Category Archives: Kansas City Cuisine

Sushi Mido in Shawnee, KS

Sushi Mido

(By the way, I go off on a tanget for a bit.   If you’re just here for the review, go down to the break!)

I was in the mood for Dim Sum this morning…but I had one obstacle standing in my way: BWD, Jr.  Ever the Chinese buffet connoisseur, BWD, Jr. wanted to get Chinese from a buffet and I wanted to go some place real.  So, we decided to go to the all-you-can-eat sushi place instead.  (Yeah, I don’t get it either.)

But … All You Can Eat Sushi???

Yes, all-you-can-eat sushi.  I know what you’re thinking.  When you’re paying $17.95 for all the sushi you can possibly stuff down your gullet (did I mention they’re learning to fear me there?), the first thing people think is: wow, the ingredients must suck.  You, know, that’s not an unreasonable thought.

Anytime you go to an all-you-can-eat anything, you can feel assured you’re sacrificing quality over what you would get in a by-the-plate restaurant.  However, in an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant, you have a leg up over most other buffets because the sushi is hand rolled.  So whereas that vat of beef with broccoli sitting in a steam tray has likely been given all the care shown to the garbage as its tossed in the dumpster (note: I don’t know if that’s true.  I am sure there are some places that really put effort into their buffet offerings, but I think about 99% of “Chinese” food was is made is a Cisco lab somewhere), the sushi you get at an all-you-can-eat place has been hand crafted.

Plus, Sushi Mido is pretty smart about how they do their all-you-can-eat.  First, you can only get rolls, which are full of rice and more filling than individual nigiri or sashimi and, while I haven’t done an extensive survey, the ingredients that form the rolls are pretty limited: crab, fried shrimp, cream cheese, cucumber, etc.  So, my assumption is that Sushi Mido buys a lot of stuff in bulk.

All of which leads up to something I figured out today

If You Turn Your Nose Up at All You Can Eat Sushi and Order Rolls Anywhere Else You Obviously Like Overpaying for Fish*

Well, at least you live in the Midwest.

Really, this insight hit me when the first artful plate of sushi arrived at my table.  Looking at the rolls they present, they’re essentially the exact same rolls you get at any other sushi place, even the really fancy ones like Ra or Nara, where hip KC-ers go for sushi.  Let’s face it, in the middle of the country, there are only so many outlets for sushi-grade fish.  Plus, once it finds its way into any roll, whether it’s a fancy lollipop thingy at Ra or the Midnight Fantasy roll at Sushi Mido, it’s still a sushi roll.  At that point, you should be judging the individual roll, not the style of restaurant.

Okay, so all tangets aside, let’s get back to why we’re here.

Sushi Mido Review

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Jasper’s Winemaker Dinner Featuring William Whiting & The Wines of Banfi Vinyards

jaspers_cheers From HenHouse.comMan, I am so stuffed.  I just got back from dinner at Jasper’s.  Eggplant Othello, table side mozzarella, chicken saltimbocco, strudel for dessert (yeah, I know, I should have had cannoli, but I wanted to eat a German dessert at an Italian place.  So what?  Big whoop!  Wanna fight about it?  Good, because I’m too full.)

Oh, and we got a sneak peak (dear FTC that means we got it for free, the eggplant, too) at chef’s pear/bechamel rigatoni.  It was so good.  It’s my wife’s new favorite.  Though, I thought it might need some crispy pancetta.  But who am I?

Anyway, I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to eat for a month.  Then I was reminded that Chef Jasper is having a winemaker dinner featuring wines from Banfi Vineyards which I have been invited to attend.  I’m excited, but I’m full.

And seriously, if I was a bear, I’d just go hibernate now, but I’m not a bear.  I’m a dude who eats.

