Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Buttermilk Syrup

Bring to a boil:
2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter

Remove from heat and add:
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir until incorporated.

NOTES:This recipe is a favorite from Ben's Aunt Connie who was an amazing cook. This is the best syrup I've ever tasted!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Caramel Apple Butter Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
20 caramels, unwrapped
3/4 cup apple butter*
3 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. flour
3 eggs

Caramel Sauce:
3o caramels, unwrapped
1/2 cup half-and-half

*(If you don't have apple butter, don't go out and buy it, it's about as easy as applesauce to make. Try this apple butter.

Heat oven 10 300 F. Wrap outside of 9 or 10-inch springform pan in heavy-duty foil. In small bowl, mix cookie crumbs and butter. Press in bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of ungreased pan.
In microwaveable bowl, microwave 20 caramels and 1/2 cup of the apple butter uncovered on high 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup apple butter; set aside to cool.
In large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and flour with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until smooth and creamy. On low speed, beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Reserve 1/2 cup batter. Fold caramel mixture into remaining batter without mixing it in completely, leaving a few streaks. Pour over crust. Drop spoonfuls of reserved batter over the top. Cut though batter several times with knife for marbled design.

Bake 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes or until center looks almost set when pan is jiggled. Without releasing side of pan, run metal spatula carefully around cheesecake to loosen. Turn oven off; open oven door at least 4 inches. Leave cheesecake in oven 30 minutes, then remove from oven; cool completely at room temperature, about 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Run metal spatula around cheesecake to loosen again. Remove side of pan; leave cheesecake on bottom of pan to serve.

In 1-quart saucepan, heat 30 caramels and the half-and-half over low heat, stirring frequently, until caramels are completely melted. Serve warm or cool over slices of cheesecake.

NOTES: I'm not much of a baked cheesecake kind of gal but I made this for a family party and everyone asked me to post the recipe. I did like the caramel sacue together with the applebutter flavor of the cheesecake. Recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker.

Apple Butter

4 lbs of good *cooking apples
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups water or apple cider
brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

Peel, quarter and core apples (if you have an apple-peeler-corer, about $25, this is very quick and easy; if not, it's not too bad). In a large stock pot cook apples with cider (or water) and vinegar until soft. Puree by either using a hand immersion blender or a blender/food processor; you may have to do it in batches in a blender. Return puree to pot and add about 1/2 cup of sugar for each cup of apple pulp. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add a dash of salt, and the cinnamon, ground cloves, allspice, nutmeg, lemon rind and juice. Taste and adjust sugar and seasonings if necessary.

Cook uncovered on medium low heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Scrape the bottom of the pot while you stir to make sure a crust is not forming at the bottom. Cook until thick and smooth; about 1 to 2 hours. You can also cook the purée on low heat, stirring only occasionally, but this will take much longer as stirring encourages evaporation. (Note the wider the pan the better, as there is more surface for evaporation.)

*Apples good for cooking are golden delicious, jonathan, rome beauty, jonagold and gala.

This makes a little over 3 pints. If you plan to can the apple butter, ladle hot butter into hot jars and process in hot water canner 10 minutes.

You can also freeze or store in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Classic Barbecue Sauce

2 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
4 cups yellow onion, chopped
9 cloves garlic, minced
6 tsp. kosher salt, divided
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2-3 Tbsp. honey
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. unsulfured molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 quart jar (4 cups) tomatoes, roughly chopped or pulsed slightly in food processor
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1/3 cup white vinegar
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2-3 tsp. black pepper

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Mix in 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt, the chili powder, coriander and cumin. Stir in the honey, molasses and brown sugar. Mix well and boil for about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cider vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer on medium-low heat for 2-3 hours until the sauce has thickened and darkened. It should be the consistency of ketchup.

Stir in the white vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste (up to about 1 tablespoon of each). Use a hand blender and puree mixture until smooth. If you don't have a hand blender, add the mixture to a blender or food processor in batches and puree.

Prepare jars and 2 piece lids for canning and heat water to boiling in a canner. Ladle hot liquid into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Place lids on and process for 20 minutes for either half pints or pints. YIELD: 6 pints.

You may also store sauce in airtight containers in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

NOTES: Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats.

Tomato Mozzarella Tart with Basil Garlic Crust

For the dough:
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 cloves garlic
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 8-10 pieces*(see notes)
4-5 tbsp. ice cold water

For the filling:
8 oz. mozzarella, sliced (fresh or regular)
Ripe roma tomatoes, sliced from top to bottom (to make circles)
2-3 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 tbsp. minced fresh basil

To make the dough, combine the basil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until finely minced. Add the flour and salt; pulse briefly to combine. Add in the chunks of butter and pulse about 10 times, or until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs. Add 3 tablespoons of the water and pulse a few times to incorporate. Add 1 more tablespoon and process for several seconds to see if the dough forms a ball. If not, add the remaining tablespoon of water and process until a ball of dough forms. Remove the dough, flatten into a 5-inch disc, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When you are ready to bake the tart, preheat the oven to 425° F. Lay out 2 sheets of plastic wrap on a slightly damp surface. Transfer the chilled dough to onto the plastic wrap and lay another 2 sheets on top of it. Roll it out into a 12-inch circle. Remove top sheets and lay the dough over a 9-inch round tart pan (plastic wrap side up) and press it into the sides. Remove remaining plastic wrap. Trim the excess dough as needed. (I use this to reinforce the edges.) Lay a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper loosely over the tart dough and fill the center with baking beads. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil or parchment and baking beads. Return the empty tart shell to the oven to bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven and lower the heat to 375° F.

Layer the bottom of the pre-baked tart shell with the sliced mozzarella. Arrange the roma tomato circles on top of the cheese in a single even layer. Sprinkle with toasted pine nute. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Top with freshly grated Parmesan and minced fresh basil.

Bake about 30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned in places. About halfway through baking, rotate the tart 180° and wick off any excess moisture that has collected on top with a towel if necessary. Allow the tart to rest at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

NOTES:Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats. As soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had everything and immediately made it for lunch that day. She never fails, it was delish! However, I did feel that the crust had WAY too much butter in it. So, I went to my trusty old Cooking Light books and found several other tart shell recipes that only had a tablespoon or 2 of butter/oil. The next time I make it I will only use 2 tbsp butter.
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