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Sweet Talk with Chef Dana Herbert

Sweet Talk with Chef Dana Herbert


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Chef Dana Herbert, baker and proprietor of Delaware-based sweet shop Desserts by Dana, has more up his sleeve than sugar. This genuine family man and successful business owner is an accomplished chef — his most recent victory named him the winner of TLC’S Cake Boss: Next Great Baker. We sat down with the "Sugar Daddy" of Delaware to chat about all things sweet and the hottest dessert trends around:

The Daily Meal: Tell us a little bit about your history and getting into baking.
Dana Herbert: It started by watching grandma in the kitchen. She's a really good cook and I would wait for her to slide me some leftover cookie dough and or the beater from the mixer when she was making cake. In high school, I loved the food classes. After graduating, I went on the University of Delaware where I loved the Hotel Restaurant Program they had. We had to do some work in the Vita Nova Restaurant with Joe DiGregorio and Debbie Ellingsworth. I loved it and learned a lot from them. From there I went on to Johnson & Wales University and got a degree in Culinary and an additional one in Pastry.

TDM: What do you do to keep up on the hottest dessert trends?
DH: You have to read a lot of magazines, look at new stuff on the Internet or TV, go out to restaurants, and develop new things yourself.

TDM: What are you noticing the trends are revolving around, aside from seasonal bites?
DH: Aside from seasonal bites, it's truly a mini desserts party. What I mean by that is reinventing some of the classics we remember as kids and giving them some twists and presenting them in the mini form. Small and eclectic comfort foods. They go over wonderfully at events.

TDM: Tell us a little bit about touring for the diabetic cause with Novo Nordisk. Why this tour, is it close to your heart?
DH: Diabetes is a big deal in America. It's often a disease that some people don't realize they may have and or refuse to acknowledge. I got into it because of family and purpose. My brother is a type 1 diabetic and my grandparents [have] type 2. As they say, all things roll downhill so I wanted to catch ball on the hill and be an example to them as well, develop some healthy recipes, and show America how to make smarter choices. We teach everything in moderation and proper portion.

TDM: Tell us a little bit about your experience winning Next Great Baker. What has it meant to your career?
DH: Winning and being tutored by Buddy was definitely a plus. Since then my career has catapulted, from working with Novo Nordisk, James Beard celebrity chef tour, bakery products in the Kenny Family ShopRites of Delaware, and the growth of my own bakery. It's all been positive. Being on TLC's Cake Boss: Next Great Baker was a surreal experience. To be honest, I miss that rush sometimes. I worked with a lot of great people and we learned from each other as well. Every person has a gift and to be there and see them in their elements was amazing. You learned a lot about yourself as well as what you were truly capable of.

TDM: What is the most surprising ingredient you ever used in a pastry?
DH: Possibly jicama. It marries well with almost any cobbler or streusel tart, and gives them a little crunch and texture.

TDM: How do you challenge yourself in the kitchen?
DH: Really on the sweet and savory side it is to come up with something new. Something that blurs the lines between what is savory and what is considered sweet.


Cake Boss

Cake Boss is an American reality television series, airing on the cable television network TLC. Set at Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey, the show mainly follows Buddy Valastro and his family as they operate their business, with a focus on how they make their cakes, along with family gatherings and celebrations.

The show premiered on April 19, 2009, and four additional seasons followed, premiering October 26, 2009, May 31, 2010 (returning in October), January 31, 2011 (returning in September), and May 28, 2012, respectively.


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Kevin Cabrera, corporate executive chef at The Save Mart Companies, told Insider that melting a bit of butter on top of a ready-made pie can help give it a homemade richness.

"Halfway through warming your pie, directly insert thin slices of butter into the venting slits of the pie," Cabrera said. "This will give it a nice, moist flavor."

Adding too much butter might oversaturate the pie and lead to a soggy crust, so start with a tablespoon or two, and add more if necessary.


Charity George: The Sugar Sorceress behind Netflix’s Nailed It!

