Category Archives: i8tonite

i8tonite: My Favorite Recipe from 2015: French Apple Cake and Becoming Us


Photo: Michael Stern
Photo: Michael Stern

I8tonite is simply about food. On the surface, we hope — along with the contributors — to engage the reader in what chefs cook, what makes them human and why they love their profession. (Chefs love their work.) We want to share new recipes we’ve discovered and talk to food industry people. We want to learn. As we’ve said in several posts – without food, we can’t be artistic, physical, intellectual or emotional. Food, water, and shelter are fundamental human needs.

Underneath, we want food to be a main topic of discussion  – whether it’s becoming a vegan, how to butcher a pig, pick coffee beans or discuss biodynamic wineries – but try and leave the politics out of it.I8tonite is not meant to be solely a cooking blog. As the creator of this blog, I don’t have that warehouse of culinary knowledge. Although, I do have a vast amount of food experience including working as a waiter and bartender as well as in hospitality marketing. From these practices – which meant a lot of travel – I ate very well and learned cooking techniques from culinary teachers including Michelin-starred chefs, well-known cookbook authors, and international epicurean eateries.

Photo: Michael Stern
Photo: Michael Stern

Working in restaurants taught me another thing: chefs love other chefs. They admire the work of their peers. Therefore, I8tonite is meant to be a storehouse of what other chefs and people in the food industry are cooking – for the professional and the home cook. I8tonite will not only focus on chefs who have publicists, but the unheralded cooks are who are chopping onions somewhere in Peoria, Arizona or  Ubud, Bali.

In the five months, since I’ve devoted myself to i8tonite, the blog has amassed unique monthly views of over 12,000. How? Well, I’m a damned good marketer plus i8tonite was meant to be different. It’s supposed to showcase the cook as a creative individual and where they get their inspiration. It’s also meant to inspire by learning what and who inspires them. For me, there is no better indication of who you are than by what you eat.

Photo: Michael Stern
Photo: Michael Stern

The other key to the blog is that I cook religiously. Others go to church, I go to a stove. People can quote scripture from their chosen faith, I can recite a recipe. Same thing…but not. The commonality resides in a spiritual devotion.

As the readership develops, we grow and learn together. With i8tonite; I want people to become motivated by the chefs, food people and places we cover.  Editorially, we want the reader to get inspired by the individual behind the recipe’s development, and then possibly become creative themselves and write a cookbook, a cooking blog, become a chef, start a garden, or just become a more conscious eater.

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Photo: Nolan Williamson
Photo: Nolan Williamson

As my parting gift to 2015, I wanted to share my Favorite Recipe of the Year: Dorie Greenspan’s French Apple Cake from her cookbook Around My French Table. I’ve made it about a dozen times, and it’s now committed to memory. I also played around with the fruit and the required liquors which are not necessary but hey – everything is good with a glug or three.

It was a close contest between cake and poultry. I thought about Sascha Martin’s Hungarian Paprikash –I make it almost weekly — found in her memoir “Life from Scratch,” a book full of hope and lovely recipes. Ultimately, sweet won out over savory and adaptability over dependability.  Regardless, they are both delicious. I encourage you to read Martin’s book and her blog: Global Table Adventure. Both are memorable

Dorie Greenspan’s French Apple Cake


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Other adaptations and suggestions:

  • Chopped crystallized ginger and substituting Bloomery Sweetshine’s Ginger or Domaine de Canton for the bourbon.
  • Calvados, a brandy made from apples, is also an excellent choice instead of the dark rum.
  • Pineapple and peaches can be used in place of the apples. The cake will still be moist.

Let’s Make This Puppy: 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch Springform pan and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet parchment paper.
  • In small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt
  • Peel, core and cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and mix for a minute or so to blend. Add the liquor and vanilla.
  • Stir in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter
  • Fold gently after each addition so that you have a thick batter.
  • Add the apples fold in the apples, rotating the fruit so that it’s coated with batter.
  • Scrape the mix into the springform. Flatten the top so it becomes even in the pan and along the sides.
  • Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Run a butter knife around the edges of the cake before removing the pan.

