Posts Tagged ‘Kitchen’

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!

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

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

3/4 cup of whipping cream
2 Tablespoons of sugar

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 . . .

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.

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

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

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.

Substitutions in the Kitchen!

May 4, 2016

How often have you found yourself missing an occasional ingredient when you are cooking or baking?  Here is a handy infographic that provides some simple and basic substitutions for just such an occasion.  Happy cooking/baking!


Trivia in the Kitchen, Number Sixty-Five!

November 28, 2015

For all of you garlic-lovers out there, here are some easy tips and tricks to help you work with garlic.

  • To peel with ease. . .
    • pour hot water over the cloves and whisk, drain water, and peel with a paring knife.
    • use a rubber jar grip (roll cloves inside) or kitchen gloves
    • hit the clove with a brick (or similar heavy object)
    • microwave on high for about 10 seconds
    • blanch in boiling water for about 15 seconds
    • smash with chef’s knife and place in bowl of cold water
    • wet your fingers before peeling
  • Other tips . . .
    • grate garlic (create a puree)
    • using a cheese grater is quicker than mincing
    • mince using a food processor
    • salt will prevent garlic from sticking to your knife
    • for thin slices, use a truffle slicer
    • add lemon juice and salt to marinade (mellows the taste)
    • cold water and stainless steel will remove odor from hands
    • washing hands with lemon juice and salt will remove odor as well

Source: How to Cook an Egg by the editors, contributors, and readers of Fine Cooking magazine, p. 115-120.

Trivia in the Kitchen,. Number Sixty-Four!

November 21, 2015

How important is the size of your eggs when cooking and/or baking?  Some times the size matters (baking a cake, making custard, etc.) and sometimes it doesn’t (making a frittata, making a strata, or just using beaten eggs).  But if the recipe calls for large eggs and you only have medium or extra-large on hand, they you may want to consult a handy substitution chart.  The first thing that you will want to do is measure the volume of your substitute eggs (beaten/blended) and then use the equivalent amount to what a large egg would have given you.

1 large egg, beaten = 3-1/4 tablespoons
2 large eggs, beaten = 6-1/2 tablespoons (1/4 cup + 2-1/2 tablespoons)
3 large eggs, beaten = 9-2/3 tablespoons (1/2 cup + 1-2/3 tablespoons)
4 large eggs, beaten = 12-3/4 tablespoons (3/4 cup + 3/4 teaspoon)
5 large eggs, beaten = 1 cup

The weight and composition of eggs is as follows (average):

Extra-large eggs: about 2-1/2 ounces per egg, or 1/4 cup (2-2/3 tablespoons white and 1-1/3 tablespoons yolk)
Large eggs: about 2 ounces per egg, or 3-1/4 tablespoons (2-1/4 tablespoons white and 1 rounded tablespoon yolk)
Medium eggs: about 1-3/4 ounces per egg, or 3 tablespoons (2 tablespoons white and 1 tablespoon yolk)

If you recipe call for 3 eggs or less, make a direct substitution (size won’t matter), however, when your recipe gets above the 3 egg limit (4,5, or 6) use the following substitutions:

  • in place of 4 large eggs, use 4 extra-large or 5 medium
  • in place of 5 large eggs, use 4 extra-large or 6 medium
  • in place of 6 large eggs, use 5 extra-large or 7 medium

Source: How To Cook An Egg by the editors, contributors, and readers of Fine Cooking magazine (Molly Stevens), p. 68-69.

Trivia in the Kitchen, Number Sixty-Two!

November 7, 2015

Saffron.  You probably already know that saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world (thousands of dollars per pound), but did you know why?  Saffron is the stigma of the “Crocus sativas” (a fall-flowering crocus).  Each crocus can bear up to four flowers and each flower will have three stigmas.  Because this is such a labor-intensive crop, you will only achieve 5-7 pounds of saffron from each acre of land.  The good news: Saffron contains over 150 aroma-yielding compounds and a very little bit can go a long way.  The aroma has been described as metallic honey with grassy or hay-like overtones; the taste is also described as hay-like and sweet.

Trivia in the Kitchen, Number Sixty-One!

