Sun-dried Tomato Cheesecake

Posted January 21, 2011 by lmoffitt
Categories: appetizer

My fiance would tell you that I have a slightly scary obsession with food, which I guess if that means you are constantly thinking about what you want to cook/eat next and what flavors you want to experiment with-then I’m guilty!  I get slightly giddy about the meal I’m going to spend hours cooking and then devouring, and then add a glass of wine and it’s a perfect evening.  Therefore to me the appetizer course is a very overlooked by very important part of a meal.  You want something that wets your appetite but doesn’t weigh your stomach down and leave you not wanting dinner.  Believe me there is a place in this world for a fabulous dip and chips but a light cheese and cracker before a more elegant dinner is perfect.  Cheese and crackers doesn’t have to be a boring wedge with crackers scattered around either, you can use your imagination to create an elaborate display.  This is no means an elaborate display but a savory cheesecake is one of my favorite elements on a cheese platter.  This cheesecake contains two of my favorite flavor profiles-basil and sundried tomatoes. It’s fairly easy to make and your guests have an elegant substitute for a wedge of cheese that is light and leaves them wanting more, which let’s be honest, after laboring over dinner you want them to enjoy that just as much!

Sun-dried Tomato Cheesecake

adapted from Cooking Light

Crust: 

  • 5  (1-ounce) slices whole wheat bread
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  grated lemon rind
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1  teaspoon  extravirgin olive oil
  • 1  garlic clove, minced

Filling:

  • 1 1/4  cups  sun-dried tomato halves, packed without oil (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 1/4  cups cottage cheese
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 4  (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese
  • 2  large egg whites
  • 1/4  cup  coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2  cup  drained canned artichoke hearts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.

Line bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment.

To prepare crust, place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse breadcrumbs measure 2 cups. Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, rind, and pepper in a medium bowl. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add oil and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add butter mixture to breadcrumbs; stir with a fork. Press breadcrumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

To prepare filling, cover sun-dried tomatoes with boiling water in a bowl; let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and finely chop.

Place cottage cheese in a food processor; process until smooth. Add lemon juice and next 5 ingredients (through egg whites); process until smooth. Add tomatoes, basil, and artichoke; process until well blended. Pour cream cheese mixture into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until almost set; let cool to room temperature. Cover and chill; cut into 24 wedges. Serve at room temperature with Melba toast rounds or crackers of your choice.

 

Triple Lemon Layer Cake

Posted January 12, 2011 by lmoffitt
Categories: Dessert

Snow!  It’s everywhere around here…or now it’s more like ice, but seeing how I hate the cold and don’t like to go out in either, it’s all the same to me!  Same in the since that it’s cancelled our first two days back to class so I’ve had some fabulous time to chill in the apartment and cook.  Now this cake is an excellent summer cake, however sometimes after craving stews and pastas and all the other comfort foods that cold weather makes me crave, it’s nice to have a more refreshing dessert.  I love lemon in just about any dish whether is sweet or savory, but I have to say that I could have a bowl full of the lemon curd from the recipe and lick it clean after I was done.   Make the curd the day before so it can chill and then it will make the cake process a lot easier-it’s always easier to make layer cakes in shifts!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Triple-Lemon Layer Cake
Adapted from Fine Cooking

Cake
9 1/4 ounces (2 1/3 cups) cake flour;
more for the pans
2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lightly packed finely
grated lemon zest
6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
completely softened
1 cup whole milk
room temperature
5 large egg whites
room temperature
1/4 teaspoon creme of tarter

Lemon Curd
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
grated zest of three lemons
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp.

Frosting
8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter,
completely softened
2 tablespoon lightly packed finely
grated lemon zest
3 ½ cups sifted confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Make the lemon curd first so it can chill.
Whisk together the whole eggs, yolks, sugar, lemon juice , and lemon zest together in a medium bowl. Transfer to a small non-reactive saucepan. Gently heat the mixture, whisking until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. make sure not to boil the mixture. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the butter and cover the curd with plastic making sure the plastic touches the curd. This should prevent a skin from forming on the curd. Refrigerate until cold.