Chef Charity George – known as The Sugar Sorceress – is a pastry chef and cake artist in San Diego, CA. She specializes in chocolate and sugar art, with particular regard for wedding cakes, as well as specialty and extreme cakes. She has also specialized in baking and cooking for those with food allergies and sensitivities. Charity owns d’Zrt Cake Studio in La Mesa, CA.

Charity is also on the Board of Directors for Icing Smiles, a non-profit organization that provides custom celebration cakes and other treats to families impacted by the critical illness of a child.

Charity is the “secret chef” on the extremely popular Netflix show Nailed It! – she’s the pro who creates all of the cakes that the competitors then have to replicate. Charity has also been a judge at numerous cake shows and contests, and has taught sugar arts across the country to sold out workshops.


Sweet Potato & Brussels Sprouts Hash with Bacon

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks…I’d eat this Sweet Potato & Brussels Sprouts Hash with Bacon any dang time of day. Wouldn’t you?

My mom and aunt (who happen to be identical twins, by the way) are hands down one-million-percent OBSESSED with this “veggie hash” recipe, as they call it, that has parsnips, carrots (or sometimes sweet potatoes), bacon, and some kind of magical spice blend (see my Sunny Sweet Potato Hash). Any time they are making brunch, having people over, or going somewhere they have to bring a dish…it’s the VEGGIE HASH. If you can’t tell, we totally make fun of them for it. But it IS dang delicious, especially if you put some poached eggs, avocado, or chicken sausage to go with it. We’re all happy campers.

There’s also this sweet potato and brussels sprouts hash recipe that I get every chance I can whenever I order from Territory foods. So *obviously* I had to recreate it – took my favorite parts of that hash + my mom’s favorite veggie hash, and here you go: a Sweet Potato & Brussels Sprouts Hash with Bacon that I am now obsessed with and probably shouldn’t make fun of my mom for anymore because I totally get it.

Serve with poached eggs. Maybe some avocado. And maybe a little extra protein on the side, like some Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage. Mmmm.


19 great cookie recipes for when you need baking inspiration

For someone with a sweet tooth who demands instant gratification and gets bored with extended baking projects, there is no better spending-a-day-inside-at-home activity than baking cookies. Most cookies require less than an hour of measuring, mixing, and scooping. The process is simple enough that kids can join in, and you can feel proud of yourself for finding a way to entertain them for 20 minutes or so. Then, after a brief interlude in the oven, which will make your house smell amazing, you get fresh, warm comfort. And, as a bonus, you’ll have extras to nibble on all week long or to share with friends and neighbors.

Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite cookie recipes from The Takeout archive, including selections from all the greatest cookie groups: shortbread, gingersnap, coffee-dunking biscuit, holiday cookies, and, of course, chocolate chip.

Note to desktop users: If you’d like to view this story in a scrolling layout, you can narrow your browser window. You can also click “List Slides” at any time to see the full list and navigate to particular recipes.


Memorial Day is an important holiday in the United States, a chance for the nation to honor those who have died serving in the military. While it's a solemn day of remembrance, it also marks the unofficial start of summer and is often celebrated with parades, picnics, and family cookouts. To make your Memorial Day festivities as delicious as ever, we rounded up 30 of the best recipes for the holiday&mdasheverything from potato salad to fruit crumbles, a no-bake cheesecake, and burgers and hot dogs galore.

This holiday is also when many people will commence grilling on a regular basis, but outdoor cooking is not the only way to serve up summertime fare. While you could certainly grill your ribs, our recipe for Tuscan Ribs, pictured here, puts the oven to good use. Three racks of baby back ribs marinate with olive oil, paprika, fennel seeds, sage, thyme, and rosemary. They slow-roast in the oven for two hours until the meat is fork-tender and releases its juicy flavor. Serve the ribs with another Memorial Day classic: potato salad. There's a recipe for potato salad that has rich balsamic glaze that pairs oh so well with these ribs, but you'll also find a recipe for a classic mayonnaise- and mustard-based potato salad in this collection, too.

