Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash

Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash 2It’s officially fall. Only it’s too cold for fall. Last night it was 35 degrees outside and this morning there was a chance of snow for a couple of hours. As much as I love having four seasons, I feel like fall in New Jersey only lasts a few weeks. Whenever I’m on Pinterest or on Instagram I see posts of girls in short sweater dresses with ankle boots without tights or thick coats, I ask myself, “Just where do these girls live? And how can I get myself there?”
ingredientsAlthough it may not feel so much like fall, we can certainly eat like it is. The color orange seems to be the theme of fall food. Pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, acorn squash… all of these have orange flesh that not only taste great but are healthy too. If you’ve never tried Kabocha squash, it also has an orange flesh but is sweeter than a butternut squash. Mix that with the salty bacon and the delicate fruitiness of the Enoki mushroom, you have a winner. I added a dash of Unagi sauce on one of them and it was the perfect touch.
kabocha squash bacon enokiIt is incredibly easy to put together and you don’t even have to put in the Kabocha squash or the Unagi sauce. It can be as easy as wrapping the mushroom with the bacon and you’ll still have a crowd-pleasing appetizer that can be made on the fly.
kabocha squash baconI probably won’t be able to write another post before Thanksgiving. So, I hope you have the happiest of Thanksgivings with your loved ones this Thursday and I’m so thankful for all of you reading this. ❤
Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash 3

Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash

1 – 4 oz. package of Enoki mushrooms, split into 8 bundles
4 slices of bacon, halved vertically
8 slivers of Kabocha squash, raw
salt and pepper to taste
parsley, minced, for garnish
Unagi (eel) sauce, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side down.
  2. Top a bundle of mushrooms with slice of squash and very lightly sprinkle salt on top of the squash.
  3. Wrap the vegetable bundle with a slice of bacon and secure with toothpick. Repeat for the rest of the bundles.
  4. Season the bundles with pepper and roast the bundles for 15-20 minutes, until the bacon is browned and crisp.
  5. Drain bundles on paper towels and if using the unagi sauce, lightly drizzle sauce before serving.
  6. Garnish with minced parsley.

Coffee Macarons

coffee macaronsWhere in the world did the time go?? It’s a week before Thanksgiving! I always feel a little overwhelmed right before the week of Thanksgiving. Not so much the day of, because by then I have already planned and prepped for the big day. But the week before, I’m trying to figure out grocery lists, what dishes to remake from last year and try for this year, and the number of people coming while doing every day things like work, house chores and errands. This is the first time I ever felt like leaving Thanksgiving dinner to someone else (that says volumes since I’ve been doing Thanksgiving dinner since I was a junior in high school).
coffee macaron shellAs children of Korean immigrants, we didn’t celebrate American holidays like my non-Asian friends. Thanksgiving was just another day off of school (which we were more than grateful for) and we would maybe have a chicken for dinner. In hindsight, we didn’t even have chicken every year. I didn’t even care about having a Thanksgiving meal with turkey until my one friend said to me, “What?? You don’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving?? No mashed potatoes? No gravy or stuffing? What about sweet potatoes with marshmallows, you must have that at least.” Mind you this was over AIM (omg remember those days?? Being on AIM was the lifeline to having a social life) and it may have sounded harsher than he intended in my mind. Either way, that night (the night before Thanksgiving) I searched high and low for a turkey recipe and in the morning, I insisted that my dad buy us a turkey. (Now that I think about it, it was a miracle in itself to have found a fresh turkey the day of Thanksgiving.) So with a fresh 12-lb. turkey with no other fixings, we made our first Thanksgiving meal. It was just salted, peppered and basted with butter and it was the most delicious turkey I’ve ever had.
coffee macaronMy meals since then have evolved and developed. We have had a variation of every side dish you can think of (mashed and roasted potatoes and vegetables, stuffing, salads, cranberry sauce, gravy, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese…). I’ve tried about every method there is to making a turkey (brined, dry-brined, roasted upside down halfway and turned over, spatchcocked, blanketed with a weave of bacon strips…) with the exception of deep frying. But nothing ever tastes as good as that first turkey I made.

