Tag Archives: Butter

Grandma’s Cheescake

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I know, I know, it’s another cheesecake recipe.  What can I say, it’s Cheesecake.

Around this time of year I generally take a trip to St Louis to see Shakespeare in the Park, and one of the places I like to go is the Cheesecake Factory.   As someone who loves deserts, they do good deserts.  I’m not a supper big fan of the restaurant itself, but I love their cheesecake, so a lot of times I would get the cheesecake to go, and eat it at Shakespeare in the Park.

It’s an amazing experience for anyone who’s in the area and hasn’t tried it yet.  It is a picnic kind of affair where people bring blankets and baskets and lounge around on this big hill.  For a good spot, you need to be there about an hour before the show starts, and they generally have some of the actors roaming around the audience in character interacting with the crowd.

Before the show starts there’s a lot of noise.  People talking, kids running around, laughing, but when the show starts it’s instantly silent.  Their acoustics are amazing too, you can hear every word even if you’re sitting a fair distance from the stage, they do a good job.  And if I haven’t sold you yet, it’s free.  True, there are seats in the very front that you can buy, but half the fun is sitting on your big picnic blanket and munching on cheesecake and samosas.

The show opened this week, and I’m not going to be able to make it for a few weeks yet, but I’m already craving that cheesecake and samosas.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 sticks butter (1 cup)

Graham crackers

6 tablespoons cold water

2 envelopes gelatin

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 cup milk

Juice of 1 lemon

Rind of 2 lemons

1 package cream cheese (1/2 lb)

1 cup cottage cheese

½ cup heavy cream

1 quart strawberries

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Get the cottage cheese and cream cheese out of the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature while preparing the other ingredients.

This recipe makes enough filling for two pies, so I’ve included the amount of crust needed for two pies. Crush the graham crackers in a food processor or a blender until crushed and you have 4 cups worth of graham cracker crumbs.  Takes the entire package of graham crackers.  Divide the graham cracker crumbs into 2-2 cup proportions.

Into each 2 cup of graham crackers cut 1 stick of butter into very small pieces and mix by hand until the butter is totally mixed.  Will only take about 5 minutes, and the mixture will not be smooth but will have the consistency of oily graham cracker crumbs. 

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Sprinkle the graham cracker mix one handful at a time into the bottom of a cake tin.  Firmly press the crumbs into the bottom of the tin.  Turn the tin on it’s side and repeat, pressing into the sides of the pan as high as you can.  Make sure there are no cracks or breaks in the crust, but it’s okay if it’s uneven.

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Chill while preparing the filling.

Put the water in a small bowl and add the two envelopes of gelatin.  Stir and let sit until the gelatin softens.  Pour the gelatin into a small saucepan and add the sugar and salt, heat over low heat until the gelatin and sugar dissolves.

Add the eggs and the milk, stirring often until the mixture is almost at a boil and the mixture starts to thicken.  On low heat this will take a while, about 20 minutes.  If you are impatient you can turn the heat up to medium and stir constantly, which will thicken the mixture in about 10 minutes.

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Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and rind.  Cool in the refrigerator until no longer hot.

While waiting, mix together your now room temperature cottage cheese and cream cheese.  Beat with a hand mixer or an upright until the entire mixture resembles cream cheese as opposed to cottage cheese, takes about 5-10 minutes.  

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Add the gelatin, after it is no longer hot, and mix.  Pour the mixture into the crumb bases and chill overnight.  Do not overfill either crust.

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Decorate with strawberries and powdered sugar if desired.

All in all, this takes about an hour of prep time, and then it needs to be in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, so it’s definitely a make ahead kind of desert, but it’s well worth the wait.

Enjoy!

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Strawberry Cheese Pie

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I don’t tend to try to follow diets.  This is not to say I don’t watch what I eat and exercise, I do, mostly by refusing to eat fast food despite my love of curly fries.  Ummm….curly fries.   And I have this belief, which may be incorrect, that as long as I make it myself regardless of the amount of whipping cream or butter I use, it’s still healthy.  I’m sure that logic is sound.