Cake:

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8 by 2 inch round cake pans. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Pulse 1/4 cup of the sugar with the zest in a food processor until well combined.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and lemon sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 1 ½ minutes). Add the remaining sugar and beat until smooth (about 1 ½ minutes). Beat in a quarter of the milk just until blended. On low speed, add the flour mixture alternatively with the milk in three batches, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula; beat just until blended.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer (with clean beaters or a whisk attachment) on medium speed just until foamy. Add the creme of tarter, increase the speed to medium high, and beat until the whites form stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted. Add a quarter of the whites to the batter and gently fold them in with a rubber spatula; continue to gently fold tin the whites, a quarter at a time , being careful not to deflate the mixture.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake until a pick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool in the pans 10 minutes. Run a table knife along the sides of the pans and carefully invert each cake out onto the rack. Flip them right side up and let them cool completely.
With the palm of one hand pressed on top of a cake layer, cut each in half horizontally, using a long serrated knife. Put one of the cake layers on a serving plate, cut side up. With an offset spatula or a table knife, spread a generous 1/3 a cup on top of the cake layer. Lay another cake layer on top, spread it with another generous 1/3 a cup, and repeat with third cake layer.  Top with the fourth cake layer.

Frosting:

In a medium bowl, beat the butter and lemon zest with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners sugar in batches and beat until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and beat for one minute. (You can make the frosting a couple of hours early and keep it, covered, at cool room temperature.)

Frost the Cake:

Up to a few hours ahead, spread a thin layer of frosting on the cake, filling in any gaps as you go. Chill until the frosting firms up a bit, about ½ hour. Spread the remaining frosting decoratively over the top and sides of cake. Garnish as you like.

Leek Bread Pudding

Posted December 4, 2010 by lmoffitt
Categories: bread

So after eating Thomas Keller’s mussel recipe, I had to try another one.  What a genius in the kitchen!  I made brioche over the weekend and it didn’t rise quite like I had wanted however the taste did not disappoint.  Therefore my less than perfect day old brioche was perfect for bread pudding.  I love bread pudding, especially savory bread pudding.  It’s a dish you can really be creative with if you want based on the flavors that you like.  Although Thomas Keller’s recipe I’m sure was spot on just as is, I did however change things in a couple of small ways.  It was delicious and great as leftovers….you know it’s good when you eat it for three consecutive days later!
Leek Bread Pudding
adapted from Thomas Keller
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices leeks (white and light green parts only)   *I only had about 2 cups worth of leeks so I added about half of a sliced onion which I really enjoyed
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 cups 1-inch cubes crustless Brioche (I left the crust on and enjoyed the extra texture)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded Comté or Emmentaler  **definitely add a little extra parmesan on top, you won’t be disappointed

*** I ate this dish as a main course and thus a felt a little less guilty by dicing four pieces of     bacon into the dish and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  The flavors of the two additions really enhanced the dish.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put the leek rounds in a large bowl of water and swish so that any dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl. Set a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, lift the leeks from the water, drain, and add them to the pan. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. As the leeks begin to soften, lower the heat to medium-low. The leeks will release liquid. Stir in the butter to emulsify, and season with pepper to taste. Cover the pan with a parchment lid (cover with parchment with a whole in the center for the heat to escape slightly), and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until the leeks are very soft, 30 to 35 minutes. If at any point the butter breaks or looks oily, stir in about a tablespoon of water to re-emulsify the sauce. Remove and discard the parchment lid.

Meanwhile, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until dry and pale gold. Transfer to a large bowl. Leave the oven on.

Add the leeks to the bread and toss well, then add the chives and thyme.

Lightly whisk the eggs in another large bowl. Whisk in the milk, cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Spread half the leeks and croutons in the pan and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Scatter the remaining leeks and croutons over and top with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough of the custard mixture to cover the bread and press gently on the bread so it soaks in the milk. Let soak for about 15 minutes.

Add the remaining custard, allowing some of the soaked cubes of bread to protrude. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese on top and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the pudding feels set and the top is brown and bubbling.

