18 September 2014

Slow Cooker Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake / www.delightfulrepast.com

As I said two weeks ago, Slow Cooker Cheesecake is the only way to go! Not only is it so very easy, it doesn't heat up the kitchen while it slowly bakes and, most important of all, it comes out with a superb texture and no cracking.

This week I thought I'd do a version for chocolate lovers. Since I'm not one, I didn't want to make it completely chocolate. So I decided on a Slow Cooker Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake with a chocolate crust. Not wanting to run out to the store to buy chocolate wafers, I developed my own version of chocolate crumb crust using regular graham crackers and a little cocoa.

Of course, you don't have to use organic ingredients, but I always do. I figure it's one way I can take care of our health and do my bit for the planet. Just 5 simple ingredients for the crust and 6 for the filling. I have a 6-quart oval slow cooker with a wire rack. If yours is round, that's okay, too. If yours doesn't have a wire rack, make a ring of aluminum foil to set the pan on. There's always a way!

What kind of cheesecake do you like, and is there a kind you would like a recipe for? I take requests! 


Slow Cooker Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

(Makes one 7-inch cheesecake, 8 servings) 

The Crust

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature (for pan)
1 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs (6 whole crackers, 3.2 ounces)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

The Filling

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, each cut into 8 squares, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1 Butter bottom and sides of a 7-inch springform pan with the softened butter. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the pan, press it in the buttered pan, then turn it over and press it into place. Combine crumbs, sugar, cocoa and melted butter until the mixture comes together. If you used a food processor to make the crumbs, you can mix the crust in it as well. If you used your fingers or the rolling pin/plastic bag method to make the crumbs, you can mix the crust with a fork in a small bowl. Press the crumb mixture evenly and firmly over the bottom of the pan.

2 With electric mixer on medium speed, mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until perfectly smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and beaters/paddle. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. On low speed, mix in sour cream just until well combined. Remove 3/4 cup of the cheesecake batter; set aside. Pour half the remaining batter into the prepared pan.

3 Stir together the reserved 3/4 cup of cheesecake batter and the melted and cooled chocolate until thoroughly combined. Place spoonfuls of the chocolate batter on top of the filling in the pan; pour the remaining half of the batter into the pan. Place spoonfuls of the remaining chocolate batter on top of the filling in the pan; cut through batter several times with a knife to make swirls (being careful not to disturb the crust). 


4 Place rack in bottom of cooker, and add water to just below the rack (that's about 2 1/2 cups in the Cuisinart MSC-600 Multicooker). Set the cheesecake on the rack. Cover the slow cooker with a triple layer of paper towels and the lid. (The paper towels will prevent condensation falling from the lid onto your cheesecake.) Set to Slow Cook on High for 2 hours; do not lift lid. Turn off the heat and let stand for 1 hour; do not lift lid until the hour is up.

Remove the lid and paper towels, and remove cheesecake to wire rack. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake; cool for 1 hour. Run the knife around the edge again and remove the sides of the pan. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours (or up to 3 days) before serving.


11 September 2014

Overnight Breakfast Casserole - Savoury Bread and Butter Pudding


Overnight Breakfast Casserole / www.delightfulrepast.com

Overnight Breakfast Casserole makes a nice change from the usual breakfast fare, and it can be assembled the evening before. Making an Overnight Breakfast Casserole means you can be a guest at your own breakfast!

I love getting all the mess out of the way the night before. Just take the casserole out of the refrigerator an hour before baking, preheat the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. To make 8 servings, just double all ingredients and use a 13x9x2-inch baking dish.

I came up with this for my latest Limey Day (and before you get your knickers in a twist, I am not using the term "Limey Day" in a pejorative way--one of the husbands, a bit of an Anglophile himself, came up with it). It's the day every three months when three of us (sometimes we invite a fourth) get together for a day of British films and television. And we do make a day of it, going from 10:30 am to about 6:30 pm.

Of course, all that viewing time is broken up by lots of chinwags and food. I always try to have a British theme for the food. Like this Shepherd's Pie. Tea and scones, of course. I was in charge of breakfast this time and thought, "How can I have a British-themed breakfast without standing at the stove doing the Full English?" Answer: a savoury bread and butter pudding!


Overnight Breakfast Casserole / www.delightfulrepast.com


Overnight Breakfast Casserole - Savoury Bread and Butter Pudding


(Makes 4 servings)


10 to 12 ounces hearty white bread (such as Italian, a few days old is best)

2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
8 ounces bulk sausage, browned and drained (or 8 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips and cooked crisp)
2/3 cup lightly squeezed and drained diced tomatoes (or same amount of sauteed diced red bell pepper)

1/2 4-ounce can diced green chiles, drained

1 1/2 packed cups (about 6 ounces) coarsely shredded cheddar
5 large eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 crushed red pepper flakes

Note: If making more than an hour or two ahead, it is especially important to use a sturdy bread, such as an unsliced round Italian loaf. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 3/4-inch slices, arrange on a baking sheet and toast in oven for about 10 minutes on each side to dry it out a bit. Cool before buttering and cutting.

