Aug 31, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Dessert

Like all good meals, for our final lesson in #havenskitchencookbook Summer School, we end with dessert. Our Culinary Manager and in-house chocolatier, Zoe Maya Jones breaks down the method behind Ali's favorite chocolate cake.


Our recipe for this week is a true test of your summer school skills: a Chocolate Cake to Commit to Memory. If you can master this, you can truly have your cake and eat it too. With ingredients you probably have in the pantry (or can find at any corner store) you can bake a decadent cake. Bonus: it’s gluten free!



Not many foods make me happier than chocolate cake. It’s there for me when I need a hug, when I am celebrating a special event, when I’m craving something rich and sweet, when I’m heartsick, when I’m stressed, when I’m home alone and watching a full season of the Great British Bake Off… chocolate cake is always there.


An important phase in taking my and chocolate cake’s relationship to the next level was memorizing this recipe. While the cake is perfect on its own, it’s easy to jazz up with fun garnishes or flavors that pair with your dinner party menu. Once you have the base recipe down, find ways to play with it and add your own personality to the recipe.




If you’re having a Mexican-themed supper, whisk in a teaspoon of vanilla extract, cinnamon, and cayenne into the batter, throw a dollop of whipped cream on top at the end — et voila! — you have a Mexican hot chocolate spiced cake to match the occasion. If you’re looking for something more decadent, a topping of caramel (I like the whiskey sauce from the Gjelina cookbook) and walnuts reminds me of sticky toffee pudding. I recently had a few berries leftover from our CSA last week that weren’t looking quite up to snuff, but cooked down with a few teaspoons of sugar they turned into a tart, richly hued sauce that balanced well with the dark chocolate.


Important Tips
We find this recipe illustrates the idea of balancing structure and playfulness. There is some technique to the recipe: Since there’s no added leavening agent in the cake (such as baking powder), you must whip the eggs until they are very fluffy and aerated. The whipped eggs make the cake rise. Avoid stirring the chocolate too much after you add it to the melted butter. Stirring will cool the mixture too quickly and the butterfat will separate from the chocolate, making it look broken and messy. Let the chocolate melt in the warm butter and then whisk it together to combine. Keeping the fats emulsified will guarantee an even mixture when you fold the chocolate into the eggs.


Once you have this recipe memorized, you’ll be the favorite houseguest to any host. People might even start inviting you along on their long weekends away just to make it.


Chocolate Cake to Commit to Memory
Whiskey Sauce 



Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, InstagramFacebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.

Aug 24, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Sauces

This week at #havenskitchencookbook Summer School is all about sauces. Our Culinary Manager Zoe Maya Jones preaches about how sauce can be one of the most important weapons you can have in your cooking arsenal. 


If you could only learn one lesson from our cookbook Alison would argue it’s sauces. She preaches that sauces elevate and enrich even the simplest dishes. Sauces teach us about balance, and are an accessible way to enhance your culinary prowess as a whole. 


In this week’s lesson, we cover a wide range of cuisines, flavor profiles, and textures by exploring three sauces. We have a bold nuoc cham (in The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School we have a version called Fish Sauce Vinaigrette), a creamy crunchy pesto, and a full-bodied, versatile curry. All of this week’s recipes are made with a mortar and pestle, the world’s original food processor. (Evidence suggests it has been used for cooking since 1500BC.)


nuoc-cham_mise_700Our mise en place for a nuoc cham, also called a fish sauce vinaigrette in our cookbook.


Nuoc cham, a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce consisting of lime juice, fish sauce, bird’s eye chilies, and sugar, is more versatile than one might assume. In our classes, we teach students to use it as a marinade for pork or chicken skewers, a dressing for a noodle salad or cabbage slaw, and a dipping sauce for summer rolls. The play of salty funk from the fish sauce, acidic lime, spicy chilies and sugar is a great way to practice the art of balancing bold flavors. We add lemongrass and garlic for an extra punch of aromatics.


nuoc-cham_mortar_700Using a mortar and pestle to make a sauce helps marry the aromatics and spices to create a fragrant and punchier sauce.


Pounding the ingredients in the mortar and pestle enhances the flavors of the chilies, garlic, and lemongrass by releasing the aromatic oils and integrating it into a unified paste, and infuses the fish sauce and lime juice. Some prefer the sauce to be sweet, others might love it with more fish sauce, or an extra chili for a seriously spicy version, so taste it and find the balance that’s right for your palate.


A good way to get your frustration out and make something worthwhile at the same time.

Pesto, whose name originates from the word “pestle,” is a go-to sauce for many home cooks, and can be made with a myriad of ingredients. Our version in this lesson relies on the classic version: basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan. Our grid below shows alternatives for herbs, nuts or seeds, and some added ingredients that spruce up the original. While some might think pesto is a pasta sauce, its uses are diverse: consider it as a spread for a caprese sandwich, a garnish for roasted salmon, or when diluted with lemon juice and olive oil it can be used as vinaigrette. 