Other favorite Memorial Day recipes you'll find are are baked beans with homemade barbecue sauce, seasonal fruit desserts such as berry cobblers and pies, homemade ice cream, plenty of crowd-friendly main courses (most of which are, yes, cooked on a grill), and a few cocktails and mocktails to keep you cool all weekend long.

Have a festive and fabulous Memorial Day cookout with these casual recipes that everyone will love.


Mexican Stuffed Baked Potato & Bean & Rice Burritio Bowl

You might be surprised to learn that some of my favorite meals don’t come from a recipe. It’s true! Instead they are simple and easy by combing a few ingredients that I have precooked and wallah – you have a meal. Once or twice a week I batch cook a variety of ingredients such as rice, potatoes, beans, squash, vegetables, salad dressings and Chipotle Nacho Cheeze Sauce or you might prefer the more mild Donna’s vegan cheeze sauce . In addition to that I will prep fresh cilantro, green onions and cut limes into wedges, to have as toppings. From these ingredients along with some greens and other vegetables I can come up with lots of different bowl or potato meals. They can have different flavor profiles depending on what herbs, vinegar’s, salsas or sauces I choose to use. Today it’s all about Mexican/Southwest flavors.

The idea for the stuffed baked potato comes from Chef AJ and I am so glad she shared this concept. Add your favorite Mexican ingredients to a potato and you have a delicious meal. You can use home cooked beans or canned beans that you have rinsed and drained. Try the

If you prefer lentils they can work too – try these Chili Taco Lentils and freeze them in two portion servings for future meals.

Don’t forget frozen or fresh corn, salsa, cilantro, vegan cheeze sauce , sliced green onions and jalapenos if you wish. This very filling meal can be pulled together in about 10 minutes. Even if you don’t have a potato already cooked you can microwave a potato in just minutes and still have this meal ready in a flash!

Before going plant based I use to love a broccoli cheese stuffed baked potato and I can still enjoy that flavor profile. It’s so delicious – you have to give it a try. Shown here with Corn on the cob cooked in the pressure cooker with a cup of water and 4-6 small ears of corn placed on a wire rack in cooker on high pressure for 1 minute. Mexicano Veggie Burgers are great to make ahead and freeze.

I would never have thought to make this with a sweet potato but Chef AJ said it was good so I gave it a try. These sweet potatoes have an almost white flesh and are very sweet making for a nice contrast to the spicy flavor of the salsa.Talk about scrumptious! If you have leftover chili use that to top off a potato and make the leftovers taste really different.

No potatoes – no worries you can use a bed of cooked brown rice or cooked quinoa instead. When you make a batch of grains take a container of it and freeze it so you will always have something on hand for a quick meal. Sometimes I like to add a layer of baby spinach in the bottom of the bowl and add the hot rice on top and it wilts it just enough and its a great way to sneak in some extra greens. When I make Donna’s Cheeze Sauce I sometimes add a little bit of fresh jalapeno pepper to it when I blend it up and it makes an awesome nacho cheeze flavor. Of course fresh lime juice squeezed over the top makes everything taste even better! Updated: I now have my Chipotle Nacho Cheeze Sauce that has some wonderful kick to it!


Celebrity chef Vivian Howard reveals secret recipes in ‘This Will Make It Taste Good’

An expert in Southern regional cooking, Vivian Howard’s name is right up there with Edna Lewis, Ella Brennan and Leah Chase when it comes to legitimizing what was long viewed simply as “country cooking.” She earned her place with a 600-plus volume titled “Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South,” a collection of traditional dishes from her home state of North Carolina and new ones from her restaurant Chef & the Farmer.

It’s difficult to imagine how the celebrity chef and star of the PBS programs “A Chef’s Life” and “Somewhere South” would have time for another project, but here comes “This Will Make It Taste Good: A New Path to Simple Cooking,” 125 recipes that again combine her love of Southern cuisine and skills as a restaurant chef. Like Martha Stewart, she’s got an eye for stylish content and she possesses a sassy sense of humor reminiscent of Rick Bragg. The book is a feast for foodies who love to read, filled with folksy turns of phrase:

“I vowed that if I ever got a tattoo it would be of the word hors d’oeuvre … I couldn’t spell the word.”