1 Spread the bread slices on one side with softened butter. Stack and cut into about 1-inch squares.

In 1-quart bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, parsley, salt, pepper, marjoram and red pepper flakes.

3 Butter an 8x8x2-inch baking dish (a 13x9x2-inch baking dish, if doubling the recipe).

4 Put a third of the buttered bread cubes in the casserole. Sprinkle with a third of the sausage or bacon, tomatoes, chiles and cheese. Pour on a third of the egg mixture. Repeat twice. Press it down evenly, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

5 Take casserole out of refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake casserole at 350 degrees for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until puffed and golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

04 September 2014

Slow Cooker Cheesecake


Slow Cooker Cheesecake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Slow Cooker Cheesecake is the only way to go! People tend to make a production out of cheesecake, but it doesn't have to be. Just bring a few simple ingredients to room temperature, mix them up, assemble, put it in the slow cooker and forget about it.

I made a simple strawberry topping for this one, but it is perfectly fine without it. There are lots of ways to go with this basic recipe, so I expect you'll be seeing more slow cooker cheesecake recipes here at Delightful Repast in the next few months.

The 7-inch diameter makes for the perfect size servings of something so rich as cheesecake. The more typical 9- to 10-inch size pans make either huge servings or very skinny, long wedges that aren't very attractive.

We love the texture of this cheesecake. And it did not have the common cheesecake problem of cracking on top. How do you feel about cheesecake? It seems to be one of those things people either love or hate.


Slow Cooker Cheesecake

(Makes one 7-inch cheesecake, 8 servings)

The Crust

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature (for pan)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (6 whole crackers, 3.2 ounces)
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

The Filling

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, each cut into 8 squares, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

1 Butter bottom and sides of a 7-inch springform pan* with the softened butter. Combine crumbs, sugar and melted butter until the mixture comes together. If you used a food processor to make the crumbs, you can mix the crust in it as well. If you used the rolling pin/plastic bag method to make the crumbs, you can mix the crust with a fork in a small bowl. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom and one inch up the sides of the springform pan.

* If you want to remove the cheesecake from the springform pan base to serve, cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the buttered bottom of the pan, then butter the top of the paper as well.

Note: I use the Progressive International 3-Inch-Deep 7-Inch Nonstick Springform Pan, which I didn't find on Amazon except in this Set of 3 Springform Pans.

2 With electric mixer on medium speed, mix cream cheese and sugar until perfectly smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and beaters/paddle. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. On low speed, mix in vanilla and sour cream just until well combined.

3 Place rack in bottom of cooker, and add water to just below the rack (that's 3 cups in the Cuisinart MSC-600 Multicooker). Set the cheesecake on the rack. Cover the slow cooker with a triple layer of paper towels and the lid. (The paper towels will prevent condensation falling from the lid onto your cheesecake.) Set to Slow Cook on High for 2 hours; do not lift lid. Turn off the heat and let stand for 1 hour; do not lift lid until the hour is up.

4 Remove the lid and paper towels, and remove cheesecake to cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake. Release the spring and remove the sides of the pan. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours before serving.

28 August 2014

Bacon and Tomato Quiche for Two - Buttermilk Pastry


Bacon and Tomato Quiche for Two / www.delightfulrepast.com

Bacon and Tomato Quiche was an idea that popped into my head when I was being all amazed at the fact that I have too many homegrown tomatoes on hand--a great problem to have, no? I don't have such a glut of them that I need to can them, just enough that I need to think of new ways to use them so that none are wasted.


I also had some leftover buttermilk on hand, and you know how I hate to waste anything, so buttermilk pastry. The first time I used buttermilk in pie dough, it was the same situation. And the pastry came out so great, I was really excited thinking I had invented something. But, no, I googled it and found buttermilk pastry was already a thing!

Anyway, I also wanted to make just enough quiche for two, so pulled out a Pyrex 207 Petite Pie Plate with scalloped handles. But, as I mentioned in my Peach Pie for Two post, this item has been discontinued. If you don't have it, or can't find a used one, you can order one of these: Anchor Hocking 6-Inch Glass Pie Plate or Fox Run 7-Inch Pie Tin.

When I bake or par-bake an empty pie shell, I don't use pie weights and never have any trouble with the pastry slumping down into the dish. That is perhaps because I chill the pastry before rolling it, put it into the pie plate without stretching it, make a lovely high, crimped edge, dock it (poke it all over, sides as well, with a fork) and chill it well again. 

You can find more detailed directions for making pastry here at my How to Make Pie Crust By Hand tutorial. What are your favorite pastry tips and techniques?


Making Pastry for Quiche / www.delightfulrepast.com

Bacon and Tomato Quiche for Two

(Makes one 6- to 7-inch quiche)

The Pastry

1 dip-and-sweep cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, well chilled
3 to 5 tablespoons buttermilk 

The Filling

3 slices (about 3 ounces) bacon (I use organic uncured), cut into 1/4-inch-wide slices
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/3 cup lightly squeezed and drained diced tomatoes plus thin slices (patted dry with paper towel) to decorate top
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk (I use organic 2%)
1 teaspoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 packed cup (2 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

1 In medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Cut chilled butter into thin pats. With fingers, quickly work the butter into the flour, leaving some pieces the size of small peas. 

