Tag Archives: Goat Cheese

On giving birth and birthday cakes…

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On giving birth and birthday cakes…

I remember it clearly, even though it was 19 years ago, the immediate cessation of pain at 6:29 a.m.  Suddenly someone else was crying  with some gusto in the room besides me!  I have been blessed to have two amazing kids.  A boy AND a girl!  Onjoli came along on Father’s day morning, June 20th,  looking surprised and a little ticked off.  She still has that look on any given 6:29 a.m.

Raising kids, especially a daughter has been an adventure.  All through Kindergarten, Onjoli insisted on wearing a crown to school…EVERYDAY.  The teacher would not let her bring the matching wand for safety reasons (who knows who could get whacked in the head?).  That pink bejeweled plastic crown will always have a special place in my heart.  After all, if you are a princess you should have the crown to go with it.  Over the years, I’ve made my share of birthday cakes.  The Barbie with the giant skirt cake, Pokemon, a myriad of Disney characters and unusual requests like the giant chocolate chip cookie pizza with candied toppings. Parties have changed from the chaos of a million kids running around to brunches at fancy restaurants.   Each year the tastes and palates of both my kids have developed and become more sophisticated.  This year, Onjoli wanted Carrot Cake cupcakes with “really good frosting”.  I tried to deliver.  After all, I don’t know how many more years I will have the privilege of making birthday cakes.  I will always be a mom even as the quality of our relationship changes and becomes richer and deeper over the years.  Even as I look back with nostalgia on the little girl I once had, I am ever so proud of the young woman I see before me.  I am one blessed woman and mom!

Last summer while visiting India

I think she’s pretty dang gorgeous!

Mix all the ingredients for the cake together except for the nuts

Pour into lined cup cake pan -this way you can do some with nuts and some without

While cupcakes are in the oven peel one carrot into long strips

Boil in syrup and let it air dry to make caramelized candied carrots

Carrot cake with cream and goat cheese frosting and candied carrots

Nom Nom

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream & Goat Cheese Frosting and Candied Carrots

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup oil

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

2 cups shredded carrots

4 eggs

1  3/4 cups sugar

1 cup pecans (optional)

Frosting

8 oz Neufchatel Cheese, room temperature

4 oz fresh Chevre (goat cheese), room temperature

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 cups powdered sugar

Candied Carrots

1 medium carrot, peeled into strips

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or if you’re using a hand held mixer, just use a big bowl) place all the ingredients of the cake except for the nuts and mix at low speed until blended.  Increase speed and mix for 2 minutes until light and airy.  Mix in the nuts by hand.  I usually scoop out 6 cupcakes without nuts (due to some nut allergies in the family) and then add the nuts to the rest of the batter.  Line cup cake pan with liners and fill 3/4 full using an ice cream scooper.  Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks.

To make the candied carrots:

Peel one carrot into long thin strips.  In a small sauce pan heat sugar and water until boiling and add the carrots.  Simmer for about 6-8 minutes.  Take out the strips using a fork or a chopstick and place on some wax paper to cool.  Separate them out as you take it out of the syrup so they will not dry out in a large candied clump.  Set aside

To make the frosting:

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Mix all frosting ingredients together until smooth.  Place in a piping bag with a star tip or in a plastic storage bag with the corner cut off and frost the cupcakes.  Top each cupcake with a piece or two of the candied carrots.  Makes 24 cup cakes

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Brownie and Chevre Fruit Pizza

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Brownie and Chevre Fruit Pizza

There is really no food that I DON’T like.  I am not allergic to anything either.  I can eat it all.  At one time in my life I think I tried to do just that, eat it ALL, which was not pretty.  Being a fat dietitian is kind of like being an ugly beautician.  Who takes you seriously?  I decided to take my own advice a few years ago and began to eat in moderation, exercise a lot and drink lots of water.  I still love food but I don’t have to eat huge quantities any more.  I find that when I think up a recipe and go through the creative process of making something from scratch,  I don’t have to eat very much of it.  I know the flavors will be great and the process of cooking satisfies something within me.  I often end up making a big batch of something and then look for people to feed it to.  Fortunately, finding people to eat home cooked foods is not usually that difficult. Case in point, this brownie fruit pizza with a chevre (goat cheese) and cream cheese filling, it was gone so quickly that I didn’t even get to taste it.  I guess I’ll have to make another one really soon just so I can taste a little of it.  According to everyone who ate it, it was “the bomb”.  You decide.

