CIA Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper Apricot Relish

Relish the flavors of summer all year.

The Culinary Institute of America has a great recipe for Roasted Red Pepper & Apricot relish, delicious for crostini and great to be enjoyed now and later.

Here in the Carolinas, we have fresh peaches in season now and I'd substitute those for apricots to take advantage of  local farm offerings.

You can find this recipe and more from the CIA cookbook, Vegetables (2007, Lebhar Friedman).

Chicken in Green Pipian Mole Sauce Recipe

Chicken in Green Mole  photo courtesy of CIA

Halloween is a tradition in the United States, but our neighbors south of the border, celebrate the Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos, to honor their dead. 

In Mexico the fiesta is celebrated on November 1 and 2, and families gather together to prepare elaborate altars called an ofrenda in their homes and cemeteries. Although decorations vary from region to region, most altars are adorned with flowers, candles, candy, foods, drinks, alcohol, and cigars—any of the favorite things that the dearly departed preferred to welcome home the return of their souls.

It is a holiday to celebrate an intimate connection between the living and the dead and the best example of the Mestise cultural evolution blending Catholic and pre-Spanish Mexican religious holidays.

Culinary Institute of America chef and native Mexican Sergio Remolina shares a simple and delicious recipe—Green Pipian Mole Sauce—that was a favorite of both his father and grandfather. "This dish is from Mexico City, my hometown," says Chef Remolina. "Whenever a mole sauce is thickened with pumpkin seeds, it is called Pipian or Pepian. The chicken, rice, and vegetables in this dish are the accompaniments; the Pipian is the star."


Chicken in Green Pipian Mole Sauce

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds, divided use
  • 1 pound (8) tomatillos, peeled, rinsed well, and cut into quarters
  • 2 epazote leaves
  • 1 hojasanta (root beer leaf) leaf
  • 2 leaves of romaine lettuce
  • 8 sprigs cilantro
  • 2 serrano chiles, chopped
  • 1/4 white onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 2 cups chayote or zucchini, steamed
  • 2 cups green beans, steamed
  • 4 poached chicken breasts
  1. Toast the pumpkins seeds in a sauté pan. Put them into a small bowl and allow them to cool to room temperature.
  2. Place tomatillos, epazote, hojasanta, lettuce, cilantro, serrano chiles, white onion, garlic, and cumin in that order into a blender. Blend until you make a thick paste. If all of the contents are not reaching the blades, turn off the blender and use a spatula to push the contents down into the blender.
  3. Place 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil into a deep skillet and heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the contents of the blender and fry it in the oil until approximately 15 minutes stirring consistently. If the mixture becomes too thick, add broth or water to get a sauce consistency. Remove from heat.
  4. Reserve 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds for garnish. Place the remaining seeds into the blender and add enough vegetable stock to cover one inch over the seeds. Blend until the seeds become a smooth purée.
  5. Making sure the saucepan is not on any heat, add the pumpkin seed sauce to the mixture in the saucepan and stir until mixture is completely combined, then season with salt to taste.
  6. Place two large spoonfuls of rice, three chayotes, some green beans, and one piece of poached chicken onto a plate. Completely cover the chicken with the Green Pipian Mole sauce. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and serve.

Chef's Note: The above recipe makes about 6 cups. Leftover Green Pipian Mole Sauce can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days in the refrigerator or, if frozen properly, up to 6 months. Enjoy it over enchiladas or fried eggs.

Nutrition analysis for Green Pipian Mole Sauce one-ounce serving: 35 calories, 1g protein, 3g carbohydrate, 2.5g fat, 190mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol, less than 1g fiber.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Shortcakes with Gingered Crème Fraîche recipe

The arrival of spring's first crops, rhubarb and strawberries, are a welcome reminder that the warmer months of summer are not far away. When you put the two together—juicy sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb—over freshly-baked shortcakes and top them with a silky, gingered cream topping, it's easy to create a simple and delicious dessert that everyone will love.

"Many people are intimidated by using fresh rhubarb in recipes, because they are just unfamiliar with how to prepare it. Yes, rhubarb is known to have a tart taste, but when paired with sweet spring strawberries, the best of both ingredients shine through," explains CIA Chef Stephen Durfee from The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in California's Napa Valley. "The only caution for those making this dish at home is to be careful not to overcook the rhubarb, as it can get soft very quickly."

