Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

Living in Los Angeles, few things truly invoke the feeling of Autumn.  The palms trees that frame the avenues, swaying ever so violently in the Santa Ana winds, do not burn with orange and gold leaves.  Even at night, temperatures rarely dip below sixty degrees.  So, in addition to strident insistence on wearing sweaters because it is October, guys, the thing that signals the beginning of Fall in the modern era is … the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.

When I managed a restaurant at the base of an office building in downtown LA, we would get requests frequently for our version of the beverage, and so I (a former Starbucks barista myself) developed a Pumpkin spice syrup for our bar, that I will happily share with you now, in consideration of the current Pumpkin Spice syrup shortage of 2012

I do something a little differently with my syrup, cutting the amount of sugar in the base mix and adding sweetened condensed milk, but I like the body that the sweetened condensed milk gives to the final product.  The cinnamon/pumpkin/condensed milk combo adds creamy richness and warmth to whatever you add this syrup to– coffee, latte, hot chocolate, a little brandy and creme de cocao shaken over ice…

If you don’t want to use the sweetened condensed milk, then just increase the brown sugar to 1 1/2 cups.

Recipe after the jump

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Hospitality @ Home: Beef Carpaccio

beef carpaccio recipe


Beef carpaccio is one of those dishes that looks incredibly ambitious.  The fact that it’s main component is raw beef can seem daunting to the home cook, as well.   But it is a dish that can be easily replicated at home, if given the proper preparation.

First and foremost, get the best, freshest, highest quality beef you can find.  You don’t need a lot of it, half a pound easily serves 4-5 appetizer portions, but it needs to be great quality.  If you have a local butcher, then get your meat there.  I generally use Filet Mignon when I make carpaccio, but tenderloin works just as well.

As long as you start with the highest quality meat, and keep it below 41 degrees F until it is consumed, you shouldn’t have any worries about contamination or food borne illness.  I like to put my serving plates in the freezer before I plate this dish, also, to help keep the meat at a nice, cold temperature.

Beef Carpaccio with Horseradish Vinaigrette

adapted from Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking

1/2 lb of organic, Prime Filet Mignon (fresh, not frozen)

1 cup arugula

Horseradish Vinaigrette

2 egg yolks

2 TBS dijon mustard

1 TBS sugar

2 TBS red wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1 TBS prepared horseradish

1 tsp fresh chopped parsely

1 tsp fresh chopped tarragon


Place the meat, well wrapped, into your freezer to firm up while you put together your vinaigrette (if you are prepping your vinaigrette in advance, just freeze the meat for an hour before you slice it).

In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, mustard, sugar, and vinegar. Mix well.  Whisk in the oil drop by drop, as though making a mayonnaise.  When all oil is incorporated, add the horseradish, parsley, and tarragon.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
Remove filet from freezer (after allowing 30minutes to 1 hour for the meat to firm up).  Slice the meat, carefully, with a very sharp knife into 1/2 slices.  Place a slice of meat  between two sheets of oiled plastic wrap or parchment paper.  Roll, gently, with a rolling pin until translucent and doubled in size.  Peel away one layer of plastic wrap, place the meat on a chilled plate, then remove the other piece of plastic.  Repeat for each slice of meat.  Drizzle with horseradish vinaigrette, and top with arugula.