Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, topped with cherries glaze

I made this recipe for my brother-in-law on his birthday. It is a very simple recipe, even when you read the word Cheesecake!


- For the crust:

1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg

- For the Cheesecake:

3 Sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 Cup / 210 g sugar
3 Large eggs
1 Cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract and the innards of a vanilla bean
1 Tbsp. Rum, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake (*)
1 Tbsp. flour (*)

- For the Cherry glaze:

1 or 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) tart cherries in water, or 1 quart fresh or frozen fruit
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 drops red food coloring (optional)


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan.

For the crust: In a mixing bowl with a paddle, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter. Mix until the mixture is crumbly, then add the egg and continue to mix until a soft dough forms.

Press the dough on the bottom and an inch up the sides of the prepared pan; dock with a fork, and bake for 15 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

For the cheesecake: One hour before you star making the cheesecake, put the vanilla bean with the sugar and let it sit covered until you are ready to mix ingredients.

Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, vanilla bean innards, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy. Mix until well combined.

Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. If you have an instant reading thermometer the temperature should be 175º. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. (I left a kitchen towel to prevent a complete closing of the oven door). This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to decorate.

For the glaze: Whisk together the water, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan until the cornstarch dissolves. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils, becomes clear, and thickens.

Remove from the heat and add the food coloring and the drained cherries. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then spoon it over the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate the cake until you're ready to serve.

Monday, November 9, 2009

French Apple Tart


- For the pastry:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water

- For the apples:

4 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water


For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baler. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.) Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don't worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart's done, heat the apricot jelly together with the Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn't stick to the paper.

Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Ina Garten/Back to Basics

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tilapia over Leek Ragout

We absolutely loved this recipe! It's full of flavor and EASY to make. Just a little warning, I halved the recipe and ended up with this platter full of food, so if you need to feed a big crowd, this is the recipe for you!


- For Leek Ragout:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 onions, chopped
1 cup white wine
6 leeks, white and tender green parts only, thoroughly soaked in salt water to release grit, and sliced on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and pepper

- For the Fish:

12 (3-ounce) tilapia fillets (these are thin fillets, so each person will get about 2 fillets)
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 1/2 cups semolina flour
2 tablespoons Irvine Spices Roasted Garlic Pepper Seasoning (I used plain garlic powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 cups milk, as needed to moisten fish
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 fresh lemons, sliced
12 sprigs fresh parsley (about 2 ounces)


To begin the creamed leeks, heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat and saute the onions until translucent. Deglaze the pan with wine and add the leeks, cooking gently until the liquid is almost all gone. Make a slurry by gradually adding the cornstarch to the cream, and then whisk in the Parmesan. When the wine has mostly evaporated, stir the slurry mixture into the leeks, season with salt and pepper, and reduce heat to a simmer to allow reducing and thickening. Set aside in a warm place.

Slice each fish fillet in half lengthwise. In a plastic bag, shake together cornmeal, flour, garlic pepper seasoning, and salt. Moisten fish by dipping in milk and shake in bag to coat with cornmeal mixture. Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large skillet, and cook each side of coated fish until golden brown. Do not overcook the fish - it is done when it springs back upon gentle prodding.

Spoon some leek ragout in the middle of serving plate, top with tilapia, and garnish with parsley and lemon slices.

Source: Food Network/Robert Irwin

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Blueberry Yogurt Smoothies!

The other day I ran out of yogurt for my guys, so I went to one of my favorite recipes website: The Pioneer Woman. Please check this one out. You won't regret it!


1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)
Splash of milk
Ice (I didn't use ice since I made the recipe with frozen berries)


Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Source: The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Apple Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Pie

I was checking my Google Reader the other day and Annie made it again, she posted such a wonderful recipe! I decided to make it at home for some friends that came to eat with us, and the result was amazing! I have to warn you though... if you have leftovers you won't stop checking your fridge until you end up eating them all!


- For the crust:

1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
½-¾ cup caramel
1 cup chopped pecans

- For the apple filling:

5 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
5-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

- For the cheesecake:

8 oz. cream cheese
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

- For the topping:

¾ cup heavy cream
3-4 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
¼-½ cup caramel
Chopped pecans


To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375° F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Toss with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened and the ingredients are evenly mixed. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and press the crumbs in an even layer over the pan bottom and about half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until golden in color. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Pour a layer of caramel into the bottom of the crust and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans. Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.

To make the apple filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix in the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute, until bubbling. Mix in the apple slices and toss well to coat. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until tender and most of the liquid has been reduced, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and pour into the prepared pie shell. Set aside.

