F&W’s Grace Parisi takes a quick dessert lesson from Tunisian-born Ghaya Oliveira.

June 25, 2012

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On a recent trip to Boulud Sud restaurant in New York City, I spent the morning with pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira. Oliveira reinvents classic French recipes by using the flavors of the Mediterranean, including her native Tunisia. She told me stories about her childhood and let me peek inside her pantry; here I’ve taken some of her ideas to create my own fast recipes. I combine strawberries with Tunisian ingredients like honey and cardamom; top peaches and plums with a sesame crumble; and layer caramelized pound cake with sweetened ricotta and chocolate for a version of Sicily’s cassata. I think Oliveira would approve of my translations. After all, when I asked what she’d sell at her fantasy bakery, she told me, “All the simple, tasty things—not fancy restaurant stuff.”

Ghaya Oliveira’s Fast Desserts Pantry

 Halvah Halvah Ghaya Oliveira creates a cotton candy–like confection with this sesame-seed blend. © iStock  Orange-Blossom Water Orange-Blossom Water Oliveira turns to orange blossom and distilled rose water for creamy desserts. Courtesy of King Arthur Flour  Urfa Pepper Urfa Pepper Oliveira likes this smoky dried Turkish pepper as an accent for chocolate. Courtesy of Formaggio Kitchen

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