger cookies hidden inside that are the surprise ingredient. Softened by the mousse, they bring texture and a burst of ginger flavor.

Adding a collar of parchment adds additional height to the ramekins. This way you can mimic the impressive height of a baked soufflé without the need for any last-minute fussing.

Neutral oil (safflower, canola, vegetable, or corn), for the

For the mousse
3⁄4 cup (180 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 envelope (1⁄4 oz./7 g) unflavored powdered gelatin
11⁄4 cups (111⁄4 oz./319 g) ricotta (part skim is fine)
3⁄4 cup (51⁄2 oz./156 g) granulated sugar
1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
Pinch of table salt
4 whites from large eggs (4 oz./ 113 g), at room temperature
1⁄2 tsp. cream of tartar
1⁄2 cup (2 oz./57 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy

12 gingersnap cookies + more for the crushed cookie topping
(I use Nabisco or homemade molasses cookies)

Blackberry Compote (recipe in the book) or other berry sauces, optional

Have ready six 6-oz. (180 ml) ramekins (31⁄2 inches wide and 12⁄3 inches high/9 cm wide and 4.25 cm high) arranged on a flat plate or quarter sheet pan. Cut parchment into six strips 21⁄2 inches (6 cm) wide and 12 inches (30.5 cm) long. Wrap one strip around each ramekin so that the paper covers the ramekin and stands 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the rim; secure with tape. Lightly grease the inside of the paper rim (I use a paper towel dipped in a bit of neutral oil).

Make the mousse
1. Pour the lemon juice into a small heatproof ramekin (or keep it in the measuring cup) and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the top. Set aside to soften. Once the gelatin has absorbed the liquid and is plump (about 3 minutes), microwave briefly until it is completely melted and crystal clear, 1 to 2 minutes. This can also be done in a small saucepan (instead of the ramekin) over low heat.

2. Put the ricotta, granulated sugar, lemon zest, ginger, and salt in a blender. Scrape the lemon–gelatin mixture into the blender, cover, and process until the ricotta is smooth and the mixture is well blended, about 11⁄2 minutes, scraping down the sides once or twice. Pour into a medium bowl and refrigerate, stirring frequently, until the mixture is cooled and thickened, 20 to 30 minutes. It should be as thick as unbeaten egg whites. For faster cooling, set the bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice, stirring and scraping the sides frequently until cooled.

3. Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a medium bowl and using an electric handheld mixer fitted with wire beaters) and beat on medium speed until the whites are frothy, 30 to 45 seconds. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the whites form soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue beating while gradually adding the confectioners’ sugar, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat until the whites form firm and glossy peaks when the beater is lifted.

4. Scoop about one-quarter of the whites into the thickened lemon mixture and, using a silicone spatula, gently stir until blended. Add the remaining whites and gently fold in until just blended.

Assemble the mousses
Arrange one cookie in the bottom of each ramekin. Using a large Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffle. Recipe by and interview with cookbook author and pastry chef Abby Dodgespoon, fill the ramekins halfway with the mousse. Arrange a cookie on top of the mousse and evenly portion the remaining mousse on top of the cookies. Using a small offset spatula, smooth the tops.

Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffles. Recipe by and interview with cookbook author and pastry chef Abby DodgeCover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 1 day.



To serve
Using a sharp paring knife, carefully peel away the parchment from the ramekins (up to 3 hours ahead). Just before serving, place each ramekin on a small plate and top with some of the crushed ginger cookie or a little of the blackberry compote, passing the remainder at the table.

The soufflés can be prepared, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days before serving.

– The End. Go Eat. –


Recipe and author photo courtesy and copyright Abby Dodge. Recipe photos courtesy and copyright Tina Rupp  [finished dishes] and Sloan Howard, Taunton Press [how-to photos]