While this logic works for me, and a lot of Zumba, it does not work for everyone.  In the last week or so I’ve had a few comments, both from my coworkers who beta test my food, and from a few people on line, that I might be a little too heavy handed with the whipping cream and butter.  So I have decided to post something a little healthier, and because nothing can ever be easy, I’ve decided to make a healthy cheesecake.  Yes, I said that right, this is a healthy cheesecake.

Those are two words that are probably not uttered together with any frequency, and it was the belief of one of my beta testers that it should not have been attempted, but he was actually satisfied with the result.  By using cottage cheese and sour cream instead of cream cheese and whipping cream the cheesecake is significantly healthier, this is a desert that would not break your diet, though it would probably bend it a great deal.

The balance with these ingredients is that the cheesecake will be much lighter, not as dense or creamy as a traditional cheesecake, which is why I am calling it cheese pie, with a slight tart taste from the lemon.  This makes it perfect for summer, and picnics to dazzle everyone.

Enjoy

Ingredients

Honey Graham Crackers

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

¼ cup sugar

1 quart strawberries

3 eggs

1 package cream cheese (8 oz)

¼ cup cottage cheese

1/3 cup powdered sugar

½ cup sour cream

1 lemon

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Preheat oven to 325OF

Let all ingredients come to room temperature.  Gagh I know, just get everything out and then watch Iron Chef for 30 minutes.

Crush the graham crackers to a fine powder in a blender or food processor.  You will need 1 ½-2 cups of crushed graham crackers, which takes about ½ of the box.  Take a cake pan and rub the butter stick around it liberally, buttering the cake tin.

Pour the graham cracker crumbs and the sugar into a mixing bowl.  Add the butter, cutting it into small pieces.  Mix by hand until the butter is fully incorporated.  The final mixture will not be completely mixed like a pie dough, but will still be very much like graham cracker crumbs.

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Take handfuls of the graham cracker mixture and scatter them into the cake tin.  Press down firmly to the bottom and then turn the tin on it’s side and repeat around of the sides.  Make sure there are no cracks and that the surface is well covered.  This does not have to be perfect, if it’s not even on the bottom or the sides it will still bake just fine.

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Wash the strawberries, cut off the stem, and cut the strawberries in half.  Fill the bottom of the cake tin with the strawberries, in whatever pattern you would like.  Refrigerate the crust while making the filling.

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Blend together the eggs, cream cheese, and cottage cheese, this is much easier with a hand mixer than by hand.  This will not make a completely mixed product, as the cottage cheese will not break up.

Add the powdered sugar, the sour cream, and the juice and zest of the lemon and mix well.

The zest of the lemon is the peeling, I find the easiest way to zest the lemon is to use a cheese grater, and to zest the lemon before cutting it.

Spoon the mixing into the prepared crust making sure to completely cover the strawberries in the bottom.  If you overflow the crust a little, that’s okay, but don’t overflow the tin.

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Bake for 45-50 minutes and then turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in.  The cheesecake should be slightly golden on the top and the crust might be very dark.  Don’t try to cook the cheesecake longer even if it isn’t completely set up, since this could lead to the cheesecake burning.  Leave the cheesecake in the oven until the oven is completely cool, or at least 2 hours.

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Refrigerate the cheesecake for 6 hours-overnight.  Before serving garnish with additional halved strawberries.

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I’d say this is a little bit of a more complicated recipe; the hardest part is making the crust, which isn’t difficult but does take some time.  Total prep time is about an hour, and total cooking time, not including refrigeration, is about 3 hours.

Enjoy!

Cheddar Jalapeno Scones

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I’m going to start this off by saying I’ve never been a good bread baker.  I’m just too impatient, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before.

I have this huge prejudice against baking bread.  It recalls to me memories of flouring a surface, rolling out bread, and repeating.  A cycle that seemed to go on and on and on and on For Hours.  And then there is my lack of an upright mixer, and thus a bread hook, which most bread recipes call for.  I’m not a muscular person, I’ve felt tired after poking bread dough, and I can’t imagine trying to do the kneading by hand.  Shudder.

