Tuesday May 21, 2013
Seen and Noted! I just stumbled upon this recipe and had to share it: Avocado Cheesecake with Walnut Crust
. Typically I am a cheesecake purist - NY Style Cheesecake - chilled, fork in hand, and I am a very happy girl. But this calls for a taste! I love cheesecake, I love avocados, and I especially enjoy walnut or almond based crusts. So here you go - I hope you enjoy this!
Avocado Cheesecake with Walnut Crust
242 calories; 8 g protein; 13 g fat; 26 g carbohydrates
- 3/4 cup shelled walnuts
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed anise seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 cups skim milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 fully ripened Avocados from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
- 8 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened and cut in pieces
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- In food processor, pulse walnuts until finely ground. Add graham cracker crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, anise seeds and salt; pulse just until combined.
- Add 2 tablespoons water; pulse until ingredients are thoroughly combined and resemble wet sand.
- Press into bottom of an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. Bake 20 minutes; cool completely.
- In measuring cup or small bowl, combine gelatin with 2 tablespoons water; let stand for 5 minutes.
- With vegetable peeler, remove strips of lemon zest (yellow portion only). In saucepan, combine milk, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla and lemon zest; bring to boil. Add gelatin; simmer until gelatin has completely dissolved, about 1 minute; strain and discard lemon zest.
- In food processor, combine avocados and cream cheese. Pour hot milk mixture into processor; process until very smooth.
- Pour into baked crust; cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until set. Remove side of pan; cut cheesecake into 10 slices.
- Serve with raspberry sauce, if desired.
Cheesecake is best when served the same day; any leftover cheesecake should be securely covered with clear plastic wrap and refrigerated.
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Posted by terry dagrosa at 11:11AM on May 21 in
Saturday April 27, 2013
Be still my pounding heart! I found the perfect gourmet popcorn thanks to Pop! Gourmet Popcorn. F
or someone who loves the pairing of sweet and salty here is a great combo; are you ready for this.... Chocolate Salted Caramel Popcorn
made with hand-crafted caramel popcorn topped with rich milk chocolate and sprinkled with delicate gourmet sea salt. Yes please! And dare I say... LOVE is in the air!
You can choose from a variety of flavored popcorn ranging from White Truffle Bliss to Butter Toffee with Almond Roca (artisan butter toffee popcorn made with the original Almond Roca Buttercrunch and roasted almond) to Gourmet Cheddar and Maui Waui Popcorn with fresh macadamia nuts, sweet coconut flakes, blended with white chocolate on buttery caramel popcorn. Pretty enticing right?
Check it out for yourself
. And let your imagination run wild as you can create your own Gift Tin with multiple flavors. But beware.... this can become an addictive secret pleasure!
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Posted by terry dagrosa at 11:11AM on April 27 in
Wednesday April 24, 2013
Let's face it--sometimes we just don't have the time to spend in the kitchen whipping up a gourmet meal for a special rendezvous for two. And that's OK, it happens to the best of us. So let's examine the alternatives for still being able to enjoy a romantic evening together...from the most obvious--eating out to the oh-so-easy task of ordering take-out. But there is another option - having a special meal prepared and delivered to your home. A meal that has been shopped for, measured, packaged, and ships with a recipe and step-by-step directions.
Enter 19 Charles Street
, a members-only gourmet meal provider for time-strapped New Yorkers. Months ago I signed up for their email after reading an article about them and was more and more intrigued as I read their weekly email listing their menu offering. Here's how it works:
New recipes are posted Monday mornings on their website and sent via email, for deliveries the following week. You have until Friday at 5pm, or until ingredients sell out, to place your order. Every Monday and Wednesday morning, the 19 Charles Street team visits their partner farms, Murray's Cheese, Raffetto's Pasta, and other vendors to gather and package your ingredients for that night or the following night, depending on your order. Same-day packaging guarantees the freshest possible meats, grains, and produce.
So needless to say I had to try this. I choose a dinner that fed into a pasta craving I was having - Grass Fed Lamb Ragu with Capers, Parsley and Mint over fresh Pasta.
Here's the scenario:
The door buzzes, a delivery. A perfectly packaged white bag is presented to me -19 Charles. Why thank you!
I move into the kitchen and place all of the items on the counter.
Clever; there is a check list attached to the outside of the bag:
Tagliatelle from Rafettos. (Fresh I might add) Check
Parmesan Cheese from Murray's Cheese Shop (big smile). Check.
San Marzano crushed tomatoes. Check.
Capers. Fresh Mint and Organic Parsley. Check.
Blue Ribbon Bakery Baguette. Check
Mixed Baby Lettuce. Check
Organic Yellow Onion. Check
Garlic (2 large cloves to be exact). Check
Everything is so fresh, perfectly portioned and ready to cook--I am loving this! Not time to shop? How great to have a gourmet meal picked out and shipped to you, AND you get to cook it for complete control of freshness and timing, as opposed to take out. Here is the recipe graciously shared by 19 Charles.
