Cheesecake

I grew up eating cheesecake.  Well.. really, what I *thought* was cheesecake.  It was Jell-O No Bake Cheesecake, which does have it’s place in the world of quick/instant desserts.  But it isn’t really cheesecake.

Living in New York, there is absolutely no possibility of getting around eating numerous types of cheesecake — New York Style, Italian Style, French — creamy, gritty, sweet, savory.  As is usual for recipes, there are so many increidbly good variations, you just have to find one that suits your fancy.

The version here is somewhat light, not overly dense and incredibly creamy.  I serve it with a light raspberry sauce over top, but choose your favorite topping.

As is with most custards, in my opinion, this will taste even better after being refrigerated overnight.  It ripens, as it were.  Hey..it’s cheese, after all.

Enjoy!

Cheesecake, just out of the oven, and looking yummy, even if it is an awful picture..lol

Cheesecake

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
4 eight ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup flour

Before you start this recipe, please bring the cheese, eggs & sour cream up to room temp. I let them sit on the counter for about 1 hour or so.

Heat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Using shortening or butter, grease the 9 inch springform pan.  Put a pan of hot water into the oven.  I usually just use a 2 quart sauce pan, placed in the very back of the oven, filled with hot water.

Next….Melt the butter, and then in a small bowl, mix it until it’s combined well. Dump this into the middle of your springform pan, and spread evenly. Press the mixture with the bottom of a spoon, packing the cracker mix down. If you like, press a bit of the cracker up the sides a bit.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar and milk together until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, incorporating each egg well into the mix. Add in the sour cream, and vanilla. Lastly, add in the flour. Mix well, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl to get everything well incorporated.

Pour the mix into the springform pan, and allow it to sit on the counter for about 5 minutes, until all the bubbles have risen to the top.

There are three options here for baking the cake:

  • Put the cake directly into the oven to bake.
  • Put the cake pan into a waterbath, and bake. (If you are using a springform pan, wrap the exterior of the pan in a few layers of foil, to keep the water out of the cake, and the cake in the pan).
  • Put the cake directly into the oven to bake, with a pan of water on a lower rack.

I will admit that I do not always use a water bath, nor put a pan of water in the oven at all. I just put it to the oven.   However, because this “cake” is really a custard, it will have more of a tendency to crack, and the water bath (as well as the small bit of flour in the cake), will help to keep that from happening.  I have always put a pan of water on a lower rack while the cake baked. Your choice.

So.. choose how you would like to bake this… and then do so for 1 hour at 350F.

Once the hour is up, turn off the oven and let the cake cool there, with the door closed, for 5-6 hours. The better the cake cools, the more evenly it cools, the less cracking will happen.

Keep refrigerated for up to a week. Or, cut into slices, and freeze for up to a month.

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Postings and Thanksgiving Recipe Collection

Turkeys in my driveway, November 2010

 

It’s been a long while since I posted — My life has been rather hectic and busy over the last few months.  Hopefully, it will begin to slow down soon.

I haven’t been doing all that much cooking, but subsisting only.  I’ve become fast friends with the cashier at my local town market (Kobackers), where I have been purchasing pre-made vegetable salads, fruit salads, “rotisserie” style chicken, and whatever the daily special was.  And a lot of yogurt.  A lot.

Luckily for me, work & teaching are now allowing me a bit more time, and I really want to get back into cooking, and creating recipes.  I really have missed it this last year. 

This previous weekend, I made a cheesecake, and the act of actually baking really reminded me that I do so love to bake & cook.  My goal for this coming year is write a lot more — with recipes, of course, but more articles and information.

I’ll start this with a refresher on Thanksgiving Recipes.  This is a collection of my favorite recipes here on the site relating to Thanksgiving.  There is a little bit for everyone.

I’ll be making a pumpkin cheesecake this weekend, and will post the recipe (along with a maple pecan glaze recipe that is to die for), next week — just in time for you to test out for your holiday dessert.

Enjoy!

A few of my Thanksgiving Recipes as a collection:

Thanksgiving Day

Cranberry Orange Pecan Bread

Grandmas Pumpkin Pie Juice

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Dinner:

How To Cook A Thanksgiving Turkey

Sausage & Mushroom Sage Dressing /Stuffing

Simple Baked Cream Corn

Twice Baked Potatoes, with Onion, Peppers and Bacon

Acorn Squash with Cranberry and Apples

Orange Cranberry Sauce, with Cinnamon and Pecans

Desserts:

No Bake Pumpkin Pie, with Pecan Crust

Frozen Cranberry Cream Pie

Maple Pumpkin Fudge

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TIP: Quick Corn on the Cob, for One

In this household, I cook just for myself quite a lot, and though I love corn on the cob, I don’t usually cook it since it either requires a big pot of boiling water, or a grill.

Recently (okay, the other day), I picked up some corn at the market and as I was doing so, spoke with a woman who was selecting her corn.  She and I got into a conversation on how to cook corn for one person — the microwave.  I have done this before — a bit of water on a plate, covered with microwavable plastic, and cooked for 3-4 minutes.  Her suggestion was just as easy — wrap the cob in a wet paper towel and cook for 3-4 minutes.

This worked out fantastically.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be eating a lot more corn this summer.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie

1 Cup flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cups quick cook oats
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
4 1/2 cups rhubarb (either frozen or fresh)
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat the oven to 350F
Mix together flour, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon.  Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.  Using only half of the crumb mix, press it into an ungreased 8 or 9 inch baking dish.
Combine the rhubarb and strawberries and pour over crumb mix in the baking dish.
In a sauce pan, combine sugar and the cornstarch.  Whisk in the water and vanilla, and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Keep at a boil and stir this mixture for about 2 minutes.  Pour over the fruit.  Using your fingers, sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture evenly over the top.
Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes.  Allow to sit until cool, and serve with vanilla ice cream.
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Orange Juice & Vanilla Ice Cream Cocktail

Yummy!!!!

