Saturday, April 4, 2020

Juan Wampler's Salsa Verde Magnifico

This month’s recipe was to be a nice Pasta Fagiolini dish but I was stymied by the fact that the Winn Dixie I was shopping at had absolutely no pasta on the shelves. When did people start wiping with lasagna sheets? Fortunately, the produce section was amply stocked, so I loaded up my trolly with ingredients for Plan B.
This simple green sauce is highly versatile. It can be a dressing for your favorite salad or a sauce for your chicken.  And it’s just this thing for nights during quarantine with a bag of tortilla chips in from of the TV.

It’s totally by accident that I created a totally vegan dish. But, that’s a pretty happy accident.


2 avocado
2 tomatillos
2 c. packed parsley and cilantro leaves (combined)
2 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp. salt
2 limes, juiced
½ c. water
½ c. olive oil
½ c. macadamia nuts (a nice substitute is pistachios)


Pulse all ingredients – except pistachios – in a food processor until incorporated.
Add macadamia nuts and pulse until mostly smooth (depends on what consistency you want).
Serve as a dip, spread, or sauce — or add additional water or oil to thin the sauce for use as a dressing or a marinade.  Enjoy, JW

Monday, March 9, 2020

Chocolate Marbled Banana Cake

Chocolate and bananas go together like peas and carrots. Growing up in the foothills of Southern California, chocolate covered frozen bananas were a treat on the weekends at the beach. Closer to home, a banana spread with Nutella makes for a high energy treat. This delicious combination is the inspiration for this month’s recipe. Easy to prepare with items already in your pantry, this is just the thing to bring to a springtime pot luck dinner or barbeque. 

2 ½ c. (10 ¾ oz.) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 ¼ c. (9 ½ oz.) brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ c. (2 oz. 56 grams) salted butter, softened
½ c. (4 fl. oz.) full fat sour cream, room temperature
1 ½ c. mashed banana (2 or 3 large)
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ c. (4 ½ oz.) semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled

Ganache Frosting
¾ c. (6 fluid oz.) heavy cream
1 c. (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
Optional Decoration
2 oz. white chocolate baking bar, broken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8" by 8" or 9" by 9" baking pan with non-stick baking spray
In medium bowl, combine flour and baking soda and mix with a wire whisk; set aside. In a large bowl, blend the brown sugar and butter with a hand mixer or stand mixer, then scrape the sides of bowl. Add the banana and beat on medium until the mixture is smooth. Add the sour cream, egg, and vanilla and beat again on medium until smooth. Add the flour mixture all at once and blend on low until just combined, don't overmix. Pour the melted chocolate in a stream over the top of the mixture and fold it in by hand just a few turns until the mixture is marbled. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a cooling rack for 15 minutes to allow the cake to firm up a bit, then turn the cake out of the pan and place it right side up on the cooling rack; cool to room temperature.

Ganache Frosting
Microwave the heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl for 1 to 2 minutes until it's steaming, then add the chocolate chips and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir ganache until it is smooth, then refrigerate uncovered, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring once or twice. When it's reached about 70°F, the ganache should mound and be spreadable without flowing. Frost the cake top and sides with the ganache.

Optional Decoration
Melt 2 oz. of white chocolate on med/low heat, stirring every 30 seconds until it is completely melted. Pour into a disposable icing bag or plastic quart bag and cut off a corner. Drizzle decoratively over the top of the frosted cake. Yield: 9-12 pieces. Enjoy, JW

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Jalapeno Poppers Bread

Skip the messiness of baking; this variation on Jalapeño Poppers is a creative party appetizer. Simple to prepare and present, or make in advance and then heat and serve.


18 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. grated cheddar
1 c. grated mozzarella
3 jalapeños, finely diced
½  tsp. pepper
3 baguettes
Bacon rashers

Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.

In a large bowl mix together cream cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, jalapeños and pepper until combined.

Cut baguette in half lengthwise and scoop out some of the insides.  Save for breadcrumbs. Fill each cavity with the cheese mix.  Place top half on top of bottom half. Arrange bacon flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Top with one baguette and wrap, herringbone style, with the bacon. Repeat with other bread loaf. Bake the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until bacon is cooked and golden brown. Enjoy. JW

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Trouble with Truffles

From time to time I find a conundrum when it comes to epicurean delights. Take for instance truffles.

Ask a chef at a fine restaurant to describe a truffle, and they will wax poetic about an expensive fungus that grows beneath oak trees in France and found by pet pigs.

Now, ask a pastry chef to describe a truffle, and they will describe a soft-centered confection coated in tempered chocolate. So, the only determination I can come up with is that a truffle is both; a fungus and a chocolate delight.

With left over ingredients from last month’s brownie recipe, and Valentine’s Day being the number one day in which chocolate is gifted, I will show you how to make a delicious and easy chocolate truffle cookie. This recipe uses relatively little flour, resulting in dense, fudge-like cookies. They keep well in the freezer (but you may have a hard time waiting for them to thaw before you eat them).

4 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
6 tbsp. butter
3 eggs
1 c. white sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

In the microwave or in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of the chocolate chips, and the butter stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, whip eggs and sugar until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and the chocolate mixture until well mixed. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually stir into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining 1 cup chocolate chips. Cover dough and chill for at least an hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Using a medium cookie scoop, roll chilled dough into 1 inch balls. You may dredge the top of the balls in sprinkles, macadamia nuts or leave plain. Place on parchment paper covered cookie sheets so they are 2 inches apart. Note: It is easier to roll dough if your keep your hands slightly moistened.

Bake for 11-14 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy, JW