Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pumpkin cheesecake

I cant imagine Thanksgiving  without two things. Turkey and pumpkin cheesecake. Every other food can be replaced, and I like to change side dishes from time to time, but this one is my favorite. Its made with cream cheese, and condensed milk, which makes it extra rich and creamy. It's has caramel on the top, and a dollop of whipped cream, and all that makes it really luscious. With the flavor of holiday spices, it will make your home smell wonderful while its baking. Before you start, please make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature, so they blend together nicely, and make nice, smooth texture without lumps.
Preheat your oven to 350F/180C.

2 cups graham cracker
2 tablespoons brown sugar
6-7 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
Combine graham cracker crumbs with sugar, ginger, and melted butter. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared 10" spring form pan. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool.

For the cheesecake:
3 (226 gr each)  packages full fat Philadelphia cream cheese
1 can (425gr) pumpkin puree
1 can (397 gr) condensed milk
4 eggs
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 ground nutmeg

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), on low speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating them well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add pumpkin puree, condensed milk, vanilla, and spices mixed with corn starch. Mix until everything is combined, but try not to incorporate to many bubbles. 
Pour the filling over the crust and place the spring form pan on a baking sheet and bake in a 325F oven for 50 min. The edges of the cheesecake should be puffed but the center still a little wet and jiggles when you gently shake the pan. Do not over bake it, it will crack. 
Let it cool, and spread 1/2 can dulce de leche on top, or use caramel of your choice.
Decorate it with whipped cream, and chill it nicely before you serve it.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone  :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

I don't know about you, but we loveee garlic. I don't ever cooking dinner without it. I especially like it roasted in the oven, and tucked in a jar with olive oil and Herbs Provencal.
For the chicken with 40 cloves of garlic you have to be a garlic lover, because its really a lot of it. It's a scary amount of garlic when you hear it for the first time, but please don't be discouraged. The garlic gets caramelized, sweet, and it melts with the sauce. Its a deliciously rich, comforting meal, for cold weekend nights. Temperatures dropped really low this morning in Chicago, it was just 12ºF  so, we really needed some comfort food to keep us warm and cozy.

For this recipe, you will need:

3 whole heads of garlic, around 40 cloves (save yourself some time, and buy it already peeled)
1 whole chicken cut into peaces (or you can by 10-12 peaces of drumsticks and thighs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon dry thyme
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon parsley
salt and paper to taste

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot, and brown it skin side down first. Remove chicken to the plate, turn down the heat, and add all of the garlic to the pot. Saute it for 5-10 min, turning it often, until evenly browned. Add wine, return to boil, and scrape all the bits from the bottom. Return the chicken to the pot with all the juices, and sprinkle with thyme. Cover and simmer for about 45 min until chicken is done. Add heavy cream, raise the heat, and let it boil for 2-3 min. Taste it, ajust the seasoning if needed, and sprinkle with parsley. Serve it hot, and enjoy with mashed potatoes, or fresh dinner rolls that you can dip into the sauce.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pumpkin dinner rolls

We love dinner rolls. And these are the best, fluffiest, cloud like dinner rolls that you can make. They are great any day, but perfect for Thanksgiving, and they are made with pumpkin. You don't need to roast your own, store bought pumpkin puree is just fine, and I prefer the one from Trader Joe's.
For this recipe you will need:

3 cups flour
1/2 cup of milk
3/4 cup of pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 stick of butter 113 gr (2/3 for the dough, 1/3 to brush the rolls)
1 teaspoon of yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

First, mix sugar, yeast and 1 tablespoon of flour with warmed milk. Stir and let it sit for about 10 min, until it gets foamy. Put 3 cups of flour with salt in your mixer bowl, add yeast mixture, 1 lightly beaten room temperature egg, pumpkin puree, and 2/3 of a stick of melted butter. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated, and mixture is wet but not sticky. If it's sticky, add tablespoon by tablespoon of flour at the time. Dough should form the ball and it will be very elastic after 5-8 min of kneading with mixer. Cover it with damp tablecloth and let it rise until it doubles.
Transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. It should be very supple and slightly sticky.

Flatten it with your hand and using a sharp knife divide the dough into 9 pieces. Gently fold the ends underneath and shape them in your hand. Transfer them to the lightly buttered baking tray, cover them with a towel and let them rise until they doubled in size.
Melt leftover 1/3 of a stick of butter, and brush them generously. Bake them in 360F for about 20-25 min.
Enjoy them warm with butter or for your thanksgiving dinner.

