Cheesecake Brownie Fudge

21 06 2010

Whenever my weekends are free (meaning, away from work), I always cook and/or bake for hubby. This weekend, I cooked Gambas and Baked Mac on separate occasions. I thought I’d end the weekend with something sweet.

I was researching for a nice brownie recipe and I found one in two different websites: SmittenKitchen and Anni’es Eats. I reckoned it must be a wonderful brownie recipe to have been featured twice 🙂

Here are the ingredients:

Brownie Batter

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Cheesecake batter

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, well softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Topping

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch baking pan.

In a double-boiler, melt the butter and chocolate and mix them together, whisking occasionally. Remove from the heat and whisk in in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and
a pinch of salt until well combined. Add the flour and whisk until combined. Pour over the baking pan.

Whisk the cheesecake batter ingredients until smooth. Dollop over the brownie batter then swirl with a knife. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips.

I’d like to show you how beautiful it is 🙂

That picture is the one in progress.

Bake it in the oven for 30-35 minutes.

Cool at room temperature on a wire rack. Slice into 16 squares.

Now, let me show you how beautiful the layers are:

It’s rich and yummy and is perfect for tea or freshly brewed coffee 🙂

Try it at home and impress your loved ones!





Saucy Gambas Al Ajillo

21 06 2010

Who would have thought that the saying “If Yan can cook, so can you” will be true? Guess what, when 2010 unfolded I could not cook… I could not bake. Fast forward to 6 months to now and I have cooked quite a lot and baked some stuff. This is such a great improvement and I owe it to STRESS. Coz I cook and bake when I’m stressed.

Last Saturday night, I cooked one of hubby’s most requested dish and it was hand-down easy peasy!

*SAUCY GAMBAS AL AJILLO*

Ingredients

  • 1/2 kilo of shrimps, shells, heads and tails removed
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 pc. sili labuyo (for a Filipino touch) or chili flakes, adjust accordingly
  • 1 tbsp. ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. sweet paprika

Place your shrimps in a bowl of cold water with salt for about 20 minutes.

In a skillet, heat oil. Saute the garlic until they’re golden brown but not burnt. Add in the chili. Drain the shrimps then drop them into the skillet. Add ketchup and paprika. Add salt and pepper to taste.

That easy?

Told you, that effin’ easy!

Now, who wants a San Miguel with this?





Baked Macaroni with Bechamel Sauce

21 06 2010

I have always wanted to try Baked Macaroni at home but since I didn’t know how to bake before, the next best thing I always came up with was just plain Baked Macaroni 😀 Earlier during the week, I researched for a Baked Macaroni recipe and found one in Kumain.com. I tweaked the recipe a bit and came up with a cheesy yummy baked macaroni which hubby and I enjoyed a lot.

*BAKED MACARONI w/ BECHAMEL SAUCE*

Ingredients:

  • 400 grams macaroni, cooked according to package instructions
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, minced
  • 1/2k ground beef (you can also use pork or shredded chicken if you like)
  • 1/4k ham, cut into small squares (you can replace it with 1/2 cup of drained and sliced button mushrooms)
  • 1 can liver spread
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 pcs. bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (if you don’t have one, boil 1 1/2 cups of water and drop in 1 piece of chicken cube/buillion)
  • quick-melt cheddar cheese, grated
  • Italian Spices

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

I next lined a 9x13in. baking tray with aluminum foil. I know I should have used a glass or ceramic dish but I don’t have it in the condo 😦

Next step was to cook the macaroni as per package instructions.

In another pot, saute the onions, garlic, and bell pepper until tender.

Add the ground beef and ham. Mix them together until the beef and ham are cooked.

Add the liver spread, tomato sauce, ketchup and bay leaf. Stir. If it’s too heavy/thick for you, you can add water. I trusted the recipe by heart and the measurements are fine. I didn’t add water at all.

Bring the sauce into a boil, then simmer for a couple of minutes.

