Archive | cheese

Change, Rituals and a Go-To Recipe for Pate Brisee

Last Monday was Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year, according to a publicity campaign from a travel company. This pseudoscience was based on a formula including factors such as weather conditions, debt level (i.e. debt from the holidays, I assume vs ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action. Needless to say this is rubbish. Any day could be really bad for anyone, just as it could go stupendously well for another.

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Ground frost from our New Year’s Day walk in the park.

My Monday was very busy and long, given a rare 16-hour workday, but not depressing in any way. While it has kept me indoors, it didn’t deter me from enjoying and appreciating the generous amount of sunshine we’ve been getting this week.

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Grass and dried winter leaves in the backyard; slithers of sunshine through our fence.

Of course, all this sunshine reminds me of Spring’s not-so-distant arrival. I get a little anxious, I’ll admit. I stop in my tracks to think about what I might have forgotten to schedule or do, or what I should have done or should be doing by now. I ruminate on these things in the morning when everybody’s out the door, and find comfort in a fresh cup of coffee. I never realized how a simple ritual such as this could be so calming. Being the only coffee drinker in the house, it’s one of the few things only I (get to) enjoy. Sure, cleaning that little French press each time could be a drag, but the whole process is pretty grounding. Coffee pun, unintended.

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And then there are the seasonal food-related traditions I look forward to, like making silky smooth Meyer Lemon Curd.  My winter liquid gold. Getting Meyer Lemons from California is not the most 100-Mile diet-friendly choice out there, but this is one of the few guilty pleasures I allow myself. It sure brings a sunny welcome to long cold days.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not a New Year Resolution kind of person. Instead, I stick with a word–a mantra, if you will–to guide me through the year. Can you guess what it is this year?

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An effort to simplify and declutter.

We have been doing our own “eating down the fridge” meals to clean up, too. Roasting vegetables and putting them in a sturdy buttery crust elevates their almost-forgotten state. When I have to foresight to do so, I pre-make pate brisee dough for freezing. It lasts for a couple of months frozen and is a lifesaver both for savory and sweet dishes.

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You couldn’t tell, but we also pre-roasted the vegetables a week before we baked this:

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Do enjoy this recipe. Go crazy with it!

Tart Shell (Pâte brisée) recipe and Vegetable Filling "Template"
Author: 
Recipe type: Dough
Active prep time: 
Cooking/Baking time: 
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time: 
Serves: 6 to 8
 
A great all-purpose and sturdy tart shell to hold savory and sweet fillings, plus a "template" for creating your own vegetable tarts.
Ingredients
For the Tart Crust
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons ice cold water
For the Tart Filling
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups roasted vegetables, cooled
  • ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons (or 6 tablespoons total) plain or herbed goat cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons heavy or whipping cream
  • salt and pepper to taste, depending on how seasoned your cheese and vegetables are
Instructions
Preparing the Dough
  1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 5 times.
  2. Add the butter cubes and mix until the texture of the flour resembles coarse sand, with some pea-sized pieces.
  3. Sprinkle ice cold water a tablespoon at a time on the dough and pulse. Continue to process until it more or less forms one mass and the pieces stick together.
  4. Transfer dough onto a cold work surface or kitchen counter and roughly shape a 6-inch disc. Tightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
  5. Unwrap dough and place on your work surface that is lightly dusted with flour.
  6. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin, down to ⅛-inch in thickness thickness, creating a 12" to 13"-diameter disc. If the dough is too cold and stiff to roll out, leave it on the counter for 5 minutes or so, until it becomes more pliable.
  7. Carefully pick up the rolled dough and drape over the 9" x 1" tart pan (with removable bottom), without stretching. Gently pat the bottom, corner and sides to make sure the pan is fully covered. Trim the edges of the dough about ¼" from the top of the pan. Fold the extra dough into the sides touching the pan, top flushed to the top edge of the pan. Gently press the sides into the curves of the tart pan to secure the dough into the fluted sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Partially Bake the Crust
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line the top of the crust with a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill the bottom with pie weights, uncooked beans or rice to keep the crust flat when baking.
  2. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the weights and the aluminum or parchment sheet. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes more, until the dough starts to turn light brown ever-so-slightly at the edges. Take out to cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.
Assemble the Tart
  1. Whisk the eggs, heavy cream, 2 tablespoons of goat cheese, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper together. The cheese doesn't have to be fully disintegrated; small pieces can be left in the mixture.
  2. Spread the roasted vegetables on the cooled crust, then pour the custard mixture over the vegetables. Dot the top of the tart with torn pieces of the remaining goat cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the custard is set and the top of the tart is golden. Allow to rest in the tart pan perched on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Notes