This new twist on how to make classic strawberry shortcake, was created to take advantage of both crops that are currently in season at supermarkets and farm stands everywhere. For those of you interested in pairing this treat with wine, Chef Durfee recommends serving it with a late-harvest Muscat, which provides another layer of fruity aroma.

If you are looking to take advantage of fresh strawberries and rhubarb, but don't feel like baking, you can always prepare the topping and serve it over your favorite store-bought biscuits as well.

These and more recipes are explained and illustrated in The Culinary Institute of America's Season's in the Wine Country (2010, Chronicle Books) cookbook available at bookstores nationwide or at

To watch CIA's Chef-Instructor Stephen Durfee demonstrate how to prepare Rhubarb and Strawberry Shortcakes with Gingered Crème Fraîche click here:

Rhubarb and Strawberry Shortcakes with Gingered Crème Fraîche

Makes 9 small square shortcakes or 8 small round shortcakes

click image for Hi-Res copyVanilla Shortcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2-inch section of a vanilla bean
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter


  • 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 quart)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar, depending upon desired sweetness
  • One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and halved (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

Whipped Cream and Crème Fraîche with Ginger Chips

  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup ginger chips or candied ginger, finely minced

For the shortcakes:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Slit the vanilla bean and, using a sharp paring knife, scrape the seeds into flour mixture. Stir the flour mixture to distribute the vanilla seeds.
  3. Starting with 1 cup of the cream, mix the cream into flour with a large wooden spoon or silicone spatula. Add additional cream as necessary to take up all of the dry ingredients into a firm ball of dough with no dry spots; it should not be sticky.
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 20 times, until the dough becomes smooth, but not shiny, and firm but pliable. Pat the dough into a square approximately 9 x 9 inches. Cut the dough into nine 3-inch squares. Alternatively, use a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cutting circles as close as possible to one another and folding the scrap dough under the main dough.
  5. Brush each shortcake on both sides with a light coating of melted butter and place on an un-greased baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake until puffed and light golden, about 15 minutes.
  6. Place the shortcakes on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

For the rhubarb:

  1. Toss the rhubarb, sugar, ginger, and cardamom pods in a glass container. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Turn the mixture once or twice to evenly distribute the sugar.
  2. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium saucepan. Gently pour the rhubarb mixture through the sieve into the saucepan. Remove sieve with the rhubarb and place over a bowl. Remove and discard the ginger and cardamom.
  3. Bring the liquid and sugar in the saucepan to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring gently, until all of the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Add the rhubarb to the saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb just begins to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the rhubarb mixture from the heat and reserve at room temperature while preparing the whipped cream. Rhubarb will continue to soften as it sits.

For the whipped cream:

  1. Place the stainless steel bowl and whip attachment for an electric mixer in the freezer 10 minutes before whipping the cream. Place the crème fraîche, cream and sugar into the chilled bowl and whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Gently stir in the ginger chips. Reserve until needed.
  2. Place the saucepan with rhubarb mixture back on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the strawberries and cook until the strawberries are just heated through but still firm, about 2 minutes. Tease shortcakes apart with a fork. Divide rhubarb and strawberry mixture between the shortcakes (about 1/2 cup per serving) and finish each shortcake with a small dollop of whipped cream.

Nutrition analysis for Rhubarb and Strawberry mixture per 1-ounce serving: 25 calories, 0g protein, 6g carbohydrate, 0g fat, 0mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol, 0g fiber.

Nutrition analysis for Shortcake serving: 260 calories, 4g protein, 27g carbohydrate, 16g fat, 210mg sodium, 50mg cholesterol, less than 1g fiber.

Nutrition analysis for Crème Fraîche per 1-ounce serving: 120 calories, 1g protein, 12g carbohydrate, 8g fat, 15mg sodium, 30mg cholesterol, 0g fiber.

Culinary Institute of America offers wine certificate

St. Helena, CA, January 19, 2010 – The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has created a new wine and beverage certificate program for 2010 at Greystone, the school's Napa Valley campus.

The Accelerated Wine and Beverage Certificate Program (AWBP) advances a student's professional skills in the wine and beverage sector and positions graduates to pursue career opportunities in numerous segments of the food and beverage industry.

