Monday, June 22, 2009

Pink cake, red drinks

Through our CSA we've gotten a lot of rhubarb. I've always been a fan of the classic crumble that almost everyone has a recipe for. But I didn't want that! I wanted something different. Something not the norm. Something like, oh I don't know, cheese cake....

My sister has a great recipe for cheesecake. Over the years it's been a classic staple at the hubby's birthday. Nothing says I love you and happy birthday like a peanut-butter chocolate cheesecake.

On the Whipped blog I visit there was a post about summer drinks, which reminded me of the Mexico vacation we went on this spring. It was filled with Mojiotos, Sol, and Sangria. I've always wanted to try making a batch of Sangria, so that's what I did this weekend along with the cheesecake.

The tartness of the rhubarb is a smooth match to the rich sweetness of the cheesecake filling. It was hard for me to eat just one slice.
And Sangria is my new favorite summer drink! So refreshing on the hot days we've been having, without leaving you feeling like you've had one too many beers in the sun. I would recommend it for any wine or non-wine drinker.

Rhubarb Cheesecake
2-3 cups crushed graham crackers
3 tbsp melted butter
2 pkgs cream cheese, room temp
2 eggs
1/2 cup + 1 tsp sugar
1 cup rhubarb, chopped
1 clove, crushed
2 tbsp water

For crust: Mix crackers and butter together until sticky. Press into the bottom of a spring form or other tall pie dish. Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove and let cool slightly.

In a sauce pan heat rhubarb, clove, 1 tsp sugar, and water until rhubarb has broken down and is soft, about 8 minutes. Let cool.

In a mixer combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cream cheese till blended. Add eggs one at a time mixing slowly.

Pour over crust leaving about 1/4 cup back. Beat saved portion with the rhubarb. Spoon over other filling in dollops, using a knife to swirl into bottom filling. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Center should be slightly giggly and edges just browning. Let cool at room temp then place in the refrigerator till ready to serve.

4 cups red wine
2 cups citrus soda (sprite, sun drop, 7up)
2 cups water
sliced fruit (lemon, lime, orange)
Mix liquids together. Slice fruit into rounds, until desired ammount. Sqeeze leftover juice into mixture. Add ice, sitr, and let cool.

Upside Down

Summer time is great for cool drinks and fruity desserts. I had a jar of canned currents left over from a cooking class and a pineapple that we never grilled up over the week. So I guess it was kind of enevitable. They were canned with sugar, cloves, and a bit of vinager to make them sweet and tangy.

The carmalized pineapple is a favorite of ours to make either sliced on the grill and served as a side to steaks or brushed with sugar and used as a topping on ice cream. Of course everything on the grill is a favorite. In the summer if we aren't grilling it's because it's raining out.

Some cool rain wouldn't be bad right now. It's in the 90's in Minnesota, full into the humid summers that contrast to the freezing winters. Maddie has gotten better about the heat. We used to wrap ice in a towl and lay it on the floor for her to sleep on. She was also a fan of snoozing directly over the vents behind the couches. Now she tolerates the walks and runs outside, but still has trouble with the really hot days. Her fur coat is made for the winter and she loves season, oh boy does she love it!

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
1 pineapple, sliced into hollowed circles
maraschino cherries or tart currents
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp butter

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk

Heat butter and brown sugar in a sauce pan till slightly carmalized. Add pineapples and heat through. Remove from heat, let cool, place in a pan and pour remaining carmalized sugar over top. Fill the hollow of the pineapple with cherries or currents.

Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and beat 1 minute. Pour batter over pineapples. Bake at 350°F for 20-40 min depending on pan size until a toothpick tested in the center is clean.

Let cool. Slice the top of the cake flat and flip over so that the pineapple is on top.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Creamy Crème

Ah! here's that smooth texture I was looking for when I tried out Crème Carmel! This has all the thickness and decadence of ice cream, but adds some wonderful crunchy texture.

The ingredients can take on a mixture of different flavors. I've done regular vanilla, espresso, lavender, anise, and toffee. Each is a little different and can compliment a wide range of main dishes.

I've never made this dish by baking in the oven, my sister always taught me to do on the stove top. It's a little more work, but interactive and a fun way to insure you get the right consistency in the custard.... which I'm still working on.

I think a flame torch is a must for this dish, but I've heard you can use your oven on a broil setting for similar results. Just make sure to account time for setting up in the fridge and remember that there is no such thing as too thick when it comes to Brulee, only not setup!

Crème Brulee
6 egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
powdered sugar, for topping

In a double boiler heat cream until small bubbles form on the sides, but not boiling. Slice vanilla bean and add to cream. After some time remove the bean, run a knife down to loosen the seeds, and add both the bean and the seeds back into the cream.

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until slightly thickened. Add sugar and mix until dissolved. Temper the egg mixture by adding a little of the cream into the eggs and stir. Slowly pour the eggs into the cream, whisking constantly.

Continue to stir the mixture on a high heat. After 15-20 minutes the custard will begin to thicken. It should coat the back of a spoon.

With a strainer, pour into ramekins, removing the vanilla bean and any thick pieces. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 4 days, covered with plastic wrap.

When serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar and torch until caramelized on top.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekend farming

Our weekend was busy. Between golfing, yoga, gardening, bread baking, and dinner with friends we tried to find time to hit the Minneapolis Farmer's Market on saturday morning.

It's an interesting mix of food, flowers, crafts, and the odd/hopefully interesting items people try to sell.

Set below the skyline of the city, next to the police impound station are rows of stands that are filled each morning with local farmers. There are a lot of not-so-local farmers also. Many are Organic or CSA that travel up from southern minnesota or over from wisconsin.
It's a little confusing at first. There isn't really a rhymn or reason the the setup. There is a craft market at the beginging where you can find pottery and garden ornaments. The whole atmosphere kinda sucks you in and pulls you along with the other gawkers who are just there for the sights and smells.
Once you smell the fresh roasted cinnamon almonds you are almost in the heart of the stands.
There were many new vendors this visit. Home-made pasta, dog treats, many new salsa stands, and a fresh honey station where a flat of bees were keeping eveyone interested.
It was a nice saturday morning....