Wish Upon A Dish: August 2013

August 29, 2013

Blueberry Cream Cheese Rolls

My absolute, hands down favorite pie is blueberry and my favorite dessert is cheesecake. When I can take the two and make a cinnamon-style bun with a blueberry sauce and topped with a streusel cream cheese filling, why wouldn't I?

OMG, where have these been all my life? Not ever having the chance to make my own cinnamon buns, I admit I do have a recipe for a lemon curd filled bun on my Wish List, but when I saw this, and I had all the ingredients on hand, I had no choice but to bury that lemon, sorry.

The whole concept of this bun is genius and by simply switching the fruit, like you would a pie filling, you can make a batch every weekend without ever repeating. I am actually thinking of making apple-pumpkin cream cheese rolls for Thanksgiving. If you have guests coming in the night before, make a batch of these and make a pot of tea & a pot of coffee, or give them a good start to their trip home.

I promise you that I will be making more of these. The Nudge took four huge buns to work with a couple of knives and they were gone before he was able to cut himself a piece. He can get one at home but I pity those that thought getting a cup of coffee before a bun was the better idea.
I recommend not putting much pressure on the first time of anything. These were good but not great. I want GREAT, ya know?

What would I do different, not being the grand dame of pastry baking?

Well, I would make more blueberry filling but not with more blueberries, but with a very thick jam, like Dickinson's Purely Fruit Spread. Although the dough stayed moist, the filling could have used more help.
I am never happy with those "swirl" pudding cakes with no swirl.
I also would have made a better effort to roll the dough tighter. Maybe rolling the dough, placing parchment on top, roll into a cylider and then a quick cool in the fridge. Actually, you could probably do the dough up to this step one day and finish them off another day.

The rolls did not quite stand up in layers, they sort of flopped flat in the pan before the second rise could inflate them and when they did rise they were not all standing at attention. I thought about baking them in Texas muffin tins but the whole idea is that they bake next to each other.

One thing not in the recipe that I was glad I did. I made a sling with parchment paper so I was able to lift the whole batch out of the pan and easily cut them into individual rolls. I highly recommend this step.

I bet if I make these in cooler months I will have much more success. In the mean time, I will just have to have fun practicing.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Rolls
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
makes 1 dozen

3/4 cup lukewarm milk
* 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
* 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
* 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/4 cup honey
* 1 large egg
* 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

* 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
* 1/4 cup fruit juice or red wine
* 1/2 cup your favorite sugar sub (I use Truvia)
* 1 packet unflavored gelatin
*  pinch of salt

* 12 ounces (1 1/2 large packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
* 1 cup confectioners' sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1/8 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
* 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, slightly softened

1. Prepare the yeast dough by hand, machine or on the dough cycle of your bread machine. The dough will be soft and smooth.
2. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 to 60 minutes, or until full and puffy.
3. Gently deflate the dough and pat to an 8" x 10" rectangle. Cut into 4 equal lengths, then cut each length into 10 pieces.
4. After readying the dough up to the point where it's starting its first rise, prepare the filling. Place the berries and juice or wine in a medium-sized saucepan. Combine the sugar, gelatin, and salt. Add the sugar/thickener to the berries/wine and cook over medium heat until the sauce is thick, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
5. Gently deflate the risen dough, and roll/pat it into an 18" x 20" rectangle. Spread with the cooled blueberry filling, and roll up cinnamon-roll style.
6. Slice the roll into 12 equal portions. Place in a greased 9" x 13" x 2" baking dish, cut (spiral) side up. Cover the dish with plastic wrap, and let rise for 40 minutes.
7. As the dough is rising, prepare the topping. Combine the softened cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, flour, and salt. Stir until very smooth. Place in a large zip-top plastic bag. Cut off a generous piece of the corner of the bag, leaving an opening the size of a quarter.
8. Prepare the streusel by combining the flour, sugar, and butter with a fork or your fingers until it's in large crumbles, similar to large granola clusters.
9. Uncover the rolls and pipe a large dollop of cream cheese filling on top of each. Use your wet fingers to spread the filling completely over the top of each bun.
10. Sprinkle the streusel over the tops of the rolls. Use all the streusel; don't worry if it falls off the top of the rolls and settles between them. Everything will bake together just fine.
11. Bake the rolls in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 to 55 minutes. They should be golden brown on the edges, and the streusel should be nicely browned, as well. A digital thermometer should read 200°F when inserted into the center of a roll.
12. Remove the rolls from the oven. Serve warm, or at room temperature. These large, rich buns make a very filling breakfast!

Tip:  For smaller buns, divide the dough into 24 equal portions and place in two well-greased 12-cup muffin pans. Reduce the baking time to 25 to 30 minutes.