Make the brownie

Pour into parchment lined pan

Place cooling rack on top of brownie and invert

Peel off the parchment paper

Mix together the filling ingredients

Spread filling over the brownie

Place the fruit on top in any decorative manner you choose!

Slice and serve

Brownie and Chevre Fruit Pizza

Basic brownies

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup dutched cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Topping

5 oz chevre (goat cheese), room temperature

4  oz cream cheese, room temperature

1 lemon, zested

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/3 cup sugar

2 pints fresh strawberries or any berry in season

1 cup fresh blueberries or any fruit in season

Making the Brownies:

Sift together the cocoa, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and set aside in a pan.  In a sauce pan melt the butter and add in the sugars and mix together.  It’ll be kind of a dry mixture.  Add that mixture to the sifted flour mixture along with eggs and vanilla.  Line a half sheet cake pan or a jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  Pour brownie mixture into the pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 20-22 minutes in a pre-heated 350° oven.  Run a butter knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the brownie.  Place a cooling rack over the pan and invert pan.  Gently peel off the parchment paper and invert the brownie either back into the pan or on a large platter (I use a cardboard cake server covered with foil).

In a separate bowl zest the lemon and then cut the lemon and measure out 1 tbsp juice.  Add cream cheese and goat cheese along with the sugar and mix until smooth.  Spread evenly over the brownie.  Wash and slice the fruit and arrange in any visually pleasing way that you want all over the brownie.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Gluten-free Goat Cheese Garlic and Cheddar Herb Crackers

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Gluten-free Goat Cheese Garlic and Cheddar Herb Crackers

As a dietitian I get asked all the time about gluten-free recipes and food ideas since so many people it seems, either are diagnosed with Celiac Sprue or have developed wheat or wheat-related allergies.  One of the great things about food from different parts of the world, especially South Asia is that a variety of non-wheat based flours are used in cooking.  In any Indian, Bengali or Pakistani grocery store you will find “Besan” which is chickpea flour, split gram flour (a type of lentil), rice flours, potato flour and a myriad of other flours.  They are routinely used for everyday cooking in a variety of ways.  They are much less expensive to buy at an ethnic store than at a “specialty” or “health-food”  store. Not only are these delicious but they add a depth of nutritional content that is not found in traditional processed all-purpose wheat flour.  One of the complaints I hear about those having to go gluten-free is the lack of breads and crackers that taste delicious.  I recently made some homemade Thyme and Rosemary crackers http://kolpona.com/2012/03/21/thyme-and-rosemary-edam-crackers/ and decided that I could make a variation of that using non-wheat flour and the results were truly, truly delicious.  The rice flour adds a crunch to these crackers that make them so addictive that I must confess I ate most of the crackers by myself.  It was a little embarrassing.

Ingredients at a glance

Cream the butter and add the herbs, garlic and cheeses

Roll the dough into a log and wrap with plastic wrap - refrigerate at least 30 minutes

Slice refrigerated dough into 1/8 inch slices

Place about 1 inch apart on a parchment or silpat lined pan

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees

Here’s the recipe:

Gluten-free Goat Cheese Garlic and Cheddar Herb Crackers

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1/3 cup of goat cheese

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1  tsp dried dill

1 tsp dried thyme

1 whole clove garlic, pressed through garlic press

1 cup rice flour

1/4 cup chickpea flour (Besan)

1-2 tsp water (use only if the dough is not coming together)

In a medium-sized bowl cream butter with an electric mixer.  Add in herbs, garlic and cheese and continue mixing until well incorporated.  Slowly add in both the chickpea and the rice flour, add the water if needed for the dough to come together.  I did not add any salt to this recipe since goat cheese is pretty salty.  You can add some kosher salt to taste if you’d prefer. Roll into about a 9″ log and wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and cut the log into 1/8 to 3/8 inch rounds with a sharp knife.  Place on a parchment or silpat  lined cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on a cooling rack before serving.  Makes about 24-28 crackers but you can tell others it only makes 6 (which is what I had to do because I ate most of them myself)