Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge, April 2009: Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

If my camera was working you would be able to actually SEE this infamous cheesecake, but The Little One got hold of it and the lens is stuck in the partway open/partway closed position and it won't budge so there are no photos, AND I get to try and find someone local to fix it. (sigh) That being the case, you'll have to rely on my riveting narrative and incredibly descriptive descriptions to help you visualize this masterpiece.

I do love cheesecake. My grandmother passed along a recipe for Fire Island Cheesecake from the NY Times from back in the 50's and it's my go-to recipe. It was with some trepidation that I made Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake, because you don't mess with my grandmother. She's 93 and healthy as a horse - her short term (and increasingly her medium term) memory is shot because of Alzheimer's but she's a feisty one, that one is. She almost got into fisticuffs with her roommate at the nursing home over a sweater, so now she has a private room. (Yes, she's THAT little old lady) But enough about her for now... let's move on to the recipe, shall we?

I have a set of 3 springform pans - 8", 9" and 10" as well as 4 wee little pans that measure about 3" to 4" across. I debated using those, but since I just used them for February's challenge, I decided to go full size and pawn off the results to school, as sadly there is no cheesecake to be eaten in this house for some time to come. With the victims lucky recipients in mind, I set to work.

I decided to do a Kahlua flavor cheese cake: coffee liqueur in the batter and a little instant coffee mixed in with the graham cracker crumbs. I used about 2 tablespoons of the instant since I didn't want to overwhelm the flavor, but I was also hoping that it wouldn't be underwhelming either. I'm a bottom and little bit of the sides crust girl, so I extended it up about a 1/2 to 3/4 inch past the bottom. The batter came together flawlessly. Sooooo finger-licking good.

Grandma's recipe doesn't call for a waterbath, so I waffled: yes, no, yes, no, nes, yo. Do I have a pan big enough to hold both the water and the pan itself? Will my pan leak? It's not the way grandma did it.... In the end I decided to follow the directions (don't faint, it's not THAT unheard of for me) and did the waterbath but made sure that I wrapped the bottom tightly in foil - I had a blowout in that pan once with something too liquidy leaking out, so I assumed that the reverse would be true as well. Cooking was uneventful and I felt comforted knowing that both recipes have the cheesecake chilling out in the oven for an hour after the formal cooking process was over.

It was beautiful! All waxy looking on top, hiding that luscious interior, giving me that seductive "come hither" look.... I resisted temptation and took it away the next day to class. The kids were in CRCT testing (which I won't describe here but it's REALLY high pressure for both teachers and students) and they needed a small respite. My offering up to the testing gods was well received. The teachers were in Heaven over it and they went on and on about how wonderful it was. Ok, with feedback like that.... I had to taste a small piece. It WAS good - it was very creamy and stuck to the fork just like it's supposed to and it had a nice subtle coffee flavor. High marks all around.

Thanks to Jenny for selecting this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge. You can find the complete recipe on her site. To see what all the other DBer’s did, you can find the blogroll here and if you’d like to join the monthly party, info about that can be found on that page as well.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stir Fry Pork Tenderlion w/Asian Veggies

I've been dabbling with all sorts of heart healthy recipes, but this is the first one I remembered to photograph. There's no real recipe here, just a bunch of healthy stuff stirred up together into one big smash. I used very little oil for the "frying" part and also used very lean pork tenderloin sliced up into slivers. (Tip: meat slices easiest and you have more control when it's slightly frozen or slightly defrosted, depending on which way you meat is coming from - fridge or freezer). I used very little soy and teriaki sauce (mucho sodium) and got creative with fresh ginger and garlic instead. The sauce packets that came with the frozen veggies went into the trash since I couldn't trust the sodium, msg and other weird stuff in there. DH and I had only a little bit of rice and a monster salad alongside it with Trader Joe's Soy Ginger Fat Free salad dressing. Without further ado - the pseudo recipe. Vary amounts based on your family.

Stir Fry Pork Tenderlion w/Asian Veggies

1 - 2 lbs lean pork tenderloin, sliced thin
2 -3 cups frozen Asian vegetables, cooked/defrosted per package directions
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon teraki sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Spray a non-stick pot with cooking spray and quickly sautee/brown the slices of pork, working in batches to assure even cooking and so that the pan doesn't cool off. Remove meat to separate plate. Heat the oil and add the defrosted vegetables and sautee briefly, to warm through and add flavor. Whisk together ginger, garlic, teriaki and soy and add to pot. Return meat to pot together with any accumulated juices, stir gently to combine and heat all items through. Serve over rice.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, one and all!

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