Prep Time does not include time for roasting vegetables

Planning Ahead: I must warn you that you cannot start this at 6:00pm and expect to have dinner in an hour. There are many things you can do ahead of time. The tart shell can be prepared and partially baked beforehand, just make sure to cool it before wrapping in plastic film for storing in the fridge (if using the next day) or in the freezer (for up to 2 months). The tart dough can also be pre-made and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Another option would be to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer--just remember to add 5 or so minutes to the baking time.


Roasted Vegetables: You can make your roasted vegetable mix by chopping chunks of vegetables (e.g. zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, cauliflower, etc. ) and tossing them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and some herbs and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast in an oven preheated at 425°F for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool and store in the fridge (if used within 2 days) or in the freezer. This can be used in your savory tarts, mixed with noodles, or even just with some goat cheese and crackers. When pulsed in the food processor with some caramelized onions, it makes a very hearty vegetable dip.

 

Posted in baking, cheese, Meatless Monday, tarts, vegetables, vegetarian0 Comments

Peaches with Goat Cheese and Honey

There’s no getting around the too-lazy-too-cook-for-oneself bug when you’re at home for lunch on a hot summer day, or any day for that matter. I’ve heard it many times from friends who live alone: how do you get motivated to prepare a healthy meal or snack? Look no further than your local grocery store or farmer’s market and get what’s in season. That is my dirty little secret. I can admit to eating bananas or ants on a log (i.e. celery with peanut butter and dried cranberries) when I’m really pressed for time and need sustenance.

I had this for lunch last week and I felt much better about eating it than reaching out for a bag of chips. Hey, it happens.

This is as simple as it gets:

  • Peel and slice fresh peaches (or just slice nectarines)
  • Crumbled creamy goat cheese over the quarter moon slices
  • Drizzle with a tiny bit of honey
  • Eat!

Peaches with Goat Cheese and Honey

Posted in breakfast, brunch, cheese, cooking for one, dairy, dessert, fruits, gluten-free, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, raw, snacks, vegetarian, wheat-free0 Comments

Linguine with Braised Chard and Prosciutto

After a busy day, there’s nothing more that I want than fast food. Not the McD kind or the pizza kind. I want something I could fix ASAP without having to fret over ingredients I’m missing. You must think I just bake and eat baked goods all the time with everything that I’ve been posting lately, but I still do cook. I want to spend my time in the kitchen wisely (=quickly), making something that’s good enough to eat and enjoy, but still healthy. I mean, cutting out the part where I drink wine is eating healthier, right? Aha.

There were still fresh pasta and prosciutto from my last trip to Granville Island, and a bunch of almost- forgotten Swiss chard that commanded attention or they will take a direct trip to the food scrap recycling bin. And then there’s the leftover ricotta from my crumb cake baking, plus a lonely shallot bulb.  I’m not organized enough to have my market loot assigned into dishes and menus, so this is a regular plight: Get available and/or in-season ingredients and figure it out in the kitchen later. The pantry and fridge supplies my cooking notes, and sometimes we orchestrate some magic. This one will be added to my pile of go-to quick food, with the greens adapted to what’s in season or easily available.