Pesto Grid
This is a general guideline for pesto. Use about 2 cups of the base with 1/4 cup of the nuts or seeds, and you can use from a 1/4 cup of olive oil and use more depending on how loose you want the recipe. For the counterpoints, you want at least a 1/4 cup of Parmesan or nutritional yeast, add more if you need after you taste. For lemon zest or chili flakes, start with one teaspoon, and add more if you desire. You probably will want to add a good pinch of salt for balance.






Pine Nuts 




Lemon Zest


Sunflower Seeds

Chili Flakes



Nutritional Yeast

Curry is more often considered a powder or paste. However, I've included it here since at it serves as the base for many sauces. A homemade curry powder is more fragrant than any pre-made mix, and is an important lesson in creating balance through spices and aromatics. Curry, a Tamil word meaning sauce, can describe an array of mixtures depending on which part of the world you find yourself in. Our version uses whole spices which, when toasted and ground by hand, fill your kitchen with a delightfully potent aroma. I use this powder as a base for soups, a seasoning mix for popcorn, and blended with some peanut butter and coconut milk for a flavorful dipping sauce.


Did you know curries are a blend of spices, and each one tells us a history about travel, trade, and the economy?


As you become more familiar with the sauces and flavor combinations that please your palate, we believe you’ll find more confidence in the kitchen and, as Alison so aptly states, discover the “culinary wizard inside of you.”


Madras Curry Powder
makes 1 cup

2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

10 to 15 whole green cardamom pods

1 teaspoon whole black pepper

5 to 6 long, mild Kashmiri chilies, dried

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons ground turmeric

Toast the first 6 spices, one at a time, in a medium hot, heavy pan until fragrant. This can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute per spice. (they should become fragrant, but not smoky). Place each in the same bowl and let them cool completely. Place the toasted spices, and ground cinnamon and turmeric in a the bowl of a mortar and pestle, and pound it into a powder. If you don't have a mortar, use a spice grinder or powerful blender to grind it. To store, place it in an airtight tin in a cool, dark place. It should keep for at least 6 months, though the fresher the better.



Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.

Aug 10, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Protein

Going into our seventh week in #havenskitchencookbook Summer School, we’ve got protein on our mind. This week, Karen Nicoletti encourages you to shed your fears of buying and roasting a whole chicken.




We all know that feeling — it’s Monday on the commute home from work, and that end-of-day relief is just washing over us when the thought hits: what’s the plan for dinner? Often I find myself hovering over the refrigerator case in my grocery store, debating how much chicken to buy. I’m cooking for myself, or maybe two to three people, and anxiety about food going to waste guides my hand towards small packs of pre-cut chicken. Two days later, I’m back at the store staring at the same old cuts of meat and asking myself the same questions.


Roasting an entire chicken can seem intimidating, maybe even excessive — how can we make use of the whole thing without the unfamiliar parts going to waste? With a good plan of attack, you can make three meals from one roasted chicken, using each part for a different dish.


In The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School, our Fish, Fowl & Meat chapter discusses how understanding the fundamentals of heat will make it easier to have confidence when preparing protein. Ali shares that many of her students have told her they're intimidated to cook meat and often feel that they don’t have control over the results of their labors. She outlines the types of dry and moist heat most commonly used in preparing meats, and illustrates them with various recipes and preparations.



Pho sure. This chicken soup is going to make you happier than a movie theater when it's 99°F outside. 

Focusing in on roasting as a dry heat method, we recommend a few steps to prepare your whole chicken. Removing the wishbone before roasting makes it easier to carve more meat once the chicken is finished, and removing the excess fat and skin prevents the chicken from getting smoky in the oven. Trussing a chicken lays the legs over the narrower parts of the breast, ensuring that the whole chicken will cook evenly. Tempering the meat (pulling it out of the fridge and letting it sit for 30 minutes) is an important step in ensuring evenly cooked meat. Don’t be afraid of heat, either. Many people often have problems with roasting because they aren’t using a high enough heat to caramelize and brown their meat and vegetables. A high oven temperature will guarantee crispy skin and chicken that’s not dried out. Plan on 15 minutes of cooking time per pound, and preheat the oven to 425°F while you truss and temper your bird.


And salt! It’s always tempting to take it easy on the salt — and it can feel guilty to really go to town covering the skin of your whole chicken. But remember, you’re only salting at the surface, and you need enough salt on there for it to set into the meat and flavor it all the way through.

This is how you properly salt a bird.

Once you’ve prepared and enjoyed that first meal of roasted chicken and your favorite vegetables and sides, you can use our grid as a jumping off point to prepare a few more meals with what’s left. Consider the parts of the chicken you want to use, the items in your pantry, and the produce and herbs in season to make combinations that appeal to you. 




Chicken Part



Chicken Salad
on Toast




Chicken Tacos

Leg Meat


Tomatoes, Onions,

Chicken Soup

Chicken Bone

Rice Noodles

Cilantro, Mint,
Thai Basil, Chilis


Like all of our favorite preparations, this approach to working with a whole chicken is flexible. You can adjust the meals and ingredients to your preferences and the ingredients you may already have on hand. A chicken salad made of diced breast meat mixed with yogurt, chopped tarragon and chives, lemon zest, and Dijon mustard is great on toast and garnished with sliced cucumbers and chives.


chicken_salad_toast_700You can make it better than your mother's tea party chicken salad.