“I have avoided the fried chicken crusades … now I’m ready to weigh in.”

“Deviled eggs are sacred to me.”

“In grits circles, I’m pretty much a baller.”

So, we couldn’t resist a chance to chat with Howard and find out more.

Vivian Howard, PBS star of “A Chef’s Life,” and author of “Deep Run Roots,” a bestseller on Southern regional cooking, has a new book that’s light and bright. “This Will Make It Taste Good” is a complete turnaround filled with recipes like Gas Station Biscuits and R-Rated Onions. Along with color photos of recipes, Howard has added whimsical portraits that personify some of them. (Courtesy of Baxter Miller)

Vivian Howard, PBS star of “A Chef’s Life,” and author of “Deep Run Roots,” a bestseller on Southern regional cooking, has a new book that’s light and bright. “This Will Make It Taste Good” is a complete turnaround filled with recipes like Gas Station Biscuits and R-Rated Onions. Along with color photos of recipes, Howard has added whimsical portraits that personify some of them, such as this one for R-Rated Onions. (Courtesy of Baxter Miller)

Vivian Howard, PBS star of “A Chef’s Life,” and author of “Deep Run Roots,” a bestseller on Southern regional cooking, has a new book that’s light and bright. “This Will Make It Taste Good” is a complete turnaround filled with recipes like Gas Station Biscuits and R-Rated Onions. Along with color photos of recipes, such as this one for Red Devils, Howard has added whimsical portraits that personify some of them. (Courtesy of Baxter Miller)

Vivian Howard, PBS star of “A Chef’s Life,” and author of “Deep Run Roots,” a bestseller on Southern regional cooking, has a new book that’s light and bright. “This Will Make It Taste Good” is a complete turnaround filled with recipes like Gas Station Biscuits and R-Rated Onions. Along with color photos of recipes, such as this one for Fried Chicken Finally, Howard has added whimsical portraits that personify some of them. (Courtesy of Baxter Miller)

Vivian Howard, PBS star of “A Chef’s Life,” and author of “Deep Run Roots,” a bestseller on Southern regional cooking, has a new book that’s light and bright. “This Will Make It Taste Good” is a complete turnaround filled with recipes like Gas Station Biscuits and R-Rated Onions. Along with color photos of recipes, such as this one for Asparagus Bathed in Green Butter, Howard has added whimsical portraits that personify some of them. (Courtesy of Baxter Miller)

Vivian Howard, PBS star of “A Chef’s Life,” and author of “Deep Run Roots,” a bestseller on Southern regional cooking, has a new book that’s light and bright. “This Will Make It Taste Good” is a complete turnaround filled with recipes like Gas Station Biscuits, seen here, and R-Rated Onions. Along with color photos of recipes, Howard has added whimsical portraits that personify some of them. (Courtesy of Baxter Miller)

Vivian Howard, PBS star of “A Chef’s Life,” and author of “Deep Run Roots,” a bestseller on Southern regional cooking, has a new book that’s light and bright. “This Will Make It Taste Good” is a complete turnaround filled with recipes like Gas Station Biscuits and R-Rated Onions. Along with color photos of recipes, Howard has added whimsical portraits that personify some of them, such as this one for Sweet Potential. (Courtesy of Baxter Miller)

Vivian Howard, PBS star of “A Chef’s Life,” and author of “Deep Run Roots,” a bestseller on Southern regional cooking, has a new book that’s light and bright. “This Will Make It Taste Good” is a complete turnaround filled with recipes like Gas Station Biscuits and R-Rated Onions. Along with color photos of recipes, such as this one for a selection of cocktails, Howard has added whimsical portraits that personify some of them. (Courtesy of Baxter Miller)

Vivian Howard, PBS star of “A Chef’s Life,” and author of “Deep Run Roots,” a bestseller on Southern regional cooking, has a new book that’s light and bright. “This Will Make It Taste Good” is a complete turnaround filled with recipes like Gas Station Biscuits and R-Rated Onions. Along with color photos of recipes, such as this one for Rock Me Don’t Shake Me Lemon Pie, Howard has added whimsical portraits that personify some of them. (Courtesy of Baxter Miller)

