Thursday, July 14, 2016

Cheesecake

If I were given the choice to have a single item to file under desserts, it would be today's subject; cheesecake. I confess there may not be a valid reason as to why this Wonderment to Humanity hasn't once featured under BFMK spotlight, an utter shame that confounds me as much as it does you.

You could argue (and I'd agree) that this is the quintessential all-meets-one dessert, in its infinite variations, tiered, airy soft like a mock mousse, still firm to the slice, and never ceasing to make an impressionable, buxom sideways view.  Flavorwise, it is most unlike the frozen grocery staple, one which I may have eaten for many of the BH (Before Homemade) cheesecake years of my life.

I've sectioned this formula as an end-to-end general outline. You'll see, it's clearly magnificent as is, but gets epic ridiculous when adornments and gildings come along for the ride (see fresh fruit, mint notes at screen bottom), being that it would appeal to The Normals as well as The Hard to Please( I'm sure these are only rarities that exist at my table, right?).

It's where I mention the two mouths, who make it test through everything that passes this kitchen and often play up tactics of extreme, mean culinary criticism. The same brutal duo, exercise profuse gratefulness each time a pie is made, where for an instant they sprout wings and halos, and their convincing testimony make for intervals between cheesecake repeats shorter each time.

The basic tenets of airy light cake construction consist of everyday pantry/refrigerator staples, pertinent in rendering harmony and evenhanded bliss between tastes, textures. The result: an outlay of almostcake almostpudding, almostpie becomes the easiest of realities with a few blocks of cream cheese, half a pound of butter and enough cookie sand.

Anything you really consider "labour" is sent to the oven for a good part of an hour. And if you follow the rules the rest of the way, you'll be doing somersaults in the air. Suggestions of an accompanying pan of water, of cake cooled, calmed and collected for further refrigeration are instructional mandates in taking the beneficial to several bars beyond.

As our conversation comes to an end, I urge you to get rolling, and follow through with this spreadsheet while I return to my season of chaos and hope for some long awaited miracles, including a house that selfcleans.
How do you not love edible buttery gravel?  
Ingredients:
Crust~
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup almonds, crushed or finely ground
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Filling~
  • 1 pound cream cheese (2 -8 ounce blocks), softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Topping (optional)~ assorted berries, fruit(my favorite:peaches), mint, fruit sauces

Directions:
Crust~
  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Stir together crust ingredients until mixture resembles a crumbly moist sand.
  • Line an 8 inch lightly greased springform pan with crumb-butter mixture. Use the bottom of a glass to evenly press the crumbs onto the bottom and an inch up the sides of pan. Refrigerate.
Filling~
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat on medium the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. 
  • Add eggs one at a time and beat well, scraping down bowl between additions.
  • Pour in sugar, orange zest and vanilla. Continue beating on medium until all ingredients are incorporated and mixture is smooth and creamy.
  • Pour the filling into the crust lined pan. Place this in the middle rack of the oven. Fill another cakepan half way up with water and place on lowest rack of the oven. This maintains some moisture level in the oven and keeps cheesecake from cracking.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes until cheesecake is mostly firm with some jiggle in the center.
  • Take out and let cool in pan completely. Afterwards, refrigerate and chill, loosely covered for unto 4 hours.
  • Top with fruit, mint or berry sauce when serving.

Mint. Fruit. Sauce. No sauce. Fancy or as low key as you like. It''s all good.







Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies


It's an agenda that I believed would not, should ever not fill the roster here. Because I knew I'd have to prefix it with perfect. But tell me, is there one-fits-all- perfection for this type of bill?

I'm talking about The King of Cookie, chocolate chip, whose bestest of the best I'd been on a massive hunt for most of my adult life, which could easily be known as the mom part of life, since I no longer remember any other. Until David Lebowitz ended my search for magnificence, duly giving me a chance to bake the same at frequent intervals, fulfilling the all too maternal role of the milk and cookie afterschool benefactor for the small people I house, who started out both in stature and nature-read attitude- quite very small (are you reading this, underlings?). Times have changed even if the cookies haven't.