2 Sprinkle 3 tablespoons buttermilk over flour mixture while stirring with large fork. Add a little more, if needed. 

3 Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten slightly into an inch-thick disk; double wrap; refrigerate for 1 hour. May be frozen for up to a month; defrost, wrapped, in the refrigerator.

4 If dough is thoroughly chilled, let it stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling. Don't throw out the piece of plastic wrap; you'll be using it again. Butter a 6- to 7-inch pie plate. On lightly floured surface, roll out disk to an 11- or 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Place pastry in pie plate, being careful to not stretch the dough. Crimp the edge. Prick the bottom and sides of the crust all over with a fork. Cover loosely with that reserved square of plastic wrap and refrigerate* for 30 minutes. During last 15 minutes, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake the thoroughly chilled crust for 20 minutes.

5 *While pie shell is chilling and then baking, prepare filling. In skillet, sauté the bacon pieces until slightly crisp; drain on paper towel. Pour most of fat out of the skillet and sauté the onions for 5 minutes.  

6 Remove par-baked pie shell from the oven; reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. In small bowl (I use a 1-quart glass measure), combine eggs, milk, parsley, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Scatter a third of the cheese over the crust, then the onion and half the tomatoes, half the remaining cheese, the bacon and remaining tomatoes, half the remaining cheese. Pour in the filling, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Decorate the top with some patted-dry thin slices of tomato. 

7 Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden and a knife inserted an inch in from the edge comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack for about 20 to 30 minutes before slicing and serving. 

* Vegetarians might like my Vegetable Quiche (and it includes one of my Julia Child stories). There are lots of quiche recipes in Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (2 Volume Set).

21 August 2014

Popcorn and Caramel Corn


Popcorn / www.delightfulrepast.com

Stovetop popcorn used to be my culinary nemesis (you can read about it in Popcorn - My Culinary Nemesis). That was two and a half years ago, and I'm back to let you know I can now make flawless popcorn! My skill improved a lot after that post because I tried all the helpful hints readers left in the comments. 

In choosing a pan, I had always thought the heavier the better. I thought I'd be even more likely to burn the popcorn if I used a lighter pan. Wrong! Using a lighter pan meant I could actually lift the pan and shake it. I don't like just scraping the pan back and forth on the stove, so I lift it up an inch or less and give it a shake several times during the popping. 

Then just recently someone told me the one thing that finally turned me into a popcorn master! Are you ready? Drumroll, please ... See Step 2 below. (Really, you need to read Step 2 and then come back for the next paragraph.)

Yes, those 30 off-heat seconds made all the difference. Now I have few to no unpopped kernels, ever! Now that I have popcorn confidence I'm venturing out into variations. Like this caramel corn. I must tell you, I have no idea what exactly is caramel corn, kettle corn, etc. This is just something I stirred up one day, and I had to call it something. 

If you have a better-slash-more accurate name for it, do let me know. And do share your likes and dislikes and tips for popcorn and its variations. I should tell you, my caramel corn is much less sweet than most, and I hope you'll try it this less-sweet way. Also, for those who care about such things, it contains no corn syrup.


Caramel Corn / www.delightfulrepast.com
Popcorn 

(Makes about 3 quarts) 

1/3 cup popcorn kernels 
2 tablespoons organic canola or coconut oil 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
Optional: 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 

1 Put 4 popcorn kernels ("test" kernels) in 3-quart saucepan (I use the Farberware Classic Stainless Steel 3-Quart Covered Saucepan) along with the oil and salt. Heat over medium high heat. 

2 When the 4 kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat, and count 30 seconds. 

3 Return the pan to medium high heat. When it really starts popping, shake the pan gently back and forth over (or slightly above) the burner, holding the lid askew (at least from time to time) to let the soggy-making steam out. 

4 As soon as the popping slows to several seconds between pops, dump it into a wide 4- or 5-quart bowl. If you like butter on your popcorn, melt 2 tablespoons of it in the hot popcorn pan and drizzle it over the popcorn, tossing well to distribute the butter evenly. 

Caramel Corn 

(Makes about 3 quarts) 

1/3 cup popcorn kernels 
2 tablespoons organic canola or coconut oil 
2 tablesoons unsalted butter 
1/4 cup dark brown sugar 
1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon water 
1/8 teaspoon salt 

1 Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Measure popcorn kernels and oil. Before starting to pop the corn, in 1-quart saucepan start melting together the sugar, butter, tablespoon of water and the salt over low heat, stirring a few times.

Note: You can probably skip lining the pan, but I can't guarantee it!

2 Pop the corn as directed above, but don't use salt and don't add butter. Pour into a very large bowl (to give you room for tossing). 

3 Increase heat to medium and cook caramel until it has been bubbling for one minute. Stir in the 1/2 teaspoon of water and salt; it will foam up. 

4 Immediately drizzle the foamy sauce over the popcorn, tossing well to coat. Spread out on prepared half-sheet pan. Bake at 250 degrees for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on the baking sheet.
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