Mushroom, Corn & Pancetta Pizza

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This pizza is the result of a Sunday night fridge clean-out. I had a few items that only had a few good days left and I didn’t want to let them go bad only to throw them away while shaking my head and wishing I could get my life together.

I had assorted mushrooms, an ear of corn and a little package of diced pancetta sitting in my fridge. I also had milk and gruyere cheese.

I threw them all on the counter and waited for something to hit me.


Who doesn’t like pizza?

People that shouldn’t be trusted, that’s who.

So I decided to make a “white pizza” (i.e. no red sauce) and use Mornay sauce instead. Mornay sauce is a basically a béchamel sauce with gruyere cheese. It’s insanely good.

To make a béchamel you make roux (50/50 fat/flour mix), add milk and cook until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and hold a line made with your finger.

Add some salt and nutmeg and you have a standard béchamel sauce.

Add gruyere cheese and you have Mornay sauce.

This should be the consistency of your sauce:

So. Fucking. Good.

Now set the sauce aside and make the dough (full instructions at end of post) and let it rise for about 30mins.

(Side note: I used a Williams-Sonoma pizza dough crust mix that had sundried tomato and basil in the crust (very delicious, if you are wondering), which is why those specks are in the dough. I have included a recipe for a plain pizza dough at the end of this post.)

Boil the ear of corn until the color changes and they look swollen then allow the corn to cool before cutting off the kernels.

Then cook off the pancetta and reserve the rendered pancetta fat to cook the shrooms in.

Now gather all the ingredients, roll the dough out, form into pizza pan, add toppings and bake.

Mamma mia.



For Mornay Sauce:
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
about a cup of milk
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
pinch of nutmeg
S+P, to taste

For Pizza Dough:
1 packet dry active yeast
3 cups flour + more for dusting (all-purpose flour for chewier crust, bread flour for crisper crust)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water (105F-115F)
1 Tbsp oil

For Pizza:
4 oz pancetta, diced
1 pint mushrooms, sliced if particularly large
1 ear of corn, boil and cut off kernels when cool
1 green onion/scallion, cut into little rings


For Mornay Sauce:

  1. Melt the butter in a pot and then add the flour and whisk together until a paste forms (a.k.a roux).
  2. Once paste has formed cook for about a minute to remove the raw flour taste but not too long that you brown the roux.
  3. At this point add the milk while whisking until you have the consistency of a stew.
  4. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce it to simmer and whisk to prevent any lumps from forming.
  5. Continue to cook the sauce until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and hold a line made with your finger.
  6. Now add a pinch of nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible) and S+P, to taste.
  7. You have a béchamel sauce! You can use this to make lasagna or an insanely good mac + cheese, etc. etc.
  8. To make this a mornay sauce, add the grated gruyere, turn off the heat and stir until melted. Ta dah! That easy.
  9. Now set the sauce aside and move on to the next phase, the pizza dough.

For Pizza Dough:

  1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl with the dough hook attachment,
  2. While it is on medium/low speed, pour in the warm water and oil and knead until a ball forms. It should be slightly tacky and elastic.
  3. Cover the mixing bowl and place it somewhere warm for about 20mins to rise.
  4. Once risen, divide dough in half for two regular 12inch pizzas, in thirds for 3 thin crust 12inch pizzas or use it all for a deep dish 12inch pizza (which is what I did, carbs are life).
  5. Roll dough out on a floured surface and then transfer to pizza pan and add toppings as desired and bake in a 500F oven that has preheated for 30minutes for about 12-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

For Pizza:

  1. Cook the pancetta until crisp but not too crisp as it will cook further in the oven.
  2. Transfer the cooked pancetta onto a paper towel to drain, while still reserving the rendered pancetta fat in the pan. Cook the mushrooms in the same pan with the rendered pancetta fat until golden brown.
  3. Gather all the pizza toppings: mornay sauce, mushrooms, corn, pancetta and green onions.
  4. Form the dough into a pizza pan and top with a spoonful of mornay sauce at a time, you have the desired amount. Make sure to leave the edge of the pizza unsauced.
  5. Top the sauced portion of the pizza with the mushrooms, pancetta, corn and scallions. Add more sauce/grated gruyere on top, if desired.
  6. Bake in a 500F oven that has preheated for 30minutes for about 12-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Chewy Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies (Halloween Edition)

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This recipe is a solid chewy chocolate chip recipe and you can change it up however you like. This time I added salt and Halloween-themed chocolate chips. It’s the little things.

