New York Style Cheesecake

CheesecakeSo the last stop that Phileas Fogg and Passepartout made before returning to London, and completing their circumnavigation of the globe was in New York, New York, in the good ol’ US of A. So what could be a sweeter way to finish than with dessert? New York? Dessert? Hello cheesecake! New York–style cheesecake relies upon heavy cream or sour cream in addition to the cream cheese, and has a dense, smooth, and creamy consistency. Interesting note, the sour cream makes the cheesecake more resilient to freezing and is the method by which most frozen cheesecakes are made. Today’s recipe will give you a very basic cake, but I’ve added two sauces to choose from for toppings! Not in the mood to make a topping from scratch? You can always use your favourite flavour of pie filling! A dollop of any flavour will do ya! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

15 graham crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 ½ cups white sugar
¾ cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup all-purpose flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan, particularly up the sides of the pan. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of springform pan.

In a large bowl, using an electric beater, mix the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth. By hand, blend in the milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Overmixing can affect the texture of the cake, so just mix by hand until combined. Pour filling into prepared crust.

You will be baking the cake in a water bath, to ensure even cooking. Take a large baking dish that will fit your springform pan inside of it, and is at least an inch and a half deep. Place the filled springform pan in your baking dish, and then fill the dish with hot water, so that the water comes up about 1 inch from the base of the springform pan. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour, turn the oven off, and let the cake cool in the oven with the door closed for at least 3 hours, but more like 5-6. This will prevent cracking along the surface of the cake. Once the cake has sat, chill it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. You can enjoy this as is or with one of the toppings below.

Strawberry SauceStrawberry Sauce

Ingredients:

2 pints fresh strawberries*
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest**

* Click here to learn how to clean strawberries.
** Click here for my tips on zesting lemons.

Directions:

Combine berries, sugar, water and zest and cook until berries are soft and the liquid is thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Spoon on top of the cheesecake and serve.

Blueberry SauceBlueberry Sauce

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½ cups water
½ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 ½ teaspoons orange zest**
1 ½ cups blueberries, picked over and rinsed*
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter

* Click here to learn how to clean blueberries.
** Click here for my tips on zesting oranges.

Directions:

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat stir together the sugar, cornstarch, water, orange juice, and orange zest. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the blueberries and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the berries have burst, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat and let cool before pouring over the cheesecake.

Pan Fried Fish with Mango Salsa

Fried fish with mango salsaWhen I was thinking about Fish Week, I knew I wanted to do some type of fried fish, and immediately thought of the classic fish and chips. These days, most people tend to stay away from a heavy battered piece of fish, deep fried served alongside deep fried starchy french fries. Can you blame them? I still wanted something with a crunch though, I thought a lightly breaded pan-fried tilapia fit the bill! Served along side the refreshing sweet and spicy mango salsa, you can get your fried fix without feeling too guilty. I’d even throw in some oven-baked sweet potato “fries” to go along with this meal. The recipe below will serve six. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

Fish:
1 ½ pounds tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1 egg
½ cup milk
¾ cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons blackened or Cajun/Creole seasoning
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground sea salt, or to taste
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Salsa:
2 large ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced fine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro*
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
¼ cup lime juice
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean herbs.

Directions:

Prepare the mango salsa by combining the mango, red bell pepper, red onion, parsley/cilantro, and jalapeno pepper in a bowl. Add the lime juice and lemon juice, and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To prepare the fish, beat the egg with milk in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, onion flakes, garlic, blackened seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, and sea salt.

Dip a tilapia fillet into the egg mixture, then press gently into the crumb mixture on both sides; set the coated fillet onto a plate. Repeat with remaining fillets; refrigerate the coated fillets for about 15 minutes to help set the crumbs.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Lay the fillets into the skillet, and pan-fry until golden brown on each side, about 3 minutes per side. The fish should be opaque and flaky underneath the coating. Remove and drain fillets on paper towels. Serve warm, topped with salsa.

