layered lemon cheesecake

ready to eat

Happy Father’s Day (yesterday) to all those wonderful dads out there! Especially my dad, my hero who I can always count on, who I am so lucky to have spent yesterday with.  Those who know me well, know that I am ridiculously similar to my dad. And I’m pretty proud of that because he’s absolutely awesome.  First of all (and most pertinent to my blog) he loves a good meal.  One of my favorite things to do with my Dad is hang out at The Shack eating shrimp cocktail and clams on the half-shell and enjoying a Corona.  Did I mention my Dad also has awesome taste in music? We’ve gone to concerts and acoustic nights together and he is always one to burn me an awesome mix. He basically is one of the most cool dudes to hang out with and I consider myself pretty damn lucky.

me & my dad <3

Anyway, yesterday really was a great day relaxing with both of my parents (my mom is just as cool) out in the unpredicted, beautiful weather.  Spending a sunny, summer Sunday with my family always makes me feel like I am on vacation — laying out in the yard/pool until 3:30 until cocktail hour starts at 4 PM, and my dad blasting the Jimmy Buffet Pandora station the entire time.  We usually wrap up the night with a nice grilled meal, and when it a special occasion, I prepare a dessert.  Here is a great summer dessert made with homemade lemon curd. It is lemony and fresh and great topped with any berries you have on hand.  Plus, the recipe makes more lemon curd than the cake calls for, which is perfect for a yogurt, granola, and lemon curd parfait the next day!

squeezed up those lemonscustard ready for storing

Ingredients

homemade lemon curd

  • 3 lemons
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 lb. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (3-4 lemons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

layered lemon cheesecake

  • 1-1/2 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup prepared lemon curd
  • Kosher salt
  • 20 whole graham crackers
  • berries, for serving

Method

For the lemon curd:

With a vegetable peeler, remove the zest of three lemons being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add sugar and pulse until lemon zest is finely incorporated into the sugar.

Cream the butter and beat in the lemon-sugar mixture. Add eggs, one at a time, and then add lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined. Pour the mixture into a two-quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened – about 10 minutes – stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool or refrigerate.

For the cake:

Line a 9 x 5 loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing about 4 inches of overhang.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone with the heavy cream at medium speed until smooth and firm. Fold in the lemon curd and a pinch of kosher salt with a spatula.

Spread 1/4-inch thick layer of the lemon cream on the bottom of the pan. Arrange a single layer of graham crackers on top, breaking to fit if necessary.  Repeat the layering, finishing with a final layer of cream.

Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Uncover, and invert cake onto a platter, removing plastic wrap. Serve with your favorite berries!

layering the cheesecake

Lemon curd recipe adapted from Ina Garten

Layered cheesecake recipe adapted from Food & Wine

How I eat it: with blueberries on top and a cup of coffee

yum!

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sweet & spicy ribs with potato wedges

ribs & potatoes

I know, I know — I did it again.  This time it wasn’t just a few months since I’ve posted, but almost a year! It’s not that I didn’t want to, but this past year has been crazy! If you remember this post, you remember that I made some big life changes last spring.  I can now say that I successfully completed my first year of my Ph.D. at Stony Brook, I celebrated one year with both my kitty and my new car (still so in love with both), AND some more big news — I got engaged in January! Most of you who read this blog probably know this already since I totally took over Facebook with pictures and posts about the big day. But, basically, Mike proposed in the city on my birthday weekend and everything was as perfect as could be. I have to share one picture (that most of you have seen) just because this was the best moment of my life so far…

the best moment of my life

Anyway, with all the craziness of school and starting to wedding plan, I unfortunately have barely had time to cook anything exciting.  This led me to realize that not cooking  = stress levels through the roof.  Spending half a day on the weekends preparing a fantastic dinner for my fiancé (still so fun/weird to say!), my family, or some friends is just one of the most fun and relaxing things in the world.  This year has forced me to see that I really need to make time for myself despite how busy life can get. Starting now, I am doing my best to be more committed to cooking (and I guess exercise since a girl’s gotta fit into her wedding dress!)

This past weekend it finally felt like summer, so I took Saturday to enjoy myself and do all my favorite summery things .  I spent the morning at the farmer’s market, where my best find was bottled cold brew coffee from Gentle Brew Coffee Roasters. As you can see, I re-used the bottle to hold some fresh flowers and I just find it to be adorable.  I then spent the afternoon preparing this recipe for sweet and spicy ribs that I found in June’s Bon Appetit. What says summer more than BBQ ribs!?  We enjoyed this with roasted potato wedges and my Oma’s famous cucumber salad (recipe not included here because it deserves its own post). Pair this with your favorite summer cocktail (mine is gin & tonic) and surround yourself with your favorite people and chow down outside and relax — that is what my family and I did!

