Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lemon Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

My father loved cheesecake.  He has been gone almost 15 years, but the grandson he never met carries on the tradition.  He is our cheesecake fanatic!

Lemon Cheesecake

  • 12 ounces gingersnap cookies
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • pinch salt

  • 1½ pounds cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice(about ¼ cup juice)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Grind cookies in food processor.  Combine cookie crumbs, butter, and salt.  Press into a 9" springform pan.  Bake at 350° for 15 minutes.

Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add juice, zest and vanilla.  Mix well.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Pour filling into prepared crust.  Bake at 350° for 60-70 minutes.

Allow to cool and top with lemon curd( I like Alton Brown's ).

Semolina Bread

This bread is so delicious.  We especially like it for grilled cheese, using nice slices of Dubliner and Gloucester cheeses.  This recipe is adapted from a recipe by Leslie Makie, Macrina Bakery and Cafe, Seattle.
Semolina Bread

  • 1¾ cups water(105° to 115°)
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 2½ cups semolina flour
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • sesame seeds
Combine water and honey in mixer with paddle attachment.  Activate yeast in this mixture.  Add oil.  Add flour and salt..  Change to the dough hook add semolina and rosemary.  Knead dough about 5 minutes.

Let dough rise in an oiled bowl, until doubled  in bulk.  Shape into desired loaf shape, or place in loaf pans.

Allow to rise.

Drizzle oil on loaves and adhere sesame seeds.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake 375° for 40 minutes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Olive Rosemary Bread

We lived in Seattle in the late 80's.  We enjoyed the fresh seafood and multitude of fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables.  We rented a lovely little house on Mercer Island, with a peek-a-boo view of Lake Washington.  It was an ideal location to begin our married life.  I started making this bread in that quaint  house, it is a savory favorite.

Olive rosemary bread

  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ ounce dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup green and black olives, rough chop
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, more for oiling bowl and pan
  • 1½ tablespoons rosemary(3 tablespoons if using fresh)
  • 5-5½ cups flour, or enough to make a slightly sticky dough
  • cornmeal
  • butter, melted

Add sugar and olive oil to warm water.  Activate yeast in water mixture.  Using the paddle, mix in flour one cup at a time, to make a wet dough.

Change to dough hook.  Add  flour to make a slightly sticky dough.  Add the olives and rosemary.  Knead for 4-5 minutes.

Place dough in oiled bowl, turn to oil both sides of dough.  Let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.  Separate dough into three pieces, knead and shape into loaves.  Lightly coat sheet pan with olive oil and dust with cornmeal.  Place loaves on sheet pan, slit top and brush with butter.

Bake 350° until light golden brown, about 35-40 minutes.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Comfort Food

There is nothing better than mac n cheese when it comes to comfort food.  This is a classic recipe.  I like to use many varieties of cheese, including bleu, and a hearty pasta shape such as rigatoni.  Our friends were recently traveling in Hungary and brought us the paprika used in this recipe-very nice!

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

  • 4 cups milk
  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni or penne
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  •  ½ teaspoon paprika
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ cup pasta water
  • 4 cups shredded cheese, any combination of mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar, or asiago
Heat milk.  In a large saucepan melt butter and add flour.  Cook over medium heat to lightly brown  roux.  Add hot milk to roux, whisk on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until thickened.  Season with paprika, salt, and pepper.
Cook pasta in salted water until al dente.  Reserve ¼ cup cooking water.  Add pasta and ¼ cup cooking water to sauce.  Stir in cheese.  
Pour into 13" x 9" greased glass baking dish.  Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes, or until bubbly hot.

Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins

I enjoy  dark chocolate cocoa in these muffins.  They are a favorite of anyone who tries them.  My kids love to bring them for a classroom snack.

Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins

  • 5 bananas, mashed
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup dark chocolate cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ flour
  • 1½ self rising flour
  • ²/3 cup vegetable oil

In bowl of mixer, mash bananas, add sugar and mix well.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add oil.
Combine dry ingredients.  Add to mixer and stir until just moistened.  
Bake at 375° for 18 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home, Double Chocolate Banana Muffins.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fresh Green Salsa

My husband and I recently made a trip to the vegetable market, in downtown Jacksonville.  We found some great tomatillos.  We love green salsas.  I enjoyed this fresh salsa on eggs, scrambled with queso fresco.  Fresh sweet corn, when available, can be added.  I grew up in northern Illinois corn country, and I can never get enough fresh sweet corn in the summer!


