Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cinnamon Toasted Pecan Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping

Cheesecake has always been a favorite in our household and when I found out that 37 Cooks would be sponsored by The Spice House for our second challenge with them, I jumped at the chance to put a spin on this traditional dessert by spicing it up a little bit. I hope you enjoy the sweet and gently spicy combination of cinnamon, honey and toasted pecans, along with the smooth and creamy finished texture.

Cinnamon Toasted Pecan Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping
by Lori Churchill

1.5 cups honey graham crackers
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
1/2 teaspoon The Spice House Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract
A pinch of The Spice House Himalayan Pink Salt - coarse ground (I grind it with a mortar and pestle)

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese (full fat)
1/2 cup local honey
1 cup sour cream
4 teaspoons The Spice House Chinaese "Tung Hung" Cassia Cinnamon
1 teaspoon The Spice House Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract
A pinch of The Spice House Himalayan Pink Salt - coarse ground (grind with mortar and pestle)
3 medium eggs

Sour Cream Topping & Toasted Nuts:
1 cup toasted pecans (finely chopped)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons whipping cream
2 teaspoons local honey (plus extra for drizzling)

6 x 3 inch round cheesecake pan with removable bottom

Instant Pot:
For pressure cooking your cheesecake - Instant Pot

Let the cream cheese, sour cream and eggs come to room temperature for about four hours. This step is very important to a finished cheesecake that has a smooth and creamy texture. I like to remove everything from the refrigerator when I’m enjoying my morning coffee, and then make my cheesecake after lunch on a leisurely Saturday.

Line the bottom and sides of your cheesecake pan with unbleached parchment paper, making sure to trim off any excess with a knife or scissors.

Be sure to line the sides all the way up, also cut a “round" of parchment paper that can be placed on top of the filling prior to cooking. This will easily be removed after cooking.

Prepare the crust by adding enough graham crackers to your food processor to equal 1.5 cups after it has been pulsed to the coarseness of your choice. Add melted butter, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt then mix until everything is moist and sticks together when gently pinched with two fingers.

Add crust mixture to the lined pan; I usually use all but approximately 1/4 cup of it. You can be the judge of how thick you prefer your crust. You can never have too much yummy crust with your cheesecake.

To prepare the filling, add cream cheese and honey to your stand mixer and beat until smooth. Be sure to scrape the sides down with a spatula two or three times during this process so that everything is nicely incorporated. Add sour cream, cinnamon, vanilla and salt to taste, then gently fold. Hand beat eggs in a bowl, then gently fold into cream cheese filling until just incorporated. Be careful no to over-mix!

Pour the filling into your neatly lined cheesecake pan and place the round of parchment paper on top. It should fit just inside the pan. Place the rack in the bottom of your Instant Pot and add 1 cup of water. Next, carefully place your cheesecake-filled pan inside the Instant Pot. Put the lid on and set it to “manual” for 30 minutes. Make sure that the pressure release valve is on “sealing”.
Once the timer is finished, let the Instant Pot release naturally. This means that you will leave the vent in the “sealing” position and the pressure will slowly release on its own. This takes about 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the Instant Pot as soon it has naturally released and you are able to unlock the lid. Be sure that your cheesecake has cooled to room temperature before you place it in the fridge. This will prevent any cracking and will allow it to set nicely.

Toast pecans in a dry cast iron skillet until lightly brown, let cool then fine chop and set aside.

Once it has chilled in the fridge, prepare the topping in a small bowl by mixing together the sour cream, whipping cream and honey. Pour the sour cream topping on your cheesecake in a nice, thick layer, sprinkle liberally with pecans and drizzle with honey.

Slice, share and enjoy with your favorite people!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Orange Canelé de Bordeaux

Pastries in France vary from region to region. The canelé hails from Bordeaux. This smaller than cupcake sized treat has a crunchy and chewy outside with a custard-like inside. True to the region, canelés are made with *vanilla and rum. However, other flavors can be substituted. In this version of canelé, I used Cointreau and orange extract from The Spice House. The orange flavoring in this extract is spot on. It's fruity without being overly orange or bitter. Oh. My. Yum. I am already planning frosted sugar cookies using this extract.