Which brought me to the realization, when you have Perfection etched in your head and written for posterity by one of the best chefs/ authors/ culinary stalwarts/ foodblogger extraordinaires of all time  you could in no way alter, or recite that level of grand. Those several dozen batches who through the years granted much sustained happiness and joy when many things could and would not, I am forever grateful and loyal to. And believe me I've baked to countlessness, more times than many might consider moral or right. But who's to judge?

So then we have a different sort of chocolate chip inclusion, a batter that might come in the guise similar to the obsessionyielding treat, but achieves a different purpose, because we're not here to compete with gods.

Today's chip cookie standards are a set different, like I said, honorable in its own class and division, with not just cocoa to yield to its awesome nature, but something substantial and brilliant, so much that it begs on me to present it in full order. Those with weblogs will understand the perfunctory call that can in no way be eased, but onto superbright electronic screens.

They contain the lovely stuff that fantastic confections necessitate, bolder, better and beyond. The coupling of textures/strengths in chief ingredient chocolate gets boosted with the absolute necessary addition of oats, thus making the whole thing sing. Rich gorgeous chunks lay misshapen on purpose to further become molten ambrosia, amidst a chewy, crusty, buttery layer of divine oatmeal dough, easy to mix, scoop, drop and spread. Clear indication that it's as swift and dreamy to bring together as it is to pounce on its exit from the oven.

Therein, you should rightly deduce that oats and cocoa make a mighty neat combination, so well fit, it would be heinous to call one to the party without the other. Could be an experience you may not have undergone much in your life, even if you've tried every single ch. chip cookie aspirant under the sun.

In the past year alone, several oatmeal chochip batches became a favorite lunchbox item, maintaining their primary, not-to-desistrole of allthefriendsandneighborsofthelunchtable subsist, truly easy breakfast item, (why, with a side of milk we've covered almost all major food groups), afternoon tea accompaniment, postworkout, more-satisfying-than-energy-bar replenisher and midnight meal snack when dinner leaves the table without you, something I have no explanation for. 

Nonetheless the speed in which it disappears will not deter, but only power you through to keep on baking more.

So, then, are you ready? Because they are finally ready for you.
Chilling dough is essential people. The progress from meh to oh- my- gosh-what-have-I-done, def:  golden edged plush perfection, comes from a mere thirty minute refrigeration break. Perfect for dunking, carrying in hands and if done correctly, hide between cheeks.

(Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour)
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter(16 tbsp), at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks 
Directions:
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until smooth.
  • Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • In a separate bowl sift flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and add to the butter mixture.
  • Mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated, scraping sides and bottom of the bowl.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Keep dough covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate for  thirty minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two large baking trays with parchment or silicone baking mats.
  • Using a tablespoon scoop drop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2" between each.
  • Bake the cookies for 12 to 17 minutes, until they're a light golden brown, with darker edges. (The less they bake, the softer they turn out)
  • Remove cookies from oven, and as soon as they're set enough to handle. Transfer to wire racks  to cool.
  • Store in airtight containers for upto a week.
Notes~
These are excellent after freezing.  If storing dough for longer, keep double wrapped in the freezer. Thaw and bake when needed.

May 2014~ Flan
******
So, in concurrence with the several million lizards that believe mi casa su casa is a personal invite coined just for them, a great big fat rattlesnake decided to park in and make my backyard a little more interesting. This, alongside finals for my kids (so remind me, why do they grow up so fast (?), passing through grades before the half blink of an eye), last day parties and several cake pops for staff and teachers. Challenges, triumphs, tears and joy, there is a time and season for everything. Life, maintained by a God who orchestrates it and whose glory we're all created for. These are piercing reminders of how well He keeps, shields and fortifies us and the universe through upcycles and down. Almighty, All-knowing, All-powerful and truly, truly good. I praise Him, because I know even the  darkest valleys are temporary. And I am most ever grateful. 
So also, to our local fire force, the 5 man battalion, who quicker than I could raise a scream and despite their heavy schedules, came to the rescue and bucketed a reptile I hope never to see again. To these for-real superheroes, I salute and thank you much. Let the Lord's face shine upon you and keep you, safe, secure in your steps and always always blessed.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8