From practical to playful, inspired recipes that reveal the hidden potential of plants
At the award-winning restaurant, The Acorn, plants are celebrated: explored, enhanced, coaxed with creativity, and dressed for a night of being the center of attention and the phenomenal focus of every plate. In their first cookbook, Shira Blustein and Brian Luptak—The Acorn’s owner and chef—share their truly unique recipes, highlighting the endless possibilities that come when cooking with the seasonal and wild-crafted ingredients gifted to us by nature. Defying categorization, with dishes that are anything but predictable, this cookbook will leave even the staunchest of meat-eaters satisfied.
The recipe chapters are structured by season, with an Essentials chapter at the start of the book—full of pickles, vinegars, oils, and plant-based alternatives—and a Cocktails chapter at the back. All the recipes are broken into components, and range from the simple but sublime Spring Radishes with Ashed Spring Onion Almond Sauce, Fried Garlic Scapes or Stinging Nettle Soup, to the intriguing Fried Zucchini Blossoms with Fermented Zucchini Purée and Apricot Chili Sauce, Smoked Caramelized Parsnip and Potato Pâté, or Squash and Chanterelle Gnocchi. And the recipes focus on minimizing waste and maximizing the potential of each plant—as the stems of one recipe become the pickled star of another.
Encouraging us all to be adventurous with our vegetables, Acorn offers a year’s worth of seasonal recipes, infused with brilliant creativity. Visually compelling, and masterfully thought through, Acorntakes vegetarian cooking to the next level, and is a cookbook to read, admire, and inspire.
Cannoli Shells, Apple Butter Cream, Apple Butter, Salted Diced Apple, Pickled Pacific Crab Apples
Serves 6 | We love this classic Italian dessert because you can truthfully fill the shells with whatever is in season! They’re a flaky pastry vessel for anything sweet and delicious. We initially brought this on the menu and filled it with a vanilla aquafaba, then changed it to this Apple Butter for autumn. “Sometimes the menu changes so often that I can’t even remember last week’s dessert, but I do remember the cannoli being proper—tubby, addictive, and aesthetically quite pleasing!” says Chef Devon Latte.
Note | You will need cannoli forms to make this recipe. You can buy them at your local kitchen supply store.
SALTED DICED APPLE /
3 Gala apples, cut in small dice
3 Granny Smith apples, cut in small dice
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 tbsp sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Makes 1 cup | In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together thoroughly, then spread the apples out evenly on a dehydrator sheet. Dry on medium (145°F) for 12 hours. Alternatively, you can dry them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in your oven at 165°F (with the door cracked open) for approximately 4 hours. Once fully dry and crispy, store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.
APPLE BUTTER /
6 allspice berries
5 cardamom pods
6 Gala apples, cored and sliced
½ cup pitted Medjool dates
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup soy milk
Makes 1½ cups | In a medium saucepot on medium- high heat, toast the allspice berries, cardamom, and cloves for 30 seconds to 1 minute to release the oils and aromatics. Remove from the heat and place on a cheesecloth, then tie the cheesecloth into a sachet. Lower the heat to medium, add the apples and dates to the pot, and sweat until the apples start to caramelize. Add ¼ cup water and the sugar, salt, cinnamon, and spice sachet and cook, stirring often, until the liquid has completely reduced and the mixture is dark and caramelized. Stir in the soy milk and continue to cook for 5 more minutes then remove from the heat. Working in small batches, transfer the mixture to a Vitamix and puree to a smooth consistency. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
CANNOLI SHELLS /
½ tbsp ground flaxseeds
1¾ cups all-purpose flour + ½ cup for dusting the dough
2 tbsp sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp vegetable shortening
1⁄3 cup soda water
8 cups canola oil
Makes 12 cannoli shells | To make a flax egg, place the ground flaxseeds and 1½ tbsp water in a small bowl and mix well.
Sift the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, and add the flax egg, sugar, cinnamon, vegetable shortening, and soda water. Mix on low speed until everything is incorporated. Remove the dough from the bowl, form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour and up to 3 days. If tightly wrapped, this dough will also freeze well for up to 6 months.
Shape the Cannoli | Remove the dough from the fridge and split into 12 evenly sized balls (these will weigh about 0.4 oz and be approximately 1 tbsp of dough each). Using a rolling pin, roll out each ball to a 4-inch circle. Lightly dust each circle with flour. Set up a bowl of water with a pastry brush before you begin shaping. Using stainless-steel cannoli forms, wrap each circle of dough loosely around the forms, making sure there is a slight gap between the dough and the tube. Brush the edge of the dough with water to help the dough to stick to itself. Overlap the dough slightly by approximately ½ inch and press the dough down onto itself, pinching the edges lightly to secure.
Fry the Cannoli | In a heavy-bottomed, high-sided pot, heat the canola oil to 350°F. Working in small batches, carefully drop the cannoli tubes (still wrapped to the forms) into the oil and fry until golden, rotating halfway through cooking to make sure all sides are cooked, approximately 2 minutes. Using tongs, carefully remove the cannoli shells from the pot and transfer to a kitchen towel or paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Allow them to cool for 1 minute before handling. Carefully slide the cannoli off the forms and repeat this process until all the dough is used up. Allow the cannoli shells to fully cool, then store in a dry, airtight container until you are ready to serve. Store at room temperature for up to 5 days.
APPLE BUTTER CREAM /
1¼ cups heavy cream
½ cup + 1 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp milk powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup Apple Butter (see above)
Makes 6 cups | In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, place the cream, icing sugar, milk powder, and vanilla extract. Whip on high speed until fluffy and thick. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can whisk the cream by hand—it just might take a little longer! Turn the speed down to medium and fold in the Apple Butter. Once folded, remove the bowl from the mixer and hand-mix with a spatula to make sure the Apple Butter is well incorporated. Transfer to a piping bag and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before filling your cannoli shells.
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 recipe Cannoli Shells (see above)
1 recipe Apple Butter Cream
½ cup Apple Butter (see above)
1 recipe Salted Diced Apple (see above)
¼ cup Pickled Pacific Crab Apples
Icing sugar, for dusting
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill the bottom of a medium pot with 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Add the chocolate to a stainless-steel or Pyrex bowl and carefully set the bowl in the hot water to melt the chocolate. Stir occasionally to make sure it’s evenly melted. Once melted, dip each end of each Cannoli Shell in the melted chocolate, then set on the prepared baking sheet and allow to cool.
Cut the tip off the piping bag filled with Apple Butter Cream and fill both ends of the cannoli with the cream, making sure to add enough that it reaches the center inside the pastry shell.
Lay out six plates and place two filled cannoli on each. Garnish with dollops of Apple Butter, Salted Diced Apple, and a few Pickled Pacific Crab Apples. Sprinkle icing sugar over each plate.
Excerpted from Acorn by Shira Blustein. Copyright © 2021 Shira Blustein. Photography by Gabriel Cabrera. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.