Sunday, December 12, 2010

BEA’S CHEESECAKES – A Holiday Tradition – PART II

Okay, now that you’ve mastered the basic recipe – let’s add in some flavor.

Variation One: Pumpkin Cheesecake – a Turkey Day staple.

Start with basic steps from last week’s post – the NY style classic cheesecake – except do NOT add the vanilla extract. When the filling is all mixed and ready to pour into the crust pan – STOP – don’t pour it into the crust just yet. Instead, pour out 1 ½ cup of the finished basic filling to a separate container – set this aside for later use. Now we’re going to turn that plain cheesecake into a delicious pumpkin surprise.
In the mixing bowl, to the remainder filling, continue to mix the filling and add:
One can organic pumpkin (do not use pumpkin filling – use pumpkin, just plain canned pumpkin). While the pumpkin is mixing into the basic filling, prepare the spices:

In a small bowl, stir together the following ground spices:
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon each of: nutmeg, all spice, ginger, cloves, cardamom, coriander, cocoa, and a dash of ground cayenne red pepper.

Gradually introduce to the pumpkin filling in mixing bowl – continually mixing, (and scraping the sides and bottom – don’t forget the beaters, either).

For this Pumpkin Cheesecake variation, Bea uses a different crust. You can use the basic pie crust out of the box crust, or your classic graham cracker crust, OR you can be adventurous and prepare the “Nearly Nothin’ But Nuts” crust:

8 oz. pecans
2 oz. walnuts.
Put your nuts in a heavy duty freezer bag and smash with a hammer until sand-like texture – try to pound any chunks – but be careful not to pop your plastic bag and have nuts go flying everywhere! Add to this 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar.

Pour this mixture into your spring form pan, and pack tightly against the bottom of the pan and up the sides – gently forming the side crust (if you press too vigorously, the sides will cave in like a sand castle being hit by a wave). The oil from the nuts should provide enough “glue” to keep the mixture together up the sides. (I personally might add just a tad of melted butter.)

Pour the pumpkin filling in the prepared crust. Now pour the reserved plain filling in the center, and using your spatula or a butter knife, make swirly designs to your heart’s content – but don’t overdo it and make it a sloppy mess.

Cook as instructed in last week’s blog (in fact, Bea cooks all three of his cheesecakes together at the same time – as long as your oven is large enough. DO NOT use two layers of racks in the oven and cook on two layers).
Variation 2. – Mocha Cocoa

Prepare the basic cheesecake mixture, except substitute Grand Marnier in place of the vanilla extract, and use ¼ cup less granulated sugar.

In a separate coffee cup (you really should use a “coffee” cup, since it’s a coffee cheesecake) - microwave ½ cup water for 2 minutes. Add two heaping tablespoons full of Folgers Instant Crystal coffee and 4 heaping tablespoons of Hersey’s Instant cocoa powder – stir together until completely combined and smooth. If you have a hunk of good semi-sweet dark chocolate lying around the house, add that, too, and stir until completely combined.

While the basic filling is mixing, gradually introduce the mocha cocoa mix to the filling, continually mixing until smooth – scrape out the coffee cup, and scrape the sides of the mixing bowl too. Add a dash of cayenne pepper while you’re introducing the mocha cocoa mix, and continue to Mix until completely and uniformly introduced and mixed.

Pour the mixture into your prepared pie crust in a spring form pan and cook as the others.

YOU too will be the star of YOUR party with these delicious cheesecakes.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

BEA’S CHEESECAKES – A Holiday Tradition – PART I

It’s Turkey Day time again, and that means Brian makes his famous cheesecakes for the Hogan Family Thanksgiving Feast – held annually at sister Terry’s house in San Diego. This year was no exception, as Brian made not one, not two, but THREE cheesecakes for dessert.

Now seemed like the perfect time to post this recipe on the blog. With the holidays continuing for the next month – Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Winter Solstice, New Years, etc., you never know when you’ll want to wow your friends/guests with a delicious, decadent dessert – and cheesecake fits that bill.

CAUTION: This is a “mix-intensive” process – so an electric mixing bowl is essential. Your arms would fall off and you would not get the requisite creaminess of the cheesecakes were you to try to hand mix this recipe. If you don’t have an electric mixing bowl, put it on your holiday wish list.
We’ll start with the basic cheesecake, and then move on to the other variations. Brian loosely bases his recipe on that in “A Piece of Cake” by Susan G. Purdy, and he wanted her to get some recognition in this post. [So if you’re reading my blog Ms. Purdy, please don’t sic your lawyers on me for not properly citing you.]

