Archive for the ‘Kitchen’ Category

Cheesecake of the Month – May 2017!

May 15, 2017

This month I am experimenting a bit.  I found a couple of separate recipes for a pear/gingersnap combination and I’m going to take the best parts from each to create a hybrid recipe of sorts.  Wish me luck!

Pear-Gingersnap Cheesecake

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups of crushed gingersnap cookies (about 40 cookies)
6 Tablespoons of butter, melted
1 Tablespoon of brown sugar
2 small ripe pears – peeled, cored, and sliced (1/8″ slices)
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
2 Bosc pears (firm) – peeled, cored, and sliced (1/2″ wedges)
2 Tablespoons of butter
1 Tablespoon of sugar
3 Tablespoons of molasses
2 packages (8-ounces each) of cream cheese, softened
1-1/4 cup of sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons of flour
1 cup of sour cream

Directions
1.  In a medium bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs, butter, and brown sugar.  Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9″ springform pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

2.  Prepare the Bosc pears: melt the 2T of butter in  large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the pears and sprinkle with the sugar.  Cook the pears, stirring occasionally, until the pears are tender and lightly browned around the edges (5-7 minutes).  Add the molasses and continue cooking until syrupy (about 2 minutes more) and then set aside.

3.  Prepare the other pears: in a small bowl, toss the pears and ginger.  Line the cooled crust with the pears, overlapping the slices slightly.

4.  For the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes).  Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined.  Add the vanilla and flour and beat until just combined, then add the sour cream and beat until smooth (about 1 minute).

5.  Pour this mixture over the pear-lined crust then gently  arrange the Bosc pear slices on the top (set aside any remaining molasses syrup [can be stored at room temperature] for when you serve the cheesecake).

6.  Transfer the cheesecake to the oven on the middle rack directly over a water bath. Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes or until lightly browned and set around the edges (the center should still jiggle a bit).  Transfer the cheesecake to a rack and allow to cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating for at least 6 hours (or overnight).  Drizzle with remaining molasses syrup when serving.

Enjoy!

Cheesecake of the Month – April 2017!

April 15, 2017

Here is a wonderful recipe for a toffee cheesecake which is perfectly fine just as it is, or you can enhance it a bit by adding a caramel sauce topping . . . your choice or preference. Enjoy!

Ingredients
Crust:
1-1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup of packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup of butter, melted

Filling:
4 packages (8-ounces each) of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of sour cream
1-1/4 cup of sugar
5 eggs
1 Tablespoon of vanilla
2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
5 ounces of toffee bar, crushed

Decoration
3/4 cup of whipping cream
2 Tablespoons of sugar

Directions
1.  CRUST: In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and butter.  Press onto the bottom of a 9″ springform pan and freeze.

2.  FILLING: In a large mixer, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Mix in the vanilla and lemon juice.  Fold in the crushed candy pieces.  Pour the batter over the frozen crust.  Bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees) for 45 to 55 minutes or until the top is lightly brown and the center has a slight jiggle to it.  Cool on a rack for 2 hours.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before decorating or serving.

3.  DECORATION: In a well-chilled bowl (I chill my beaters as well), whip the cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  With the mixer still running, sprinkle the sugar into the cream and continue whping until firm peaks form.  Ice the top of the cake with the whipped cream (or simply pipe a ribbon around the border.

If you opt for the caramel sauce topping . . .

TOPPING:
1-1/4 cups of sugar
1/3 cup of water
1 cup of whipping cream, room temperature
1/2 cup of butter, softened
1 teaspoon of vanilla

In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the sugar and the water until the sugar melts.  Increase the heaat and boil without stirring until the mixture is a rich caramel color.  It should take about 8 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low, add the room-temperature cream, stirring constantly to smooth the bubbles.  Mix in the butter until it is melted and then add the vanilla.  Cool slightly.  Garnish cheesecake with caramel.

Rack of Lamb!

April 6, 2017

Easter is right around the corner and would be an excellent occasion for serving a rack of lamb.   Here’s a recipe that I found for a mint-crusted rack of lamb that is just out of this world.  I had never even attempted to serve a rack of lamb before, but this recipe was super easy and delicious to boot!  I served green beans and potatoes with the lamb for a meal that was positively wonderful.

And, for presentation purposes, “trimming” your rack of lamb is essential!  Here’s a video that demonstrates the correct way to trim your rack.  Yes, she makes it look really easy, but trust me, it is a bit more challenging than it looks.  I’m sure my “trims” will improve with practice, but for a first go at it, I was very pleased with my result.  Good luck!

Cheesecake of the Month – April 2017!

March 15, 2017

This month’s delectable recipe is for a savory cheesecake (meant to be served as an hors d’oeuvres).  Three types of cheese and bacon . . . of course I’ll like it!

Gorgonzola Cheesecake

Ingredients
1-1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup lightly toasted bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1 cup finely chopped onions
1-3/4 pounds cream cheese, softened
1/2 pound gorgonzola cheese
4 eggs
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Hot sauce to taste

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Mix the bread crumbs with the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the crumb mixture in the pan, turning the pan to coat evenly.

