Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Matcha Lemon Cheesecake

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

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

Some variations from the recipe creator:

** Lavender-scented cheesecake w/ blueberries - heat the cup of heavy cream in the microwave or a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add 2 tbsp of lavender flowers and stir. Let lavender steep in the cream for about 10-15 minutes, then strain the flowers out. Add strained cream to cheesecake batter as normal. Top with fresh blueberries, or make a quick stovetop blueberry sauce (splash of orange juice, blueberries, a little bit of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon - cook until berries burst, then cool)

** Cafe au lait cheesecake with caramel - take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and heat it in the microwave for a short amount of time until very hot. Add 1-2 tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee; stir to dissolve. Add this to the remainder of cream and use as normal. Top cheesecake with homemade caramel sauce (I usually find one on the food network website - just make sure it has heavy cream in it. You can use store-bought in a pinch, but the flavor is just not the same since its usually just sugar and corn syrup with no dairy).

** Tropical – add about a half cup of chopped macadamias to the crust, then top the cake with a mango-raspberry-mandarin orange puree.

** Mexican Turtle - add a bar of melted dark chocolate (between 3 and 5 oz., to taste) to the batter, along with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp.). Top it with pecan halves and a homemade caramel sauce.

** Honey-cinnamon with port-pomegranate poached pears – replace 1/2 cup of the sugar with 1/2 cup of honey, add about a teaspoon or more (to taste) of cinnamon. Take 2 pears (any variety you like or whatever is in season), peeled and cored, and poach them in a boiling poaching liquid of port wine, pomegranate juice/seeds, a couple of "coins" of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, and about a 1/4 cup of sugar. Poach them until tender, then let cool. Strain the poaching liquid and simmer until reduced to a syrupy-glaze consistency, then cool. Thinly slice the cooled pears and fan them out atop the cooled cheesecake. Pour the cooled poaching syrup over the pears, then sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts and fresh pomegranate seeds.

Some variations from Jenny (from JennyBakes):

**Key lime - add zest from one lime to sugar before mixing with cream cheese. Substitute lemon juice, alcohol, and vanilla with key lime juice.

**Cheesecakelets - put in muffin tins, ramekins, or custard cups. Try baking 20-35 minutes, or until still a little jiggly, and cool as before.

MY NOTES: I added lemon extract to the crumb base and some to the actual batter, then i added about a teaspoon of matcha green tea into the batter.
VERDICT: Very tasty cheesckae. Will do it again with different variations. This batch was supposed to be for the co-workers, but my husband and the rest of the family "tasted it" and it was ....gone. Will have to do another batch fro sure.

Thank you Abbey!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Baked Lemon Chicken/Лимонное куриное мясо запеченное в духовке

When I think of rosemary, I think of lemon as the partner for this couple. So, when one afternoon I was looking for new chicken recipe, I came accross this recipe and decided to give it a try right away, and wasn't dissapointed.
I used boneless chicken thights, and meat came out extremly gentle.

Recipe from Food Network

One 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, patted dry
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour for dredging
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
Peel of half a lemon, white pith removed, cut into very thin strips
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup chicken broth, homemade or canned low-sodium
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour and pat off the excess. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the chicken skin-side down and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the skillet and reserve.

Discard the oil and wipe the pan out with a paper towel. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until golden, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the lemon zest, garlic, and rosemary, and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the honey, lemon juice, and broth, increase the heat and bring to a simmer.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the onions to a 9- by 13-inch ovenproof casserole, and spread them out. Arrange the chicken, skin-side up in a single layer on the onions. Pour the cooking liquid over the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven, basting every 15 minutes, until cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.


Лимонное куриное мясо запеченное в духовке

Куриное филе – 4 грудинки разрезаны на двое по толщине или 8 бедрышек без костей (я брала бедрышка)
Оливковое масло (или подсолнечное)
1 большая луковица тоненько порезана
2 зубка чеснока, мелко порезанного
1.5 ч, ложки мелко нарезанных листьев розмарина
1 ст. Ложка меда
Лимонная кожура (снять кожуру, только желтую часть, и мелко нарезать)
Сок из одного свежего лимона
1 чашка куриного бульйона
Соль, перец