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August 26, 2013

BBQ Pork & Cabbage Pot Stickers

With all the recipe testing going on in my kitchen, my fridge is suffering the most. As bad luck begets more bad luck, The Nudge is doing a project all week at work and lunch will be ordered in, so nothing is leaving this house, and I can only eat so much........waaaah!!

Something had to give and since I did not want it to be my waistline, I took this morning off to take out all the bits and pieces of this and that to see if I could make something from all the chaos. 

The only thing I had that needed rescuing was a bag of coleslaw mix and half a rack of ribs from my pre-birthday dinner last Saturday. Not good for soup and, certainly nothing I would add to a pasta dish, I was left with one option. Pot stickers (psst; I always have wonton wrappers in my freezer).
Yum for us because they are light and flavorful, a one pot wonder and all I need to make is a 5 ingredient dipping sauce and dinner is served. Now I have time to test more recipes.

I think I better buy more wrappers.

BBQ Pork & Cabbage Dumplings
makes about 30 dumplings

* 1 cup rib or shoulder meat, minced (from 2 cups meat)
* 1 bag coleslaw mix
* 1/4 cup onion, chopped
* 1/4 cup Plum Sauce or Sweet Thai Chili Sauce or any Asian sauce you use
* 1 container apple sauce or 1/2 cup apple juice
* 1 tablespoon soy sauce
* 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
* salt & pepper
* water

1. Simmer on low, the coleslaw mix, apple juice or applesauce, onion, Asian sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and a good splash of water, covered until the mixture is tender and all the moisture has cooked out, about 30 minutes.
2. Pulse pork meat in food processor until minced into pieces no larger than a baby pea.
3. Add cooked coleslaw mixture to pork meat.
4. Place two wrappers on a board and wet the edges with water. Spoon 1 tablespoon filling into the middle and starting at one corner, pull the opposite corner up to meet the other corner and press with your fingers to seal. While working down both edges, gently press to the ends to seal.
5. Place filled dumplings on a large sheet pan to dry. Can be refrigerated for one day before they should be cooked. Leftover steamed dumplings (if there are any) can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
6. Place teaspoon vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet or wok (with a cover) and when the oil is smoking hot add dumplings, making sure that they do not touch each other (I can get 5 in mine). Fry until the bottoms are crispy brown.
7. Add 1 tablespoon water, quickly cover the pot, and steam for 1-2 minutes. It does not take long. Once their is no more water in the pan, remove the dumplings to a platter and repeat until all the dumplings are cooked.

To freeze uncooked dumplings: Lay them out on a sheet pan and freeze them individually until hard (about 2 hours) and place them carefully in a large freezer bag and store for up to one month. Any longer than that and they tend to get freezer burn. Cook them from a frozen state.

Dipping Sauce
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1/4 cup lemon juice
* 1/4 cup rice vinegar
* 1 teaspoon garlic
* 1 teaspoon hot pepper
* minced basil or mint

Mix all ingredients at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to mingle.

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August 23, 2013

Potato, Corn & Olive Stuffed Egg with Deviled Avocado Dressing

While I did submit two entries into the avocado recipe contest sponsored by California Avocado and hosted by the gals of The Recipe Redux, there were two that I could not submit before the deadline date.

This was one of them.

I was intent on creating a mayonnaise made from avocados. No eggs, no oil (or lots less), just healthy ingredients my Dad could safely use to make his weekly bowl of pasta salad without the worry of clogging his new arteries.

Move over mayo and that jar of whipped miracle stuff, you have just met your match. This is the salad dressing to beat all dressings. I DID IT!! Just not in time to make the cut. No reason why I shouldn't share though, this is pretty darned groundbreaking.
As easy as 1-2-3 in a blender (or processor), you will use it on everything. While there is some oil in this dressing, it is substantially less than a typical mayo, so substantially less fat calories. I liked that!

I created this recipe for a potato, corn and black olive salad that I stuffed into hard boiled eggs and top them with a yellow pepper sauce.

I realized it was so much more than a cold egg dressing. Taste it for yourself.
It's creamy, tangy, spicy, sweet, salty, and tart.....oh, and extremely healthy!!
It can easily be adjusted to individual tastes (salt, spice and sweet) and keeps forever in a jar in the fridge.
I would take my Mom's potato salad and swap out the mayo for this.....all day, any day.

Yes, those are split peas my eggs are sitting on. Cool idea if you don't have an egg plate. Just cover the peas with plastic wrap or they will stick to the bottoms of the eggs.

You may have thought there was no other way to possibly make another deviled egg, but, you be wrong, mon.

