Archive for the ‘Cooking/Baking’ Category

Cheesecake of the Month – February 2018!

February 15, 2018

One of my non-U.S. friends (thank you Martha) has forwarded me yet another intriguing cheesecake recipe to add to my files.  Add it does not require baking!  I will definitely be trying this one soon!  I’ll have to break out my metric conversion charts for this one.

Salted Caramel and Popcorn Cheesecake

Crust
250 grams of crushed ginger nut biscuits
90 grams of butter, melted

Batter/Filling
3 cartons (180 grams each) of cream cheese, softened
200 ml of whipping cream
5 Tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Salted Caramel
300 gram container of caramel spread
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt flakes

Garnish
30 grams of salted caramel popcorn
30 grams of toasted pecans

Directions
1. Line the bottom and sides of a 2 cm springform pan with parchment paper.

2. Mix the biscuit crumbs and butter together and press on to the bottom and sides of your springform pan.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes or so to firm up.

3. To make the cheesecake mixture, put the cream cheese into a bowl with the cream, sugar, and vanilla and beat until smooth with an electric hand-held mixer.

4. To make the salted caramel, beat the salt into the caramel until smooth.  Remove the springform pan from the fridge and spread 2/3 of the caramel onto the crust.

5. Add the cheesecake mixture and spread over the top of the caramel mixture.  Refrigerate for at least two hours to set.

6. Once set, remove from the refrigerator and scatter the popcorn and pecans on top before drizzling with the remaining salted caramel.

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Cheese Makes Everything Tastier!

February 6, 2018

I don’t often find new recipes for preparing vegetables that strike my interest (perhaps this is because I am not looking too strenuously for them), but I ran across this recipe the other day that sounds positively delicious!

Roasted Parmesan Crusted Cauliflower

Ingredients
1 large head of cauliflower (firm)
2-1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil
Black pepper
Oil spray (olive oil)
Finely chopped parsley
Crust
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano or thyme
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 390 degrees.

2. Mix crust ingredients in a small bowl.

3. Break the cauliflower into large florets.  Cut the very large florets into 1/2″ thick slices, and the medium florets in half.  You will want a large flat area on each piece of cauliflower for the crust mixture to adhere to.

4. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

5. Drizzle the tray with olive oil.  Use one of the cauliflower pieces to spread the oil over the entire paper.

6. Sprinkle the crust mixture all over the tray, as evenly as possible.  Don’t touch it once it is scattered.

7. Place the cauliflower down on the crust mixture (pressing down lightly).  Don’t jam the cauliflower pieces right up against each other (this may cause them to steam and go soggy), keep a tiny bit of space between each piece.

8. Spray the cauliflower generously with oil and sprinkle with a bit of black pepper.

9. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is a deep golden brown.

10. Use tongs to turn the cauliflower so the crust side is up and bake for an additional five minutes.

11. Serve immediately sprinkled with finely chopped parsley (or other herb) if desired.

Cheesecake of the Month – January 2018!

January 14, 2018

This month’s recipe features a southern favorite: pralines (a simple confection containing sugar, nuts, and cream).  Enjoy!

Praline-Crusted Cheesecake

Ingredients
2 cups of shortbread cookies, crushed
3 Tablespoons of butter, melted
4 Pralines, coarsely crushed
5 packages (8-ounce each) of cream cheese, softened
1-3/4 cup of sugar
2 Tablespoons of flour
1-1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup of whipping cream
1 teaspoon of grated lemon rind
2 containers (8-ounce each) of sour cream
1/3 cup of sugar
Garnish: crumbled Pralines

Directions
1. Combine the cookie crumbs and butter and press onto the bottom and up the sides of a lightly greased 10″ springform pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Sprinkle coarsely crumbled Pralines over the crust.

2. Beat the cream cheese on medium speed until creamy. gradually add the sugar, flour, and vanilla beating until smooth.  Add eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears.  Stir in the whipping cream and the lemon rind and pour into your crust.  Place your pan on a foil-lined baking sheet.

3. Bake at 350 degrees on your lower oven rack for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue baking for an addition 1 hour and 20 minutes (or until almost set).  Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.

4. Stir together the sour cream and sugar and spread over the top of the cheesecake and bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes more.  Cool on a wire rack then cover and chill for 8 hours.  Remove the sides of the pan and garnish before serving.

Pralines

Ingredients
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of half-and-half
3 Tablespoons of butter
1-1/4 cup of coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Directions
1. Butter the bottom of a heavy 3-quart saucepan.  Cook the borwn sugar and the next three ingredients in the saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugars dissolve; stir in the pecans.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until a candy thermometer registers 238 degrees (soft ball stage). Remove from the heat.

2. Stir in the vanilla and let stand for 3 minutes.  Beat with a wooden spoon for 3 more minutes or until  the mixture begins to thicken.  Working rapidly, drop by Tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper.  Let stand until firm.

