Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Key Lime Cheesecake

On Sunday, I made this cheesecake for dessert. It was for an extra-special seventh wedding anniversary dinner! Zach made shrimp scampi, and I made this tasty, tart number.

For the crust:
15 graham crackers
10 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar

For the filling:
3 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup key lime juice
1 teaspoon key lime zest (Ideally, I would use more zest, but zesting key limes can be a bit cumbersome.)

In a food processor, crumble graham crackers; add sugar and pulse; pour in melted butter and combine until all cracker crumbs are moistened. Press crust into prepared pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl with a paddle attachment, whip cream cheese with sugar; beat in eggs one at a time; beat in flour; beat in key lime juice and zest. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
Bake 55 to 65 minutes. After baking, leave cake in the oven additional 30 minutes with the temp off and the door open. Gradual cooling helps to lessen the chance of cracking.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Grilled Chicken, Plum & Balsamic Pizza

My husband was inspired to make this pizza after seeing Bobby Flay do something similar on his grilling show. I contributed by making the balsamic vinaigrette that we drizzled over the top, and I made the dough, but that was about it, so I can't be precise about the ingredient amounts Zach used. I'll give you my best guess, but pizza is one of those things you use personal taste to decide topping amounts anyway.

For the dough, I used my rosemary, basil pizza crust , sans the rosemary and basil. Instead, once it was rolled out, it got a nice sprinkle of salt and pepper.

My husband used one grilled chicken breast (sliced), about two sliced plums, one cup blue cheese, one and a half cups monterey jack cheese. Fresh chives and a sweet balsamic vinaigrette were used to top it.

The process of grilling the pizza gave the dough that flavor of smokiness that can only come from a grill. He grilled the rolled out dough before topping it. After the dough had picked up some grill marks and was fully cooked, he topped it and put it back on the grill until the cheese was melted.

I don't have the exact measurements for the balsamic drizzle, but I used approximately equal parts salad oil and balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, some dried Italian herbs, and about a tablespoon of sugar. The balsamic needed to be sweet in order to balance the tartness of the plums (the plums we got were pretty tart).

Friday, June 3, 2011

Having fun with my homegrown tomatoes: B,B&T Quiche, Creamy Tomato & Herb Soup, and Bruschetta

This year, in February, we started our spring gardening (yes -- it was warm enough in February to begin planting). And this has by far been our most successful tomato year yet! Our four better boy plants and two roma plants have yielded some very abundant results. Here are a couple of my favorite recipes using my fresh produce.

The B,B&T Quiche is a bacon, basil, and tomato quiche, though it also includes a few other ingredients. You can find my crust recipe by looking at my Elegant Quiche recipe.
Ingredients for the filling:
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, reserve grease
1 medium onion, chopped
1 head garlic, diced
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 3/4 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan, shredded
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
2 tablespoons flour
approximated 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes, I used a combination of roma and better boys
8 to 10 leaves fresh basil, chopped
other fresh herbs, such as oregano, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

After preparing crust and fitting it to a round pan, preheat oven to 350 degrees. In reserved bacon grease, saute onion and garlic. Be sure to begin cooking the onion before adding the garlic to the pan, so you don't burn the garlic. In a large bowl, beat eggs, add heavy cream and cheese and flour; combine well. Add remaining ingredient to the mixture. Pour into the prepared crust; bake 40 to 45 minutes.

For the Creamy Tomato and Herb Soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 chopped fresh tomatoes, I used better boys
8 or so leaves fresh basil
1 head garlic, diced
1 cup white wine
1 15oz can tomato sauce
pinch sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a stock pot, heat olive oil; add chopped tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down; add garlic; saute. Add flour, then wine and continue to cook over medium heat. Add remaining ingredients other than cream, which will be added once the other ingredients have cooked and melded together over medium heat. Lastly, stir in cream. Turn to low heat and serve when ready.

The ingredient amounts I use when making bruschetta changes depending on how much I have or how much I want. You will, of course, need some good french bread cut into approximately 1 inch slices (or however thick you like it). Then, I chop my tomatoes and basil. I like about two or three leaves of basil to one baseball-sized tomato. I drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil over my tomatoes and basil until they are well coated. Then I sprinkle a little salt and pepper, and the final touch is sugar, which nicely brings out and balances the flavor of the balsamic. Spoon the tomato mixture on french bread, and you're good to go!