keurig macaronsEither way, yes, for once in my life I feel overwhelmed with Thanksgiving. Last year, when my brother asked, “Are we having a Thanksgiving dinner with everyone?” I replied, “As long as I’m living and breathing, there is always Thanksgiving dinner.” I think I forget what we started with and it’s so easy to see the tough part of the task that it’s even easier to dismiss the highlights of the fruit of the labor. So this year, I’m so incredibly thankful for every opportunity and task that I’ve been given. Not because I’m so gung ho about the work, but because I’ve been blessed with the ability and the environment to accomplish it and that is more than enough to be thankful for.
DSC_0484*Somehow I ended up with this soliloquy about Thanksgiving. But this macaron would be the perfect ending to a meal. Thanks to the coffee emulsion (which is more potent than an extract) and a sprinkling of coffee grounds (I just opened up a fresh Keurig pod), it is bursting with coffee flavor. Also, I’m kinda macaron-ed out. Hahaha So it may be a while before you see another macaron post. But I’m looking forward to bringing different things for the blog. 🙂

Coffee Macarons

For the macaron shell:

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
fresh ground coffee (for garnish)
brown gel food coloring (for decorating the macaron)
vodka (for diluting the food coloring)

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.
  8. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.
  11. Sprinkle coffee grounds on only 1/3 of the macaron shell.
  12. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  13. Preheat the oven to 325-350˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 325˚F, if not then 350˚F.
  14. Lower the heat to from 350˚F to 300˚F. (If starting from 325˚F, lower to 275˚F.)
  15. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The macaron shell is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  16. Remove pan from oven and reheat oven to higher temperature for 10 minutes before baking the next tray, lowering the temperature when you start baking it.
  17. Continue until you bake all of the macaron shells.
  18. Once the macarons have cooled, dilute brown food coloring in some vodka to make it paint-like.
  19. With a flat brush (food-only use), draw a thick line down the middle of the macaron.
  20. Once all the macarons have been drawn, dilute food coloring with a drop or two of vodka for a stronger color and turning the flat brush to the side, draw a thin stripe down the thick light brown stripe.
  21. Let dry and fill with coffee frosting.

For the coffee frosting:

Ingredients:
1 c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. sugar
1 – 1½ tbsp. coffee emulsion  

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, whisk milk, salt and flour until combined.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture (to prevent skin from forming) and put bowl into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add 1 tbsp. coffee emulsion and mix until combined.
  8. Taste and if you want a stronger flavor, add another ½ tbsp. coffee emulsion.

Pumpkin Crème Brulee

pumpkin creme brulee 3My favorite holiday EVER is Thanksgiving. Christmas is a close second. My argument for Thanksgiving trumping Christmas is that it is all about family time. No holiday shopping stress, crazy decorations, party obligations or unhappy people not getting what they wanted, it’s all about spending time together and relaxing and eating. I honestly think sharing a meal brings people closer together and the Thanksgiving table is a prime example. Perfectly roasted turkey, savory stuffing, crisp salads, fluffy mashed potatoes, tangy cranberry sauce and luscious gravy come together for the perfect meal. But after that perfect meal comes the pans of pumpkin, pecan and apple pies, there is probably something with chocolate on the table (because what kind of dessert menu lacks chocolate) and this pumpkin crème brulee.
egg yolkspumpkin creme brulee 4Something about crème brulee makes everyone happy. It’s sophisticated enough for the adults but is also kid-friendly because it’s pretty much a fancy pudding cup. I love the contrast of the crisp crunch of the caramelized sugar and the perfectly smooth custard. Plus that ever so slightly bitter burnt taste of the sugar pairs well with the sweetness underneath. pumpkin creme brulee 2pumpkin creme brulee 6I’ve made this recipe two Thanksgivings in a row because it’s so good, like people-are-scraping-the-bottom-of-the-ramekin good. It’s super easy but it always has that “oo la la” factor when it shows up on the table. Plus, you make it a day before so it’s one less thing you have to worry about. You just sprinkle the top with sugar and torch it before serving. I know that it’s proper for the caramelized sugar layer to be thin, but I like mine extra thick so that I get more substantial shards of sugar in my crème brulee.
pumpkin creme bruleePumpkin Crème Brulee

Ingredients:
1 ½ c. heavy cream
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
5 egg yolks
½ c. sugar, plus extra for torching
¾ c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Boil a kettle full of water for the water bath.
2. In a medium pot, heat heavy cream, cinnamon and nutmeg together until it simmers.
3. In a separate bowl, mix egg yolks and ½ c. sugar until combined.
4. Slowly stream a ladleful of heavy cream mixture into the egg yolks, while whisking the egg yolks to avoid curdling your egg mixture.
5. Continue to slowly add the rest of the heavy cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture until completely mixed.
6. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a separate bowl.
7. Whisk in pumpkin puree and vanilla into the custard mixture.
8. In a large roasting or baking pan, arrange five 7 oz. ramekins. Split the custard mixture evenly amongst the ramekins.
9. Place the pan into the oven and pour hot water into the baking pan until it comes at least half way up the ramekins. Avoid getting water into the ramekins.
10. Bake about 30-40 minutes until the center of the custard is just set. You will know this when you jiggle the ramekin and the custard jiggles just in the center.
11. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool and cover with plastic wrap before refrigerating the ramekins for at least 4 hours or overnight.
12. When ready to serve, remove ramekins from the fridge and add a spoonful of sugar in to the ramekin, rotating it for even coverage. Use a butane torch to caramelize the sugar until dark brown and even. Serve immediately.