Simple food can be satisfying, you just have to be willing to try. And don’t forget to check what you already have in your kitchen. Yes, that is a lesson for myself as well.

If you’re into Swiss chard, check this other recipe, too: Eggplant & Chard Lasagne. It’s a vegetarian dish that has a good chance of winning the meat lovers over. :)

Happy weekend!

   Get the recipe for Linguine with Braised Chard and Prosciutto

Posted in cheese, experiments, Fuss Free Fridays, main dishes, original Gourmeted recipe, pasta, quick & easy, vegetables3 Comments

Light Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The first cake I ever baked in North America was carrot cake. I remembered then that we only had a fine grater, and can you image grating so many cups of carrot through that? Laborious! I kept thinking that it better be good, while staring at my orange-soaked hands. Guilty of mass carrot murder. But, you know, we love carrot cakes and this is what you make for the love of it.

What makes this different and so much better than my previous attempts was that it’s surprisingly light, and still amazingly good. Sometimes, a heavy carrot cake just puts me off because I can only have a couple of bites and I feel like that’s it for me for the rest of the month.

But this…this I can eat again and again.

Once you make it, I’m sure you’ll agree.

It’s great for Fall or anytime of the year, really. :-)

Get the recipe for the Light Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted in baking, cakes, cheese, coffee buddy12 Comments

The Mummy Diaries, Part 1: Spanaspookyta

Up until we moved from Manila, the Halloween holidays were spent going to cemeteries to visit our loved ones who passed away. We begin this cemetery-hopping with family from All Saints Day through All Souls Day. They weren’t ever about parties or making ghoulish treats, which would seem inappropriate when you’re visiting your loved ones’ graves. Nowadays it’s a long way from “home” to do our annual visits. I haven’t forgotten our roots, but I’m slowly adapting Western Halloween festivities. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?

Fact: I avoid horror movies and can’t watch them alone. I can’t handle haunted houses, unless you can stand me screaming my brain off, then your brain off. I’m afraid of the dark. Halloween food and costume parties are as far as I’d go for Halloween. Thanks to Renee‘s #GreatHallowTweet BlogHop, I’m getting into the spirit! I’m fumbling my way through while my Hallow cohorts have better things up their sleeve. Look for the pumpkin on the sidebar and click on their links to see what they’re up to. Whooo!!!

My first Halloween “treat” for you this year isn’t a sweet treat and requires some imagination…so forgive me. I love vegetables. For some people, knowing that this has spinach inside it is spooky in itself. Haha. [You can also check out last year's Macawrongs.]

Mummified spanakopita!

If you poke a couple of holes with the tip of knife, boring through the filo to a glimpse of the spinach before baking, the "eyes" would well up like this.

I’ve included some photos of the process of mummifying them. These are basically snack size and would also make excellent appetizers! I already have half of mine in the freezer for later.

Spread the spinach mixture (use your go-to spanakopita filling recipe) on two filo sheets greased with olive oil or butter.

Fold over, and slice the whole length of filled filo into 2-inch width strips. You will end up with about 12 filo mummies. If you do, you will need 4 more filo sheets to for mummification.

To create the mummification strips, brush half of a single filo dough and fold crosswise. Cut in half.

For one of that halves: Cut into quarters. For the other, cut into 8 strips crosswise, which will be the mummy strips.

Get one of the quarter sheet and fold over one of the spanakopita pieces.

Use a dab of olive oil to stick them together if needed.

Lightly and sparsely brush the thin strips of filo pastry with olive oil and wrap around to create the mummy effect.

Tadah!

Posted in appetizer, baking, cheese, events, snacks, vegetables29 Comments

Dana Treat Scones: Sweet Dreams Are Made of Savory Cheese-Dill

On a gray Saturday morning in Seattle, we huddled around the kitchen island, hands clutching cups of tea and coffee for warmth,  and minds still waking up from restful slumber. The morning lull segued into caffeinated conversation, all of us excited to revel in the food blogging bubble for a weekend. Dana, the admirable hostess that she is, had breakfast treats ready for us house guests: fresh blackberries and Frog Hollow Farm peaches, yogurt, and home baked muffins and savory scones. It was a good morning.

