Monday, December 27, 2010

Semi-sweet Chocolate Cheesecake

My family loves cheesecake. This recipe is based on a white chocolate cheesecake recipe from The Cooking Club magazine. Instead of using the graham cracker base, I prefer mine with yellow cake as the base. This is a tried and true recipe. Always satisfying. However, since I only have semi-sweet chocolate baking bar in my pantry, I tweaked the recipe a bit and it is just as good.

Cheesecake base:-
1/2 box (about 8 ounces) of yellow cake mix
2 eggs
3/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of softened butter

Cheesecake filling:-
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup of sour cream
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 tbsp of all purpose flour
1 tsp of vanilla essence
3 medium sized eggs
2 ounces of semi sweet baking chocolate bar

1. To prepare the cheesecake base, bake the yellow cake mix according to the package's instructions in a 9- inch round springfoam cake pan. Let cool then using a serrated knife, even out the top part of the cake and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare some boiling water for a water bath to bake the cheesecake in. In a mixing bowl, cream the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until combined. Add sour cream, vanilla and flour then mix at medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth. Finally, add in the eggs one by one. Each time beating the cheese mixture at medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes only. Do not overbeat. Pour the cheese mixture onto the cake base and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, melt chocolate bar in a water bath (boil 1 cup of water in a small saucepan on the stovetop, chop up chocolate into 1 inch pieces and place in a mixing bowl that fits over the saucepan, melt chocolate over simmering water, stirring occasionally).  Set melted chocolate aside and let cool slightly before adding to the cheesecake mixture. One may stir the melted chocolate into the cheesecake mixture to get a marbled look, or pour the chocolate on top of the cheesecake and using a chopstick, swirl whatever pattern that one desires. The later method gives a chocolate candy texture to the cheesecake topping.
4. Wrap the springfoam cake pan completely around the bottom and sides in 2 layers of aluminum foil to prevent water from sipping into the cheesecake during baking. Place cheesecake in a broiler pan and fill broiler pan with boiling water halfway up the sides of the springfoam pan. Bake undisturbed for 50 minutes. Turn off oven and leave cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour. Refrigerate cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Phyllo dough dumplings

Bought a packet of phyllo dough a while back. Tried different recipes with it but most attempts did not yield satisfying results. Thought this recipe up because my tasters at home, i.e my kids, wanted something different for a snack. It's easy and makes a great finger food.

12 sheets of phyllo dough
Meat filling:-
1/4 lb each of ground chicken, ground pork and ground beef
1/2 cup shredded cheese ( provolone, romano, parmesan)
2 stalks of green onion
1/4 cup of cilantro leaves, stalks removed
1 egg
4 tbsps of water
2 tbsps of sesame oil
1 tsp of poultry seasoning
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of black pepper

1/2 stick of butter, melted for brushing on phyllo dough
1 egg, beaten 
cooking spray

1. Thaw phyllo dough according to package instructions.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all ingredients for the meat filling except for the cheese in a food processor. Mix until smooth, then stir in the cheese and set aside. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
3. Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a dry and clean kitchen counter or a large cutting board. Brush with melted butter before placing the second sheet of dough on top. Scoop a heaping teaspoonful of meat filling onto the dough  about 1 inch apart while pressing down slightly. Brush melted butter around the edges and in between the meat filling. Place the 3rd sheet of dough over the meat filling. Again, brush melted butter around and in between the meat filling. Repeat with the 4th sheet of dough. Using a knife, cut out the meat dumplings and trim edges as necessary.  I like to trim them into 2 inches squares. Move dumplings onto the lined baking sheet and brush dumplings with the beaten egg.
6. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Serve while hot with ranch dressing on the side. This recipe yields about 45 dumplings.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Creamy linguine and meatballs

Sunday night dinners at our house sometimes comprise of ingredients gathered from cleaning out the pantry or the fridge. Tonight's one of those nights. Thus, leading to the creation of creamy linguine and meatballs.
Here's the recipe.

1 lb dry linguine

Meatballs ingredients:-
1/2 lb italian mild sausage
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup of chopped onions
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
1 tsp of thyme
1 egg
1 cup of shredded cheese (mix of provolone, mozzarella, parmesan,romano)
2 tbsp of breadcrumbs
1 tsp of chicken seasoning
2 tbsp of water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Pasta sauce ingredients:-
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of minced garlic
1/2 med sized onion, chopped coarsely
2 med size tomatoes on the vine, diced coarsely
1 cup of arrabiata sauce, store bought
2 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet pan with aluminum foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. Add all of the meatballs ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well.
2.Shape 1 heaping tbsp of meat mixture into golf ball size meatballs. Place meatballs on the baking sheet pan. Continue until all of the meat mixture are shaped. Yields about 12 meatballs.
3. Place meatballs into the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Baking the meatballs helps to retain their shapes and moisture. After 12 minutes, remove meatballs from pan and set aside for further cooking in the pasta sauce.
4. In a large sauce pan, heat up the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions, saute for a few minutes until aroma is released. Add the tomatoes, arrabiata sauce, chicken broth and meatballs. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
5. In the meantime, cook the dry linguine according to the package until al dente. Add cooked linguine to the sauce pan then stir in sour cream. Coat linguine evenly with the sauce and dinner is ready. Serve up some salad and garlic bread on the side to go with the linguine.

Tis the season to be jolly. Falalalala....

We had invited friends over for dinner last night and I was surprised with a gift of Thomas Keller's cookbook called Ad Hoc At Home, family-style recipes. Yes, it's the season to give and receive. I've managed to read thru the first few pages of the book and already I'm intrigued. Recipes and ingredients are easy enough for the homecook. Nothing fancy. Lots of tips and techniques are included. I think this is one of the cookbooks that will make me a better cook. Thanks, S&S  for adding to my cookbook collection.