This recipe is best made by weighing the ingredients. Otherwise, the dough gets temperamental and will either puff too much or deflate like a fallen soufflé. Letting the dough rest in the refrigerator a day or two before baking also helps remove the air to render a custard-like interior.

Typical canelés are baked in copper molds lined with a mixture of butter and beeswax. Being that this was my first attempt at making this pastry, I opted for a more cost effective solution using butter-lined silicone molds. While the silicone molds did not produce the dark colored exterior that one would find using the copper molds, they did create the carmelized outer texture that are unique to this pastry. My American friends did not care about the color of these treats. They gobbled up two batches within a day. Even my French husband was singing my praise on these.

Orange Canelé de Bordeaux
by Tonda
Adapted from a recipe given to me from a friend in France

50 cl (2.11 cups) whole milk
50 grams butter
125 grams pastry flour
250 grams powdered sugar, sifted
2 whole eggs, plus 1 yolk
1 Tablespoon Cointreau
1 Tablespoon The Spice House Orange Extract
Butter for the molds

Add the milk and butter to a saucepan and boil until the temperature reaches 183°F. Remove the pan from heat and allow the liquid to cool. Add the flour, powdered sugar, eggs, Cointreau, and orange extract to a large bowl. Whisk until fully incorporated. Add the cooled milk and butter and whisk again to blend the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Melt a couple of Tablespoons of butter to brush inside the molds. Then, fill the molds 2/3 full with the batter. Set the silicone molds on a baking sheet and bake at 450°F for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375°F, and bake and additional 40 minutes. This cook time is for the small molds. Immediately remove the canelés from the molds and allow to cool on a wire rack.

*To make the original recipe, slice open one Spice House Madagascar "Bourbon Islands" Vanilla Bean, and scrape out the beans into the milk and butter mixture. Add the sliced open bean to the milk before it boils to extract as much vanilla flavor as possible. Strain the cooled milk mixture through a fine sieve when adding it to the flour mixture.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Caribbean Calypso Pumpkin Bread

This pumpkin bread from the Virginia Hospitality Cookbook is one of my all-time favorites. It's my most requested tea bread from my husband's coworkers and from my sons. I have brightened it up and given it a gentle nudge of heat by using the Spice House's Caribbean Calypso seasoning. The seasoning is rich with citrus zest, coriander, ancho chile, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. It also has a bit of salt, which is why I chose to omit salt from the recipe.

This recipe also makes wonderful mini muffins--just be careful if you go that route. My guys treat them as pumpkin poppers and they're gone in no time at all!

Caribbean Calypso Pumpkin Bread
by Diana
Adapted from Pumpkin Bread in the Virginia Hospitality Cookbook
Yields 9 mini bread loaves

3 1/2 cups flour
3 cups sugar
4 teaspoons The Spice House Caribbean Calypso Seasoning
1 teaspoon The Spice House Ceylon "True" Ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon The Spice House Ground Allspice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 9 mini bread loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.

Stir together all of the dry ingredients. Whisk the eggs, melted butter and oil together and add to the dry ingredients along with the pumpkin. Mix well. Stir in optional raisins and nuts, if desired.

Divide batter between all nine prepared pans. Bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes, until loaves spring back when gently touched and toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sautéed Onion and Mushroom Quiche Pie

Do you ever get in a food rut sometimes, cooking the same things over and over and over again? Well, I do. And quiche is one of those food rut dishes for me (Spinach…always spinach…for years and years…spinach). But, I just shook things up a bit in our little quiche consuming world by using an assortment of spices I got from The Spice House. I said to myself, “Enough is enough! How much spinach can one person eat in the form of a quiche?”

