Saturday, April 25, 2015

New York-Style Cheesecake with a Fresh Strawberry Topping


I've been rather scarce, this month, and I've missed not being able find time to edit and upload recipes that are backlogged on my computer.  Part of my absence was adjusting to being an empty nester.  I feel into a temporary sense of grieving.  On March 1st, my son packed up his car with his few personal belongings, and drove away, headed from California to Texas. (He was given an offer he couldn't refuse-- to apprentice as an electrician.) He's my one and only child (er, grown son) and it has taken me a few weeks to wrap my head around his being so far away, and that he really is on his own.  It's bittersweet, but I'm truly happy for him.
 

He was also one of my best (and most honest) food critics, who would often bring along his best friend to join us at the dinner table. The night before my son drove off to his new chapter in his life, I asked him what he would like for his last supper. For dinner, he requested "Osso Bucco", which I made for him. For dessert, he asked for his #1 favorite dessert-- cheesecake.

I've posted a German Cheesecake made with Quark (and it's still one of my faves) in 2011.  The most recent time I made cheesecake, it was in my pressure cooker. It only took 15 minutes, and turned out to be creamy and delicious.   But, because this would be my son's last supper in his childhood home, I decided to bake a cheesecake in a more traditional way.

Because I'm such a huge fan of Cook's Illustrated, America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country (all one in the same companies), I researched what cheesecake recipes they had developed.  I've made cheesecakes in a water bath, which is hailed to be a way to avoid cracks on the cheesecake top.  This recipe doesn't use a water bath.  I trust ATK, however, so I rolled up my sleeves and got busy:

The crust is a traditional graham cracker crust, which is has three basic ingredients--
 ...crushed graham crackers, sugar and melted butter.

The crust is pre-baked for about 13 minutes, and set on a wire rack to cool. The oven is now preheating to 500 degrees. Yes, that's right! 500 degrees.


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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Indoor Barbecue: Kalua-Style Pork (Pressure Cooker Style) with a Pineapple-Mango Salsa

 

Hello friends!  I'm back from my self-imposed little vacation from my blog. To my world of invisible internet friends, one might think that every meal I make is blog worthy. I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but that's just not true.

Every once in a while, I simply lose my cooking mojo, and I resort to making a quick and simple pasta, soup, or some kind of quick skillet dinner.  My camera remains shut off, as I try to get something on the table in 30 minutes or less.  My husband never complains, knowing that I'll be back to trying out new recipes, photographing them, editing and writing and sharing them with all of you-- after he's eaten them, and given me his honest feedback.

I'm always delighted  when my readers write to tell me that they have finally taken the plunge into using a pressure cooker.   Pressure cooking has an undeserved level of fear that it really doesn't deserve.  If more people, who swear that their slow cooker is one of their most beloved cooking method, would try pressure cooking--they would quickly change their minds!  (However, if you want to make this recipe, you could do it in a slow cooker. Just increase the cooking time from one hour to 8 hours.)  See what I mean? Pressure cooking is a real time saver, and my slow cooker gets a little lonely-- though I still use it on occasion.

I have shared several recipes from America's Test Kitchen's cookbook, "Pressure Cooking Perfection".  When I downloaded the book into my kindle, I wasn't sure if I'd make a lot of their recipes. 

I was so wrong!  This will be the seventh recipes I've made, and enjoyed, from this book (you can find my recipe index here.)

If you've ever had genuine Hawaiian barbecued pork, this traditionally involves roasting a suckling pig in a pit with hot rocks, banana leaves and kiawe wood (the Hawaiian version of mesquite).  I don't know about most of you, but this is a lot more work than I'm willing to invest!  In the tradition of America's Test Kitchen, they figured out a way to adapt this recipe so that you can make it at home.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Southern Style Coconut Cake with a Whipped Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

I am a life long member of the "I love coconut" fan club.  I must really love coconut cake, because I've already shared three different coconut cake recipes on my blog (starting in 2009). My favorite cake is white cake. Hands down. End of story.  I prefer an all egg-white cake, or it's not a genuine white cake. Am I right? 

But, did I really need another coconut cake recipe?  Maybe. Maybe not.  But, when you have five egg whites leftover from a lemon custard recipe, white cake seems like a good way to use them.  Coconut seems to be synonymous with Easter treats, and I hadn't baked a cake in a while. 

We were having dinner guests, so this seemed like the perfect time to bake a cake.  I'm loving this brand of USA cake pans, and I just got these square ones.   I wanted a cake recipe that wouldn't be too fussy to make-- but I wanted a lot of coconut flavor.  I'm a fan of LorAnn oils and flavors and their coconut flavor is something I keep on hand.  King Arthur unbleached cake flour is also a "must" in my pantry, because I always get tender cakes when I use it.

The batter isn't complicated, either.  The dry ingredients are measured into a mixing bowl, then butter and coconut milk is mixed in.  The wet ingredients are whole milk, eggs whites and coconut flavor and a little pure vanilla extract. 


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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Southwestern Tortilla Wraps (Black bean and corn salsa) ...and a tortilla giveaway!


Mission Tortillas recently contacted me to ask if I'd like to try their new Digestive Health tortillas (made with probiotics for sensitive stomachs) . My answer was an easy "yes", because tortillas are a staple in my kitchen.  Fish tacos, quesadillas and fajitas are quick meals that I often make, and we love them.  It's no coincidence that the Mission Brand is one that I've been buying for years. They simply are the best, and that's my honest opinion!

 

(Pssssssst, at the end of this post, I'll give you a chance to win some of these tortillas, so that you can try them yourself. )

Many years ago, I made a black bean and corn "salad" for a pot luck.  This was one of the first dishes that disappeared, and people asked me for the recipe.   I stood there, dumbfounded, because I just made it up! Um, there isn't a recipe...until now.


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