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Sticky Banana Pudding Cake with Maple-Bourbon Syrup and Bourbon-Soaked Cherries

Sticky banana pudding cake with maple-bourbon syrup and bourbon-soaked cherries

 

There comes a time in life where you have to accept the fact that you are an adult and need to make adult decisions. Case in point: embracing the decision to drink (and like!) bourbon. With the guidance of bourbon-aficionado friends, I gradually adopted the taste for it. It was a deliberate process– initially, adding water and ice to the bourbon to mellow it out, and then decreasing the amounts each time I imbibed until I became accustomed, and appreciated, the flavor of the bourbon itself. Tasting different varieties of bourbon and figuring out which ones I preferred was an adventure in and of itself (and continues to be!) during my introductory phase. I very quickly learned that I favored a dry, spicy bourbon as opposed to a sweeter one. I can now say in earnest that I love drinking bourbon and always have it stocked in my bar. Being an adult isn’t so bad after all.

 

 

Sticky banana pudding cake with maple-bourbon syrup and bourbon-soaked cherries

 

Now that I’ve thoroughly divulged my regard for bourbon, it should come as no shock that I make a cake with it. This banana pudding cake is sticky. It’s luscious and sinful. The banana cake itself is delicious and custard-like but melts in your mouth. The real showstopper here is the maple-bourbon syrup that awaits you at the bottom. Warm and gooey, this pooled and drizzled over the cake is complete rapture. Serve it with ice cream (butter pecan, here) and powdered sugar and you’ll be one very happy adult.

 

 

Sticky banana pudding cake with maple-bourbon syrup and bourbon-soaked cherries

 

Sticky Banana Pudding Cake with Maple-Bourbon Syrup and Bourbon-Soaked Cherries

Prep Time: 12 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons kerrygold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup good maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 8 bourbon-soaked cherries, stemmed and halved
  • butter pecan or vanilla ice cream, for serving
  • powdered sugar, for serving

Instructions

  1. preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. in a 2 1/2 quart baking dish, melt the butter in the microwave. add the sugar and mashed banana; whisk to combine. whisk in the egg and milk.
  3. in a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt; add flour mixture to the baking dish in batches, whisking to combine batter.
  4. in a glass measuring cup, heat the maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup hot water in the microwave until hot, about 1 minute. pour in the bourbon. drizzle this syrupy mixture over the batter. do not stir, most of it will sink to the bottom. scatter the bourbon-soaked cherries over the top.
  5. set the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, until the top is golden; the middle will still jiggle like it’s not cooked but will set as it cools. wait at least 10 minutes before serving with ice cream and powdered sugar on top.

Notes

adapted from food & wine’s, maple-bourbon banana pudding cake

 

// Other ooey gooey syrupy sweet things:

 

 

 

 

Aji de Gallina

Aji de Gallina

 

If the short ribs I posted earlier this week elicit romance, opulence, and proper decorum, then ají de gallina resides on the opposite spectrum for when I eat this, I want nothing more than to cozy up in my favorite, most slouchiest pajama bottoms and go at this with a ravenous, no-holds-bar hunger that I’m certain is terribly unattractive, disheveled and wide-eyed as I appear. I have my reasons for looking so savage, I can assure you.

*growls, hunkering down over my plate*

Oh, how can I explain this to you. Ají de gallina to Peruvians is like macaroni and cheese to Americans. It is the ultimate in home-cooked, ooey, gooey, cheesy, slop-it-on-my-plate-and-just-let-me-eat-it-now comfort food. You don’t mull over this. You inhale it.

Ají de gallina is a creamy, spicy, chicken stew. Or, as the child of one of my clients’ so aptly calls it: chicken goop. She is not wrong. The chicken, once shredded, is left to simmer in the peppery ají amarillo sauce until thickened. Ladled over white rice, it is a mound of gooey chickenstuff. But, as with many things, this is so much more than it appears.

The suppleness from the rotisserie chicken with the etherealness of the creamy, piquant sauce intertwine so harmoniously together the mouthfeel is something I find tremendously pleasing. The blanket of rice offers a nice toothsome quality to each bite, and the egg delivers an extra dose of heavenly awesomeness.

As I write this, I am overjoyed at the promise of eating this for dinner. And I can say with total confidence that I will wake up tomorrow morning, brighter-eyed and more bushier-tailed than normal because I’ll know what awaits me for breakfast. No, I don’t play by the rules.

