Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ultimate Turtle Cheesecake Recipe

Ever since I learned how to bake, I always wanted a springform pan. Imagine all the cheesecakes I could bake and the ease with which I could bake them. However, they were terribly expensive which was why I never bought one for myself. Even when I got a job and started earning a bit and could very well afford that guilty pleasure, I still didn't get one. A funny sort of phobia I guess. Until about a few days ago, I was browsing through Living Well Home Store in SM Mall of Asia and came across unbelievable deals on good quality springform pans. I was so elated, I jumped at the golden opportunity. I got a two-piece (10" and 8") springform pan set for only Php432 from the original price of Php720. And a set of 2 mini springform pans for Php270 (originally Php450).

With my spanking new springform pans, I can finally make my own Turtle Cheesecake. This cheesecake has been my favorite cheesecake flavor ever since I got to try one at Fazoli's. Unfortunately, they took it out of their menu. Hence, my resolve to bake my own. So when I saw the recipe for the Ultimate Turtle Cheesecake inside the box of Philadelphia cream cheese a couple of years ago, I kept the package waiting for the day that I get my very own springform pan. And now the time has come.

Ultimate Turtle Cheesecake
PREP: 30 minutes plus refrigerating BAKE: 1 hour 10 minutes
2 cups OREO Chocolate Cookie Crumbs
6 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1 bag (14 oz.) KRAFT Caramels
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup PLANTERS Pecan Pieces
3 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 eggs
2 squares BAKER's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate

MIX crumbs; press onto bottom and 2 inches up side of 9-inch springform pan.
Place caramels and milk in small microwavable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 3 minutes or until caramels are completely melted, stirring after each minute. Pour 1/2 of the caramel mixture into crust. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
Set remaining caramel mixture aside for later use.
Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until bleded. Pour over caramel mixture in crust.
BAKE at 325F for 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes or until center is almost set if using a silver springform pan. (Bake at 300F for 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes or until center is almost set if using a dark nonstick springform pan.) Run knife or metal spatula around side of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing side of pan.
Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
Top with remaining caramel mixture and pecans just before serving. Melt chocolate as directed on package; drizzle over cheesecake. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator. Makes 16 servings.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bolognese Sauce Recipe

During a nail spa pampering spree with my sister, I flipped through quite a bunch of O Magazines. Now while I am quite aware that Oprah is well known for her feel good/self-help stuff, the articles that I was drawn to the most were those that talked about food (But of course!). I came across a recipe of Bolognese, the kind that takes about 4 hours to make and is hopefully nothing like those bland or oftentimes too sweet "Bolognese" pasta that most restaurants I've been to serve. The article spoke so romantically about this recipe that I swore to try this recipe for myself.

I didn't have a pen with me to take down the recipe but I did have a camera phone. Thank heavens for technology!

Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients:

1 medium onion
1 large or 2 small carrots
2 to 3 stalks celery
1 ounce pancetta, very finely chopped
1 pound ground beef (not lean)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
pinch allspice
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juice
1 pound pasta, such as rigatoni
Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese, for grating

Procedure:

1. Finely chop onion, carrot, and celery. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over low heat, cook pancetta until all fat is rendered and pancetta is just beginning to brown. Add chopped vegetables, raise heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and soft.

2. Add ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon, 1/4 tsp. (to start) salt, plus pepper and allspice. Cook until meat is brown.

3. Add milk. When it begins to simmer, reduce heat to low and cook at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally until milk has mostly boiled away, about 30 minutes. Add white wine and cook as with milk, until it has mostly boiled away. Add tomatoes and juice; bring to a simmer. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and allow sauce to cook very gently at barest simmer, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Season to taste with remaining sauce.

4. Just before sauce is done, bring a pot of water to boil, salt it generously and boil pasta according to package directions. Drain, mix with a third of sauce then serve with remaining sauce on top with lots of grated Parmigiano cheese.
Makes 4 cups sauce

Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Found this at the back of the package of Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels:

The Toll House Story

The Nestle Toll House tradition began in the 1930's at the Toll House Inn near Boston. Here, proprietor Ruth Wakefield was known for her rich, indulgent desserts. While experimenting one day, she cut a bar of Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate into tiny bits and added them to her cookie dough. The Toll House cookie was born! In 1939, Nestle created the Toll House Morsel. Today Nestle Toll House helps you share the great homemade taste of The Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie, America's Favorite Cookie Recipe!

Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz pkg.) NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

PREHEAT oven to 375F
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies
PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15x10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack.
Makes 4 dozen bars
FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (5,200 feet): INCREASE flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 2 tsp. water with flour and reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes and pan cookie for 17 to 19 minutes.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

French Toast Pan de sal for Breakfast

This morning I was craving for French toast. Unfortunately, there was no tasty bread in the house. There was however, a bag of Pan de Manila pan de sal. This particular brand of pan de sal is rather big such that when I slice them up horizontally, they are almost as big as a slice of tasty bread. Good enough.

French Toast Pan de Sal

Ingredients:

3 large pan de sal
1 egg
1/4 cup condensed milk
Butter for frying

Procedure:
  • Slice pan de sal horizontally to 3/4 inch thickness.
  • In a shallow bowl, whisk egg. Blend in condensed milk.
  • Soak the pan de sal pieces in the egg mixture.
  • Fry the soaked pan de sal slices in butter until golden brown.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hershey's Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe


All of us who love baking chocolate chip cookies most probably have tried this recipe at one point or another. But for those who haven't tried this recipe yet or for those who cannot get their hands on a bag of Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate chips, there is still hope. Here's the recipe.

