Category Archives: Dessert

Fresh Market: Sweets and cooking demos

The Fresh Market, that grocery utopia at 1800 N. Rock Road that has enchanted foodies and cooks from east to west Wichita, is putting on a few food events this weekend.

One is a fundraiser called The Hope Floats Sidewalk Sale. Fresh Markets across the country participate in the event, which raises money for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In exchange for a $1 or $2 donation, Fresh Market customers will be served a root beer floats, hot dogs, sundaes and chocolate chunk cookies from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Sugar-free options also will be available, and all proceeds will go to the foundation.

Also, a “Fresh Flavors” cooking demonstrations will be put on from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday in the store.  A chef will show how to prepare Atlantic salmon with tomato basil caper sauce and fresh spinach and red onion salad. The recipe is below.

For more information, call 316-315-0020.

Atlantic salmon with tomato basil caper sauce and fresh spinach and red onion salad

2 (6 oz.) Atlantic Salmon fillets, skin removed
to taste salt and pepper
2 tablespoons “O” Roasted Garlic Olive Oil
1/3 cup Concannon Chardonnay
1 cup Cucina Antica Tomato Basil cooking sauce
1 tablespoon TFM capers, drained and chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

Season salmon with salt and pepper. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat for 2 minutes, until very hot. Add olive oil and swirl to coat. Add salmon and cook, flesh side down, for 2 minutes. Reduce heat slightly; carefully turn salmon fillets and continue to cook until salmon begins to flake, about 5-7 minutes or until your desired level of doneness. Remove to a serving platter and set aside. Remove pan from heat and add wine, scraping up any browned bits from the pan. Add cooking sauce and capers. Combine thoroughly and heat through, about 3 minutes. Pour sauce over the salmon fillets and garnish with fresh basil and an additional drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.


Beth Tully somehow FAILED to mention something pretty pertinent to me when we were discussing her rare Peruvian chocolate last week.

Tully’s Cocoa Dolce recently has teamed up with Heroes Sports Bar in Old Town to create an intriguing dessert option: chocolate-covered sweet pepper bacon.

Heroes started selling pre-wrapped slices of its famous sweet pepper bacon, coated in chocolate and dusted with sea salt, about a week ago. They cost $3.50 each or $9 for three strips.

I’m a sweet-n-salty-aholic, so this idea appeals to me. If you can’t get to Heroes, you could try out this recipe for bacon brownies, which I made for a River Festival fireworks party in May. Worth every calorie.

For more information, call Heroes at 316-264-4376.

Everyone loves a pastry chef

My story for this week’s Go! section, which prints in the morning, is about Kira Ottaway, a young pastry chef and Derby native who is mixing up decadent creations at both Luca Italian Kitchen and GreenAcres Market.

I became aware of her when her mom called to note that I’d left out mention of the desserts in my review of Luca. I immediately decided to write about Kira, not only because Wichita has so few female chefs but also because she has one of my dream jobs. Making dessert for a living? Every day? What could be better??

When I went to talk to Kira, it was the morning of Valentine’s Day. She was busy in the Luca kitchen coating brownies in beautiful chocolate ganache. I had to dance around as I watched to avoid the frantic cooks trying to prepare sauces and breads for the busy dining day. Chef Gianluca Sciagata was in the back wielding a huge knife. I love seeing behind the scenes at a restaurant, and the Valentine’s Day vibe was particularly fascinating.

Kira was earnest and sweet and very sincere. I hope you enjoy reading about her as much as I enjoyed writing about her.

Five fun food-and-drink fundraisers

It’s fundraiser season, which is my favorite season. Over the course of February and March each year, several organizations put on fancy parties that include food, wine and frivolity. If you want to go (trust me, you DO want to go), it’s time to get your tickets. Here are the ones I know about.

Cocktails & Cookies: This annual fundraiser, scheduled for 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Drury Plaza Broadview, benefits Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland. It includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, sweet cocktails and desserts prepared by local chefs using Girl Scout Cookies as a main ingredient. Tickets are $100 a person at I’m a dessert judge at the event, so I’ll see you there.