Begin by gathering all your ingredients.

Set aside the chocolate chips for now and combine the wet and dry ingredients. (Sugars count as wet ingredients. Weird but true.)

Also, I didn’t have brown sugar and it is an important factor in making a cookie chewy but I also didn’t want to run to the store. I happened to have granulated sugar and molasses however, and that’s all you need to make brown sugar! I whizzed some sugar with a drizzle of molasses and kept adding molasses till it was closer to dark brown sugar. Store in an airtight container and feel pinterest AF.

Funny how baking cookies brings certain someone’s out of the woodwork.

That is a spider on my spatula.

Very Halloween.

Very on trend.

Very sad.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until a dough forms.

Once the dough has formed, stir in the chocolate chips and taste to see if additional salt is needed/desired.

Scoop the dough out onto a baking sheet and bake till golden brown on the edges but slightly underdone in the center.

They should cool on the baking sheet once out of the oven to finish cooking gently and achieve a chewy consistency.

I like to use a mini ice cream scoop to get consistent sized cookies but two spoons work fine, just make sure they are all about the same size.

Once the cookies come out of the oven, keep them on the baking sheet until they have cooled.

If you like, sprinkle some more salt on top when they come out of the oven.

Enjoy with a glass of milk!



Dry Ingredients:

2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt + more for garnish
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup halloween chocolate chips (I got mine from Target, they’re by Nestle)

Wet Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks melted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
plash of vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 325F
  2. Set aside the halloween chocolate chips. Combine the rest of the dry ingredients.
  3. In another bowl combine all the wet ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir till combined.
  5. Add the halloween chocolate chips and stir till evenly distributed.
  6. Scoop the dough on a baking sheet 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown around the edges and slightly underdone in the center.
  8. Allow cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet. This step is important to achieve chewiness.
  9. You will remove the cookies from the oven while they are still slightly underdone, the residual time on the hot cookie sheets cooks them gently to the perfect state of chewiness.
  10. Sprinkle on a bit more flaky/coarse salt while the cookies are still hot.
  11. Enjoy!


Not Your Mother’s Apple Martini

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Apple martinis.

They can be so cliché and cloyingly sweet and leave you with regrets the next day.

This drink will probably leave you with regrets as well but it makes up for that by making you feel very classy beforehand.

It’s inspired by my trip to an apple orchard where I went apple picking.

I picked some teeny tiny apples.

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You can’t tell but they are really tiny apples, man.

Like, so cute I cried when I had to cut into them.

This apple martini is slightly sweet and sour but no where near as chemically tasting as a sour apple martini and there is room for adjustment to your liking.

First thing to mention here is the use of shrubs or drinking vinegar in this recipe. For more info you can read this. Otherwise just go with it and trust me you won’t be sorry. It’s waaaaay better than that sour pucker shit.

You can buy or make your own shrub. I decided to buy my first shrub just to have a frame of reference for when I try to make my own.

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I got PokPok’s apple shrub from amazon for like $20 for a 16oz bottle. A little goes a long way and they have loads of flavors to choose from.

It’s perfectly tangy and sweet and it is basically a sweetened vinegar syrup so it hits all over the palate and is good enough to drink simply diluted with sparking water as a refreshing soda.

Next you need a dark liquor, preferably apple flavored.

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You don’t need both of these to be honest. You can use either one alone and just use 2 1/2 oz of it for the recipe below. I just used both to build layers and flavors.

If you had to pick one, I would recommend just using the calvados which is an apple brandy. You could also use applejack if you prefer. I used Hennessy because I already had some and I used the calvados just to reinforce the apple flavor.

Finally, you need a hard cider:

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I found this at BevMo! and chose it because of the packaging (it’s a problem I have and it’s only getting worse) and I ended up really liking it, not to sweet and not too dry.

I made a gingersnap rim because Fall.

