Tag Archives: French

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: Chef Questionnaire with Brian Konefal, Flagstaff’s Coppa Cafe, and Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette

Dining Room at Coppa Cafe. Photo by Awe Collective.
Dining Room at Coppa Cafe. Photo by Awe Collective.

Roses, Spain. Yountville, California. Terni, Italy. Corenc, France. Flagstaff, Arizona. These small, unique picturesque towns share a very special attribute. Each offers a gastronomic dining experience in their respective locations created by master chefs. Roses was home to El Bulli with Ferran Adrià. Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry located in Yountville. Terni, a small town of less than three thousand houses the two-Michelin starred Casa Vissani, home to celebrated Italian chef, Gianfranco Vissani. The Golden Horn (Le Corn d’Or) in Corenc, France is populated by a little less than four thousand and Flagstaff, Arizona (population: 68,784) is becoming notable for Coppa Café.

Since opening four years ago, Coppa Café, helmed by husband and wife cooking team, Brian Konefal and Paola Fiorvanti, has become a noteworthy restaurant in Arizona’s growing epicurean scene. Konefal was born in Flagstaff and trained to be a chef in Italy. While in culinary school, he met the lovely Fiorvanti, Brazilian by birth, she was learning the dessert trade – spinning sugar and learning the nuances of buttercream.

Chefs/ Co-Owners, Brian Konefal and Paola Fiovanit. Photo by Awe Collective.
Chefs/ Co-Owners, Brian Konefal and Paola Fiovanit. Photo by Awe Collective.

Once married, they traveled throughout Europe and the gastronomic countryside, learning the hallmarks of great European cooks. Eventually, Konefal landed a position at San Francisco’s famed Campton Place working under Chef Daniel Humm. At this petite and elegant hotel, a block from the celebrated Union Square and just feet from Michael Mina and Hubert Keller  establishments — Humm and Konefal, became an award-winning culinary team gaining praise from the finicky City by the Bay’s food world; ultimately receiving four stars from Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle’s noted restaurant critic.

IMG_6276The restaurant world took notice and Konefal moved with Humm to New York City’s Eleven Madison Park, then just another elegant eatery. Humm, Konefal and the Eleven Madison Park team established the restaurant as a destination inside the Big Apple – already one of the world’s great culinary stops. During their tenure as a team, the restaurant received multiple New York Times stars, accolades from the James Beard Foundation and eventually received three coveted Michelin stars making it only one of nine establishments in the United States to do so.

All  things come to an end and Konefal and Paola, ambitious in their cooking wanted to open their own establishment. They looked no further than Konefal’s hometown of Flagstaff. Hence, the couple opened, Coppa Cafe, a delicate and nuanced European eatery.

With its global sensibilities, small town location and it’s attentiveness to flavorful French techniques, Coppa Café is a restaurant to be reckoned; indeed, some of the interesting menu aspects include locally foraged edibles such as herbs and mushrooms,

Veal Agnolotti. Photo by Awe Collective.
Veal Agnolotti. Photo by Awe Collective.

a growing trend in France, Umbria and the burgeoning Arizona restaurant industry. The café atmosphere is homespun filled with thrift-store finds, not the fussiness one associates to an accomplished chef who once dwelled in a Michelin-starred room. All the charcuterie is house-cured. The pastries and breads are made in-house and I don’t believe you will find too many Flagstaff restaurants serving Seared Foie Gras, Roasted Braised Wild Boar with Juniper Berries, RidgeView Farm Quail or “Kelly Farm” Veal Agnolotti raised humanely from a local Arizona producer.

So, if you are traveling Route 66 or headed up to the Grand Canyon, you might want to stop for the night and eat a little bit of sophistication. Good food exists all around us, sometimes you just have to travel outside your comfort zone.

Beef Tartare
Beef Tartare with Juniper Berries. Photo by Awe Collective.

How long have you been cooking? I’ve been cooking 13 years in professional kitchens. Personally at home, nearly all my life.

What is your favorite food to cook? Foie gras.

Photo by Jeremy Keith.
Photo by Jeremy Keith.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Fermented veggies. I eat them with everything.

What do you cook at home? A mix of everything. Mostly ethnic foods, particularly Brazilian. Lots of rice and beans.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? An adventurous and curious diner.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?  Legitimate allergies aside, diners with stubborn food hang-ups. Life’s too short to limit yourself from exploring different foods and new flavors.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Pyrex.

WINE_previewBeer, wine or cocktail? Wine.

Your favorite cookbook author? Pellegrino Artusi.

Your favorite kitchen tool? A great chef’s knife.

Your favorite ingredient? Good quality salt.

Your least favorite ingredient? Cheap table salt.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Yelling. I like a quiet, organized and efficient kitchen environment.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? French.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Pork.

Favorite vegetable? Fennel.

Photo by Nick Saltmarsh.
Photo by Nick Saltmarsh.

Chef you most admire? Daniel Boulud.

Food you like the most to eat? French.

Food you dislike the most? Hard to say. If prepared correctly, most foods can be delicious.

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

Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette: 

A popular French dressing used on many salads or seasonal vegetable dishes throughout the year. One that needs to be in every homecook’s tool box. 

  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 small shallot, finely minced
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped tarragon
  • Pinch of good-quality kosher or sea salt

Start by peeling and mincing the shallot, continuing until the shallots almost turn to a paste. Place shallots in a small mixing bowl, add lemon juice and pinch of salt. Whisk together vigorously while incorporating the most of the olive oil simultaneously in a small stream into the mixture, reserving just a little oil. Stop whisking temporarily to add the chopped tarragon. Begin whisking again while adding the remaining oil.

Mix preferred greens or vegetables in a separate bowl and toss them with the vinaigrette. Finish with an additional sprinkle of salt to taste.

The End. Go Eat.