I try to keep my fridge stocked with the basics - eggs, milk, and butter. The jar of white flour should be full, and there should be extra whole wheat flour stashed away somewhere. I keep sour cream or yogurt around because I tend to cook with it, but I try not to keep multiple packages of cream cheese around. Its dangerous!
So what to do when I just have to have cheesecake? (these are the important questions)
Yes, cheesecake. Very dangerous. Very rich.
It turns out, you don't need to use cream cheese. There are recipes for cheesecake which use a variety of other cheeses - like ricotta, or farmer's cheese. The beauty of using Farmer's Cheese, of course, is that you can make it yourself, and flavor it however you like while making it.
I tried this recipe using cheese made from apple cider vinegar and sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with applesauce. Awesome.
Cheesecake made from Farmer's Cheese - delicious, rich, and made from ingredients already in your fridge!
Pour your milk into a large pot, and gently warm until it is frothy. Use the apple cider vinegar to separate the curds from the whey and drain. Add cinnamon if desired.
(this is just the standard Farmer's Cheese recipe adapted; you can find more details here.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Cut in butter, as if you were making pie crust dough.
Beat 3 egg yolks and 3 tablespoons of sour cream together, and then add to the flour mixture. Mix until it forms dough (again, resembling pie crust dough). Roll out and place in pie plate.
Beat the 4 eggs and one egg white at high speed until frothy. You will probably want to use an electric beater!
Put farmer's cheese, granulated sugar, 1/2 cup sour cream, and vanilla extract in a blender. Blend well. The Farmer's Cheese will be naturally rather granular when first made; it should be chopped up until very fine and liquid. Add some of the egg mixture if necessary.
Fold together the farmer's cheese mixture and egg mixtures. Pour into the pie plate.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes. The cake will rise in the oven, turn golden, and set.
Cool for a few hours in the refrigerator before serving. Enjoy!
One thing I like about this recipe is that it does have instructions on making its own crust. You could definitely still do a typical graham cracker crust with this, but if you don't keep graham crackers around either, this makes it simpler.
Biscottis are just the cookie for the holidays. They are hard, but soften when dipped into coffee. Mmm. . .breakfast. . .
This recipe can be adapted to any flavor combination you like. Pure Almond, Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, Cranberry, Cherry. . . you name it. The result is a substantial cookie.
If you buy biscottis at the store, you'll notice that they're very light and almost always fall apart when introduced to coffee or hot cocoa. These will not immediately fall apart. They are also not -quite- as hard. Both of these traits are pluses as far as I'm concerned.
Choco-Cranberry Almond Biscottis
Biscottis - a hard cookie perfect with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
Cream your butter and sugar together until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Mix well.
Add dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, salt. Combine into a soft dough.
Add your chocolate chips, almonds, cranberries, or other chosen biscotti ingredients. Mix until they are evenly dispersed through the dough.
Form your dough into two loaves. Place the loaves a few inches apart on a medium baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The loaves should be lightly brown.
Let the loaves cool for about 10 minutes (or longer, as desired), and then slice into inch thick slices. Slice diagonally for larger biscottis.
Lay the slices out on baking sheets, and bake again for 15 minutes. This will dry out the cookies. For a harder biscotti, bake longer (but don't burn them!).
Enjoy with coffee!
You will get awkwardly shaped end pieces from each loaf. You should absolutely eat these to test your biscottis during the baking process.
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With the holidays coming around, it seems the right time of year to consider making Moctobabucta, or poppyseed bread. Now, I'm not really sure I'm spelling its name right, or pronouncing its name right. I can't find mention of anything called "moctobabucta" on the internet, anyway. I just know that its a family recipe, and its good!
The key to getting a pretty braid is in portioning out the poppyseed filling evenly, and then securely folding the dough over it. It is so easy to overfill one part, or not seal it properly, and then have poppyseed going everywhere. It still tastes good, its just not as impressive!
And really, with the red icing and pretty braided presentation, the finished loaf is pretty impressive looking. . .
Braided poppyseed bread - pretty, sweet, and perfect for the holidays!
Scald milk, then add butter and stir until melted. Let cool to lukewarm.
Mix together sugar and yeast.
Add milk to yeast mixture, and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Then add eggs, vanilla and stir until blended
Turn onto floured board. Knead to elastic. Place in greased bowl & clover with a slightly damp cloth. Let rise to double (1- 1.5 hours approx.)
