Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fouth of July Cheesecake

This is a fun, easy and yummy desert to make. Thanks Martha! The only changes I would make would be to add the powdered sugar to the raspberries instead of the strawberries as the sugar absorbs into the sliced strawberries. We only had 2 families total and this desert could easily feed 4.

PS Don't make more than you'll eat as we all know how long fresh berries last...

Makes 48 squares

Vegetable-oil cooking spray
3 cups all-purpose flour
Coarse salt
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) blackberries
8 3/4 ounces (2 cups) blueberries
1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced lengthwise into thirds (optional)
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
12 ounces (3 cups) raspberries
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Coat a 13-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the long sides. Coat parchment with spray.
Sift flour and 1 3/4 teaspoons salt into a bowl. Cream butter with a mixer on medium-high speed, occasionally scraping bowl, until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add light-brown sugar, beating until very pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture all at once, and beat on low speed until just incorporated.
Transfer dough to sheet. Use a large piece of plastic wrap to press dough into an even layer that covers the bottom of the sheet. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.
Bake dough until entire surface is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool completely in sheet on a wire rack. Raise oven temperature to 350.
In a clean bowl, beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed, occasionally scraping bowl, until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream. Scrape bowl, then mix in lemon zest, vanilla and almond extracts, and a pinch of salt until well combined. Scrape bowl, then beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated. The mixture should be very smooth; scrape bowl as necessary. Pour over crust, and spread into an even layer.
Bake until filling is set, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in sheet on rack. Refrigerate until firm and cold, about 4 hours (or overnight).
Run a sharp knife along short sides of sheet, and use parchment to lift out cheesecake. Run knife under hot water and dry well. Use it to cut cheesecake into 48 squares, wiping knife clean between cuts.
Transfer squares to a serving platter, reforming the rectangle. Decorate top left squares (3 down and 4 across), placing a blackberry in the center of each square and mounding blueberries around it. Using a long offset spatula, slide out 4 squares from bottom row. Top each square with 3 strawberry slices, dust with confectioners' sugar, and return to rectangle. Repeat with remaining 4 squares on bottom row and then squares on alternating rows. Alternatively, omit strawberries and dust alternating rows generously with confectioners' sugar. Place raspberries on every unadorned row, beginning with top row. Serve immediately (or refrigerate overnight).

Read more at Fruited-Cheesecake Flag and more delicious recipes, smart cooking tips, and video demonstrations on

Ceviche on the Fourth of July

This was my first experience making ceviche. I have always loved the flavors of Mexican cuisine as does the entire family. Mix that with seafood and I have very happy campers. This recipe was partly inspired by my favorite Mexican Chef, Rick Bayless as I loved watching him tour and cook regional Mexican dishes.

For the ceviche:

I jumbo bag of shrimp (40 or so, defrosted...tails on or off, you decide)
Roma tomatoes
1-2 fresh jalapanos seeded and diced very small
1/2 a large white onion
1 bunch of cilantro minced
1/2 of an English cucumber, seeded
4-6 limes, juiced
2 avocados (sliced, add a little lime to prevent browning and a sprinke of salt)
Bottle of your favorite Mexican hot sauce such as Tapatio or Cholula

Dice all fresh ingredients small so they are about 1/4 inch and set aside in a bowl
Juice limes and pour over bag of shrimp to marinade for 20-30 minutes.
Mix all ingredients together, serve with sliced avocado and eat with chips or on a tostada shell.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mexican 4th of July

This Fourth of July I decided to forego the traditional burgers and potato salad fare and go Mexican. Lets just say the food disappeared fast! We started our snacking with chips and homemade salsa with some potent roasted serrano chiles followed by my first attempt at shrimp ceviche (it was sooooo delicioso). For dinner we had street tacos with flank steak in a cumin/chile rub served with chopped cilantro, white onion and avocado paired with corn and black bean salad on the side. Dessert was Martha's

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Moussaka...Not Moose Caca

Today I stepped out to make this traditional Greek Dish and managed to cut out a lot of fat. The kids inhaled it! I'm so happy they love lamb, but ground beef would do just fine for those who have an aversion to "gamey" meat.

2 pounds aubergines {eggplant} (large and elongated variety) shopping list
½ Cup vegetable oil shopping list
1 large onion, finely sliced shopping list
1 pound minced lamb shopping list
1 glass white wine (not retsina, but aretsinoto) shopping list (I used the Cab I had on hand)
1 pound fresh plum tomatoes, shopping list
Teaspoon ground cinnamon shopping list
Teaspoon ground allspice shopping list
salt and black pepper shopping list
1 teaspoon oregano shopping list
1 oz. grated parmesan, kefalotiri, or gruyere cheese shopping list
Some chopped parsley shopping list
Béchamel Sauce shopping list
3 oz. butter shopping list
¾ Cup flour shopping list
2 ½ C warm milk shopping list (I used 2 cups of lowfat and 1/2 cup of half-and-half)
salt and white pepper shopping list
1 oz. grated Parmesan or gruyere cheese shopping list (the gruyere was great!)
2 egg yolks shopping list
topping shopping list
2 Oz gr. grated Parmesan, gruyere or kefalotiri cheese shopping list
4 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs shopping list (I skipped these)
See my other notes below...