Potato, Corn & Olive Stuffed Eggs with Deviled Avocado Dressing
makes 36 deviled eggs
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
* 18 large eggs
* 2 medium red potatoes, small dice
* 6 Cerignola olives, pitted, small dice
* 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (frozen in a pinch)
* 1 jar chopped pimentos
* salt and pepper to taste  

* 1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
* 2 tablespoons fat-free sweetened condensed milk
* 3 garlic cloves, halved
* 1 tablespoon olive, walnut, seed or hazelnut oil

* 1/2 cup cojito, feta or Parmesan cheese, grated
* 1/4 cup milk (I used 1%), to thin the mixture if needed
* 1/4 cup roasted walnut pieces (optional)

 * 6 jarred banana peppers with 2 tablespoons liquid, pureed

1. Bring a large pot of water containing the eggs, to a boil. Shut off the heat, set a timer to 14 minutes and leave it sit on the stove. Prepare a large bowl of ice & water.
2. At the end of the 14 minutes, scoop out the eggs, leaving the water in the pot, and set them in the ice water.
3. Place the potatoes in a microwave bowl large enough that they are no higher than two pieces and top them with a paper towel. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Remove them from the microwave and take off the paper towel and allow them to cool completely. The potatoes will be perfectly cooked and retain the nice square corners.
4. Remove the eggs and carefully roll them on the counter to crack the shells. Place them back in the water to cool.
5. While the eggs and potatoes are cooking & cooling, process the dressing ingredients to a smooth consistency, adding milk if it gets to thick. It should have the consistency of mayonnaise. Use more milk if needed.
7. Cut the eggs in half, remove the yolks and set aside.
8. In a large bowl, mix the potatoes, olives, corn and pimentos with a very small enough of dressing, just enough to moisten and hold the ingredients together. Spoon the banana pepper puree into a squeeze bottle. We will be garnishing the tops with the squeeze bottle.
9. Spoon a teaspoon of filling into each egg half. Repeat until all eggs are filled. Place neatly on a platter and using the squeeze bottle, make a few passes over each egg and then garnish with parsley or paprika.

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August 21, 2013

Food in Jars - Recipe Redux Challenge August 2013

It's that time of the month again.
Yup, the Recipe Redux Monthly Healthy Dish Challenge.
This month it's all about that new rage of food in jars.

Yes, I got caught up also. I went out an purchased the new Mainstay half-pint jars just so I could make cute desserts. Perfect for a family of two. I can stack them in the fridge and The Nudge can just help himself.

A month or so ago, I made these but there was way too much sugar and butter in them (they were so good) and I felt guilty so I made another batch and made it as healthy as I could without sacrificing taste.

I totally succeeded. I even gave two to my neighbor and his kid loved it. Of course, he added a scoop of ice cream to hers. No, it was not a bribe, even when I showed him how I left enough space.

Dutch Peach Pies in a Jar
makes 6 half-pint jars

* 3 peaches, pitted & chopped
* 20 ginger snaps, processed

* 3/4 cup Splenda brown sugar blend
* 1 teaspoon self-rising flour, plus 1/2 cup
* 1 stick ICBINB Blend
* 2/3 cup stone-ground cornmeal (white or yellow)
* Pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the peaches, 1/4 cup Splenda and 1 teaspoon of flour in a mixing bowl.
Allow it to sit until the berries begin to soften and juices flow, about 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, spray 6 jars with butter flavored spray and arrange them on a baking sheet.
Divide the processed gingersnaps evenly in each jar and press. Spoon the peaches over the gingersnaps.

Cut butter into cubes and freeze.
In a bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup Splenda, remaining 1/2 cup of flour,
the cornmeal and the salt.
Cut in the butter with a fork to make a pea-like texture and sprinkle it on top of the peaches.
Bake, until the peaches bubble and the topping is baked to a light golden color, approximately 25 to 30 minutes.

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August 20, 2013

You Say Hollandaise, I Say Bearnaise

I have been celebrating my birthday a certain way since I was twenty-one.
I pick a food or dish I have never eaten and find a place that is their specialty.

Best thing is, I have knocked more than 35 items off my Wish List this way.

Things were going well, until I hit this year and could not think of anything I wanted.
Yes, I hit the proverbial food wall. I seriously tossed sushi around but did not want to waste a whole special day in NYC on a food I might not like at all and then have no reservations in a city that changes restaurants faster than I could drink a martini. Dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe was NOT an option.

So, what's a foodie birthday girl to do about dinner? Make all her favorites in one meal.
My version of Surf 'n Turf......Scallops, Steak, Spinach Soufflé, and a Banana Split (yes, all "S" foods, yes, my name begins with an "S" and yes, this is my life).