Vivian Howard, PBS star of “A Chef’s Life,” and author of “Deep Run Roots,” a bestseller on Southern regional cooking, has a new book that’s light and bright. “This Will Make It Taste Good” is a complete turnaround filled with recipes like Gas Station Biscuits and R-Rated Onions. Along with color photos of recipes, Howard has added whimsical portraits that personify some of them, such as this one for Citrus Shrine. (Courtesy of Baxter Miller)

Vivian Howard, PBS star of “A Chef’s Life,” and author of “Deep Run Roots,” a bestseller on Southern regional cooking, has a new book that’s light and bright. “This Will Make It Taste Good” is a complete turnaround filled with recipes like Gas Station Biscuits and R-Rated Onions. Along with color photos of recipes, such as this one for Beets Meet Reuben, Howard has added whimsical portraits that personify some of them. (Courtesy of Baxter Miller)

Q: This book is pure fun and a departure from “Deep Run Roots,” which tackled a serious subject. What made you decide to run off in this direction?

A: Well, I had written a 600-page love letter/historical document to a place and I really enjoyed that, but I’m pretty lighthearted and I consider myself a little bit of a comedian. … I wanted to write a book that shows that side of myself. And also that for the most part I cook simple food but I have some tricks that I have developed by being a professional chef.

Q: Tell us how a light and bright book came about in the time of COVID. You were actually pivoting a bit in your restaurant and selling some of this stuff to go, right?

A: I had finished writing all the head notes and recipes and most of the essays in the book by March and then COVID came. I still had a few things left to write. And it was odd because this book and a few of the heroes in it became my business model and in a weird way, the book kind of saved me. And so I was really grateful that I got that gift — that I was so late turning it in — because I got to share that part of my experience.

Q: The way this book works is you take flavor bomb recipes, the heroes as you call them, and pump up a dish that could be ordinary without them. Can you explain?

A: Every chef has this roster of things, but when we get to write cookbooks or when we go home and cook we don’t always use them. But because several years ago I stopped working in my restaurant as much and started spending a lot more evenings at home, I found myself like, “Oh my God, I really want the red weapons hero.” Or “I really want the spiced pecans.” I would just take them from the restaurant. And it became the way that I cooked at home and I would spend only 30-40 minutes making dinner, but it tastes far more developed and complex because I have this little pantry of flavor heroes to call on. I felt like everybody should know about them.

Q: This book is not your ordinary format. You find a recipe you’re dying to make, then you backtrack and make the recipe for the flavor hero. Given that it’s a little out of the box, who is this book for?

A: For people who are into the idea of meal prep. Instead of roasting Brussels sprouts and grilling chicken on Sunday, then reheating them during the week, you could make one of these heroes every Sunday for several weeks and then you’d have this pantry of things to pull from so you can make roasted Brussels sprouts in 20 minutes, but make them really exciting. And it’s for people like me who love to give gifts that are consumable. Almost all of my Christmas gifts or hostess gifts are these heroes.

Q: Great idea to cook instead of shop.

A: I’m very into non-consumer gift giving. I think this book is also for people who have just started cooking and want to be able to cook without following recipes to the letter. All these recipes are designed so that if it finishes off -center, it’s still going to be great. It’s for any cook who wants to feel empowered, to cook really off the cuff.

Q: I made the Little Green Dress hero, which is like a tapenade/pesto, and three recipes with it. Buttermilk ranch dressing was so good I had to yell at my husband, “Hey, Mister! That is not a beverage!” I made the asparagus, which was perfect. I’ll make the Gas Station Biscuits. When you said you had to hide the leftovers under raw meat garbage so you could step away, I thought, that’s the recipe for me. It’s a Southern classic with a twist. How did you grow bold enough to mess with centuries-old recipes?

A: I broke those rules a long time ago, with my mom actually, making her dishes and altering them slightly. That’s what I’ve done through my whole career is look at our classic Southern dishes and extract the thing that I really love about them and then add a few things that make it a little bit more modern. I think so often in Southern foods, the thing that we’re missing is a proper amount of acid.