October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!  In case you didn’t know, pumpkin is actually a fruit, NOT a vegetable.  And I would hazard to guess that pumpkin pie is the most popular and frequent way to prepare this fruit.  Pumpkins belong to the family Cucurbitaceae, which includes cucumbers, melons, squash, and gourds.  Here are some pumpkin links to help you plan your next menu (if you wish to include pumpkin) — and, due to the fact that there may be a shortage of canned pumpkin this year, I would not wait until the last minute to pick up enough to get you through the holidays.

Top 10 Pumpkin Desserts (courtesy of Taste of Home)
30 Best Pumpkin Recipes
(courtesy of Country Living)
Flavors to Pair with Pumpkin
Ten Ways to Enjoy Pumpkin

Trivia in the Kitchen, Number Fifty-Six!

September 26, 2015

Have you ever had to create a roux?  Chances are you have, you just didn’t know it at the time.  Roux is actually quite simple to make and involves two ingredients: flour and fat.  These items are cooked together and are oftentimes used as a thickening agent in many sauces.  Butter, of course, is the preferred “fat,” but lard, vegetable oil, or bacon grease (my personal favorite) can also be used.  The secret to a good rue is to add your flour into your melted fat and then stirred until fully incorporated.

When adding your roux to other liquids (such as broth or milk, when making gravies and sauces), it is important to not allow these liquids to get too hot. To avoid lumps, you should add room temperature or warm roux to a moderately hot liquid, or vice versa. Adding in small quantities while stirring seems to be the recommended practice; you can even allow the mixture to boil, but only briefly. Some authorities suggest that if you make a proper roux, your resulting sauces will never be lumpy.

Trivia in the Kitchen, Number Fifty-Five!

September 19, 2015

Last month when I was on vacation, I was going through some of my mom’s old recipe boxes and found a wonderful article (from the May 1992 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine) on how a variety of fruits “measure” up.

1 pound  equals . . .

  • 4 small apples, 3 medium apples, 2 large apples
  • 3 cups (diced)
  • 2-3/4 cups (sliced)
  • 1-1/2 cup (grated)

1 pound equals . . .

  • 3 medium bananas
  • 2 cups (sliced)
  • 1-1/2 cups (diced)
  • 1/3 cup (mashed)

1 medium orange equals . . .

  • 10-11 sections
  • 1/2 cup (bite-sized pieces)
  • 4 teaspoons grated peel
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup of juice

1 medium lemon equals . . .

  • 3 teaspoons grated peel
  • 3 Tablespoons of juice

1 medium grapefruit  equals . . .

  • 2/3 cup of juice
  • 1 cup (bite-sized pieces)
  • 10-12 sections
  • 4 teaspoons grated peel

1 pound of tomatoes equals . . .

  • 3-4 medium tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 cups of pulp

1 pound of peaches equals . . .

  • 2 large peaches, 3 medium peaches
  • 2 cups (sliced)
  • 1-2/3 cups (diced)
  • 1-1/2 cups (pureed)

1 pint of strawberries equals . . .

  • 12 very large berries
  • Up to 36 smaller berries
  • 3-1/4 cups (whole berries)
  • 2-1/4 cups (sliced)
  • 1-2/3 cups (pureed)

1 medium tangerine equals . . .

  • 8-12 sections
  • 2-3 teaspoons grated peel
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of juice

1 pound of pears equals . . .

  • 2 large pears, 3 medium pears
  • 2-1/2 cups (sliced)
  • 2-1/3 cups (diced)
  • 1-3/4 cups (pureed)

1 pound of nectarines equals . . .

  • 3 medium nectarines
  • 2 cups (sliced)
  • 1-3/4 cups (diced)
  • 1-1/2 cups (pureed)

1 lime equals . . .

  • 2 Tablespoons of juice
  • 2 teaspoons of grated peel

1 pound of plums equals . . .

  • 6 medium plums
  • 2-1/2 cups (sliced)
  • 2 cups (diced)
  • 1-1/4 cups (pureed)

Trivia in the Kitchen, Number Fifty-Four!

September 12, 2015

Want to know a surefire solution for juicy white meat in your roasted chicken?    During the “resting” phase (the 10-15 minutes you wait before slicing/carving the full roasted chicken), rest the bird breast-side down.  This will allow all of the juices to flow back down and accumulate in the chicken’s breast.  Easy peezey!

Source: Phillip May, in How to Break an Egg by the editors, contributors and readers of Fine Cooking magazine (p. 222).