This was two weeks ago.

Wouldn’t you agree that there are things about a vacation that anchor you there? The ebb and flow of time, the scents and sounds, the vibe, the people, and the food and their flavors. Although Seattle had its own charm, with its quaint rows of colorful houses amidst greenery, there is no contest that our weekend there could be easily embodied as a collection of tastes.

Here’s the great thing about memories surrounding food: you can recreate the dishes and be transported back to that moment with

a

single

bi t e.

Or whiff.

Yesterday at the crack of dawn, when it was cold and dreary, just like that weekend morning, I enjoyed a leisurely brunch of scones and tea.  The girls I miss, yes, but I was back in Seattle with them if only for a few nibbles (and Tweets).

Savory Dill-Cheese-Shallots Scones

Savory Dill-Cheese-Shallots Scones

These scones, they’re light and flaky; perfect. The inviting aroma of shallots, dill and baked cheese beckon you to usher a wedge into your mouth. Sinking your teeth into the buttery bread, you can listen to it crumble, morsels rolling down your chin, fingers, and onto your plate, your table. Some might be left at the corner of your mouth, but don’t be too prudent and wipe it, please, only if you must. There will be more. Sip tea, look around you, relax. Come back for more.

You couldn’t even tell I have had scone-o-phobia, can you?  They used to be under my category of, “I’ll Live Even If I Don’t Get To Ever Make Them” having sworn them off because of one too many cardboard-ish (cafe) scones. Opinions change once your friends make them and you’re willing to give it a second chance. The rest is history. And well, my dad should be happier now that I’ve finally made his long-standing request. Hah!

Dana Treats

I got the recipe from Dana, and for me they are Dana Treats even if they were originally Holly Bower‘s (aka Holly B of Holly B’s Bakery in Lopez Island Washington) recipe.

Just so you know, I really had fun with these scones. {grins}

Mmmm...scones

Now get bakin’ and munchin’!

Get the recipe for the Dana Treat Scones (Savory Cheese-Dill)

Posted in baking, bread, breakfast, cheese15 Comments

Recipes Lost in Notation and Other Recipe Testing Fails

It’s funny how when I get my writing mojo back, I can’t seem to lay off of it. [This is a Leo thing, right Tracy?] So here I am, burning the midnight New Moon oil with a lot of things swirling in my head. I still have two or more IFBC posts, but I’m giving it a break or you might think I’m utterly stuck waxing poetic about food blogging conferences and friends.

I’m sure you other food bloggers will agree that not everything we prepare in the kitchen makes it on our respective blogs. In my case, about half of what I cook and bake never gets featured here because they:

  1. taste meh, bad, or just okay,
  2. look gross,
  3. accidentally fell on the floor or disintegrated before taking photos,
  4. were not photographed,
  5. were badly photographed,
  6. inedible,
  7. or most likely: lost in notation

I had this Filipino dish to have you try, called Tortang Talong (Filipino Eggplant Omelette), but it had a case of #7. It’s super simple, but my limited short-term memory didn’t retain the oven setting and time. It’s easy enough to search online on how others do it, but I just don’t include a method, technique, or other parts of a recipe if I didn’t test it myself. So this will have to wait until I buy more eggplants and oven-roast them again. On the other hand, more eggplant goodness for my belly.

Still on a Southeast Asian Motherland kick, I’ve been wanting to share the  Filipino Chicken Empanada recipe that I learned while observing relatives of relatives on the East Coast. BUT. Guess what? #7.

If this keeps going on, I don’t think I’d even get to my golden years!

Tonight I wasn’t particularly keen on cooking. I began reviewing a friend’s book draft (I’m not a professional, but she asked me to check it out…as a friend) after a 4-hour meeting the previous night, and now with 3 hours of sleep. Long story short, this Energizer bunny needs to rest. All my residual charge could muster up to do was boil, peel, and slice beets. And then I decided they need some other color, like pluots. And then I wanted something salty and creamy, there goes the feta.

