Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cheesecake Recipe Search

Recipe question. I love cheesecake. And I've made it over 50 times. But one time, I had a slice of cheesecake at a restaurant that was totally different than what I'd ever had or the recipes I've used. I don't want creamy, soft cheesecake. I want to make the one I had.

It was almost dry, and dense, and crumbly in consistency, and had a taste that exploded in your mouth. It was, and is my all time favorite. I've been unable to duplicate the mouthfeel, and texture and taste. I've searched and searched and haven't been able to find a recipe that duplicates it. And yes, I've tried all different cheeses (Ricotta, Cottage, etc.) and haven't come close.

So I thought I'd ask here if anyone has a clue?

Anyone out there know a recipe that yields that type of cheesecake? If you share it, I'll make it, post it on my blog  and give you full credit.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ron's Hot and Sour Soup

For some strange reason, last week I had a hankerin' (you know what a hankerin' is, right) for some Hot and Sour Soup. Part of that was I guess because I had a quantity of homemade chicken broth in my freezer that needed using, and also had some leftover green onions.

So I went to the old cabinet and refrigerator, and sure enough, I had Sesame Oil, Chinese Rice Vinegar, eggs, aforementioned chicken broth, pepper, sugar, and soy sauce. The basics. I then went out and bought mushrooms, firm tofu, chili sauce, and small ears of corn.

The following is what I did:

Ingredients and Method:

One can miniature corn cobs, rinsed (Substitute or add water chestnuts if you like)
6 - 8 mushrooms of your choice, rinsed, scrubbed and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon white sugar
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 package firm tofu, sliced into small rectangles
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
3 - 4 cups chicken broth
1 - 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (careful, it's hot)
1 teaspoon sesame oil green onion for garnish

In a large soup pot, heat the oil to medium heat. Add ginger and and saute for two minutes. Add mushrooms and corn and saute for two minutes more. Now here's the cool part, add the sugar, rice vinegar, tofu, salt, pepper and soy sauce and chicken broth and bring to boil, immediately lower to simmer, mix the water and corn starch together thoroughly, and add to the mixture. Simmer for about 20 minutes until fragrant. While stirring the soup, slowly add beaten egg in a very thin stream, stirring constantly.

Add chili sauce and sesame oil, and simmer for ten minutes longer.

Spoon into bowls, serve immediately, and garnish with sliced green onion.

Two friends of mine said this is the best Hot and Sour Soup they have ever had. It made my day.


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Friday, February 22, 2013

Cardamom Hot Cross Buns

Easter always reminds me of Hot Cross Buns because my Mom always made them at that time. We usually were required to give up sweets for lent, so we got to have hot, fresh Hot Cross Buns for Easter morning, followed by church, and then followed by an Imperial Banana Split at Friendly's Ice Cream (NE US) as rewards.

 I've tried some store-bought buns every once in a while since but they were horrible. I mean close to inedible in my opinion. So I was thinking about making some but I wanted to make sure they were close to what I enjoyed so much as a child. And all of a sudden, it hit me, the ones I had as a kid had Cardamom in them.

Cardamom is one of the world's most ancient spices and grows wild in India. It is expensive, second only to Saffron. Therefore when I went to look for Cardamom, I found a small bottle of it was $17.00!!! Nope, I'm not paying that much for a spice. (I read where Cardamom also helps cure flatulence, so if that's an issue for you, there ya go, lol)

So I went to another market that sells spices in bulk, and sure enough, they had ground Cardamom at bargain basement prices. It wasn't the elite black Cardamom, but neither was the bottle at the first store. Now having made and tasted it, it was excellent. So I suggest you go that route. (Cost me like $1.69 for about an ounce of spice, and you only use one teaspoon in this recipe, a little Cardamom goes a long way)

Now, you can make this recipe without Cardamom, just substitute cinnamon, but I think once you try Cardamom, you'll be hooked. It's a unique taste, smell, and is very pungent. And obviously, memorable, since I haven't had it in umm, ^* years and remember it still.

I went to my reliable standby for recipes, King Arthur Flour, and adapted one to yield the recipe below.

Also, if you don't have Lyle's syrup, either omit it, or use corn syrup.