Stained Glass Window Cookies

Stained Glass CookiesThese are cookies which have open spaces which are filled with crushed hard candy. When baked, the candy melts and gives the appearance of “stained glass”. You may find that you don’t need to break up the candy first, but if you do, you might find that it melts more evenly. This recipe will make about 3 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

⅔ cup butter or margarine
1 ¼ cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk/soy milk/almond milk
40 fruit flavoured hard candies

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and eggs. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; add to egg mixture alternately with milk.

On a floured surface, roll the dough ¼ inch thick. Using a cookie cutter (shape of your own preference), cut out the cookies. Then taking a smaller cookie cutter than your first, cut out the centres of your newly made cookies, so that you now have a “window” for your candy to fill.

Keeping the colours separate, place candy in plastic bags and crush with a meat mallet. Using a teaspoon, gently scoop some crushed candies inside the “window frames” that you have made. Don’t put too much candy in, as the “window” will be too thick and make eating difficult. You can mix up the colours of the candies in each window if you like for a tie-dyed effect.

Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until candy is just melted. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, until candy is hard. Carefully lift cookies off baking sheet with spatula.

Sauce 2 – Béchamel Sauce

bechamel-sauceThis is a basic béchamel sauce recipe that is used for dishes like moussaka or the base for an Alfredo. This recipe will make about 2 cups.

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons clarified butter or ¼ stick unsalted butter
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ onion, peeled
1 whole clove
kosher salt, to taste
ground white pepper, to taste
pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally and taking care not to let it boil. Meanwhile, in a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until it’s liquefied. Don’t let it turn brown, though — that will affect the flavor. With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the melted butter a little bit at a time, until it is fully incorporated into the butter, giving you a pale-yellow-coloured paste. This paste is called a roux. Heat the roux for another minute or so to cook off the taste of raw flour.

Using a wire whisk, slowly add the hot milk to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure it’s free of lumps. Now stick the pointy end of the clove into the onion and drop them into the sauce. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about 20 percent, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce doesn’t scorch at the bottom of the pan. The resulting sauce should be smooth and velvety. If it’s too thick, whisk in a bit more milk until it’s just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the sauce from the heat. You can retrieve the clove-stuck onion and discard it now. For an extra smooth consistency, carefully pour the sauce through a wire mesh strainer lined with a piece of cheesecloth. Season the sauce very lightly with salt and white pepper. Be particularly careful with the white pepper — and the nutmeg, if you’re using it. A little bit goes a long way! Keep the béchamel covered until you’re ready to use it.

Mornay SauceMornay Sauce Recipe

The Mornay Sauce is a classic cheese sauce made by enriching a standard Béchamel sauce with Gruyère and Parmesan cheese. The Mornay Sauce is an ideal accompaniment for eggs, vegetables, pasta or fish. This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 pint Béchamel sauce
½ cup Gruyère cheese, grated
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup whole milk, hot

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the Béchamel to a simmer. Add the Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses and stir until the cheese has melted. Remove from heat, stir in the butter and adjust consistency with the hot milk if necessary. Serve right away.

cheddar cheese sauceCheddar Cheese Sauce Recipe

The cheddar cheese sauce is a classic cheese sauce for vegetables made by enriching a standard Béchamel sauce with cheddar cheese, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. It’s an ideal accompaniment for vegetables, pasta or fish. Oh, and did I mention nachos? Or macaroni? I mean, honestly, it’s a cheddar cheese sauce. Is there anything you can’t serve it with? This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 pint Béchamel sauce
½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
¼ teaspoon mustard powder
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup whole milk, hot

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the Béchamel to a simmer. Add the cheddar cheese and mustard powder and stir until the cheese has melted. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat and adjust consistency with the hot milk if necessary. Serve right away.

Soubise SauceSoubise Sauce Recipe

The Soubise Sauce is a classic cream sauce for vegetables made by sautéing onions and then puréeing them before adding to a basic Béchamel sauce. The Soubise Sauce is an excellent accompaniment for vegetables, eggs or chicken. Note: For a simple variation on the classic soubise sauce, add some tomato purée to the sauce just before serving. This recipe will make about 1 quart of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 lb onions, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 quart Béchamel sauce
2 cups tomato purée (optional)

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and cook the onions until soft and translucent, but don’t let them turn brown. Transfer cooked onions to a food processor. Purée briefly and then return them to the pot. Whisk the Béchamel into the puréed onions and bring the sauce to a simmer. Add optional tomato purée and serve right away.