Ingredients

sweet & spicy ribs

  • 2 St. Louis style ribs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. cayenne pepper (cut this in half if you’re not a huge fan of spice!)
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

roasted potato wedges 

  • large potatoes (I used 5 which generously served 3 people)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

sugar & spiceribs are rubbed

Method

For the ribs:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Combine brown sugar, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt in small bowl and set aside 1/4 cup of the spice mixture.  Rub the ribs with the remaining spice mixture.  Wrap the ribs tightly in two sheets of aluminum foil and place on baking sheet.  Bake 2-3 hours, until tender. Let cool. Remove ribs from foil and save the juices by pouring into a heat proof measuring cup/bowl.

Melt butter in medium sauce pan until foaming and just starts to brown (do not burn).  Add 1/4-cup reserved spices and juices from baking the ribs. Simmer until reduced by a third.  Remove from heat and stir in apple cider vinegar.

Prepare the grill on medium high heat and oil the grate. Grill ribs, basting with sauce and turning occasionally, until charred in spots (about 5-10 minutes).  Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice between ribs and serve with remaining sauce.

Ribs can be baked one day ahead and stored in the fridge.  They should be brought to room temperature and grilled before serving.

For the potatoes:

Slice the potatoes into thin wedges. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast at 425 for 30-45 minutes, until golden brown. (After the ribs came out of the oven, I upped the temperature and tossed these babies in — the timing was perfect!)  Serve right out of the oven topped with parmesan and chopped parsley.

taters   ribs on the grilllll

Rib recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

How I eat it: with a Tanqueray and tonic outside on the porch

Enjoy! And I promise to be back soon with more recipes 🙂

the meal

mint and cumin-spiced lamb chops with grilled baked potatoes

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Getting depressed about the summer coming to an end? It’s bittersweet for me.  We all know that I love autumn, especially September, but I will miss the long days and warm weather.  I’ll also miss my little brother who heads back to college in upstate NY for his senior year tomorrow! Anyway, don’t despair, there’s still some summer left! And here’s an amazing meal of which all the components can be cooked on the grill while you sit outside and enjoy the last days of August.  Some of you may have seen that I posted a “blog preview” of this meal — I know I made you wait long enough for the recipe (sorry) ! 

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Ingredients

Mint and cumin-spiced lamb chops

  • 2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. ground paprika
  • 2 tsp. allspice (shout out to the neighbors who ground us some fresh allspice!)
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 lbs. lamb chops
  • Vegetable oil

Grilled baked potatoes with chive butter

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped chives
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 4 baking potatoes

Method

For the lamb:

Pulse onions, parsley, mint, cumin, paprika, allspice, and crushed red pepper in a food processor until finely chopped. Season with salt.  Place lamb in a large dish and rub with the spice mixture. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours (you can also marinate overnight).

Prepare grill for medium-high heat and oil the grate. Grill lamb to desired doneness and let rest five minutes before serving.

For the potatoes:

In a small bowl, mix the butter, chives, sour cream, salt and pepper until smooth. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. 

Slice a raw potato cross-wise at 1/3-inch intervals, cutting down but not all the way through. Add chive butter to each slice. Wrap each potato in aluminum foil. Set the potatoes on the grill over low heat and cook until tender, about 45-50 minutes, turning occasionally. Garnish with more sour cream and chives.

How I eat it: with sautéed green beans on the side and a glass of cabernet

Lamb adapted from Bon Appetit; Potatoes adapted from Food & Wine

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blackened salmon with mango & avocado salsa

birds eye view

Apparently I’m really into salmon lately.  So, I apologize if you’re not a salmon fan and all I’ve posted the last few times are salmon recipes. I promise to mix it up in the next post!

Ironically, this recipe was actually an attempt to mix it up.  Usually, I end up doing one of two things when I cook a salmon fillet: roast with teriyaki sauce or roast with some fresh herbs, lemon, and white wine.  Both are delicious, but I wanted something different so I took to the Internet and came across a few blackened salmon recipes.  I immediately thought of Cape Cod and these delicious fish tacos I once had for dinner at the Island Merchant with jerked cod, mango salsa, and guacamole.  Ahhh, take me back to the Cape!