Quick and easy to make, this ice cream cocktail can be “spiffed up” to be super fancy, or something just to surprise the kids on a spring or summer day.

Orange Juice & Vanilla Ice Cream Cocktail, for the Kids

4 cups orange juice
8 scoops vanilla ice cream
2 cup chilled cream soda
Pour 1 cup of orange juice into glasses.  Put 2 scoops of ice cream in the same glasses, and then top this off with the cream soda.

Orange Juice & Vanilla Ice Cream Cocktail, for the Adults

4 cups orange juice
8 scoops vanilla ice cream
2 cup chilled cream soda
Cointreau or Grand Mariner
Chocolate Bar, scraped into curls
Pour 1 cup of orange juice into glasses.  Put 2 scoops of ice cream in the same glasses.  Put in either the Cointreau or Grand Mariner, and top off with the cream soda.  Top with the chocolate curls.

Use any of the “Orange” flavored liquor that’s on the market.  Cointreau, Grand Mariner, Absolute Mandrin, etc.

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TIP: Clarified Butter (Ghee)

I like to use butter when I sauté or fry in some recipes.  Nothing tastes better than mushrooms sautéed in butter, and when making Chicken Picatta, the chicken must be cooked in butter – thats part of the wonderful flavor.  But unless you are careful, the butter can burn.   It is the milk solids in butter that burn – and it happens fast.   The burn temperature of butter is 250F, and the smoke point is 400F.  So, if you are sauteing something, almost always, your temperature will be someplace in-between those two temps, causing the butter to burn.

One easy solution is to lower the temperature.  However, that does not always produce the desired results.  There are two solutions I usually use, and both are pretty simple to do:

1.  Add a teaspoon of oil for every 2 tablespoons of butter.  This immediately raises the burn and smoke points to an acceptable non-burning temp.  The most common high burn temp (Over 400F) oils are:  canola, olive, corn, cottonseed, grapeseed, rapeseed, peanut, sunflower, sesame.

2.  Make Clarified Butter or what is also known as Ghee.  Two different methods below:

Method One:

In a sauce pan, melt butter slowly.  without stirring at all.  Allow to cool and separate.   The milk solid foam will stay at the top, and milk solids will form at the bottom.  What is in the middle is the clarified butter.   Once the butter has cooled enough (it will begin to thicken), skim this foam off the top. Pour off the butter, leaving the milk solids in the pan.  Discard the milk solids, and store the clarified butter in a cool place.

Method Two (Alton Brown’s method) is just as simple:

Place butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring butter to boil. This takes approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium. The butter will form a foam which will disappear. Ghee is done when a second foam forms on top of butter, and the butter turns golden. Approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Brown milk solids will be in bottom of pan. Gently pour into heatproof container through fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Store in airtight container being sure to keep free from moisture. Ghee does not need refrigeration and will keep in airtight container for up to 1 month.

**Although using clarified butter does raise the burn point, butter will eventually burn if too high of a temp is used

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Maple Walnut Blondies

Maple.  To me, that brings to mind the warmth of the kitchen on a Sunday morning, with pancakes and maple syrup.  And the memory of my mother’s oatmeal cookies. She used to make oatmeal, maple flavored cookies with butterscotch chips, and though I always loved the scent of these, I didn’t really care for the butterscotch chips.

The scent, and flavor of maple is one of my favorites.  I like to make oatmeal, with a touch of maple flavoring; add it to apples just before baking; warm milk with maple flavoring is just yummy, and numerous other recipes.

This one I made today.  I’ve made “blondies” many times.  I usually use chocolate chips and pecans.  But today I decided to use walnuts, white chocolate chips, and maple flavoring.

CIMG0054

Maple Walnut Blondies

1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and cooled (not cold)
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
4 teaspoons maple flavoring
6 ounces white chocolate chips (I use Guittard, if possible)

If you have the time, roast the nuts on a baking sheet at 350 for bout 15 minutes.  Cool before using.  If not, no worries.  Roasting gives deeper flavor, as the oils are already released. 

Line a 13×9 baking pan with foil, and then spray or grease well. 

Mix together flour, baking powder and the salt in a bowl and put to the side.

In a larger mixing bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar, and whisk together until smooth.  The sugar will still be grainy, but the mix will look smooth. 

Add in the eggs and maple flavoring and mix well.

Add in the flour mixture.  Don’t over mix — just mix until blended.  You don’t want this to be gluey or doughy.

Add in the nuts and chips.  Pour into the baking pan.  Bake at 350, between 22 and 26 minutes, until the top is shiny and cracked.  It should be a light golden brown.  Be careful not to over bake these, as they get dry and crumbly, and aren’t all that great. 

Allow to cool for about 15 minutes, and then lift from the pan by the foil edges.  Allow to cool and then cut into small squares. 

If you have any left over chocolate, melt it, and then before cutting into squares, drizzle over the top of the blondies.  Melt the chips in the microwave for 30 seconds, remove, stir, and repeat in 30 second increments, until the chips have melted.  Stir in between every time.  Then, using a fork, dip the fork into the chocolate and drizzle over the blondies.  Allow to cool, and then cut into squares.

Variations:

  • Use Pecans and Chocolate
  • Add in coconut (the unsweetened kind)
  • Use the above recipe, with vanilla in place of the maple
  • Use Hazelnuts and Hazelnut chips (I can only occasionally find these at the health food store)
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