The End. Go Eat.


I8tonite: Turkey & Sweet Potato Hash and Becoming an Arizonian

Coconino National Forest: Credit National Park Service
Coconino National Forest: Credit National Park Service

I’m an official resident of Arizona today. Changed over my California driver’s license, an anxiety producing event. I find anything automobile-related makes my heart feel as if it’s at an Indy 500 speed. While driving in circles trying to listen to Ms. GPS exact DMV’s location – in Arizona, it’s called MVD — it dawned on me, I learned how to drive in Texas from an ex-boyfriend’s father, Cecil, a big-hearted man with a mustache to match. Two years later, I finally passed the test in Santa Fe – because I didn’t in Big Horn — and drove to Los Angeles in my first car at the age of 27. I was just a punk, urban kid who only knew trees in city parks and my idea of wildlife were sewer rats and feral felines.

Coconino National Park Service:
Coconino National Park Service:

Clearly, this area of the world has been good for me. With blue skies, mild weather and stunning other-worldly, seemingly vast landscapes that are located only in the American Southwest, it’s an ideal place for rejuvenation. This time, I’ve come looking for a respite. The first was a six-month sojourn from New York City to Santa Fe. Then it was game on in Los Angeles, where it was roller coaster life– all of my making — which didn’t stop for the next 20 years.  It’s what I thought life was supposed to be about, lots of dramas. As I get older, I find I want things to change. I know I’m not the same person I was five years ago. Or ten or twenty. Nor do I wish to be.

It was hard to let go of that license. It’s hard to alter what you think you already know. For me that’s the key, I think I know something or someone, I find out I don’t – especially me. I think it’s why so many people don’t do it. We want to sit and complain about our misery but aren’t willing to work our ways out of it. No matter what happens, I’m glad I moved to Arizona.

Turkey and Sweet Potato Country Hash:

Leftover Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash
Leftover Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash

Hash is re-using leftovers as in turkey hash after Thanksgiving. Or roast beef, duck, or chicken. It’s such a simple thing to make, but I needed to find the right recipe.  Finally, I found one I adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, which meant par-boiling the potatoes, either sweet or white. I liked this because it meant there wasn’t the extra step of roasting the tubers and then sautéing. I could do everything in one skillet, preferably a cast-iron one. By using a cast iron skillet, I get an excellent browning and crust that I want on the finish.

We are going to need:

  • Your leftover meats: chicken, duck (yum!), roast beef, turkey, or sausage. Venison would be excellent as well. Picked clean, no bones and cut into bite-size pieces.
  • One large sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes of about 1 inch or so.
  • One red onion
  • One green, red or yellow pepper.
  • Two cloves of minced garlic.
  • Fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage, and parsley.
  • Butter, wine or stock. If you don’t have these, water is great too. It just adds a little more flavor, but never mind – this is a homey dish that can be cheffed-up, hence the wine or stock

Cubed up all the potatoes as uniformly as possible about an inch — if you’re using a large sweet potato, peel it – and remember to make sure to keep the skins on for the white. Throw the potatoes in a large skillet, preferably cast iron. (It makes it feel Western. HA!) Fill the pan halfway with wine, stock or water, perhaps a mixture of both. Cover. Cook until al dente. You don’t want the spuds cooked all the way through.

While the Idahos are cooking, let’s chop up the onion and the peppers.  Keeping everything at about one inch wide. By this time, the potatoes should be just about done – 10, 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes. Wipe out the pan. Place back on hot burner. Throw in a couple of tablespoons of butter. Melt. Add the potatoes and veggies. Stir. Saute. Add minced garlic, the herbs of your choosing and the leftovers. Add a little more stock, water or wine. Just a splash to help steam, reheat and moisten. Press gently down with a spatula. We want a browned crust on the bottom. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir. Press down. Cook for another five. Stir. Is it brown enough? If not, stir some more, pressing gently again. Top with fried, scrambled or poached eggs. Awesomeness!

