Archive for November, 2012

Ashkenazi-Style Cheesecake

When I was a kid, a family tradition was to get to choose a favorite cake for our birthday dinner. As far as I can remember, which isn’t saying much these days, my brother chose 7-Layer Cake and I chose a cheesecake that came from the local grocery store. This cake was known to our family as Grand Union cheesecake. Unfortunately, the store chain went out of business, taking its baked goods with them, and I was forced to live without.

Many years later, while visiting a family member, an avid baker in France, I was served some cheesecake that he had made. To my surprise it was the Grand Union cheesecake of my childhood memory. He was kind enough to share.

16 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated
squeeze of lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces sour cream
3 tablespoon flour

Preheat oven to 350 F

Grease a pan (either round or rectangular, but 9 inches is the smallest)

Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and set aside
lightly beat yolks (reserve 1 tablespoon and set aside)
combine cream cheese and yolks
add sugar, lemon, vanilla, sour cream, and flour
fold in whites until well combined

Pour batter into prepared pan
glaze with reserved egg yolk mixed with a splash of water
place on a baking sheet
bake for 1 hour

The cake will soufflé and then collapse on itself.

Let cool completely and then refrigerate for a few hours before serving.


November 28, 2012 at 8:22 pm Leave a comment

Biryani – A small batch

Biryani is a South Asian dish made with highly seasoned rice, vegetables, and/or meat. It’s a great recipe for clearing out the fridge. Many thanks to my new boss for showing me how easy this dish is to prepare.

1/2 cup rice (preferably Basmati)
1 clove garlic, grated
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup assorted vegetables, chopped (does not include onion and tomato)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon butter
chili powder to taste
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon prepared curry powder
1 inch cinnamon stick
salt and pepper to taste

Many versions also add meat, dried fruit and/or nuts. As always with recipes like this, ingredients and amounts are flexible.

Rinse rice in a sieve until the water runs clear and set aside

Heat oil and butter in a Dutch oven
add onions and cook until translucent
add garlic and ginger, and cook until fragrant
add assorted vegetables and cook until wilted
add spices and cook until fragrant
add tomato and cook until totally broken down (the tomato is used to deglaze the pan)
add rice and toast raw rice a bit
add water and cinnamon stick
bring to a low boil
cover and cook for 15 minutes

November 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm Leave a comment

Homemade Lemon Drop Mix

The mix
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup orange liqueur

Make the simple syrup
Heat water and sugar in a small sauce pan until sugar is completely dissolved and the water is clear. Let cool.

Add lemon juice, orange liqueur, and mix well

Store in the refrigerator

A lemon drop
1/2 cup lemon drop mix
1 1/2 ounces vodka, approximately 3 tablespoons

November 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm Leave a comment

No-Knead Bread – A smaller batch

This recipe has been kicking around for quite some time, and it’s pretty much the same recipe no matter who offers it. Created by Jim Lahey for the Sullivan Street Bakery, and then tweaked by Mark Bittman of the NYTimes. I’ve wanted to try it for ages, but it, and I, had to wait until I purchased a large enough cast-iron enameled Dutch oven. Most recipes say that a Pyrex casserole dish would do, but having exploded one of those in my oven already, I didn’t want to take the chance.

My Dutch oven is only a 3-quart version, so I had to make some modifications to the volume of ingredients, from the original.

2 1/2 cups AP flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups warm water
3-4 quart covered pot

Combine all ingredients in a big bowl until the dough just comes together. It will be a shaggy, rough mess. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 12-20 hours on the countertop.

The dough will now be wet, sticky and bubbly. With a wet spatula or hand, dump the dough on a floured surface. Knead quickly and tenderly only 4 or 5 times, smoothing the texture and nudging it into a ball.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on counter. Plop the dough onto parchment paper. Lift parchment paper up with dough and place into a large bowl. Cover bowl with a towel. Let it rest for 2 more hours. At the hour and a half mark, place the Dutch oven into the oven and preheat to 450°F.

Remove pot from oven. Grab the ends of the parchment paper and lift it and the entire wobbly dough blob out of bowl and into the Dutch oven.

Bake 30 minutes, covered. Then uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes or until the crust is golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pot and let cool on wired rack.

Note: With one test loaf I didn’t want to wait the 12-20 hours for the first rise to complete, so I doubled the quantity of yeast and waited only 7, and it was perfect.

Rye Raisin
1 3/4 cups AP flour
3/4 cup Rye flour
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup raisins

Follow the instructions above

November 2, 2012 at 2:05 pm Leave a comment

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