Reduce the heat of the oven to 350° F. To make the cheesecake layer, combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Mix in the vanilla, egg and lemon juice until fully incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Spread the cheesecake filling into an even layer over the top of the cooked apples in the crust. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To serve, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and confectioners' sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (being careful not to overbeat.) Spread gently over the top of the chilled cheesecake layer. Top with dollops of caramel sauce and swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with a handful of chopped pecans if desired. Slice with a long, thin knife to serve.

Source: Annie's Eats Blog

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pumpkin Waffles

A couple weeks ago, yes, it's been that long since I made this recipe :), I wanted to give my guys some fall flavor to their breakfast and this is how I came out with this recipe. You can double it with no problems (this one yields 5 regular waffles).


1 cup self rising flour
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup pumpkin filling
1 tspn. vanilla extract
1/4 tspn. pumpkin spice

** Optional: Chopped walnuts for garnish


Preheat your waffle maker.

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together until blended. Pour one ladle onto the waffle maker and proceed according to manufacturer's instructions.

In this case, I quartered the waffles and add some butter between each piece. Then drizzle with syrup of your preference (Maple in this case) and top them with the chopped nuts. Serve and enjoy!

Cheddar - Dill Scones


4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, beaten lightly
1 cup cold heavy cream
1/2 pound extra-sharp yellow Cheddar, small-diced
1 cup minced fresh dill
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine 4 cups of flour, the baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Mix the eggs and heavy cream and quickly add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Combine until just blended. Toss together the Cheddar, dill, and 1 tablespoon of flour and add them to the dough. Mix until they are almost incorporated.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it for 1 minute, until the Cheddar and dill are well distributed. Roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 4-inch squares and then in half diagonally to make triangles. Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 20 to 25 minutes, until the outside is crusty and the inside is fully baked.

Source: Food Network/Ina Garten/Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart


- For the crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (14 crackers)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

- For the filling:

1/2 cup half-and-half
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 package (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 ripe banana, finely mashed
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
For the decoration:
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Orange zest, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter in a bowl and mix well. Pour into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and press evenly into the sides and then the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes and then cool to room temperature.

For the filling, heat the half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir some of the hot pumpkin into the egg yolks to heat them, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the double boiler and stir well. Heat the mixture over the simmering water for another 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly. You don't want the eggs to scramble. Remove from the heat.

Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Add the dissolved gelatin, banana, and orange zest to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside to cool.

Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture and pour it into the cooled tart shell. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.

For the decoration, whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Pipe or spoon the whipped cream decoratively on the tart and sprinkle, if desired, with orange zest. Serve chilled.

Source: Food Network/Ina Garten

All-american barbecued baby back ribs

My husband was dying to have some ribs and I really didn't have a good recipe to make them at home... so after looking and looking around... I realized I had this one from my favorite chef: Curtis Stone.

It took a while to get the ribs ready, since it has some steps you need to follow, but the result was very pleasant! Did I mention that this was the best homemade barbecue sauce ever?!?!?!


- For the dry rub and ribs

1 tspn. Cajun or Creole seasoning
1 tspn. dried oregano
1 tspn. ground cumin
1 tspn. sweet or hot paprika
2 1/2 pounds meaty baby back pork ribs (about two large racks)

- For the Barbecue sauce

2 Tbspn. unsalted butter
2 medium onions, chopped
1 small celery stalk, finely chopped
2 cups beef broth
2 cups ketchup
1 cup distilled white vinegar
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbspn. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbspn. steak sauce
1 1/2 tspn. chili powder
1 tspn. paprika
1 tspn. salt
1/2 tspn. dry mustard
1/2 tspn. freshly ground black pepper
1 tspn. hot sauce


Mix the Cajun seasoning, oregano, cumin, and paprika in a small bowl to blend, and rub the mixture all over the ribs. Wrap the ribs in heavy-duty foil, encasing them completely, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the wrapped ribs on a heavy baking sheet and bake in the foil for about 1 hour, or until the meat is very tender. Unwrap the ribs and let them cool.

Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce: Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and celery, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Mix in the beef broth and all the remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil over hight heat. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, or until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly.

Coat the ribs with half of the sauce and marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature or for up to 1 day in the refrigerator. Reserve the remaining barbecue sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the ribs on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet and roast, uncovered, basting often with some of the remaining barbecue sauce, for about 25 minutes, or until the ribs are heated through. Rewarm the remaining sauce and serve it alongside the ribs.

Source: Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pumpkin Bars

This is a great fall recipe. Easy to make, easy to eat and easy to share! I saw this recipe at Food Network (Paula's best dishes) and decided to try it. The original recipe calls for Cream Cheese Icing, I wanted to make the Pumpkin flavor the star, so I changed a little bit the recipe.


- For the Bars:

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

- For the Icing:

8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/8 tspn. ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbspn. dark Rum


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.

To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix together and add the sugar mixing at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and rum. Mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.


Source: Food Network/Paula Deen