Buche de Nöel

It is the time of the year for many of our food traditions to be celebrated. And boy do we!
From the candy on Halloween, through the Turkey centered orgy of Thanksgiving to our "Orgy Bowl" in late January.
Get a grip on your belt, "Little Santas", because today we're talking about cake. A French cake called Buche de Nöel.
When I was in the infancy of my quest for culinary knowledge I turned first to the French for information. One of the masters in my self-constructed cookbook college was the Parisian pastry chef, Gaston Lenotre. I still have the book. The dust cover gone long ago and the binding is held together, (barely!), with Scotch tape. But the gold lettering on the deep red background still beckons me.
The life of this "Sultan of Sweet" began in Normandy. He loved sculpting and pastry early on. He used both skills in making his cake.
The first time I tried to make it was when I was the Chef of a restaurant back in Key West called "Chez Nancy". Nancy was an unapologetic Francophile who found everything non-French, in terms of food and wine, to be a silly effort.
To please her, I made the cake...or tried to.
Buche means "log" in French. Gaston has several in his book; au cafe, au chocolat, aux maroons, aux fraisier.
Each is built on the foundation of a jelly roll cake.
I was able to make the roll and the mousse. But the little meringue snowmen and mushrooms looked pretty ridiculous. Nancy never saw them! I decided to concentrate on another holiday food to give her I knew I could master....egg nog.

Happy Feasting, Everybody! It's back the to treadmills in February isn't it just after Valentine's Day!?!?!

Diver Harvested Sea Scallops

How would you rather be taken?
Hand picked by an admiring, understanding and appreciative lover or picked up by two metallic hands, possibly getting crushed and broken in the process. Well that is what faces a scallop. We purchase hand-picked "diver scallops" from a small firm in Maine as opposed to those poor, ravaged, dredged scallops that are bloated with water, not their own sweetness.
Scallop season just opened for the sea harvested varieties and man am I gonna have my share of them this season. I love our local shellfish but there are a few items out elsewhere in the world that, as a lover of great food, I must have and sea scallops are high on that list.
The cooking of sea scallops separates the men from boys in my estimation. Any chef can get them in and put them on a menu, but the real ability is presenting them to the scallop's best advantage.
The key is to cook them with suddenness and to be mindful of what is the top and bottom and what are their sides. You must turn the scallops not roll them. Pick them up and turn them so that their luxurious juices are kept inside until you bite them. Oh I'm so glad I live on a planet that has scallops! And present them simply. No huge involved recipes are needed here. It's like a number of things in Mother Nature's repertoire of purity. Leave it pure. Focus on the wine, which should be of the highest quality, spare no expense. Perhaps a warm black truffle vinaigrette, mashed potatoes, truffles and Puligny Montrachet.
Diver Harvested Sea Scallops. Dive in!