A light drizzle of blood orange olive oil later…

Beets with pluot and feta cheese

Beets with pluot and feta cheese

…an excited first bite was superseded by great disappointment. That’ll be number 1 and 7.

However, all is not lost as I discovered that pluots and feta party together. I mean, Hi, let’s go on another date tomorrow! I’m feeling creamy feta-pluot in my next 24-hour future. What it would end up as, I’m not sure, but I’m getting them a room already. Hopefully it works out.

Have you put together something that seemed brilliant in your head and ended up in a pile of disappointment, beside newly delivered pizza? Or maybe, you have recipe testing fails to share? Do tell!

If you have other pluot-feta recipes, I’m yours. Oh, just remember I have 1/8 cup of butter left. That’s all I can use for now. It’s ghastly to have less than 4 sticks of butter available. That’s just not right.

Energizer bunny out.


Posted in cheese, experiments, fruits, vegetables, vegetarian8 Comments

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne and Being a Reluctant Gardener

In case you’re in the mood for lasagne, and up for something different, try this Eggplant and Chard Lasagne. Yes, it’s vegetarian and it’s incredibly good in a Wow-That’s-Vegetarian?! kind of way. I served it to a group of carnivores who whined (a little) before tasting it. They shut up after the first bite. Then, the rest of the lasagna was history…gone with the skeptic wind.

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne

I really, really wish you could taste this right now!

Eating what I consider a “balanced” diet

I do love my chocolates, high-fat Irish butter, desserts and everything sweet, so I try to balance them out with oatmeal or 2% greek yogurt in the mornings, and vegetable/fruit-rich dishes the rest of the day [Keep in mind: I try, but it doesn't always happen.]. Having said that, I also don’t see the point of dreading a lackluster meal only to make myself feel better with too much dessert. And let’s face it–it’s way easier to keep eating dessert…so very easy. I want to eat with a good diet in mind, but I don’t want to eat like I’m missing out. I’m with the camp who believes that eating healthier shouldn’t mean resigning to eating food that taste like crap.

After having cooked several recipes from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, I couldn’t recommend it enough for anyone thinking of putting more vegetable dishes on their tables. Remember the split pea soup? Yum! This lasagne? Oh my. It’s another winning combination, and I can’t believe I’ve never used chard and eggplant together like this, it’s so deviously simple.

I wasn’t quite sure how it would taste from the recipe, to be honest, but knowing that my fellow food blogging pal Dana made it before was the extra assurance I needed to feel at ease making this for the first time and serving it to hungry non-vegetarian bellies.

And you know what? It was a smashing success of a pasta dish. If you taste this, you won’t say: “This tastes good for vegetarian…” It is awesome. Period. No need to label it as “vegetarian” as an excuse for its taste. I know what it’s like. I used to wince whenever someone said the V-word. I die a little each time then, if I want to be dramatic about it. But this. Oh, I love it! I’ve no qualms about serving it to anyone. I plan to serve this at my next birthday party, and it won’t need the usual introduction of, “That’s vegetarian, FYI.”

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne

Dig in.

It tastes like lasagne (in case you’re wondering). It’s not too leafy, not too rich. It’s filling, but it won’t weigh you down–y’know that feeling with pasta that’s bloated you can barely look at it before thinking there’s just no way I could eat that? I was quite surprised at how good eggplant was in between sheets of pasta, and really being good friends with wilted chard. Mmmm…mmm!

So the question is: would I pick this over the conventional lasagne if I had the choice? YES! Oh, heck, YES!

Truly, I love the dish as is, but something’s missing. With the beginning of spring, I can’t help but think of how it could be better with garden-fresh eggplants and chard. Yeah, I’m going to go all oogly-vegetably on you now.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, a-gardening we go!

