Cheesecake Perfect for Passover

This light, ethereal cheesecake is perfect Passover fare.  In addition to cream cheese, this Italian version includes sour cream for tang and ricotta for lightness.  The citrus zest is a must.  Cake meal easily replaces the traditional wheat flour.

Ingredients

1 lb. whole milk ricotta cheese

1 lb. sour cream

1 lb. cream cheese (or mascarpone)

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 stick sweet butter, melted

Pinch of salt

3 large eggs

½ cup cake meal, divided

1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 ½ T pure vanilla extract

Finely grated zest from one orange and one lemon

Directions

1. Have all filling ingredients at room temperature.  Grease and coat with 2 T cake meal the bottom and sides of a 9 X 3-inch springform pan.

2. In a stand mixer beat together ricotta, sour cream and cream cheese until well mixed.

3. Beat in sugar and then melted butter and pinch of salt.

4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

5. Add 6 T cake meal, lemon juice, vanilla, and zest, beating until completely mixed.

6. Transfer to prepared pan and bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for one hour.

7. Turn off heat and let cake stay in oven, door closed, for another hour.

8. Remove and let cake cool completely in pan, set on a wire rack.  Cover and refrigerate.  Remove sides of pan before serving and serve slightly chilled.

Raspberry Coulis

In a small saucepan, mash and heat ½ pint of fresh raspberries with 6 oz. raspberry preserves and 1 T Grand Marnier, stirring until syrupy. Strain syrup and mix with ½ pint fresh raspberries.  Serve withcheesecake.

Photo by sweetpaprika

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

pineapple upside cake 2

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

All those upside-down cakes of yore topped with canned pineapple rings with maraschino cherries adorning the centers will seem like a bad memory after you’ve tasted this fresh pineapple version.  Select a pineapple that is fragrant and has a little give when pressed. The subtle tang of the buttermilk and tender crumb are irresistible.    The glistening caramel gives the cake a glorious finish. A dash of dark rum on the finished cake is a delightful touch.

Needed: a 9-inch silicone cake pan, rimmed baking sheet, wide-bottomed light-colored saucepan (such as stainless steel).

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 large ripe pineapple

For the Cake:

1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

½ t pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

¼ t salt

½ cup nonfat buttermilk

Procedure— Caramel:

1. To a heavy, wide-bottomed saucepan, add 1 cup sugar.  Don’t use a dark-colored pan as you won’t be able to see the color of the caramel change.

2. Over medium heat let the sugar melt swirling pan but not stirring it.

3. When the caramel reaches a light amber color, remove it from the heat and pour immediately into the silicone pan. Carefully swirl the pan to coat the bottom.  Set aside on a rimmed baking sheet. (This can be done well ahead.)

The Pineapple:

1. Cut the top off the pineapple and a slice from the bottom so the pineapple will sit upright. Quarter the pineapple.

2. Core, peel and slice into ¼” slices.

3. Arrange the slices on top of the hardened caramel, overlapping them with the flat edges pointing upward.  Remember that this will be the top of the cake.

The Cake Batter: Heat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cream the butter in an electric mixer.  Add the sugar gradually and beat until the mixture is light.

2. Add the eggs one at a time and beat after each addition for 15 seconds.

3.  Add the vanilla extract.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

5. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Mix just until the flour disappears.

6. Add the buttermilk and mix again.

7. Add the remainder of the flour mixture and again, mix just until the flour disappears.

8. Scoop large dollops of the batter over the pineapple taking care not to disturb the arrangement of the slices.  Smooth out the batter.

9. Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake is golden brown (about 50 minutes).

10. Run a knife between the cake and edge of the pan.  Set a serving platter on top of the pan and invert.  Carefully lift off the cake pan.

Photo by Michael Kirigin

Adapted from a recipe by Margery K. Friedman

Cranberry Walnut Muffins

muffin

Photo by Bill Brady

Here is a breakfast muffin worth waking up for.  Actually I think of them as anytime muffins.  Inhale them as they come out of the oven and you’ll want to bite into the soft cakelike crumb right away.

Need :  2 muffin tins (not mini)  Fill any unfilled cups halfway with water to prevent over browning of the muffins or warping of the pan. Makes 16 muffins. 

Ingredients

½ cup butter plus more for preparing muffin tins

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 t baking powder

¼ t salt

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2/3 cup sour cream

Zest from one orange

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup dried cranberries, steeped in hot water until plumped and then drained

Procedure

1. Butter muffin tins.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt onto a sheet of wax paper and set aside.

3. In an electric stand mixer cream butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Add one egg at a time.

4. Take mixer bowl off stand.  Fold in 1/3 of the flour at a time alternating with the sour cream.

5. Fold in orange zest, walnuts and lastly, cranberries.

6. Fill muffin tins two thirds full.

7. Place in middle of 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Check after 15 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes.

