Month: December 2011
Here’s another holiday menu post! I do want to start by apologizing for some of my pics. When I was doing my Winter Feast, I was so concerned with keeping to my schedule and feeding hungry guests, I forgot to take pictures of the finished products 😦 Like the Savory Bread Pudding, the Rapini with Fried Apples, the Biscotti, the Roasted Fennel, and this. But luckily there were some leftovers (as is the usual with large parties) and I got to take some shots. Of course, I don’t know what my excuse is for not taking pics of the cheesecake because this was made the day before. But it was evening, so natural light wasn’t available. Plus it’s been very cloudy lately which makes taking good pictures more challenging. That was the case when I was trying to take some pictures of what was left of the cheesecake (and it was raining a little bit). All the Christmas lights in the world really can’t replicate natural light.
Anyhoo, I wanted to put a different twist on cheesecake for the holidays. And then I asked myself, “Waterlily, why don’t you add some of the Cranberry Compote to the cheesecake batter? What a wonderful idea! Such fun!” So that’s essentially what this is, with a little tweaks here and there. . . maybe. This makes a relatively tall 9″ cheesecake (and that’s 9″ wide, not 9″ tall). Here’s what you need:
For the crust:
- 12 graham crackers, the large 4-piece kind
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 T. crystallized ginger
- pinch of salt
- 6 T. butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 9-in springform with cooking spray. Pulse the graham crackers, sugar, and salt until fine. Add the crystallized ginger and chop (I like having larger bits of ginger in the crust, but you can keep everything a uniform size if you like). Drizzle in the melted butter and combine.
2. Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pan about 1 inch. Bake for about 15 minutes until slightly browned. Allow to cool. After the pan is cool to the touch, wrap in foil to prevent water from seeping in.
For the filling:
- 5 8-oz. packages cream cheese
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 t. salt
- 5 large eggs
- 1/2 c. sour cream
- 1 c. Cranberry Compote
1. Reduce oven to 325 degrees F. In the bowl of a mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy using the paddle attachment. Be sure to scrape down the sides as you go along. Add sugar and salt and mix well, scraping down the sides. Add eggs one at a time, again scraping down the sides after each addition. Mix in the sour cream well. Fold in the compote.
2. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. Place the springform in a roasting pan; now fill the roasting pan with hot water halfway up the sides of the springform. Bake for about 90 minutes until set in the middle. If there is too much browning during baking, loosely place some foil on top of the cheesecake.
3. Allow the cake to cool on a rack. After about 15 minutes, run a knife around the edges of the cake to help release it from the pan. Let it cool completely before wrapping the top with plastic. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight (even better)!
Notes — I was hoping that this would be a little bit more pink. I guess I could always add some coloring, but I’d rather not. . . You are supposed to bake this in a water bath, but if you don’t happen to have a roasting pan you can just use a sheet pan. Fill the pan as high as you can with water; you will probably have to refill the pan at least once during baking. But halfway through the baking process, loosely place some foil on top of the cake. This helps trap some steam around the cake, which helps it bake. . .
Here’s my third post from my “holiday menu“. To be honest, I think “cranberry compote” is just a fancy term for a cranberry sauce. But again, alliteration is always a nice thing! In case you’re wondering, a compote is basically fruit stewed in some kind of syrup. It can serve as a topping for ice cream or just served on its own. I did use some of this to make a cheesecake for my Winter Feast. Of course, that’s going to be the next post. Exciting stuff!
- 1 1/2 c. water
- 1 1/2 c. sugar
- 2 – 3 cinnamon sticks, depending on strength
- 2 whole star anise
- 6 green cardamom pods
- 1 orange, juice and zest
- 4 c. cranberries, divided
- 1/2 c. cognac
1. In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a gentle boil until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce by about 1/4.
2. Add the orange juice and cook for 1 minute. Add the cinnamon, anise, cardamom, and 3 c. of the cranberries. Bring to a boil. Once you start to hear some of the cranberries pop, reduce the heat and allow to stew for about 10 – 15 minutes.
3. After the mixture has thickened, add the remaining cranberries. Once the cranberries have started to pop, reduce heat to low and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat and stir in the cognac. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Can be served warm or at room temperature.
Notes — theoretically, this should last for at least a week, but it usually gets used up quickly in my house. . . you could try brown sugar which might be a nice change. . . I have seen some recipes that use maple syrup. . . another thing to try would be to add some ginger. . . I did make a double batch and just reused the whole spices. It worked out fine. You could cut down the amount of spices if it might be too much for you. . . Adding cognac is optional, but I think it helps round everything out. But of course, I don’t need an excuse to booze something up!
