Thursday, August 3, 2017

Peach Cheesecake with Blueberry Topping

Since the weather is awfully sweltering here in Oregon, I thought what better way than to share a cool dessert such as this peach cheesecake?  Every summer, we've always had fresh picked peaches from a friend's farm in Canby.  There's a joy of wanting for special fruits or produce when they're in season.  I love how in the summer, there's fruits to eat based on what's ripening that week.  I've had local watermelon now that they're available and boy, they're much sweeter than other variety!

I've made several things with peaches but never in a cheesecake.  This one is quite simple, basically the peaches are diced then marinated in whiskey.  In this case, I did it with Grand Marnier because that's what I have.  Then I make the crumbs and cheesecake batter.  Finally it's baked in a 350F oven.  Whether you want to bake it with water-bath method or straight bake method is up to you.  I've tried both and there's things I like with both method.  The only drawback with the straight bake one is that the cheesecake is prone to cracking.  But if you like to top it with something, sometimes it doesn't really matter.

The blueberry topping and caramel sauce is my spur of the moment additions.  I had plenty of blueberries in the fridge that I would like to use up.  They go together nicely!

Peach Cheesecake with Blueberry Topping

Serves 10 to 12

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup diced peeled peaches (about 2 medium)
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or whiskey
3 packages (each 8 oz/250g) cream cheese, softened
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blueberry topping:
2 cups fresh blueberries, picked over
1/4 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Caramel sauce, homemade or store-bought

To make the crust:  In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter.  Press into bottom of cheesecake pan and freeze.

To make the filling:  In a small bowl, combine peaches and Grand Marnier.  Set aside

In a mixer bowl, fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, yogurt and brown sugar on medium-high speed until very smooth, for 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Fold in soaked peaches, with juices, and vanilla by hand.

Pour over frozen crust, smoothing out to sides of pan.  Bake in a preheated oven until top is light brown and center has a slight jiggle to it, 45 to 55 minutes.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 2 hours.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.

To make blueberry topping:  In a saucepan, combine blueberries, sugar and orange zest.  In a small bowl, mix together orange juice and cornstarch; pour this mixture into the saucepan.  Cook in medium heat until blueberries pop, bubbly and start to thicken, about 6-8 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.

When ready to serve, drizzle some caramel sauce on a plate, place a slice of cheesecake and drizzle some blueberry topping on top.

Source:  adapted from The Cheesecake Bible by George Geary

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Triple-Berry Pie with Pecan Crumb Topping

When I went picking a couple of weeks ago, I saw that tayberries were still available and Marionberries were beginning to ripen.  I decided to pick just a few cups thinking that I'd make berry pies.  I had in mind a pie with crumb toppings after making a double-crust pie already.

So here's what I made with those berries, a triple-berry pie with blueberries, tayberries and Marionberries.  I fell in love with tayberries this summer.  The flavor is more delicate that the other blackberry variety; it's said to have a floral and aromatic flavor.  It's a little bit too late to make jam from tayberry this year but I vow to try it next year.  I'm already thinking of infusing the jam with tea.

My family loves this triple-berry pie because apparently the combo works!  The crumb topping has crunchy pecan and toothsome oats.  Often I have too much crumb topping but I usually put them in a bag and freeze them until I need them again.  Good thing I have a few 4-inch tart pans lined with leftover pie crusts that I stored in the freezer.  The blueberries got made into these little pans with lemon zest, the juice, a few teaspoons of cornstarch, some sprinkling of cinnamon and some sugar.  The tart baked quicker than the whole pie and it's equally as good!

The bottom picture is what my individual blueberry tart looks like.  They're gone in a couple of days!

My advice is to stock up with whipped cream or ice cream to eat these various pies/tarts in the summer!  No wonder I can't store anything else more important in my fridge! :D

Triple-Berry Pie with Pecan Crumb Topping

Serves 8 to 10

1 dough (makes single piecrust) from All-Butter Piecrust, refrigerated

For Filling:
1 1/4 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/4 cups fresh Marionberries
1 1/2 cups fresh tayberries
1/2 cup sugar--taste your berries, if they're particularly sour, add more sugar.  I personally like less sweet of filling
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

For Pecan Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 400 degree F.