MuffinsDSCF8664

Puff, the Magic Pastry

Puff Pastry 2

Puff Pastry with Grilled Onions

IMAG0537

Puff Pastry with Ham and Gruyere

palmiers 2

Palmiers

Can anything compare to the crackly thousand (yes, thousand) layered buttery puff pastry?  Hot, melt-in-your-mouth goodness?  I can’t think of anything.  Have you tried making it yourself?  Sure, it takes a while, but it’s fun, therapeutic (Beating the block of butter is a great stress reliever) and very much worth the effort.  Most of the time is inactive.  You just have to be hanging around the house that day.  There’s a quick method and a regular method.  The quick method involves cutting up the butter and working it into the dough, but honestly, I find the regular method not much more work and you get a higher rise from more layers.

 Ingredients

3 ½ cups pastry flour

1 ½ t salt

1 ¼ cup water

1 lb. butter

Procedure

IMAG0449Mix flour, salt and water in a food processor until a dough forms.  IMAG0453Take it out and form it into a ball.  Pat it down and score the top in a crisscross fashion.IMAG0457  Wrap it in a damp towel and set aside.IMAG0463

IMAG0470Place 1 lb. butter (four quarters pressed side by side) between 2 sheets of Saran wrap.IMAG0473 The butter should be cold but not frozen. Pound into a square ½ inches thick. Set aside while you roll out the dough into a square thicker in the middle and slightly larger than the size as the butter.  IMAG0475Place the butter in the center of the dough with the corners of the dough pointing away from the sides of the butter (see diagram). Fold the dough over the butter to encase it completely.

IMAG0485 Roll out the dough into a rectangle making sure that no butter is exposed. IMAG0486 Fold the dough into thirds as you would a letter.  Roll out again into a rectangle and fold into thirds again.  Place in a damp towel and refrigerate for a half hour.  Take it out, roll out and fold again, repeat and place back in refrigerator for another half hour.  That was its  4th “turn.”  Each turn can be marked by a slight finger indentation in the dough.  Continue in this fashion for a total of 6 turns.

The last time you roll it out, you can cut it in half and you will have two 1-lb. pieces of beautiful puff pastry with which you can make a wide variety of sweet and savory masterpieces such as sweet tarts. vols au vent, palmiers, savory tarts, mustard batons, savory tarts and chicken pot pie

They can be used immediately, refrigerated for a couple of days or frozen.  Defrost by placing in refrigerator overnight.

Puff Pastry with Grilled Onions Photo by Bill Brady http://bit.ly/9wFYxm

Other Photos by Michael Kirigin

Puff Pastry with Ham and Cheese

IMAG0542Need a wow of a brunch dish?  This is it!   Ham and cheese encased in crisp buttery puff pastry.  A tart salad alongside goes well.  And why not start with bellinis?

Ingredients

1 lb. puff pastry (See recipe in previous post.)

2 T Dijon mustard

¾ lb. good quality ham, cut into a ½-inch dice

½ lb. Gruyere cheese shredded on large holes of box grater

Egg wash made from I egg and 1 T water, beaten

Procedure

Cut 1 lb. piece of puff pastry in half.  Roll out to fit a 10 X 15 baking sheet. Place parchment paper or a silicone mat on the baking sheet. Transfer pastry sheet to baking sheet.  Spread mustard over sheet leaving a 1-inch border.  Evenly spread ham over mustard, also leaving 1-inch border.  Sprinkle cheese on top of ham.

Roll out the other piece of puff pastry to 10 X 15.  Place on top of cheese layer.  With a small sharp knife cut the edges straight.  Press indentations around the edge with the tines of the back of a fork. Chill for at least 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Take out pastry and brush with egg wash.  Cut a few decorative slits to allow steam to escape.  Place cold pastry in hot oven. This gives the pastry a sudden burst of heat giving it a good start to its rise.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and puffed.  Let cool briefly.  Cut into squares and serve.  Makes 6 servings.

Photo by Michael Kirigin

Challah, Glorious Challah!

When I think of homemade challah, the words warm, rich, golden and ambrosial come to mind. I find that baking my own is immensely rewarding.  My house is filled with a wonderful yeasty aroma, the fresh bread is heavenly and, in the unlikely event there is any left over, nothing makes a better French toast or bread pudding.

This lovely golden egg-rich and light-textured bread is prepared much the same as the dough for traditional white bread, but it is a stiffer dough and is baked on a cookie sheet rather than in a loaf tin.

The only trick is in the braiding, but a “trick”, of course, is just knowing how to do something.  Invariably, instructions on braiding bread tell you to lay three ropes of dough on a work surface and braid them horizontally, much as you would braid a pigtail.   This technique is very likely to produce a long skinny loaf as there is a tendency to pull on the ropes as you braid them.

The technique suggested here, which I learned from Chef John Clancy, calls for four ropes rolled out slightly higher in the center and tapered toward the ends.  The braiding is executed in an upward vertical manner and the loaf is then flipped on its side for that picture-perfect plump loaf.