  • 12-15 tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed
  • 5 jalapeños
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 3 ears fresh cooked corn, optional

Heat oven to 450°.  Place tomatillos and jalapeños on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil.  Roast in hot oven until soft and lightly charred, turning  vegetables as necessary.  Saute garlic.
Remove stems from tomatillos and jalapeño(seeds too, for a milder salsa).  Place tomatillos, jalapeños, garlic, and cilantro in food processor.  Pulse, leaving salsa with small pieces of tomatillos and jalapeños.  Stir in lime juice and salt.

Add corn, if desired.  It is a nice addition, especially to a spicy salsa.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ruthie's Sugared Nuts

Ruthie's Sugared Nuts
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 cups walnuts halves, pecan halves, and or whole almonds
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon

Whisk together egg whites, water, and salt until frothy.  Add sugar and cinnamon, mix well.

Stir in nuts.  Spread on greased sheet pan. 

Bake at 250° for 45 minutes, stirring nuts every 10-15 minutes. 

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mint Merigues

This recipe for light and sweet meringue cookies was my first recipe.  I made Mint Meringues at about nine years of age, and I was hooked. My mother had an olive green 70's era kitchenaid mixer, the essential kitchen appliance!  Baking became a hobby of mine, and I often convinced my friends to join in the fun.

Mint Meringues

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar, optional
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup mint chocolate chips(if available), semi-sweet or dark chocolate chocolate chips
  • ½ teaspoon peppermint extract or mint flavoring
  • green food coloring, optional
Beat egg whites, water, and salt to soft peaks(use the whisk attachment).  Cream of tartar can help stabilize the egg whites, I used to add it, but the cookies work fine without it.

Add sugar(mint extract and food coloring, if using).  Whip until satiny stiff peaks form.

Lightly fold in chocolate chips.  Drop by teaspoon onto wax paper lined sheet pan.  Bake at 300° for 30-35 minutes.  They will be light golden, crisp and dry when they are done.

Rye Bread

Rye Bread was another necessary, delectable dish we could count on from Aunt Ruth.  This bread is sweet, and my kids love it,  I should make it more often, but rye flour seems to be an exotic ingredient in North Florida! 
I ran over to Publix this afternoon and found no rye flour on the shelves.  I asked the helpful employee, who in turn got the manager, and he checked on the rye flour situation.  With none to be found, he gave me a nice bag full of rye flour straight from the bakery, free of charge.  Oh how  I  love Publix!

Rye Bread
  • 2 cups milk, scalded
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 orange, juice and zest
  • 2 packages dry yeast( 4½ teaspoons )
  • 4½ - 5 cups flour
  • 2 cups rye flour

To the scalded milk, add butter, sugars, and molasses.  Allow to cool to 95°-110°.  In the mixer, with the paddle attachment, add rye flour to milk mixture.  Mix until combined.  Add salt, orange juice, zest, and flour. Mix.

Change to the dough hook and knead for 4-5 minutes.  The dough will be quite sticky.  Cover and let rise until double in bulk.

Punch down, knead, and shape into loaves.  This recipe will make three 8½ x 3½ x 2½" loaves.  Let loaves rise until doubled.

Bake at 350°  for 45 -50 minutes.  Cool.

Aunt Ruth always sliced this bread THIN.  I like a thick piece slathered in butter.  Happy eating-

Friday, September 4, 2009

Norwegian Toast

A visit to Aunt Ruth's house always include a delicious snack, eaten in her very retro, tiny kitchen.  Norwegian toasts are a tasty cookie-like toast, best with black coffee.

Norwegian Toast
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 9-10 cardamom seeds, crushed( or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, beat well.  Add salt and vanilla.  Combine dry ingredients(cardamom, flour, baking soda, and baking powder).  Alternately add dry ingredients and sour cream to butter mixture. Combine until just mixed.

Grease 3 small (8½ x 4½ x 2½) loaf pans.  The batter will fill half the pan.  Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes.

When loaves are cool enough to handle, slice 1" thick, then slice in ½  lengthwise.  Dry out on sheet pan in 250° oven, 30 minutes each side.  When they are light brown and crisp, they are done.

Store in an airtight container.