Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lemon Goat Cheese Cake ...Incredibly delicious


this cake is unbelievably delicious !
absolutely my favorite dessert this year...and now one of my all time favorites.

light, fresh, moist and lemony with just a hint of tang from the goat cheese.  not like a regular cheesecake because it's not so dense...not like a cake because it has no crumble...it's just that perfect balance that doesn't fill you up, but doesn't leave you hanging.  a fabulous dessert for a late Summer Sunday brunch or after a heavy BBQ extravaganza.  

i've been making Homemade Goat Cheese lately and was searching around for any and all things "goatie", i came across this recipe from a fellow blogger named Kate at Food Babbles.  she has a fabulous blog and she is one of those much needed foodies that gives incredibly easy instructions with photos as you go...no room for error.  i diligently followed along and the result was this fabulous cheese cakie treat...
AND, i must add, being able to use some of my homemade goat cheese sent it over the top in my book.
by the way...goat cheese is one of the easiest cheeses to make...you just need the right stuff.  i've put in the link.  have a look and give it a try.

normally i would to say "adapted from", but in this case i did not change a thing.  i have printed out the ingredients and instructions so you can get a quick overview, BUT i really think you should visit Kate at Food Babbles to get the full photo low-down.  follow her step by step and you will have complete success as i did.  many many thanks to Kate

11 oz. goat cheese (see Homemade Goat Cheese if you want to go the extra mile)
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for dusting pan
finely minced lemon zest from 1 lemon
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 egg yolks at room temp.
6 egg whites at room temp.
3 Tbsp flour.

preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.  butter a 9" spring form pan and dust the inside with granulated sugar...don't skip this.
mix together cheese, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla...beat until smooth.
mix in egg yolks, one at a time at low speed.
next, add the flour.
in another CLEAN bowl beat the egg whites until peaks form.
gently fold whites into goat cheese mixture...make sure you don't over mix.
spread the batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
cool on a wire rack
once cake is completely cooled, refrigerate until chilled

this cake is fabulous as-is with a few fresh berries...for some i added a little dollop of blueberry preserves and fresh thyme.  Kate dressed hers up with a yummy raspberry sauce.

any way you serve this i guarantee you and your guests will be pleasantly sated

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Indian Spiced Nuts

i've gone NUTS !!!

sometimes you feel like a nut...
and sometimes you feel like A LOT OF NUTS !!!
 i'm addicted.  i have loads of them every day.  i even put these and the Mexican Spicy flavored ones on my yogurt and fruit in the morning.
i eat them with chocolate...i eat them with cheese...
i give them away in nice little jars...just so i can make MORE NUTS !

why nut?(not)...they're good for ya !

i've made these about 5 times so far, tweeking it as i go, and i think i've come up with a good flavor mix.  it might be a bit spicy for some, so i suggest you use your judgment...maybe leave out the cayenne and or tone down the chili powder.  by the way, as i mentioned in the recipe please don't use regular chili powder that you would add in chili.   it will over power the garam masala.  read the label and see that it is only ground chilies...i get mine at the Mexican market, Northgate in Santa Ana or the Persian market, Wholesome Foods in Irvine.

this method for glazed nuts using just 1 egg white (plus sugar and spices) seems to work really well.  as you can see, the nuts have a nice glazed look, but without the stickiness that can happen with heated sugars, syrup and/or honey.
it is so easy, i make up a few batches at a time and change up the flavors.  i've posted about the Mexican Spiced Nuts and will probably post about the Snickerdoodle Nuts soon...they get eaten up quickly.


3 - 3 1/2 cups raw mixed nuts...your choice
(i use pecans, almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachio, pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
6-8 dried apricots, small diced...OPTIONAL...see note
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 extra large egg white beaten until white and fluffy
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 Tbsp chili powder...(you might use your discretion...it can get HOT)
REAL chili powder, not the kind you put IN chili...i use Mexican ground chili
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground ginger
a dash or two of yellow curry
a dash of coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne...OPTIONAL
2 full sprigs oven dried rosemary, crushed into pieces...see notes
fine sea salt to sprinkle before oven

preheat oven to 350 F degrees...throw your fresh rosemary sprigs in for a few minutes
lightly spray a baking sheet (with sides like a 1/2 sheet jelly roll pan) with non stick spray.  in a small bowl combine all the spices and sugar.  in a large bowl whisk the egg white until white and foamy.  add nuts to the egg white and about a 1/3 of the spice mixture...sir well to coat.  add another 1/3...stir to coat. finish with that last 1/3 and stir until it looks as though everything is evenly coated.  sprinkle in your crushed rosemary as you are stirring...you don't want this to clump into one spot.