Add in the cooked macaroni. Mix well and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Transfer into the baking dish. Make sure it’s evenly spread out.

In another pot, mix the melted butter and flour together until there are no more lumps. Heat it up then add in the milk. Stir well. Next add the chicken broth. Let it simmer. Add in the cream of mushroom. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

Pour the bechamel sauce directly on top of the macaroni.

Scatter the grated cheese on top. Sprinkle with Italian herbs.

Bake for 20-30minutes depending on how brown you want the cheese and beschamel sauce to be.

Enjoy! 🙂





Where We Ate In NYC

18 06 2010

This is the second installment for my backlog entries and this is a nice supplement to the one I earlier posted about Ace Hotel New York.

If you remember, I posted here some time before that I wanted to go into a Food Tour of NYC. You see, the problem is that four days in NYC is not enough to see and try everything. Another setback for us was that NYC was like the 5th place in mainland USA that we went to and as you know, Filipinos love to eat with family. We realized that’s what we’ve been doing for most of the time and we can’t splurge on gastronomic journeys lest we go home with hypertension.

So what happened was we didn’t push through with Buddakan (*sorry Burns, I promise I’ll go there next time*) and Le Cirque (*for delicadeza’s sake, hubby and I decided not to go especially that he worked for the country’s President*) and we also didn’t bother searching for the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory and Cafe Lalo (*thanks Pao for recommending this but maybe next time when we have more time to splurge on that You’ve Got Mail resto*). We never even got any chance to try the Halal guys in 53rd and 6th.

I know most people would say that hey, you should have tried this and that. We know. Too bad, we didn’t have enough time, really. But for sure, our next trip to NYC will involve more culinary experiences for us. This is not to say we didn’t enjoy what we ate in NYC. It’s more on the safer side of things but heck, we enjoyed every crumb of it. Each experience is unique and for us, we had a great time with family and we happily went to where they led us 🙂

NEW PIZZA TOWN II

Yah, sounds like a FaceBook game but nope, Pizza Town is the very first restaurant in NYC that we ate at.

Our route to NYC was from Washington DC via MegaBus. When we got off at our NYC destination around lunchtime, we heard our tummies rumbling as we walked towards Ace Hotel. There are lots of things to see and as excited as I was with the buzzing New York City, I accidentally laid eyes on this pizza joint. I actually heard it call my name.

Without knowing where to go and having no plans where to eat, sure thing, we gave it a go. It’s at W 30th St./7th Ave. Yes, very near Penn Station, Madison Square Garden, and our hotel of course.

To be honest, the pizza tasted good although I felt that it was a bit pricey. I remember paying around $4 for a slice. The bad thing though was I cried while eating because I experienced a terrible nightmare while in San Francisco and I badly brought that with me to DC and then to NYC. Hubby was just really quick at fixing things and made me back to my usual excited self again. I ordered Penne pasta too and that’s something that I liked.

Overall, it’s not a pizza joint I’d crave about. It’s basically just like Sbarro. If I were to choose between Pizza Town II of NYC and Brooklyn Pizza over at Ortigas Home Depot, I’d say Brooklyn’s better 🙂 At any rate, there’s always an on-going pizza war in NYC anyways. You wouldn’t miss anything if you don’t eat here.

ANGELO & MAXIE’S STEAKHOUSE

photo not mine

We met up our hosts for dinner at Angelo & Maxie’s Steakhouse in FlatIron district. It’s a casual/semi-formal restaurant that is not so much on the high-end but still pricey for us because we have this tendency to always convert US$ into Philippine Pesos 😛 But of course, steaks are always pricey  wherever you eat them (*wonders when will I eat at Fire Lake Grill again*).