All you need is a few gingersnaps and some pent up rage 🙂

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Once the drink is rimmed, combine the ingredients (recipe below) in a shaker filled with ice.

Shake till very cold and pour.

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I like to garnish with an apple slice and a wedge of cheddar cheese.

Mmmm cheddar cheese

*in Homer Simpson’s voice*

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Mmmm cheddar cheese apple martini with gingersnap rim mmmm

*also in Homer Simpson’s voice*


1 1/2 oz cognac (or your favorite dark liquor)
1 oz calvados (or applejack)
1 1/2 oz apple shrub (a.k.a. drinking vinegar)
4 oz hard cider

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake till cold. Pour into a martini glass.
Garnish with an apple slice in the drink and a wedge of cheddar cheese on the rim, which I have dipped in ground up gingersnaps.

Butternut Squash Soup w/ Thyme & Labneh

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Butternut squash soup.

It screams Fall.

It screams delicious.

It also screams overplayed and overdone.

I have a pretty solid b-nut squash recipe that I go to time and time again and it has been taste-tested and approved by the homies.

But, I figured if I was gonna put it on the blog I had to set it apart from all the basic butternut squash bitches soups.

I kept the base of the soup the same, because if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but I decided to get creative with the garnishes since that’s the most fun part of soup anyway.

To begin you need the following:

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Once you have your squash and onion chopped up, sweat the onion in butter with a pinch of salt. Do this on low heat for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally until translucent and slightly golden, like this:

butternut squash soup 5

While that happens, make the bouquet garnis.

A bouquet garnis is just a bunch of spices wrapped up in a cheesecloth and tied with twine. You could totally just toss the spices in loose (I used to do that before culinary school) but it just makes it easier to fish out later if you make the bouquet garnis.

This is what I like to use but use your own combination of spices if you prefer.

This one is savory and sweet/warm.

Perfect for Fall.

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Once the onions have cooked, add the squash and a quart of chicken or vegetable stock.

I used chicken stock, if you’re wondering.

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Bring this to a boil, cover and reduce it to a simmer (low heat).

Cook until the squash is tender, mine took about 20 minutes.

Once that happens, strain the squash and onions but make sure to reserve the stock, you will use it when pureeing the soup.

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From the photo above you can see that the aroma of this soup will bring creatures out of the woodwork that stare at you will longing eyes reeking of desperation.

I gave him a little chunk of squash.

That bastard.

Anyway, remove and discard the bouquet garnis.

Begin pureeing the soup with a ladle or two of the stock at first.

butternut squash soup 9

Once it’s pureed, add more stock if needed to get the consistency you want.

Then season with S&P, to taste.

Now comes the fun part.


I wanted to add a little tang to the rich soup so I decided to take some labneh, which is a kefir cheese/strained yogurt so you could either buy some labneh at the grocery store (I found some at Safeway) or you can make some by straining regular yogurt. Here’s a super easy recipe.

Also, if all that seems like too much, just use greek yogurt. It’s easier to find and you might already have some in your fridge. You can even use crème fraîche.

Either way, take a generous dollop of the labneh/greek yogurt and mix it with a splash of water. You want it the consistency of heavy cream.

Now garnish and decorate with the labneh sauce and whatever herbs you like.

I experimented with thyme and edible flowers until I settled on the swirly design.

Here is my garnishing journey:

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Which one was your favorite?


1 butternut squash
1 onion
1 bunch of thyme
few bay leaves
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 quart chicken/vegetable stock
1 dollop labneh (or greek yogurt, if you can’t get labneh)
2-3 tbsp butter
S&P, to taste