Ingredients and Method:

1/4 cup water or apple juice
1 cup raisins or dried currants (I prefer currants)
1 1/4 cups milk, heated in microwave slightly
3 large eggs, 1 separated
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 packages quick rising yeast
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups King Arthur Flour

Brush mixture prior to baking:

1 large egg white, reserved from above
1 tablespoon milk

1/3 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup (for brushing after baking)


1 cup or so confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
4 teaspoons milk, or enough to make a thick icing (add a bit more sugar if it's not thick enough)

Mix the water or apple juice with the currants or raisins and microwave on high about 30 seconds. Let steep for 10 minutes.

Add eggs to mixing bowl, add sugar and mix well. Melt butter in milk by microwaving in 30 second intervals. Don't overheat. If milk is too hot to the touch, let it cool slightly before adding to bowl. Add yeast. (Excess heat will kill the yeast) Add milk butter mixture to eggs and sugar and mix.

Add spices and baking powder and mix well. Add fruit and water/juice.

Add 4 cups flour and salt and beat with dough hook until ball forms away from the sides of the pan. Add flour in additional 1/2 cup increments as necessary.

Scrape dough out onto floured board, sprinkle with flour and knead for 3 minutes.

Grease a bowl, add dough, turn dough over cover and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled.

Remove from bowl to floured board and punch down. Knead just once or twice and shape into circle or rectangle about 2 inches thick. Cut into squares about 2 x 2 inches (3 ounces) and with floured hands tuck corners under and shape into a ball.

Add rounded buns to 9 x 13 greased pan. Place close to each other but not touching. Cover and let rise in a warm place for another hour.
Beat water and egg white together and brush tops of buns. Bake at 350 for 20 -25 minutes until browned. Microwave golden syrup (20 seconds) and brush onto top of buns and let cool completely.
Make thick frosting and pipe onto buns marking a cross across the top of each one. (baggies make a great piping tool. Just snip off on bottom corner)


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Saffron Risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Do you know what Risotto is?  I didn't for the longest time, but it essentially is an Italian rice called Arborio that is cooked in such a manner as to yield a very creamy delicious rice. The creaminess is also due to this rice not being milled as much as regular rice so it has a high starch content.

Although I've made Risotto before, for some reason I've not posted a recipe. So I decided to rectify that.

I was trying to figure out what might be good in a risotto. I know often mushrooms and other vegetables are added to cooked risotto but I wanted something different. I had some leftover saffron from Trader Joe's and a partial brick of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and I quickly looked online to see if there was such a combination, and it seemed there was. So I dove in and created this.

I really, really, liked this risotto. Delicious texture, the earthy tones of the saffron, and the nuttiness of the cheese made for a splendid dish. (Also I had homemade Chicken Stock, but store bought will work as well)

I was just as good the next day when reheated.  Give it a try!  You'll not be disappointed.

Ingredients and Method:

32 oz. Chicken Stock
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
1 tablespoon butter
generous pinch of saffron
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

One key to make risotto is to have the chicken stock warmed, so as it is added in increments to the cooking rice it doesn't "shock" it by being too cold.

Heat the chicken stock in a pan, and keep warm to the side.

Add olive oil another sauce pan over medium heat. Add the risotto, and saffron and stir until all the rice is shiny.(About one minute) Add a bit of salt, and the cup of white wine, stir, and turn down to simmer. Stir occasionally until the wine is absorbed and then add a cup of the chicken broth. Continue to simmer and stir occasionally until liquid is absorbed and then add another cup of chicken stock. Repeat until all stock is used up. Continue summering until rice is done and creamy about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter and half the grated cheese and stir until incorporated.

Spoon into serving dishes, sprinkle with remaining cheese and serve immediately.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sea Salt Ginger Cookies

 There's a type of cookie I like but you just don't see or hear much about anymore. And that's a Ginger Cookie. When I was a kid I remember Ginger Snaps, Ginger candies, Ginger Bread! I loved the taste of ginger.  So I searched and searched for a recipe and found a good one I thought I could adapt at Dinner and Dessert. What appealed to me was that these cookies weren't thin and gingersnap like, but instead a cake cookie which is what I wanted.

I also wanted a cake-like cookie because I thought a sprinkling of sea salt might work with a ginger cookie.  All I'll say is, I was right. These are delicious!!!  The sting of double measured ginger with the saltiness and the sweetness of molasses and brown sugar. Definitely a cookie I will make again, and again, and again. Do give it a try.

