Thursday, July 30, 2015

Finding Motivation when it's National Cheesecake Day.

My Mille feuille, not really a thousand layers

I have been a little unmotivated to get in the kitchen to make anything. Let alone celebrate National Cheesecake Day.  Summer heat and humidity are something that I have never gotten used to. So June was a bust. Oh, I have a billion things swirling in my head but never seem to get them out. The weekends just get away from me. So enough of my belly aching, let’s get back to the kitchen and make something of a cheesecake or maybe a twist on a cheesecake theme.

In search of much needed inspiration  I went to the one place I needed to go, Julia Child’s kitchen at the SmithsonianNational Museum of American History. I just stare at the space and image her there laughing and cooking and telling wonderful stories about her life. My ideas are spinning around my head. This mad idea involving cheesecake was spinning around my brain ever since the wonderful folks at Brownie Brittle who sent me a 1lb bag just for responding to them via social media.

Eureka! I decided on a twist of the one French pastry I love to eat (one, really who are we fooling) and yet not having conquered making it. The Mille Feuille. It is made with puff pastry and you can use a variety of fillings. I would simply substitute the brownie brittle squares with the puff pastry and use this absolutely decadent filling from Christina Tosi called Liquid Cheesecake. Would my experiment combination work? I thought it would. Only one way to find out. Get back in the kitchen and make it

Like a mad scientist trying to discover something wicked, I too was trying to create something wicked. At least this creation won’t try to kill me or need to be killed by the torch and pitchfork wielding villagers. 

I piped the mixture onto the squares and let set a few hours before serving. The response was cheers all around. This won’t be run out of town after all.  

There was enough left over for dip

The link for Liquid Cheesecake by Christin Tosi here or the recipe I used. 

Or if you are in need of something sweet and want to make one of her desserts check out the cookbook “Milk”

Liquid Cheesecake   2 to 4 servings    Yield: 25 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes 


One 8-ounce package cream cheese

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons whole milk

1 large egg


1. Preheat the oven to 300°. In the bowl of a standing mixer, paddle the cream cheese on low until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and mix until it is completely incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, gently whisk together the cornstarch and salt. Add the milk in a slow, steady stream, then whisk in the egg.

3. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the egg mixture to the cream cheese, beating until the mixture is smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. Pour the cheesecake batter into an 8-inch-square baking pan lined with plastic wrap. Place the pan in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, gently shake the pan: The outside edges should be firm and the center loosely set. If the cheesecake has not reached that consistency, allow it to cook for an additional 5 minutes.

5. Remove the cheesecake from the oven, set aside to cool completely, then serve

The link for Liquid Cheesecake by Christin Tosi here or the recipe I used.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bastille Day

the ingredients for the sandwich
Today is Bastille Day in France. Today they celebrate the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the end for the Kings of France. So, what better way to celebrate than by making something French.
But what to make? Sweet or savory? Decisions, decisions. Brunch for dinner! It sounded great and since I am on a retro binge this was a no brainer. The Monte Cristo Sandwich. It’s the cross between French toast and hot ham and cheese. Eggs, cheese and bread, who doesn’t love that? 
Have you ever had one? Or when was the last time you made or ate one? I love the Croque Monsieur or Madame. This sandwich was not a stretch for me.
I had just finished making blackberry jam and had purchased cheese and the bread on my way back to the market. I was searching on the internet and discovered many things about this unassuming sandwich. The sandwich was popular in the 30’s up to the 60’s. There are many versions of the classic sandwich. It is also known and the French Sandwich, Toasted Ham and Cheese, or the French Toasted Cheese Sandwich. And as with the name it also has many renditions. Deep fried, three layers, open faced, some recipes call for powdered sugar and jam on the side. 

The Monte Cristo

I found and settled on the recipe from FOOD52 . The recipe calls for raspberry jam but since I had just made a fresh batch of blackberry jam I use what I had. I also only dipped on side of the bread in the egg mixture. It seemed too cumbersome to dip the whole sandwich in the egg mixture. One slice sweet with the blackberry and the other slice smeared with graining mustard.  

Monte Cristo Sandwich

Adapted from Food 52 

Raspberry jam (seeds ok)
Thinly sliced ham
Grated Gruyere cheese
Grainy brown mustard
1 egg
2 tablespoons of milk
1 pat of butter 

1. Hardily spread jam on one slice of bread. Pile on a neat heap of sliced ham and the grated cheese. Spread a lot of good spicy mustard on the piece of bread, then top off your sandwich with it.
2. In a shallow dish, whisk egg and milk together. Dip the sandwich into the mixture, making sure to coat both sides.
3. Heat the butter in a pan, swirling to coat the bottom. Fry the sandwich on both sides until golden brown and the cheese is all melty and perfect. Slice in half and chow down on the monster with reckless abandon.

Maybe if you  have spare fireworks from our Independence Day celebrations you pretend to be French for a day and celebrate  Bastille Day with fireworks and a sandwich.