I spotted huge dry packed scallops at WF and already had a steak in the freezer. Bernaise sauce has it's origins in a Hollandaise sauce and since Bearnaise Sauce is often served with steak, it was a no brainer. Yummy Yay!! This might just be an occurring dinner for some time to come.
I know Ina Garten has a fail-proof easy way to make a Bearnaise sauce. She's my go to gal when it comes to easy French sauces.
I might even make it for The Nudge's birthday dinner next year. Now, if I can just get him to make the banana split, I could check another wish off my list.

Easy Bearnaise Sauce
Adapted from Ina Garten
makes 6 servings

* 1/4 cup Champagne or white wine vinegar
* 1/4 cup good white wine
* 2 tablespoons minced shallots
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves, divided
* Kosher salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 3 extra-large egg yolks*
* 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
Put the Champagne vinegar, white wine, shallots, 1 tablespoon tarragon leaves, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is reduced to a few tablespoons. Cool slightly.

Place the cooled mixture with the egg yolks and 1 teaspoon salt in the jar of a blender and blend for 30 seconds. With blender on, slowly pour the hot butter through the opening in the lid. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of tarragon leaves and blend only for a second. If the sauce is too thick, add a tablespoon of white wine to thin. Keep at room temperature until serving.

August 18, 2013

Individual Creole Avocado Cheesecakes

I have wanted to make a savory cheesecake for years, and I mean years. What stopped me?
I was concerned that all that cheese would not make a good dinner dish.

Oh, I pondered the idea of making it a savory spread for bruschetta or as past of a 7-Layer Tex-Mex Casserole but none of them made my skirt fly up.
Until I got an idea.
I was messing around with an avocado cheese spread for the California Avocado Sponsored Recipe Contest hosted my The Recipe Redux and I realized the recipe for the avocado cheese could be the base for that savory cheesecake I always wanted to make. I was halfway there, all that needed to be done was the flavor components.

Most people think of Southwest, Tex-Mex and Mexican when the avocado is mentioned. I wanted to go slightly east of those parameters and create one from another well known regional cuisine, New Orleans Creole.

While this recipe looks like it has many ingredients, every prep step can be done in a food processor, and  wiped out between each step.

Like most sweet cheesecakes, these savory ones also benefit from a day of rest. Simply reheat for 5-10 minutes in an oven or just bring to room temperature, slide a knife along the edge and it pops right out. Perfect either way.

I served it with a light salsa and arugula as an entree for a baby shower I hosted. It was perfect.

“I received free samples of California Avocado mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am
entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Avocado and am eligible to win prizes associated
with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

Individual Creole Avocado Cheesecakes
makes 8 (3/4 cup) ramekins

* 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/2 cup bread crumbs
* 3 tablespoons pecan or walnuts, minced
* 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
* 4 tablespoons butter, melted

* 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
* 1/2 cup red onion, minced fine
* 1/4 cup each of celery, green bell pepper and green onions, chopped fine
* 1/2 small jalapeno pepper, minced
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 4oz Cajun chicken sausage, minced
* 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4 cup grated smoked Gouda
* 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
* 2 avocados skinned and mashed
* 1 cup egg substitute
* 4 ounces fat free cream cheese
* 2 oz goat cheese
* 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
* 5 dashes hot sauce

1. In a blender or food processor, puree the avocados, cream cheese, goat cheese, Gouda, and teaspoon Creole seasoning.
2. Stir in the Parmesan, agave nectar, hot sauce and salt and pepper.
Taste and adjust for seasonings then stir in the egg substitute.
3. Saute the red onion, celery, peppers, garlic, green onions and sausage in the vegetable oil until they start to brown around the edges, about 7 minutes. Remove to cool.
4. In a medium bowl mix all the crust ingredients with a fork, until all the crumbs are moistened.
5. Preheat oven to 300°.
6. Spray each ramekin liberally with release agent and put 1/4 cup crumbs in one ramekin and twirl around to coat the entire inside (including sides), working over a sink, and dumping the remaining crumbs into the next ramekin to repeat with each one. Add more crumbs if necessary until all ramekins are evenly coated with residual crumbs lightly tapped out.
7. Spoon 2 level tablespoons bread crumb mixture into each ramekin and gently press with a spoon, a jar that fits into the ramekin or just your fingers until they are tapped down with no loose crumbs showing but not packed too tightly.
7. Bake the ramekins in a baking dish (9x13 works well) for 11-2 12 minutes. Remove to cool.
8. Add vegetable mixture to pureed mixture and spoon into cooled ramekins. Up the oven to 325°.
9. Pour hot water into the baking pan so it reaches up to the middle of each ramekin and carefully place in the oven.
10. Set timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove a ramekin and carefully shake. If the middle of the cheesecake jiggles bake for another 5 minutes more.
12. Remove and let them rest for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the sides, and invert onto a spatula, then slide onto your serving dish.