Peel and chop up the butternut squash and the onion.
Melt a tbsp of butter in a pot and add the chopped onions and a pinch of salt.
Cook on low heat till translucent and slightly golden, about 10 mins.
In the meantime, combine the labneh with enough water to get it to the consistency of heavy cream. Add the water a little at a time. Set aside.
An optional step is to make a bouquet garnis, a.k.a seasoning pouch. You can just throw spices in loose instead but make sure to fish them out before pureeing the soup. Using a bouquet garnis makes removal of the spices easier.
To make the bouquet garnis, wrap the a few sprigs of thyme, the bay leaves, peppercorns and cinnamon stick in a piece of cheesecloth and wrap with twine. (See images above)
Once the onions have cooked, add the squash, stock and bouquet garnis to the pot and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, reduce to simmer and cover.
Cook for about 20 mins, or until squash is tender.
Once the squash is tender, strain the soup into a bowl to make sure to reserve the stock. Remove and discard the bouquet garnis and transfer the the squash and onions into a blender with a ladle of the reserved stock.
Puree the soup, adding stock as needed until desired consistency is reached.
Add the remaining butter and season with S&P, to taste.
Blend until silky smooth and transfer to a bowl. Garnish with thyme leaves and swirl in the labneh using a spoon.

Grape & Goat Cheese Focaccia

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Hey, guys … big news!

I’m getting my blog redesigned!

It’s gonna be a hotter, cuter version of itself but it’ll still be the blog you know and love on the inside.

I was gonna hold off on posting till the new design went live (around the end of October) but I just couldn’t do it!

I’ve been cooking a lot and I’ve been really happy with some of the recipes so I just decided to share them here cuz ain’t nobody got time to wait for a new design.

This recipe is a twist on the classic grape focaccia from the Italian region of Abruzzo.

I remember the first grape focaccia I had, it was in culinary school and I tried to hide my bitch face as a student from the pastry section (there’s a great divide between the pastry and culinary students) offered me her freshly baked, steaming grape focaccia. “It has grapes in it,” she said. “Grapes,” I murmured as I shoved a piece into my mouth. The crunchy sea salt and olive oil were familiar and comforting flavors, but the pop of sweetness from the grapes were an unexpected delight. “Damn,” I say, my eyes lighting up. “Let me get another piece,” I grab it before she says, “Sure!” I walked away with focaccia crumbs around my mouth and on my chef’s coat, feeling inspired.

Fast forward to a week ago at Whole Foods when I decided I wanted to make bread from scratch at around the same time I saw the prettiest grapes and I remembered that girl from culinary school and her grape focaccia.

grape goat cheese focaccia 1

I remembered the salty sweet flavors and the pillowy focaccia and decided I was gonna make my version of grape focaccia.

What goes with bread and fruit?, I thought to myself.


What kind of cheese?, I wondered.

Goat kind!

grape goat cheese focaccia 2

And so it began.

I hurried home full of excitement and this is what happened.

I needed flaky salt and an herb, and so I decided to use thyme and some Pinot Noir salt because wine and grapes go together, right?

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Try this salt.

Just try it.

Google it.

Then buy it.

Ok, so the first thing you need to do is activate the dry yeast.

You do this by mixing the yeast with a liquid between 105-115F and some sugar to feed the yeast and activate the beast.

I used water with some milk for richness.

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Once the mixture is at the right temperature, let it it proof in a warm place for about 15 minutes then put it in a mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook attachment. (If you don’t have a stand mixer use a bowl and spoon to combine and I will show you the manual kneading process a bit later.)

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With the mixer going on low speed, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and add that to the yeast mixture.

Make sure your husband and husky are slow dancing in the background.

Do not skip this step.

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Once the flour is incorporated the dough will be dry and crumbly, olive oil to the rescue!

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Knead this dough on medium speed for about 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Like this:

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Here is the manual way to knead the dough:

First, place the dough on a floured surface and using the heel of your palm, push the dough forward, fold it over on itself, turn it a little clockwise and repeat.

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Do this for about 7-10 minutes or until your arms fall off.

Once you’re done, your dough should look like this:

grape goat cheese focaccia 19

Smooth, shiny and elastic.

Like my butt.

Except it’s not really that smooth.

Shout out to all the cellulite.

Now place the dough in a bowl, coat with olive oil and cover. Allow it to proof and rise for about 45 minutes, it should almost double in size.

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Once proofed, punch it down and place the dough in a liberally oiled baking sheet.

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Now you want to play the piano on your dough to create holes and grooves and crevices and stuff.

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(Disclaimer: The image above is from my first trial of this recipe, that’s why you see little flecks of black pepper in there, I forgot to have pictures taken of this part the second time around but it’s the same exact process.)

