cartoon by marc johns.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes with Oreo Cookie Crusts

These mini chocolate cheesecakes are very easy to make, super yummy, and a great idea to serve at a party rather than cookies or cake.  You can make them in muffin tins, rather than needing to go out and buy a "mini cheesecake pan."  That's what I did.  The Oreo crust adds a nice crunch, and the creaminess of the melted chocolate and cream cheese is not too sweet.  I served them at a party and everyone loved them; I had lots of requests for the recipe.  I topped mine with Hershey's "Hugs" because I liked how the black and white stripes looked, but feel free to top them with anything you like (or nothing at all).  It would be nice to use peppermint Kisses for the Christmas holidays, perhaps.  Anyway, I hope you try them and like them as much as I do.


24 whole Oreo cookies
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
16 ounces of cream cheese, softened (two packages)
4 ounces of dark semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 whole eggs
24 Hugs candies (optional)

1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  
2.  Lightly spray two muffin tins and set aside.
3.  In a food processor, grind the Oreo cookies to crumbs.  

Ready to be ground.
4.  Melt the butter and combine with the Oreo crumbs.

In goes the butter.
All "butterfied."
5.  Spoon about 1 tablespoon of cookie crumbs into each muffin well.  Press the crumbs down.

All ready.
6.  Melt the chocolate slowly, over low heat, stirring often.  Be careful because chocolate can burn easily.

It's melting.  (Yum.)
7.  While the chocolate is melting, put the cream cheese in a large bowl and whip.

8.  Once chocolate is melted, add it to the cream cheese.

Ready to pour.
9.  Whip the chocolate and cream cheese until fully mixed.

10.  Add the eggs and whip again.

11.  Add the sugar and whip again.  Make sure the sugar is fully blended so the mixture isn't grainy.  If you have it, using fine baker's sugar may help (but it isn't necessary).

Mixture is complete.
12.  Spoon the mixture over the top of each crust.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cheesecakes are set.  (When you juggle the pan, the cheesecake should not move).

Ready for the oven.
Cheesecakes have set.
13.  Cool to room temperature.  Remove from the muffin tins and refrigerate.  When ready to serve, top with Hugs candy (if you like).  Makes 24 mini cheesecakes.  Enjoy!

Side View.
So cute.
What a delicious platter.
Recipe inspired by Lauren's Latest.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Traditional Jewish Food: Vegetarian Kishke

Might not look delicious, but sure tastes delicious!
Kishke.  (Sometimes spelled kishka.)  What is it you may ask?  For one thing, it's a fun word to say.  For another, it's yummy.  Kishke is a food traditionally made by the Jewish people of Eastern Europe.  It's not elegant; it's basically peasant food.  It is sort of like a sausage - a mixture of meat and often a grain stuffed into an intestine.  People eat it by slicing off a piece and smearing it on some bread or a cracker.  It is quite delicious.  Most people who have experienced the kishke have had it because they tried it at a deli.  It is pretty rare for people to still make kishke at home.  So!  Let's be adveturous!  This recipe is a vegetarian version of the kishke.  Instead of intestine, there is no lining.  It's a mix of carrots, onion, celery, and whole wheat flour (and other spices). This is a perfect example of what happens in cooking - the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  You probably have all of the ingredients right now.  It doesn't sound too exciting, and it doesn't look too pretty, but if you close your eyes and eat it you get something sweet, spicy, a little crunchy and just delicious. It is nice to have kishke in your fridge and take some to have for a little snack now and then, and since this is purely made of vegetables and whole grains, it is an extremely healthy snack.  Even though it has a funny name and a sort of strange look to it, I really encourage you to give this recipe a try.


2 stalks of celery, trimmed
2 carrots, peeled
1 medium red onion, peeled
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups whole wheat flour (or as mush as needed to make a moldable dough)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.  Give the celery, carrots, and onion a rough chop and then put into a blender.

Ready to blend.
3.  Blend the veggies into a fine mush.  

4.  Top the veggie mixture with the spices and blend again.

Spices added.
5.  Add the flour to the veggie and spice mixture.

6.  Blend everything again.  Pour the mixture into a bowl and test it's texture.  It should be a sticky, moldable dough.  If too moist, slowly add more flour until the correct texture is reached.  Feel free to taste it too, and adjust the spices to your liking.

The right texture.  
7.  Put half the mixture onto a large piece of foil and roll the foil tightly around the mixture to make a "sausage."

On the foil. 
8.  Do the same with the other half of the mixture, creating two cylinders, and place on a cookie sheet.

Ready to go.
9.  Bake on the center rack for 1 hour.  You may slice and serve now. Alternatively, they freeze very well.  Also, many people like kishke crispy rather than as a spread.  If you do, slice the kishke into about 2-inch slices, put the slices on the cookie sheet and continue to bake until browned and crispy.  Makes 2 about 8-inch logs.  Enjoy!

The final product.
Recipe inspired by the grongar blog.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup with Parmesan Tomato "Croutons"

A delicious bowl.
This is a lovely, simple roasted tomato soup.  One thing that is important to note: because there are so few ingredients in this soup, you need to make it during tomato season and with fresh tomatoes from the farmer's market or your own garden.  If the tomatoes are not that delicious, the soup won't be that delicious.  You have been warned :o).  I like to make this soup with heirloom tomatoes for a nice change from the typical tomato soup, but feel free to use normal red tomatoes if you like.  I do recommend using a sweet vidalia onion as the onion in the soup, however.  I also create these parmesan topped cherry tomato "croutons" to float in the soup, but that, of course, is optional as well.  I served this soup on a cold night with the apple grilled cheese, and it made for a cozy supper.     


About 2 pounds large heirloom tomatoes
1 vidalia onion
4 medium cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt (and some to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper (and some to taste)
3/4 cup vegetable broth (or more if you like a thinner soup)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
dash of fat free half-and-half (optional - adds some creaminess)

For the croutons:
3-4 cherry tomatoes
dried basil
grated parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.  Cut the large tomatoes (the cherry tomatoes you leave for later) and the onion in quarters.  Peel the garlic cloves.  Put all the cut up veggies on a tray, sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley.  

Tray - so colorful! 
3.  Put in the oven to roast for 30-40 minutes, or until the veggies get soft and have blackened edges.  (Because the garlic cloves are so much smaller, you may need to remove those and roast the tomatoes/ onions longer).

Blackened edges.
4.  Dump the roasted veggies into a big pot.  Add the broth.  Bring to a boil for about 10-15 minutes.

Veggies and Broth.
5.  While the soup is boiling, cut the cherry tomatoes in half.  Sprinkle the tomatoes with basil and top with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.  Put them on the same tray you roasted the other veggies on.

Ready to go.
6.  Broil the cherry tomatoes for about 1 minute, or until the cheese begins to bubble and brown.  Remove from oven to cool and set aside.

Ready to go.
7.  Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), blend the veggies and broth into a smooth soup.

8.  If you like, add a dash of half-and-half.  Taste soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Top each bowl with some cherry tomato croutons.  Enjoy!  Makes 2-3 servings.

The final product.
Recipe adapted from the Brooklyn Supper blog and Joanna Goddard's blog.