My sister in law though.  Man she can bake some bread.  She’s great at it; she really puts me to shame.  I spent a week at her house and we had fresh bread every day, which of course had nothing to do with how we would eat all of it by the end of the day.  And of course, like someone who’s just enjoying a good thing, I never thought to pay attention to her while she worked.  So, for now at least, her bread secrets are safe.

Until then, I’ve managed to find a bread that has limited kneading and no rolling out with flour.  And you mix it with your hands, so as a bonus, you get to play with your food and eat it too!  I’m thinking this is a win win.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

If you use salted butter, leave out the additional salt

1 cup Cheddar Cheese

2 green onions

2 tablespoons diced jalapenos, or other green chilies

You can also use 2 fresh jalapenos finely chopped

2-3 tablespoons minced garlic

Or 6 cloves fresh garlic finely chopped

1 egg

½ cup whipping cream

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Preheat the oven to 425OF

In a large bowl, and I mean one with tall sides because this is going to be messy, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Mix that once or twice, and then take the butter and cut it into the smallest pieces you can manage.  Mixing in the butter is the hardest part of this recipe.

You can either, take a knife in both hands and pretend you are an automaton by cutting the flour/butter mixture repeatedly.  The aim is to continuously cut the butter into smaller and smaller pieces, which is best achieved by just cutting the butter against the walls of the bowl.  Takes about 15 minutes.

Or you can get a hand mixer and make a mess by just beating it for the 15 minutes.  A small amount of flour will fly everywhere, but you don’t have to do the robot.

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Either way, the result is the same and it takes about the same amount of time.  Will look like ground graham crackers.

Yah, the hard part’s over!

Finely dice your green onions and add them and the remaining ingredients (the egg, cheese, green onions, jalapenos, garlic, and heavy cream).  Now put away your knives or your hand mixer, and mix this by hand.  Yes it will be sticky and slimy and flour will get under your nails, but isn’t it also fun!  And trust me; it’s easier than trying to mix it with the hand mixer or a spoon because, yes, I tried.

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By hand, it takes about 5 minutes to fully mix everything together and you should have a pretty sticky  dough that’s a lot more like chocolate chip cookie dough than bread dough.  I guess that’s the power of scones.

Pull off a section of the bread dough and roll it around in your palms until it makes a smooth ball, poking in any stray pieces of green onion or jalapeno.  You’re ball should be about the size of a ping pong ball, so add or subtract as necessary.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.

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If you end up with the last ball being smaller than all the others, instead of trying to bake it too, pull it apart and add a little bit to all of the other balls.  Try to keep them all about the same size.

Take a baking sheet and line it with a piece of wax or parchment paper.  This is to prevent the scones from burning on the bottom before they cook completely.  Place your bread balls on the baking sheet so that they are evenly spaced and there is space between all of them.

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Using the palm of your hand, press down gently on each bread ball until they just spread out a little, but do not squash them.  If necessary, readjust the placement so there is still space between them.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Be careful with these, they burn pretty quickly.  As soon as they come out of the oven, pull the wax paper off of the baking sheet.  This will keep the scones from continuing to cook.

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Start to finish, takes about 30-45 minutes and is a great addition to any dinner.  They taste a little reminiscent of Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits, and yes, unfortunately that means they’re not that good for you.  It’s okay, you bought that wii for a reason, or use milk instead of whipping cream for a significantly healthier but not as moist (and much more prone to burning) scone.

I served them drizzled with a little bit of oil instead of butter.  I hat to cut the calories down somewhere.

Enjoy!

Creamy Chicken Penne

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As a tradition I always cook for my Mom for every special occasion.  Christmas, her Birthday, Mother’s day, I always cook her dinner.  It’s a tradition I stared when I started college and shortly after I moved out when I had no money and no idea what to buy her.  When I was younger I would buy her stuff for the kitchen, but she didn’t use any of it much.  Except for wooden spoons, for some reason we’re both always in need of more wooden spoons.