If you want to save some time, make them night before.
After you shape them cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The buns fill rise slowly through the night.
In the morning, let the buns sit at the room temperature for one hour, or until the are fully risen. Brush them with melted butter, and bake them as usual.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Caramel Panna Cotta

There are people that can't eat gelatin. Usually, its because they are vegetarians. Gelatin is made out of boiled cows or pigs skins, ligaments, and bones. I think that something like that does not belong into a dessert.
Sounds bad, right?
Although I don't have any food, spiritual or religious restrictions, I don't like the smell of gelatin. And even more, I don't like how people use it. Sometimes they overdose their recipes with it, so you end up with a gummy bear, instead of cloud like dessert.
That's why I knew I will have to try out this panna cotta recipe. Its made without gelatin. Preparation is unusual for panna cotta, its baked, not cooked, but its really sophisticated, creamy, and luscious.
 It  is the best panna cotta I ever tasted. It takes only few minutes to mix, and hour and a half to bake, but its worth the wait. 
Good old panna cotta is very bland. If you dont serve it with berries, which is predictable, you will end up with dessert that's kind of boring.
This one is made with caramel, and served with melted milk chocolate.
It does not get better than that.
Recipe comes from Baker's corner, which has some beautiful recipes, so I will ask you to check them out. Diana makes best breads, ice creams and desserts. I am sure you will find something you will like.
Enjoy :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Spinach salad

This is my favorite way of eating spinach, although I love every dish that contains it. Especially a spinach smoothie. Combined with beets, cheese and walnuts, it becomes healthy perfection on the plate.
You can use baby beets from the jar that are already pickled, or you can roast your own if you have some extra time on hand.
If you decide to do it on your own, wrap them in aluminum foil, and roast them for 45 min to 1 hours at 400F/200C, depending on how big your beets are.When you pierce them with fork they should be tender and silky. Let the beets cool enough to handle. You may want to use gloves for peeling, because they will probably stain your hands. Hold one of the beets in a paper towel and rub the skin away. The skin should peel away easily, if it doesnt, the beets need to cook for a little longer.
Once roasted, beets will keep refrigerated for up to a week, so you can use them for your other recipes

For this recipe, you will need:
 2 roasted beets,
4 cups of baby spinach (try to buy organic)
1/2 cup pecans coarsely chopped  (you can use sunflower seeds, pepitas, walnuts,whatever you have on hand)
1 tablespoon of cranberries
1/3 cup. goat cheese, or you can use good feta (Greek or French)
And for the dressing, 3 tablespoons olive oil, mixed with 2 tablespoons of vinegar, salt and peper.

Whisk olive oil with vinegar, salt and paper. Add chopped beets, toss to coat, and let it stand on room temperature for 30 min. to absorb flavors. This can be prepared day ahead.
In a serving bowl, put spinach, add beets, cranberries, walnuts and sprinkle crumbled cheese.
Taste it and adjust seasoning.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Angel Food Cupcakes

Its been a really long time since I posted my last recipe. Few years now. During that time, many things happened, many things changed, and it influenced the way I cook. Mostly, I was concentrating on desserts, but from now on, I will also share with you savory recipes that i like. I hope you will enjoy your visit, and find something good to bake. Thanks for stopping by :)

Angel Food Cupcakes


6 egg whites
150 gr. caster sugar
50 gr. flour
1 tablespoon shredded coconut
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
Sift together flour, salt, and half of the sugar.
In a mixing bowl, mix together egg whites and vanilla extract. Start whipping it with the mixer, and when a soft peeks form, start adding sugar slowly. When medium peeks form, sprinkle flour with the sugar over the egg whites, and fold it very gently with the spatula. If you mix vigorously, you will deflate the egg whites.
Divide batter among paper lined muffin cups, and bake for 20 min. Cool completely. 

For cream cheese topping you will need:
226 gr. Philadelphia cream cheese (1 block)
250 ml. heavy whipping cream
50 gr. powder sugar 
1 tablespoon of vanilla
fresh berries for topping

In a mixing bowl, mix softened cream cheese with powder sugar until light and fluffy. Start slowly adding heavy cream, and mix until you get stiff peaks form.
Spread it on cooled cupcakes, and top with berries of your choice.