 

 

Aji de Gallina

 

Aji de Gallina

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 rotisserie or roasted chicken, skinned and shredded; juices reserved
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons good butter, like kerrygold
  • 1 large yellow onion (use regular, not sweet), chopped
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 ají amarillo peppers; 2 seeded, 1 whole with seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 5 slices white sandwich bread, crust removed and torn into little pieces
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock (made with reserved juices + a good chicken stock base, like better than bouillon)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • steamed white rice, to serve
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, quartered, to serve

Instructions

  1. set a medium frypan on the stove and turn up the heat to medium-high. to this, add the canola oil, butter, onion, garlic, ají amarillo, salt, and pepper. cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent and everything smells unbelievably fragrant; about 7 minutes. let cool for a few minutes.
  2. toss the walnuts into a blender. add in the onion and ají amarillo mixture, the torn bread pieces, and then pour the chicken stock over the bread to absorb. blend this until totally smooth.
  3. pour this lovely, intoxicating sauce to a large saucepot and add the evaporated milk. turn on the heat to medium-low and let this come to a slight simmer. mix in the parmesan cheese. tumble in the shredded chicken and let everything thicken slightly; just a few minutes.
  4. serve this over white rice and top with sliced, hard-boiled eggs. enjoy, amigos. this is the ultimate in peruvian comfort food.

Notes

ají amarillo peppers can be found in latin american grocery stores– i favor using the bagged, frozen kind, but if you can’t find those, try using the ones found whole and jarred; just rinse them before using. if you use aji amarillo paste, add two tablespoons to this sauce. these peppers aren’t super spicy so i like to use at least the seeds of one whole ají, but if you’d rather not use seeds at all that is an option, too. i also can’t stress enough the importance of using the juice from the rotisserie chicken– there is so much flavor there it would be blasphemy not to.

 

 

// More Peruvian comfort food type things

 

 

 

 

 

 

Braised Short Ribs with Chile and Coconut + Creamy Polenta

Braised Short Ribs with Chile and Coconut + Creamy Polenta

 

If you asked me what the perfect, most-romantic, make-my-heart-go-aflutter meal looks like, it would be this. Sumptuous short ribs, braised for hours in a coconut and chile infused sauce and perched atop a blanket of soft polenta is exactly what my mouth craves on cold, winter evenings. Paired with a bold, full-bodied glass of red wine it is absolute perfection.

This is seduction on a plate. I’ve oftentimes made this just for myself to enjoy for several days but it’s even better shared with someone you love. Turn on some sexy music, dim the lights, and celebrate life. Savor every morsel.

 

Chile and Coconut-Braised Short Ribs + Creamy Polenta

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 4-6

Ingredients

    for the short ribs:
  • 3 1/2 pounds bone-in, beef short ribs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder (i love to use new mexico chile powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, deveined and deseeded, if desired, and minced (i like to keep about half the seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 – 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
  • zest and juice of 2 limes
  • fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving
    for the polenta:
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup medium-grain polenta (i love bob’s red mill)
  • 2 tablespoons good butter, like kerrygold
  • 8 ounces neufchatel cheese, room temperature

Instructions

    for the short ribs:
  1. preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. season the beef with the salt, chili powder, and black pepper. in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the coconut oil. add the beef and cook until browned on both sides, about 4-6 minutes; you may need to do this in two batches. add the garlic, jalapenos, ginger, shallot, and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, until everything is intoxicatingly fragrant and golden, about 2 minutes.
  3. pour in the coconut milk, lime zest and juice, and 1/2 cup water; stir. bring liquid to a simmer, then cover and transfer the pot to the oven. cook the meat for an hour and then turn the meat over. continue to cook for another 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until the beef is very tender and begins to just fall off the bone. serve over creamy polenta and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro. devour with large glass of full-bodied red wine.
    for the polenta:
  1. in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, add the water and salt. let this come to a boil and slowly add the polenta, stirring. drop in the butter. stir and lower the heat to a simmer. let this cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. turn off the heat and tumble in the neufchatel cheese; stir into the polenta. taste for seasonings. serve hot!

Notes

short ribs adapted from melissa clark’s recipe in her cookbook: cook this now

polenta adapted from elise bauer at simply recipes

in her original recipe, melissa clark uses boneless beef short ribs. i’ve made this using both the boneless and bone-in variety. while they both yield delicious results, i always lean towards bone-in because i love the presentation as well as the boosted flavor and viscosity the bones provide for the sauce. if you opt to use boneless, you need only use 2 pounds of beef short ribs rather than the 3 1/2 pounds i have listed.

// Other cozy-up, wintery things

 

 

 

 

sig3

Ceviche

Ceviche

 

Nothing says Peru to me more, than ceviche. It is the quintessential party food for Peruvians. It gives me so much joy to be sharing this recipe with you guys today because it truly is one of my favorites. To me, ceviche is symbolic of family and great moments spent together– things that we will always treasure in life.

Recently, my parents, sister and boyfriend came to visit for Thanksgiving. We spent most of our time in the kitchen of course– cooking, eating, and laughing. There may have also been some dancing involved.