Nutrition analysis of this recipe: Calories 331g, Total fat 25.3g, Saturated fat 9.1g, Monounsaturated fat 22.5g, Polyunsaturated fat 4.2g, Cholesterol 38g, Sodium 959mg, Potassium 2063mg, Total carbohydrates 14.3g, Dietary fiber 4.5g, Total sugars 4.0g, Protein 14.1g, Vitamin A 32%, Vitamin C 20%, Calcium 17%, Iron 10%, Folate 51%, Omega-3 fatty acids 253mg, Omega-6 fatty acids 3886mg.

August 14, 2013

Vietnamese Pork Salad

I am totally intriqued with Vietnamese food. There is almost no oil (too expensive or turns rancid fast?), is not all that spicy (like Thai), and uses lots of vegetables and fruits. Yes, there is pork and chicken but like China, it is used for flavoring and in small amounts.

The original recipe called for pork with cucumbers and red onions, but this was a dinner salad and I got carried away with the garnish. Would not be the first time but I like to load up my salads will all kinds of textures and this time I added Mandarin oranges, water chestnuts, red pepper, broken cheese straws and cashews.

It was very yummy but the best part was the dressing. When I bought a pork tenderloin, I found this recipe that was perfect for the leftover. It looks like a lot of food but the platter was more long than wide and there was exactly four substantial servings.

This was excellent and would not think twice about making a salad with this dressing again. I know I would like to try shrimp next time and I think chicken is a great inexpensive way to go.

If you get anything out of this post, let it be the dressing. I made it in a canning jar and gave it a shake, shake right before serving. I would even make a double batch to keep in the fridge, it was that good.

Perfect for a diabetic diet and it used simple and easy to find Asian ingredients which you will use and not have them sit on a shelf.

Vietnamese Pork Salad
Loosely adapted from Epicurious.com

leftover grilled boneless pork
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup mirin
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Thai chili garlic sauce (such as Sriracha)
2 cups mixed salad greens
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup mint leaves
2 scallions, trimmed and sliced
1/2 cup Mandarin oranges
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts
Handful cheese straws, broken into chunks, or croutons

1. Slice pork thinly.
2. In small bowl, mix together rice vinegar, mirin, fish sauce, olive oil, sugar and Thai chili garlic sauce. Combine 1/4 cup dressing with pork in a resealable bag; marinate 20 minutes.
3. In large bowl, combine salad, cilantro leaves, mint leaves and scallions with the rest of the toppings. Toss with remaining dressing and top with pork.

August 12, 2013

Avocado, Falafel & Potato Latkes

This month, the Recipe Redux is challenging members to create the perfect summer get-together dish using California Avocados.
  • California avocados are a nutrient-dense fruit which contribute nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, per one oz. serving (1/5th of a medium avocado).
  • With their flavor, texture, nutritional value and culinary versatility, California avocados can be used across all day from breakfast to lunch to dinner, in snacks and desserts. 
  • Naturally cholesterol-free, California avocados are a creamy and nutritious alternative to saturated fat laden spreads, toppings and dips.
Ripe avocados are creamy and spreadable, but when I opened my box of samples, each one in a different stage of ripeness and I was actually happy to find a firm one. Since we were given the specifics of this challenge, I have spent considerable time checking out avocado recipes. I really had no idea what to make with them that hadn't already been done, not to mention a really fabulous cookbook recently released to rave reviews, and I did not have some old secret family recipe. The truth is, this was going to be hard and a true challenge.

“I received free samples of California Avocado mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Avocado and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

Experience has taught me that to create a successful recipe you should start with a dish you like and put a spin on it. It also had to appeal to many and it had to be diappropriate. I love, love, love fritters and latkes and with all the overabundance of zucchini this time of year, it was a natural thought progression to think of fritters & latkes. Although potato latkes are at the top of my latke list, they were not something a diabetic should eat but if I added garbanzo and avocado to the mix, it could permanently change the whole"forbidden fruit" list. And let me ask you this.....who doesn't love crispy-edged foods? and if it was a healthy version?

Crunchy and dense, the best successfully, coveted latkes require root vegetables and I found that an unripe avocado had that texture. I also knew that once fried, that avocado would work miracles to the interior texture and taste. Place a platter on the table, with a dip of applesauce, sour cream or salsa and they will disappear. OMG, these babies had it all and the batch I sent The Nudge into work with, when reheated, had the boys in the lunch room wondering what he was eating that was making that wonderful smell.