First the crust: For the basic cheesecake, Brian uses Pillsbury refrigerated ready-made piecrust. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees; let the crust dough come to room temperature, spread it out into an 8 inch spring form pan, press the dough firmly against the bottom and especially up the sides of the pan to prevent pull – away during cooking. Bake the crust 8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove and cool.
While the pie crust is cooking (or “crusts are” if you’re doing multiple cheesecakes), you can get cookin’ on your filling:

You’ll need four (4) - 8 oz packages Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese (he’s tried store brand, and they just aren’t as good). Soften to room temperature, but not too mushy soft. We were golfing the afternoon before Brian made his cheesecakes, so he set them out on the patio table while we golfed. You may use this, or another preferred method of softening.

In an electric mixing bowl, add one package softened cream cheese at a time, creaming until smooth. Then add the next package, cream till blended and smooth; add the next, repeat and so on.
With the mixer still beating the cream cheese, add 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar – continue mixing till sugar is fully incorporated and the mixture is very creamy and soft.
Continue mixing, and add:
¼ teaspoon salt,
½ teaspoon grated zest of lemon,
½ teaspoon vanilla extract,
and beat until smooth and creamy.

(Brian made these while we were visiting his dad in Oceanside. Max couldn’t find a zester, but he did find a wood shaver, which Brian rejected.
Instead, he just shaved the lemon rind off and finely chopped it to make the zest.)

Continue beating the filling, and add 4 eggs – one at a time, mixing in each egg fully ‘till the mixture is smooth before adding the next egg.
Don’t forget to continually scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl throughout the entire process to avoid chunks of ingredients from accumulating.

Pour the filling into the spring pan over the prepared crust.

Your oven should still be heated to 400 from cooking the crust – now, put the spring form with your crust and filling in the oven and turn it up to 500 degrees for 12 minutes. Reduce heat to 200 degrees and continue cooking for one hour, or longer until the cheesecake is no longer liquid when giggled. Basically, if you’ve made jello – and who hasn’t – the cheesecake should giggle gently like a bowl full of jello when slightly giggled once. If the mixture sloshes around like gravy – it needs to continue cooking until that jello-giggle perfection is obtained.

Leave the cheesecake in the oven, turn off the oven and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for another hour minimum. If you’re going out for cocktails, don’t worry about just turning the oven off and letting the cheesecake sit there until you return – JUST MAKE SURE YOU TURN THE OVEN OFF BEFORE YOU GO OUT TO CONSUME COCKTAILS. Other wise, your cheesecake will be grossly over cooked and I have no idea what taste or texture you will experience.

Finally, remove cheesecake from the oven and cool fully. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate in an “odor free” environment until ready to eat. If you have chopped onions or garlic in the fridge – beware your cheesecake may take on an oniony or garlicky flavor – and while I love those flavors in other foods, they are not ideal for cheesecake.

Don’t be like “Bea” and forget this one thing – run a knife, closely held to the pie tin, around the edge of the cheesecake before wrapping. Bea usually forgets this step, but Ms. Purdy suggests it, and the ONE time Brian did it, he said it worked great. Bea recommends making the cake 3 days prior to eating, to allow the flavors and texture to meld in the fridge. AND, if you don’t forget, pick that ripe passion fruit off the vine in your garden and take it to serve over the cheesecake – a truly spectacular taste sensation.

VOILA, now you have made the “classic New York style” cheesecake. Next post, tune in for two variations on the NY classic cheesecake. Hint: Pumpkin and Mocha-Cocoa.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Breakfast Bagel

Don't go to Mickey'Dee's - or any of those other drive up places.... just make your own breakfast bagel.


Cheese(your choice - I picked Swiss)
Ham/Bacon/Sausage (your choice)

VOILA - that's it.
Lightly toast your bagel (or more, if you like it burnt).

Fry the egg - I like mine over medium with the yolk broken.

Place a slice of Swiss Cheese on one side of the bagel.

Slide the cooked egg on top of the cheese.

Pan fry the ham - or if you're using one of you other bacon products - layer that.

Top with the other side of the bagel - slice in half - and ENJOY!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Aloha - What's for Dinner?

Aloha. We're back from Hawaii, and I haven't had a chance to cook anything new. (Well, I did make a delicious Tuna Helper Casserole - and I may just post that in the future.) As for now, I feel the need to get back into Blogging, and what better way than to post a few photos of Plate Lunches and other meals we enjoyed in Hawaii.

