Golden Almond Bars
I know I say it about far too many recipes, but these are a real favorite. In fact, I seldom bake them much in advance of serving them because I can’t be trusted around them—they are that addictively good. This is loosely based on a recipe shared by my old friend Jayne Sutton, who’s been attending my classes for over 30 years.
French Lemon Meringue Tart (Tarte Au Citron Meringuée)
This is based on a similar tart made by Philippe Conticini at his Pâtisserie des Rêves shop in Paris. I was struck by a photo of the tart topped with a wave of meringue. Fortunately M. Conticini was forthcoming with his method for achieving this unique effect.
Cranberry Pecan Coffeecake
Perfect for a fall or winter brunch, this versatile cake can be made with almost any combination of dried fruits and nuts you like. I love the tangy flavor of dried cranberries, and they’re a perfect contrast to the sweet dough and icing and the richness of the nuts in this cake.
Viennese Raisin Coffee Cake
Vienna is the undisputed world capital of cake. There are layer cakes, mousse cakes, historical cakes (the Sachertorte of the Hotel Sacher has been a closely guarded secret recipe for over 200 years), and even plain cakes. I recently asked my friend Erika Lieben for her favorite. She wrote back a four-word response: Gehruerter Gugelhupf mit Rosinen (“beaten” coffee cake with raisins).
Mozzarella In Carrozza (Mozzarella “In a Carriage”)
This is a fun first course when served with a tomato salad, but it can also stand as a quick light meal on its own when there’s nothing else available but a piece of bread, some mozzarella, and a few eggs. There are countless variations on this recipe, some including a bit of anchovy along with the mozzarella, but this simple version is the best.
Brown Bread Ice Cream
Baking crumbled bread with the caramel, a pinch of salt, and just a tablespoon of butter produces sweet crumbs that stay crisp once added to the ice cream. The ice cream recipe is based on the one I learned from Monsieur Alex Frolla, the pastry chef when I did my three summer seasons working at the Sporting Club and the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. It was the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted.
Cialedda - Bread and Tomato Salad from Apulia
Any tomato salad depends on one thing: perfectly ripe, height of summer tomatoes. Cherry or grape tomatoes might be fine in a tossed salad during the winter, but just don’t have either the strength of flavor or the moisture for a salad like this. Like the famous Tuscan bread salad, panzanella, the bread here is moistened with a little water first. Letting the salad stand for an hour or so both develops the flavor and further moistens the bread, so it’s perfect to prepare in advance to serve to guests.