Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Baker April 2009 - Cheesecake with a Twist

This year for Easter it was just the kids and I. We are new to Mexico City so we do not know many people here, nor do we have family near by and this year my hubby flew to the States to buy a car and was driving back to Mexico City.

I thought it would be nice to save this months daring baker challenge for Easter dessert. Every year for Easter I make something with lemons or lemon curd but was sad to find out that the markets here do not regularly carry lemons. Mexico City is a lime city I guess so a little sad and disappointed I resigned to no lemons.

2 day before Easter I was at the market to pick up all the Easter goodies and I was elated to see lemons on the produce shelf and this meant lemon curd cheesecake.

The first obstetrical was to make the crust. I have not found graham crackers; however, I did find nice little almond cookies and they turned out so nice.

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs (I used 1&1/3 cups almond cookies and 2/3 cup ground toasted almonds)
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

at this time preheat oven to 350F and put water on to boil.

then I made the cheesecake filling:

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

Lemon Curd:

6 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
grated zest of 4 lemons
juice of 4 lemons

Put the eggs, sugar, and butter into a sauce pan and stir over med-low heat until sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon zest and juice and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the lemon curd thickens slightly.

once all the separate elements were completed (crust, cheesecake filling and lemon curd) I poured 1/2 of the cream cheese filling then 1/2 of the lemon curd on tome of that and swirled with a knife. topped with the rest of the cream cheese filling, top with the rest of the lemon curd and swirl with a knife again.

Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

I do prefer the New York Cheesecake with the sour cream but I did learn that cheesecake and lemon curd were so meant to be together! it was rich and oh so full of flavor and (considering this was a lot of cheesecake and there was no way threes people could eat it all themselves) I gave some to all of my neighbors and they loved it too.

Please come back and join me on May 14th as I post the results of the new Daring challenge called the Daring Cooks.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chicken Flautas

These were one of the first big hits with the kids after we moved to Mexico. Flautas are very common here and they are also fairly easy to make, that is if you pick up the fresh corn tortillas from the store that is. Trust me 8 pesos for 50 warm tortillas is a steal.You will need:
1 chicken breast
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
salt and pepper
corn tortillas
vegetable oil
sour cream
salsa Verde
Chilies (optional)

To make the chicken filling:
in a medium sauce pan add chicken and enough water to cover and boil chicken until done, about 25 minutes. lay chicken on a cutting board and shred into little pieces with to forks. Set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat saute onions in 1 tablespoon oil until translucent. add in reserved chicken and diced tomatoes and cook until tomatoes break down, add in the cumin salt and pepper. If you like spicy or your not feeding little ones feel free to add some chillies or jalapenos the chicken mixture. Set mixture aside.

in a large deep skillet fill half way with oil and heat.

The Tortilla:
To be able to roll the tortillas they need to be heated or they will break and crack on you. I heat a pan of water and put my spatter cover over the pan and set the tortillas on that so they heat enough to roll but no too hot or too wet. I have read that you can put the tortillas in the hot oil for a few minutes to heat them but I feel that why add another step of oil to the meal and I would rather not mess with hot oil that much with kids around. I mean I am already deep frying them as it is.

Wrap and Fry:
take a warm tortilla and add about 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling in and wrap as tight as you can into a cigar. place the cigar in the hot oil seam side down so that it will not unroll. when that side is done I turn with a pair of tongs and cook the other side. I give each side 2 to 3 minutes or until they are nice a crisp and light brown.

once the flautas are done they can be covered in either salsa verde and lettuce, sour cream and lettuce or just go crazy and cover with all of it, that is how I like it.

these are now one of the foods that we have to make about once a week and I make a large batch of filling and freeze it so that it is super quick and easy to make.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Back to the Menu

For the last several months I have not been planning a menu and now I have a fridge full of odd item and I have not been eating healthy. While planning a menu takes some time, thought and effort over time it pays off with the time saved in planning each day and health and financial benefits.

This week the plan is:

Berries and oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast with tea

Lunch (they will repeat)
Tuna on wheat with peas and mango
turkey sausage on wheat roll and cauliflower and apples
poached egg on toast with turkey bacon and cucumbers

Chicken flautas with salsa verde, avocado and salad
Beef soup with crackers and some raw veggies
The beef, potatoes and carrots from the beef soup
flank steak with mashed potatoes and cauliflower and tomatoes for color
whole wheat pasta with marinara and salad with avocado

there will be plenty of left overs to fill in the rest of the week

Thursday, April 2, 2009

No Gas but Lotsa Tacos

On the way to Toluca from Santa Fe to get furniture, while going over the mountain we ran out of gas. Hey, I was not the one driving and.........apparently in a Nissan Tiida when the light comes on telling you are getting low on gas you are not low you are out and have about 1.3 miles to find a gas station. Did I mention we were driving over a mountain and gas stations are scarce in the mountains. The lucky thing was we had just crossed; therefore, we could coast a long way...did I tell you that gas stations are scarce in the Mountains, but food stands are not.

We were able to coast to a nice little row of taco stands. you can get tacos, quasadillas, bread, soda (they drink a LOT of soda here) and fried eggs.

So While the driver (who will remain unnamed) hunted down a taxi to take him (or her) another 3k to the gas station and back the kids and I got cozy at the Taco stand and had ourselves some taco.

So far I have found that all taco stands offer the same assortment of fillings. Chorizo, green chorizo, mushrooms, mashed potato, pulled pork, peppers and onion, some kind of greens, a cheese and peppers mixture (much like ricotta cheese) thin slices of what I think is beef, queso (cheese) and a few other I am not sure about. At some locations these mixtures can be cry or wet some looked dried out and some fresh. you can guess we went with dry and fresh. No gut rot here!

All these taco stand make blue corn tortillas ( I have to say I like them much better then the yellow corn tortillas). I have tried cheese, pulled pork and cheese, chorizo both red and green. We have had them as quesadillas and tacos where tacos are topped with cactus leaves (they are yummy) avocado a little cheese with a lime on the side and a red or greed salsa. Yum yum yum.

we have also had tacos at a few other stand and I have included those photos in this post too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The One and Only

It is not every day that I swoon over something but today I am. This morning a post appeared on Design Sponge that started off as simply beautiful. A tea pot that was pretty and as I read practical too and as an avid tea drinker I fell in love with the "one" by vessel ideation
This teapot can be placed directly on a burner and as it heats up the beautiful design appears. there is a coating on the pot so that it is not hot to the touch so it can be picked up once the blue design appears (water is hot) and a magnetic coaster bottom so that the hot pot of water/tea can go straight to your coffee table.

This is on my must have I just have to figure out where it can be purchased.