Nicknamed “The Sugar Daddy,” Herbert gained fame by winning TLC‘s reality TV series, “Cake Boss: Next Great Baker” back in 2011. The title came with a new car, $50,000 and an apprenticeship with “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro at Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. Herbert has his own bakery, Desserts by Dana, in Delaware, and is a member of the Macy’s Culinary Council.
On the flip side, Herbert also showed how to give savory dishes a hint of sweetness, such as drizzling a bit of maple syrup over seared scallops or roasting tomatoes to caramelize their natural sugars. Another interesting idea was to use bacon drippings in a vinaigrette dressing, giving it a richer flavor.
That sweet/savory combo is the theme of his cookbook, “Sweet And Savory Union,” and even his marriage, Herbert said. He and his wife, Netesha, met in culinary school. She bought a date with him at a school charity auction, “And I tell her it was the best $50 she ever spent,” he added.
Although he’s known for fancy desserts, “I actually came from the culinary side, but it just so happened that people loved my cakes and the bakery side took off very quickly,” he said.
Some tips for cooks:
- When you fry or saute, make sure the oil is heated before adding the food. If the oil is cold, the food will absorb it while it’s heating up, and you’ll end up with greasy food.
- It’s important to season your food in the beginning, “because salt pulls up and through the food during cooking,” he said. “Taste and adjust the seasoning as you go. If you wait and add the salt at the end, you tend to oversalt.”
- Oven-drying tomatoes caramelizes the sugars in them, bringing out their sweetness in dishes like the Smoked Turkey, Bacon, Gruyere and Oven Dried Tomato Frittata he made for the audience.
- When cooking eggs (such as in a frittata), keep the temperature lower, as high heat will cause them to burn.
- In cooking scallops, sear the top and bottom sides of the scallop in a hot pan so they are lightly browned. Overcooking will make them rubbery.
Pan Seared Scallop with Corn Cream Sauce, Potato Gaufrette, Micro Greens, Bacon Shards and Bacon Vinaigrette
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons onion
3 tablespoons red pepper
1 tomato, chopped
4 cups corn
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs cilantro
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup evaporated milk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon butter, softened
8 large scallops
4 tablespoons maple syrup
6 slices cooked bacon, cut into shards (use the drippings to make the Bacon Vinaigrette below)
Saute vegetables and seasonings until tender in vegetable stock. Remove from heat to cool.
Remove bay leaf. Puree in a blender or food processor. Using a strainer, strain the mixture into a saucepan.
Add heavy cream and evaporated milk. Mix together the cornstarch and water and add to the saucepan, stirring constantly. When thickened, add butter and stir. Set aside.
Using a bit of olive oil in a hot pan, sear the bottom side of the scallops until browned on the edges. Then turn over and sear the other side.
To plate, place a little sauce in the center of each plate. Place scallops on the sauce.
Put some Bacon Vinaigrette (SEE RECIPE BELOW) over the micro greens and place the greens next to the scallop. Top with bacon shards and potato gaufrettes. ( Gaufrettes are deep fried potato slices. No recipe given for this one — but it involves a mandolin.)
6 bacon slices
4 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons brown sugar
5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon coarse-grained mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon and cut into shards. Set bacon aside. To the pan of bacon drippings, add shallot and garlic. Cook until tender. Add the brown sugar and vinegar, and simmer until sugar is dissolved, scraping up bacon bits that cling to the bottom of the pan.
Add mustard and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over the microgreens in Pan Seared Scallop recipe, with the bacon shards.
Smoked Turkey, Bacon, Gruyere and Oven Dried Tomato Frittata
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup oven-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup smoked chopped turkey
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup cream
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1/2 cup grated Gruyere
Preheat the broiler. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add onion, bell pepper and the oven-dried tomatoes. Cook for 3 minutes. Add smoked turkey and toss to coat.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and cream, and season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into skillet and stir in basil. Top with grated Gruyere cheese. Serve as is, or place the pan under the broiler in an oven for a few minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Chef Dana’s Peach Cobbler with Bacon Streusel
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
3 cups peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup brown sugar
2 ounces peach schnapps
1 ounce cinnamon schnapps
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix up the batter by combining flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, melted butter and milk.
Cook peaches quickly with peach and cinnamon schnapps until alcohol cooks out. Add nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon.
Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray. Carefully spoon the batter into pan and pour the peaches and juices even over the batter.
Place the dish in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. As the cobbler cooks, the batter will rise up and around the peaches.
Pull from the oven and put the OatmealL/Bacon Streusel (SEE RECIPE BELOW) over the top. Bake for 15 more minutes. Serve with ice cream.
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 ounces melted butter
1 cup maple-cured bacon, cooked crisp and diced
Melt the butter. Combine all ingredients with the butter. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the cobbler. Serve with ice cream.