If it’s the dark meat from the legs that you have to spare, shredding it and heating with your favorite salsa will set you up nicely for a meal of chicken tacos. All that’s left will be to assemble the meat on tortillas topped with pico de gallo and a drizzle of yoghurt.


tacos_2_700If a girl named Laurie Ellen says she's going to make you tortillas, make sure you eat five. Live without regrets especially when it has lard.

And of course, the best way to make use of a chicken carcass is to make a broth, simmering the bones with produce you may already have at home: onion, carrot, bay leaf, and celery. Even this extra meal is flexible – you can store the carcass in the freezer until you have some time at home to make a stock, or store the stock until you’re ready to make soup.


As an avid devotee to soups of all kinds, I make soups year-round, through the summer, without hesitation. It’s easy to lighten up a summer chicken soup with rice noodles, chili peppers, and herbs such as mint and cilantro. My favorite thing about making my own soup is that every batch is different. I’ll raid my fridge, then chop and add ingredients until I get too hungry to wait any longer. It’s this kind of flexibility that makes the process fun and creative, and helps us to use up what we already have in order to limit food waste — and it applies to soups, roasted chicken, and beyond.



Watch Ali make salads with the one and only Hannah Bronfman. Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.

Jul 19, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Soups

In our lesson this week at Haven's Kitchen Summer School, Sonjia Hyon explores how to layer flavors in chilled soups.  


I love cold soups. My husband often snubs his nose and calls it a “savory smoothie.” But what's wrong with that? In general, he thinks cold things should be sweet, with the exception of pickles. I couldn't get him to eat a salad the first 5 years of our relationship.

I grew up in a Korean family that enjoyed eating cold, savory soupy noodles in the summertime. (Koreans also eat a hot chicken stew, but more on that another time.) We looked forward to the humidity because it meant that it was naengmyeon season.




I can understand why people are confused by cold soups. Soups evoke fall and winter, and are designed to be warming and nourishing. They are the down comforter of food. Chilled soups, on the other hand, are cooling and cleansing, which doesn't exactly evoke comfort. But who wants comfort in the summer? We want to be light and free, find that twitch of excitement in our souls. We might want to be comfortable from the heat, but comfort is not the emotional state of summer.

At Haven's Kitchen, the day after Memorial Day commences cold brew and chilled soup season in our cafe. In our classes, we teach our students how to make cold soups because they are a simple means to make a meal without turning on the oven.

In The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School, we want readers to learn the importance of layering flavor through making soup. At first glance, this concept doesn't seem to apply to cold soups. How does one layer flavor when you're not using heat?

For hot soups, you start by sweating the aromatics. These aromatics are regional. The classic French mirepoix is usually onions, carrots and celery. In Southeast Asia, it might be lemongrass, ginger and shallots. When layering flavors with cold soups, the intention is the same, but the method is different. As we've discussed last week, we have a short time to appreciate and admire the flavor and texture of a tomato or a cantaloupe. In this sense, layering is also about complementing. For summer soups, the method we use to create complexity is with acids like vinegar or citrus, fresh herbs and chilies, to embolden the soup's base ingredient whether it be cucumber, tomato, or melon.


ajoblanco_mise_700Ingredients for Ajo Blanco: grilled bread, garlic confit, sherry vinegar, Marcona almonds, and Persian cucumbers.


For tomato gazpacho, we also add corn and cucumber to add crunch, sweetness and neutrality to balance the acid of the tomato and to add texture. Depending on your style, you can modulate the texture of a tomato gazpacho. I prefer it a little more chunky whereas some people prefer it to be velvety smooth. To get this, I prefer to use a hand blender. However, the key for a smoother texture is a high-powered blender like a Vitamix and a good shot of olive oil when you're blending. It will emulsify the soup creating a no-cream creamy feel. This is useful especially for the Ajo Blanco.




Finally, add garnishes. They offer texture and another layer of flavor, but also provide a pretty signal to your guests and to yourself for what's in the soup. For the Ajo Blanco, we put sliced fresh grapes at the bottom, and put roasted grapes on top. Or, you can opt for a cucumber brunoise and some sliced almonds.




Making cold soups is your opportunity to be playful and something you shouldn’t have to fuss over, even if it’s on the menu for that summer dinner party you’ve been dreaming up. Starting your guests off with a piquant gazpacho on a warm summer night will be their cue to relax, be light, and take in the “comforts” that summer has to offer.


Ajo Blanco, reprinted in Camille Styles








Fresh Lime Juice

Serrano Chilies,

Sandita Pickles,
Lime Zest,
Olive Oil

Red Peppers

Red Wine Vinegar


Fresh Basil


Sherry Vinegar

Garlic Confit,
Grilled Bread

Roasted &
Fresh Grapes,



Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.