Sweet Corn Quiche in Teff Crust

Teff Quiche

This yummy quiche will serve 4-6 people and would make a great brunch or dairy dinner dish!

Ingredients:

⅓ cup water
⅓ cup sesame oil
1 ¼ cup teff flour
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh corn kernels*
¾ cup milk
4 large eggs
hot pepper sauce, to taste
¼ teaspoon salt
4 oz. gouda cheese, shredded
¾ cup onion, chopped
⅓ cup green pepper, minced
2 cherry tomatoes, sliced thinly

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9” pie plate. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the water and oil until they become white and frothy. Add the teff flour and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Mix together and then press into the prepared pie plate.

Place corn kernels and milk into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add the eggs, hot pepper sauce and remaining salt. Blend until combined.

Sprinkle the cheese onto the unbaked teff pie crust. Add the corn mixture. Sprinkle the onion and green pepper over the surface of the pie. Arrange the tomato slices around the edge of the filling, creating and nice pattern.

Bake until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean and the centre of the pie is set, about 45 minutes.

* Click here to learn some tips on how to remove fresh corn kernels from the cob.

Delicious Gluten-Free Pancakes

pancakesThese pancakes will fool anyone into thinking they’re eating gluten full, not gluten free! This recipe will make 10 nice sized pancakes.

Ingredients:

1 cup rice flour
3 tablespoons tapioca flour
⅓ cup potato starch
4 tablespoons dry buttermilk powder*
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
2 eggs
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups water

Optional Flavour Additives:
½ cup frozen blueberries
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 apple, grated
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

In a bowl, mix or sift together the rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, dry buttermilk powder, sugar substitute, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum. Stir in eggs, water, and oil until well blended and few lumps remain.

Heat a large, well-oiled skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Spoon batter onto skillet and cook until bubbles begin to form. Flip, and continue cooking until golden brown on bottom. Serve immediately with condiments of your choice.

* If you can’t find dry buttermilk powder, you can substitute by replacing both the powder and the water in this recipe with 2 tablespoons vinegar, and enough milk (cow, soy, almond, etc.) to equal 2 cups.

Rava Laddu

Rava LadduRava Laddu is a traditional sweet found in Western India. Authentic Rava Laddu is made using Rava (hence the name) which is a wheat husk product. This recipe calls for the use of semolina, as it is more commonly available in North America. This is a popular laddu prepared almost in every household for all the festivals. Rava laddu is a simple and easy recipe but still exotic. This recipe will make about 14 laddus.

Ingredients:

1 cup semolina/rava
⅓ cup coconut powder ᶲ
¼ cup clarified butter or ghee*
¾ cup fine sugar
2 tablespoons crushed cashews ᶲ
1 tablespoon raisins
¼ teaspoon crushed cardamom ᶲ
approx. ¼ cup milk, boiling hot*

Directions:

Heat one tablespoon of clarified butter in a small pan over medium low heat; roast the cashews for about 2 minutes until they are light golden brown. Add raisins and roast for another minute, raisins will be puffed. Turn off the heat and transfer them in a bowl. Set aside.

Heat the remaining clarified butter in a frying pan over low medium heat; add the semolina and roast until it changes the color lightly this should take 6-7 minutes. It is important to stir continuously making sure the semolina roasts evenly. Add the coconut and roast, stirring continually for about 2 more minutes. Add nuts, cardamom, and sugar stir until everything is mixed well. Turn off the heat.

Add about 2 tablespoons of hot milk to the dry ingredients. Mix it well to combine. The mix should be moist add more milk as needed. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.