spread evenly onto baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.  bake for 20 minutes.  take them out and stir them up and separate them a little.  let them rest for a few minutes...then back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes....but watch them carefully so they don't burn.
i find that this second baking keeps them crisp and fresh longer and it dries out the moisture from the apricots.

TIP...do not store them until they are COMPLETELY cooled, but do not let them sit out too long either...they might get sticky.  if they do get a little tacky, just put them back in the oven for a few minutes, let them cool then store again.

NOTES...if using dried APRICOTS you must check them after baking to see that they have sufficiently dried up.  they will prevent the nuts from staying extra crisp and fresh if storing in jars...if you are consuming fairly quickly then they will be fine and they are a tasty addition.
OVEN DRIED ROSEMARY...this tastes much better than store bought dried rosemary  i like to use fresh rosemary and dry it out in the oven...a few sprigs on a sheet pan at 300-320 degrees for about 7 - 10 minutes...or throw it in as you are preheating.

store in airtight jars or containers.
i like to throw in one of those "stay-fresh" packets that come in some store bought snack items...you know, that annoying little packet that looks like sugar, but says DO NOT EAT.
not necessary, but my nutty brain thinks it helps.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Turkish Coffee Truffles

pretty easy, a little messy...
fun to make and people are always AMAZED that you made such a "decadent candy".

truffles are definitely a great gift item and are sure to impress everyone.  something about them screams decadence...why?...i don't know.  it's just a ball of rich creamy expensive dark chocolate lightly coated in another layer of rich dark chocolate, lightly roasted nuts or something else wonderfully delicious...what could be so good about that ?...!


everything is good about truffles...period!

this flavor combo reminds me of Turkish Coffee...i love Turkish Coffee...powerful stuff.  thick dark coffee, a hint of cardamom and sweetened with a big spoonful of raw sugar...YUM !  you have to know just the right moment to stop sipping or you get a mouthful of sludge.  did you know that there are people who know how to read your coffee (sludge) grounds?  it's just like the Chinese read tea leaves.  you turn your cup upside down on a napkin and your future could be discovered...  ive never had it done, but maybe i'll come across the opportunity sometime...i hope.

once you get the hang of it the flavor combinations are endless.
just a few weeks ago i made some i found from Giada De Larentiis for Dark Chocolate Balsamic Truffles...
for  a healthy version try Chocolate Coconut Healthy Truffles

there IS a Truffle out there for everyone...


250 grams GOOD chocolate...i used 1 large bar of Valorona 61% 
1/2 cup heavy cream
10 smashed cardamom pods
1 star anise
1/2 rounded tsp instant espresso
1/2 tsp vanilla

put the cream into a small saucepan with the smashed cardamom pods and star anise over med heat and bring to almost boil...do not let boil. let this sit and steep to room temperature.
chop the chocolate in even small pieces
strain the pods from the cream,  add infused cream to chocolate and melt together in a double boiler, stirring until incorporated...no visible lumps
take off the heat and add vanilla extract, instant espresso and stir until incorporated.  taste test...i added just a small dash of ground cardamom because i didn't taste the cardamom enough(i only used 5 cardamom pods...it was my first time using pods)
pour this mixture into a smaller bowl and let cool just a bit before moving to fridge.
**most recipes say to chill in fridge for 1 hour, then remove and let sit out for 2 hours...
**NOTE...this did NOT work for me.  
i suggest you give this a try...let the chocolate cool to room temp, stir it up a bit (i recently saw a show where the chef beat the chocolate with a hand mixer for a minute or so before chilling in the fridge) then cover and chill in fridge for a few hours, or until completely firm.  then remove and let sit out over night..(it might be too hot during the day to set)

when it is easy to scoop...should be about like ice cream...make little balls and drop them in a dish filled with cocoa powder, chopped pistachios, toasted almonds or what ever you like.  gently roll them around to coat.  place them on a parchment or wax paper lined tray.  best to put them back into the fridge for a bit.  i like to do about 4-5 then put them in the fridge so they don't get a flat bottom while sitting out.   just remember to take them out and bring to room temperature before serving.