We ordered some appetizers, I think we had Clams Oreganato (US$19.95). They’re good but I didn’t eat too much. I was saving space for the steak *har har* 🙂

And then we were told that the portions are really huge so I was kinda thinking if I could finish up one whole steak. Besides, two nights before that, we had Brazilian steak in Baltimore so I’m not sure how many more steaks I can handle. I ended up gulping down half of their Rib Eye Steak and sharing the other half. Of course, steaks are best eaten with wine. We had red wine but since I am not a sommelier, any red wine tasted good for me 😛

It’s a little jam-packed that night but we had good seats, nice dinner, and wonderful company. I would probably go back there again.

BAGEL MAVEN CAFE

If there’s an on-going pizza war in NYC, let me tell you that there’s also a bagel war 😛 Some say that H&H have the best bagels in town. But heck, food is food and bagels are bagels, I’ll eat them wherever they’re from as long as they’re clean 🙂

Bagel Maven Cafe is a place that New Yorkers would most probably just pass by. It looks like they go there for a fast order or something. I also heard it’s a little expensive being in the Midwest. Hubby and I expected, and we were right, that an order wouldn’t be less than $5.

For breakfast, I had scrambled eggs, french toast, and 3 slices of bacon and a juice for $5. Hubby had sausages instead of bacon for the same price. We know we could have gone to another place but we didn’t have the time to hunt for a budget-friendly resto especially that at that time, we were already running late for our meet up at the Subway near Penn Station.

And nope, I’m not going back there not because the food wasn’t good but because I will try something else next time.

NEW WONTON GARDEN

This is where we had late lunch/merienda when we went to Chinatown. I may be exaggerating and I’m good at it but really, they have the best wonton noodle soup I have ever tasted. And their char sui, oh my goodness! Little tender pieces of barbecued meat in light fluffy and soft mantao bread. Argh, perfect combination!

Surprisingly, this is like the least presentable of all the restaurants we went to but they served memorable dishes and definitely, I’ll go back there again.

You SHOULD go. You won’t regret the trip 🙂

FAMOUS DAVE’S

We spent one of our dinners at Famous Dave’s in Times Square. This is the only place where I actually took photos of the food!

I ordered their Memphis-style baby back ribs paired with rice pilaf (US$27.99). Of course, I miss rice! I’m a proud rice-eater! 😛

And if steaks are best with wine, ribs are best with beer… Stella Artois from Belgium.

I haven’t had ribs since we came back and I have no plans of having one any time soon. Not to say that Famous Dave’s is bad. Just that if you had too much ribs, regardless of how much you were craving for it before, your palettes will really get tired of it and the smell alone will make you wanna puke. We had ribs in all of the places we went to and it’s not something that I’d like to eat again before the year is out.

JUNIOR’S CHEESECAKE

Okay. I have proven all the hype about it to be true. This is definitely the best cheesecake out there! I remember our Cheesecake Wednesday at the office where I believe, with strong conviction, that the best cheesecake is the one submitted by my friend CherieL from Miss Desserts or the one I got from Chelsea. Unfortunately, they’re no match when compared with Junior’s Cheesecake.

I got a slice of their strawberry cheese pie, and while it was ouch on the pocket (US$6.75 a slice!) it was all worth it.  While hubby seldom afirms what I consider to be good, he gave me his wholehearted affirmation on this one.

Junior’s cheesecake bears our stamp of approval and now bears our seal as the best cheesecake we’ve ever had 😛

WHITE CASTLE

We were hunting White Castle down, not because of Harold & Kumar’s movie, but because we’ve seen it in a food network way way before. We saw that they put five holes on their burger patties and cook them over a pan filled with onions. I copied that at home and that was the very first epic failure I had in cooking 😦

Anyways, we went to try White Castle and while we weren’t very happy with it, we weren’t disappointed either.

GRAY’S PAPAYA

When you see it in the movies, and it gets featured by Anthony Bourdain, and your friends talk to you about it, wouldn’t you be curious enough to try it?

We tried Gray’s Papaya and we got mixed emotions.