Once your dough has been thoroughly poked and prodded, add your toppings and allow it to proof again for about 15 minutes (optional). Then bake it to golden brown perfection.

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Don’t be stingy with the toppings. I did that the first time I tested this recipe and it was a really sad time.

Load it up, like this:

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It looks like too much but when you bake it the bread’s volume increases and the ratio of bread to topping is altered.


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It looks like less toppings when it’s baked.

Also, don’t cut into the bread right away, let it cool a bit.

I know it’s hard but trust me here.

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Look at the fluffy focaccia.

Eat the fluffy focaccia.

Focaccia is life.


1 cup water
3/4 cup milk
1 T sugar
1 T salt
1 package dry active yeast
5 cups of flour
1/2 cup evoo, plus more as needed
1 bunch of grapes
1 log of goat cheese
a few sprigs of thyme
pinot noir salt (optional, use any flake/sea salt instead)

Combine milk, water and yeast and heat until 105F -115F.
Add the sugar and set aside in a warm area for about 10 – 15 minutes.
Once the yeast has had time to activate, combine the salt, flour, yeast and olive oil in a mixing bowl with the dough hook attachment and beat on medium speed for 6 minutes to knead it until smooth and elastic.
Dust with flour on a board and knead a few times more until the dough is coated with enough flour not to feel sticky anymore.
Coat with oil, place in a bowl and cover to proof in a warm place for about an hour.
Once proofed, punch down and place in a evoo lined baking dish/sheet and make holes/indents in the dough as if you are playing the piano (see photos). Be liberal with the oil here, this is important.
Now add whatever toppings you like, in this case, goat cheese, grapes, thyme and pinot noir salt (yum!).
Proof in the pan again for about 15 mins and preheat the oven to 425F.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
Try to wait a bit before tearing into the dough (it’s not easy, I know).
Enjoy with a glass of Pinot Noir!

Cardamom Ice Cream

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***BTW, don’t eat whole cardamom pods and don’t serve the ice cream with pods as a garnish like photographed above. It would be nasty to bite into a cardamom pod. I did it because I wanted to be an angsty artist who didn’t do logical things and only followed the beauty and my gut, you know what I mean? It’s ok, neither do I.***

If you’re not familiar with cardamom this dessert is a great introduction to the spice and if you already know and love cardamom then I don’t really need to say anything. Just scroll down to the recipe card and make it happen.

To make an ice cream base, that you can flavor any way you like, all you need are a few pantry staples:

Milk, cream, eggs and sugar.

As long as you have these things, you have ice cream!

Add some cardamom and you have some serious gourmet shit. (If you get that reference, comment below and I will have found my spirit animal in you.)

You need about 8-10 whole green cardamom pods, crushed so that the inner seeds are released because that’s where most of the flavor is.

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7 Ru Paul’s Drag Race Cocktails

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ru paul's drag race 3 Hay gurls! This post is for all you Ru Paul’s Drag Race watchers, and if you don’t watch the show, you must check it out. It’s like America’s Next Top Model but gayer and crazier. It’s not for kids, but when the hell has anything on this blog been for kids.

It’s hilarious and I love it. 

No tea, no shade!

Please enjoy these cocktails as you untuck in the Interior Illusions Lounge. Continue reading »

Banana Biscoff Ice Cream (No Dairy, Paleo, Guilt-Free!)

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banana biscoff ice cream 36 Making Banana Biscoff Ice Cream is so easy. You don’t need an ice cream maker, just a food processor or blender. It’s a totally guilt-free ice cream base made of literally just bananas and a spoonful of some speculoos cookie spread known as Biscoff, an optional indulgence.

To keep it super healthy, add fruits and/or nuts and seeds or just a little drizzle of honey or maybe your favorite nut butter.

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Le Belrose Restaurant Saint Tropez

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Belrose Hotel Restaurant 1

This is a review of the Gourmet Restaurant Le Belrose Restaurant Saint Tropez (or more like the tiny town of Gassin).

The photo above was taken as we drove into the hotel.

Le Belrose Restaurant Saint Tropez is a sight to see.

Breathtaking views and dramatic presentations are the ever present themes of this gem.

Enjoy the gorgeousness:

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