Monthly Archives: November 2011

chocolate cheesecake with almond coconut crust

chocolate cheesecake with "almond joy" crust
one-&-only daughter’s request for her 17th birthday: something chocolatey, something cheesecakey, Ma!
cheesecake! i breathed a sigh of relief. after a rich black forest cake from the fancy schmancy cake shop for the baby brother, #2son,
who turned 12, and oodles of cupcakes for their joint family birthday party, cheesecake is easy breezy. i flipped through a couple of favorite cookbooks but ended up choosing something different from an untested recipe. i made up the crust with what i had on hand, and ended up with “my” new invention of an almond-coconut-crust, what i call my Almond Joy inspiration–one of my favorite chocolate bars when i first arrived in the good old U.S. of A.
break down the steps to making a cheesecake and it becomes gosh-durn-it-easy-as-pie.
recipe! plus cook’s notes… Continue reading

birthday cupcakes 2011

my two younger kids are five years apart but their birthdays are within 11 days of each other.
that means cakes: birthday cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, ice cream cakes…whatever their hearts desire. after all they wait and wait all year for this extra special occasion :cake :icecream: :oreo .
honestly i selected the pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes for their decorative quality–there being an explosion of orange and green coloured candies and sprinkles around this time of year. i mean, they were really heartily delicious, but i noticed that everyone, including yours truly, adored, and devoured!,the orange-almond cupcakes.
cupcakes 2011

pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
,(recipe from Julie Riven, Boston Globe October 26 2011):
4 tablespoons ( ½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon solid-pack canned pumpkin
½ teaspoon vanilla
3c ups confectioners sugar, sifted into a bowl
1. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the pumpkin and vanilla. Gradually beat in the sugar until the mixture is smooth. 2.Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour before using.

2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup solid-pack canned pumpkin
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup each candy corn, chocolate bits, jelly beans, sprinkles, dried cranberries, and raisins (for decorating)

Set the oven at 400°F. Have on hand a 12-cupcake pan. Line each with paper liners.
In a bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 1 minute. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl. Beat in the milk and pumpkin.
With the mixer set on its lowest speed, add the flour mixture just until blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Stir in the chips. Divide the batter among the cupcake pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed in the center.
Remove the cupcakes from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool. Remove the cupcakes from the pan. Frost the cupcakes. Decorate with candy corn, chocolate bits, jelly beans, sprinkles, cranberries, and raisins.

orange almond cupcakes, adapted from Cupcakes, Susanna Tee, Parragon Publishing, 2006:
(this recipe makes 12 cupcakes)
6 tbsps. butter, at room temperature
generous 3/8 cup superfine sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
scant 5/8 cup self-rising white flour
generous 1/4 cup ground almonds
grated rind and juice of 1 small orange

preheat the oven to 350°F. line cupcake pan with paper baking cups.
cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. gradually beat in the egg. add the flour, ground almonds, and orange rind and, using a large metal spoon, fold into the mixture. fold in the orange juice. spoon the batter into the paper cups.
bake for 20-25 minutes or until well risen and golden brown.

[i frosted these with lightly sweetened whipped cream, and skipped the extra step of pouring a simple-sugar-orange syrup over the cupcakes for extra moisture.]

salmon coulibiac

i pounced upon the recipe from Delia Smith’s seafood collection, because it was so intriguing: it looked like a lovely retro party dish…and when i encountered it again in a vintage 1977 cookbook, i quickly ran a check for the ingredients on hand (puff pastry! basmati rice! baby bella mushrooms!) and went for a quick trip to the market for a fresh slab of salmon and a bag of baby spinach.

salmon coulibiac is much like a beef Wellington in that a semi-cooked protein is layered with vegetables and wrapped in a flaky pastry dough before baking.
salmon coulibiac
salmon coulibiac
it has French and Russian pedigrees, so there is very much to love about it–salmon, sauteed spinach, mushrooms and onions, hard-boiled eggs, al dente seasoned basmati rice and dill cloaked in store-bought butter-rich puff pastry. i was so pleased that the kids loved it–you know, sometimes salmon is too strong of an oily fish flavor for some young ‘uns. it sure helped to serve a bright lemony Hollandaise sauce alongside.
i think this would be a grand counterpoint to the Big Bird this Thanksgiving.
from “The Smart Cook Collection, Fish,” Delia Smith. recipe is online too! :thumbsup:
assembling a coulibiac