So, I plan to not eat for a week and then check out this wine dinner.  From Jasper’s site, we’ll all be feasting on:

Receptione & Wine Discussion
Roasted Beets, Pistachio, Orange & Pecorino
Marinated Italian Olives
Lobster & Truffle Cappuccino
Schiacciata alla ‘Uva
Crispy Sweetbreads

I Nostre Pasta
Bucatini all’ Amatriciana

Insalata della Casa
Fresh Pear, Arugula and Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano

Piatti Principali
Tuscan Porchetta <—MMMM Porchetta
Soft Polenta & Harvest Greens

I Nostre Dolce
“On The Cannoli Trail”
Sicilian Cannoli Gelato
Nana Mirabile’s Cream Puffs

So, if you’re not doing anything, why don’t you have dinner with me and the people at Banfi Vineyards.

75.00 per person Tax & Gratuity extra

Each of Chef Jasper’s dishes will be paired with a Banfi Wine.  It’s at

September 29, 2010 7:00 PM.
Jasper’s Ristorante
1201 W. 103rd. Street
Kansas City, MO 64114

$75.00 per person
Tax & Gratuity extra

The website says: For reservations, please call Jasper’s @ 816.941.6600 or by e-mail at

So get to it, or else I might eat your portion.  And neither of us wants that.

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Trader Joe’s to Come to Kansas City

113792056_1e44ac026c_mEveryone, stop what you are doing because

Trader Joe’s Is Coming to Kansas City

According to, Trader Joe’s has decided to open two locations in the Kansas City area, one on either side of the state line.

The first location will be at

4201 W. 119th St.
Leawood, KS

which puts it near Dean and Deluca, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, Harry and David, and other stores where food aficionados enjoy shopping.

The other location will be at

8600 Ward Parkway
Kansas City, MO

It will be near Ward Parkway in the old Staples building.  An interesting location since it’s not necessarily a hot bed of culinary interest, but Trader Joe’s doesn’t make many bad choices.

So, Kansas City, this is a time to rejoice.

Why Am I So Happy?

Trader Joe’s is just a grocery store…right?  What’s the big deal?

Yes, Trader Joe’s is a grocery store.   Yes, it’s kind of fancy, but it’s not like other high end grocery stores for a couple of reasons, the biggest one being cost.

The prices at Whole Foods are legendary.  It’s not called Whole Funds (or Whole Paycheck) for nothing.  Not so with Trader Joe’s.  You can go there and expect to find hip brands, crazy sauces, fresh produce, etc.  However, through a series of intelligent business decisions including keeping SKUs limited, buying in bulk, and negotiating with venders, Trader Joe’s is able to keep prices down.  They’re not exactly a discount grocery chain, but the prices are more in line with other grocery stores.

So to recap:

High quality ingredients + low prices = lots of excitement

Oh, and the Trader Joe’s crew wear Hawaiian shirts all day during work.  That’s pretty cool.  So, add that in the equation.

High quality ingredients + low prices + Hawaiian shirts = lots of excitement

So, all I can say is c’mon 2011 I want some Joe’s.

Photo courtesy of Barbara L. Hanson from Flickr.


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An Open Letter to Shatto Milk

I don’t often post this kind of thing, but I feel I have to.  This is a part of a message I will be sending to the folks at Shatto Milk.

To the folks at Shatto,

Tonight at Jasper Mirabile‘s dinner, I was fortunate enough to try a slice of your as of yet unnamed cheese.  It was beautifully complex, with notes of Parmesan, provolone, gruyere, and gorgonzola, all mixed into one.  I savored each and every nibble of that cheese and ate far closer to the rind than I normally would.  Scratch that.  I think I ate the rind.  It looked like a cracker in the Jasper’s “mood lighting.”

However, despite this, I have one small problem.  I am currently weeping because I don’t have any more of your delicious cheese at my disposal for my continued consumption.  If at all possible, I would like to be told what I can do to rectify this situation as soon as possible.

I would appreciate any attention you can give to this matter as I consider it to be a problem of the utmost urgency.



P.S. If I cannot get more of your cheese, then I will hold my breath until such time as I pass out.  This might lead to me slamming my forehead into my desk and causing brain damage.  I do not believe that you want this on your conscience, so the next move is yours.

P.S.S. Thanks for continuing to supply Blanc Burgers with cheese curds.  They are good as well.