Cordon Bleu, the Easy Way!

January 6, 2018

I recently found a recipe for preparing Chicken Cordon Bleu that seems to easy to believe.  There is no pounding of the chicken breasts (unless you cannot find the cutlets) to a certain thinness before adding the ham and cheese and rolling, breading, and cooking . . . rather, it is all done in a skillet!  How east is that?

Skillet Chicken Cordon Bleu

Ingredients
4 thin boneless, skinless cutlets (4 ounces each)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of butter
1-1/2 teaspoons of olive oil
2/3 cup of chicken broth
1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
1/2 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
4 slices (thin) of deli ham
4 slices Swiss cheese
Chopped parsley (for garnish)

Directions
1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper (to taste).

2. Place the flour in a shallow dish.  Coat your chicken in the flour (on both sides) and shake off the excess.

3. In a snall bowl combine the chicken roth, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon of flour and whisk until smooth.

4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Melt the butter and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil plus half of the chicken.

5. Cook for 2 minutes on each side (until slightly golden) and transfer to another dish.

6. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and the remaining chicken and cook for two minutes on each side.

7. Set aside with the previously cooked chicken.

8. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chicken broth mixture.  Whisk and scrape up any bit stuck to the pan and simmer for two minutes (to reduce slightly).

9. Return the chicken to the skillet, top each piece with a slice of ham and a slice of the Swiss cheese, cover the skillet, and simmer on medium-low for 3-4 minutes (until the cheese melts).

10. To serve, use a spatula to transfer the chicken to the plate and spoon the remaining sauce over each piece.

Serve with either roasted vegetables or a rice pilaf.

Cheesecake of the Month – December 2017!

December 16, 2017

Happy Saturday!  This month I will be sharing a traditional holiday cheesecake (pumpkin) with a slight variation . . . and if you like ginger, this one is sure to please!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger Cream Topping

Ingredients
3/4 cup of sugar, divided
3/4 cup of packed brown sugar, divided
3/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup of finely ground pecans
1/4 cup of butter, melted
1 Tablespoon of flour
1-1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon  of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 can pumpkin (16-ounce)
3 packages (8-ounces each) cream cheese, softened
3 large eggs
Ginger Cream Topping (recipe below)
Garnish (pecan halves)

Directions
1. Combine 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup of ground pecans, and butter.  Press this mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9″ lightly greased springform pan.  Cover and chill for an hour.

2. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, 12 cup of brown sugar, flour, and the next six ingredients and set aside.

3. Beat the cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Add the pumpkin mixture and beat well.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Pour the mixture into your prepared crust and bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

4. Spoon the ginger cream topping over the top, cover, and chill for at least eight (8) hours.  To serve, remove the sides of the pan and garnish (if desired).

Ginger Cream Topping

1 cup of whipping cream
1 container (8-ounce) of sour cream)
2 Tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup of minced crystallized ginger
3 Tablespoons of dark rum
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl; beat on high speed with a mixer until soft peaks form.  fold in the ginger, rum, and vanilla.

Chicken . . . with a Hint of Lemon!

December 6, 2017

Here is a recipe for a Chicken Francaise with a twist . . . of lemon!  Positively delicious!

Creamy Lemon Chicken Francaise

Ingredients:
2 large boneless chicken breasts (cut in half horizontally)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
1/4 cup of flour
2 Tablespoons of butter
4 Tablespoons of olive oil
6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup of dry white wine
3/4 cup of chicken broth
1 cup of half-and-half (or heavy cream)
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 teaspoons  of parsley, chopped (for the garnish)

Directions:
1.  Pound each chicken fillet to 1/2-inch thick

2.  Beat egss, Parmesan cheese, 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and some black pepper in a shallow bowl.

3.  To another shallow bowl, add the flour, season with salt and pepper, and mix together.

4.  Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil/butter is hot enough for frying, dredge the fillets in the flour (coat completely), then coat them in the egg wash.  Allow any excess egg to drip off before frying the fillets in the oil for about four minutes on each side until they are a nice and golden brown.  Remove the fillets to a paper-towel-lined plate.

5.  To the same frying pan, add the crushed garlic, and cook for one minute (until they are fragrant).  Add in the white wine, the chicken broth, and the parsley.  Allow this to cook for about five minutes on high heat to “reduce down” the mixture (be sure to swirl the pan occasionally).  Reduce the heat and add the cream.  Simmer on low heat until the mixture is slightly thickened.

6.  Stir in the juice from half a lemon and return the chicken to the sauce to heat through on low heat for about two minutes.

7.  Serve the chicken and the sauce together over rice or pasta.  Garnish with extra parsley, if desired.

Cheesecake of the Month – November 2017!