Hershey's Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Procedure:

Heat oven to 375F. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter, granulated sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Drop by rounded teaspoons unto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 5 dozen cookies.

PAN RECIPE: Spread batter in greased 15-1/2x10-1/2x1-inch jelly roll pan. Bake at 375F. 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely; cut into bars. About 4 dozen bars.

HERSHEY'S "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: Simply add 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa to your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Making Yema Balls

I am unabashedly crazy over Hizon's yema balls. Unfortunately, I was informed that they do not make them regularly so getting them is quite a challenge. I had been passing by the Hizon's cakes and pastries kiosk at the SM Mall of Asia hoping to get lucky and find some yema balls, when finally one day, I spied on 5 pieces of them there. I patiently waited for the guy in front of me to finish paying for his mocha cakes so I can finally get my yema balls. Until (horrors!) he reached for all 5 pieces of my yema balls and included them to his purchases. Dejected, I stepped away from the kiosk before I could scream bloody murder. Robin, sensing my great disappointment over the ill-fated yema balls would later order yema balls for me. Apparently, for a minimum order of 25 pieces, you can order yema balls at Php25 each from Hizon's with a three-day lead time.*

It was really hard controlling my diet when I knew at the back of my head that there are at least two dozens of Hizon's yema balls inside the ref. (See, I found myself having a yema ball with my black coffee in the morning convincing myself that it's just like having scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast. There was absolutely nothing unhealthy with it.) Since then, I had been looking for a recipe for yema balls, and finally, like an answered prayer, the December 2007 issue of Cook magazine contained a recipe for yema balls. I myself have not tried the recipe but let me just share it with you here.

Melts-in-the-mouth Yema
(from Cook magazine, December 2007 issue)


Ingredients:

1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 c water
8 pcs egg yolks
2 pcs eggs
1/4 c butter
1/8 tsp lemon extract

Procedure:

  • Combine sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil until syrup spins a thread (230F-234F.) To prevent crystallization, brush side of pan with water.
  • Meanwhile, beat egg yolks until lemon colored. Pour syrup to egg yolks until lemon colored. Pour syrup to egg yolks in thin streams while beating. Add eggs and continue beating until well blended.
  • Transfer mixture in a double boiler and cook until thick, stirring constantly.
  • Lastly add butter and lemon extract. Set aside to cool and form into balls. Roll in crystal sugars.
______________
* To order or for inquiries, contact any of the branches of Hizon's Cakes & Pastries at these numbers:
SM Mall of Asia (2/F, Main Mall) - (0919) 246-8059
Manila (119 Jorge Bocobo cor. Arquiza Streets, Ermita, Mla.) - (02) 524-8790
Makati (The Landmark, Makati Avenue, Makati) - (02) 817-4756

Monday, January 21, 2008

Platito at Cliffhouse, Tagaytay



I took some pictures during our very first visit to the Cliffhouse in Tagaytay. It's funny how I'd been going to Tagaytay relatively frequently and yet I has able to go to the Cliffhouse almost three years after they started operations. I enjoyed our stay there and I think you will agree with me.



It was a good thing that the weather was just perfect that day, too- no fog giving us a clear view of the Taal volcano. The cool Tagaytay breeze never fails to impress, what can I say? The Cliffhouse, like One Destination, is a food complex along the Tagaytay Ridge that offers an amazing view of the Taal Lake. It has a very nice garden which gives the place a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere. A perfect place to have a cup of coffee... or two.



Unlike One Destination though, the Cliffhouse has well landscaped grounds and concrete-paved parking lots. It definitely beats passing through dingy, muddy, Gasul-lined alleys to get from one spot to the viewing deck.

We had lunch at Platito where I ordered Longganisa. It was a very hearty meal, the longganisa was delicious.



The meal, at Php190, came with three eggs, cooked according to your preference, and a cup of very good brewed coffee.

Other restaurants in Cliffhouse include Cafe Breton, Massimo's, Fruits in Ice Cream, Domicillo Homestore and Bar, Buon Giorno and Fire Lake Grill.

I am definitely going back there again to try out the other restaurants. Buon Giorno and Fire Lake Grill bears the mark of approval of The Philippine Tattler magazine. Looks promising.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Sugar-free cookie dough

I'd been meaning to make sugar-free chocolate chip cookies ever since I saw this bag of granulated sugar substitute by Splenda in the grocery. It promises to be equivalent cup by cup with regular sugar. Finally, a week ago, I got myself a bag of this sugar substitute. By substituting Splenda for sugar in the same amount that the recipe called for, I was able to make sugar-free cookie dough. I just added a few drops of chocolate brown food coloring to improve the color considering that the dough will not have the coloring properties of good old brown sugar once I substitute it with Splenda. The semi-sweet chocolate chips, however, are not sugar free.

The end result though, I am not too crazy about. The cookie turned out bland and dry and crumbly and it did not rise as much as a regular cookie dough would inside the oven. Maybe next time I'll try to just half the sugar. Using Splenda as complete substitute for sugar for chocolate chip cookie doesn't seem to be such a good idea.

A burger as Media Noche appetizer

While we waited for the clock to strike twelve last December 31, my brother made us burgers to stave off hunger. And in order to make sure that we do not get too full before the Media Noche feast, he gave us just half of the burger and half of a grilled corn. The burger patties, he bought from the supermarket and he grilled it on a well-seasoned cast iron grill, making sure that the burgers were perfectly cooked right down to the last degree with a meat thermometer. He added some spices on both sides of each patty, topped em with cheese at the last few seconds of grilling and voila! Perfectly grilled burgers ready for the buns.

It was my idea to grill the corn on the cast iron grill. Boy, did that take long to cook!
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