I started by ditching the green stuff and using mushrooms and onions instead, along with a couple of surprise spices added to the filling AND the crust. Let me pause right here to say that if you have one of those store bought frozen pie shells in your freezer, use it! You don’t have to get all gourmet and fancy. Your family will love you and the quiche regardless. Give this quiche a try. It’s husband and teenaged son approved! Funny note, when my son was little he refused to call it a “quiche.” In his opinion it was a “quiche pie” and he would never use the word quiche by itself. So on to the quiche pie recipe…

Sautéed Onion and Mushroom Quiche Pie
by Maryjo
Crust recipe adapted from the crust recipe for Potato Bacon Torte by Melissa d'Arabian

Crust (makes two pie shells):
2 sticks cold butter, cubed
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon The Spice House Porcini "Extra AA" Dried Mushrooms, Powdered
1 teaspoon The Spice House Garlic Powder, Granulated Organic
8 to 10 Tablespoons ice cold water

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large yellow or white onion, sliced (about 2 cups raw)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
1/4 cup water (if needed)
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups raw)
4 large eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon The Spice House Porcini "Extra AA" Dried Mushrooms, Powdered
1 teaspoon The Spice House Onion Powder, Granulated Organic
1 teaspoon The Spice House Garlic Powder, Granulated Organic
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, stems removed, lightly chopped
1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/8th teaspoon fresh cracked The Spice House Brazilian Pink Peppercorns
1 cup half & half
2/3 cup mayonnaise
8 ounces Baby Swiss cheese, shredded

To make the crust:
Put the cold butter, flour, salt, mushroom powder, and garlic powder into a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add 1 Tablespoon of water at a time, pulsing 1 to 2 times to combine before adding the next Tablespoon of water. When the dough starts to clump together slightly and looks a bit like wet sand (usually after 8 Tablespoons of water in my house), stop! You don’t want to put too much water in there. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a disk. Wrap each one individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (overnight is even better). When you’re ready to make the quiche, roll out one of the disks on a lightly floured surface until it is large enough to line your pie dish (either a 9 inch or 10 inch dish will do the trick). Carefully place the crust into the pie dish, trimming and decorating the edges however you like, and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the filling. Anytime I have two disks of pie dough and only use one, I throw the other into a zip top bag and put it in the freezer for another day.

For the filling:
Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet (I used a 12 inch cast iron). Warm the pan over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onions to the pan and sprinkle with half of the Kosher salt (1/8th teaspoon). Cook slowly until they are soft and golden brown. Reduce the heat and add a little water if they start getting too dark too fast. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Be patient. You’ll be glad you were. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside to cool.

Add the remaining olive oil, the mushrooms, and the remaining Kosher salt to the skillet and sauté until they are golden brown (they will shrink down considerably). Set them aside to cool.

In a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients and whisk until combined. Special note: I used pink pepper corns because they have a milder, fruitier flavor than black pepper, but black pepper is perfectly fine. So don’t let this one ingredient scare you off!

Pour the mixture into your 9 or 10-inch unbaked pie shell. Place the pie dish onto a clean baking sheet (just in case it spills over the edge while cooking) and bake the quiche on the middle rack for 1 hour, turning the quiche halfway through cooking for even browning. If you think it’s getting too brown before it’s finished cooking, just put a foil tent over the top. Allow it to cool for 15 to 20 minutes because it will need time to firm up a bit before cutting and serving.

Now, please excuse me…I have some quiche pie to eat!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Savory Cheese Custard with Fleur de Sel and Parmesan Wafers

When I first heard our latest sponsor, The Spice House, requested a “baking” challenge, I was perplexed. All my fellow 37 cooks, along with family and friends, know I have no talent when it comes to baking. Yes, I am fine roasting vegetables, but my oven is used to store pans. I almost sat this one out. Almost. Then the wheels started turning! I really enjoy savory foods and I also love a good cheese course. Oh wait….this is a baking challenge! After a light meal recently, I surprised my dinner guests with a cheese “course” they will never forget! I served them Savory Cheese Custard with super light Sea Salt and Parmesan Wafers, along with excellent Blueberry Chutney made by my dear friend, Brooke Brickman. What’s better than cheese and fruit?

