Saturday, February 28, 2009

Soup is Good Food

For those who don't know, soup is one of my very favorite foods. I learned how to cook so I could make my own soup. I used to throw "Sunday Soup Night" dinner parties at least twice a month. In the past 3 months, I have participated in two Soup Exchanges.

And now, we will have Soup Month.

March sounds like a good soup month, doesn't it?

All of my posts in March will be about soup. I will post a new soup recipe once a week. If I try a new soup restaurant, I will share it with y'all!

Oh, boy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bunk Sandwiches

Brian and I finally made it in a few weeks ago and have now been twice.

First visit:
Meatball Parmigiano Hero

Italian Cured Meats with Provolone & Hot Peppers
Second Visit (cell phone pics)
Pork Belly Cubano

Roast Beef with Sweet Onions & Horseradish

Brian likes the Meatball and the Roast Beef the best. I liked the Cubano (it was all about the bread) and the Italian Meats.

It's a little spendy ($8-$9) per sandwich, but with this creativity and quality, we will make this a regular stop.

Bunk Sandwiches
621 SE Morrison

Open Monday - Saturday 8-3

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day Cheesecake

My man loves cheesecake, while I don't care for it. So it really is an unselfish gift that I made him one for Valentine's Day.

I used a recipe from a blog called What We're Eating. It's a recipe I've used before with the luscious caramel spilled all over the top, but this time I opted for a melted berry sauce. Berries obviously aren't in season, so I used frozen ones.

I also added the juice of one lemon plus the zest to the cheesecake batter, as per Brian's request for lemony goodness.

This cheesecake is dreamy, just like the title suggests. It is smooth and rich with a delicate tang that offsets the nutty crunch of the Nilla wafer crust. The crust was a little tough to break through with a fork, so maybe I wouldn't press it so tightly into the pan next time. Being Valentine's Day, I decorated it with a red-food-coloring-heart that I fingerpainted in the middle. Brian was mine with this valentine.

Classic Dreamy Cheesecake based on a recipe by What We're Eating

3 (8oz) packages of Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp good vanilla extract
3 eggs
juice of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp salt

For the crust:
about 1/2 a box of Nilla wafers
1 stick (1/2 cup)unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the crust, place Nilla wafer cookies in a large (gallon-sized)freezer bag. Smash and roll them with a rolling pin until they are finely ground. Place the cookie crumbs in a small bowl. Add sugar and flour and stir to combine. Add in the softened butter and stir until the butter has coated all of the cookie/sugar/flour mixture and there are no dry bits in the bottom of the bowl. Alternatively, you can do this in a food processor.

Pour the crust mixture into a 9-inch springform pan. Using a flat-bottomed measuring cup or a glass, press the cookie crust firmly in the pan, creating an even layer. Some folks work it up the sides, too, but I think this is frustrating and also unnecessary.

Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes or until crust begins to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for half an hour before adding filling to the crust. It will smell heavenly.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven.

Start on the filling while the crust is cooling. Beat the cream cheese with an electric beater or stand mixer at medium speed until softly smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and then add the sugar and continue to beat at medium until fully creamed together, another 1-2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until thoroughly combined and smooth, making sure to scrape down the sides frequently.

Once the crust has completely cooled, wrap tightly with 2 layers of foil. This is very important or else water will seep into your cheesecake while it is baking. When wrapped, pour the filling into the crust. It should be liquid enough to spread out on its own, but if not, give it a nudge with a rubber spat.

Place the cheesecake into a large roasting pan. Add enough water to the roasting pan to go halfway up the side of the spring form pan to create a water bath. (I don't have a large roasting pan, so I use my broiler pan with the top part removed. The water does not come up more than 1/4 of the way up the sides of my springform, but it works!) Bake the cheesecake at 325 degrees for about 1 1/4 hours. At this point, turn the oven off and leave the oven door open to let the cheesecake cool slowly.

After 20-30 minutes, carefully remove the pan from the oven and the springform pan from the roasting pan. Allow the cheesecake to cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour. Transfer the cheesecake to the refrigerate and chill for at least 12 hours before serving.


This month's theme for Weekend Cookbook Challenge is love. I think my cheesecake qualifies. The challenge runs through February 28, so get your posts ready and send them to iliketocook AT shaw DOT ca.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

And the dark horse takes it.

Sitting at the kitchen counter at the beach house with Brian on Thursday, we started talking about Ciao Vito. He has never been there, although I have two times. He has heard me rave about the sugo of pork over crispy polenta ever since. And lo! We have a Valentine's Day destination. I think a small neighborhood restaurant is just what we want this year.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And maybe we'll just stay in and cook...

So how do you like the new template? I like it cause it's wider. And I like blue.

Carafe called back today in response to my Valentine's Day reservation message. They are full already, except for the outside part. Which, they assure me, is enclosed and nice. Brian is having none of it - we must eat inside in February.

So, looking down at my list of restaurants, what about Simpatica? I checked Ben's latest newsletter, which mentions that they will release the V-Day menu next week (which is this week). I attempted to fill out the reservation form, but apparantly one cannot make a reservation so far in advance. I guess when they release the menu it will be ok to make a reservation. If that doesn't work, I give up and we will cook at home like we did last year, only this year I will actually clean off the dining room table so we can use it.

It's good to have a goal.