I won’t lie. I don’t have a green thumb (although he says there is no such thing) and gardening became obliterated from my thinking process before I reached my teens. Gardening wha’? Before that, I enjoyed mostly third-party gardening. I was perfectly content with watering the plants and removing/cutting the occasional dried stem or leaf. The major dig-ins, I just watch while others do it. My forte was harvesting and eating the fruits/vegetables, or cutting flowers and leaves to put in vases for our rooms. Very nice.

This year, I want to overcome my fear of soil–of earthworms, in particular–and start a small garden in the backyard. I used to live in a building complex where the yard consisted of rocks and manicured lawns and trees tended on an almost-daily basis by gardeners. You can’t plant. Not that it mattered at the time. Now that I’m back in the ‘burbs of Vancouver, there is actually a yard to play with.

Gulp.

I fear the yard. All it looks to me is more work when I could be tweeting instead! I’m so inspired by Kristina and Kristina‘s gardens. [Hah! Did I confuse you? Raise your hand if your name is Kristina and you garden. I see a pattern here.] I hope I’m not setting myself up for failure. We’ll see. I’ll try.

I mean…really, I will. Just thinking of having fresh produce from my own garden makes me happy. And I know that sounds like the geekiest food-related thing I’ve said. Help.

Do you have any tips for a newbie gardener like me? Can you share links/resources or books/primers to read?

I want to have a vegetable garden and eat the fruits of my labor. Hopefully, we can get soil this weekend. And no, I have not read a single book on gardening. Can gardening knowledge be–hold your breath–organic? :D

Get the recipe for Eggplant and Chard Lasagne (includes PDF)

Posted in books and publications, cheese, healthier choices, main dishes, pasta, vegetables, vegetarian4 Comments

Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

I was told a while ago: ‘Every dish tells a story.‘  At the same time, food is meant to be savored with every bite. Since leaving the FoodBuzz event last week, I have had more desire to achieve more than I had since starting this blog.  Joy’s been an incredible inspiration for my cooking and I hope that this is a trend that continues.

Upon my return to the office, there was a flier posted next to the time clock, “Holiday Potluck!’ So I figure, Cool! I’ll make something simple, easy, and enjoyable. My first thought was a simple garlic mashed potato dish. A few days after that posting, the HR manager asked me what I was making for the potluck because she knew about our little journal from previous discussions.

I’m going to keep it simple, garlic mashed, I think.

“What? Don’t be boring! I’ve seen the stuff you guys make! Give us something more gourmet!”

A challenge, huh? I was game. So a few more nights passed, then it hit me. Of all the things of a Thanksgiving meal, there is not much that is not considered ‘comfort food’. Then I started thinking about the various comfort foods of a meal that could not only serve 30 people, but have the flavor and memories that follow with each taste.

I would stick with the potato idea. I browsed various sites for perfect dishes but nothing was out of the ordinary.  Then it hit me. Crème fraîche Loaded Whipped Mashed Potatoes! Yeah, try saying that to your guests at your next dinner party when you make this dish.

So, I decided I would not have a toungue twister and simplify it to “Gourmet Loaded Potatoes“. It is a relatively simple dish, but its attention is needed. If you stick with it, you’ll have an incredibly tasty, rich, and flavorful new spin on the potato.

Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

I took this challenge head-on and I am proud of the results. I got rave reviews at the pot luck and I look forward to serving this dish again soon.

-Daniel

Gourmet Loaded PotatoesDownload PDF recipe for Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

Ingredients [Serves about 30, as a side dish]

  • 10 lbs of Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 lb of thinly sliced pancetta
  • 1 ½ cup of heavy cream, with extra just in case
  • 1 7.5 oz package of crème fraîche
  • 1 3-ounce package of cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoons of butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt (seasoned salt preferred)

Equipment

  • Large bowl or strainer for holding the cooked potatoes
  • Electric mixer

Preparation

1. Prepare the potatoes by submerging them in cold water in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add salt to the water and bring the pot to a boil uncovered. When you get to a rolling boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes, covered. At the end of the 10 minutes, try piercing a potato with a fork. If it goes straight through, it’s done. If not, cook another 4-5 minutes and check again.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a pan in medium heat and cook the pancetta. You’re looking for a total crisp, nothing undercooked or limp. This cooking time will change depending on your pan, heat, and if you used any oil to help cook. Remove from the heat and pat dry any excess oil or grease with a paper towel.