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Cupcakes, SugarMamas, and Nene Takes The Cake

1279904669_orange-cupcakeCupcakes, SugarMamas and Nene Takes The Cake

So, I recently had an article published on  Here’s an excerpt:

Everyone’s caught cupcake fever. So if you’re looking for new and fun cupcake ideas from the pros for your next delicious cupcake adventure, read on.

Big things come in small packages. Small, individually wrapped packages and topped with delicious frosting, fun shapes, and sometimes even sprinkles.  Yes, right now there is no bigger dessert craze than cupcakes.

Over the past few years they’ve gone from homeroom snack to gourmet staple, with cupcake stores appearing on every street corner, master bakers producing volumes of cupcake recipes and designs, and cupcakes have even found their own show on the Food Network, “Cupcake Wars.”

Read the rest on!

In that article, I talk about two great Kansas City cupcake places: SugarMama’s, which has a storefront in old Overland Park, and Nene Takes The Cake, which features @Ms_Nene delivering amazing cupcakes.

Even cooler, Ms_Nene is working on a project to start a mobile cupcake truck which will drive around the city, delivering sugary goodness to all who desire it.  Click on the link to donate to her Kickstarter project and get free stuff, plus your name on the truck.  (Or else!)

And in general, eat more cupcakes!

(Oh, and if you want to see one of Ms_Nene’s cupcake recipes, check out my article.)

Image duly stolen from

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Gourmet Olive Oils and Vinegars – The Tasteful Olive

The Tasteful Olive

The Tasteful Olive

Gourmet Olive Oils and Vinegars

So, by now, you may have heard me mention The Tasteful Olive and you may have noticed that I have been cooking with a lot of fancy balsamic vinegars and olive oils.  Well, that is because I met some tremendous foodies here in Overland Park, KS who run The Tasteful Olive, a gourmet olive oil and balsamic vinegar store.

Basically, the tasteful olive features rows upon rows of containers, each holding a different flavored oil (mostly olive, but some truffle) or 12-18 year old balsamic vinegar with flavors ranging from lemon to black currant to fig to chocolate to vanilla.  Oh, and did I mention, samples are completely free!

The thing to do is give yourself an hour to just go in and try each one separately.  Then go back and mix and match (my personal favorite is still the Persian lime olive oil with the lemon balsamic, but you come up with your favorite.)  Then buy them and cook with them.  You’ll find recipes on their site and this one!

The Health Benefits of Olive Oil

Unsurprisingly, they are big advocates of consuming olive oil at The Tasteful Olive.  Jeanne and her husband both espouse it’s health benefits on a regular basis.  You can read more about it on Jeanne’s blog.

Baking with Olive Oil

They also want everyone to try baking with olive oil instead of butter because its healthier (and if you use a flavored olive oil, it’s tastier, too.)  As such, they hand out helpful charts to anyone considering baking with olive oil that tell you how much olive you need to replace an amount of butter.  I have typed the chart in below.

They recommend you use a lighter olive oil (*cough* Hojiblanca from Australia *cough*) but use what you have.  Do be careful, though.  I have found that olive oil cakes can dry faster than cakes that use butter.

Butter/Margarine Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon 3/4 Teaspoon
1 Tablespoon 2 1/4 Teaspoon
1/4 Cup 3 Tablespoons
1/3 Cup 1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons
2/3 Cup 1/2 Cup
3/4 Cup 1/2 Cup + 1 Tablespoon
1 Cup 3/4 Cup

By my calculation that means I need 2 1/4 cups of olive oil to make Ina Garten’s pound cake.  God bless that woman!

What Are You Waiting For?

You know where to get good olive oil and balsamic (at least in KC, but look for The Tasteful Olive online), now get to cooking!

Picture taken from

Oh, and as I’ve noted before, The Tasteful Olive has given me free and discounted bottles of both their gourmet olive oils and gourmet balsamic vinegars so that I could create recipes.


Filed under Kansas City Cuisine, reviews, techniques

It’s Amore!

Fondue BarFor the first time since my childhood, last Friday night I experienced a sugar high.  A full-on, all-is-right-with-the-world, drunk-like-shots-of-whiskey sugar high.