I wasn’t that ecstatic about it although it wasn’t that bad. Hubby though loved it. I guess they’re really good it’s just that I wasn’t hungry at that moment.

We ordered the recession special, of course 🙂

Juicy hotdogs served by Filipinos 🙂 yup, Filipinos run this place. And aside from the hotdogs, they serve really good juices. Hubby loved the papaya juice.

Before I move to the next place, let me tell you that Gray’s Papaya endorsed Pres. Obama during the last elections. Ergo…

SERENDIPITY 3

So sorry, I had to cut the picture down to 20% of it’s actual size. This is the only picture I have of Serendipity 3 and hubby and I are in front of it 😛

If you’ve seen Serendipity, you probably will be one of those who line up at Serendipity 3 in the hope of finding your own John Cusack 🙂

Unfortunately, I don’t get all the hype about it.

Btw, there’s also Serendipity 3 in Las Vegas. So if you want a fast seat, just fly to the Sin City 🙂

HARU SUSHI

We spent our last dinner in NYC at Haru Sushi. It is a modern Japanese restaurant that serves delish Japanese food in elegant styles and big portions. I don’t remember what we exactly ordered but I enjoyed their Endamame (lightly salted steamed soybeans) 🙂

If you’re looking for a nice sushi place, then Haru Sushi is meant for you. But if you’re not into Japanese food like myself, one try in this resto is enough 🙂

Sorry about my lousy blog post. It’s just hard to describe food from memory alone. I wish I could have taken more food pictures to show you. Then again, there’s always a next time 🙂





Blackened Salmon With Mashed Potatoes

6 06 2010

I’m in a culinary mode this weekend 🙂 *claps*

For lunch today, I prepared another easy to make dish which is gourmet-ish in style but very doable at home.

I call it:

*BLACKENED SALMON WITH MASHED POTATOES”

Preparing the Mashed Potatoes:

Because it was getting late for lunch and I didn’t have time to prepare the mashed potatoes the usual way, I grabbed a pouch of Idahoan instant mashed potatoes. It’s very easy to prepare:

  1. Heat up 2 1/4 cups of water and about 5 tbsps. of butter. Bring it to a boil. When it boils, take it out of the heat.
  2. Add 3/4 cup of milk. Pour in the contents of the pouch.
  3. Mix well. Add more milk if you want it creamy. Add more butter if you want it to be a little more tasty.

Because I was gonna prepare a dish that’s heavy on the spices, I preferred mine to be creamy so I just added milk.

For the blackened salmon, there’s practically just three things you need:

  1. Salmon
  2. Olive oil/butter
  3. Blackening rub

You’ll see different recipes for the rub out there. Mine is a my very own version of the rub because I toned down the spiciness a bit and I added more on the other flavors. So here’s my recipe:

Preparing the Blackening Rub:

  • 2 tsps. Paprika (you can get the Spanish one but I got the Sweet one to balance the saltiness and spiciness of the mix)
  • 4 tsps. Italian Seasoning (you can replace this with 4 tsps. of Thyme and 3/4 tsp. of Cumin if you don’t have Italian seasoning)
  • 2 tsps. Onion powder
  • 2 tsps. Garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar (it’s tbsp. not tsp., take note. it’s the only thing here that is measured by tbsp)
  • 2 tsps. salt
  • 2 tsps. black ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne powder (adjust it according to your taste; 1 tsp. is ideal for me)
  • 1 tsp. dried leaf Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground Nutmeg

You can prepare this ahead of time. You can actually make more rub but just observe the proportions. What I usually do is I make heaps and store them in a jar so I would just grab it when I need it for my fish, chicken or steak.

Preparing the Blackened Salmon:

  1. Grab a slice of salmon and dip it in melted butter. If you don’t like butter, you can use olive oil instead. I used butter in my case.
  2. When it’s wet on both sides, put the blackening rub on each side.
  3. Put it on a non-stick grill pan that’s preheated for at least 5 minutes.
  4. Cook the salmon and flip to the other side. Do not overcook.

