Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

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.

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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.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017!

November 23, 2017

Did you know that Turkey Trots are the most popular races in America?  Did you also know that eating that large Thanksgiving Day meal can cause you to gain a full pound in one day and consume more than 4,000 calories?  Here’s an infographic to show you how long you would have to run to burn off some of these calories.  Enjoy!

mizuno-2015-turkey-trot-infographic-r5-1

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

Cheesecake of the Month – September 2017!

September 16, 2017

Having several “cheesecake-recipe-specific” cookbooks in my kitchen, I generally don’t have to hunt too hard for ideas.  But every now and then I will run across a new recipe that I had never before encountered.  This month’s recipe is one of these new discoveries (courtesy of Karen Barker in Baking from the Heart by Michael J. Rosen).  Yum!

Brown Sugar Cheesecake (with a bourbon-peach sauce)

Crust ingredients
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of finely ground pecans
2 Tablespoons of sugar
2 Tablespoons of butter, melted

Filling ingredients
3 packages (8-ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup of light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons of molasses
1 cup of sour cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

Directions
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8-inch springform pan and wrap the pan in aluminum foil.

2.  For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, pecans, sugar, and melted butter in a small bowl.  Press this mixture onto the bottom and slightly up the sides of your springform pan.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown before removing to a rack and cooling completely.

3.  For the cheesecake, in a large bowl, combine the cream cheese  and brown sugar and mix until smooth (2-3 minutes).  Add the molasses, sour cream, and vanilla and mix until just combined.

4.  Add half of the egg mixture and mix until just incorporated then repeat with the other half of the egg mixture.

5.  Pour the batter into your prepared pan and place it in a shallow roasting pan.  Place the roasting pan on the lowest rack of the oven and create a water bath by adding water until the cheesecake pan is half immersed.

6.  Bake for 1 hour then lower the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes.  The cheesecake should be set and puffed up around the edges while the center will retain a slight jiggle.  Remove the cheesecake pan from the water bath and allow to cool completely on a rack.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.

7.  Remove from the pan and serve with the bourbon-peach sauce

Bourbon Peach Sauce

8 ripe medium-sized peaches
1/4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup of bourbon
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1.  Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil.  Prepare a large bowl of ice water.  Using a small paring knife, draw a long shallow “x” across the skin of each peach.  Gently place the scored peaches into the saucepan and blanch for 30-40 seconds.  Using a strainer, remove the peaches from the water and plunge them into the ice bath for a few minutes.

2.  Peel the peaches, halve them, and discard the pit.  Slice each peach into several thick wedges.

3.  Ina medium non-reactive  saucepan, combine the peaches, sugar, lemon juice, bourbon, and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, or until the peaches are very soft and the liquid has become syrupy.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

4.  Cool the peach mixture and the puree in a blender.  Strain the puree through a fine-mesh strainer.  Taste the sauce and add sugar or lemon juice to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to use.

Source: Baking from the Heart by Michael J. Rosen, p. 111

“Weeds” with Sausage!

September 6, 2017

Here’s a recipe that I will be trying within the next week or so.  I’d not heard of this type of pasta before, but the “weeds” refers to gramigne which apparently resembles a slightly unraveled phone cord.  I’m not sure how easy it will be to find gramigne, but if it proves to be difficult, you could always use fusilli or rotelle.

“Weeds” with Sausage

1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of butter
1 large onion, diced
1 pound of Italian pork sausage (without the casing)
6 Tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1/2 cup of milk
Salt and pepper
1 pound of gramigne, short fusilli, or rotelle
Freshly grated Parmiagiano cheese

1.  In a 12- to 14-inch skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft and golden brown (6-8 minutes).  Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally (and draining any excess fat), until the sausage is very brown and somewhat crisp (about 10 minutes).

2.  Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until it becomes a deep rust color (about 8 minutes).  Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until it is evaporated.  Stir in the milk, season with salt and pepper (to taste), and reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes more.

3.  Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 Tablespoons of salt.  Drop your pasta into the water and cook until just al dente.

4.  Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the cooking water (set aside) and drain the pasta.  Add the pasta to the sauce and toss over high heat for 1 minute (to coat), add a bit of the reserved water if necessary to “loosen” the sauce.

5.  Divide the pasta among your pasta bowls, top with the Parmiagiano cheese and serve.

Molto bene!

Source: Molto Italiano by Mario Batali, p. 189

Cheesecake of the Month – August 2017!

August 15, 2017

Every know and then you run across a recipe that makes you “stop, and take notice.”  This month’s cheesecake recipe is no exception.  And as much as most people like chocolate chip cookies, this cheesecake is sure to be a hit.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

Ingredients
1-3/4 cups of crushed chocolate chip cookies
1/4 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of butter, melted
3 packages (8 ounces each) of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 ounces) of sour cream
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of butter, softened
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of water
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of all-purpose four
1-1/2 cup of miniature chocolate chips, divided

Directions
1.  In a small bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and the sugar; stir in the melted butter and mix.  Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a lightly greased 9-inch springform pan and set aside.  Place the pan on a baking sheet.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and the sugar until smooth.  Add the eggs and beat on low speed until just combined.  Add the sour cream and the vanilla; beat until blended.  Pour this mixture over the crust and set aside.

3.  In another mixing bowl, cream the butter and the sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add the water and the vanilla.  Gradually add the flour.  Stir in one cup of the chocolate chips.  Drop this dough by teaspoonfuls over the filling and gently push the dough below the surface (the dough should be completely covered by the filling).

4.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until the center is almost set.  Cool on a wire rack for ten minutes.  Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen and cool one hour longer.  Refrigerate overnight.  Remove the sides of the pan and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips before serving.