This is one of several “holiday menu” installments, so brace yourselves! Alright, so let’s start the holidays off right with some eggnog. The recipe that I’ve been using for the past couple of years has been adapted from Martha Stewart. Now I was looking on her website a couple of weeks ago and I really couldn’t find the right recipe. I found one for her “Classic Eggnog” but the amount of booze seemed a lot lower than I remember; even if you made a double batch it still didn’t sound right. Luckily I found one on Food.com which was a lot closer to what I remember. Of course, I changed it a little — I changed it from 1/2 c. rum to a full cup because why would you just put 1/2 c. of rum into anything?
In addition to a nice large serving bowl, here’s what you need:
- 12 eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 c. superfine sugar
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1 1/2 quarts heavy cream
- 3 c. bourbon
- 2 c. cognac
- 1 c. dark rum
- freshly grated nutmeg
1. In a very large bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick and pale yellow. Gradually add sugar to the yolks, whisking to combine. Gradually whisk in the milk and 1 qt. of the cream. Now add your bourbon, rum, and cognac, stirring constantly. You can make this base of the eggnog a day or so in advance.
2. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff (you can add a little bit of sugar if you like). Gently fold that into the mixture.
3. Whip the remaining cream to soft peaks and dollop or fold into the mixture. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve!
Notes — There is a caution at the bottom of the recipes that I found stating that “raw eggs should not be used in food prepared for pregnant women, babies, young children, the elderly, or anyone whose health is compromised.” It’s probably a not to let pregnant women, babies, or young children to drink something this boozy!. . . supposedly this serves 24.
Here’s another post from my trip up to the Traverse City area. If you saw my post on Elk Rapids, I likes me a nice breakfast when I’m on vacation — usually an omelette (still don’t know if it’s one “t” or two). This time I got a chance to go to J&S Hamburg on Front St. in Traverse City, MI. It has that whole charming hole-in-the-wall / diner feel. Plus, it was during Halloween, so that gets to add a little something to the experience — I guess some folks like to dress up in their costumes for the whole day.
I ordered a Farmer’s Omelete which had tomatoes, sausage, and mushrooms. Much to my surprise it came with a stack of pancakes! Everything was delicious and well cooked; maybe I’m just a sucker for eggs, but since I always order them, I know a good omelette when I taste one. It’s like when I judge a sushi restaurant by how good their spider rolls or temaki are. But I digress. . . you get a lot of good food for the price. Definitely worth a return visit.
Of course, I also had to check out what the town had to offer in regards to pumpkin donuts. And that’s where Potter’s Bakery comes in. As you may recall, I visited the Elk Rapids Sweet Shop and sampled their offerings. Potter’s makes a doughnut that can challenge the Sweet Shop for what I think is the best pumpkin doughnut. What makes the one from Potter’s different is in the flavor profile. The main thing that stands out is the spiciness of the it. It wasn’t overwhelming, but gave it a nice kick. It was a nice way to warm up a chilly autumn morning.
Also joining us on this road trip were the puppies Daisy and Cooper (well, maybe not puppies anymore). So I wanted to make a stop that was specifically for them. And Traverse City is home to D.O.G. Bakery, which stands for “Daisy and Oscar’s Gourmet Bakery”. You may have seen some of their goods since they have vendors in Michigan, Florida, Indiana, New York, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Ohio, and Tennessee. The store is located on Front Street in Traverse City and has some of the standard items that you would find in any pet store. What makes them special is the bakery in the back (plus the fact that they donated over 7% of their proceeds to pet focused charities). They use quality ingredients and use local food producers whenever they can, which is great. Naturally dogs are welcome inside. Thankfully there were no other puppies inside when we went in because Daisy and Cooper have a tendency to be excitable. But it was nice for them to go to a place where they can be included — it’s not like those two would be welcome inside North Peak Brewery (which I will post on soon).
So stay tuned for my final post about my trip up north when I will share a little bit about North Peak and Shorts Brewing Companies! It’s the last post about my vacation, I promise! That is, until the next vacation.
On this day last year, my dog Licorice passed away. She was 16 at the time and would have turned 17 in February 2011. Now if you remember a few months ago I had posted about having to put down my dog Moby in September of last year as well (and yes these were the saddest holidays I’ve ever experienced). His death was from out of the blue, whereas Licorice’s passing was something for which I had been preparing for years. Given her advanced age and some previous (and current) health scares, her death wasn’t that much of a shock. But that didn’t make it any less painful. After all, this was the longest relationship that I’ve had with another living thing aside from family.