These were insanely delicious and I know if The Nudge gobbled them up, the kids will also.
Only requires a quick reheat for a snack after school, and they are loaded with Vitamin A,C, E, and K, a huge amount of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids and a host of minerals. I always knew avocados were a super food, so now even the fussiest of eaters can reap the benefits.

Avocado, Falafel & Potato Latkes
Yield: 24 latkes (4 servings of 6 each)

* 2 medium red potatoes, grated, moisture squeezed out
* 1 unripe avocado, grated
* 1 package Mediterranean-style falafel mix (3oz)
* 1/4 sweet onion, grated
* 1 large garlic clove, minced
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 2 tablespoons water
* 2 tablespoons lime juice
* 1 teaspoon amber agave nectar
* 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

sour cream

1. Grate the potatoes (remove and squeeze out the extra water), then in order, the avocado, onion and garlic using the large grate attachment on your processor, stand mixer or hand grater. Remove to a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients except the oil.
2. In a cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet, heat the oil until it bubbles around the handle of a wooden spoon.
3. Using two dinner forks, place as much mixture as one fork will hold into the oil and spread the mixture apart like you would to pull pork. The thinner the better will yield crunchy edges.
4. Fry for 4 minutes on each side or until the edges are a deep golden brown but not burnt.
5. Remove to a sheet pan lined with paper towels and place in a warming oven (200°) and repeat until all the mixture is fried.
  Can be stored wrapped in paper towels, placed in a large zip bag for 2-3 days and reheated in a toaster or range oven set to 400° for 10 minutes. 

Nutrition analysis of this recipe: Calories 216g, Total fat 9.2g, Saturated fat 1.6g, Monounsaturated fat 22.5g, Polyunsaturated fat 4.2g, Cholesterol 82g, Sodium 412mg, Potassium 2063mg, Total carbohydrates 27.9g, Dietary fiber 5.5g, Total sugars 3.6g, Protein 7.5g, Vitamin A 5%, Vitamin C 26%, Calcium 4%, Iron 11%, Folate 51%, Omega-3 fatty acids 253mg, Omega-6 fatty acids 3886mg.

August 9, 2013

Very Berry Layer Cheesecake

I was going to post this back when it came out of the oven but I was so sure no one would want to make a cheesecake that needed slightly more loving care then the usual dump & bake kind.

The Nudge said this one was worth it, and not fussy, really.

There was not one step that even he couldn't handle (promise) and the end result would be worth some small iota of fussing (cross my heart).

It is no secret that I am the Cheesecake Lady. I started selling Pumpkin Cheesecakes to pubs and bars back when no one ever heard of pumpkin flavored cheesecakes.

One thing I have never tried to do was to make a three layer cheesecake. Oh, I have seen the ones where they pour each layer down the middle, forcing the bottom layer to spread (no fuss there), but those are not ruler straight layers. I wanted a layered baked cheesecake like the no-bake refrigerator ones, each layer nice and straight on top of each other.
It worked better on paper than in real life when pouring on the second layer (lemon) made depressions in the bottom layer (see pic).      

There had to be a better way and as I walked around the kitchen looking for some inspiration, I spotted my piping bag and that's when it hit me.
If I baked each layer just enough to give it strength, it could hold up to a gentle piping of the next layer. As you can see by the pic, it worked quite well. It was so easy, I was surprised I did not think of it straight up.

This was light and very berry and a great "summer" cheesecake. Right now the berries are bountiful and cheap, cheap, and cheap. I used 2/3 less fat and sugar than my regular decadent cheesecakes and the summer berry filling cried out for light and the berry sauce adds to lightening up the cream cheese mixture. A marriage made in, well, my kitchen.......
I was very happy with this cake and I think once you start thinking about what other cheesecakes can be made using this layering technique you will be right on board.

Candy corn cheesecake (orange, white, yellow), Thanksgiving (pumpkin, vanilla, maple), Fourth of July (red, white, blue) and then there's the customizable ones for St. Patty's Day or Cinco de Mayo. It's endless!!