Grass Fed Lamb Ragu with capers and mint over fresh Pasta
Prep: Dice the onion. Mince the garlic. Grate the Parmesan. Trim the lamb and cut into 1 inch cubes. Chop the parsley and mint. Set aside
Cook: Heat olive oil in a large pot and cook the onion until translucent. Add the garlic until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the lamb and cook until browned. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 45 minutes or until meat is tender. Add parsley, mint, salt and pepper to taste. (Be careful not to over-salt since the capers are salty). Meanwhile cook the pasta for 3-5 minutes for al dente.
Serve: Dress the salad as desired. Serve the pasta with sauce, capers and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Stir together right before eating. Enjoy the baguette on the side.
Editors Note: And of course pour yourself and your date a generous glass of a full bodied red wine to perfectly compliment this beautifully simple romantic meal for two.
Thank you for making my life easier, healthier and making my very special guest wanting more!
More About 19 Charles Street
Whip Up a Gourmet Meal at Home with Recipe, Fresh Ingredients and Easy Instructions
The idea for 19 Charles Street was born: It's a gourmet grocery and farmers market delivery service where you order by recipe and number of servings. The goal is to minimize waste (you'll receive as close to the exact amount of whatever you need) and provide the best ingredients available in NYC. The legwork is done for the customers. The philosophy is a lot like European grocery shopping -- ingredients come from specialty stories as well as the market. Deliveries take place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays because the produce is sourced from the Greenmarket that morning.
The recipes include new spins on classics, healthy versions of comfort food, and simplified high-end dishes. 19 Charles Street has also featured guest recipes from blogs like Not Without Salt and restaurants like Bell Book and Candle.
The founders are not chefs--they are avid home cooks, and that's the target market. These recipes are refined but not too difficult, and everything takes under an hour. The hope is that people will stay in and cook together, eat healthier food, and do their best to respect the planet. 19 Charles Street provides them with a product that can help them fulfill this goal.
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Posted by terry dagrosa at 11:11AM on April 24 in /
Monday April 22, 2013
While I love baby arugula and mixed green salads and all the different types of salads you can create using these soft greens, there is something about a romaine salad that is more filling and robust, not to mention its great "crunch". For a chopped romaine salad you could add a mix of whatever you have on hand such as: sliced endive or celery, apples, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, walnuts or pecans, avocado, and sections of grapefruit or oranges. Have fun with it...and of coure it is a pretty healthy dish!
Chopped Romaine Salad
- 1 head of Romaine Lettuce, bottom chopped off
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut in 1/2 inch chunks
- 1/4 cup of walnuts
- 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 1 avocado, thickly sliced and then cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 endive, cut into 1/2 inch rings
- 8 cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill
Place all ingredients in a large bowl, prepare salad dressing and pour over greens and mix well.
- 1/8 cup of olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/8 teaspoon of dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon of tamari soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of fresh dill, chopped
Mix together all ingredients and then whisk together to emulsify
Pour over salad and serve
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Posted by terry dagrosa at 11:11AM on April 22 in
Thursday April 18, 2013
Spring time was in the air while shopping at the farmers market this weekend. Finally sunshine and blue skies. Daffodils, Narcissus, and Hyacinths. And luscious spring vegetables like ramps, asparagus, baby artichokes and fresh peas. So to celebrate I happily picked up two dozen Narcissus flowers-pale yellow with bright orange centers that put a smile on your face; they look so lovely. For my springtime meal I whipped up a quick but simply delicious dinner: pan fried lamb chops, boiled baby red potatoes, and fresh peas garnished with mint. Yum!
Pan Fried Lamb Chops for Two
- Six lamb chops, about 1 inch thick
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon of dried, crushed Rosemary
- 1 teaspoon of country style dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- garnish: 4 mint leaves, roughly chopped
- Place lamb chops on a cutting board and salt and pepper both sides
- In a small bowl add garlic, rosemary, mustard and 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Brush this mixture all over the top of all lamb chops
- In a deep skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil, when hot, add all lamb chops - garlic mixture side down, and cook for 3 minutes
- Turn chops over and cook for 3-4 minutes for medium rare chops, test to ensure doneness by cutting one chop in the center
- Place three chops on each plate and garnish with mint
Peas with Fresh Mint
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 small white onion, cut in half, thinly sliced
- 2 cups of fresh peas, shelled
- 4 tablespoons of water, enough to cover bottom of pan
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon sweet butter
- 8 mint leaves, roughly chopped
- In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until translucent.
- Add peas and water, cook for three minutes
- Add mint leaves, salt and pepper
- Lower heat to medium, cover the skillet, and cook until peas are tender, about 3-4 minutes.
- Serve as is, or add a tab of sweet butter if you prefer.
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Posted by terry dagrosa at 09:09AM on April 18 in
main dish: lamb
Monday April 15, 2013
On this Meatless Monday here is something for seafood lovers, a very easy recipe with a seductive blend of flavors: Butterflied trout with currants, capers and pine nuts. I LOVE this dish--it is light meal that is sure to please and a very good choice for a "quickie" -- a fast dish that is impressive for a romantic meal for two.