So, back to what’s important the food.  While I tend to gravitate towards Asian food, the spicer the better, my Mom prefers pasta, the Olive Garden is one of her favorite restaurants.  So pasta it was.

I decided to make a mild sauce pasta, my Mom prefers tomato based pasta’s and I prefer cheese based, so I compromised with wine.  I had to eat it too.   The side would be Bruchetta, who doesn’t like Bruchetta, and a desert of chocolate pie.

Happy Mother’s Day.  I love you Mom.

P.s.  For a vegetarian option exchange the chicken breasts for 1 lb of mushrooms.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion

2 tablespoons capers

½ cup white wine

2 cups whipping cream

1 box pasta

Salt

Pepper

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I used penne, it’s my favorite kind of pasta, but you could easily substitute a different Italian pasta(not egg or udon noodles)

Trim any fat off of the chicken and cut it into approximately 1 inch pieces.

Melt the butter in a skillet under medium heat.  Once butter has melted add the chicken pieces and season with salt and pepper in the skillet.  This will season the butter as well which is going to be used in the next step.

Cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center.  Will take about 10 minutes.  If you get impatient, and some of your chicken pieces start to get done, you can cut the bigger pieces in half with a wooden spoon by pressing down in the middle and wiggling the spoon back and forth a little.

While chicken is cooking, finely dice the onion and start making the pasta following the instructions on the box.

Once chicken has cooked completely, take out of the skillet but do not drain the skillet.  Add the onion and capers to the skillet where you cooked the chicken.  If some of the juice the capers are stored in get into the dish as well, don’t worry about it, it’s additional seasoning.  Cook on medium to high heat for about 1 minute or until the onions start to soften, the onions will turn brown from the chicken drippings.  Add the wine and turn the heat back down to medium.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the wine reduces by half.  Should take about 5 minutes.

Add the cream and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cream has thickened.  To tell when the cream has thickened, stir immediately after addition and note how much resistance there is, should be similar to stirring milk.  When the cream has thickened there will be a little bit of resistance and cream will not slosh in the pan as much.  Should take about 10 minutes.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot you cooked it in.  After the cream has thickened pour it on top of the pasta and add the chicken.  Stir to evenly mix.

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If your pasta sauce is not as thick as you would like it, you can continue to cook the pasta after it’s all in one dish, stirring frequently to avoid the pasta burning on the bottom.  Be very careful about this though, because your chicken will very quickly start to dry out.

Start to finish this takes about 45 minutes.

Enjoy!

Coconut Cream Pie

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Coconut probably is one of my favorite ingredients.  When I found out that South Indian cuisine had a lot of coconut in it, I went on a quest to find someone from South India who could give me some recipes.  I was successful in finding two.  Unfortunately, one of them doesn’t cook with coconut much, and the other one was vegetarian.  But never fear, my quest continues.  I’m hearing batman music right now, that’s probably just in my head.

But until then, there’s always pie.   Ummm….pie.  Pie should be its own food group.  And since I’m not likely to be leaping any tall buildings any time soon, bring on the pie!

Just so as you know though, this is a pretty healthy pie as far as pie goes.  This is an old school recipe, back before pudding was used as a base for cream pies, so you cut back on preservatives by making the pudding base yourself.  Also, it has only a small amount of butter, and less than a cup of sugar.  If you’ve got a sweet tooth and trying to cut back on the sugar, or if you’re not really a fan of suggery sweets this is the pie for you.

If you want an even healthier pie, or a lighter pie, you can separate out your eggs and use only egg whites, it will make your pie whiter, where this one has a decided yellow tinge, and it might also make it a little firmer, but it won’t affect the taste much.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 pie crust

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ -2 cups coconut

1 tablespoon butter

2 eggs

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Preheat oven to 350O F

Take the pie crust and carefully unroll it into a pie tin that is dry.  Do not butter or oil or flour the pie tin.  If you let the pie crust sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes, this is easier, but it’s not essential if you’re careful.