You probably are wondering if you could use a low sugar jam. You could, but the measurements will not be the same as if you used fresh berries and that will effect the bake times. I can not guarantee the finished cake will have the texture of a light whipped cheesecake.
Very Berry Layered Cheesecake
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 80 minutes
Unattended time: 5 hours
Yield: 1 (10") cheesecake

Fruit sauces:
* 1 pint blackberries, washed
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 tablespoons Truvia Baking Blend
* 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
* Pinch salt
* 1 pint raspberries, washed
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 tablespoons Truvia Baking Blend
* 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
* Pinch salt
* 1/3 cup lemon pie filling
* 4oz lite sour cream

Cheesecake base:
* 1 brick full fat cream cheese
* 2 bricks nuefchatel cheese
* 4oz lite sour cream
* 3 large eggs
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 1 teaspoon salt

* 1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
* 2 tablespoons sugar

10" spring form pan
Parchment paper
2 zip top bags or 2 piping bags
Offset spatula
Large stainless steel serving spoon

To make the berry sauces:
1. Place the blueberry sauce ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until the mixture thickens and puree.
2. Repeat with the raspberries.
3. Remove to a bowl and cool completely.

Lemon sauce:
1. Whisk lemon filling with sour cream. Reserve.

To make cheesecake:
Preheat oven to 300°.
1. Mix the crust ingredients with a fork until evenly mixed. Press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan that has been lined with parchment.
2. Bake for 11 minutes, remove and cool.
3. In a bowl of a stand mixer, food processor or blender, mix the cheesecake base.
4. Remove base and divide into three separate bowls. Mix each bowl of base with a sauce.
5. Fill two zip bags or piping bags, one with the lemon and the other with the raspberry.
6. Pour blueberry mixture on top of the cooled crust and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and cool for 15 minutes.
7. Carefully pipe the next layer on top of the blueberry one by starting around the edges in a circle until you hit the middle. Use a wet offset spatula to carefully spread the filling as you would if you were icing a cake.
8. Bake another 20 minutes and repeat with last layer and bake another 20 minutes.
9. Shut off the oven but DO NOT REMOVE. 
10. Use a wooden spoon or kitchen towel to crack the oven door 2". Let the pan sit in the oven for 1 hour more. Remove and refrigerate for minimal 8 hours.
11. Place pan on top of can and release the spring to drop the sides down.

Serve and enjoy. Now go and make your favorite layers and let me know how it turns out.

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August 6, 2013

Shrimp Tacos with Corn Salsa

I have corn on my mind. Unfortunately due to the excessive heat in Jersey, the local corn does not look good. All I wanted was two decent ears, but got two disappointments. The Nudge was one of two men sent to pick up the corn. They were both gently peeling the top down (which the stores frown on) and one after another they were thrown back onto the pile. Things did not look good, and if they had to keep going they would surely miss seeing Tiger make history yet again, so I know once he got two that did not look half bad, he was gone.

I have to believe that while the sign says local, that corn had no address remotely located off one of our infamous turnpike exits. Our corn would not dare be bad in August and I made a special trip to my town's farmers market where I knew it was truly local. They might have been small but they were perfect and I took my prize and walked the three blocks home.

Our Saturday Shellfish Feast continued and while I got the grill ready for the lobster (still only $5.99lb), I marinated a pound of fresh jumbo shrimp and seasoned two beautiful ears of white corn. Jerseyans will tell you exactly which ones they think is better, yellow or white, and why. I like them both. The white snaps so it's good for dishes where you want that snap. The yellow is tender and fat, full of juice, so perfect for recipes that call for purees and creaming or long cooking (like relishes). I love it any way I can get it. We take our corn seriously.

What corn I did not use to make the salsa for these shrimp tacos, are going, with the cobs, to make a corn broth to suspend a perfectly grilled piece of halibut. Now that's a way to use the whole cob.

First you must marinate the shrimp in this wonderfully easy, yet extremely flavorful, marinade.
The rest is simple chop, slice and grate and you have dinner in 15 minutes.

Now that I finally discovered the secret to toasting corn tortillas that won't crack, I will be making all kinds of tacos at least once a month.

Shrimp Tacos with Corn Salsa
Adapted from CookingLight.com
Yield: 6 tacos

Shrimp Marinade
* 1/4 cup fish sauce or soy sauce 
* 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
* 2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves and stems
* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir or whisk. Use within a few hours of making.


Corn Salsa
* 2 ears grilled corn, cut from the cob
* 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
* 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
* 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* salt & pepper
* 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 3 dashes hot sauce
* 1 teaspoon agave nectar

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and stir.

Lime Crema
* 1/2 cup lite sour cream
* 1/2 lime, juiced
* 1 teaspoon agave nectar

Mix and spoon into a small bowl or into a squeeze bottle.

