Healthy Kitchen Smells Fresh

August 25, 2009

Simple Basic Cheesecake with Lemon Curd Topping

Filed under: Bakings, Cakes, Desserts, Uncategorized — nshahida @ 12:02 am

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Creamy, rich, decadent and very satisfying, this basic cheesecake recipe.  Plus all  ingredients are easy to be found at your local supermarket wherever you are. I can vouch it because I made this very recipe a few times for my family back home, Malaysia.

This easy to follow recipe I adapted from some of my cookbook ,gathered and finalized them as one recipe. The outcome is impressively amazing to look at , once it hits your taste buds.. you know you are addicted. Light, citrus-y , sweet not overly – delicious . The crust is easy to make as well. I used regular tea biscuit or we call it ‘biskut marie’.

As for the topping, you can definitely remix with your own creativity but it’s totally up to you.. some day it’s better with the decoration and the other days just go plain. Either way works as great. I love it without any toppings but this time I made lemon curd slathered on top of my cheesecake for a change. I tried with fruit jam as the topping, everyone loved it. Or… drizzle it with melted chocolate.. yumm!!

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Simple Basic New York Style Cheesecake. ( Makes 8 medium slices)

Source : Luscious Lemon Dessert (Triple-lemon Cheesecake) by Lori Longbotham

The Professional Pastry Chef ( New York Style Cheesecake ) by Bo Friberg

For the crust, you can use any type of cookies/biscuits or digestive biscuits such as vanilla wafer, graham crackers, oreo cookies without the cream – this is recommended , Mc Vities biscuits and the like. I used Marie tea biscuits and it works wonderfully, inexpensive and always in my pantry.

If you have springform pan , use it if otherwise, a medium round pie pan works just fine. I didn’t have any problem using regular baking pan , it is that we need to be careful when slicing the cake so that it won’t crumble or fall apart.

For the Crust:

  • 1 ½ cups Marie tea biscuits crumbs ( approximately 15-16 medium size biscuits processed in a food processor or even in a dry clean blender.. trust me, it works)
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melt in a microwave or on stove, let it cool at room temperature. ( if salted butter is used , please omit the salt)

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Methods:

1- First off, preheat the oven to 375 F / 190 Celsius . Butter the bottom and side of a 8 – inch springform or round baking pan.

Crust 1

Crust 2

Crust 3

2- Stir together the crumbs , brown sugar , salt and cooled melted butter with a fork or rubber spatula in a medium bowl until well combined. Press firmly and evenly the crumb mixture into the bottom and the side of the pan with your hands. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the the crust is set. Let cool on a wire rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 F / 163 Celsius .

For the cheesecake:

  • 2 packages ( 8 oz each) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour or cornstarch
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime or lemon
  • 1 ½ teaspoon lemon or lime juice
  • 1 whole large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks , at room temperature
  • ½ cup (125 mL) plain yogurt
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Methods:

Filling 1

1- Mix the cream cheese and granulated sugar together using electric mixture at low speed, until completely smooth. Mix in the cornstarch or all purpose flour, lemon/lime zest, lemon/lime juice. Mix until smooth, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add in the whole egg and egg yolks, one at a time, blending thoroughly with spatula after each addition until well incorporated. Incorporate plain yogurt and cooled melted butter .

Filling 2

2- Pour this mixture into the prepared crust. Slowly tilt the pan to even out the mixture.

3- Bake in the preheated oven at 325 F / 163 Celsius until set, approximately 40 – 45 minutes or until the center is almost set but still slightly jiggly ( just like when we make agar-agar or pudding). Do not overbake; the cheesecake will firm as it cools.

4- Cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate the cheesecake in its pan, loosely covered, for at least 8 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

5- Ready to serve if you are not planning for the topping. Slice it with a sharp knife , into wedges and serve.

I proceeded with the topping before serving, again, this is optional.

Filling 3

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Spread the lemon curd over the top of the cheesecake. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes or chilled in the refrigerator for another 1 hour.