Roll into 1 rectangle 12”x18”. Cut into 3 parts. Divine filling equal parts on the 3 dough sections. Roll each section around the filling. Then braid the rolled sections and place on the pan. Let rise to double (around 1.5 hours).
Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Cover with glaze after it comes out of the oven (while its still warm).
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As part of my great pie experiment, I decided to try Sweet Potato Pie. The verdict? Its yummy, but very heavy. . . in a potatoey way. If I were to make it again, I'd probably try to go lighter on the sweet potato part.
If you too decide to try out Sweet Potato Pie, I definitely recommend having it cold, and with whipped cream. Mmmmmm, yummy!
Peel and chop your sweet potatoes, and start them cooking with a little water on the stove over medium heat.
While your sweet potatoes soften, put the pecans, 2 tbsps of butter, and 2 tbsps of karo syrup in the food processor. Pulse until the pecans resemble crumbs, and press into the bottom of a deep dish pie plate.
Once the sweet potatoes are soft, mash them. Add butter, brown sugar, karo syrup, eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix well.
Pour your filling into your pie plate.
Cook at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes. The pie should be firm, and not like a custard.
In my pie making adventures, I've tried quite a few recipes whose results were questionable (Shoofly Pie with blackstrap molasses; do not do this!) or which mysteriously morphed into something else. Such it was that I started with the notion of making chess pie and ended up with this Almond Custard Pie.
I'm not entirely sure how one thing led to another anymore, but this is a delicious almondy confection. I'm not entirely sure it counts as a pie, as the almond crust has the interesting habit of rising to the top of the pie instead of remaining on the bottom as crust.
Almond Custard Pie
A delicious almond custard which may or may not be a pie. . .
Chop your almonds up in a food processor. Once they are finely chopped, add the butter and almond extract and continue processing until well mixed. If the butter starts out soft, then the almonds should start clumping together in a loose dough.
Press your almond dough into the bottom of a pie plate, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
While your crust is cooking, cream together your butter and sugar until smooth.
Add in the eggs, flour, whey, almond extract, and nutmeg. Mix well.
Pour the filling into your pie plate, and bake for an additional 60 minutes.
On the whey - the first time I made this recipe, I had really thick whey from one of my cheese-making experiments.. It was a bit like soft yogurt. You can also use buttermilk, OR 1 cup of whey/milk with 1/2 cup of yogurt.
On the pie crust - 1 cup of almonds only makes enough to cover the bottom of the pie plate. I like limited crust, but if you want it to go up the sides as well, double the crust recipe.
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When I was growing up, pie was made with fruit. There was peach pie, cherry pie, apple pie, and maaaaybe berry pie (that was exotic!). But then, one day, I ventured into the wilds of Indiana and discovered that not all pie was fruit. Some pie was weird. Some pie was. . . vinegar.
Intrigued, I ordered the mysterious vinegar pie. It smelled like vinegar, but it didn't taste like vinegar. It was creamy, and different, and interesting! So I decided to make it for myself.
While searching for vinegar pie recipes I discovered a whole host of different pie ideas that I'd never heard of; chess pie, mock apple pie, oatmeal pie, etc. I resolved there to broaden my pie horizons!
So first up, in the Great Pie Experiment is Vinegar Coconut Pie. I ran across this recipe under the name "French Coconut Pie" and it seems to basically be vinegar pie with coconut. Its definitely outside of Vinegar Pie's "poor man's pie" roots, but its delicious.
Deep Dish Coconut Vinegar Pie
Buttery coconut pie, with just a hint of vinegar. Delicious!
Prepare your carrots. Finely grating them in fine, but so is cooking them down and mashing them. Put to the side.
Beat your two eggs. Add in oil, sugar, pumpkin puree, molasses, and vanilla extract. Mix well.
Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in another bowl. Combine your wet and dry mixtures.
Add carrots to your batter. Mix well. Pour the carroty mixture into a buttered 8x8 baking pan.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about one hour. Make sure the cake is done by inserting a knife into the center; it should come out clean.
Its fairly common to cut the oil required in a carrot cake recipe with applesauce, but pumpkin puree works well too! Its especially practical if you've been cooking down a lot of pumpkin recently.
Blackstrap molasses actually tastes acceptable in this cake - possibly because it is not the main sweetener, it just gives the cake a nice brown color. You could probably also use brown sugar and no molasses.
This cake is good enough to be dessert for sure, especially if you ice it with cream cheese frosting. But I like to leave it plain and have it for breakfast with my morning coffee. Yum!