Monday, August 1, 2011

CHEVRE...Real Goat Cheese

CHEVRE...aka Goat Cheese

finally, i have mastered the real deal.

i received the best compliment i could imagine...

"this tastes just like the cheese we had in Paris"

my obsession with cheese and yogurts has not subsided...yet.
there is something sooooo satisfying about making your own dairy products.  i'm asked all the time,
"why don't you just buy it?"...
 i love the whole science of it and the smell of cheese and yogurt hanging in the fridge, but most of all it's the anticipation...
"is it ready yet?...when do i get to eat it !?"

goat cheese is one of my favorites of the cheese family...it's such a versatile product that can be eaten as is or as a star ingredient.
recently i came across what i am now calling my favorite dessert of the season...the year...probably in my all-time top ten.
it's a Lemon Goat Cheese Cake found at Foodbabbles.com  i was able to use some of my homemade goat cheese and, of course, it sent it to the top of the list.
i'll be posting about it soon...it is a MUST TRY !!!  please visit Kate's blog and see for yourself this wonder-treat.  she has great photos and step by step instructions for a no-fail winner.

back to the goat cheese...
there are a few ways to make your own goat cheese and i have tried these easy methods (as seen in this post) using lemon or vinegar...this is  before i knew any better..
but this method and recipe is FAR SUPERIOR !
one very important ingredient you will need is the right culture.  i found mine at a home brewing company out in Mission Viejo, CA.  there are also places to get this over the Internet...buy your rennet at a big health food store.
i've just ran out of my little packets of Mesophilic culture so i might want to try the packets available HERE at the Cheese making Company.com.  their packets contain the culture and the rennet all in one so there is no mixing and no room for error.  the beginner kit looks good, but not really necessary to get all the extras.  i was wondering how different culture will effect the out come...i'll have to get back to you on this.

there are many many many blogs and sites on how to make homemade goat cheese and some of the instructions get too involved...this is a really easy process...even i got it right the first time.

i thought who better to go-to than a woman who owns her own goats...Martha Stewart!...and she probably has some prize winning goats at that.
honestly...does she really make her own goat cheese?...or does she have someone do it for her...

this is for 1/2 the original recipe found at link above

1/2 gallon (2qts) pasteurized goat milk...NOT ultra pasteurized

1/8 tsp powdered Mesophilic DVI culture..1 used 1 packet Mesophilic MW3 from Mad Millie

1-2 drops liquid rennet

1 tsp kosher salt (or to your taste)

1. add goat milk to a large non reactive sauce pan or stock pot.  use low-medium heat until the milk reaches exactly 75 F degrees on an instant read thermometer.
2.  add the powdered culture and the liquid rennet to a small bowl.  add 2 Tbsp of the warm milk and stir until well combined (no lumps of culture).  add this small mixture to the large pot of warm goat milk.  cover and leave at room temperature overnight.  i have left it for 15-20 hours.
3.  cut the set curds across the pot and again the other way.  same as seen here in my Skyr post for Icelandic Yogurt.
set a large colander over a large pot/bowl and line with double layer cheese cloth or i prefer a nice clean square of reusable muslin.  the bowl underneath the colander must be big enough to catch quite a bit of whey that will drain.  carefully transfer the mixture into the colander.  Martha says to cover this with cheesecloth, i just covered it with a lid that fit on top of the colander.
let this set at room temperature overnight...mine sat about 15 hours.
remove from cheesecloth,  discard liquid and transfer cheese to bowl and mix in salt (and, or other flavors)...don't forget to taste test.  it's a lot easier to flavor the cheese before it is chilled and you want it to incorporate if using fresh herbs.
store in refrigerator in airtight container, ramekin or shape into log wrapping in plastic wrap.

i took 1/2 the cheese and shaped it into a log for a more spreadable cheese and the other 1/2 i kept in the muslin and let hang in the fridge for another 8 hours.  this created a more crumbly cheese.

served on crisp seeded baguette with fresh fruit and your favorite preserves makes a tasty snack or a fabulous brunch side.
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