Friday, July 31, 2009

Pizza Time

Thanks for all the wonderful pizza suggestions Julie and Elaine! Everything was a huge hit and we had so much fun making the pizzas with the kids. We made four (2 on the pizza stone on the grill and 2 on the crisper in the oven). The caramelized onions, crumbled bacon, ricotta and sage was a tremendous hit! As was the one with heirloom tomatoes (which I roasted and sundried for a few hours before putting on the pizza), burrata and mozerella and basil. For our vegetable pizza I found inspiration on Julie's favorite cooking site (Smitten Kitchen) where she had a beautiful photo of a pizza with sliced squash that looked like the ratatouille from said movie. I used squash, bell peppers, artichokes, and ricotta cheese cut with lemon, and sprinkled the top with some truffle oil. For pizza dough and pizza sauce, I picked it up fresh from a wonderful local Italian restaurant right in Old Town. I love how the dough had been made that morning and had just perfectly risen before we made our pizzas. I also made an arugula salad with green beans, potatoes, lemon juice, parmesean cheese and walnuts. Thanks for the inspiration guys -- I think we'll be making many pizzas in our future! I love how easy, fun and delicious it is.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Thinner Slice of Junior's Cheesecake

Sam had a blast throwing everything in the mixer and witnessing all these ingredients turn into a creamy yummy lick-off-the-paddle treat after he had fun controlling the kitchen aid speed. I just used a store-bought graham cracker crust to avoid the "baking the crust" and "cooling crust" steps. But this was a delicious recipe that I'd definitely use again. I halved the original Junior's recipe. So here is the halved version with the filling that makes a 1 in thick cheesecake in a pie dish vs a 2 1/2 in. thick cheesecake in a springform pan. I served it with fresh berries.

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Filling

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese (the regular variety not light Neufchatel cream cheese), at room temperature
1/2 cup + 5 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 extra-large eggs
6 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Directions for the Cream Cheese Filling

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Place one 8-ounce package of the cream cheese, 5 Tablespoons of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 mintues, then beat in the other package of cream cheese.

3. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat in the remaining1/2 cup of the sugar, then beat in the vanilla and heavy cream. Blend in egg until completely blended.

4. Gently spoon the cheese filling on top of the graham cracker crust. Place the pan in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1/2 way up the sides of the pan. Bake the cheesecake until the center barely jiggles when you shake the pan, about 1 hour.

5. Cool the cake on a wire rack for 1 hour. Then cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it's completely cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.