Press the pie crust firmly down into the pie tin, and then pinch the upper crust between the forefingers of both hands in order to create the ‘wrinkle’.  Do this all the way around the pie, this will both make the pie have the traditional look, and help prevent it from sinking or burning.

Again, make sure the pie crust is pressed down well and is not lower on one area of the pie tin than another.

Take a fork and pierce the bottom and sides of the pie crust making sure there are no open space of more than 1 inch.  This will let air out of your pie crust while you bake it and prevent it from puffing up.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until the pie crust is golden brown.

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You might want to check it occasionally, and if it starts to puff up anyplace, you might be able to save it by pulling it out of the oven early.

While the pie is baking heat the milk in a saucepan under medium to low heat.  Add first the flour, cornstarch, and finally the salt a small amount at a time stirring well after each addition.   Make sure you completely blend in each of the dry ingredients into the milk and don’t leave any lumps.  Should take around 5-10 minutes, the smaller the measurement of the dry ingredients you try to add at each time the easier it will be to blend.

Add the sugar ¼ cups at a time and stir continuously until the mixture starts to thicken.  Takes about 5 minutes.

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Turn the heat down to low and stir continuously to incorporate ½ cups coconut and butter until the butter has melted.  Takes less than 5 minutes

Add the eggs, one egg at a time, stirring continuously until the eggs are well blended.  Pour into the prepared pie crust.

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Top with the remaining coconut.  Chill overnight.

Congratulations, that was it, you’re done!

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Takes about 20-40 minutes cook time and needs to chill overnight to set up.  Since it hasn’t been baked at all, it will only be semi-solid even when it has set overnight, so try not to leave it out of the refrigerator for long.

Enjoy!

Fried Milk

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April 20th was the biggest event all year for the student association I’m involved with, Taste of Asia.  It went really well, lots of good food and some good entertainment from the Malaysian Martial Arts group.  But it was a lot of work.

My day started really early since I was there at 11 to start setting up for the event at 2, and it’s a really good thing because we just got done in time.  At 2 o’clock everything was ready; the servers were lined up and ready, as well as there being a considerable amount of people in line, including me.  But the line wasn’t moving.  About ten minutes of rather impatient waiting later, I was hungry; I finally walked over to the president and asked what we were waiting for.  The answer was easy, we needed someone to announce for the event to begin, emphasis on me.

Well, I’m not going to say I didn’t want to be MC and I’m not afraid of the stage, so I took a deep breath and said, in not quite my loudest voice, ‘Welcome To The 9th Annual Taste of Asia Celebration!’ and a lot of other stuff, ending with, ‘let’s serve the food!’  Lots of cheers to that one, I wasn’t the only one who was hungry.

At this point I figured I could sneak back in line and get some of food, but alas, instead I was handed a microphone.   I realized, though, that being MC had its advantages.   While I went around interviewing the chefs, asking what country they were from, what they had cooked today, etc., they kept giving me samples of their food.  Try this, try this.  I got to have all the food I could have wanted, without having to wait in line.

One of the foods I got to try was Fried Milk, and I’m a little ashamed to say I had 3 pieces of it.  It went really quick, partially because of my loud speaker endorsement of it.  One of my favorite dishes that day, I was able to get a hold of the chef after the event and get the recipe from her.  Thank you Singing Yvonne Li, for sharing this recipe with me and allowing me to post it here.  All credit for the recipe goes to her.

Enjoy.

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Ingredients

Filling:

2 cups milk

½ cup sugar

¾ cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon butter

Batter

½ cup milk

1 egg

2/3 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Oil for frying

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In a saucepan over medium heat mix all the ingredients of the filling:  milk, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract, and butter.  Stir continuously until the mixture solidifies.  Should take somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes.  When mixture solidifies it’ll be a little gluey and very thick.

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Spread mixture evenly into a square or rectangular container, a little like rice crispy treats.  The container does not have to be buttered or oiled.  The filling will try to pull away from the sides and stick to itself, so press it down firmly with your hands or a spoon.