Q: I noticed lots of bright flavors in this book.

A: Like with pickles and relishes, we don’t necessarily incorporate them into our dishes. So, a lot of these heroes represent that pickle or that relish that we might add to eat alongside something, but I have found a way to incorporate it.

Q: Southerners will pickle anything that won’t pickle us first, even peaches and watermelon. Now let’s talk about Vivian Howard the author. The writing is downright tasty. What about a book that’s mostly storytelling? Could that be your next move?

A: I think that my love of writing is really first and foremost for me, even beyond cooking. I want to write a number of different things. I would love to write about something other than myself.

Q: Have you always been funny?

A: I love making people laugh. … I would say that my sense of humor is something that I’ve missed in “Deep Run Roots” so I really worked hard to make sure it was very important in “This Will Make It Taste Good.”

Q: You’ve got some photos in the book that are funny and others are kind of flirty or sexy. Aside from Giada, a lot of chefs are not attractive enough to pull that off, but you can. Did you have fun playing dress up?

A: Oh my God, yeah. This was an idea that we had to fight for with my editor, because it’s understood for someone like me who has been on TV, that you have to show up in the book and I really didn’t want to just do these gratuitous photos of me handing a plate of food to one of my children who doesn’t want to be at a photo shoot. I really wanted the images of me to add to the narrative. So all of them are me personifying the attributes of that hero (recipe). It was so much fun.

Q: I liked what you wrote about how you ended “A Chef’s Life,” saying the irony was that “the show that changed all our lives didn’t allow us to evolve.” That was very honest. Now after two shows, are you comfortable with your celebrity? Any new shows on the horizon?

A: I’m working on some things that may or may not happen. I hope they will, but you never know. And yeah, I’m comfortable in my role. I think I was very reticent to be recognized in the beginning, because I just didn’t really know what to do with it, but now I understand what people want when they say hello. And so it’s easier for me to give that to them. And I’m grateful that people are generally really nice.

‘This Will Make It Taste Good: A New Path to Simple Cooking’

Author: Vivian Howard, owner of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston, North Carolina. She created and starred in the award-winning PBS series, “A Chef’s Life” and is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South.”

Price: $31.50.

Publisher: Voracious/Little, Brown and Company, Hachette Book Group


Immune Booster Orange Smoothie

Welcome to December. Kind of crazy isn’t it? 2014 is almost over. I still haven’t quite grappled with it all.

But nonetheless, here we are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season and I’m feeling kind of cozy.

Though I normally crave warmer things in colder months, this smoothie makes a shining exception with its rich orange hue, creamy texture and warm, spicy notes. I think I’ve learned to love sweet potato in a whole new way.

I absolutely adore sweet potatoes for breakfast in these oats, for lunch in this salad, and for dinner with roasted chickpeas and garlic sauce.

You really can’t go wrong with their exceptional nutritional content, boasting plenty of beta carotene and both Vitamin A and C (great for immunity). Not to mention, one potato provides roughly 4 grams protein, 6 grams of fiber, and just 162 calories.

This smoothie also contains cinnamon, ginger and turmeric, all of which act as anti-inflammatory agents in the body, among many other benefits.

This combination also adds a warm, spicy undertone that complements the sweetness of the sweet potato perfectly.

Last but not least, orange juice adds plenty of Vitamin C and extra immune-boosting benefits to hep ward off any stubborn colds this winter.

I think you’re going to love this smoothie. It’s:

Creamy
Refreshing
Perfectly sweet
Subtly spiced
Gingery
Nutrient-rich
& Seriously delicious

This smoothie is perfect for days when you want something healthy, filling, and a little sweet. Plus, it’s simple with less than 10 ingredients. That’s my kind of breakfast.

We hope you love this recipe! And if you do, be sure to take a picture and tag it #minimalistbaker on Instagram so we can see. It seriously makes our day. Cheers!


Watch the video: EP 14: Conversation with TLCs Cake Bake Winner Chef Dana Herbert (May 2022).