Spiced: A Pastry Chef’s True Stories

201110271701.jpgSpiced: A Pastry Chef’s True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the Kitchen by Dalia Jurgenson was the October Kitchen Reader selection and was chosen by Libbi of Domestic Wandering.

I’m back on the food memoir train. Lately, when I struggle to find inspiration or excitement in my cooking, reading a bit of a food memoir brings me right back into it. I just can’t help but let the author’s love of food rub off on me, and find myself eager to get back in the kitchen, testing recipes.

Sadly, I was a bit disappointed by my most recent food memoir, Spiced by Dalia Jurgensen. It just didn’t have the depth of emotion and thoughtfulness of books like Blood, Bones and Butter, Jacques Pepin’s The Apprentice or Ruth Reichl’s memoirs. It almost felt as if Jurgensen was merely laying out the various jobs she had worked and the desserts she made there, without taking the time to discuss how she felt about the jobs and how her work affected her social life beyond the most basic observations. She may have been protecting her friends and family by not mentioning them much, but in doing so, she lost a lot of the depth to her story.

I give this memoir 2 stars out of 5. If you are looking for a quick and easy read, this book will fit your needs. But if you’re looking for a fantastic chef’s or food writer’s memoir, this isn’t the first book I’d recommend.

More of my book reviews can be found here.

Butternut Squash and Apple Pizza


Two years ago, my blog was still a baby. I was chronicling everything I ate, something I quickly realized wasn’t the right fit for me. Occasionally, I shared a recipe.

I rarely link back to these recipes. Back then, my writing was a bit awkward and cheesy. My photos were small and fuzzy, at best. Who wants to eat food whose photo is dark and fuzzy? Nobody, that’s who.

But this pizza is too good of a recipe to be lost in the depths of my archives. I’ve made it several times over the past two years, and I love how the salty gorgonzola balances out the sweet caramelized onions and apples. I don’t usually like roasted squash in anything other than puree-form, but it is the perfect addition to this pizza.


I can’t allow this pizza recipe to be lost in my archives forever, overshadowed by my better-written and better-photographed recipes. It is just too good for that.


Butternut Squash and Apple Pizza

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: Serves 6-8

Butternut Squash and Apple Pizza

The toppings on this pizza are quite heavy, so I recommend cutting the pizza into small pieces. That way, the slices won't be wobbly and lose their delicious toppings. You likely won't use the entire butternut squash, so cover the extra and refrigerate for use in another recipe.


  • 1 pizza crust of your choice (I used this recipe)
  • 3 small apples
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil + more for brushing
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 ounces gorgonzola cheese


  1. Prepare your dough according to recipe or package instructions. While the dough rises, slice the apples and onions as thinly as possible.
  2. In a large stockpot, toss the apples and onions with 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and the salt. Cover and heat over low for 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring often, until the apples and onions are light brown and caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the stockpot.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the squash and chop it into a 1/2" dice. Measure out three cups of the squash and set the rest aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450F and grease a large baking sheet.
  5. Add the squash to the now-empty stockpot and toss with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the squash is softened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  6. Roll out and spread the crust to cover the baking sheet, then brush lightly with olive oil. Crumble the goat cheese over the crust, pressing down a bit to spread it and make it stick to the crust.
  7. Distribute the squash, apples and onions evenly over the crust. Crumble the gorgonzola over the pizza.
  8. Bake at 450F for 12-15 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted and the edges of the crust are firm. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.