This was such a fun menu to put together for my first “grown-up” class at the Y.U.M. Chefs Kitchen. I focussed on using interesting local ingredients, and using the ingredients in unexpected ways! I’m looking forward to teaching more classes like this. In addition, the proceeds from this class help benefit Open Minds, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing free cooking classes to underprivileged youth.


Easy Pie Dough:

  • 1 ½ Cup AP flour
  • ¾ Teaspoon salt
  • ¾ Cup butter
  • 3 Tablespoons iced water.

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease muffin tins. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in water until mixture forms a ball. Shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for one hour.

Roll dough out evenly and thinly on a floured surface.  With a round cookie cutter cut out 5.5in circles. Gently, but firmly, press dough into tins. Patch any holes and fill with filling.  Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes. (makes 8+ mini pies)


Cheese Cake Filling 

  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fresh fruit or jam

Whisk together eggs, cheese, and sugar. Gently swirl in fruit.  Fill up your dough-lined muffin tins 2/3 full with mixture.  Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes or until cheese is set (knife will come out clean) and tops are yellowed. (makes 8 mini pies)

Kale Chips

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt + pepper
  • Optional: cayenne pepper, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, or almost any seasoning!

Destem kale and toss with oil and seasonings. Spread in a thin layer on baking sheet, making sure that the kale isn’t crowded.  Bake at 300 for about 15 minutes or until kale is completely dried out and crunchy

Tips for kale chips:

  • Dry out kale as much as possible before baking.
  • Don’t crowd kale on the baking sheet or it will steam instead of crisp
  • Cooking times vary depending on type of kale, how dry it is, seasonings used, amount of kale on sheet, and oven.
  • There is a very short period of time between when the kale will dry and burn, check often!

Savory Cheesecakes with Caramelized Onion and Kale

  • 1 cup finely chopped kale
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 minced garlic (optional)
  • 1 T chopped parsley (optional)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter (or olive oil) for greasing
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (8 oz) whipped cream cheese
  • ½ cup Parmesan
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup feta (or cheese of choice)
  • ¾ cup breadcrumbs (or omit to be gluten free)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat up the olive oil in a pan and add onions. Keep on low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent and beginning to brown slightly. Add garlic, stir until fragrant, and then add kale, and stir until wilted. Remove from heat.

Generously coat twelve muffin tins, or four medium soufflé molds with the butter or oil. Divide the bread crumbs among the molds and coat the bottoms and sides heavily with the crumbs, pressing them onto the buttered dish so they stick.

In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese, eggs, sour cream, salt, and pepper; and mix well. Next add the remaining cheese plus parsley, and onion and kale mixture, and mix gently.

Fill the molds ¾ full, arrange the molds on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until beginning to brown on the top.

The cheesecakes will still be slightly wet and soft in the center. You can tell they are done when the heat makes the tops puff up like muffins. Let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. (makes 12 muffin-sized cheesecakes) 

Mediterranean-Cali Spring Rolls 

  • 1 package rice paper
  • ½ cup (4 oz) chevre goat cheese
  • ½ cup (4 oz) sour cream or ricotta
  • ½ cup fresh figs, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup (4oz) pistachios, shelled and chopped
  • ¼ cup dried dates, pitted
  • 1 t shallot or onion
  • 1 pear, thinly sliced

In a food processor, combine dates, onion, and cheeses. Transfer to a bowl and combine with pistachios. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Set up a plate or dish of hot water. Submerge rice paper into water until pliable and translucent. Remove from water and place on table or plate.

To roll: place about 2 T figs, 2 slices pear, 1 T cheese mixture, and ¼ cup arugula in the wrapper. Wrap tightly like a burrito. Keep under damp cloth until service.  (makes 20)