Thanks Amore Chocolate Pizzas.  The 10 pounds I put on was totally worth it.  And I totally mean that.

Chocolate Fondue Is Awesome

It all started with a fairly innocent email.  Amore was having an exhibit of photographs from a local gallery and then the email urged me to join them for Saturday night fondue.

“You like fondue don’t you, Mrs. WellDone?” I asked Mrs. WellDone.

And that pretty much sealed our fate for what we did last Saturday.  And perhaps for many, many Saturdays (and Fridays) to come.  Why you may ask?  You see that big long long line of things in the picture over there?  That’s two types of cookies, graham crackers, pound cake, angel food cake, black berries, pineapple, strawberries, pretzels, cornflakes, and probably one or two things that have been lost in a sugar induced haze.  Next to all that are four types of chocolate: milk, dark, spicy, and white.  And the price is ridiculous.

Fourth PlateAnd it’s all you can eat.  See that plate over there (the one without fruit?  That’s my fourth plate.)

All I can say is thank God I only put on 10 pounds.  It could have been much, much worse.

Oh, and like I said, all of this can be yours every Friday and Saturday night.  Friday night, apparently, is board game night.  They have lots of games in-house (including Family Guy Monopoly…Giggity! and a very nice wooden chess set.)  Saturday night is live music.  Last Saturday featured a good dulcimer player who managed to do a very serviceable tribute to modern pop.

Or you can do that what we did and cheat.  They have the board games out on Saturdays so you can listen to live music and teach your son how to play chess.  It’s like combining say milk chocolate and white chocolate together, except this is combining two special nights at Amore.  Still with me?

Oh, off to the right is the fruit plate I assembled when I decided I have some vitamins with my sugar.Fruit Plate  Make no mistake about it, there’s still plenty of chocolate to go along with the fruit, but at least I got some nutritional value.

Did I mention that we hadn’t had dinner before we went?

More Than Fondue: More About Amore

Amore is more than just killer fondue on Fridays and Saturdays.  They also sell a variety of chocolate dishes including mochas, hot chocolates, chocolate spoons, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate Samplerpretzels, and everything you see in the sampler platter over there which owner Chris Cook graciously gave me.  (That would be chocolate nachos, gingerbread and chocolate stackers, chocolate pie with coconut crust, and German chocolate cake. 

Yes, that’s right, chocolate nachos.  That would be nacho chips with chocolate sauce, peanut butter, candied fruit, and homemade whipped cream. 

No, I didn’t think I’d like them either.

Yes, I ate them all.)

Still, what Amore is really famous for is their chocolate pizzas which bare absolutely no relationship to the dessert pizzas you get at some pizza buffets (that’s what I thought at first.)  Chocolate pizzas are basically layers of chocolate that have been tempered like a candy bar to form a pizza crust and then the pizza is topped with various gourmet toppings like peanut butter, coconut, marshmallows, toffee, etc.  (See the full list on the Amore product page.)

If you want an idea of what they taste like, take a chocolate bar, throw some marshmallows and chocolate sauce on it and eat it.  That’s a good start, but the stuff at Amore probably is better that that.  They use really good chocolate.  Seriously.

In summary, if you are in the KC area, go to Amore for dessert, fondue, or a chocolate-pick-me-up.  If you are out of town…inquire about shipping!

Have your own sugar high.  Then call your trainer.  You’re going to need him/her very, quickly.

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Skies Restaurant and Fruit Pastry Tarts

FruitFruit Tarts at Skies on Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day, I took the special mother in my life and our son to Skies’ Restaurant in Kansas City.  For those not hip to the Kansas City culinary scene, Skies is the tallest restaurant in the area.  It sits proudly atop the Hyatt Regency hotel (one of Kansas City’s snootier fancier hotels) and spins contentedly all day, every day.

Yes, not only is it a very tall restaurant, it’s a revolving restaurant.

Which is pretty cool when you hear about.  If you’ve never eaten in a restaurant that spins (and frankly, I don’t think there are many left), I recommend doing it at least once.  Just try to keep your bearings so you can remember where the bathroom is.