Adapted from Dinner and Dessert
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, beaten
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup molasses
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger (yes, two)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sea Salt for finishing touch

Melt butter and pour into mixing bowl with both sugars. Combine well.

Add beaten egg and molasses and mix together.
Add cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and ginger and mix thoroughly.

Add flour. You may need to add 1/4 cup or two more until you get a nice thick cookie dough.

Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes. (The stiffness of the cookie dough and the chilling will keep the cookies from spreading too much while baking.)

Spoon tablespoon size of dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, or just greased pans. Leave about 1 1/2 space between each one.

Bake at 350 degrees for 9 - 12 minutes. Each batch of mine took exactly 12 minutes. The best way to tell is to take them out of the oven when the very edges are beginning to brown.

Immediately sprinkle the tops of the hot cookies with sea salt. Don't overdo it but a light visible sprinkling is perfect.

Let cook for five minutes, and then remove from baking pan to wire rack and let cool completely.

Psst, the picture below is my new Convection Toaster Oven. Bakes, browns, toasts, defrosts and broils. I'm liking this oven.


Salt on Foodista

Friday, January 4, 2013

Himalayan Salt Block

You know what a Himalayan Salt Block is?  Well, neither did I. Due to my penchant for cooking, baking, and posting on this blog, my children occasionally provide me with gifts related to food, which is kind of cool.

Last year my youngest Son gave me an Ice Cream Maker for Christmas. My daughter bought me some beautiful Creuset dishes.

This year he gave me some infused oils and balsamics. (Try some garlic infused grapeseed oil in your mashed potatoes sometime.)

My daughter this year gave me a Himalayan Salt Block.

A Himalayan Salt Block is 600,000 years old, and is pure salt mined in the Himalayas and is pink in color.

You can heat them up and actually cook on them or chill them and use them as a serving platform. In either case it imparts a bit of saltiness to whatever you cook or serve. Fancy restaurants will sometimes heat up a block (it retains heat for quite a while) and bring it to your table and actually sear steak or seafood and vegetables on it right at your table.

After using it, you merely wipe it clean and use it again and again.

I thought this was a COOL Christmas Present and couldn't wait to try it.

I drove home Christmas Day back to Seattle, and got on the internet and began reading about my salt block. I read use, and care, and preparation, and recipes etc. etc. for about two hours.

A Salt Block can be heated directly over flames such as a gas grill or a gas stove, but it cannot be heated directly on an electric stove. The block must be elevated over the electric element by 1/2 inch or so. Fortunately, my pressure cooker had a metal trivet that was the perfect height so I used that.

I decided that I was going to make (plebian, I know) a cheeseburger on my new salt block, just to try it out.

So I set it carefully on top of the trivet on the heating element, and as per instructions, starting heating it very slowly. In fact I was over conservative, and I let it heat at a certain level for 30 minutes at a time, before I raised the temperature. The first time you use it you're supposed to "temper" by slowly heating it over time. I gradually upped the temperature over a two hour period, just to be on the safe side.

The burger was ready, cheese at the ready, and a hamburger bun buttered and ready to toast on the block also. (Along with some Burgerville special sauce)

The block was HOT and water drops sizzled when splashed on it.

I was at my desk ready to go, when I heard a KABOOM from the kitchen!

I ran out and saw the salt block had exploded and cracked through the middle.  As I was standing there, it blew up again, showering me and my entire kitchen with salt. I was ducking and covering my eyes as it exploded FIVE more times! I turned off the heat, and had salt EVERYWHERE! In my hair, clothes, kitchen, floor, etc. etc. It's been a week and I still find chunks of salt somewhere.

We do have a happy ending however. The next day I called my daughter and thanked her for the exploding Christmas Gift, after which I emailed the place she bought it from in Portland, Oregon. They immediately agreed to replace it, and ended up sending me not one, but two new stones. They explained that every once in a while, a block deemed cooking worthy can have defects that can't be detected visually, and that sometimes this happens.

I'll have you know I heated one up yesterday morning and cooked bacon and a sunnyside up egg, and they were delicious.

More to follow I'm sure as I continue to experiment with recipes for the Himalayan Salt Block. As long as I don't blow myself up.  Ha ha.