But first, a note about capers. Capers taste especially good with fish and other foods that tend to be oily or rich. They come in many different sizes; apparently the smallest ones (nonpareils) are the best. I have always bought
vinegar-brined capers that come in a tall skinny jar. On a visit to one of my favorite cheese shops in upstate New York, Cheese Louise, I discovered salt-packed capers. Salted capers have a more "pure" taste and don't seem as strong as the vinegar packed variety. When using salt-packed capers be sure to look for a clean white salt and rinse well before using to remove the salt. I don't think I'll ever use the vinegar-brined capers again if I have the choice, these were definitely better and with a more sublime flavor.
Butterflied Trout with Currants, Capers, Pine Nuts in a Lemon Butter Sauce
- 1 tablespoon salted capers
- 1 butterflied whole trout, per person
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Flour, for dredging
- 3 tablespoons of Olive oil (add enough to cover the skillet bottom)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon, set juice aside
- 1 Tablespoon dried currants
- 2 Tablespoons pine nuts
- 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon
20 minutes before cooking, soak salted capers in cool water and rinse twice to remove salt
Squeeze the juice of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons), add to a cup or bowl and add dried currents
- Lay out the trout so the skin side is down and open up like a book. Season the flesh with salt and pepper.
- Lightly dredge both sides of the trout with flour, shaking off any excess.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat.
- When the pan is hot, add olive oil and swirl around to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat the oil until hot, lower heat to medium.
- Add the trout, flesh-side down, after a few minutes, swirl pan a bit so fish gets coated (to not stick to pan)
- Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
- Remove to a platter, cover with a lid or aluminum foil and keep warm. Cook the next trout
- Once all of the trout are cooked. Wipe the skillet with a paper towel and return to medium-high heat
- Add 2 tablespoons of butter, when melted, add the capers, currents and lemon juice and cook, swirling for 2 minutes.
- Add the remaining juice of 1/2 lemon and remove from the heat.
- In a small skillet, dry, heat the pine nuts
Plating the Dish
- Place the trout skin side down on a plate and keep open (like a book)
- Pour the butter sauce over the fish
- and garnish with the pine nuts
- Serve with your favorite sides - here we chose steamed string beans with butter and lemon juice and boiled baby yukon potatoes. Enjoy!
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Posted by terry dagrosa at 11:11AM on April 15 in
main dishes: seafood
Thursday April 11, 2013
by MK Burnell
Just to put the final cherry on top of our month Italian appreciation, here's a collection of sweet treats to finish off your multi-course masterpiece of Italian cooking. After putting away appetizers, contorni, and a generously sized entree or pasta dish, you might think you won't have room for dessert... but come on. There's always room for dessert.
A white chocolate parfait with flambeed cherries. Such a sumptuous dessert could only have been dreamed up in Italy!
Tasty little pine nut cookies make a sweet, nutty after-dinner treat. We like to top them with a little confectioner's sugar and cinnamon.
Soft, creamy and irresistible, a good tiramisu is one of the most heavenly desserts in the world. Perfect your own from-scratch tiramisu recipe - trust us, it's worth it!
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Posted by terry dagrosa at 11:11AM on April 11 in /
Tuesday April 09, 2013
It was hard to separate ourselves from the coast and head back north. We had planned to spend our last four nights in Florence to break up the trip home. In the days before our train, we started checking the weather compulsively, praying that it wouldn't be cold already in Florence, that the sun might last a bit longer...
We lucked out and had beautiful weather. Our last days in Italy were spent wandering the birthplace of the Renaissance and sitting at outdoor cafes watching crowds pass by. In the high season in Florence, reservations are mandatory for any restaurant and hotel prices can be astronomical. In February though, we found ourselves in a small hotel in a building from the 12th century, paying almost half the high season price.
Our first night in Florence, walking out from the hotel without any destination in mind, we came across a piazza full of beautiful sculptures, then a little farther the famous dome of the Florence Cathedral. Sitting down at a small unassuming cafe, we had a plate of local cheeses and cured meats with a glass of chianti that was truly remarkable. I was reminded of Anna's comments our first meal in Bologna about the quality of the ingredients, and eating through a dish so simple as cheese and salami, I realized she was right - even the simplest plates are wonders in Italy.
The night before our departure, some friends of Anna's who live in Florence brought us to a family restaurant in a residential area outside the center. The owner was an elderly couple, and while the wife took orders and distributed dishes, the husband wandered the small dining room keeping up an endless stream of chatter with each group of diners. When we came in he took one look at Anna and asked us: "Bimbo o Bimba?" - is it a boy or a girl?
"Bimbo," she said. He congratulated us, and as we were seated he poured us all a glass of wine, even for Anna in spite of her declining. Amidst an endless stream of Italian that we couldn't possibly follow, he proposed a toast and we all joined.
The next morning the train took us once more over the alps, this time heading home via Milan, Zurich, and Strasbourg. When we got off the train we had our scarves and coats back in place, and even though it was just a two week escape, it felt like we had been gone for years.
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Posted by terry dagrosa at 11:11AM on April 09 in