Archive for August, 2010

White Chocolate Cheesecake

August 24, 2010

Every home cook remembers the first recipe that they have ever made.  It is often inspired by their families, or gardens, or if you’re lucky like me…Mrs. Fields.  Um, let me explain.

The first thing that I ever baked by myself was a white chocolate cheesecake.  Divine.  And impressive for a 10 year old.  Why Mrs. Fields, though?  The famous cookie lady?  You see, there was no popular Food Network at that time, and cooking shows were not the first show of choice when my family was picking out something to watch.  But I was always intrigued by her  Saturday early morning show, Great American Desserts, and that day, I just got to the television before anyone else.

In the interest of full disclosure, it was not really the desserts that interested me.  Everyone had walked by Mrs. Fields’ cookies at the malls, but I a) never knew that a “Mrs. Fields” actually existed, and b) thought that if there was actually a Mrs. Fields baking cookies, she would be an old, fat, lovable, grandma-looking woman.  I was so intrigued by this young, attractive woman being so passionate about baking.  It was always so fascinating to me that she was the Mrs. Fields.

For whatever reason, on that particular day, I felt motivated and chose to write down whatever she did.  Then promptly announced to my family that I would be baking a white chocolate cheesecake that day.  It was not the most beautiful baking event.  I did not have a springform pan, nor did I know what one was.  I also mixed the topping into the cheesecake batter because, quite frankly, I did not know any better.  I also added a handful of stray white chocolate chips on top, because I thought that it would look pretty (it didn’t).  But boy.  What a cheesecake.  It was the best thing ever.

This cheesecake became a Thanksgiving tradition in my family for years to come.  Until I became more adventurous and confident in the kitchen.  It lost its place on the menu for a pumpkin cheesecake one year, to a sweet potato gingersnap pie the next.  There was also the year that I thought that we all needed to be on diets and I decided to make all of the pies with half of the sugar.  We really missed the cheesecake that year.

But just last week, my cousin reminded me of this cheesecake and asked me to make it for him.  I no longer had the recipe, but after some internet searching and digging, I found the exact one.  Having made so many other yummy dessert recipes over the past several years, I did not think that I would be that impressed with this old recipe.  But it was just as delicious as I remembered it, and I think that it may find itself on the Thanksgiving table once again.

Just so you know, my cousin appreciated the long lost cheesecake as well.  And ate half of it in one sitting.  ..Not recommended.

White Chocolate Cheesecake – directly from Mrs. Fields

Crust

1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

5 tbsp unsalted butter – melted

To make the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter, and process in a food processor until combined. Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan in aluminum foil. Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Chill the crust.

Filling:

18 ounces white chocolate

1/4 cup heavy cream

1-1/2 pound cream cheese – softened

1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup sour cream

4 large eggs

1tbsp vanilla extract

To prepare the filling, melt the white chocolate with the cream over hot, not simmering, water. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Beat in the white chocolate cream. Pour into the prepared pan.

Preheat the oven to 275F. Set a shallow baking pan filled with hot water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Set the cheesecake on the centre rack and bake for 1 hour. Reduce the heat to 250F and bake for 1 hour longer. Without opening the oven, turn off the heat but leave the cake in the over for 1 hour. Cool the cheesecake on a rack for 30 minutes.

White Chocolate Ganache:

8 ounces white chocolate – finely chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp unsalted butter

Meanwhile, make the ganache. Place the white chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and butter to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand, covered for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Let the ganache col to room temperature.

Pour the ganache over the cheesecake and spread it smooth. Cover the cheesecake and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

To unmold, wrap a hot wet towel around the pan, then remove the sides of the springform.

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Baked Rice Balls

August 11, 2010

I apologize for the delay with this post.  I know I promised you a recipe with the leftover sushi rice, and you are probably thinking that your sushi rice is over a week old now.  But the truth is, I didn’t post because I wasn’t inspired by the name of this recipe.  I mean, “baked rice balls”.  That’s what is going to motivate you run into your kitchen and start pulling things out of your fridge?  That name was going to make you believe that if you make these, you are going to have delicious goodness coming from your oven?  And to top it all off, this is the only picture I have from the prep.  Appetizing.

