Friday, December 25, 2009

Tomato Soup with Roasted Paprika, Balsamic and Basil

Tomato Soup with Roasted Paprika, Balsamic & BasilThis savory tomato soup recipe is the answer to a quick dinner on a cold winter night. Reach into the pantry to use tomatoes canned at their peak ripeness to provide a rich flavour base. With a perfect balance of smoky sweetness and acidity, this soup is a great way to highlight your tomato harvest. If you don’t have home canned tomatoes, good quality store bought canned tomatoes will do.

The Ingredients: Tomato Soup with Roasted Paprika, Balsamic & Basil
Serves 4, prep time 5 minutes, cooking time 25 minutes

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic minced
4 medium shallots diced
3 tbsp roasted paprika
½ tsp of cayenne
4 cups tomato puree
4 cups of chicken stock
4 tbsp freshly chopped basil
4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt
Aged cheddar cheese (optional)

Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat for one minute. Add the olive oil and shallots and stir for about three minutes.

Add the garlic and continue stirring for another minute until the shallots are soft and translucent.

Add the roasted paprika and cayenne. The spices can burn quite easily, hence stir consistently for about 30 seconds.

Increase the heat to high and add the tomato puree. Continue cooking for about four minutes, stirring occasionally.

Straining the Tomato Soup through a SieveAdd the chicken stock, balsamic, basil, brown sugar and salt. Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally, and reduce heat to medium-low.

Let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes to let the flavours meld.

Just before serving, strain the soup through a fine sieve to ensure a beautifully smooth consistency. Shave some aged cheddar cheese on top and sprinkle with fresh basil.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Fluffy Chocolate Cheesecake

Fluffy Chocolate CheesecakeThis cheesecake has a soft, cotton-like texture that contrasts the traditional dense and heavy New York style cheesecake, but maintains that delectable cream cheese flavour. Cheesecake is a beautiful dessert but is often too delicate to transfer from a baking dish to the serving plate. Using the Cake Pan with Ceramic Serving Plate, this sumptuous cake can go from the oven to the table without a problem. For something even more decadent, add chocolate.

The Ingredients: Fluffy Chocolate Cheesecake
Serves 12, prep time 30 minutes, cooking time 1 hour 15 minutes, cooling time 1-2 hours

1 1/2 cups of chocolate graham crackers crumbs
¼ cup of melted butter
¼ cup of brown sugar

¼ cup of butter
¼ cup of whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
7 ounces of cream cheese (200 grams)
6 eggs, separated
½ cup of cake flour
4 tbsp of cornstarch
3 tbsp of cocoa powder
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup of sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

To make the crust, melt the butter in a small saucepan and combine with cookie crumbs and brown sugar. Mix the crust with your hands to ensure an even consistency.

Spread the crumbs evenly across the bottom of the cake pan, and with your fingertips, firmly press the crust down.

Bake for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown.
Mixing the batterIn preparation for the cake, fill a roasting pan half way with warm water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. Place the rack for the cheesecake above the roasting pan. This helps prevent the top of the cake from cracking while baking.

To make the cheesecake, melt the butter in a large bowl over a double boiler. Once the butter is melted, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the milk, vanilla extract and cream cheese until the mixture is smooth.

If the mixture is still warm, place the bowl in the fridge for a few minutes until it has cooled.

Whisk the egg yolks into the cooled mixture.

Combine the cornstarch, flour and cocoa powder in a small bowl and sift into the mixture. Mix until it is a smooth consistency and set the bowl aside.

In another large bowl, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar. Whip the egg whites until they are frothy but not stiff (they should not hold their shape).

Add the sugar and continue blending the mixture until soft peaks form.

Combine the content of the bowls and fold together until the cake mix is uniform, trying not to over mix.

Grease the side of the cake pan with butter. Pour the cake mix over the crust in the cake pan and give it a little jiggle until the top is even.
Pouring the batter into the pan
Place the cake in the oven on the rack just above the roasting pan and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remember not to open the door while it is baking as this could cause the cake to fall. When finished, turn off the heat and leave the cake inside without opening the door. After 15 minutes, open the oven door slightly and leave the cake inside the oven for another 45 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and bring it to room temperature before serving. However, this cake also works well chilled overnight and served cold.

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