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle.  Drape the dough onto the rolling pin and invert it into a 9-inch pie pan.  Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching in.  Trim the edges and fold under.  Crimp edges decoratively.  Place in the freezer while you're readying the filling and crumb topping.

Combine the berries in a large bowl.  Fold in sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt.  Mix cornstarch, lemon juice and zest in a small bowl.  Pour into the filling and stir.  Set aside.

Blend flour, grown sugar and salt in a food processor.  Add butter; using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles fine moist clumps.  Add pecans and oats.  Using on/off turns, do a few turn just until nuts and oats are combined.

Take the pie crust and fill it with berry mixture, smooth the mixture with a spoon.  Sprinkle pecan topping evenly over the fruits.  Mound it in the center a bit but do not overfill.  I like just enough crumbs to about 1/4-inch thick around the edges, perhaps.  Freeze the remaining crumbs for the next pie project.

Bake pie at bottom rack for 25-30 minutes.  If necessary, place an old baking pan on the oven floor to catch the juice overflowing from the pie.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degree F.  Continue baking until topping is brown and juices bubble thickly, about 30-40 minutes.  If necessary, tent the topping with foil if it browns too fast.  Cool pie on rack 1 hour.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cherry-Almond Coffee Cake

Last week my family went cherry picking at Hood River and some two cups of those cherries went into this coffee cake.  We picked mostly Bings and some Rainier too.  The wind was blowing hard while we picked the fruits but the view was still gorgeous.  Lots of sunshine and surprisingly not many people went picking that day.

We went to the same farm, Hood River U-Pick Organic Cherries, last year as well.  Their fruits are large, sweet and easy to pick so we're happy to be back this year.  And as usual, we picked more than we can eat in a day or two :)  

Making a coffee cake is an easy way to use up the cherries.  It then can be served as dessert or snack.  This particular one is spot on, not too sweet, has tender crumbs and stay moist for a few days.  I meant to soak the cherries in kirschwasser but forgot, so feel free to soak the fruits if you like for overnight, I bet it'll be even tastier!

Cherry-Almond Coffee Cake

Serves 12

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature plus more for the pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups slivered almonds
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sour cream
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half

Preheat oven to 375 degree F.  Butter an angel food cake pan.  In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl, combine the almonds, brown sugar and cinnamon; transfer half to a second bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and 2 sticks butter to combine, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the almond extract.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.  Mix in the sour cream until just combined (the batter should be very thick).

Scoop half of the batter into the prepared pan, spreading to evenly distribute it, and sprinkle with the walnut mixture.  Scatter cut cherries on top of mixture.  Top with the remaining batter and sprinkle with the remaining topping.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degree F and bake until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes more.  Let the cake cool completely in the pan before unmolding and serving.

Source:  adapted from Woman's Day, December 2016/January 2017

Friday, June 30, 2017

Strawberry-Raspberry No-Churn Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks

The title says it all, it's a combo of two different berries that I picked this past week, along with chopped bittersweet chocolate. The idea came because I wanted to make ice cream, the easy way.  I found recipes for no-churn ice cream and decided to try it.  This particular recipe uses less sweetened condensed milk than other recipes which made me think it's less sweet.  Other recipes use one can of that stuff but with the same amount of whipping cream; that I think is way too sweet.  But maybe I shouldn't say anything before trying it out :D

And I also recently tried a new flavor of jam after reading new books about preserving, raspberry "lemonade" jam.  It's made with raspberries, lemon juice, honey, and pectin.  I love the flavor combination and thought that the jam will go together with strawberry base ice cream.  As if it's not enough, I went ahead and chopped bittersweet chocolate to add to the ice cream.  Since I haven't provided the recipe for the jam, a regular strawberry jam can be used to make this ice cream.

When I was ready to serve this, I also had some strawberries left.  I was thinking of making something quick and easy, thus strawberry sauce was conceived :)  This sauce was the bomb because the strawberries were fresh and I picked the right variety for it.  Something that's made from in-season fruits always turn out to be the best in flavor.  I just love how fresh-picked strawberries smell!  Eating the ice cream with the sauce after dinner has become the highpoint of our summer days.