3. Drain the potatoes from the pot completely and set them aside. Put the pot back onto the stove.

4. Add ingredients into the pot in this order: butter, crème fraîche, cream cheese, heavy cream. Grab the cooked pancetta and crumble it as much as possible. Then add the potatoes back into the pot. By the time the potatoes get into the pot, the butter should be completely melted and the cream cheese should as well.

5. Add the pepper, chives, cheddar, and the remaining salt.

6. Blend all ingredients together with a hand mixer starting with the lowest speed and progressively working to medium, about 5 minutes. When everything is well mixed, check the consistency. If it’s not whipped and/or enough, add 1/3 cup of heavy cream and continue mixing for another minute. Serve warm and enjoy!

Posted in appetizer, cheese, dailies, dairy, dining, experiments, fun, original Gourmeted recipe, vegetables12 Comments

Bailey’s Cafe Mocha Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I always talk about one of my common indulgences during the week: coffee with Bailey’s Irish creme. So I thought, why not put those lovely flavors in a cheesecake? After all, the Daring Bakers Challenge this month calls for playing with a basic cheesecake recipe.

For those of you not familiar with the Daring Bakers, it’s a group whose members undertake monthly baking challenges. :) I was crazy enough to join. Haha. It is so much fun. Last month was my first time and I had an initiation by fire with the spinach lasagna. This month is a sweeter challenge. Yumm…cheesecake!

I’ve made many cheesecakes before because it’s been requested so many times. My “signature” cheesecake was a no-bake one that is light and not anywhere as decadent as your average cheesecake. So it’s nice to go for something different. I took the good things from my old cheesecake and used that for this month’s recipe–lemon juice and zest in the crust and my foil-wrapping  technique that makes cooking and cleaning with the springform pan much easier.

Admittedly, although I knew what flavors to incorporate in my cheesecake, I wasn’t quite sure how until I was making it. And I’ve had a few Uh-Oh (not A-Ha!) moments. I separated the cheesecake batter into 3 parts for the 3 flavors: coffee, dark chocolate and Bailey’s. They tasted right individually, however I ended up with 3 liquids with different viscosities, with the coffee liquid as the least viscous — and I want that the most dominant flavor because I want it to be mainly coffee cheesecake. Hmm. I guess I should have thought of that when separating the batter because the most dominant liquid I had was Bailey’s. Not that I’m complaining, Gimme more, I say.

In the end, I just poured the liquids from the most, to the least, thick. I wasn’t ecstatic about the top:

Before I combined all the liquid mixtures, I saw that the coffee batter was too thin so I added an additional egg. Haha. Bad move…look at that top!!! The dark spots were from the cocoa powder that I thought to add at the very end. Yet another Uh-Oh moment. I should not have added it directly to the mixture.

But then here comes the A-Ha! moment: The Taste and texture! The cheesecake was a nice, smooth indulgent bite that melts into a comforting silk mousse of coffee, chocolate and my favorite Irish creme. Wow.

And three taste testers agree! :-)

I still need to work on my viscosity issues, but this is a winning cheesecake overall. My cake-top problem could easily be ‘fixed’ with a dusting of cocoa.

The basic cheesecake recipe is here, and I’ll be posting my recipe tonight. Done! Thanks Jenny! And thanks to Abbey, too.

Now I can relax again until the next challenge. But for now, here’s the recipe: Continue Reading

Posted in baking, cheese, chocolate, coffee buddy, Daring Bakers, dessert, experiments, fun40 Comments