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It’ll be really hard to get it to be smooth on the top, don’t worry, you don’t have to.

Cover and cool in the refrigerator overnight, or a minimum of 4 hours.

After the filling has cooled completely, I left it in my refrigerator overnight, take it out and cut it into approximately 1 inch squares.

To make the batter, in one bowl mix the milk and egg white.  In a second bowl mix the flour, salt, and egg yolk.

In my opinion the simplest way to separate the yolk from the egg white is to carefully crack the egg and pull it apart vertically so that the egg remains in one piece of the shell.  Now pass the egg yolk from one shell half to the other, letting any of the yellowish ooze, which is the egg white, drip down into your bowl.  Pass the egg yolk three or four times from one shell half to the other until all you’re left with is the yellow center.  If a little of the yellowish ooze remains attached to the center, the yolk, that’s okay.

Heat approximately 2-3 inches of oil in a deep saucepan to high heat, around 400OF.  Make sure you have everything ready before you heat the oil, because it will heat very quickly.  Also, make sure you wait until your oil is hot enough before you start frying the pieces.

Dip each piece of filling into first the milk mixture, and then into the flour mixture.   Carefully drop the filling into the oil and fry until golden brown.  These are very heavy so they will not float the surface but stay at the bottom, which is why you don’t want as much oil.

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Pieces fry in about 5 minutes.  You’re going to want to have some kind of spoon to turn the pieces around every now and then since it’s hard to see when they get done.  Also, the oil is going to get really cloudy since a percentage of the flour on each piece is going to flake off.

Drain off any excess oil and serve hot or cold.  Also very good with chocolate sauce, but that may just be because I love chocolate.  Makes about 30 pieces.

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Enjoy

Peach Surprise Tea Cakes

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Peach Surprise Tea Cakes

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Ingredients:

2 ½ cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon Salt

1 cup sugar

2-8 oz cans sliced peaches

½ cup butter (1 stick)

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350OF

Mix together sugar and butter.  This is easier if the butter is at room temperature, but if you’re impatient like I am, you can cut the butter into small pieces instead of waiting for the butter to warm up.  The mixture will not be smooth, but will look crumbly.

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Add the vanilla and egg and. Mix.  This will make a smooth mixture.

Drain one of the cans of peaches and reserve the juice.  Pour the peaches into a blender or food processer and puree.  Add the peach puree to the mixture and mix well.   You’re back to this not being a smooth mixture.

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If you are using hand beaters like you can see in the top right corner of the photos or an upright mixer, you can mix together the peaches, egg, and vanilla all together at once, but it is hard if you are mixing by hand.

Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour.  Mix well.  If mixing by hand add the flour 1 cup at a time to make mixing easier.

Add the buttermilk and reserved juice from the can of peaches. If you don’t have buttermilk easily on hand, you can make 1 cup of buttermilk by mixing 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and letting sit for about 20 minutes.  Mixture should be easily mixed and look like yellow cake batter.

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The longer you mix the cake batter at this step the more air you incorporate into the batter and the fluffier your cupcakes will be.  This is easier if you have electric beaters, and using a food processor or blender will not give you the air incporation you need.  An additional 5 minutes after the milk is well incorporated is good, 10 minutes would be excessive.

Place cupcake papers into cupcake tins.  Open the second can of peaches and place one peach slice into the bottom of each paper, try to include as little juice as possible.

Pour approximately 1/3 cup of batter on top of the peach slices.  The peaches should be completely covered, but the cupcake tins should not be completely filled.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.  For those of you who have made cupcakes before, this is not a typo, the peach in the bottom makes the cupcakes bake much slower.

Turn off the oven and leave the tins inside for an additional hour.  If you try to bake the cupcakes longer the top and sides will burn but the center will still not be done, this is the same concept as cheesecake, where you leave it in the oven after the crust is formed to let the inside set up.  Don’t worry, the cupcakes will still be hot when you take them out of the oven and enjoy!