Cut into wedges and serve.

August 20, 2009

Pizza Dough Recipe

Filed under: Bakings, Breads, Savories, Side Dishes — nshahida @ 1:18 am

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To all muslim around the world including myself, Ramadhan Mubarak! Food blogging will be slowed a bit, I guess not only during this very blessed month.. the  previous months seemed to be in the same pace. I am sorry for that and not to forget, I owe updates to some posts.. iA will get to it whenever time permits.

When my sister, Sw asked me about a basic pizza dough recipe the other day, I realized I actually haven’t made pizza for a very long time; about a half year I might say. Thanks to her, that was a good wake up call.

I made pizza over the years and have discovered so many different recipes and to my surprise.. they are several kind of them – Neapolitan style and Chicago style ( deep dish) are most popular American fast food . I love to stick with the Neapolitan style which the pizza is baked at a very high temperature and crust itself kept thin but not too thin. The topping of course can be made variety , some people prefer the classic Italian pizza with tomato marinara sauce ,  slices mozzarella cheese, sprinkles of dried oregano leaves and may be  2-3 more add ins. If you like to go the other way such as curry pizza or chocolate drizzle pizza , please do so as long as you enjoy it.

Homemade caramelized Onions topping pizza

Homemade caramelized Onions topping pizza

I like my pizza variety such as caramelized onions on top, sometimes without cheese , loaded with veggies and meat if I wish to go healthier . However, despite of thousands of varieties, the Italian Classic is always on top of all. Anyway, here is one of my favorite never fail pizza dough recipes. This recipe is easier to handle and work with, if you are beginner, try this one and you will have every right to be proud of yourself.

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough

Source: The Professional Pastry Chef

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

  • 1 teaspoons Instant dry yeast (or 30 g fresh yeast)
  • 1 ½ (360 mL) water, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (5 g) white sugar
  • ¼ Tablespoons (60 mL) Extra virgin olive oil or Vegetable oil
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 mL) honey ( or another 2 Tablespoons white sugar)
  • 4 ½ cups ( 570 g) all purpose flour or bread flour, more for dusting
  • Enough Semolina flour or cornmeal ( or all purpose flour if that is all you have) for baking sheet

Methods:

1- In a large mixer bowl, dissolve the yeast in water by stirring with wooden spoon or fork. If using fresh yeast , squeezing the yeast with fingers .

2- Mix in the sugar, olive oil, salt and honey.

3- Add the flour and knead with dough hook ( I used my hands) until the dough has a smooth , elastic consistency, about 10 minutes.

4- Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turn coat both sides with oil, cover with plastic bag or damp kitchen towel, and let rise in warm and draft free place until slightly less than doubled in volume, about 40 – 50 minutes.

5- Place the dough, covered in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours ( the longer the better- this process makes our pizza dough more flavorful and also makes the dough easy to work with). Return to room temperature before proceeding, ( from my experience, it took me about 45 – 50 minutes but it depends on temperature in your kitchen.)

Pizza 1

6- At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, preheat the oven as hot as your oven can reach, at least 500 F / 260 Celsius. Dust the baking sheet with semolina flour or cornmeal or all purpose flour.

7- Divide the dough in 6 balls. On a floured board, roll and stretch the dough with your hands to make each piece into a circle, 10 to 12 inches (25 to 35 cm) in diameter . ( it depends how thick or thin you want your pizza, the thicker the smaller in diameter and vice versa). If the dough gets a little sticky, sprinkle a little bit more of flour, don’t forget to generously flour your hands, too.

( Note : you can definitely use a rolling pin to roll and stretch your pizza dough but from what I read from many pizza experts, they say stretching with hands give better texture to the final result, to be honest I see the different so try compare yourself)

Pizza 2

8- Top as desired, place it on a prepared thin baking sheet and bake in your preheated oven, bake one at a time. Allow the crust to brown on the bottom and the cheese melted, 10 – 12 minutes , another 2-3 minutes if not browned yet. Do not overbake the pizza.