Peruvian ceviche is fish marinated in lime juice and fresh chiles. Since the fish essentially gets cured and cooked from the acid in the lime juice, it’s really important you use the freshest fish you can find. Ceviche can be served with boiled sweet potatoes, Peruvian corn, and lettuce. Today, we opted to use niblets of Peruvian corn that offer a toothsome contrast to the silky softness of the ceviche.

 

Ceviche

Ceviche

Ceviche

 

Ceviche

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 pounds fresh firm, white fish like walleye, snapper, seabass; skinned
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • s + p, to taste
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 4-6 juicy limes
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and deveined, minced

Instructions

  1. cut fish into thin, bite-size pieces and place in a shallow bowl. toss with garlic and s + p. cover with plastic wrap so it sits on the surface of the fish and then place a bag of ice on top. let this sit on the counter for about 30 minutes.
  2. thinly slice the red onion and put in a small bowl with cold water. let this sit for about 20-30 minutes; this helps soften the bite of the red onion.
  3. add the lime juice and serrano chile to the fish; toss gently. you want enough lime juice so that the fish is submerged. let this sit for another 20-25 minutes or until the fish is opaque (which means it has been “cooked” from the acid of the lime juice). taste for seasoning.
  4. to serve, top with red onion slices and open up a cold one! this is the perfect appetizer to kickstart a small get-together!

Notes

this is my dad’s original recipe for ceviche, and while i may be biased, it’s the best i’ve ever tasted. it’s super simple to make with minimal ingredients but because of that, it is imperative you use only the freshest fish available. choose your fish from a local monger you trust! we were lucky to have scored a super fresh one from whole foods market for this recipe.

 

// More Peruvian party appetizer foodstuffs

 

 

 

 

 

sig3

 

 

Jim - I finally got around to making this. It was great! I did add some minced habanero because we like it extra spicy.

I have one question. The juice of my ceviche tasted more limey (tart?) than what I’m used to at Peruvian restaurants. Is that because of the type of lime or just because mine was super fresh and a restaurant’s may have been sitting for a lot longer?

Regardless, this will be my go-to ceviche recipe.

Thanks for making this available!

Jim

Maple Sheet Cake, Miss Jones Baking Co. + a Bake-it-Better Challenge

Maple Sheet Cake

 

There is something about the late, cooler months that reignites my desire to spend afternoons baking. The measured and methodical approach oftentimes associated with baking can be therapeutic and encourages me to slow down and breathe– a very important thing to do as we near the craziness of the holidays. Sifting, whisking, frosting are all great fun but let’s be honest and say our favorite part about baking is licking the batter off the spatula.

 

As pleasurable and satisfying as it is to bake something from scratch, I often seek ways to streamline recipes not only to make them approachable but also to simplify my life. And that’s where Miss Jones Baking Co. comes in. I was thrilled to find their products and even more so knowing they are from my hometown, The Bay Area.

 

Miss Jones Baking Co. Vanilla Cake Mix

 

Miss Jones Baking Co. cake mix and frosting are certified organic, non-GMO, plant-based, responsibly sourced, and contains no artificial colors or flavors. [yusss!!!]

Miss Jones Baking Co. is hosting a Bake-it-Better Challenge this holiday season and will donate $1 to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank for each entry into the contest. Once you submit your entry, you are eligible for the Grand Prize of over $1,000! Plus, the more treats you showcase, the more chances you have to win. Check out their contest page for the whole scoop.

 

Maple Sheet Cake

 

This maple sheet cake is a little slice of heaven and ridiculously easy to throw together. To the vanilla cake mix, I added cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger for warmth and spice. Instead of regular milk, I used evaporated milk for delectable richness. I dribbled in some maple extract to the vanilla frosting, spread it lavishly over the cake and scattered chopped chocolate toffee pieces on top. This tastes like a maple doughnut but better because sticky cake and toffee. So good.

 

Maple Sheet Cake

 

Maple Sheet Cake

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 8-10

Ingredients

  • 1 box of miss jones baking co. vanilla cake mix
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup melted, unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 container of miss jones baking co. vanilla frosting
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • chocolate toffee candy, chopped roughly

Instructions

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees. butter a 9×13 rectangular cake pan and put a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom with overhang on the sides.
  2. in a large bowl, combine miss jones. baking co. vanilla cake mix, eggs, evaporated milk, butter, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. pour cake batter into pan, smoothing the top. bake for 23-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. set to cool in the pan over a wire rack. carefully place cake on platter.
  3. put frosting, uncovered, into the microwave for 5-8 seconds to soften. scoop out into a medium bowl and mix in the maple extract. once cake has cooled, spread frosting on top. sprinkle chopped chocolate toffee pieces to finish.

 

 

 

Maple Sheet Cake

 

More cake cake cake cake cake cake // 

 

 

 

 

 

sig3