Monday, April 29, 2013

Tuscan Mashed Chickpea Spread

Like hummus, but not hummus.  If, like Colin, Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas are too much of a mouthful for you, you can gesture wildly and say, "hummah, hummah." 

Sometimes in the afternoons I turn on the Food Network while I make dinner.  Barefoot Contessa is on at 4:30 and Colin says "Iinaaaah."  My poor child is growing up without Sesame Street and instead will be saying things like, "how easy is that?"

The recipe says to serve this warm, but we also enjoyed it cold and at room temperature. 

Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas
original recipe from Barefoot Contessa

2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 ripe medium-size tomatoes, seeded and small-diced (or about half a pint of grape tomatoes)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sliced cucumbers, crackers or bread, for serving

Place the chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor. Add the chicken stock and pulse until the chickpeas are coarsely pureed.
In a medium saute pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. 
Add the tomato and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, until the tomato is softened. 
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. 
Add the mashed chickpeas, stirring to combine with the tomatoes and garlic. 
Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through. 
Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, lemon juice, 1-2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2-1 teaspoon pepper.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Strawberries and Cream Cheesecake

As we do every year, we celebrated my Mom's birthday by all going to my parent's house and helping clean up their yard and put in their garden.  Similar to last year, everyone worked very hard, especially Jon and John, and I hung out with Colin and avoided all yard work.  My day consisted of running after Colin while he used a bat to hit a ball around the yard, drew on the driveway with chalk, tried to eat chalk, moved chalk to various areas where chalk doesn't go, chased the cat, and ran through the dirt.   

The birthday girl requested Strawberries and Cream Cheesecake for dessert, and I happily obliged.  This might be my favorite cheesecake of all time, which is saying something.

I know the whole water bath thing seems like just one more step, but I've found it really does work to prevent cracks, so it's worth it.   

Strawberries and Cream Cheesecake
original recipe from Martha Stewart

1 pound strawberries, hulled
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup finely ground graham crackers (about 5 sheets)
1 cup plus 3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 pound plus 13 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Place strawberries in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
Drizzle with corn syrup and roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes.  

Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Stir together graham cracker crumbs, 3 Tablespoons sugar and the melted butter.
Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan. 
Bake until crust has darkened slightly, about 10 minutes.
Allow pan to cool on a wire rack.
Once cool, wrap the exterior of the pan with foil.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
In a food processor, mix cream cheese until creamy.
Scrape down sides and add 1 cup of sugar and the salt.  Mix well.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Scrape down sides, add vanilla and mascarpone and mix until smooth.  
Remove about 1 1/2 cups of cream cheese mixture (enough to make a layer on top of the cheesecake), and set aside.
Add strawberries to the food processor and pulse until combined.
Pour strawberry cream cheese mixture over crust.  Smooth.
Using a spatula, drop dollops of the plain cream cheese mixture over and smooth into a layer.
Put springform pan in a roasting pan and fill pan with hot water until it reaches about halfway up the springform. 
Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, and then leave in the oven (turned off) with the door open to cool.  Or, if you have a toddler who would try to climb into the oven, take it out to cool. 
Refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

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