*Thomas Keller suggested that when serving this dish as a main course, a good accompaniment would be oven roasted tomatoes which I thought was great.  If you feel so inclined, drop plum tomatoes in boiling water for only about a minute and then transfer to an ice bath so you can peel the skin off easily.  Cut the tomatoes in half and put them on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, thyme sprigs, salt and pepper and bake at 200 for about 5-6hrs.

Mussels with Saffron and Mustard

Posted November 28, 2010 by lmoffitt
Categories: seafood, Uncategorized

Happy belated Thanksgiving!  For all of us foodies, this is the best holiday.  One that is dedicated to cooking all day and night to feast until your buttons pop and you don’t even have to feel guilty…I mean after all it is a holiday!  So therefore I have had a fabulous couple days of eating delicious food.  I was too busy enjoying all of our Thanksgiving traditional dishes to take pictures or worry about posting about them, but this dish I made before Thankgiving in order to stretch out my stomach in the sense of exercising before a marathon…I mean you have to train!  This recipe was from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook.  Thomas Keller is such a genius in the kitchen that I find myself wanting to cook all his recipes in order to get a glimpse of that, but for now I’ll start with this one!

Mussels with Saffron and Mustard

adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon

  • 12 tablespoons (6 ounces unsalted butter)
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 24 cloves Garlic Confit (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
  • 4 pinches saffron threads
  • 4 pounds small mussels, preferably bouchot
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme, salt, and white pepper, reduce the heat to low, and cook gently for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the mustard and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a minute or two, then add the saffron, cover the pot, and remove from the heat. Let the broth steep for at least 5 minutes. (The broth can be allowed to sit for a few hours at room temperature.)

To Complete: Rinse the mussels under cold water; scrub them if necessary to clean them. Pull off and discard the beards.

Bring the broth to a simmer over high heat. Add the mussels and stir to combine. Cover and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the mussels have opened.

Toss the mussels with the parsley and a few grindings of black pepper. Serve immediately in large shallow bowls, with some crusty bread.

Garlic Confit

Makes 2 cups

  • 1 cup peeled garlic cloves (about 45 cloves)
  • About 2 cups canola oil

Cut off and discard the root ends of the garlic cloves. Place the cloves in a small saucepan and add enough oil to cover them by about 1 inch—none of the garlic cloves should be poking through the oil.

Place the saucepan on a diffuser over medium-low heat. The cloves should cook gently. Very small bubbles will come up through the oil, but the bubbles should not break the surface. Adjust the heat as necessary and move the pan to one side of the diffuser if it is cooking too quickly. Cook the garlic for about 40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the cloves are completely tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the garlic to cool in the oil.

Refrigerate the garlic, submerged in the oil, for up to a month.

New York Cheesecake

Posted October 30, 2010 by lmoffitt
Categories: Dessert

Happy Halloween!  Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays growing up.  The process of figuring out the costume and applying the make up while some delicious stew was simmering on the stove is one of my favorite memories.  Now I’m not going out to trick or treat anymore but I get just as excited to carve a pumpkin, watch a scary movie and pass out candy while cooking a wonderful fall dinner.  Now this post should therefore be about some type of stew that simmers all day while you prepare for all the little goblins coming to your door, but since I made cheesecake this past week I thought I would go ahead and share that instead.  I’m not a huge cheesecake fan but I made this specifically for someone this past week and became a convert for cheesecake.  It was so creamy and tasty that it became one of those desserts that you just need one more bite, and one more, and one more……

New York Cheesecake

adapted from cooks illustrated

For the crust:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 additional tablespoon, melted, for greasing the pan
4 ounces (approximately 8 whole) graham crackers, broken into rough pieces and processed into fine, even crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar

For the cheesecake:
2½ pounds (5 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
⅛ teaspoon salt
1½ (10.5 ounces) cups sugar
⅓ cup sour cream
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature

To make the crust, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with ½ tablespoon of the melted butter. In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, 5 tablespoons melted butter, and sugar. Toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Transfer the crumbs to the springform pan and use the bottom of a ramekin to firmly press the crumbs evenly into the pan bottom. Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around the edges, about 13 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.

Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften it slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolks and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions.