I dropped in 2 tbsps. of the mashed potatoes in the center of a plate. I placed a salmon slice on top. I cooked the asparagus in the same grill pan I cooked the salmon in. After that, I put the asparagus on the side as a garnish and poured over the remaining juices on the salmon.

We didn’t have any good wine in stock at home. I just prepared iced tea with calamansi. It’s very refreshing 🙂

For dessert, I served the key lime cheesecake bars I made last night.

Aah, it was a heavenly lunch!

*BTW, I accept orders for this dish in case you want it for your parties 🙂





Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

6 06 2010

I figured serving hubby with Kotopoulo Lemonato is not enough. So I baked this yummy dessert for him. I didn’t like Key Lime bars before but when I tasted Lucille’s Key Lime Cheesecake, I thought it was heavenly! So I mixed the concept of a key lime bar and a key lime cheesecake in one. And I came up with my own version of key lime cheesecake bar 😛

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of finely crushed Graham crackers

4 tbsp. brown sugar

10 tbsp. melted butter

2 tbsp. all purpose flour

2 packs (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice

1 tbsp grated lime peel

How to cook:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the pan.
  • In a bowl, combine the Graham crumbs, sugar and flour. I got the crushed Graham already and 1 pack is just the right amount. But if you can’t one, crush 10-12 Graham crackers. Add the butter 5 tbsp at a time. Mix well until the dry mix is moistened and gets crumbly.
  • Press the crust evenly into a 13×9 baking pan and bake for 15minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs and beat until well combined. Stir in the lime juice and lime peel.
  • Pour the filling on top of the warm crust in the center and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. If you like the filling to be wobbly (like I do), take it out of the oven after 15 minutes. If you like it stiff and fully set, bake it for 20-25 minutes or until set.
  • Take it out of the oven and let cool in room temperature for 2 hours in a wire rack.
  • Cut into bars with a knife. If the filling sticks into the knife, dip the blade in warm water before slicing.
  • Put in air tight containers and chill.

Promise, these key lime cheesecake bars are the best! 🙂





Kotopoulo Lemonato

6 06 2010

Hubby and I went out today to hunt for a new car to buy. We had been very busy since we got back from the States and we got some plans that didn’t push through. We haven’t eaten in Dampa and Cyma for a very long time and we planned to eat there soon. Despite the heat and exhaustion, we drove to Dampa in Ortigas Home Depot for a very late lunch (3PM 😦 yikes). Plan 1 accomplished. And for dinner, although we didn’t get to go out to eat at Cyma, I decided to feed hubby his most favorite dish from that Greek restaurant. Plan 2 accomplished!

Here’s my own version of the simple yet delish lemon chicken dish known as Kotopoulo Lemonato in Greek 🙂

*KOTOPOULO LEMONATO*

Ingredients:

1 whole spring chicken, cut into halves

juice of 1 lemon plus another cut into wedges

3-4 tbsp. Kikoman soy sauce

1 piece of ginger, sliced

1 tsp. of McCormick Italian Herbs

2 medium sized potatoes, quartered

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

2-3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. chopped parsley

salt, pepper, and sugar to taste

Feta cheese

How to cook:

  • Preheat the oven to 425F or 220C. Place the chicken halves into the roasting tin facing down. Place half of the lemon wedges under the chicken.
  • In a bowl, combine the freshly squeezed lemon juice, soy sauce, ginger, and Italian herbs. Pour the mixture over the chicken and let stand.
  • Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken and sprinkle salt, pepper, and a little sugar. Drop in the potatoes and garlic. Add in the chopped parsley.
  • Cover the roasting dish with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove the chicken when done and arrange on a plate. Pour over the juices on top of the chicken and garnish with the other half of lemon wedges.

Voila! 🙂 A simple and easy but very yummy dish. Try it at home!

*BTW, I accept orders for this dish if you want one for your party 😛