Amanda Cook-Pilkerton, Pastry Chef, Centrolina

Amanda Cook-Pilkerton is the pastry chef at Centrolina, Amy Brandwein’s dual-concept Italian restaurant and marketplace in CityCenterDC. Cook-Pilkerton most recently led the pastry department at the acclaimed Cookshop in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. Cook-Pilkerton’s new position at Centrolina marks a return to her hometown, where she previously worked alongside Eric Ziebold as the pastry chef at CityZen. Cook-Pilkerton began her restaurant career at Roberto Donna’s celebrated Galileo. She received a pastry certificate from L’Academie de Cuisine, where she graduated with honors, and also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science and Technology from Virginia Tech. More at:


One 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
Half vanilla bean, scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup whipping cream, soft whipped

Graham crumbles:
1 stick (4oz) cold butter, cut up
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
Dash vanilla extract

Raspberry Sauce:
1 pint raspberries
1 tablespoon, or more, sugar
Lemon juice, to taste
Salt, pinch

Freshly sliced peaches and raspberries, to taste

For Mousse:
Beat cream cheese with sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add flavoring, salt and lemon juice. Fold in soft whipped cream. Scoop into serving dishes and chill until serving time

For Crumbles:
Combine all together in mixer with paddle attachment until crumbly. Spread into a lined baking sheet and bake 350F until golden brown and fragrant. Cool completely, break up into bite sized pieces

For Raspberry Sauce:
Combine all together in a blender or use a stick blender until puréed. Add more sugar if necessary. Strain to remove seeds and chill until ready to use. 

To Serve:
Top cheesecake mousse with fresh sliced market peaches and raspberries, raspberry sauce and graham crumbles

Oven-roasting summer ripe tomatoes is a great way to bring out their sweetness! Meaty Romas are the best variety for oven roasting, but anything soil-grown and vine-ripened will do the trick. We eat these with poached eggs, on a sandwich, or folded into hot pasta with chopped herbs and grated cheese. They keep for about one week in the refrigerator. You can also freeze them and use them this winter in a roasted tomato soup or pasta sauce. 

Makes approximately  one quart.


3 pounds sun-ripened tomatoes, preferably Romas
5 unpeeled garlic cloves
1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary 
2 teaspoons salt


Pre-heat oven to 325 ºF. Wash tomatoes and slice in half length-wise. Place them cut side down on a rimmed cookie sheet (a.k.a  half sheet pan) lined with parchment paper or a non-stick silicone baking mat. Tuck the garlic cloves and herbs among the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. 

Bake for one hour, remove pan from oven and carefully turn each tomato over so it is cut side up. Bake for another 45 minutes and check on them. I f you want to cook them longer, lower oven to 300 ºF and cook another 30 minutes.  The tomatoes are done when they are shriveled but still moist. 

Allow them to cool completely and store, along with garlic and any accumulated liquid, in an airtight container.

Chef Wes Morton 

Grated raw corn adds sweetness (and fiber) to these fluffy cornmeal griddle cakes (or pancakes).  Adding blueberries is optional. Serve with maple syrup or jam and butter. 
Serves four to six. 

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup fine cornmeal 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, separated
1 cup grated raw corn (approximately 4 ears)
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for cooking
1/2 cup blueberries (optional)

Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and soda, and salt  in a medium bowl and whisk together.  In another medium bowl whisk together egg yolks, grated corn, buttermilk, sugar, and vanilla. Mix in melted butter. In another bowl, beat egg whites to form soft peaks (an electric hand mixer works well for this). Combine wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined and fold eggs in last, making sure not to over work the batter. 

Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed frying ban (nonstick or a well-seasoned cast iron works well)  and cook pancakes over medium heat. If using blueberries, dot each pancake with a few berries before flipping. 

Roasted Okra


Adapted from

If you think you don't like okra or have only ever eaten it fried, you've got to try this easy (slime-free) preparation.  Roasting okra brings out nutty, sweet notes, and the diced jalapeño adds a bit of heat.  If you don't like things very spicy, you can half the jalapeño or omit all together. 

Serves 6 as a side dish. 

1 1/2 pounds okra (pick small, unblemished pods), cut length-wise into quarters
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 - 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
jalapeño, seeds removed and diced 
Freshly grated black pepper to taste 

optional garnish: chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice.

Pre-heat oven to 400° F.

Line a rimmed cookie sheet (a.k.a. a half sheet pan) with parchment paper. Toss okra with remaining ingredients and put on cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until soft and slightly crispy, approximately  30 to 40 minutes. 

Serve hot with optional garnish.