"A deep understanding of wine, beer, spirits – even coffee and tea – is vital to career success in the food service and hospitality fields," said Adam Busby, CMC and Director of Education at CIA Greystone, in a press release.

The pioneering AWBP program will equip students with skills and insights required for advancement toward leadership positions in beverage management in both fine and casual dining, restaurant front-of-house management, wine and beverage retail, wholesale, and more.

The accredited 30-week AWBP will impart knowledge and skills related to sensory evaluation, flavor dynamics, cellar management, and mixology. Food and beverage pairing, service, and hospitality are major components of the eight-month curriculum. "AWBP students will graduate with a wine and beverage education on par with those skills learned by the CIA's culinary students," notes Busby.

The program launches in September 2010 at the CIA's Greystone campus in St. Helena, CA. Classes will be held at the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies, a state-of-the-art complex featuring two tasting theaters ideally designed for the in-depth study of wines and beverages.

Program enrollees must have a bachelor's or associate degree in hospitality management, culinary arts management, or a related field, or have a bachelor's degree in another discipline as well as relevant food and beverage industry experience. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

For more information about the AWBP, visit or call 1-800-CULINARY.

Culinary Institute of America holiday cupcake recipes

What better way to spend some quality time with your children this holiday season than having them help you create something beautiful and delicious in the kitchen?

Making fondant decorations to top your holiday cupcakes or to simply hang up for the holidays is an excellent opportunity for children to stretch their imaginations and gives them the opportunity to be proud of something they can make.

Chef Kate Cavotti, an instructor at The Culinary Institute of America, has some great ideas about how you can utilize things you already have around the house to make personalized decorations out of basic fondant.

A combination of sugar and cornstarch, fondant can be decorated in a number of ways by using stamps, cookie cutters, paint brushes, food color markers, piping gel, food coloring, or food grade glitter.

The first thing you need to do is purchase ready-made fondant from your local craft store. You can keep it white, or you can easily color fondant by kneading in a few drops of food coloring.

Once you color it and cut out the desired shapes, the fondant will need a few hours to dry and harden. If you are making ornaments, be sure to cut the hole for a ribbon before the fondant dries. Chef Cavotti suggests getting the children to help make fondant shapes a day or two before you plan to decorate.

Cookie cutters are not just for cookies anymore. Use them to cut out fondant shapes that are perfect for younger children to decorate with food color markers, colored gels, and food grade glitter.

If you are one of many people who are avid stamping crafters, you can easily adapt the stamps to make fondant decorations. Just be sure to clean any ink off them by scrubbing them with a toothbrush in soap and water. Once stamps are rinsed clean, have the children take food color markers and trace the raised part of the figure on each stamp to apply color.

Once the colored shape is stamped onto the fondant and the food coloring is dry, the decorations are ready. You can also let your children continue to color in the figure with the markers or make them appear 3-D by piping on colored gels, or sprinkle food grade glitter onto them.

To get the glitter to stick, take an artist's paint brush dipped in water and apply the water to the area you wish covered in glitter. Take another dry brush and apply the glitter by tapping the brush holding glitter over the wet areas.

Chef Cavotti suggests making carrot cake cupcakes with fondant or cream cheese icing as a base for the decorations. Dip the cupcake in a bowl of powdered sugar or shredded coconut to make it look more like snow glistening and place the fondant decoration on top.

It's a good idea to stick a toothpick in back of each decoration to insure it will stand up straight. When Beautiful holiday cupcakes working with children, it always helps to be well-prepared. If possible, try to have all the baking equipment put away and the decorating supplies laid out before the youngsters arrive.

The following recipes and other decorating tips can be found in The Culinary Institute of America's Cake Art cookbook (2008, Lebhar-Friedman), which is available for purchase at local bookstores or online at

Carrot Cake

Makes two 8-inch or 9-inch layers, or 24 cupcakes

* 4 cups cake flour

* 4 teaspoons baking soda

* 2 teaspoons iodized salt

* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

* 2 1/2 cups canola oil

* 3 1/2 cups sugar

* 8 large eggs

* 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

* 10 medium carrots, peeled and grated (about 6 cups grated)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans with a nonstick spray and line the bottoms with a round of parchment paper. For cupcakes, prepare pans with cupcake liners.

2. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together and reserve.

3. Mix the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla together with a handheld beater or paddle attachment on medium speed until all ingredients are thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Add the sifted ingredients and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Stir in the carrots by hand.

4. Divide batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake the cakes until a skewer inserted near the center comes out clean, for 8- or 9-inch cakes 80 to 90 minutes, for cupcakes about 25 minutes.

5. Let the layers cool in the pans for a few minutes before turning out onto wire racks to finish cooling. The cakes are ready to fill and frost now, or they can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for 2 days, or frozen for up to 3 weeks.

Nutrition analysis per one 2-ounce cupcake: 210 calories, 2g protein, 23g carbohydrate, 1g fat, 220mg sodium, 30mg cholesterol, less than 1g fiber.

Simple Buttercream Icing

Makes about 4 cups

* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

* 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus extra as needed

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 1/8 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk plus extra as needed

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until it is very light in texture, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and salt and mix on a low speed until the sugar and butter are blended, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

2. Increase the speed to medium and, with the mixer running, add the cream in a thin stream. Increase the speed to high and whip the buttercream until very smooth, light, and with a good spreading consistency. Adjust the consistency if necessary by adding a bit more confectioners' sugar or cream. Use to fill, ice, and decorate a cake.

Note: Once blended, buttercreams can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To use after refrigeration, let the buttercream soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until it has a smooth, light spreading consistency, 3 to 4 minutes.

Nutrition analysis per 1-ounce serving: 130 calories, 0g protein, 19g carbohydrate, 6g fat, 0mg sodium, 15mg cholesterol, 0g fiber.

Cream Cheese Icing

Makes about 4 cups

* 2 eight-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened

* 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

* 1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted

* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Mix cream cheese in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until very smooth. Add butter in stages and continue to mix until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed to blend evenly.

2. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix on low speed until blended. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until completely blended.

Nutrition analysis per 1-ounce serving: 130 calories, 1g protein, 7g carbohydrate, 7g fat, 45mg sodium, 30mg cholesterol, 0g fiber.

Chef's Note: To make lemon cream cheese icing, add the grated zest of one lemon to the icing with the vanilla.

Cream Cheese Icing recipe courtesy of The Culinary Institute of America.

Egg in the Nest or Toad in the Hole

One good egg

Growing up we called this breakfast treat Egg in the Nest. You might know it as Toad in the Hole.By either name, it's delicious and easy to make. 

Kids and kids at heart love it.  

The Culinary Institute of America Cookbook has a recipe for this breakfast classic that includes Red Pepper Ketchup.

Toad in the Hole with Red Pepper Ketchup

Serves 8


16 slices sourdough bread, about 3/4 inch thick

1 cup melted butter or as needed

16 eggs

2 teaspoons salt or to taste

1 teaspoon black pepper or to taste

1 cup Red Pepper Ketchup (recipe below)

Cut holes in each slice of bread with a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter. Be sure not to get too close to the edge of the bread. Brush both sides of each slice of bread with the melted butter.

Heat a griddle to medium heat (the CIA cookbook calls for a gas grill or charcoal grill but for indoors I suggest a griddle, either electric or stove top). Griddle the bread on one side until golden brown' about 1-2 minutes. Flip each piece of bread over and crack one egg into the hole in each piece of bread.

Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Fry the eggs about 2 minutes for sunny-side-up, 3 minutes for medium yolks and 3 1/2 to 4 minutes for hard yolks. Flip the bread over, being careful not to break the yolk, and cook for 30 seconds more, if desired.

Serve immediately with the Red Pepper Ketchup on top or on the side.

Red Pepper Ketchup

Makes 2 cups


1/4 cup olive oil

5 red peppers, diced

2 tablespoons minced shallots

3/4 cups dry white wine

3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the peppers and shallots and saute until tender, about 5 to six minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine, making sure to scrape up anything that is stuck to the bottom of the pan.

The CIA instructs: Zucchini Pancakes with Tzatziki Sauce

Looking for different ways to utilize all those wonderful garden cucumbers and zucchinis this summer?

The chefs at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) have a delicious suggestion: crispy zucchini pancakes with a yogurt and cucumber sauce that the Greeks refer to as tzatziki sauce. Throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, tzatziki is considered both as a salad as well as a sauce.