Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Peanut butter fudge cheesecake

Happy holidays everyone! My little stepbrother is a cheesecake fan, so we adapted this to what my mom had around the house. (Making ganache with sour cream worked surprisingly well.) It's like a big creamy peanut butter cup, but even better--a good addition to your white Christmas.

1.5 packs graham crackers + 1/4 c cocoa powder (or just use oreos)
5 T melted butter

Grind the cookies in the food processor, then combine with other ingredients.

cheesecake filling:
2.5 packs cream cheese (20 oz), softened (lowfat ok)
1 c sugar
1 c peanut butter (crunchy, unsalted)
1 t vanilla
3 eggs + 1 egg white

Cream all ingredients together, eg in the food processor.

chocolate filling:
1 c sour cream
2 T milk
1 egg yolk
2 c chocolate chips

Warm the sour cream, milk, and egg yolk in a small saucepan over low heat, taking care not to scald. Stir in the chocolate until smooth.

to assemble:
6 mini Reeses cups, chopped

Preheat oven to 325F. Press the crust into a 9" springform pan (there may be extra) and bake for 10 min, then cool completely. Pour 2/3 of the chocolate filling into the crust, smooth, and sprinkle with the chopped peanut butter cups. Pour in all of the cheesecake filling, top with the last 1/3 of the chocolate filling, and smooth carefully. The springform will be quite full, so place it on a cookie sheet to catch any overflow. Bake for about 1 hr 15 min until the center is just set, then chill overnight.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Two hearty winter dishes

Laura here, your friendly neighborhood guest blogger, with a couple recipes to warm your bones on those cold winter nights.  

Served these two dishes last night, accompanied by a multigrain baguette from La Farine, truffled pecorino, and a nice bottle of wine.  It was almost enough to make me homesick for Gran Sasso...

Chestnut and chickpea soup (Zuppa di ceci e castagne)

This recipe is a translation / adaptation of a recipe I found a few years ago on the official Abruzzo tourism website, attributed to l'Osteria Antiche Mura, a restaurant in L'Aquila.  Indeed, it tastes almost exactly as I remember -- rich, slightly sweet, and very flavorful.  The website where I found this recipe seems to have disappeared, but here's my take on it.

  • 1.5 lb chestnuts
  • two cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained 
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • sprig rosemary
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • olive oil, 
  • salt & pepper
Roast and shell the chestnuts.  If anyone knows a trick to make this easier, please for the love of god tell me what it is!  I usually score each chestnut with an 'X', then bake them at 350 for 20 minutes or so.  But I also usually have a hell of a time shelling them, so my method is probably not optimal.

Put the shelled chestnuts in a bowl of lukewarm water.  You can let them soak for up to 2 hours (recommended by the recipe), but in my experience, that's not really necessary.

Mince the garlic and rosemary.  Saute garlic in olive oil, then add the rest of the ingredients, along with ~6-8 cups water.  Simmer for a good long while (probably ~30 min.), until the chestnuts start to disintegrate and thicken the broth.

Chard with shiitake mushrooms

This recipe is based on a dish my friend Eden Gallanter once made for me.  It is one of the most delicious ways to cook greens that I have ever experienced.

  • 1 bunch chard, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 onion, finely sliced
  • generous pour Madeira or other cooking wine (~1/2 cup)
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • olive oil
  • salt
Saute onions in olive oil until translucent.  Add shiitakes and cook until they release their moisture.  Deglaze pan with wine.  Add greens and cook until wilted.  Add nutritional yeast and salt to taste.