Note: If you are in a hurry or your oven does not work , try grill it on your pan. On a stove, preheat your pan on high, sprinkle with semolina or cornmeal then place the pizza dough on the pan , let it brown and cook through.

August 5, 2009

Summer Berries Crostata ( Rustic Pie)

Filed under: Bakings, Desserts, Snacks, Uncategorized — nshahida @ 10:31 pm

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I will update more on this later..iA but nothing more interesting than the recipe itself, correct? So feel free to try this with your own creativity and variation for the filling.. make it fascinating.

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Summer Berries Crostata (Rustic Pie)

Source: Ina Garten Cookbook, (Ina at home)

Ingredients

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For the pastry (makes 2 crostatas)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated or superfine sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) ice water.

For the pastry:

Methods:

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and toss quickly (and carefully!) with your fingers to coat each cube of butter with the flour. Pulse 12 to 15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board, roll it into a ball, cut in half, and form into 2 flat disks. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. If you only need 1 disk of dough The other disk of dough can be frozen.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer it to the baking sheet

For the filling (makes 1 crostata)

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh cherries , seeded and sliced in half
  • 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 Tablespoon for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh milk, for brushing, optional

For the filling:

Methods:

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1-Place blueberries and cherries in a bowl. Toss them with 1 tablespoon of the flour, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the orange zest, and the orange juice.

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Place the mixed fruit on the dough circle, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border.

2-Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the fruit. Gently fold the border of the pastry over the fruit, pleating it to make an edge. Brush the pastry with fresh milk. Sprinkle with a little bit of sugar.

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3-Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the fruit is tender. Let the crostata cool for 5 minutes, then use 2 large spatulas to transfer it to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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July 30, 2009

Roti Canai (Malaysian Paratha)

Filed under: Asians, Breads, Breakfasts, Cooking, Malaysians, Savories, Side Dishes, Snacks — nshahida @ 12:42 am

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I have never imagined myself making Roti Canai on my own. Thought roti canai is the most difficult thing to make.Grew up watching my aunt; from kneading to stretching this roti I knew I would fail this mission if I were to make one.

I wasn’t wrong at all. The first time, the 2nd also… is very predictable what would the outcome be… the bad one always goes to the chicken, you know it. Would I say Roti Canai is very tricky to make? Yes it is to me. But is it impossible? No, it is not. Because finally I made it, so can you.

To get the dough consistency correctly is what makes it adventurous,  I had to ask around including my mother-in-law(MIL) who makes  very good roti canai. With some of her tips I benefited, I should thank her. Oh yes, I did!!

Stretching roti canai.. It scared me big time. Safe to say, even more challenging, but not after several practices! Just like the one professional pizza makers do – they stretch and throw, almost exactly. I still remember, I learnt stretching and throwing my wet kitchen towel and got caught by hubby, he wondered what I was trying to do, some workout routine? Aha… may be!!  Well, it can also be done by stretching out the dough on a big plate till the dough gets really thin, according to my MIL. I think it’s a genius idea too!

The best part is when it just cooked – warm, flaky and soft. Serve it with Dhall Curry with dollop of Sambal (chili sauce)… or dip in anything… try with a little bit condensed milk, trust me… you couldn’t get any hyper-ly happier.

Now, isn’t it piece of cake!! You think?

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Roti Canai (Makes 8-9 medium size roti)

4 ½ cups all purpose flour ( Extra 1-2 teaspoons if needed)

1 tsp fine salt

1 cup water ( 250 mL)

1 large egg , room temperature

¼ cup condensed milk

1 Tablespoon melted butter

Enough canola or other cooking oil and butter for submerging/soaking / coating and stretching .

Methods:

1- In a large mixing bowl, mix all purpose flour with salt. Make a well in the center.

2- In a small bowl, stir together water, egg, condensed milk and melted butter until mixed.

