Bûche de Noël

Joyeux Noël y’all! 

Peanut butter buttercream, vanilla sponge, dark cocoa “paint”, and chocolate ganache.

This is a traditional French cake served at my family Christmas. I included my favorite orange filling for this recipe, but you can use whatever filling you prefer, just be sure the “paint” reflects the flavor you use also.

Bûche de Noël – 10 servings
14 ounces dark chocolate chips (65-70%)
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, more for greasing pan
3/4 cup cake flour, plus more for pan
2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Paint: 2 tablespoons sugar + 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, or other orange-flavored liqueur
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Ganache: Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl and set aside. Bring cream and honey to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat; pour over the chocolate, cover with a plate and let sit for 1 minute. Remove plate,and whisk until smooth and shiny; let cool at room temperature until set and thick, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Cake: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13-inch x 18-inch rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat 2/3 cup sugar and eggs on high speed, about 8 minutes, until mixture falls back in thick ribbons when lifted from the whisk. Fold in cooled butter and flour. Spread batter into an even layer on bottom of prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown on the bottom, about 10-12 minutes. Working quickly, place a clean kitchen towel that is larger than the baking sheet on a work surface, and dust it liberally with confectioners’ sugar. Invert the cake onto towel; dust with more sugar. While the cake is still hot, starting with a narrow end of the rectangle, immediately roll cake up into a jelly roll, letting the towel roll inside the cake. Let cool to room temperature rolled up, seam side down.
Make the paint: Bring 2 tbsp. sugar, Grand Marnier, and 1 tbsp. water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat; cook until sugar dissolves and set aside to cool.

Whip heavy cream until soft peaks, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining ingredients until smooth. Gently fold in whipped cream.

Once cooled, gently unroll and remove towel from cake. Brush the inside with the “paint”; allow to soak in for about 2 minutes. Spread buttercream evenly over cake; re-roll cake and set the roll seam side down on a serving platter. Slice about 3 inches off one end of the cake roll at a 30° angle; cut the other end to make it flat. Spread the flat end of the angled slice with a little buttercream and set the slice on top of the cake roll to create a “stump.” Stir ganache until smooth and, using a small offset spatula, spread ganache over cake, leaving the ends of cake and cut top of the “stump” exposed. Drag the tines of a fork along the ganache, making markings to resemble bark; refrigerate until chilled – serve by slicing into rounds.

Optional decorations: cocoa powder, powdered sugar, meringue mushrooms, candied rosemary, whatever you like!

Merry Christmas!

Happy Cooking! Bon Appetit!


So I should start off by letting you know my father’s Turkish, and this is as authentic a recipe you will get. I didn’t learn how to make Manti from my father, instead I learned it from my aunts while spending the summer in Turkey, each makes a different version, boiled/sulu or baked/sini. I prefer baked. One of my aunts also doesn’t shape these tiny packages, instead she makes something in similar size to a hand pie – and serves 1 to each guest with the sauces, so feel free to adapt the size (and cooking time) to however your comfortable.

Manti is similar to Italian ravioli, but the yogurt and spicy butter tomato sauce make it the best dish ever. You can also make a large batch, and freeze to use at a later date.

Manti Sini – 4-6 servings
For the dough:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 large egg
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
For the filling:
1/2 pound ground beef
1 small onion, grated or finely minced
3 tablespoons minced parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
For the broth:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pans
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
For the yogurt sauce:
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon finely grated garlic
Kosher salt
For the tomato butter sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon paprika
Aleppo pepper, for garnish

For the dough:
Whisk together the wet ingredients in a bowl, and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, combine the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients, and mix until the dough is smooth, if the dough is still somewhat sticky you can add a little flour. Cover the dough with a tea towel, and set aside.

For the filling:
Combine all the ingredients and mix well. (I divide my meat into 1 teaspoon balls, and 1/2 them when I’m filling the dough).

For the yogurt sauce:
In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and garlic and season with salt. Mix well and refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly butter/oil a baking sheet, and set aside. Using a pasta roller or a rolling pin, in batches roll out the dough until it very thin, dusting the dough with flour as needed. Cut each strip of dough into 1 1/2 inch squares. Place 1/2 teaspoon of meat filling into the center of each square. To form the manti, fold the dough over the filling to form a triangle; press the edges together to seal or pinch the two ends with your fingers to form a canoe-shaped dumpling. Transfer the manti to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and meat filling. Arrange the manti close together in the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops of the manti with olive oil, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Meanwhile make the broth and tomato sauce. For the broth, in a small saucepan melt the butter over low heat, add the chicken broth, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Whisk in the tomato sauce, paste 
and paprika and increase heat to medium. As tomato sauce thickens, add 1/2 of the warm broth mixture, and continue to cook until thickened. Keep warm until ready to serve.

When the manti are golden brown, remove the baking sheet from the oven and ladle in the remaining 1/2 of the broth mixture over the manti, return to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes more, or until most of the broth is absorbed.

Divide the manti among shallow bowls. Top with the tomato sauce, and garlic yogurt sprinkle with Aleppo pepper and serve.

Happy Cooking! Bon Appetit!

Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagne

My sisters were feeling impulsive, and hopped a plane to Cincy, so with few hours to prepare, and a cooler forecast headed our way – I thought a lasagne would be just right. They absolutely loved this dish so much, that I was explaining steps and ingredients at the table so my sister could replicate it for a dinner party.

Unfortunately I didn’t snap a great photo of the dish, but we were 6 for dinner, and all 8 pieces were gone.

Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagne – 8 servings
3 pounds butternut squash, quartered, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 tablespoons olive oilDSCN1497
4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons dried thyme, crumbled
6 grates of fresh nutmeg
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Nine 7- by 3 1/2-inch sheets dry no-boil lasagne pasta
1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan (about 5 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss the squash with olive oil, salt and pepper, until coated well and spread in one layer in a roasting pan. Roast the squash for 10 minutes. Stir the squash and roast for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until tender and beginning to turn golden.

While the squash is roasting, combine the milk, cream, thyme and nutmeg in a saucepan.Heat the milk mixture over low heat 10 minutes and pour through a sieve into a large measuring cup.

In a large heavy saucepan cook garlic in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Stir in flour and cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in milk mixture in a stream until smooth. Return pan to heat and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until thick. Stir in squash and salt and pepper to taste. Sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap.

Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F and butter a baking dish, 13 by 9 by 2 inches.

Pour 1 cup sauce mixture into baking dish, spread, lightly smashing the squash, (sauce will not cover bottom completely) and cover with 3 lasagne sheets, making sure they barely overlap. Spread half of remaining sauce over pasta and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Make 1 more layer in same manner, beginning and ending with pasta. Pour remaining sauce over the top, and sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan over the top layer. Cover dish tightly with foil, tenting slightly to prevent foil from touching top layer, and bake in middle of oven according to the time of the no-boil lasagna sheets instructions (mine called for 30 minutes). Remove foil and bake lasagne 10 minutes more, or until top is bubbling and golden. Let lasagne stand for 5 minutes, serve.

Happy Cooking! Bon Appetit!