Thursday, June 24, 2010

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake, 2.0

Here's my 2nd stab at an old recipe. I used Organic Valley Cream Cheese instead of Philadelphia, and I found that the OVCC tended not to mix as well as the Philadelphia, leaving small chunks of cream cheese interspersed in the batter. The OVCC seemed to have a firmer texture as well. This proved deleterious, as the final product also had these specks of cream cheese floating around. Next time, heat the cream cheese bain marie?

I like to add sour cream to my cheesecake, because I find that it helps to produce a lighter, but still velvety smooth and rich texture.

It's called a Triple Chocolate Cheesecake because of the chocolate crust, chocolate cheesecake filling, and chocolate ganache topping.

Chocolate Crust

- chocolate animal crackers
- butter

  1. Use food processor to finely grind animal crackers.
  2. Mix with melted butter.
  3. Bake in bottom of pan; ~ 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until slightly dried and set.

Chocolate Cheesecake Filling

Note, these quantities are adapted for my smaller 8" diameter springform pan.

- 1.5 bricks cream cheese at room temperature
- 8 oz sour cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 whole egg and 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/8 (or more) cup instant espresso powder
- liberal application of Kahlua
- 3 x bars of Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate

  1. Melt chocolate in water bath/double boiler on range.
  2. Simultaneously, mix together cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar.
  3. Add cocoa powder, espresso powder, Kahlua.
  4. Add melted chocolate.
  5. Add eggs one at a time.
  6. Bake bain marie, about 1 hour at 350 degrees, or until slightly set.
  7. Let cool to room temperature overnight! This is important; if you refrigerate it without letting it cool to RT, the thermal stresses will induce cracking.
  8. Refrigerate for 2+ days.

Chocolate Ganache

- 3-4 oz finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
- 1 cup cream (I use evaporated milk)

  1. Place chocolate in pan.
  2. Heat cream in separate pan, or until steam starts to rise.
  3. Add heated cream to chocolate, let sit for ~ 2 minutes.
  4. Stir mixture together.
  5. Let cool slightly, then pour over cheesecake.

Blueberry Coulis

- blueberries
- 1-2 cups orange juice
- a few Tbsp of sugar
- balsamic vinegar

  1. Cook all ingredients together.
  2. Reduce.
  3. Blend in food processor.
  4. Strain.

Avocado Mousse

- 1/2 fresh avocado
- lime juice
- honey
- cream/evaporated milk

  1. Blend together avocado, lime juice, honey.
  2. Add cream/evaporated milk slowly, and blend, repeating until desired consistency reached.
Now, assemble all the components. I used a pastry brush to "paint" the blueberry coulis onto the plate. I also added a triangular nib of Hachez 77% orange flavored dark chocolate, to mimic the larger slice of cheesecake. The Hachez adds additional floral notes, and the avocado mousse accentuates the smoothness of the cheesecake. I thought the blueberry coulis had just the right amount of tartness from the balsamic vinegar.

Final ensemble product

Monday, June 14, 2010

An old favorite

Thomas Keller's Simple Roast Chicken

Great recipe, although I skipped the brining. Roasted breast side down. Seasoned with just salt and pepper.

The long cut along the breast bone was my initial attempt to remove the meat, until I burned my fingers and abandoned deboning for a few minutes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wonton Soup

Wontons are delicious with homemade chicken stock.

Wonton Soup

- 1 pot of chicken stock (I use leftover breast-bone, drumsticks, etc..)
- Squash
- Carrots
- Thin Asian noodles
- Spinach leaves (washed)
- Dried seaweed

- Wonton wrappers
- Ground pork
- Scallions

  1. Remove meat from bones; discard bones after boiling the seasoning out of them.
  2. Strain soup to remove flotsam.
  3. Mix wonton filling together; ground pork, diced scallions, salt, pepper.
  4. Wrap "nurse's cap" style. Use water to seal; remove any bubbles in wrapping.
  5. Add carrots to boiling soup.
  6. Then cook wontons.
  7. Add squash and spinach last, as they cook the quickest.
  8. Add separately cooked noodles.

"Nurse's cap" style. Put a small bit of filling in the upper half of the wrapper with a teaspoon. Then add water to upper half edges of wrapper. Fold lower half over, seal tightly, pinching with fingers. Add more water to the two lower corners of the folded wonton, and pinch together.

More wontons...

Final soup! Tada.

Watermelon Basket Carving

More watermelon basket carving, now perfecting my craft. The key is 2 sharp knives; one medium Chef's knife, and a paring knife.

Watermelon Basket

- 1 x watermelon, preferably more oval shaped

  1. Observe how the watermelon sits naturally. Cut a horizontal (or slanted if you prefer) slice from the bottom to ensure that your future basket sits flat.
  2. Using the chef's knife, remove two lobes from the sides of the upper half of the watermelon, leaving a handle portion.
  3. Using the paring knife, remove the flesh under the handle portion to better define the handle.
  4. Either with a melon baller or spoon, remove the remaining flesh on the interior of the watermelon.
  5. Cut decorative designs with paring knife (using optional stencils) into the watermelon.
  6. Fill interior of watermelon with fruits of choice.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Parmesan Herb Roasted Potatoes

A slight variation on my usual roasted potatoes. First, I boiled the potatoes before baking, in order to give them a wonderfully tender inside. That tenderness contrasted well with the crust that developed while in the oven. Second, instead of tossing the potatoes in oil, I took a pastry brush and swabbed each potato individually with olive oil. This ensured better coverage, and also guaranteed a crust on every piece.

Parmesan Herb Roasted Potatoes

- 1 x 5lb bag of small organic Yukon Gold Potatoes
- olive oil
- parmesan cheese
- dried spices & herbs (rosemary, thyme, garlic powder; fresh herbs work even better)
- salt
- pepper

  1. Wash potatoes; cut each into 16 pieces.
  2. Boil until fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Drain, spread on foil covered cookie-sheet.
  4. Using a pastry brush, "paint" all the potato pieces with olive oil.
  5. Then cover with salt, pepper, herbs of choice, garlic powder, parmesan.
  6. Bake at 450 degrees F for about 40-50 minutes, or until you see a formed crust.
  7. Serve hot!

Watermelon Feta Salad

I wanted to take advantage of the watermelon itself as a holding vessel for the feta salad. This was a nice combination of salty and sweet; perfect summer salad.

Watermelon Feta Salad

- 1 x watermelon
- Feta cheese crumbles (either regular or flavored)
- Arugula leaves
- 1 x small purple onion
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive Oil

  1. Cut 1-2" thick whole cross-sectional slices from the watermelon.
  2. Using a round cutter, stamp out cylinders.
  3. Take a paring knife or melon baller, and remove flesh from a concentric inner circle of the watermelon cylinder.
  4. Separately, dice the arugula and purple onion. Mix with feta.
  5. Using a small teaspoon, scoop the feta mix into each watermelon "cup".
  6. Make a balsamic vinegar and olive oil emulsion. Either with an eye-dropper or another teaspoon, drizzle a little of the emulsion onto each watermelon cup and feta mixture therein.
  7. Enjoy!