3- Gradually pour in the mixture from small bowl ( wet mixture) into the prepared well in the large mixing bowl.

4- Using fingers to work the flour into the liquid until we can form a ball. Knead the dough until it is very smooth but we might notice the dough is a little sticky. Do not add flour just yet.. Keep kneading for about 10 minutes in total.

5- Cover the dough with kitchen towel and let it rest for 15 minutes.

( Note: This process helps the dough absorb the liquid evenly and to relax the gluten ever so slightly.)

6- Continue to knead the dough for another 8-10 minutes until elastic and feels like satin. Now, at this point.. we will notice that dough will be no longer sticky. BUT if it still is.. please add only one teaspoon. Continue kneading. Cover and let is rest once again for another 15 minutes. ( Kneading resting process helps minimizing development of the gluten and makes stretching and shaping the roti way easier without over tearing it.)

7- Knead the dough , this is to assure that all ingredients are evenly absorbed. At this point, we should be able to get a very elastic and smooth dough.

8- Divide the dough into half. Divide each half into 5-6, repeat with the other half, we will get 10-12 portion total. Form each portion into a ball.

Roti Canai How to's

9- Now, it’s an optional whether to coat the balls with butter or oil.

If we choose butter, grease the bottom of a large pan with generous amount of soften butter so the balls won’t stick. Then generously coat each ball with butter, please make sure that each of them are well coated otherwise they stick to each other.

If we choose submerge them in large amount of oil, simple!! Pour small amount of oil into a medium bowl.. enough to coat the bottom of the bowl. Add the balls , all of them.. yes, lay them stack on each other.. don’t worry, they won’t stick cause you will add more oil into the bowl enough to cover the top of the balls.

To my personal opinion, submerging into cooking oil is much easier to work  with , plus if coating with butter.. still we will need some amount of oil while working on the dough later.

10- Cover the bowl/pan with plastic wrap. Let them rest in the refrigerator for more than 4 hours. Preferably overnight, 12 hours.

11- We are ready for the adventure ; shaping, stretching and frying. Before that, remove the bowl/pan from the refrigerator, let them sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Just so the dough will be easy to work on.

12- Working on the dough, we need a large working space – about 35 inch  or bigger table , counter top etc. With palm, press each balls to make 5 inch diameter disk, one at a time. Let them rest for another 5 – 8 minutes. ( yes, a lot of resting require to minize the gluten from developing.)

13- This time we will have to play with oil.. lotsa oil.. Oil the working surface/board .. including our hands.. oil them generously. Oil prevents friction between our hands and the dough and between the dough and the working surface. Oil also keeps the dough moist. This is very important method to be followed otherwise we will have difficulty to stretch the dough really thin and the dough will stick and messy and tearing everywhere.

14- Start with the first pressed dough, lay the dough on oiled working surface.Brush the dough with oil  or oil plus melted butter. Lightly press in middle of the dough with fingers, from the center.. start pulling and stretching the dough evenly. Be careful not to tear it esp in the middle because the tear will grow bigger as your stretch and you really need to start over. Just lightly press it until we get about 8-9 inches disk. If by chance the dough spring back when stretching, let it rest for 5 minutes and then come back.

15- If the dough gets dry, brush more oil. Then work at the edges, with the heel of palm, press the edges .. stretching the dough evenly so as not to tear it and working all around the dough in a circle.

16- Oil our hands and the dough again. Take the dough from one edge with one hand. Slam the dough quickly and working all around in circle the same way. This is what we call ‘kebar/tebar’ or stretching roti canai. Repeat until the dough gets really thin and translucent. There will be tears and holes at the edges, do not worry, they will be covered by the many layers on untorn part.

If this method is found tricky .. yes it is for the beginner. Here is another method we can try.

On oiled big plate, lay the dough in the middle. Stretch  dough (See step 14 and 15) until we get to edges of the plate. Keep oiling the dough if it start to dry out. Stretch and pull into thinner sheet.