November 15, 2017

So, amazingly enough, I have not yet thought to try to create a cheesecake with Nutella. Well that is about to change.  And, just in time for the fall harvest of hazelnuts to hit the store produce departments.

Nutella Cheesecake

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups of ground oreo cookies or chocolate graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup of hazelnuts, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups of Nutella
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs

For the topping:

  • 1 cup of Nutella
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup of hazelnuts, peeled, toasted, and chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

In a food processor, grind your crumbs and hazelnuts. In a bowl, stir together the crumb mixture, sugar, and melted butter until the crumbs are moistened.

Pour into your springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 1-1/2 inches up the sides. Bake on the center rack of your oven until set, about 8 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and allow the crust cool on a wire rack.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

To make the filling, mix together the sugar, flour, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar mixture and beat until incorporated.

Add the Nutella, cream, and vanilla and beat until well blended.  Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as required.

Pour the filling into the crust and spread it out evenly.

Bake until the filling is set and the center still jiggles slightly when gently shaken, about 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let the cake cool in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it cool on a rack for about 30 minutes.

To make the topping, in a saucepan over low heat, warm the Nutella and the cream, stirring constantly, until smooth and completely combined. Let this mixture cool for about 5 minutes (the mixture should be smooth and spreadable). Pour this mixture evenly over the top of the cheesecake. Let the cheesecake cool completely.

Cover and refrigerate the cheesecake until well chilled (at least 4 hours). Remove the pan sides and bottom and place the cake onto a serving plate. Garnish with the chopped hazelnuts and serve.

 

Caeser Salad with a Twist!

November 6, 2017

I’ve long been a fan of your standard Caesar salad (and have even made the Caesar sauce from scratch a time or two), so when I ran across this recipe that includes fried ravioli (thank you Rachel Ray), I knew that I would definitely be a fan of this one.  And, it is one of those “quick and easy” 15-minute meals.

Caesar-ish Salad and Fried Ravioli

Salt
1 pound fresh large ravioli (any flavor you wish)
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 cup of cornmeal
1 cup of grated Parmigian0-Reggiano cheese
Black pepper
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 large clove of garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of anchovy paste
1 teaspoon of hot sauce (Tabasco)
1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
3 hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped

1.  Bring a large pot of water to boil for the ravioli.  Salt the water and cook the pasta until they float to the surface; drain well.

2.  Heat about 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet (with deep sides) over medium to medium-high heat.  Combine the cornmeal with 1/2 cup of the cheese and lots of pepper on a plate.  In batches, coat the drained ravioli with the cornmeal/cheese mixture, shaking off the excess.  Fry the ravioli in the hot oil until golden (about 2 minutes per side) and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.  Season them with salt.

3.  While the pasta cooks (fries), whisk together the lemon zest and juice, garlic, mustard, anchovy paste, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl.  Stream in 1/4 cup of the olive oil whisking constantly./  Toss the romaine with the dressing, then season with pepper and the remaining cheese and toss again.  Divide the salad among your bowls and top with the crispy ravioli.

Source: just in time by Rachel Ray, p. 162

Cheesecake of the Month – October 2017!

October 14, 2017

Happy Saturday! Last month I ran across a video that demonstrated how to create a “mirror glaze” cake (see below).  So I then thought, hmm, I wonder if there is a “cheesecake” version.  And, lo and behold, yes there is (several as a matter of fact).   Here’s a link to the version that appeared in Canadian Living magazine back in 1995.

Grilled Veal Rolls!

October 5, 2017

I don’t normally grill (and do not even own a grill), but this recipe sound positively wonderful and I may have to investigate finding a grill to try this one out on.

Grilled Veal Rolls

8 slices of veal top-round (about 4 ounces each)
1 cup of freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup of fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup of finely chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/2 cup of dried currants or small raisins (soak them in warm water for an hour and then drain before using)
Salt and pepper
8 sprigs of rosemary (about 5 inches long)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1.  Preheat your grill.

2.  Pound each of your veal slices (place each slice between oiled pieces of foil) to about 1/16-inch thickness (be careful not to tear the meat).  Lay each piece out on your work surface.

3.  In a medium bowl, still together the cheese, bread crumbs, parsley, pine nuts, and drained currants until well mixed.  Season the veal slices with salt and pepper.  Divide the cheese mixture among the veal, spreading it out thinly.  Roll each piece up tightly, starting from a short side; secure them with toothpicks.

4.  Lay 2 veal rolls side-by-side, about 1/2-inch apart, and skewer them with 2 rosemary sprigs.  Repeat with the remaining sets of veal.  Season the rolls with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil.

5.  Grill for 3-4 minutes per side, until nicely charred but still medium.

Serve with a garnish of salad greens (if desired).

Source: Molto Italiano, by Mario Batali, p. 353