Cruller & Unusual, Just How We Like Our Fall Desserts

Spot the cruller, drag the cruller. It’s how MJ wants us to pot de crème this season.

When you ask Pastry Chef MJ Garcia how she approaches developing new desserts, she tells you it’s just like the savory side of the kitchen.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given she’s closer than ever to the big picture of the sourcing process now running the Genuine Commissary. Seasonality drives it all, as specific ingredients each become the focus around which dishes and desserts are built.

From apples to pumpkin, now is the time to get a bite, lick and drizzle of fall.  Ella Pop Café is increasingly becoming an outlet for creative development thanks to a format conducive to quick product turnover and pastry case production in small batches.  A visit could yield anything from Pumpkin Cupcakes to Gingersnap Pumpkin Donuts, often a canvas for seasonal flavors.

Right now, Michael’s Genuine®’s dessert menu is full on fall with three new items, Apple Pie with toasted oats ice cream and salted caramel, Maple Pot de Crème with french crullers, and Turkish Coffee Ice Cream Trifle with cold brew syrup, meringue cream and ginger snaps.  Recent specials have included Sticky Toffee Pumpkin Pudding and Pumpkin Ice Cream.

“Apple and pumpkin are so versatile and play really well in both sweet and savory,” she explains. “Going extremely homey, like apple pie, just makes sense.  And then there’s just so many different places you can go with it.  We’ve been pushing ourselves this season to be smart with cross utilization, but also have a little fun while we’re at it, too.”

Keep your eyes peeled to Instagram for daily specials as the season unfolds.


Introducing the Seasonal Pizza at Harry’s. Fall’s Calabaza is Up First!

Hello October. We’re falling in love with the flavors and ingredients of autumn by taking the opportunity to introduce a new menu item at Harry’s Pizzeria®: the seasonal pizza.  Every 3 months, our neighborhood American pizzeria will introduce a new pie inspired by what’s around us that time of year.  Calabaza is up first, and what a looker she is.

A sweet and savory combination of just the right amount of ingredients balanced to perfection, Calabaza begins with a base of rosemary crema, followed by caramelized onions, Brussels sprouts and layers of shaved calabaza (think beautiful and bright orange pumpkin) of the perfect thickness so it will melt, lasagna-like in the oven with gruyère and fontina cheeses to tie it all together.  A light sprinkling of parmigiano finishes it with its salty, tangy bite.

Harry’s new seasonal offering is meant to give guests something they can come back to enjoy a bunch of times, staying on for a bit longer than the more spontaneous daily special pizza.  They can also look forward to trying something new, when a new season arrives.  Chefs game plan in advance and hone in on an ingredient or two they are inspired by and then build from there. The idea is to arrive at a well-balanced pie, where a small amount of toppings work together to support the overall flavor profile.   Perfection is in what we can take away, not add.  So there’s a formula to ensure it — a sauce or no sauce, a protein, a vegetable (sometimes two, especially if it’s a vegetarian pizza), one or two cheeses, and a garnish.  That’s all.  And our daily-made dough with a hint of honey and wheat flour for a crust bakes to a blistered, tender result in our ovens.

Visit Harry’s Instagram for a video of how it’s made, courtesy @thenaughtyfork and our kitchen manager Chris Cantu in the Design District doing the demo!  The Calabaza seasonal pie is now available for $15 at all locations beginning today.



[RECIPE] Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Quinoa, Long Beans, Herbs, Heart of Palm & Parsley Vinaigrette


Ever looked at a great big pumpkin and scratch your head. It’s not one of those ingredients that jumps out and begs a home cook to be dinner. They come in all shapes and sizes, many of which are XXL.  Of course those are hard to cut unless you have the proper knife, like Grand Cayman farmer Jennett Anson who uses her cleaver to break down the big round guys into customer-friendly portions at the farmers market in Camana Bay.  Then there’s the calabaza’s density, making cook time longer than your garden variety vegetable.

So who wants to cook calabaza now?  We do!  And now that I’ve convinced you to never look a pumpkin in the eye in your own kitchen, let me allow TGHG special ops chef Thomas Tennant and Farm to Kitchen’s Chris Padin persuade you otherwise.

“It’s definitely more abundant right now as summer approaches, but pumpkin is one of those great crops that we get all year round down here,” Chris explained on the phone earlier this morning. “You’ll start to see more of the butternuts, the smooth tan ones shaped like a bell, coming in now in April and May, and the green and orange striped long necks are looking really nice, too.  They have more meat than the big round ones which are hollow in the middle and filled with seeds.”

Over the years, I’ve seen some freakishly big pumpkins sitting pretty on our ingredient wall and atop the pastry station at Michael’s Genuine in Miami when local tomatoes are out of season (heirloom alert: a week more of Teena’s Pride, before we head up state until June!)  We have Martha Corona and her u-pick farm to thank; she always makes sure to grow them, and customer demand is so high she brings them in from a farm upstate when her supply runs out. They grow up to 20 pounds each, even more.  Chris’s weekly order averages about 50 pounds all day, give or take a few depending on what the kitchen wants on the menu.  They can show up as a wood roasted side, shaved on pizza, cubed in hash at brunch…  pretty much everywhere and anywhere.  And Harry’s just added candied pumpkin seeds to its arugula salad.

Upon returning to the mainland from Grand Cayman’s Slow Food Day in March, Thomas not surprisingly received requests from afar for his pumpkin salad recipe.  Sure, it was so delicious as a base for Caja China Local Goat, but better yet, a fresh, healthy, and vegetarian dish balanced and hearty enough to stand alone. When working with pumpkin at home, Thomas suggests choosing the longnecks if you can find them, peeling with a vegetable peeler and using a large, properly sharpened chef’s knife for cubing. The chunks don’t need to be perfect cubes, but do take care to cut with uniform thickness for uniform cook time. Enjoy with a Home Brew and toast to summertime!

Roasted Pumpkin Salad with quinoa, long beans, herbs, heart of palm and parsley vinaigrette

Serves 6

3 quarts fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 pound long beans
½ cup fresh heart of palm, shaved
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup Parsley Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
½ cup scallion, sliced thinly
½ cup parsley leaves
½ cup cilantro leaves

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Place the cut pumpkin on a sheet pan, dress with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the pumpkin until it becomes tender, about 12 minutes. Once tender, remove and allow to cool at room temperature.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the long beans for 15 seconds then shock into ice water to stop the cooking. Once the long beans are chilled, cut into 2 inch long pieces.

To assemble the salad, combine the warm pumpkin, cooked quinoa, long beans, and shaved heart of palm in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Toss with the vinaigrette and herbs. Serve while the salad is warm.

Parsley Vinaigrette

makes about 1 cup

1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup parlsey leaves, picked
¼ cup oregano leaves, picked
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup sherry vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Add ½ cup of water to a saucepot over medium heat and add the salt. Once dissolved, set aside and allow to cool. Finely chop the parsley and oregano. Combine the herbs, shallots, garlic and sherry vinegar in a mixing bowl. Using a whisk, bruise the herbs with the vinegar and whisk in the salt water and finally the olive oil. Place in a plastic container until ready to use. You can allow the dressing to marinate for a day and the flavors will improve.