I wasn’t convinced, and don’t really think that you should be either.

But believe this.  These little goblets of starchy, seasoned rice, with a surprise bite of smoked cheese inside are the best, most delightful, certainly the most delicious savory snack that has come out of my kitchen since…well, ever.  You should be walking, no running to your kitchen right now to get these started.  They’re that good.  And if this doesn’t convince you, well, then, the name will have to do.  Your choice.

Baked Rice Balls (adapted from Giada De Laurentis)

The original recipe was to use up leftover risotto.  Feel free to use that as the rice base, omitting all of the seasoning.  And play around with the cheeses – smoked cheese just happens to be one of my favorites.  Also, the original recipe was for frying.  I don’t do that – mostly because I don’t know how.  So I’ve adapted the recipe for the oven.  Like all things that are supposed to be fried and are baked instead, I’m assuming that these do not have as much crunch as their fried original.  But, my gosh, they are tasty.  So give this method a whirl.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2  cups cooked and cooled sushi rice or short-grain rice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • sprinkling of red pepper flakes – to taste
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature, beaten
  • 4 ounces smoked mozzarella, at room temperature, cut into 10 1/2-inch) cubes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Method:

Preheat oven to 420.

Breading: Put the bread crumbs in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Filling: In a medium bowl, combine the sushi rice, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper, bread crumbs, Parmesan, and eggs. With damp hands, using about 2 tablespoons of the risotto mixture, form the mixture into 1 3/4-inch diameter balls. Make a hole in the center of each ball and insert a cube of smoked mozzarella. Cover up the hole to completely enclose the cheese. Roll the balls in the breading to coat.

Line a baking pan with olive oil.  Put the prepared balls in the baking sheet, making sure that they are all fully covered with the oil.  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown, making sure to turn the balls mid way through the baking.

Sushi. It’s what’s for dinner?

August 2, 2010

There are certain foods that I just will not attempt making.  It’s not really about the ambition or time commitment – it’s just mostly me getting the, “If I can get this at the store perfectly made, then why bother making it at home?” kind of feeling.  ..Hm, okay.  I guess it’s all about the ambition and time commitment.  Or lack thereof.

But, really, let’s put this into perspective.  Would you really want to make puff pastry at home?  Sure, you may think about it, but the supermarket-freezer-kind is quite tasty.  Or croissants?  C’mon.  Let’s leave that to the French.  But here’s the most controversial one.  Sushi.

I know that a lot of you out there make sushi at home – and even prefer doing that than getting store-bought.  But I’ve always been a skeptic.  Maybe it is the seaweed.  Or the rolling.  Or the rolling of the seaweed.  Regardless, despite my objections, we attempted sushi for dinner the other night.

We made the rolls without a sushi mat, which resulted in some frustrating moments, during which I eyed the box of cereal for dinner.  But as soon as we were able to fit all of our desired fillings in the roll, making sushi wasn’t that bad.  It was quite tasty.  It’s certainly a quick meal for one, and not even that ambitious!  Now, onto the croissants!

Sushi, My Style.  Which may not be the best style.  But give it a try, eh? (makes 2 rolls)

Ingredients

1 cup dry sushi rice

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

2 sheets nori

Assorted veggies (I used sliced cucumbers, bell pepper, avocado, shitakes, and baked tofu)

Soy sauce

Wasabi (optional)

Pickled Ginger (optional)

Method:

1. Prepare rice as indicated on the package.  When ready, mix with 2 tbsp. of rice vinegar.

2. Spread half of the rice on to one sheet of nori.  Pat down until an even layer is formed to the ends of the sheet.

3. One one end of the sheet, length-wise, layer veggies.

4. Start rolling the nori, encompassing all of the fillings in one, tight roll.

5. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Whatever will you do with all that leftover sushi rice?  Check back for the next post!