.

Ingredients:

2 packages rapid-rise yeast (about 5 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon sugar

5 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons salt

3 eggs, lightly beaten

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Procedure:

  1. Mix yeast, ½ teaspoon sugar, and 1 cup warm water in a 2-cup glass measuring cup.  Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Mix remaining sugar, flour, and salt in large bowl of electric mixer; add eggs, butter and yeast mixture.  Using dough hook attachment, knead at low speed until smooth and satiny, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Form dough into a ball and let rise in a large, lightly buttered bowl covered with a damp towel until approximately doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Deflate to original size, re-form into a ball, cover, and let rise again until doubled in size.
  4. Deflate dough again and turn onto a lightly floured work surface.  Press dough into a rough square and cut into 4 equal pieces, preferable with a blunt object to seal in gases (a wooden spatula works well. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Roll each portion of dough into an 18-inch rope that is thicker in the middle than at the ends, stretching dough as you roll.  Place ropes on a large work surface to form an X and pinch in the center to seal.  To finish the braid, follow the illustrated steps.
  6. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Place braided dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet; cover with damp cloth and let rise until almost doubled, 30 to 45 minutes.  Beat yolk with milk; brush entire loaf with this glaze.  Sprinkle with poppy seeds and bake until bread is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers between 190 and 200 degrees, 30 to 40 minutes.  Transfer bread to a wire rack to cool.
  7.    Braiding technique:
    Drawing #1

    [Drawing #1]  Make four ropes of equal length and lay them out in the shape of a four-pointed star; pinch them together in the center to seal.  Think of the points as numbered one to four.  Starting with point one fold it directly over the center, so that it lies beside point three.  Then fold point three directly over the center, again creating a four-pointed star.

    1. Drawing 2

    [Drawing #2] Now fold point four directly across the center so that it lies parallel to point two; then fold point two over the center, again creating a four-pointed star. Continue this one-side-to-the-other braiding, making sure to keep the bread upright until all the lengths have been folded.  As you work, give the ropes a little slack when you reach the center and braid a little more tightly toward the ends.  This will give the baked loaf the characteristic high in the middle shape.

    1. Drawing #3

    [Drawing #3] Continue this one-side-to-the-other braiding, making sure to keep the bread upright, until all the lengths have been folded.

    1. Drawing #4

    [Drawing #4] Pinch the end pieces firmly together at the top.

    Drawing #5

    [Drawing #5] Lay the finished bread down on its side on a lightly oiled baking sheet, cover with a towel and let rise 30 minutes.  After this third rising brush entire loaf with the egg yolk and milk glaze, dip a finger in the glaze, then in the poppy seeds and gently roll your finger over the loaf for an even topping.  I  just learned this technique from Maya of chaitimeblog.wordpress.com.  As you can see from my photos,  just sprinkling on the poppy seeds gives an uneven finish.  Bake in the middle of a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes until the crust has turned a shiny golden brown.  Place on a rack to cool.  Happy Hanukka!

    Variation:  Add 1/8 teaspoon saffron threads dissolved in one teaspoon hot water in step one for a more golden color.

    My recipe appeared in the March/April issue of Cooks Illustrated, 1994

    Photos by sweetpaprika

Stuffed! Stuffing or Dressing–Spice It Up!

Chorizo Dressing

I admit that stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner.  Well, dressing, if it’s cooked outside the turkey.  I’ve always preferred basic bread dressing, but my blogging teammate, Bill, gave me the great idea of adding chorizo. The result is still those familiar homey bread dressing flavors yet nicely kicked up a bit.

I prefer to bake the dressing separately, so I add a half cup of drippings from the roast turkey to add that “roasted in the turkey” flavor.  What you’re looking for here is a moist, not too compact, interior and a crisp top. Enjoy!

Ingredients

5 T butter, plus 1 for greasing dish

2 medium yellow onions, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 lb. chorizo, diced

1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and diced

10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

3 springs fresh thyme pulled from stems and finely chopped

Salt (preferably sea salt) and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 loaf of quality bread, such as a Pullman loaf, cut into 3/4 –inch cubes and toasted in oven for 25 minutes

2 eggs beaten

1 cup dried cranberries

½ cup chopped parsley

1 to 2 cups turkey or chicken stock or low sodium store-bought broth

½ cup drippings from turkey roasting pan

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 5 T butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, celery, chorizo, apple, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook,  stirring often for 5 minutes.

2. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and cool. Add bread, eggs, cranberries and parsley. Carefully blend in enough stock (1 to 2 cups) plus 1/2 cup drippings from the turkey roasting pan until the dressing is well moistened. Check for seasoning.

3. Add to a well buttered baking dish.  Bake without a cover for 35 minutes until top is beginning to brown and the interior is moist and cooked through.

Photographer Bill Brady http://bit.ly/9wFYxm

Jambalaya Dressing

Wild Rice Dressing

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: