Sunday, December 10, 2023

This Fall I was gifted with a gorgeous pie pumpkin that produced 6 cups of puree. As a single gal who doesn't have a sweet tooth, I was wracking my brains on what to do with all of that pumpkin! Then photos of chocolate swirl pumpkin cheesecake popped up on the web and my problem was solved!

I won't lie, this is a long, multi-step recipe. But it is not hard, it just needs to be made in advance, which makes life easier if you plan on making this for Thanksgiving - dessert will be done at least a day in advance!

I made my basic, go-to gluten free crust that in the end mimics a graham cracker crust without having to buy or purchase gluten free graham crackers: Dates and walnuts blitzed in a food processor with a little coconut oil to hold it all together. I only like crust on the bottom of my cheese cake, so if you want it up the sides, see the note in the recipe regarding increasing the crust ingredient quantities. 


Read the recipe first before starting. There are several items that need to be at room temperature before starting, as well as some caveats I note.

The recipe I used was very light on the pumpkin pie spices; next time I will probably use a teaspoon more of each of them. But if you want your cake more cheesecake than pumpkin pie, stick with the recipe below. Also, I cooked my cheesecake in two separate pans since I only had a small springform pan, and only one of them got the water bath (see recipe). It didn't seem to make a difference either way. If you split it between two pans, it won't rise as high and you need to start checking that it is done at 50 minutes, and then every 5 minutes after so you don't overcook it

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Steamed Garlic Broccoli Pasta

This is a brilliant recipe from Deb Perlman of Smitten Kitchen. Brilliant in its simplicity and its utter contrariness. Who would have thought that STEAMING pasta along with broccoli could produce such a fantastic dish!

The broccoli gets silky soft but not over cooked. The garlic is mellow, almost like it has been roasted. Using water and oil to steam it all together is the stroke of genius! It is my new favorite comfort food, and a one pot meal to boot! Can't beat that!

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Shepherd's Pie with Italian Sausage

I didn't grow up with Shepherd's pie, but that's not my mom's fault. Ketchup and I had some sort of falling out early in my life, and she knew it could never be on my plate, ever.

Decades later someone must have served it to me and unknowingly I loved something with ketchup in it! This is one of two exceptions of when I will eat the dreaded red stuff (cocktail sauce being the other). This is stupendously delicious!

Shepherd's Pie with Italian Sausage
(serves 6-8)

2/3 lb Italian sausage, casings removed if using links
1/2 yellow onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced
8 oz frozen peas
4 oz corn, canned is fine
2 large russet potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon milk or half and half
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon gojujang sauce
cheddar cheese to top (about 1/2 cup)

Make mashed potatoes, however you make them. I use butter and half and half. It seems like a lot, but everyone loves a deep layer of mashed potatoes on Shepherd's pie.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, saute Italian sauce, broken up into bite size pieces, along with the garlic and onion for 5 minutes. Add the carrot and cook another 10 minutes, adding salt to taste. Add the corn and peas once the sausage is nearly cooked, and break up the sausage a little more with a fork. Add the contents of the pan to a bowl and mix in the ketchup and gojujang sauce to taste. Season with salt and pepper and pour into a 9" by 12" baking dish (glass is preferred) and top with the mashed potatoes, and then the cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the cheese is browned. Allow to cool 5 minutes and then serve.


Sunday, April 23, 2023

Soy Honey Glazed Shrimp Stir Fry

Shrimp and broccoli stir fry has been a dinner staple for me for several decades, and yet I just discovered a way to make it even better: honey.

Yup, just adding honey and some red pepper flakes to my basic stir fry sauce takes this meal to a whole other level of deliciousness, and who doesn't love that!

Not being a huge fan of sweetness, I was skeptical about this much honey in the sauce, but boy did it surprise me! The soy sauce mellows the honey, keeps the sweetness and brings the complex minerality to the dish. Wow!

Trust me when I say to double this, you really want leftovers, and they are just as good the second day!

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Broccoli, Wild Rice and Cheese Casserole

Underneath all of that cheesy richness is loads of broccoli and wild rice, nestled in a cheese sauce! Not diet food, for sure, but 100% grade A, comfort food when you are tired of the rain and long for some sunshine!

Here in Northern California, we are not quite underwater - thankfully my house is on a hill - but our winter precipitation level is atmospheric, like the rain we have been receiving. Yup, we no longer are in drought conditions, and hopefully that will help when wildfire season arrives, but for now, let's fight the wet and cold with this delicious dish!

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Gluten Free "Rye" Bread

Rye bread has been my favorite bread since I first discovered it as a seven year old child. Toasted with bread and butter has been my go to breakfast for most of life. But when I realized I had to go gluten free, it was goodbye to my love!

But maybe not! After making Jeffrey Larsen's basic bread recipe, I adapted it to make this version that is pretty darn close to my favorite no knead rye bread recipe. Ahh, "rye" bread and butter for breakfast again!

Gluten Free Baking at Home by Larsen is a fantastic GF cookbook, with so many helpful hints that have taken my baking to a whole new level. He is clearly more interested in sweet baking than savory, but his bread recipe (which is adaptable to rolls as well) is brilliant and very versatile. 

Although the recipe appears long, that is because it is filled with tips to ensure your first attempt is successful. I now make this regularly, and just keep the list of ingredients amounts handy to make preparing the loaf faster.

There are two key tools that you must have. One is a kitchen digital scale so you can measure your ingredients by grams. They are usually about $20, easy to find online or in stores such as Target; mine is a Taylor. Secondly, you need a smaller loaf pan than the average bread pan; 8 1/2 inch by 4 1/2 inch pans. This is because the density of the loaves will cook unevenly in a larger size pan. I happen to find a glass pan at the thrift store, but they also should be less than $20. 

In mixing the dough, he requires a dough blade on a food processor or kitchen aid machine; I do not have one and have been just as successful mixing by hand. 

Potato puree is one of his ingenious ingredients. It adds both starch, heft and moisture in a way that creates a better crumb and prevents the loaf from being too dry. I boil one peeled russet potato, and when super soft, pour off all but 1/2 cup of the cooking water. I mash the potato and add water slowly until it is the consistency of very mashed potatoes. Then I puree it in a blender - if you don't already know this trick of how to use a small mouth mason jar to puree the potato, click on the link. You can then refrigerate or freeze the leftovers for another loaf.