Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cheesecake

According to Wikipedia, Saturday July 30th has been unofficially declared National Cheesecake Day in the United States.

Let's celebrate.


Cheesecake
My Friend Toni's Family Recipe



For the Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
6 tablespoons sugar

Mix together all three ingredients. Press the mixture evenly in the bottom and up the sides of a spring form pan. Refrigerate while making filling.

For the Filling:
(3) 8 ounce packages of cream cheese (room temp)
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 tblsp flour
4 eggs

Combine the first seven ingredients for the filling together in a large bowl. Once combined, add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.

Pour the filling into the chilled crust.

Bake at 325 for 20 minutes then lower the over temperature to 300 degrees and continue baking the cheesecake for 40 minutes

Turn the oven off and don't remove the cheesecake for approximately 1 hour.

Refrigerate in pan overnight


Chocolate Topping:


Melt 8 ounces of dark chocolate. 
Allow it to cool and then pour over the top of the cheesecake. Refrigerate until the chocolate has hardened.


Slice, serve and enjoy.


Many thanks to my friend Toni for allowing me to share this recipe!



Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gazpacho

Got the blues?

Get in the kitchen and make some gazpacho.

Seriously.



In cooler weather, when life has got me down, my culinary pick-me-up is my tomato soup. However, with temperatures currently hitting triple digits here in Texas hot tomato soup just doesn't seem right. 

Now I've discovered gazapacho-- my summertime blues buster.

Stick with me on this one because I know what you're thinking-- "cold soup as comfort food?"

I thought that, too.


First, the whole preparation process is incredibly therapeutic. There is some prep time required and taking the time to chop and prep the veggies gets the mind off of troubles and focused on the task at hand.

Creating something delicious is a great distraction.


It takes some time and patience to bring it all together, but it's well worth the wait because the first taste of home made fresh gazpacho is very soul-satisfying. Cool, refreshing, healthy and delicious it's the perfect summertime pick-me-up.



Fresh Tomato Gazpacho
from Bon Appetit, August 2001



  • 2 pounds large tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 pound country-style bread, crust removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
  • 1 cup chopped peeled cucumber
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika


  • 1 cup water

Working over bowl, gently squeeze tomato halves to release seeds and juices. Strain juices, pressing on solids to extract as much juice as possible (about 1/2 cup). Discard seeds. Chop tomatoes. Transfer chopped tomatoes and tomato juices to large glass bowl. Add next 9 ingredients. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Working in batches, puree gazpacho with 1 cup water in blender until smooth. Pour gazpacho into coarse strainer set over large bowl. Press on solids to extract as much soup as possible. Season with salt and pepper. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Serve cold.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Within Reach

It's hard to be inspired when my main sources of inspiration are out of reach.


See those books on top of the cabinet?

Why I decided to store my most favorite cookbooks on a shelf that requires hauling out my step stool every time I want to peruse them is beyond me. 

Inefficient, annoying, uninspiring and dangerous.

My favorite cookbooks spent almost eight months out of reach. When I decided to move them to a more functional spot I experienced the same feeling when I dig out my old high school yearbooks. It wasn't enough to grab them and move them. I had to look through each one and every page brought back all sorts of culinary ideas and memories.

Hello, old friend...


My mom gave me Southern Living's Christmas Cookbook and I love the way the recipes and sections are structured. It's not just a book of recipes it's a resource for the holidays complete with delicious menu ideas and entertaining tips and tricks. Just paging through this book makes me want to play Christmas music despite the fact that it's July and over 100 degrees.

 I bought The Bread Baker's Apprentice as part of a community blogging challenge and the goal was to make every single recipe in the book from start to finish. 


I never made it past the first recipe.

But the book is beautiful and highly regarded and I still harbor a desire to work my way through it.

Someday.

I love my back issues of Cook's Illustrated.

They are like children to me-- I can't abandon them.


Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It is a great resource for fun kitchen projects.

 I like to flip through it and imagine what it would be like to live off the land and make my own spice mixes, jellies and bacon.


I probably wouldn't survive long because I would just make peanut butter cups all the time...


My good friends Jeremy & Kelly gave me 1001 Foods to Die For a couple years ago, which is basically a giant encyclopedia of all sorts of dishes from all over the world.  Want to learn about Tom Yum, Pigeon Pie, Tjalknol and Alfredo? It's all in there plus a whole lot more.


I did right by my cookbooks and found a cozy, accessible home from them in my living room bookshelf. No longer castoff refugees from my cooking hiatus they have now found a place of honor and respect.

Just like all favorite cookbooks deserve.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fresh Salmon-Cilantro Burgers


If there was a prom for burgers (Burger Prom, if you will) the prom king would be a bacon cheeseburger and the queen would definitely be a salmon burger. Delicate and pretty the salmon burger is both admired and hated by all the other burgers. Kind of like the girl that was voted queen at my high school prom.

But unlike what's-her-name from my high school prom, a salmon burger is the best of everything. Fancy without being high-maintenance. Hearty without being heavy. Interesting, but not pretentious. In short, a salmon burger has the whole package and is quite a catch. She totally deserves to be queen of burger prom.

I used this recipe from Cooking Light Magazine to make my salmon burgers. I made a few adjustments, mostly making it not so light in calories by using full fat mayo and butter instead of cooking spray. These come together so quickly it'd be a great weeknight dinner and a nice alternative for regular burger night.

Enjoy!

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