Thursday, January 21, 2016

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Cheese cake filling
2 lb cream cheese
1 c sugar
1T cornstarch
1/8 t salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2T cocoa powder
3T red food coloring
White Chocolate Ganache
4 T butter
1/2 c heavy cream
11 oz bag of White Chocolate chips

2 + 2 c divided Red Velvet Shortbread cookie crumbs (recipe for cookies HERE)
5 T butter (melted) + butter to grease pan

Preheat oven to 350° F
Butter a 10" spring form pan. Wrap pan in foil to seal out water bath (foil must come all the way up on all sides. (Add a circle of parchment paper to the bottom of the pan to make serving easier.)

You will need a roasting pan large enough to hold the spring form pan and a cooling rack or meat rack that can keep the spring form pan off the bottom.

In another container boil enough water for the water bath to fill up to 1" below the edge of your springform pan when it's in the roaster pan. (For me that was about 3 quarts.)

(make a recipe of Red Velvet Shortbread cookies without white chocolate shown in the linked recipe, ground into even crumbs in a food processor.)

Blend 2 cups of Red Velvet Shortbread crumbs and melted butter. Pour crumbs into the pan. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Use a glass to press them down firmly. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool completely.

Cream together cream cheese, sugar, salt, and cornstarch. Scrape down mixing bowl and beater. Add vanilla, lemon juice, and sour cream and mix well. Scrape down bowl and beater again, restart mixer and add eggs one at a time mixing thoroughly between.

Scoop about four cups of batter into the pan. Spread evenly levelling completely. 

Add the cocoa and red food coloring to the remaining batter. Mix thoroughly. Add more food color if batter is too pale. Once mixed, gently scoop red batter into the top of the white batter. Level completely.

Place springform pan in the larger pan and on the cooling rack. Add enough boiling water until the water is 1" below the edge of the springform pan.
Bake in the oven for 55 minutes. Turn off the oven but leave the pan there to cool for an hour with the door blocked open.
Once cool, remove onto a cooling rack. Runs a thin knife around the edge. 

After the cake is completely cool to the touch, remove the spring form rim. Plate and refrigerate for at least four hours or up to three days.

After the cake has been refrigerated at least 4 hours (more if possible) prepare White Chocolate Ganache icing to finish the cheesecake. Put butter and cream in a high-sided glass mixing bowl (suitable for whisking it). Heat in microwave for 2 minutes or until the butter has melted. Add the White Chocolate chips and let sit until the chips begin melting. Whisk until melted and blended, then place in the refrigerator to cool for about 20-30 minutes. Check occasionally. When cooled (you feel no remaining warmth from the melting) whisk briskly by hand or mixer until light and spreadable.

I put the cheesecake on a decorators turntable and then started adding icing to the top first. Using an offset spatula, smooth frosting from the center outward to get an even thin layer. Then begin adding icing to the outside edge of the cake. This will be a rougher surface, so more icing will be required. Once the entire cake is covered. Gently press small hand fulls of Red Velvet Shortbread cookie crumbs onto the outside edge of the cake. When done, refrigerate.

When ready to serve, dip a smooth (non-serrated) knife in hot water and make one cut downward (the icing may be firm - the warm knife will melt through.) Remove the knife gently, wipe again with warm water and make each successive cut. If you used parchment on the bottom, you should be able to get a spatula under the edge of the cake and lift out each piece to serve.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Peasant Bread

1 c rolled oats (mill to fine flour in food processor)
1/4 c buckwheat
1/2 c whole wheat
about 5 c white flour
2 1/2 c warm water
1 T molasses
1 T honey
1 T brown sugar
2 T active dry yeast

In a large mixer bowl, whisk water, yeast, honey, molasses, brown sugar until blended. Allow to sit and form a foam on top.
Process rolled oats, buckwheat flour and whole wheat flour in food processor.
Attach dough hook and add food processor contents. Start mixing, stopping occasionally to scrape bowl and dough hook. Start adding flour 1 cup at a time, mixing and scraping bowl and dough hook as dough forms. Once dough begins to come together and is climbing the dough hook, stop and roll out onto a floured table. Knead by hand turning dough in on itself. Put vegatable oil in a large bowl. Roll dough ball in oil and flip over into the bowl. Cover with a towel and set aside in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours until doubled.
Punch down dough and roll it out onto a floured table. Coat with some flour and knead a bit. Roll into a cylinder. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll in half. Hand knead on half of the dough and turn it into itself to form a smooth ball. Place each ball on a baking sheet covered by a baking mat or parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to cut a cross on each loaf. Coat with egg mixture and sprinkle with oatmeal.
Bake at 375 F for 40 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

French Onion Soup

10-12 lbs mixed onions (I used Vidalia/Yellow/Red mixed depending on what's available)
750 ml white wine (semi-dry Chardonnay or Springgate's Susquehanna Sweet White)
1 qt natural apple cider
2 gallons beef broth
Olive oil
Sea Salt

A bouquet garni composed of several sprigs each:
  Bay Leaves

For serving:
Toasted bread
Shredded cheese

You will need two stock pots. One to preheat the stock and a larger one to actually make the soup.

Peel and cut onions in half. I use a food processor slicer to slice all of the halves into thin slices.

Add beef broth to a stock pot and slowly bring to a simmer while cooking the onions. Since I usually have my beef broth frozen, starting this now gets it ready for when I need it later. If you have unfrozen beef broth, this still helps get the soup boiling faster when you assemble it in the large stock pot.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat (I have a 15" Lodge cast iron skillet for this.) When hot, add Olive oil to coat the bottom. Fill the skillet half full of onion slices. Sprinkle on about 1/2 t Sea Salt. Add another layer of onions and salt again. Allow the onions to heat up and begin to fry a bit. Be patient. You want them to caramelize slowly to a dark mahogany color without burning. Once you begin to see color on the bottom, gently roll the pile to put uncaramalized slices on the bottom. Keep going, slowly stirring until the entire batch has softed and caramelized.  Remove that batch to your unheated large stock pot to hold for now. Repeat with the rest of the onions, one batch at a time.

On the last batch of onions, once they have caramelized, add the apple cider, stir to deglaze the skillet and let simmer to reduce by at least 1/2.

Continue to stir while adding the bottle of wine, then allow to simmer to reduce by 1/2 again.

Add the contents of the skillet to the rest of the caramelized onions. Add the preheated beef broth as well. Assemble your bouquet garni and put it in the stock pot as well (I use a large tea ball to keep the herbs all together and out of the soup.)

Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 1 hour (longer if you wish). Simmering integrates the herb flavors into the soup.

Prepare to serve:
Fill an oven-ready bowl to within 1/2" of the top. Add a piece of toasted bread and cover with cheese (I prefer Gruyere, but also like the taste of aged sharp Provolone or good Swiss cheese.) Place bowls on a baking sheet and put under the oven broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.