New York chef Gerry Hayden, a friend of Michael Mina, was staying with the family one Christmas and contributed this side dish to the holiday meal. Everybody fell for the combination of creamy pureed potato and fragrant vanilla.
This dessert is made up of two elements—creamy vanilla panna cotta and a clear cranberry jelly. Alison Attenborough created a graphic look by tilting the plastic glasses at a 45-degree angle as the first two layers are poured and allowed to set.
Gale Gand, an F&W Best New Chef 1994, is the executive pastry chef and a partner at Tru in Chicago. She's also the host of Food Network's Sweet Dreams. Her follow-up to the cookbook Gale Gand's Short + Sweet is a collection of recipes from Tru. Gand got this recipe from her mother-in-law, Vita Seidita; the fritters are also good sprinkled with cinnamon sugar or dipped in jelly.
The ethereal Italian dessert sauce zabaglione (known in French as sabayon) consists of egg yolks beaten with sugar and the Sicilian fortified dessert wine Marsala. Steeping vanilla seeds in the Marsala adds lovely flavor; folding in whipped cream increases the decadence factor.
Some vanilla extract recipes call for rum or brandy, but Rachael Narins and Suzanne Griswold prefer vodka because the neutral spirit lets the vanilla flavor shine through. Their bean of choice is Mexican. "It's more local for us," says Narins. "It also has a spicy, robust flavor that's great in extract."
Chef Louis Lambert believes that the best way to finish off a spicy meal is with a cool and creamy custard. He combined his grandmother's tapioca recipe and his own recipe for crème brûlée to make this super-rich pudding.