Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sasha's Kitchen: Coconut and Lemongrass Soup

My mom recently got my husband a cookbook.  This cookbook has some great techniques for preparing healthy and type 1 friendly foods that we both have really enjoyed so far from New York Chef Sam Talbot (of Top Chef fame), who is a juvenile onset diabetic.  I do like to cook plenty of sweet stuff as well, but it's good to have some balance.  I've enjoyed each of the meals I have made from Sam's cookbook so far and plan to try one of his noodle recipes soon.  The first recipe I made was for this delicious coconut lemongrass soup, which uses agave nectar to sweeten slightly, naturally, rather than sugar or honey.

Coconut & Lemongrass Soup (recipe adapted from Sam Talbot's The Sweet Life)
3 T extra virgin olive oil (instead of using my own roasted garlic olive oil, as the recipe called for)
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
1/4 cup chopped lemongrass
1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (original recipe calls for two)
3 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 cups light coconut milk
2 T agave nectar
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
juice of two limes

In a medium soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, lemongrass, ginger, jalapenos and garlic.  Cook until the onion is translucent and the ginger and garlic have softened, about two minutes.  Mix in the stock, coconut milk and agave nectar.  Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for about thirty minutes.  All the flavors of the ginger, lemongrass etc. will absorb into the broth.  Strain the soup if you prefer (as we did and reserved the flavorful broth).  Mix in the bean sprouts, cilantro and lime juice and serve.  This was a flavorful and healthy dinner!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sasha's Kitchen: Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

Last week, my mom and I made this delicious cheesecake together when my husband and I were visiting my family in Rochester, NY.  Like a number of my recent baking recipes, this one comes from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook, of the famous New York bakery, since I've been on a bit of a Magnolia cook lately, working my way through the cookbook.  This cheesecake was delicious.  It had just enough chocolate to give some flavor and flair to the cheesecake but was not overpowering.  It was like a regular vanilla cheesecake with a tad of chocolate  in the swirls.  This was a recipe that was enjoyed by the whole family.  I know cheesecake has like a million calories, but I did use lowfat cream cheese, so there!

Here's my latest baking post on the ShopRite blog panel, as well, some new cupcakes for the winter season.

Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake (recipe adapted from Jennifer Appel & Alyssa Torrey)
5 T melted butter
2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs

4 eight ounce packages of cream cheese
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs at room temperature
2 T heavy cream
1 T vanilla extract

3 T heavy cream
4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 325.  To make the crust, combine the wafter crumbs with the melted butter and press in a prepared 10 inch springform pan.  Bake for ten minutes and remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

To make the filling, this time I used a hand mixer rather than a stand mixer like I ordinarily do since that's what my mom had.  It's a little tricky to control it and not splatter the walls, but fun baking with my mom, who I am very close with.  Beat the cream cheese until smooth and slowly beat in the sugar, gradually.  Add the eggs one at a time, stopping the mixer several times to scrape down the sides.  Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.

Pour the batter into the springform pan on top of the crust.  Then prepare the swirl topping.  In the saucepan, bring the three tablespoons of heavy cream to a simmer.  Add the chocolate, turning the heat to low and stir constantly until the chocolate is melted.  Remove from the heat and cool slightly.  Drop this mixture by the teaspoonful on top of the cheesecake batter.  Using the top of a sharp knife, swirl in into the batter, forming a pretty decorative pattern.

The trickiest part about cheesecake is knowing when it is done.  Bake at 325 until the edges are set and the center jiggles slightly when the pan is shaken, about one hour.  I let it go a little longer because I thought it needed it.  It was totally delicious tasting, but it did crack, which is something I need to work on to perfect with my technique.  At the end of the baking time, turn off the heat and use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door slightly ajar.  Cool the cheesecake in the oven for one hour after you turn the oven off before removing.  Cover and refrigerate for at least twelve hours.
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