Monday, April 30, 2012

Pistachio White Chocolate Cake

This cake is amazing..  A grown up cake I might add. I got inspired to make this cake because my brother loves pistachios and it was his birthday recently. I thought white chocolate would go well with the pistachios and boy does it! As a confirmed chocoholic white chocolate is seldom my go to fix. But let me tell you it is an amazballs combo. Make this cake for a friend or loved one and they will be thrilled. I also made this for my cousin for his birthday this past weekend. I pared it with my homemade chocolate ice cream.

Make this for your favorite birthday girl or boy and it's a party!


8 oz. shelled pistachios, ground in a food processor
8 oz. premium white chocolate, ground in a food processor
6 oz sweet butter (1-1/2 sticks) softened
1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs separated

Softened butter for the pan, about 2 TBS.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter liberally and flour a 9-10" cake pan with a removeable bottom or cut a piece of parchment to fit the bottom of a 9-10" cake pan. Butter the sides liberally, make an x on the bottom, place the parchment on the x and press. Butter liberally and flour the top of the parchment.
Cream the butter and half of the sugar together in an electric mixer. Add the egg yolks and cream together until thoroughly combined.

Add the ground pistacios and white chocolate and mix thoroughly. Place the mixture in a separate large bowl. 

Clean and dry the mixer bowl. Place the egg whites in the mixer bowl with the whisk attachment.
Add a pinch of salt. Beat the whites on high until they begin to be frothy. Slowly add the remaining sugar until the whites are stiff but not dry. Fold the whites gently into the pistachio mixture. Place the batter into the prepared pan. Place into the middle of the preheated oven. Bake for about 1 hour until
the cake is firm and springs back when it is touched in the center and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Let cool for about 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan. ( Let the sides drop from the pan).
You can leave the bottom on.

Cool the cake completely, dust with confectioners sugar. Serves 15-20. Serve with homemade or store bought ice cream.

Recipes, writing and photos by Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Olivia Newton John! FUN at work


                                                     Photo by The amazing Ida Astute

                              Walking Olivia Newton John through her demo today.

Photo by the incomparable Steve, Camera Operator extraordinaire!

                                                        Photo by the amazing Ida Astute

The lovely Olivia Newton John, the stunning Sarah Kunin, awesome food segment producer and me KP.

Photo of Steve and writing by Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The wonderful world of Brisket

I am about to venture into the wonderful world of brisket.
I got me some organic first cut pieces. 5 to be exact and It totals about 10 Lbs.
This is the sort of dinner I make once a year for a crowd. You can freeze it in pieces and warm it up for several meals or make a big vat for a fun party. You can make it ahead, slice it cold, warm it up and you have time to spend with your welcome guests.

I will season the meat very well with course grain sea salt and fine ground black pepper. I then dredge it in flour and brown the meat in a very hot oven.


1/4 cup olive oil
10 lbs. Brisket first cut well trimmed
1 Tbs. coarse grain sea salt or kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup flour

15 carrots, peeled cut in half and cut in half lengthwise
5 stalks of celery washed and cut in half
10 onions sliced thin
1/2 cup peeled garlic cloves
1 bunch thyme
4 bay leaves
1 6 oz.can tomato paste
1 bottle dry red wine
10 cups good quality beef broth
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Add the olive oil to a large roasting pan and place into the preheated oven. Season the meat liberally with the salt and pepper. Dredge each piece in the flour, shaking off the excess. Place in the hot oil and brown in the oven. This takes 7-10 minutes per side. I brown the meat in batches, 2 at a time until all of the meat is browned. I use 2 pans.
 I set aside the meat on a platter. I then add the onions, garlic and herbs to the pan. When the vegetables are browned ( another 7-10 minutes). I add the wine, the tomato paste, and whisk it in, the carrots, celery and the broth. I divide this evenly between 2 pans. I add the meat back in and I season the whole thing with salt and pepper. I then cover the pans with foil. I lower the oven to 350 degrees. I braise the brisket in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. I turn the meat over and braise it for another hour to 1 1/2 hours.
I remove the meat. I let it cool. I strain the sauce from and vegetables, save and cool everything. I place everything in the refrigerator.
The next day I slice the cold meat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I place some of the sauce and all of    the vegetables back into the clean roasting pan. I place the sliced meat in the pan with the vegetables and some of the sauce. I cover it all with foil and reheat the brisket for 30 minutes. Heat the remaining sauce in a pot.
Place the sliced brisket on an attractive serving platter with the vegetables and serve. Pass the sauce along side in a boat.

Serves 15 

Recipe, writing and photos by Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Anthony and Josh's Wedding Cake

Check out the May Issue of Brides Magazine. My good friends Josh and Anthony's wedding had a full page article. My gift, the cake I made was featured in the article! I knew the guys loved chocolate and they were having 175 people so I whipped up a 3 tiered rich chocolate ganache cake, covered with fresh berries, and two 14" cakes on the side to be sure all of the guests had plenty.  I knew they would love chocolate with creamy frosting and the natural scrumptiousness of paring all kinds of fresh berries made it an exuberent expression of JOY! What a beautiful wedding it was and what fun we all had!