Recipe adapted from Use Real Butter.

Soot Sprite Macarons (Pumpkin Cookie Butter Macarons)

susuwatari macaronI’m a huge Hayao Miyazaki fan. I love the stories and character development in his films. What I appreciate the most are his strong feminine characters that often save themselves unlike so many of the Disney films I grew up with. Of course there are male protagonists, but they neither dominate nor undermine the heroine. Instead, they work in tandem with each other and both characters evolve and progress their personalities. One of my favorite films from Studio Ghibli is Spirited Away. Susuwatari (also known as Soot Sprites) are the minions of Kamaji, the boiler man. Small and furry looking, they are adorable in clusters and eat Konpeitō, which are star-shaped colorful Japanese candy. The plush with the mask is No Face who my sister deemed creepy and suggested I throw out. I think it’s adorable and I would never. Like I’ve mentioned before, we are two very different people.
soot sprite macaronThe black shells and the orange pumpkin cookie butter filling just beg these macarons to be made for Halloween. I’ve wanted to make these for October but I just ran out of time. You can always omit the black food coloring, colored sugar sprinkles and candy eyes and you would have a perfect pumpkin macaron for Thanksgiving. (As shown in the last photo of the post.) By the way, the pumpkin cookie butter filling is made with Trader Joe’s pumpkin pie spice cookie butter. (Can you tell I love Trader Joe’s yet? Hahaha Anyways…) It tastes exactly what the title says except I found that it wasn’t pumpkin-y enough. So I added pumpkin puree to the frosting base to up the pumpkin factor.
soot sprite macaronsIf you do decide to make it with the black food coloring and sugar sprinkles, I should warn you that these macarons WILL turn your mouth and teeth black. And if you have several of them, (this may be TMI but) you may or may not have green stool. Kind of like that black burger bun situation that Burger King had a month ago. It’s not harmful to your body, but I didn’t want to give anyone a surprise scare. Hahaha
pumpkin cookie butter macaronsIn other news, my favorite holiday of the year is creeping up on us. Thanksgiving is the absolute ultimate holiday for me and I’m looking forward to sharing some of my all-star recipes with you during this month!

Soot Sprite Macarons (Susuwatari Macarons)

You will need:
Black Sprinkle Macaron Shells (recipe below)
Pumpkin Cookie Butter Frosting (recipe below)
Candy Eyes
Black candy melts

Instructions:

  1. Sandwich two black macaron shells with pumpkin cookie butter frosting.
  2. Melt two black candy wafers in the microwave and use a toothpick to dab a small amount on the back of a candy eye to adhere to the macaron shell. (Before adhering the eyes, make sure that the pupils of the candy eyes are identical. Some pupils tend to be larger than others, giving your macarons an odd mismatched look if you are not careful.)
  3. Repeat the steps with the second candy eye.

Black Sprinkle Macaron Shells

212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
black gel food coloring (if you want regular pumpkin macarons, do not use this.)
black sugar crystals (if you want regular pumpkin macarons, do not use this.)

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.
  8. Add in a drops of black gel food coloring until desired shade is achieved. (Skip this step if you want white macarons.)
  9. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  10. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  11. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.
  12. On half of the macaron shells, generously sprinkle on black sugar crystals. (Skip this step if you want white macarons.)
  13. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  14. Preheat the oven to 325-350˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 325˚F, if not then 350˚F.
  15. Lower the heat to from 350˚F to 300˚F. (If starting from 325˚F, lower to 275˚F.)
  16. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The macaron shell is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  17. Remove pan from oven and reheat oven to higher temperature for 10 minutes before baking the next tray, lowering the temperature when you start baking it.
  18. Continue until you bake all of the macaron shells.

Pumpkin Cookie Butter Frosting

Ingredients:

½ c. pumpkin puree
¾ c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. sugar
½ c. pumpkin pie spice cookie butter

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, whisk pumpkin puree, milk, salt and flour until combined.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture (to prevent skin from forming) and put bowl into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the pumpkin pie spice cookie butter and mix until combined.