Anyway, I digress.  Upon making my reservations to Skies, I had a certain level of trepidation.  I have had some of the most expensive meals in my life at Skies.  I just didn’t enjoy them very much.  Except for the spinning thing, which really does lose it’s appeal when you decide that you kind of like being about to look out the window and know what you’re going to see.

(The other exception is the Mile High Sky Pie, an eighteen inch high dessert that my wife and I have gone to Skies to order on more than one occasion.  I enjoyed those times very much.)  So, you may be wondering why I picked Skies as our Mother’s Day restaurant.  Honestly, because Caenen Castle and the American were full.

Lucky for me they were full. Let me say in no uncertain terms, the meal I had at Skies was the best Mother’s Day meal I can remember.

Skies was divided into two sections: lunch and breakfast.  The breakfast section had omelets to order, French toast, smoothies, breakfast meats, fruit, and other delicacies.  The lunch section (where I met chefs John and Nathan and forced them to cook a truly heroic quantity of tenderloin for me) was also excellent.  My favorite tenderloin had a nice dijon demi that perfectly accented the meat and went nicely with the pasta made to order.  There was also baked chicken in a nice orzo, roasted pork in cranberry sauce, and desserts.  Lots of desserts.

However, the highlight of the meal were these little fruit tarts they served.  They were just strips of puff pastry with fresh fruit (mango, strawberries, black berries, and blueberries) with a little glaze to hold it all together and to add sweetness.  Had I known Tina would like them so much, I would have made something very similar years ago.  Because I love them, too.

Here is the recipe if you want to make them.

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Benton’s Steakhouse and Cooking Prime Rib

On Monday, I was invited to a United Way dinner at Benton’s Prime Steakhouse.  I met some very nice people there who are doing some wonderful things to make the world a better place.  This food blogger salutes all of you.

The dinner was also the first time I have been back to Benton’s in, well, longer than I can remember.  Not that I had a bad meal, but I’ve been trying to explore other culinary destinations in Kansas City.  Monday night reminded me that sometimes it’s good to go back again.

The event featured several stations including: a sirloin station with a morel sauce, a seafood/salad station, a lobster bisque station, a carvery station featuring four different types of meat, and the night’s crowning achievement: a banana’s foster station.  The contents of the sirloin station are fairly obvious (sirloin with morel sauce), the seafood had king crab legs and oysters while the accompanying salad station contained a delicious mozzarella salad (I’d like to call it a caprese, but it was more flavorful), and strawberry salad in parmesan baskets. 

The morel sauce was delicious and the oysters were surprisingly nice for being in the middle of Kansas.  The mozzarella salad was also very good and rumor has it the strawberry salad was nice.

The rubber really started to hit the road with at the carvery station.  There were several meats including a smoked bison, a lamb rib roast, and some of the juiciest, most tender prime rib I’ve had the privilege of eating.

It was so good I hunted down Chef Nicholas Boucher to ask how I could make it at home and despite the fact I forgot to introduce myself as a food blogger and started writing down his every word as he spoke, he was pretty forthcoming about how to reproduce the prime rib at home.

First thing’s first: you’ll need some good prime rib.  Can’t do this without good prime rib.  (That’s my addition.)


1.  Preheat your oven to 500.  “I prefer a hot oven,” explained Chef Boucher.
2.  Put the prime rib in the oven.  Do not season with anything but a little salt.  (Chef Boucher explains that herbs or pepper will burn.)
3.  Sear the prime rib.  You are not looking for time, but for an appearance.  (You want a nice caramel color says Chef Boucher.)
4.  When the prime rib has reached that color, remove the prime rib and set the oven to 185.
5.  Put the prime rib back into the oven and cook for another 1-2 hours or until the meat has reached an internal temperature of about 135.

Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes and then serve with sides including mushroom medleys, asparagus, au gratin potoates (like Benton’s) or your own favorite sites.

Then, you know what to do!  Enjoy!

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Limoncello Recipes

Last week, Chef Jasper Mirabile had a great Limoncello Experience where he and Suzanne Frisse of Meadowlark Acres served us course after course after course of delicious breads, pastas, chicken, and desserts featuring limoncello.