Check out the May Issue of Brides Magazine. My friends Josh and Anthony's wedding had a full page article and my gift the cake was featured!

Magazine article and Magazine Photos by Brides Magazine
Photos and writing by Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

This Cole Slaw goes with your best picnic or BBQ fare

I love this slaw. Its great for picnics, magnificent with BBQ. The tarragon gives a delicious liquorish   flavor and the chives a delicate onion. It has rich flavor and crisp texture sure to add delightful crunch.
Add this slaw to a weekend repast and you are sure to get raves.

For the dressing

1/2 cup very thinly sliced chives
1/2 cup very thinly sliced tarragon leaves, off the stems
1/3 cup homemade or store bought mayonnaise
2 Tbs, juice of 1 small lemon
3 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
ground black pepper to taste

For the Slaw

6 cups cabbage, sliced thin, about 1/2 medium cabbage
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shredded carrots


Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Combine the sliced cabbage and the salt in a large bowl. Add water to cover. Let stand together for 10 minutes, this begins to soften the cabbage so that it absorbs the dressing more readily. Add the shredded carrot to a large bowl. Rinse the cabbage in cold water. Drain and dry the cabbage in a salad spinner. Add to the bowl with the carrot. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and toss together until thoroughly combined. Place in a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. Toss again before serving.

Serves 4

Recipe, writing and photos by Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

4/17/12 Lucky me all in a days work!

Today was one of those days at GMA where the segment for Mario went really well. The guests were fantastic. The weather was awesome and I had to pinch myself for feeling so lucky to have this amazing job. Here are some behind the scenes shots I took today of some of our guests on the show and some of the astonishing crew whose company I am lucky enough to keep!

The wonderful and magnificient Sal and Nina. Both lovely people and amazing stagehands!

   Salvator and Nina taking the tables outside to Military Island in Times Square for Mario's segment!

                                           Another Favorite, Julia Louis Dreyfus and George

                              Walter - King of Security! Always smiling always on the job!

                                                                      Stanley and Mario

                                                           Lara, Stanley, Mario and Josh

                                            Eddie and Angie, Stagemanagers to the STARS
     Craig, Amazing director in the making and the lovable and lovely Laurie, Food Segment Producer

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sauteed Spinach and Ramps

Spring has certainly sprung!

 Never before, it seems have I noticed such abundance of amazing flowering trees.
Among the many favorite things of Spring are ramps.


Ramps grow near the streams in the spring.
They are a delightful nuanced onion, reddish green lush leaves that change to thin red and white tubes with roots attached, sold in bunches, mainly at farmers markets. They have a suble gentle onion/garlic, fresh flavor that lends itself to innumerable applications in the kitchen. I choose to share a very simple preparation that is quick and delicious and a great accompaniment to any entree, particularly fowl or eggs. But can easily also accompany steak or grains.


1 Tbs. Olive oil
2 Bunches of ramps washed, sliced thin, roots removed
1 Lb. baby spinach
1/8-1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. sea salt
ground black pepper to taste

Place 1 Tbs. Olive oil in a 10" dutch oven. Over medium high heat, add the ramps and sautee' until the ramps have softened and are wilted.

Add the spinach and stir. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add 1/8 cup of water. Stir and cover the pan. Lower the heat and sweat for 2 minutes. Stir the pan.

Cook until the spinach is wilted and stir to be sure the seasonings are evenly distributed.
Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings

Recipe, writing and photos by Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chef de Matzo Brei

Being that it is the last day of Passover 2012 I am just going to make this post in time to celebrate.

My husband cooks for me one week a year. He makes Matzo Brei for me the week of Passover. It is an amazing treat, the best I have ever had. All of these years together, I have never watched how he did it because a big part of the treat is that he makes it for me. I have been raving about this for a long time. We have these dear friends the FitzGerald's,

so Doug decided to make this for them yesterday morning. They were very pleased and asked for a repeat this morning. They awoke this morning, saying and I quote "We have been dreaming of Green eggs and Matzo Brei! We get these amazing fresh eggs at a farm down the road. They are beautiful, varied sizes and colors... hence the green eggs!

He starts with 1 piece of Matzo for each person, whole wheat or white.
He places them in a 9x13 glass dish and runs tap water over it.

 He turns it over and soaks the matzo for about 30 seconds to a minute and then throws off the water.

He then whisks 6 eggs together in a bowl, with a fork, for each pan.

He sprays a 12 inch skillet with olive oil cooking spray. He lights the flame and sets the pan on low.

He puts half of the eggs in the sprayed heated pan and places the matzo on top. He breaks off pieces to fit all over the setting eggs.

He pours the remaining egg mixture over the matzo.

Then he covers the pan and waits 2 minutes just until the edges are set.

He turns half of the Brei over to one side of the pan with a metal spatula. Then he loosens the bottom of the Brei and slides it to the center of the pan.

He covers the pan again for a minute or two depending on how well cooked one likes their eggs.

For 2 servings per pan use 2 pieces of Matzo and 6 eggs.

Serve with copious amounts of sour cream, coarse grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Recipe by Doug Goldsmith. Writing and photos by Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy Doug Goldsmith and Karen Pickus 2012

Finished Slaw

Finished Slaw
Ready to eat!