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Chef Katherine Clapner on Julia Child, Bangkok and Her Own Smoky Torte | Pop-In@Nordstrom Eats

Over the monthlong course of Pop-In@Nordstrom Eats–the current, culinary edition of our always-changing Pop-In Shop–we’ll be bringing you interviews and recipes from some of the best and brightest chefs around. This series is in participation with our own powerhouse restaurants division as well as Cherry Bombe magazine, the beautiful publication focused on women and food. 


The term “badass chef” gets thrown around a lot, but we think you will agree it applies to Chef Katherine Clapner. She cycles 100 miles per week, runs a chocolate-focused mini empire called Dude, Sweet Chocolate in Dallas with zero frills and the highest-quality ingredients–and also happens to influence the national dessert scene as the designer of the sweets menu at P.F. Chang’s.

Below she expounds on favorite fruits, 1970s rock ‘n’ roll and provides a recipe for a severely delicious smoky-savory-slightly-sweet torte.

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Nordstrom blogs: If you were stranded on a desert island—a desert island which happened to have knives, fire, a stove, pots, pans, etc.—what would be the five most essential ingredients you’d want with you?
Katherine Clapner: Sugar, salt, olive oil, chocolate and cornmeal–in high hopes I could find eggs, meat, fruit and fish.

If you could cook for any person living or dead, who would it be? What would you make for them?
Julia Child and chocolate mousse.

kaleWhich culinary specialty from your region do you love the most? What’s another one that you think most outsiders don’t know about?
Tacos and fried chicken with equal love. And most folks do not know about Texas and its rich Czech heritage.

What’s your single favorite vegetable?



Sweet (food, not ingredient)?
Tarte tatin.

Savory (food, not ingredient)?

lemonHow about your “I’m having a bad day, I deserve this” go-to comfort food?
Roast chicken.

Please tell us about the best meal you’ve ever had and what you loved about it.
Nahm, in Bangkok. It was simply a mind-blowing experience of what Thailand was about, and I had it with Stephan Pyles. I mean, come on!

What’s on your perfect playlist for cooking at home?
’70s rock.

What inspired you to become a chef?
Feeding folks what they love and seeing them love it!

And now it’s time for the recipe…

6-8 portions

1 ¼ pound Dallas Mozzarella Company goat ricotta (may sub in local or other ricotta)
½ pound crème fraîche
13 cup cane sugar
5 eggs (room temperature)
1 jar Xilli mole poblano
2 teaspoons hickory smoke salt
¼ teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ tablespoon soy sauce
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Butter or pan-spray a 10-inch springform cake pan.
  3. In a medium bowl combine ricotta, crème fraîche and sugar and mix to slightly smooth. (The ricotta will never go fully smooth, and that is good for the lightness of the torte. Little lumps are very OK.)
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients until fully combined. Do not whip, just whisk as to not add air to the eggs!
  5. Combine both bowls until fully mixed together. The little lumps of ricotta will still be there and that’s OK.
  6. Pour into prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until set but still slightly jiggly. Turn off oven and cool in oven.

Best served at room temperature with either roasted fruits or heirloom tomato soup.