He was gracious enough to share his recipes, which I have included unmodified below.  If you like how this sounds, he will have another Experience in June!

Jasper Mirabile’s Limoncello Pasta
1 Lb. Penne Pasta
1 cup Grated Peccorino Romano
1 Lemon Grated
1/2 cup Limoncello
2 Cups Cream
3/4 cup Chives
Cracked Pepper
Cook pasta according to pkg. directions.
Chop chives and reserve. In a large saute pan, melt butter and saute with chives & lemon rind.  Add limoncello and reduce in pan.  Add cream and cheese and bring to a light boil.  Season with salt and cracked pepper.  Add pasta and toss.  Serve with more grated lemon and cracked pepper.
Papa Mirabile’s Limoncello Risotto
3 Tbsp plus 1 teaspoon salted butter
1/2 cup minced shallots
1 Leek
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup Limoncello
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (grated)
Cracked black pepper to taste

Clean and wash 1 leek.  Slice thin.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute the shallots until soft about 2 to 3 minutes. Brown butter and add leeks. Stir in rice. Toast for 1 minute. Add the limoncello and bring to boil, stirring constantly. When of wine is absorbed add first 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Reduce heat to medium and continue adding broth as needed. This will take about 20 minutes. When ready, the risotto will have a creamy sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and add grated lemon. Stir in remaining butter and add cheese. Serve at once.

Jasper’s Note:  I also like to add shrimp to this risotto…just saute with leeks at the beginning and follow procedure. DO NOT ADD CHEESE if you add shrimp.
Jasper’s Roasted Limoncello Chicken
3-4 large lemons
1/4 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 boneless split chicken breast 1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup Limoncello
1 Teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 Teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon

Preheat the broiler. Cut a small slice off both ends of each lemon, then cut in half crosswise. Arrange the lemons, flesh side up, in a flameproof non-reactive baking dish, brush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Broil 6 inches or more from the heat until browned and soft, about 10 minutes.

In a large saute pan, add olive oil and heat. Add chicken and saute on both sides. Add garlic and lightly brown. Reduce pan with limoncello and season with salt, pepper, thyme & tarragon. Squeeze roasted lemons in pan and continue to reduce. Cook until chicken is tender and has an internal temp. of 165 to 175.
Serve with roasted potatoes.

Jasper’s Limoncello
2 bottles Vodka
20 Lemons
2 cups water
4 cups sugar
Wash & peel 20 lemons and reserve all juice.
To make Simple Syrup:
In a 2 quart pot, bring water and sugar to a boil.  Remove from heat and cool.
In a large container, add vodka and simple syrup. Add juice of lemons and lemon peeling. Store in cool dry area for 2 weeks.  Remove lemon peelings and place in miniature decorative bottles.  Store in refrigerator.
Jasper’s Note:  To make Crema Limoncello…just add 1/4 cup Eagle Brand Condensed Milk to 1 cup limoncello, stir and place in bottle and shake.

The King of the Cannoli’s Limoncello Cannoli

1 lb Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup Limoncello
1 Lemon Grated
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1/4 cup Candied Lemon
6-8 Cannoli Shells
Place all ingredients in mixing bowl.Mix.  Fill pastry shells and dust with powdered sugar.
Limoncello Cake

1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
1 Box Instant Vanilla Pudding
1/2 Cup Corn Oil 1/4 Cup water
4 Eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup lemon zest

Mix all ingredients and bake in a well greased bundt pan at 325 F for 1 hour. Pour glaze over cake immediately out of oven.

Limoncello Glaze

3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
3/4 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Limoncello
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp lemon zest

Place all ingredients in pan, bring to a boil and stir constantly. Poke holes in bundt cake and pour over top.

Jasper’s Notes: My friend and customer Bonnie Knocke loves limoncello and she developed this cake recipe for Jasper’s. Bonnie brought me this cake one day before dinner service and I swear I must have eaten the whole cake, I DO NOT REMEMBER. Grazie mille Bonnie!

Grazie mille mille Chef!


Filed under announcements, Kansas City Cuisine