4.30.2018

MangiaMore: BOOZY yellow birthday cake and chocolate ERMINE frosting

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Oh, I do love a good birthday cake. Especially, when I get to make the cake for someone very special’s birthday. Not only do I get to make it, which is an odd mixture of stress and joy, but also I get to eat said cake, each step of the way. #anditsnotevenmybirthday

I have about a million tabs open on Chrome on my phone, so preparing to make this birthday cake merely involved thumbing through the tabs and some quick reference searching (can you make buttermilk? the answer is yes!).


It only seemed fitting that I make Hummingbird High’s boozy yellow birthday cake. There is something about eponymous about yellow cake and birthdays.   Annnnd Birthday is even in the name of the cake. Done. Yellow cakes have been a challenge for me—once a disaster, once a success— so I was excited to gain some more experience in yolky, buttery deliciousness. 
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Ten egg yolks, much sugar, and much butter, and a tired arm later, I gained that experience and a beautiful batter that was a pretty yellow and tasted like sugar cookie dough.
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Instead of orange peel to go with the Grand Marnier, I opted for almond extract mixed in the sugar before adding it to the rest of the concoction. Love, love almond cakes. This cake had just a hint of almond, but it definitely added an earthy opulence to this yellow birthday cake.
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Next came the frosting. The birthday boy has grown tired of traditional American buttercream frosting, but severely enjoyed the flour/ermine/boiled buttercream I made a while back, topping of a highly delectable almond sheet cake.  Yellow cake deserves chocolate frosting. So, I referred to Pastry Chef Online for a chocolate ermine frosting. This is where things got tricky. It started strong, but my cocoa powder was clumpy and that stayed through to the final result. Then, I was challenged with stubborn frosting. Something was separating, so I tried heat and cold and powdered sugar (even though the recipe did not call for it) and beating forever. In the end, it turned out ok, but it was less attractive than I wanted for a birthday cake. Oh well. Turned out pretty tasty, though: light and not too sweet, sweeping and fluffy.
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Then, there was the booze. I did not forget about the booze. What’s a celebration without booze!? Grand Marnier is not a staple in our household bar, so I went with Disaronno, our tried and true friend. All it took was a little heat, water, and sugar to make the sweet syrup that would be dabbed on the two layers. I say “dabbed” because without a pastry brush, improvisation was involved—that Downy paper towel. Wish I got more of that syrup onto the cake and less on my fingers. The bites where the cake absorbed the most of the sweet stuff were magnificent.
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All in all, I love birthday cake. And this cake definitely fit the bill. My birthday boy enjoyed it too, so I’m happy. I think we should start celebrating half birthdays, because more birthday cake… halfy birthday to you. 
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4.30.18
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10.08.2017

a ROYAL makeover: Kings of Kobe

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What is more classic than hamburgers and hot dogs? Nothing, except perhaps the regal American wagyu “Kobe style” counterparts at Kings of Kobe in Hell’s Kitchen. At Kings of Kobe, they have taken American favorites, elevated them with fine ingredients, and made them into royalty.  

Even though there is an on-the-go feel inside the small space, complete with colorful murals and fiery orange stools set against dark furniture, it is apparent that thoughtful innovation has inspired the most regal makeovers for the plain burger and dog. The small storefront on 9th Avenue offers big flavors, because King of Kobe dresses up what goes between the buns with a range of unexpected combinations that come together like classics. 
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Kings of Kobe is keen to lay on the fresh toppings and unique sauces for both their dogs and burgers. We are here for the freshness that comes in the form of fruit relishes, fresh vegetables, an assortment of cheeses, amongst others. Each addition works together to make the high-grade beef kingly.

There is nothing typical or bland about the list of hot dog and hamburger offerings.  Even the King’s Classic hot dog isn’t topped with just plain ol’ mustard, but there is sauerkraut and sautéed red onions to take it up a notch and the King’s Standard burger goes beyond the standard with roasted tomato, pickles, white cheddar, and a not-so-standard cherry pepper aioli. 
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The All Nighter hot dog at first glance seems more traditional: bacon, sautéed red onions, bleu cheese dressing. But Kings of Kobe would add on the surprising element of lemon zest. That brightness of lemon highlights the tang of the bleu cheese and brings out the sweetness of the onions and the saltiness of the bacon. It is not a battle of toppings that could outshine one another, but rather a song and dance that make us want to call the hot dog Your Highness.
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The Louis Louis has a lot going on underneath that bun. The burger is topped with spinach and a runny sunny side up egg, and crowned with a heaping pile of crunchy bacon and a thick drizzle of roasted garlic aioli. Here, the silky earthiness of the spinach overwhelms the burger, which is not quite front row center. Although an egg is reminiscent of breakfast, this egg does the savory work and pulls the flavors together with a smooth ribbon of yolk. The varying textures on this bun are pleasing and engaging.

Please, do not skimp on sides ranging from chili fries, to onion rings, to slaw, to a mixed green salad. The herbed truffle fries make you feel like a queen. There is the crunch, the aroma, the salt, all of the things one wants most from delicious fries.

And don’t forget dessert. After chowing down on the umami of layered savory hot dogs and burgers, give that sweet tooth a chance to come out and play with the royals. A tall twist of whipped cream hides the loose banana pudding studded with Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal in the playful All Hail the Banana dessert. Like with the savories, even the sweets play deliciously to American nostalgia.

Kings of Kobe has truly created the burger and hot dog monarchy.

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10.7.17
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8.22.2017

MangiaMore: BANANA stuff

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The age-old question arose again: What to do with those brown bananas?
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This time, the struggle was real. TBH I did not really want to bake because it has been like a million degrees outside so it has been a million^nth inside, and turning the oven on in my no air conditioner apartment would only make things worse. But with several bags of frozen brown bananas in the freezer and three on our counter, something had to be done. It was definitely a sweaty adventure.
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I adapted and doubled this banana bread donuts with brown butter glaze recipe for my brown bananas. Don’t have a doughnut pan, so that was out. Also, the only muffin tin that I have is for six and that would have taken ages and, hot. So I made nine muffins and a short loaf. In an effort to get out of the kitchen and save a few calories, I didn’t make the glaze, as sexy as it sounds. Also switched out sour cream for Greek yogurt and used a tad less brown sugar (mostly cause I didn’t have it) than called for.

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Haven’t made too many muffins in my lifetime. Why? I know not, because muffins are perfectly portioned (yass, portion control) and they are like a cupcake’s more wholesome twin. These turned out lovely, not too sweet except for the chunks of overripe bananas (my b, should have smushed them a tiny more). They are moist and light, but a nice dollop of plain yogurt on top will make them an ideal breakfast treat. Yup, counting down until breakfast tomorrow...
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8.22.17
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