Savory Cheese Custard

by Susan Ritchie-Hubbard

2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons The Spice House French Broken Leaf Thyme
1 teaspoon The Spice House Lemon Peel Zest
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 large eggs, plus 2 yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoon The Spice House Aleppo Pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces freshly grated Gruyere
1 ounce freshly Parmigiano-Reggiano
Boiling water

First Note: All custards start with two basic ingredients, cream and eggs. From there you can create the ultimate savory or sweet custard, whether you use more eggs, or any other thickening ingredient, like cheese! My first choice was of course cheese. Let your imagination run wild!!

Preheat oven to 300°F. Pour the cream into a medium saucepan. Add the thyme, lemon peel and garlic to the cream. Let the cream mixture come to room temperature. Set the heat to medium and stay close. As soon as the cream mixture begins to “steam” , (you will actually see steam start to rise) remove the pan from the heat. While the cream mixture cools slightly, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, Aleppo pepper and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Strain the cream mixture through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl or large measuring cup. Discard the solids. Very slowly, add the cream to the eggs, whisking constantly. Do not add the cream too quickly or the eggs will begin to cook. Add the Gruyere and Parmigiano-Reggiano, whisking until the cheese is completely melted. Divide the custard between the ramekin size of your choice. I selected individual ramekins, but I have also used party size ramekins. Place the ramekins in a baking dish deep enough to add enough boiling water to cover the ramekins, leaving 3/4” above the water line. Bake for approximately 28 minutes for individual ramekins and a bit longer for larger ramekins. As the custard cools it will firm up, so make sure the custard has a bit of wiggle in the middle when you remove the pan from the oven. I serve this custard at room temperature, but feel free to serve it warm.

Fleur de Sel and Parmesan Wafers
by Susan Ritchie-Hubbard

Eggroll wrappers
Good quality olive oil
The Spice House "Esprit de Sel" (Fleur de Sel)

Second Note: If you are like me and do not bake, these are the simplest crackers you will ever make and still impress anyone who tries them! I would typically buy a specialty cracker or baguette to serve with this delicious cheese custard. I had to come up with a baked “cracker” so I went with eggroll wrapper wafers. I found them really versatile! You can truly get creative with this ingredient. I know I will definitely use them again!

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet (s) with parchment paper. Cut the eggroll wrappers into wedges, or alternately, use biscuit and/or cookie cutters to make any shape you desire. Place the wrappers (in my case a single layer) on the lined sheet pan. Lightly brush the wrappers with olive oil. Sprinkle the wrappers with the Fleur de Sel. Using a microplane grater, shave Parmigiano-Reggiano over the wrappers. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the wafers are golden brown. Allow to cool on the pan and serve with the cheese custard. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Espresso Chocolate Muffin Tops

Ahhhhhh, The Spice House. One of my favorite past challenges ever. I was so happy to hear that they wanted to sponsor us again. This company not only has the best array of spices for you to buy in bulk, they also have the best customer service I have ever seen. And I am in retail. That means a lot.

You can let your imagination run wild while shopping The Spice House website. I love to bake and that's what they decided to challenge us with this time. I was ready and willing. Please have a look at these ingredients while browsing the website. They are amazing and a real staple to your spice rack.

Espresso Chocolate Muffin Tops
by Traci
Adapted from Coffee Muffins from Sweet as a Cookie
This will make 12 regular muffins, but I made muffin tops using a whoopie pie pan. It yielded 18.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 large egg
1/4 cup melted butter
3 teaspoons The Spice House Espresso Powder, dissolved in 1/2 cup of warmed milk
1 1/2 teaspoon The Spice House Madagascar Vanilla Powder

Preheat oven to 350°F if using a muffin pan, and 325°F if using a whoopie pie pan. Spray with non-stick spray or butter and flour accordingly.

Combine all of your dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Mix to combine evenly. Add all of your wet ingredients into a small bowl and mix well.

Slowly add your wet into the dry and fold in. No need to speed mix these. They will combine very well.

Add to your prepared pans. Muffins will take about 25 to 30 minutes. Muffin tops will take about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.

If you have anyone in your life that loves to cook, or just for yourself...I promise you, The Spice House is your go-to source of great additions to your baking spices.