How to make it
Use a roasting container, either square or oblong, approximately 9 ½ x 13. It is recommended that you spread the work involved over two days for your convenience; one can easily cook the meat the day before, without the Moussaka suffering at all. Do not do the same with the aubergines; they should be fried on the day.

Top and tail the aubergines, without peeling them. Rinse them, cut them lengthways in ¼ inch thick slices and immerse them in salted water, for 30 minutes. Take them out, squeeze gently, rinse, and then squeeze them again. Drain them in a colander and pat dry. Fry them in hot vegetable oil until they become pale golden on both sides; you can either deep-fry them, which is easier but they absorb a lot of oil, or shallow-fry them. In either case, drain them on absorbent paper on a flat platter before serving, so that most of their oil will dribble away.

Note: I sprayed mine with cooking oil and baked them on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 425 until each side was golden brown.

Sautee the sliced onion in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, until it looks glistening. Add the meat and sauté together, stirring, until all the lumps are broken down and the meat starts to change color. Pour in the wine, add tomatoes, sliced finely, the spices, salt and pepper and the oregano. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time in case it sticks. Then mix in the grated cheese and parsley.

Béchamel Sauce:
Melt the butter and, away from the heat, gradually add the flour and stir to mix. Return to the heat and gradually add the milk and seasoning, stirring continuously. Simmer for 9-10 minutes, stirring, until it has thickened considerably. Withdraw the pan from the heat, let it stand briefly, and then add the cheese and the egg yolks. Stir to blend them. Do not let the sauce boil after this. It should by now be a thick béchamel, to enable it to sit on top of the meat mixture and form a kind of crust.

To assemble:
Cover the base of the roasting dish with half of the fried aubergines, then spread half of the meat mixture evenly on top of them and cover neatly with the remaining aubergines. Spread the remaining meat and sauce evenly over the top and cover neatly with the béchamel sauce. Sprinkle the grated cheese all over the top, and the breadcrumbs. Moussaka from Macedonia may contain a layer of thinly sliced round potatoes which have been fried first. Bake in a pre-heated oven, 350 F for 1 hour, until a golden crust is formed all over the top. Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving, in order to be able to cut it more easily. To serve, cut into square or oblong-shaped pieces, about 3 inches thick. It should be quite dry by then and the pieces should ideally stay intact.

Note: I sliced 5 yellow potatos with the mandilin slicer, and browned them as I did with the eggplant. This was my 3rd layer. First was the eggplant, then the meat sauce, potato and then creamy bechamel. YUM!

Green Tomatillo Enchilladas

This is my first great find, Tomatillo Enchilladas from Williams-Sonoma Website. I am bored with the old Las Palmas Enchillada Sauce packed with sodium, oil and crap. My search began with finding a good basic enchillada sauce recipe. Still looking for a great red sauce.

Salud! Thanks W-S!

2 lb. chicken breasts (I cooked a whole chicken in the crock pot with S&P)
1/4 white onion
1 garlic head, halved crosswise
1 Tbs. sea salt
For the sauce:
3 lb. tomatillos, husked and rinsed
9 serrano chilies (I used 4)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup safflower or canola oil
1 Tbs. sea salt, or to taste
For the enchiladas:
1/3 cup safflower or canola oil
18 thin corn tortillas (mine made 20)
1 cup crema or crème fraîche (I used sour cream)
1 white onion, thinly sliced (I marinated these in apple cider vinegar thanks to Rick Bayless's tip)
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
To prepare the chicken, place in a saucepan with the onion, garlic and salt and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool and lift out the chicken, saving the broth for another use. (The chicken can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 1 day before continuing.) Discard the skin and bones and shred the meat with your fingers. You should have 4 cups chicken. To make the sauce, in a saucepan, combine the tomatillos and chilies with water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. If some of the tomatillos remain firm, the pan should still be removed from the heat. Drain and, working in batches, place the tomatillos and chilies in a blender along with the garlic. Process until a smooth sauce forms. In a fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil until it is smoking. Quickly add the tomatillo sauce and fry, stirring constantly, until the sauce begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauce starts to thicken, 5 minutes more. Add the 1 Tbs. salt; taste and add more salt, if needed. Keep warm. When the sauce is combined with the tortillas and chicken, the taste of salt will be quite diminished; it should be highly seasoned at this point. You should have 3 cups of sauce. If needed, add some of the chicken broth. Preheat an oven to 350°F. To make the enchiladas, in a fry pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until sizzling hot. Using tongs, quickly pass each tortilla through the oil to soften, then drain on paper towels. Using your fingers, dip each tortilla briefly in the warm sauce, place on a plate, put a large spoonful of shredded chicken near one edge and roll up the tortilla. Place, seam side down, in a baking dish. Cover with the remaining sauce. Bake until thoroughly heated, about 10 minutes. Remove the enchiladas from the oven and top with the crema, onion slices and crumbled cheese. Alternately, arrange the enchiladas on individual warmed plates and garnish before serving. Serve immediatelyenchiladas become soggy quickly.
Serves 6.

My Quest For Two Day Meals

As our family has suddenly surpassed the "average" size and leaped to "large" I wonder how I will possibly cook fast and enough to keep up with my eaters. This summer I am on a mission to find tasty meals that will last two days beyond grilling a heap of chicken or a giant pot of lentils. My sources: Martha Stewart, Williams Sonoma, my original creations and internet searches.