Uncorked Wine Tasting and Auction: This event also is on Feb. 25 at the Derby Public Library in Derby and raises money for the Derby Community Foundation’s Community Enrichment Grant Program. It will include food from local restaurants, wine tasting stations, Cocoa Dolce chocolates and an art auction. Tickets are $35 a person and available at the Derby Welcome Center, 611 N. Mulberry, Ste. 200, or by calling 316-788-9815 or by e-mailing

A Night on the Red Carpet: The third annual Oscar-night party, a fundraiser for Episcopal Social Services, is on Sunday, Feb. 26, at Abode Venue, 1330 E. Douglas. It’s a fun, black-tie optional party that this year will feature food from Carrabba’sLarkspur and Luca Italian Kitchen plus drinks, a showing of the 84th Annual Academy awards, local celebrities on the “red carpet,” live music and a live and silent auction. Tickets are $75 a person or $850 for a table of 10. More information about the party can be found at The Eagle also has two sets of tickets to give away, which we will do at noon on Monday. If you want to enter to win a set of tickets, visit the Facebook page and scroll down till you find the giveaway. All you have to do is hit “like” on the post. I’m the emcee of this one, so I’ll see you there.

Palette to Palate: This second-annual fundraiser benefits KETCH and will be at 7 p.m. March 3 at the Drury Plaza Broadview. It’ll feature food from restaurants such as Luca Italian Kitchen, Newport Grill, Bocconcini Italian Eatery and more. It also offers a wine tasting and art auction. Tickets are $60 a person by visiting

Death by Chocolate: Exploration Place’s sixth annual Death by Chocolate fundraiser is a wonderland of chocolate-y goodness. It includes unlimited chocolate creations and drinks from local bakers and restaurants. It’s from 7 to 10 p.m. on March 31, and tickets are $75 a person

Squeezer’s Palace a bright spot in Riverside

I’ve gotten a lot of e-mail  over the past few weeks from new-found fans of Squeezer’s Palace, a colorful and whimsical new walk-up ice cream shop that opened a few weeks ago at 11th and Bitting, right across the street from the Riverside Perk.

The shop, opened by Kirk David, is a take-off on the Squeezer’s Palace that operated about three blocks away back in the 1970s. David’s version offers ice cream or yogurt and a variety of toppings, such as fruit, candy and granola. He also serves frozen bananas dipped in dark or light chocolate, with or without nuts, and a variety of fresh-made fruit smoothies.

David hopes to remain open through the winter, despite his original plans to close during December, January and February, and is considering adding coffee drinks and make-your-own s’mores to menu. He’s also working on a patio.

There was a little drama a few weeks ago about the fact that David was using the Squeezer’s Palace name, displeasing the original Squeezer’s Palace owner. He briefly considered changing the name but was urged by several people to go a head with it. He never heard from the displeased former owner and decided to keep to his original plan.

I drove past the building last week and loved the way it looks, covered in playful murals created by local artist Rick Regan.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.

Did someone say limoncello bread pudding?

Limoncello bread pudding

Carrabba’s proprieter Joe Parten has been telling me for a while that his restaurant was about to add some new seasonal specials to the menu.

But he didn’t happen to mention that one of them would be LIMONCELLO BREAD PUDDING. Does this sound beyond fabulous to anyone but me?

Among the other specials Carrabba’s will be offering through late June:

A Parmesan-crusted chicken topped with fresh arugula and grape tomatoes tossed in a lemon vinaigrette and served with choice of side for $16.90.

Prosciutto-wrapped pork tenderloin medallions that are grilled and topped with an apple and fig infused port wine sauce and served with the vegetable of the day for $16.10.

And then there’s that beautiful limoncello bread pudding, which is made with brioche, Madagascar vanilla beans and rich custard then topped with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of Caravella limoncello liqueur sauce. It takes 20 minutes to make it, so diners are advised to order early in their meal. It’s $8.

Joe also sent some pictures of the other dishes over, and there’s nothing I love more than pretty food pictures.

Parmesan-crusted chicken arugula

Prosciutto-wrapped pork tenderloin

Death By Chocolate is Saturday

If there’s a good way to go, this is it.