* 12 corn tortillas
* Marinaded shrimp
* Corn Salsa
* Crema
* Shredded crunchy lettuce, like romaine, Bib or iceberg
* Grated Queso Blanco or Fresca

1. Heat cast iron pan that has been sprayed with Pam. When screaming hot, place one tortilla in the pan and cook for 2 minutes, flip and repeat. Place heated tortillas in a bowl covered with a towel and repeat until all the tortillas are browned.
2. Place 4 shrimp in the middle of two stacked tortillas. Top with salsa, then lettuce, crema and finally the queso blanco. Serve with a bottle of hot sauce for those who want more.

Make a double batch of corn salsa and serve with any roasted or grilled protein. This will wake up any dish.

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August 5, 2013

Sesame Miso Soba Noodles

I needed a substantial, but cold, noodle dish to graze on during the day. Something that can be eaten while working at my desk but with enough flavor to want to eat the whole bowl.
The usual influx of cold noodle and pasta salad posts started weaving their way around the blogosphere during the huge heat wave that paralyzed 3/4 of the country, but sadly produced the usual. I was looking for less, to no sugar and tired of the peanut butter.
I needed and wanted one that was light on ingredients but big on flavor. I needed the Minimalist's take on a sesame noodle salad.

He had the cure for my craving and produced a wonderfully flavorful, no sugar or peanut butter, and light dressing. I have been experimenting with all kinds of miso this summer, mostly in marinades and braising but I needed a salad dish in my repertoire and this fit right in. The sesame oil gives it just enough nutty flavor to make you forget that gloppy peanut paste that can weigh down the noodles.

I used soba noodles (so much better for a diabetic) but any long pasta (except angel hair) will work fine (thin linguine is perfect), just nothing too thick. This is a Japanese Vinaigrette and I like it lots. I would even use this as a hot dressing for grilled vegetables or better yet, mix the vegetables with the noodles. Yum!

Miso Ginger Sesame Vinaigrette
Inspired by Mark Bittman
Yield: 1 cup (enough for 1 pound of pasta or three soba bundles)

* 2 tablespoons Tamari
* 2 tablespoon yellow miso
* 3 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
* 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 4 dashes of hot chili oil or red pepper flakes
* 2 scallions, sliced or a handful of chives, minced
* 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
* 3 tablespoons cooking water
* 1 teaspoon maple syrup
* salt & pepper to taste

* Julienned vegetables (carrots, zucchini, red peppers, broccoli and cauliflower florets)
* Sesame seeds (optional garnish)

1. Put a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for 3 minutes, then throw in the vegetables.
2. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water and drain the pasta mixture.
3. Add dressing ingredients to a container with a lid. Shake until it is smooth and the miso breaks down.
4. Pour over noodles and toss. Top with additional sliced scallions or chives and sesame seeds.

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August 2, 2013

Corn and Black Bean Huevos Rancheros

I bought two ears of corn to serve with a dish I intended to cook but lately everything I plan on doing, just does not get done and I find myself scrambling for last minute ideas for dinner.

Oh, I did manage to grill the corn (in scorching weather, I blitz grill everything for the week), along with a package of sausage, two red peppers, a green pepper from my deck garden, two Vidalia onion's and a pound of bacon. Whew, hot work!

Even with all my bounty, I had no clear idea of what I wanted for dinner but a tour of my freezer netted a cup of ranchero sauce, a package of Jack cheese along with black beans and a handful of corn tortillas.

BINGO! Dinner was born. Been some time since the last batch. I forget how much I love this dish. While I always use flour tortillas, I had just enough corn tortillas and sauce after making these and I upped the ante on the filling by using some of my blitz grilled vegetables and a can of black beans. It was not only easy, it was simple genius.

This mixture could be added to so many things, quinoa, rice, to stuff peppers, addition to taco meat, enchiladas and even chipotle mac and cheese.
I am using mine to make black bean burgers (post soon!). Yum-O

Black Bean, Corn & Pepper Sauté
Yield: 2 cups

* 1 large ear of corn, grilled with kernels removed
* 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 1/2 onion, diced
* 2 large garlic cloves, minced
* 1/4 cup chopped pimentos
* 1/2 frying pepper, diced
* 2 tablespoons ketchup
* 1/4 cup enchilada sauce or ranchero sauce or ancho chili sauce
* 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, mashed
* 1/2 teaspoon cumin
* 1 tablespoon agave nectar
* 1 teaspoon chile powder
* Chopped scallions or chives, for garnish

1. Saute onions, garlic, peppers and chipotle in oil until mixture is soft.
2. Add black beans, corn, ketchup, enchilada sauce, agave nectar, chile powder and cumin. Simmer for 4-5 minutes and remove from the heat.

Place two heated corn tortilla on each plate. One spoonful of black bean mixture topped with grated jack cheese and two eggs (any style). A spoonful of ranchero sauce and a garnish of chopped scallions.

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