I was living in Gainesville, Fl when I rescued her. I just fell in love with her gigantic bat ears; she later grew into those. She was black lab mix with a barrel chest, skinny legs, and pointy ears. Definitely an odd duck for a lab. But she was a sweetie, unless you tried to mess with her food. Moby learned that lesson quickly.
Towards the end, her health started to fail. There was a big scare when she was about 13 when she couldn’t move, spewed out fluid from both ends, and couldn’t eat a thing. It lasted over a week and I was at the point where if I didn’t see any improvement, I would have to really consider the worst. At the time she was on so many meds and I was up pretty much every hour administering some kind of medication. Eventually I worked out a medication schedule that also included flipping her on her opposite side, changing / washing her bedding 3 or 4 times a day, and cleaning her as best as I could. But she made it through and lasted a few more years.
The last few months of her life became more of a struggle. She wasn’t able to walk around on her own; only her front legs had any kind of strength. Also, she had started to get some skin infections and problems with discharge from her eyes. Her weight dropped and her breathing became more labored. Not the best quality of life.
But there are lots of happy memories, with birthdays being some of those memories. This is from her Sweet Sixteen. I couldn’t afford to buy her a car, but she got a cake baked with love! Thankfully Licorice, Moby, and Daisy all got a chance to take part in the celebration. This was taken from Food, Fun, and Facts. For a little added treat, I added a cream cheese frosting and some gummi bears. It was her Sweet Sixteen, after all so I thought a little extra treat was in order. Here’s what you need:
- 1 c. whole wheat flour
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1/4 c. peanut butter
- 1/4 c. cooking oil
- 1 c. shredded carrots
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1/3 c. honey
- 1 egg
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a ring mold with cooking spray.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and baking soda. In another combine the remaining ingredients. Add the flour combination and mix quickly.
3. Transfer to prepared mold and bake for 30 – 40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a serving plate.
Notes — serving suggestion is to frost it with some cottage cheese and top it with some carrot pieces. . . like I mentioned earlier, I frosted this one with a cream cheese frosting and topped it with some gummi bears.
The holiday season is time for cranberries. And whenever we see some fresh cranberries, we must bake something! Usually it’s some Cranberry Bars with a nice cream cheese frosting. But we tried something new this time. This recipe was taken from the Tasty Kitchen. It’s a little bit different from what you may consider to be a “pie”. Honestly, I think it’s closer to a cobbler than a pie, and it was made in a cake pan. So, really it’s kind of an upside down cake. Actually it’s closest to a buckle, which is one of the many types of cobblers (I should do a post on the different types of cobblers). But the recipe calls itself a “pie” and who am I to make a pie conform to my definitions of what pie should be? Well, it’s tasty, whatever the name is. Plus it’s very simple to make so you can have a nice dessert in about an hour!
Here’s what you need:
- Butter, for greasing the pan
- 2 c. (heaping) cranberries
- 3/4 c. pecans, chopped (measure, then chop)
- 1 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 2/3 c. sugar, divided
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 2 whole eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 t. almond extract
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1 T. (sanding) sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Butter and 9-in. cake pan. Add cranberries to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle on chopped pecans, then sprinkle with 2/3 c. sugar.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 1 c. sugar, melted butter, eggs, almond extract, and salt. Stir gently to combine.
4. Pour batter slowly over the top in large “ribbons” in order to evenly cover the surface. Spread gently if necessary.
5. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes. 5 minutes before removing from the oven, sprinkle surface with 1 T. sugar for a little extra crunch.
6. Let cool and slice into wedges. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
I know I did this a little bit backward, but here is my Smoked Fish Dip #1. Sure, I posted to #2 recipe first, but like I said before, that one isn’t as strong with the “tang”. This one is my favorite of the two just because the flavors are bigger — the ratio of smoked fish:cream cheese is higher, there’s some tang from the sour cream, lemon juice, and capers; and there’s some heat from the horseradish. The instructions are pretty much the same as the other recipe.
Here’s what you need:
- 6 oz. smoked fish
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 1/2 c. sour cream
- 1 T. lemon juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 t. horseradish
- 1 T. capers
- fresh dill, to taste
Coarsely chop the fish; if you like a smoother dip, chop the fish into smaller bits. In a bowl, beat the cheese until nice and creamy. Mix in the sour cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add the horseradish, capers, dill and mix well. Fold in the fish. You can let this sit for an hour or so if you like, but it is ready to serve.