Fry the bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Dispose of all but about one tablespoon of bacon fat from the skillet. Add the onions, and cover and cook over low heat about 10 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.

Crumble the bacon. Combine the cream cheese and the Gorgonzola in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add the eggs, cream, salt and hot sauce and process until smooth. Blend in the bacon and onions, but don’t over mix.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Set the pan in a roasting pan and add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the springform. Bake until the cheesecake sets, about an hour and 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and cool the cheesecake about an hour with the oven door ajar. Transfer to a rack and cool to room temperature before removing the pan and serving.

Source: Judy Walker, a writer for The Times-Picayune, Greater New Orleans (newspaper).

A “Honey” of a Dessert!

March 4, 2017

When it comes to baking desserts, I rarely make ordinary cake.  However, in this month’s issue of Food and Wine, I found a recipe that sounds fabulous and I just can’t wait to give it a try.

Honey Cake with Citrus Frosting

Cake Ingredients
Non-stick spray
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1-3/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of honey
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (plus 2 Tablespoons) of hot brewed coffee
2 Tablespoons of orange juice
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste

Frosting Ingredients
1 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 cup (plus 1 Tablespoon) of all purpose flour
1 cup of whole milk
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 teaspoon of finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
Candied orange slices (for the granish)

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Wrap the outside of the pan with foil and set on a rimmed baking sheet.

2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cloves, allspice, and ginger.  In another bowl, whisk the oil and the honey.  In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the eggs with both sugars at medium-high speed until thick and nearly doubled in volume (about 4 minutes).  Slowly beat in the oil-honey mixture until just combined (about 1 minute).  The batter may not look right, but it will emulsify while baking.  In a measuring cup, combine the coffee, orange juice, and vanilla paste.  At low speed, beat the dry ingredients and the coffee mixture into the batter in three alternating additions until just combined.

3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 1 hour.  Run a knife around the edge of the cake and remove the springform pan (including the bottom).  Allow the cake to cool completely before transferring to a large plate.

4. For the frosting, in a small saucepan, whisk 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar with the flour then whisk in the milk.  Bring this combination to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking constantly (abut 10 minutes).  Scrape into a heatproof bowl and press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface.  Allow to cool about 1 hour.

5. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and the orange zest on medium speed until fluffy and smooth (about 5 minutes).  Beat in the cooled flour mixture, 1 Tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla and salt and continue beating until smooth (about 2 minutes).

6. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake and refrigerate until set (about 15 minutes). Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.  Refrigerate until the frosting is just firm (about 30 minutes).  Top with candied orange slices prior to serving.

Candied Orange Slices
http://www.simplysated.com/candied-orange-slices/

Source: Food and Wine Magazine, March 2017, p. 33.

Cheesecake of the Month – February 2017!

February 15, 2017

I was perusing Pinterest the other day and ran across a recipe that sounded positively wonderful.  It is technically a pie, but a pie that incorporates a bit of cheesecake into the recipe.  I can’t wait to try it.

Upside Down Cheesecake Apple Pie

Ingredients
2 pie crusts
2 packages (8-ounce each) of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 eggs
6 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
1/2 cup of sugar
2 Tablespoons of flour
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
Caramel sauce (garnish)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a pie pan with a pie crust.

2.  Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla on high speed until fluffy.  Add in the eggs and the milk and mix until combined.  Pour the mixture into the pie crust.

3.  In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Place the apples on top of the cream cheese mixture.

4. Top the apples with your second pie crust, turning the crust inward.  Cut a few small slits into the top of the pie.

5.  Place the pie on a cookie sheet, cover loosely with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until the apples are soft.  Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.

6.  Place a large plate over the top of the pie and flip it upside down onto the plate.  Cool for one hour  then refrigerate at least four hours.  Serve cold with caramel sauce.

Source: Recipe by Spend with Pennies at http://www.spendwithpennies.com/upside-down-cheesecake-apple-pie/

Cheesecake of the Month – January 2017!

January 15, 2017

I found a UK recipe, so I’m having to convert from metric to US measurements.  This may take a little “fiddling” with to get just right, but here’s my best guess.  Regardless, the flavors sound delicious and I can’t wait to give it a try.

Fresh Ginger Cheesecake

Ingredients
1 cup of crushed gingersnap cookies
1/4 cup of butter, melted
3 (8-ounce packages) of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of sugar
1 Tablespoon of flour
2 teaspoons of fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon of lemon juice (I may try lime juice just to be different)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of whipping cream
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 (8-ounce) carton of sour cream
2 Tablespoons of sugar
1/3 cup of caramel topping
Crystallized ginger, cut into strips (optional)

Directions
1.  Preheat your over to 350 degrees.  Stir together the crushed gingersnap cookie crumbs and the butter.  Press onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.  Bake for 5 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until smooth.  Beat in the sugar, flour, ginger, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt.  Beat in whipping cream just until combined.  Stir in the eggs, one at a time (do not overbeat).  Pour over crust and place in a shallow baking pan.

3.  Bake about 45 minutes or just until the center is set.  in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and the 2 Tablespoons of sugar.  Spread this mixture over the top of the baked cheesecake.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Loosed the crust from the sides of the pan.  Chill in refrigerator for at least four hours.