Помыть куриное мясо и высушить бумажными полотенцами. Немного посолить, поперчить мясо, обвалять в муке с двух сторон и обжарить на горячей сковороде на оливковом масле. Примерно 5 мин. на каждой стороне. Переставить курицу на отдельную миску. Вытереть сковороду, налить масло и потушить лук на медленном огне, минут 10-12. Добавитж нарезанной лимонной кожуры, чеснок и розмарин, потушить еще 2 минуты. Добавить мед, лимонный сок, и куриный бульйон и на большом огне дать закипеть.
Разогреть духовку до 200 Ц (400Ф)
Пользуясь ложкой с дырочками (как она называется вылетело из головы) выбрать всю луковую массу и выставить в подходящую посуду для духовки. Сверху выложить куриное мясо. Сверху полить соусом что остался в сковороде. Еще немного посолить и поперчить на ваше усмотрение. Выпекать в духовке 30-45 минут. (написано было сбрызгивать духовку водой каждые 15 мин. но я пропустила и забыла про это)
Приятного аппетита.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I found perfect Chocolate Cake

I'm a secret admirer of a very talented pasty chef Helen and her blog. On one of the web surfing evenings when I fill my appetite with food blogs, I came across the best description of a chocolate espresso mouse cake. It was filled with just enough chocolate, hint of coffee and lightness of mousse. I was inspired to try. My daughter's first birthday was coming up next week and I had my secret mission to accomplish, to wow my guests with this cake. And I think it was very successful. Everyone was asking for seconds and I made such a big cake it was enough for everyone to take home a piece. My sister has been already asking me to make some for her friends.

I'm not as experienced as Helen in creating beauties, but I think I was able to recreate the taste she was describing.

Please visit Tartelette for full recipe.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge: Tuiles

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Baking Soda and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux. And fortunately for us savory lovers, they also allowed an alternate recipe--savory tuiles from The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller--which is what I decided to make.

I chose Savory tuiles. Even though I think they didn't come out the right way, and I'm out of time to make more, they tasted great. Somehow, I had trouble shaping them. I made two batches, but after the first 2-3 minutes in the oven they would just break and I won't be able to make cornets as I wanted to. I made it work and presented them with tuna salad. They tasted great. I will have to try this again someday and make sweet tuiles too. I imagine some fresh summer fruit salad in these.....ummm...yummmm.

Savory tuile/cornet recipe
From Thomas Keller "the French Laundry Cookbook"

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (65 grams/2.1/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt (= 2/3 teaspoon table salt)**
8 tablespoons (114 grams/4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened but still cool to the touch
2 large egg whites, cold
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the softened butter until it is completely smooth and mayonnaise-like in texture. Using a stiff spatula or spoon, beat the egg whites into the dry ingredients until completely incorporated and smooth. Whisk in the softened butter by thirds, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary and whisking until the batter is creamy and without any lumps. Transfer the batter to a smaller container, as it will be easier to work with.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Make a 4-inch hollow circular stencil. Place Silpat on the counter (it is easier to work on the Silpat before it is put on the sheet pan). Place the stencil in one corner of the sheet and, holding the stencil flat against the Silpat, scoop some of the batter onto the back of an offset spatula and spread it in an even layer over the stencil. Then run the spatula over the entire stencil to remove any excess batter. After baking the first batch of cornets, you will be able to judge the correct thickness. You may need a little more or less batter to adjust the thickness of the cornets.

There should not be any holes in the batter. Lift the stencil and repeat the process to make as many rounds as you have molds or to fill the Silpat, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the cornets. Sprinkle each cornet with a pinch of black sesame seeds.

Place the Silpat on a heavy baking sheet and bake for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the batter is set and you see it rippling from the heat. The cornets may have browned in some areas, but they will not be evenly browned at this point.

Open the oven door and place the baking sheet on the door.*** This will help keep the cornets warm as you roll them and prevent them from becoming too stiff to roll. Flip a cornet over on the sheet pan, sesame seed side down and place 4-1/2 inch cornet mold at the bottom of the round. If you are right-handed, you will want the pointed end on your left and the open end on your right. The tip of the mold should touch the lower left edge (at about 7 o'clock on a clock face) of the cornet.

Fold the bottom of the cornet and around the mold; it should remain on the sheet pan as you roll. Leave the cornet wrapped around the mold and continue to roll the cornets around molds; as you proceed, arrange the rolled cornets, seams side down, on the sheet pan so they lean against each other, to prevent from rolling.

When all the cornets are rolled, return them to the oven shelf, close the door, and bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes to set the seams and color the cornets a golden brown. If the color is uneven, stand the cornets on end for a minute or so more, until the color is even. Remove the cornets from the oven and allow to cool just slightly, 30 seconds or so.
Gently remove the cornets from the molds and cool for several minutes on paper towels. Remove the Silpat from the baking sheet, wipe the excess butter from it, and allow it to cool down before spreading the next batch. Store the cornets for up to 2 days (for maximum flavor) in an airtight container.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Seeing blue this time

Here is my latest decorated cake.
It was for a baby boy. My sister helped me to sculpt a little baby using Aine2 lessons.