We all know that the Nene (Hawaiian Goose) is the official State Bird, but did you know that PIG is the official State Food? Whether it's ham, sausage, bacon or Spam - it's just not a meal without some form of Pork Product!

While on Maui, staying with our friend Lloyd, we enjoyed a delicious chicken salad - greens, chicken, avacado, red sweet potatoes and BACON BITS, with and a jalapeno cheese roll.

Out and about we went to Grandma's Coffee House in Kula, Maui. Great breakfasts - I loved my Crab Benedict over Cornbread Waffle, and Brian's Corned Beef Hash over Rice with Fried Spam was SOOOO delicious. Don't let those drifting cruise ship stories recently in the news scare you - Fried Spam is YUMMY... of course, they didn't have power so they couldn't fry their Spam.

For a special dinner out, Lloyd took us to Paia - a hippy beach town - but I forget the name of the restaurant. Lloyd had a cheeseburger; Asa enjoyed Paella; Brian ordered Lamb Curry; and I think I won with the Kaula Pork Plate.

On our last morning in Wailuku I had a tasty Banana Pancake breakfast. Sadly, when I asked the waitress if they mashed the bananas and stirred it into the batter, she replied: "no, it's just banana flavoring."

In Waikiki we enjoyed a delicious dinner of chicken salad with Waikiki we enjoyed a delicious dinner of chicken salad with Funions (those onion flavored cheetos-sort of crackers) with gin, soda and Guava nectar drinks - perfect for watching the sunset from our 24th floor balcony.

We didn't sign up for the Luau on Kaui'i - but on board the ship they did serve a roasted Kaula Pig - YUM - just don't look at it.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gourmet Gibbs Is on Vacation

I am so disappointed in myself to announce that Gourmet Gibbs is going on vacation! I know, it would mean more if I had posted the past couple of weeks, and given you all cooking projects to work on while I'm lounging on the beaches of Hawaii.....
but NO, I just don't post for a couple of weeks, and then post that I'm going to be gone for a couple more weeks.
Oh well, what's a Gourmet Gibbs going to do?

Keep cooking, eating and enjoying.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"It's all Greek To Me" Salad

No matter what you're having for dinner, don't you think you should have a salad? And don't you dare just open a Bag-O-Salad - they have that "processed" flavor that can't be covered up even with too much salad dressing. So here's a simple, yet interesting Greek Salad.
This isn't a "real" Greek salad, but has the essence of a Greek Salad.... it does have Olive Oil and Feta Cheese - what about that doesn't scream "Greek?"

Simply slice Romaine Lettuce and layer it in your salad bowl. Next, spoon on your marinated onions and cucumbers - oh wait - we haven't discussed those yet.
A day or so before you are going to make your salad, slice cucumbers and red onions (thinner is better - especially for the onion) and marinade in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and what-ever-other-you-want seasonings... to taste. Put in a covered dish in the fridge - and don't forget to stir/shake it around every several hours.

Use the extra marinade as your dressing - it's so tasty.

I also split a handful of cherry tomatoes - and spread those over the salad, then sprinkled with crumbled Feta Cheese.

Now just add the main course - and if you're wondering what to prepare, just review this past year's worth of food blogs!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hire's Big H - a UTAH Football Tradition

I hadn't intended on doing a travelog posting this week - but as the days go by, and as I looked at photos from our recent trip to a UTAH football game - I decided it was my duty to share 'HIRE'S BIG H" with all of you. We have a tradition of going to Hire's before all home UTAH football games and all home UTAH gymnastics meets. A few weeks ago, we continued our tradition:
Hire's Big H is a burger joint in Salt Lake City on the corner of 4th South and 7th East - it's been there since before the Mormon pioneers settled the valley... of course, they've updated their kitchen since then. They have some beverage franchise agreement with Hire's Rootbeer - but the drive-in itself is family owned and operated since its beginning. You can literally drive up to the side and a car hop will come to your car, take your order, and deliver your food to you on a tray that clips onto your car window.

We, however, chose to "dine in."

The Staff is always friendly, and they bring the entire order on one big tray!

(Once we had about 20 people there before a gymnastics meet, and they sent out a couple of servers with a couple of trays.)

I enjoyed the Pastrami H Combo with Onion Rings and Diet Coke; Bea had the regular Big H Combo with Fries and Diet Coke; and Brody, John's grandson, enjoyed the Jr. Combo Meal - corn dog, fries and a frosty mug of Root Beer.

All of us enjoyed a DELICIOUS pre-game meal,

then we enjoyed a true gridiron butt-spanking as Utah beat New Mexico 56-3. GO UTES! And if you're in SLC - GO TO HIRE'S!