Brush the sides of the springform pan with the remaining ½ tablespoon melted butter. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills in case the pan leaks. Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake 10 minutes; without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until the cheesecake reads about 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center, about 1½ hours. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool until barely warm, 2½ to 3 hours. Run a paring knife between the cake and the springform pan sides. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.

To unmold the cheesecake, removed the sides of the pan. Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the bottom of the pan to loosen, then slide the cake onto a serving plate. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve. (Use a long, thin, sharp knife that has been run under hot water and then dried for slicing. Wipe the blade clean and rewarm between slices.)


Chicken Curry Burgers

Posted October 25, 2010 by lmoffitt
Categories: Chicken

This didn’t make the prettiest picture but it made for one fabulous burger!  I went home a couple of weeks ago and my passion for cooking came from my mom, so what do we do when I go home but peruse hundreds of recipes to figure out the perfect thing to cook.  Well this was not the elaborate meal we cooked but it was one of her many many torn out recipes that caught my eye and was somehow “accidentally” left in my purse when I got back home.  I love curry and this is the perfect combination of a sweet yet spicy burger.  If you share my love of curry then I promise you will love these burgers!

Chicken Curry Burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/2 C. diced onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apples peeled and grated
  • 1/4 C. mango chutney
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns

Sauté onions in olive oil over medium high heat until they just start to soften.
Add curry powder and continue to cook 1 minute. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, combine chicken, egg, bread crumbs, apple, mango chutney, green onions, salt and pepper. Fold all of the ingredients together without smashing them together.
Chill bowl for an hour.
Divide chicken mixture into 4 balls and form into patties. Try not to make them too compacted.

Grill patties on the grill on in a grill pan.  The mixture will seem somewhat ‘wet’ but they will come together just fine once they start cooking.  The recipe recommended serving these with lemonaise which you can find at the grocery. I tried it out of curiosity and it was okay but I think the best way is to rub a little garlic paste and grill your buns and do without a sauce-the burgers have enough flavor on their own!



Chive and Fontina Challah Bread

Posted October 21, 2010 by lmoffitt
Categories: bread

Oh it’s been so long since I have posted a blog entry!  Ricky left the battery to his nice camera on a guy’s golf weekend and we just received it back this week.  Needless to say, I’ve been cooking up a storm since I’ve recently had a small break from culinary classes but: a) my dinky camera seems to take horrible pictures after using a “professional” camera and b) I’m enjoying not being gone from 5 something in the morning til 9 something at night so I’m being lazy!  But I decided I need to stop being selfish and share the passion I have for cooking with everyone else.  After my first semester in culinary school  in which I took Baking, I have become a big fan of challah bread!  I would eat a full dinner of freshly made challah bread with butter fresh out of the oven and could not be happier.  So when I found this recipe for fontina and chive challah I thought I had died and gone to heaven (did I mention I love fontina cheese!).  I hope you enjoy this and hopefully you will receive many more recipes to come!

Chive and Cheese Challah

adapted from cookinglight.com

  • 1  cup  warm 2% reduced-fat milk (100° to 110°)
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1  package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3  tablespoons  butter, melted
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  salt
  • 5  large egg yolks
  • 3  large eggs
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded aged fontina cheese
  • 1/2  cup  finely chopped fresh chives
  • 10.7  ounces  bread flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 13.5  ounces  all-purpose flour, divided (about 3 cups)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  large egg
  • 2  tablespoons  water
  • 2  tablespoons  grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Stir in butter, salt, 5 egg yolks, and 3 eggs. Stir in fontina and chives. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 10.7 ounces bread flour (about 2 1/4 cups) and 12.4 ounces (about 2 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour to yeast mixture, stirring until a soft dough forms (dough will be sticky).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding remaining 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, for 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch down dough; cover and let rise 50 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

Divide dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Roll each ball into a rope about 15 inches long. Place 3 ropes parallel to one another; braid ropes. Pinch ends together, and tuck under loaf. Repeat procedure with remaining 3 ropes. Place loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine 1 egg and 2 tablespoons water, stirring well with a whisk. Brush loaves gently with egg mixture. Sprinkle loaves evenly with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheet; cool on a wire rack.