I set aside a few cupful of the ice cream for making ice cream sandwich.  Now I didn't make the cookies myself but I have Chips Ahoy! Thin Double Chocolate in the pantry.  It's a fine substitute in a pinch.  Well, well, everybody loves it!  Now I'm gonna probably play around with other flavor this summer and make more ice cream sandwich.

Strawberry-Raspberry No-Churn Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks

Serves 8-10

1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup finely diced strawberries
1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup jam, raspberry or strawberry jam, warmed just until loosen up

In a large bowl whisk together vanilla extract with sweetened condensed milk and salt.

With a mixer, whip heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form.  Fold the cream into the condensed milk mixture.  Fold the diced strawberries and chocolate.

Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap or wax paper.  Spoon half of the ice cream mixture.  Add half of jam, swirl with butter knife.  Spoon the rest of the ice cream mixture and then swirl the last half of the jam.  Press plastic wrap onto the surface of ice cream and wrap tightly.  Freeze until firm, or for at least 12 hours before serving.

Let ice cream stands for 10 minutes or so before scooping.  At this time, you can scoop a spoonful into one cookie, press another cookie on top.  Smooth the sides with a small offset spatula.  Wrap the ice cream cookies an freeze until firm again.

Source:  adapted from Belly Full

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Fresh Strawberry Pie

I'm so happy that local strawberries are finally available.  With a longer cool season that made its way till June, I thought I wouldn't see berries ripening or even happening this month.  But, it's here and that's what makes me rejoice!

As I mentioned before, I'm running out of strawberry jam stock so I really need to replenish it.  With the strawberries, I love the flavor of local strawberries over supermarket variety, especially the Hood variety.  It's my go-to strawberry to pick for making jam and when it's in season I have to act quick or they'd be gone.  Last Sunday I dragged my family to Beaverton area, precisely to Hoffman Farms, to help me pick strawberries.  I've gone to this farm for about 2 years in a row and I really like their fruits.

This year is the first year I've picked strawberries though.  I was expecting muddy field, but they've lined the path between the rows with straws so that we didn't have to muck around in the mud.  It rained the day before and it was kind of cloudy on the day, so we always expect the worse in this Oregon weather.

There are 4 types of strawberries available and we picked Hood, Albion and Sweet Sunrise.  Like I said the Hood was made into jam; I got 5 pints out of almost 5 pounds.  The Albion will be eaten fresh, and the slightly tart-more on sweet Sweet Sunrise was made into this fresh pie.  I was glad I picked this variety because it has character and it suited this pie.

I didn't plan ahead on making pie but as it happens, I had 2 homemade pie crusts sitting in the freezer.  So it's an impromptu dessert.  I used my favorite pie crust recipe, which was used in making this Sweet Potato Pie.  What I like about it is that it makes 3 crusts which is quite handy; I can make a double crust pie and a single crust pie right away.  I think it's time to make another batch so I'm ready for the next dessert day!

Anyway, as with a fresh fruit pie, it's a messy eating but it's deliciously out of the world.  We love serving a slice with whipped cream, and we don't mind if the pie looks lopsided or is too runny!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Serves 8

1 recipe double-crust pie dough,  see this recipe

8 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
2/3 cup sugar or more depending on how tart the strawberries are (mine were sweet enough that I didn't need to add a lot of it)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated fresh orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
Milk for glaze
2 teaspoons sugar

Roll one disk of dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured counter, then fit it into a 9-inch pie plate, letting the excess dough hang over the edge; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Roll the other disk of dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured counter, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Toss strawberries and 2/3 cup of sugar in a large bowl.  Let sit for about 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position; place a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 425F.

Drain the fruit thoroughly on a colander, reserving 1/4 cup of the juice.  In a large bowl, mix together the drained fruit, cornstarch, orange zest, vanilla extract and salt.  If the fruit tastes tart, add more sugar gradually until it suits your taste.

Dump the fruit into the dough-lined pie plate, mounding it slightly in the middle.  Cover the top with the second piece of dough.  Trim, fold and crimp the edges and cut 8 vent holes in the top.  Brush the crust with milk and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar.

Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 375F, rotate the baking sheet, and continue to bake until the crust is golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes longer.  Let the pie cool on a wire rack until the filling has set, about 2 hours; serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Source: filling adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book