4.  Just before serving, warm the caramel topping and spoon over the top of the cheesecake (allow some to drip down over the sides).  Top with strips of the crystallized ginger is you desire.

Cheesecake of the Month – December 2016!

December 15, 2016

This month I will be doing a variation on a theme.  I have previously posted a recipe for a chocolate toffee cheesecake, but I’m going to change it up a bit to make a more “festive” holiday version (courtesy of Epicurious.com, thank you).

Christmas Cheesecake with English Toffee

Ingredients
Crust
1-1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup of toasted almonds (chopped)
1/2 cup of English toffee bits
2 Tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
6 Tablespoons of butter (melted)

Filling
4 packages (8 ounce each) of cream cheese
1 cup of brown sugar
4 eggs
1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
8 ounces of chocolate-covered English toffee, diced

Topping
16 ounces sour cream
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Assorted candies (holiday colored M&Ms, gumdrops, etc.)

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the first five ingredients for the crust in a medium bowl.  Add the butter and stir until evenly moistened.  Press the mixture over the bottom and up the sides of a 10″ springform pan.  Bake the crust for 5 minutes and set aside.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

2. Beat the cream cheese and the sugar in a large bowl until blended.  Beat in the eggs (one at a time).  Add the two extracts.  Pour half of the mixture over the crust; sprinkle the toffee pieces over the batter; pour the remaining mixture over the toffee.  Bake until the edges done but the middle is still jiggly (approximately 55 minutes).  Remove the cheesecake, but keep the oven on.

3. Mix the sour cream, the sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth.  Pour the topping over the hot cheesecake and return to the oven to cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack, run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan and refrigerate overnight.

4. Remove the pan, slice, garnish with the candies, and serve.

Awesome Slaw!

December 11, 2016

I generally a fan of cole slaw despite the fact that the mayonnaise makes it a little less healthy option for consuming cabbage.  I will definitely be a fan of this recipe for slaw that doesn’t require mayonnaise, a win, right?  Well, it may not have mayonnaise, but it does have bacon which probably drops it right down to a category of bad equal to that of mayonnaise.  Alas, what is one to do.  But for all of you bacon lovers out there, here’s another option for you.

Bacon Slaw

Cook six (6) slices of thick-cut bacon in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil; drain the bacon and crumble. To the bacon drippings: add 1/2 sliced red onion, 1/4 cup each of the cider vinegar and the water, 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of celery seeds.  Mix well then toss with six (6) cups of shredded cabbage; add the bacon and toss.  Enjoy!

Source: www.foodnetwork.com

Seasonal Holiday Tart!

November 29, 2016

If you are looking for something new this holiday season, here is a recipe for an amazing tart (courtesy of Sqirl’s pastry chef, Meadow Ramsey).

Hazelnut-Rosemary Caramel Tort

Ingredients
Pastry
1 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons of all purpose flour
1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt
1-1/2 sticks of cold butter, cubed
2 large egg yolks
Ice water

Filling
1-1/2 sticks of butter
1 Tablespoon of chopped rosemary
1-1/2 cup of hazelnuts
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 cup of packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup of brown rice syrup
1/4 cup of honey
1 teaspoon of fine sea salt
2 Tablespoons of heavy cream
1 Tablespoon of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Flaky sea salt (for garnish)
Whipped creme fraiche (for garnish/serving)

1.  Make the pastry.  In a food processor, pulse the flour with the confectioners’ sugar, baking powder, and fine sea salt.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Ad the egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of ice water and pulse until the pastry just comes together; add another tablespoon of ice water if it seems dry.  Turn the pastry out on to a work surface and pat into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled (about an hour).

2.  On a floured work surface, roll out the pastry to a 12-inch round.  Ease the round into a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing it into the corners and up the side.  Trim off any overhang.  Freeze the tart shell for 30 minutes.

3.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights.  Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes before removing the pie weights and parchment; bake for an additional 10-15 minutes longer, until it is lightly browned.  Allow to cool completely.

4.  Make the filling.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat.  Remove from the heat and add the rosemary (allow to steep for 20 minutes).  Strain the butter into a small bowl and let cool.

5.  Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven  until fragrant and golden (the skins should just be starting to split, about 12 minutes or so) .  Let them cool slightly then transfer the nuts to a kitchen towel and rub together to remove the skins; let them cool completely.  Coarsely chop the hazelnuts and spread them in your cooled tart shell.

6.  In a large bowl, beat the whole eggs and yolks with the brown sugar, brown rice syrup, honey and fine sea salt.  Gradually whisk in the rosemary butter then whisk in the cream, flour, and vanilla.  Pour the filling into the tart shell and sprinkle the flaky sea salt on the top.  Place the tart shell on a rimmed baking sheet and bake the tart for 50 minutes at 375 degrees (until the filling is set at the edge, but slightly jiggly in the center).  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Store in the refrigerator.  Serve at room temperature (or just slightly chilled) with a dollop of whipped creme fraiche (or plain whipped cream).

Source: the November issue of Food & Wine magazine, p. 98.