To form the laddus, press about 1 ½ tablespoons of the mixture between your palms. Add little more milk if you are unable to hold the mixture. Press and squeeze to form a round golf-ball like shape. Let them sit for at least one hour before serving. Laddus can be stored in air tight container for about 10 days.

ᶲ If you can’t find coconut powder, crushed cashews or crushed cardamon, simply grind them in a coffee grinder or food processor. For the coconut, I would suggest using unsweetened coconut flakes.
* To make this recipe non-dairy, simply substitute margarine for the butter/ghee and use soy/almond milk instead of cow milk.

Mini-Smoked Salmon Frittatas

Smoked Salmon FrittatasThis dish is designed to make 6 individual mini frittatas, but you can always just make one large one instead. To do this, instead of dividing the recipe into little ramekins, you can let it cook in the oven in a oven-safe skillet or pan. Just adjust your baking time, as it will take longer for the centre of the dish to set up. This recipe makes 6 servings (serving size: 1 frittata)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup diced onion
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
4 ounces smoked salmon, cut into ¼ -inch pieces
6 large eggs
8 large egg whites
1 tablespoon half-and-half
3 tablespoons 1% milk
3 ounces low-fat cream cheese, cubed
2 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet, and sauté the onion for 2–3 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the salt, pepper, and salmon to the skillet, and toss to combine. Remove the pan from stove top, and let the mixture cool.

Next, combine the eggs, egg whites, half-and-half and milk in a bowl. Stir in the cubes of cream cheese. You are not trying to incorporate this fully with the egg and milk mixture. There will be chunks of cheese in the final frittata. Lightly coat 6 (8-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray. Add 2 tablespoons of salmon mixture to each ramekin. Pour ¾ cup egg mixture into each ramekin. (Do not overfill.)

Place ramekins on baking sheet; bake 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean. Garnish with green onions, if desired.

Best Mac and Cheese – Ever

Baked Mac N Cheese

This recipe comes from my Mom. It is AMAZING! In fact, she often gives it as a bridal shower gift given with a casserole dish. Yes, you can use that idea for your next shower… it’s a good one, and she gets royalties 😉

Ingredients:

½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
½ cup all purpose flour
2-3 boxes of mac & cheese (we like using wacky mac, but whatever is your favourite)
1 – 1 ½ lbs. or more of different cheeses, shredded
5 cups of milk
Salt & pepper
Bread crumbs (optional)
Pam, butter flavoured

Directions:

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. When butter bubbles, whisk in flour. Mixture should be think and pasty. Slowly whisk in milk about a cup at a time. You have to use a whisk or it will get lumpy. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

When the mixture is as thick as melted ice cream, start adding cheese. Use the cheese packets included with the mac & cheese, and any other sharp flavoured cheese, such as cheddar, kashkeval, or goat cheese. A blend works best. Taste and add cheese until it is delicious! Season with salt and pepper to taste. As the mixture cooks, it may become too thick – just add some more milk. Stir often, and/or turn down the heat so that it does not burn.

In the meantime, boil pasta from the boxes according to the directions. Drain well. Mix the cheese sauce and pasta together – it should be very saucy.
Pour the mixture into a baking dish sprayed with Pam. At this point, you can sprinkle the top of the pasta with breadcrumbs. Spray the top of the pasta with butter flavoured Pam and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the top is all browned and bubbly.

Banana Orange Cranberry Bread

Cranberry Orange Banana BreadThis is a good use of a few leftover items hanging around your kitchen: Cranberry sauce, bananas and an orange! In fact, when you start to see your bananas heading south, stick them in the freezer for when you wish to make banana bread at a later date, as you’re gonna need the dark overly-ripe ones for the recipe! The original recipe makes 2 – 9×5 inch loaves.

Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
1 cup shortening
3 eggs
3 mashed bananas (very ripe)
1 orange, peeled and mashed
1 cup cranberry sauce
½ cup milk (you can use soy or water as well)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup chopped walnuts (or nut of choice)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, and mix in bananas, orange, cranberry sauce, milk, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Gradually blend flour mixture into the banana mixture. Fold in walnuts. Pour into the prepared loaf pans. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, and cool completely.