Friday, December 7, 2018

Chocolate Yule Log – This Bûche de Noël Only Looks Difficult

If you’ve never made a Yule Log because you thought it would take a lot of time and effort, then you probably made the right decision, since it does. But, if you haven’t tried this classic holiday dessert because you thought it required advanced baking and pastry skill, then get ready to bûche, since the techniques required are actually quite simple.

This classic holiday dessert is a showstopper, but it’s often better looking, than it is tasting, which is not the case with here, thanks to a simple-to-make, rich chocolate sponge cake, and mocha buttercream filling. Having said that, if you have a favorite frosting or filling, literally anything you can spread will work here. As long as you can slice it later, pretty much anything goes.

I forgot to add the vanilla extract, and I’ve made that correction in the ingredients below, but above and beyond what you add to the batter, you can also drizzle the baked sponge with many delicious, possibly adult beverages. Coffee liqueur is a great choice, as is dark rum, Kirsch, and Framboise, just to name a few. This practice probably started to cover up dry, overcooked cake, which of course would never be a problem for us, but even a perfectly cooked sponge can benefit if you’re so inclined.

As far as the decorations go, just a dusted and frosted Yule log makes for a great presentation, but half the fun is creating a scene around your log, and an image search should give you plenty of ideas. I may try to sneak in a video for how to do the meringue mushrooms, but not sure exactly when. Regardless of how you decorate it, or what you flavor it with, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one Chocolate Yule Log (8 portions):
NOTE: This was for a 13 X 18" sheet pan)
2 tablespoons melted butter for greasing pan
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 large room temperature eggs (do not use cold eggs)
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Bake at 400 F. for 8 to 10 minutes

For the filling:
NOTE: I though mine had too much buttercream, so I'd probably use 2/3 rd for this and save the rest for cupcakes)
1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup room temp butter
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons coffee liquor, and or any other flavoring or extract, or a splash of milk to achieve a light, fluffy buttercream
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese

Ganache frosting:
1 cup hot heavy cream
8 ounces dark chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate
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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Kimchi Pancakes – Come for the Savory Pancake, Stay for the Dancing Fish Flakes

I remember getting a request for kimchi pancakes many years ago, and while I recall being intrigued, apparently not enough to actually research the recipe, and do a video for it. That all changed after seeing it on a local bar menu, where Michele and I enjoyed not one, but two orders of these incredibly tasty, and visually thrilling, savory pancakes.

I loved the taste and texture, but what really got my attention were the dancing bonito flakes on top. I’d never seen anything quite like that, and found it as mesmerizing, as I did delicious. As I mentioned in the video, those kimchi pancakes came with a little drizzle of spicy mayonnaise, which depending on how decadent of an experience you’re going for, isn’t a bad idea, especially if you plan on frying these up, and cutting them in wedges to serve as a snack at a party.

If you want a thicker, and more substantial kimchi pancake, you want to use less liquid, or more flour, so that your batter isn't quite as runny as mine. Personally, I enjoy this style a little more, since you end up with a thinner pancake that’s crispy around the edges, but still moist and tender inside. Having said that, you should definitely experiment with different textures to see what you like best.

These are also a perfect catchall for leftover meat and vegetables. Just chop it up, toss it in, and see what happens. Speaking of seeing what happens, if you want to watch fish flakes dance, you’ll have to find some bonito, which means finding an Asian market, or buying them online, and I highly recommend you do just that. Either way, I really do hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 Appetizer Size Kimchi Pancakes:
1 1/2 cup chopped drained kimchi (12 ounce jar)
1 large egg
3 tablespoons kimchi juice
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
about 3/4 cup all purpose flour, or as needed
4 tablespoons bonito flakes for the top, optional
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Friday, November 30, 2018

Mini Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls – No Wings Were Harmed in the Making of This Snack

These mini buffalo chicken egg rolls remind me of the time I ordered something called “boneless Buffalo wings,” many years ago. Like all Western New Yorkers, I have a deep affection for this messy, but delicious snack, and so I was very excited about being able to enjoy some without having to deal with the wing bones.

As I waited for my order, I felt sorry for whichever prep cook had been given the tedious task of de-boning them. However, my sympathy was unwarranted, since what they were calling “boneless buffalo wings” were nothing more than strips of fried chicken breast, coated in the same sauce. While happy for the prep cook, I was disappointed they weren’t wings.

So, it’s a little bit ironic that all these years later, I'm now using chicken breast to create a Buffalo wing alternative, but at least I’m not trying to trick anybody. That aside, these really do have a very similar flavor profile, and I should probably be more concerned with the people who are going to be upset I’m calling these egg rolls.

What’s not going to upset anybody is just how great a party snack these really do make, and not just because they’re delicious. Even sober people make a mess eating actual buffalo chicken wings, but that’s not going to be an issue here, thanks to their very user-friendly design. So, if you’re planning a party soon, I really do hope you give these a try. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 14 to 16 Mini Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls:
8 ounces diced cooked chicken breast
1/3 cup diced celery
2 ounces blue cheese
2 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
14 to 16 square wonton wrappers
more Louisiana hot sauce for dipping
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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Lemon Gingersnap Posset – A Lemon Pudding to Die For

This lemon posset seems too good to be true. Not only does it feature a rich, thick, luxurious texture, and intense, clean citrus taste, but it’s also egg-free, starch-free, and gelatin-free. As if that wasn’t enough, it only takes three ingredients, and could not be easier to make. Notwithstanding its calorie count, this may be the perfect special occasion dessert.

Like I said in the video, I used lemon since my posset was being paired with gingersnap crumbs, but the first time I ever had this it was done with lime and graham cracker crumbs, and was equally stellar. Next time I think I’ll try it with both, since once you experience this magical mixture, there’s always going to be a next time.  

This reminds me a lot of lemon curd, especially with how perfectly it pairs with fresh seasonal fruit, but the lemon flavor is even more intense, despite actually using less juice. It’s also significantly faster and easier to make. So yes, this does seem too good to be true, and yet somehow it is, which is why I really do hope you give this lemon posset a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes 4 Portions of Lemon Gingersnap Posset:
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup white sugar
1 generous tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup crushed gingersnaps, or other crunchy cookie
4 or 5 teaspoons melted butter, or enough to moisten crumbs
whipped cream and seasonal fruit to garnish
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