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Again, in an effort to make something different I decided on polenta as the side rather than the same old roasted potatoes or quinoa that usually accompany the fish. Polenta on it’s own is pretty bland so I found a recipe that included sharp cheddar cheese to liven it up. Altogether, this meal definitely satisfied the need to change up my typical salmon and side dish recipes!

mango and avocado salsa

Ingredients

For the salmon:

  • ~ 2 lbs. wild salmon fillets, boneless, skin removed
  • 1 tbsp. melted butter*
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cracked pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • olive oil

For the salsa:

  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 3 scallions, white part only, thinly sliced
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tbsp. parsley (or cilantro if you’d like)
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the polenta:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

First make the salsa by combining all ingredients in a bowl. I refrigerated until ready to serve.

To start the polenta, bring the milk and 2 cups of water to a boil. Whisk in the cornmeal and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the salmon.  Combine all spices, butter, and garlic in a bowl.  Rub the spice mixture on both sides of the salmon.  In a large skillet, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat.  Once hot, add salmon.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until the spices “blacken” and the center is opaque.

Once polenta is done simmering, add more water if it is too thick.  Then add butter, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve salmon over the polenta and top with the mango and avocado salsa!

*I do have one note about the recipe that I will most likely change next time I make it: the butter in the spice mixture made it hard to evenly coat the salmon. I will probably omit the butter and do a completely dry rub to get a more even, crispy coat.

Recipe(s) adapted from: Against All Grain & Shared Appetite

How I eat it: with a little bit of everything in each bite! And a nice fresh salad on the side.

By the way, I revisited this yummy french yogurt cake recipe for dessert tonight. Take a look and enjoy 🙂

 the dish

 

salmon burgers with sriracha aioli



salmon burger

Hi! You are probably used to my typical few-month hiatus from blogging. But these past few months have been a little different for me as some major life changes have occurred: I’ve graduated with my Master’s from NYU, decided to switch over from NYU and attend Stony Brook for my PhD in Pharmacology, adopted a precious little 10-month old kitty named Samson, and just today I bought myself a brand spankin’ new car (still can’t believe this one!).  It’s so crazy that so many goals I’ve set for myself the past two years are actually starting to be fulfilled and I’m super excited, but also nervous about this new chapter of my life.

Starting with this post, I’m hoping to at least have one month of consistent blogging.  I just graduated last week and I have one month of recovery until I start my new program at Stony Brook.  In this time, I’m hoping to cook, cook, bake, and cook some more.  Our town’s farmer’s market is also up and running again since this past weekend and I can’t wait to get my hands on some fresh produce, seafood, and bakery goods — I’m feeling inspired and ready to go!

This recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray’s “BLAST Burger” recipe.  I’ve actually never had a salmon burger and they’ve really never appealed to me, but cooking shows can always suck me in and make anything look absolutely amazing.  Not only did this meal look delicious, it truly was! I was afraid of the burgers being dried out or lacking flavor, but they were extremely yummy just on there own. And how can you really go wrong by adding bacon and sriracha to the mix!?

Even though the burgers weren’t grilled (which they probably would be even more delicious grilled), it was a great recipe to kick off the summer!  We served it with some veggie fries, which included yams, parsnips, turnips, and zucchini.

Ingredients (serves 4)DSC_0409

  • 1.5 lbs. salmon fillet, skin removed, cut into chunks
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4-cup chopped fresh dill, parsley, and chives
  • 1 large clove garlic, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • canola oil
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 small white onion, sliced
  • 3/4-cup mayo
  • 3 tbsp. srirarcha
  • 4 burger buns

Method

Preheat oven to 375 F and bake bacon on slotted pan until crisp.

Place fish in food processor and pulse chop (this actually wasn’t as gross as it sounded to me).  Remove to a bowl and combine with egg, herbs, garlic, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, and salt and pepper.  Divide into four sections and form four patties.

In large nonstick skillet coated with canola oil, cook patties over medium-high heat.  This will take about 4-5 minutes on each side for an opaque center.

Meanwhile, combine mayo with sriracha sauce* and prepare other sides. Dress avocado with lemon juice to prevent oxidation/browning.

Place fish on bottom of burger bun and top with bacon, avocado, tomato, and onion (and/or any other burger toppings you prefer!)  Coat top of bun with sriracha aioli.  Press down and enjoy!

DSC_0371                        DSC_0412

Recipe adapted from: Rachael Ray

How I eat it: with a lot of spicy sriracha aioli!

*If you are not a fan of spicy, I would use only 2 tbsp. of sriracha sauce when you make the aioli.  Personally, I like the kick, but it’s not for everyone!

aioliiiii

 I hope you all try and enjoy this, and hopefully there will be more recipes coming your way by next week!

For now, you can take a look at my 2 new pride and joys…

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