The End. Go Eat.

I8tonite: with Chef Hugh Acheson featuring Butter Lettuce Salad with Feta, Radish and a Dill Pickle Vinaigrette

Southern chef Hugh Acheson is the cooking star of the moment…albeit one who is humble and has a really good sense of humor. He proclaims on his website, “To Athens, (Acheson) is the guy who owns those restaurants, has one eyebrow, a wife far better looking than he is and two young children who are the apple of his eye.”

I8tonite: with Chef Hugh Acheson featuring Butter Lettuce Salad with Feta, Radish and a Dill Pickle Vinaigrette
Photo Credit: Emily B. Hall

And yes, with humor, there is always a modicum of truth but Acheson isn’t just the chef with one eyebrow, a beautiful wife and children and the guy who owns those restaurants – four to be exact — in Georgia which include his newest, The Florence (pictured above), the National, Empire State South and the one that started it all, 5 X 10. The Canadian-born but Southern food adopted Acheson is the chef who published an award-winning James Beard cookbook “A New Turn in The South” and won the prestigious award from the culinary organization for “Best Chef, Southeast”. In addition to these impressive accomplishments and many more, he has been awarded Food & Wine’s “Best New Chef” (2002), “Mentor of the Year” (2012) and his town newspaper, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, presented him with “Restaurant of the Year”.

I8tonite: with Chef Hugh Acheson featuring Butter Lettuce Salad with Feta, Radish and a Dill Pickle Vinaigrette. Photo by Emily B Hall
Photo credit: Emily B. Hall

Currently, Acheson is promoting his book “The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits” (Clarkson Potter, 2015) which showcases his love of vegetables, his family and cooking in the Southern with simple and easy to use recipes.

If you don’t live in the Atlanta/ Savannah, Georgia area, you have the potential of meeting Mr. Acheson in Los Angeles. He is cooking as the “All Star Chef” – along with “Local All Star Chefs” — Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo – for the James Beard Foundation’s “Night of Culinary Stars” on November 6, 2015. On November 7, he will be signing copies of his cookbook as well as demo-ing recipes at The Grove’s Sur La Table.

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):


Chicken Arugula with Buttermilk Dressing. From I8tonite: with Chef Hugh Acheson featuring Butter Lettuce Salad with Feta, Radish and a Dill Pickle Vinaigrette

What is your favorite food?


What do you always have in your fridge?

Feta, carrots, eggs, prosciutto.

What do you cook at home?

Roast chicken with gravy and rice.

What marked characteristic do you despise in your customer?

Everyone is different. I rarely despise anyone.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?

Adventurous eating.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?


I8tonite: with Chef Hugh Acheson featuring Butter Lettuce Salad with Feta, Radish and a Dill Pickle Vinaigrette

Beer, wine or cocktail?


Your favorite cookbook author?

Paula Wolfert.

Your favorite kitchen tool?

A bench scraper.

Your favorite ingredient?


Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?

Dishes, just like everyone else.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?

Middle Eastern.

Chef you most admire?

Mike Solomonov.

Food you like the most?

Middle Eastern.

Food you dislike the most?


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

Six. One radish is the only culinary one.

Early Egg in The Hole. From I8tonite: with Chef Hugh Acheson featuring Butter Lettuce Salad with Feta, Radish and a Dill Pickle Vinaigrette

Recipe: Butter lettuce salad with feta, radish, and dill pickle vinaigrette

Clean the lettuce. Dry and set aside.

In a blender, puree 1/2 a dill pickle and then add two tablespoons of cider vinegar and 1/3 cup of olive oil. Season with salt. Crumble some feta and slice some radishes, and then add those to the lettuces, lightly torn up to the size of your mouth. Dress to your taste. Toss well. Eat.

The End. Go Eat.