17- Bring one side of the thin dough to center. The other side to center to form a long dough. . If we can get air trapped in the thin sheet at this point, don’t press air out as it would give a lighter fluffier result.

Roti Canai How to's 1

18. Hold one end upwards and the other end on the working surface. Swirl it down to form a  piece of  swirly turban . Let it rest for about 15 minutes, the longer the better ( reason? Because later we will  pat it to make a larger and thinner turban, so we need to rest the gluten again to make it easy to shape it.)

Repeat step no.13 – 18 with the rest of the balls.

19- Pat the turban dough with tips of our fingers. If needed,Only slightly stretching required. Pat until 10-12 inches disk is formed. Preheat  a medium pan on medium heat, pan fry/cook the roti . Flip on the other side when it start to bubble , slightly brown and crisp. Keep flipping until cooked. Repeat with the remaining.

20- Serve it warm with Dhall Curry with dollop of sambal or anything to your liking.

Roti Canai

Troubleshooting and Notes to success :

1- Whole wheat flour is not recommended for this recipe.

2- This is important to get a very elastic dough before resting it, too soft dough may cause lots of holes and tears on the thin dough. The right consistency of the dough is very crucial in making roti canai.

3-  I know, this roti canai method requires several of resting process but I can vouch you, iA.. the end result that make you thank yourself. It worth the waiting. Flaky, light and pliable soft roti canai is what we aim for.

4- Work the dough very quickly to avoid the dough from drying and tearing.

5- Brushing the dough with oil and butter makes our roti canai flakier and layery . Either way works just fine.

6- Do not overcook the roti canai cause it will get too flaky, dry out and crumbly.

Storing:

If cooked fully, store them in a clean and dry Ziploc, refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. If planned for longer storing, cooked the roti just until bubbled and slightly crisp , lay each half cooked roti canai on a parchment paper, stack on each other. Place in a Ziploc /freezer bag, double it. Freeze for up to 4 months.

July 26, 2009

Explosively Delicious Banana Muffins

Filed under: Bakings, Breads, Breakfasts, Cakes, Desserts, Snacks — nshahida @ 12:33 am

Banana Muffins

What would you make when your bananas go uber and unpleasantly juicy with the flesh oozes out from the cracked skin? Not so pleasant to be devoured just as is – though they smells great when they go overly ripen . If you ask me, I’d say Banana Bread at most . Can’t go wrong with banana bread with some favorite add ins of mine – bitter still sweet chocolate chip or bites of chopped toasted walnuts or spice it up with hint of cinnamon .. ginger it a little bit… or may be the combination of all. Plain as is , you ask me? Why not, right..

Whenever I wish to go on the fancy side.. I transform loaf size into muffin. How? Of course by scooping out the batter into a muffin pan.. then tadaaa!! let it be as fancy as I imagine. As long as the end result pleases everyone…

I adapted the recipe from Ina’s Tri-berry Breakfast muffin with some major alteration, it’s obvious.. isn’t it? I love this recipe and all I could think of is.. I’d make this over and over.

Or.. do you have any other suggestions?

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Banana Muffins (Makes 16-18 medium muffins)

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger ( optional)
2/3 cup milk
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup butter, melted and cooled

½ cup canola oil
3 over ripen medium bananas, ( about 1 cup)  mashed till smooth
1 cup white sugar

Add ins:

½ cup walnuts, Toasted and chopped

1/3 bittersweet choc chips

Methods:

1- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

2- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger (if using) together in a large bowl. Stir with your hand to be sure the ingredients are combined. In another bowl, combine the milk, mashed bananas, eggs, canola oil and melted butter. Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture, pour the wet mixture into the well, and stir until just combined. There will be some lumps but don’t overmix the batter! Add the chopped walnuts, choc chips and sugar and stir gently to combine.

3- Using a 2¼-inch ice cream scoop, spoon the batter into the muffin cups to fill the liners. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and the tops are nicely browned.

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