Death by Chocolate, a sweet annual fundraiser for Exploration Place, is this Saturday at the venue, 300 N. McLean.

I’ve attended the past two years, and I can attest that this event offers the impossible:

Too. Much. Chocolate.

Last year's panel of chocolate judges included, from left, Brett Harris, Tracy Cassidy, Joe Stumpe, yours truly, Suzanne Perez Tobias and Kathy Deane.

Death by Chocolate features people all dressed up roaming the common areas of Exploration Place and sampling chocolate treats from some of Wichita’s best sweetmakers: Cocoa Dolce, Connie’s Cookies, Freddy’s Frozen Custard, the Airport Hilton, etc.

This is a place where you’ll find no-bakes next to cupcakes next to cookies covered in edible glitter. Last year, we sampled a creation we haven’t stopped thinking about since: Melted chocolate and bacon sandwiched between two pieces of French toast and topped with powdered sugar.

Though I was supposed to be a judge at the event again this year, a family obligation has taken me away, and I am pretty upset about it. Suzanne has promised to sneak a few chocolate morsels into a Ziploc baggie in her purse.

Tickets are $75 a person and include access to chocolate, non-chocolate appetizers, three open bars serving wine and beer, live music, a fashion show and a viewing of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. (As if anyone cares now! Hrmph!)

For tickets visit the Exploration Place website or call 316-660-0671.

Cocktails & Cookies: What a sugar rush

My photography does not do this winning dessert from Hereford House justice. Also, please pardon my thumb.

I judged a fun event last night called Cocktails & Cookies, a fundraiser for The Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland that included a challenge for local chefs: Make the best possible dessert using Girl Scout Cookies as one (or more) of the ingredients.

Five restaurants entered the competition: Cocoa Dolce, Freddy’s Frozen Custard, Hereford House, Newport Grill and Cero’s.

My mission: To taste all the desserts and pick my favorite, then sit on a stage, trembling from sugar overload, and explain why I liked what I liked. What can I say? It’s a tough job…

The clear winner was Hereford House’s offering: A chocolate and brown butter banana cake with caramel sauce, brulee of bananas, and cinnamon ice cream. Chef Eric Hyre put four different cookies into the concoction, and it was amazing — especially the buttery brulee.

Here are a few other pictures from the evening:

Hereford House chef Eric Hyre shows off his creation.

Cocoa Dolce offered an amazing bite of sweet and salty chocolatey-ness called "The Kitchen Sink and the Baby, Too."

The Newport Grill team, including chef Aaron Whicomb (second from left), presented a lovely bite of lemon goodness that used the Lemonade Girl Scout Cookie.

It’s cookie time

So you somehow missed the Girl Scout cookie order forms at the office, at your kids’ school, in the neighborhood, etc.?

Impressive. But not good!

You have a chance to redeem yourself at an event called Treat the Troops, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, at the Old Chicago at 7626 E. Kellogg.

The event is designed to allow people to purchase Girl Scout Cookies to donate to McConnell Air Force Base and Kansas National Guard troops and their families.

Attendees also can buy more cookies for themselves, and anyone who buys 10 boxes will be entered to win a $100 Old Chicago Pizza Party. Buy 30 boxes and qualify for a $200 pizza party drawing.

And speaking of Girl Scout Cookies, there’s still time to buy your tickets to Cocktails & Cookies, a fabulous desserty event I’ll be participating in Thursday, March 3. It’ll take place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Wichita Marriott, 9100 Corporate Hills Drive. Tickets are $75 a person, and the event raises money for Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland.

Just because I can…


Just about now, the lunch in your stomach is starting to wear off and you’re thinking about reaching into your desk drawer for that little Butterfinger mini you swore you would not eat. (Oh, wait. That’s just me? Sorry.)

At any rate, it’s the perfect time for me to torture you with pictures of what I think are two of the tastiest desserts in town: Larkspur’s tiramisu and creme brulee. I’ve had a lot of tiramisu in this town, and I’m not sure anyone does it better than Larkspur. The creamy cheese sets perfectly around the spongy cake, and it all just… works. Same with the creme brulee, which features a crunchy sugar top and creamy custard center.

Any other nominations for killer Wichita desserts?