Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pie and chowder!

I was out of town last week so all I wanted to do this weekend was cook!

First up.. for my parent's Sunday dinner I brought Carol's Blueberry Lemon Chiffon Cheesecake. Carol is a dear relative and she is an excellent cook! She put this recipe together and shared it with me. This crust was the first thing I made with my Cuisinart and boy was it easy! For some reason I have been intimidated by the machine but now I do not see how I have lived without it! I also do not see how I could ever eat ready made graham cracker crusts again!
(pardon the paper towel.. the topping kept leaking out of the pan...)

Carol's Blueberry Lemon Chiffon Cheesecake
8 sheets honey graham crackers
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar

Mix all ingredient in food processor. Press in bottom and up sides in 10-inch pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Let cool.

1/2 cup sugar
dash of cinnamon
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup lemonade concentrate
3/4 pound washed blueberries

Mix first 5 ingredients (sugar through lemonade concentrate) in a saucepan and heat to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened. Turn off heat and stir in blueberries. Let sit to allow some blueberries to pop and to thicken and cool.

1 can sweetened condensed milk, cooled in refrigerator
2 - 8 oz packages 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
6 oz lemonade concentrate
1 tsp vanilla
9 oz Cool Whip, softened

Beat condensed milk for several minutes. Add cream cheese, lemonade concentrate and vanilla and beat until well blended. Fold in Cool Whip until just blended. Mixture will be thick.

Spread cream cheese mixture into crust, piling high and leaving a slight indention in the center. Add topping and refrigerate until serving.

For lunches this week I made Summer Squash and Corn Chowder. Changes I made (everyone knows I make changes!):
  • skipped the bacon
  • added 3 red potatoes. I diced the potatoes and sauteed in olive oil for several minutes while I prepped the rest of the vegetables.
  • used yellow onions instead of green, and added the onions, squash and celery to the potatoes to soften.
  • used 4 ears of fresh corn rather than frozen corn.
  • added twice as much fresh thyme since I have it in my herb garden and I love thyme.
  • added salt to both the potatoes and when I added the rest of the vegetables. I then just needed a little more at the end.

This is a very tasty, sweet hearty chowder that should freeze well.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Preserves

For the past couple of months I have been making jams and jellies whenever I can, rushing to preserve some summer fruits while they are in season. It started when I found a vendor selling mayhaw jelly at the Kingwood Farmers' Market. My Memaw used to make mayhaw jelly every year, but there aren't many people left willing to venture into the swamps of East Texas to gather wild mayhaws. I left the farmers' market with a jar of jelly and the phone number of the mayhaw farmer. Joe, Mom, Memaw and I traveled down many miles of dirt roads in the Big Thicket to find the elusive mayhaw farm, and I've been canning everything I can get my hands on since.

My favorite cookbook so far is an English translation of Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber, apparently known as the fairy godmother of jams in France. She includes several jam recipes that incorporate chocolate, which sounded too good to be true. Raspberries were on sale for $1 per pack at Randall's last weekend, so it was time to give chocolate jam a try.

Raspberry with Chocolate Jam

2 3/4 pounds raspberries, or 2 1/4 pounds, net
3 1/2 Cups granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
9 ounces extra bittersweet chocolate

Ferber recommends that you omit rinsing the raspberries to preserve their fragrance. I picked out a few leaves, and processed them through the fine disk of the food mill I've been waiting for an excuse to buy.

The recipe instructs you to grate the chocolate, but I just chopped it finely since it will be melted in the very hot raspberry syrup. Ferber recommends a chocolate with about 70% cocoa content. I used a Dove chocolate with 71% cocoa. Three packages have just over 9 oz, so there will some to spare for tasting by the chef.

In a large pan you will mix together your raspberry puree, lemon juice and sugar and bring to a full boil. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes. I was using a candy thermometer and boiled just slightly longer, until I reached about 218ยบ.

Stir in your chocolate, cover the mixture with parchment, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, return your mixture to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Check the set. (It should sheet from a spoon, or mound without running on a chilled plate.) Ladle the jam into sterilized jars and seal.

That's the end of the Ferber recipe, but U.S. standards call for a boiling water bath for preserves. I did go ahead and process the sealed jars in boiling water for 10 minutes for that extra piece of mind. After the boiling water bath the jars need to be left on the counter to cool for 24 hours.

I've already used some of this jam as a filling in thumbprint cookies. It could be warmed to drizzle over ice cream or french toast. I'm also looking forward to enjoying some with a croissant.

And here are the other canning projects that have been keeping me busy this summer:

I can't take credit for the label designs. I found labels I loved on another blog and have created a few new graphics for the jams I've been making.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

O'Henry Bars!

I have been craving peanut butter lately. And what makes peanut butter even more delicious? CHOCOLATE! These O'Henry Bars utilize both, as well as lots of sugar and oatmeal. The oatmeal counteracts all the sugar, right?
The recipe was very easy to make. I spread the chocolate/peanut butter topping while the crust was still warm. Next time I would let it cool first. After you spread the topping put it in the refrigerator to set up. I found it can be stored in the refrigerator (and little bits consumed each day) for a week!
I did not take a picture as from the top it looks like chunky chocolate ( you can see the peanuts from the peanut butter). Make these. THEY ARE SO GOOD!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Fellow Gourmet Gal, Carol, made these Waikiki Meatballs and reported that they were very good! Some of the reviews said you can make the recipe even simpler by cooking the meatballs in the oven. I have never made meatballs and this dish makes it look easy and tasty!