Ginny and Juan’s Balsamic Showdown: Ginny’s Creation

July 13th, 2009

Juan (oh, yes, he has a name!) and I have a new blog feature… We are going to compete against each other in cooking showdowns… How will it work?  Juan and I will each post (oh, yes, he is guest posting!)… As soon as both posts are up, you have one week to cast your vote which dish you like better.  I’ll tally them up, post the results, and one of us will win bragging rights until our next showdown…

When Juan and I wondered around Chicago, we found Old Town Oil and bought the most delicious sweetest 18 year aged Balsamic Vinegar.  We drizzled it on bread and devoured it.  The balsamic is like nothing I have ever tasted before.  For our first showdown, we had to make a dish highlighting the vinegar.

As I tried to come up with something to make… I kept thinking of cheese… savory and sweet… I found this recipe from 101 Cookbooks for a savory cheesecake.  A few alterations and some sliced figs… I had made an amazing dinner.  My friends loved it… Served with fresh bread, a salad and a glass of white wine.  It was perfect for a summer day!

Stay tuned for Juan’s creation…

Fig- Balsamic Ricotta Cheesecake
(adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

3 3/4 cups ricotta cheese (2 tubs of 15 oz ricotta cheese)
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 basil leaves, minced
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
4 figs, sliced
balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 325F degrees, racks the middle. Butter/oil a 7-inch springform pan.

Mix the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, shallots, garlic, and basil in a medium bowl. Stir in the eggs and continue mixing until well combined. Add the salt and pepper. Fill the springform pan with the ricotta mixture and place on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Now sprinkle with the goat cheese and return to the oven for another 20 -30 minutes or until the goat cheese is melted and the cake barely jiggles in the center (it will set up more as it cools).

Remove from the oven and let cool five minutes, then release the cake from its pan. Cool completely and serve at room temperature. Before serving, place the sliced figs around the edge of the cheesecake and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Why I spend way too much money on rent…

May 3rd, 2009

Isn’t the view just wonderful? I love the lake. It has finally gotten warm in Chicago. It makes me much happier. A few more hours of studying and then a much needed bike ride by the lake.

As I mentioned before, one of my goals in life was to make a souffle.  Many people seem to be intimidated by them because they fall.  My theory is that even if they fall, they still taste good.  I’ve read a number of tips online about how to make the perfect souffle and, honestly, only a few helped:

1. Follow the recipe (I rarely do this in every other type of cooking but here it is important- at least for the egg ratio and such)

2. Level the ramekins with a knife and using the knife go around the inside of the ramekin (this will help it rise more evenly, which I have found to be the best when making chocolate souffles)

3. Do not open the oven until you are ready to take it out (this is a difficult step but try to stick to it.  I have put goat cheese souffles back in that were still raw in the middle and they fell quickly when I took them out.  This may just take some experimentation with the cooking time and your oven.)

I make souffles fairly often because I love a goat cheese souffle with a simple salad.  I can kick back with a glass of white wine and stare out at the lake…stop daydreaming Ginny and get back to studying…

Goat Cheese-Chive Souffle
(adapted from epicurious)
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon Parmesan, grated
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/3 cup milk (recipe calls for whole but I used skim and it worked fine)
3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, very coarsely crumbled
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg yolk
2 large egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Rub inside of two 1-cup soufflé dishes or ramekins with 1 tablespoons butter. Coat with grated parmesan; tap out excess. Set aside.
3. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in sauce pan.
4. Add flour and cook 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
5. Gradually whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium. Simmer mixture until very thick, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes.
6. Add half of goat cheese and chopped chives. Whisk until melted and smooth.
7. Mix in salt and pepper.
8. Allow mixture to cool for 2 minutes.
9. Whisk egg yolk in medium bowl to blend and stir in the souffle base.
10. Beat whites in large bowl until stiff but not dry. Mix 1/4 of whites into soufflé base to lighten. Fold in remaining whites.
11. Sprinkle the goat cheese into the bottle of the ramekins.
12. Place in 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of dishes.
13. Bake soufflés until puffed and golden brown on top and softly set in center, about 20 minutes.

You know Ginny is stressed when…

February 20th, 2009

She finds herself pounding out her stress on bread! This semester has reached that point. I have so much work to do that I am not quite sure when exactly it is going to be done… but I keep working…

I have some good news. I have a summer job! I am very excited about it.  I love history and art. I also love law especially the legal research, the analytical reasoning and the daily interaction with clients. When I went to law school, I was hoping to find the intersection between these interests. This summer I will be interning at one of the museums here in Chicago learning the ins and outs of museum law. I can’t wait!

In the blogging world, you develop friendships with other bloggers. One particular blogger has really made an impression on my life. She is so sweet and thoughtful. She always unnecessarily apologizes when it has been awhile since I have heard from her. Lately, she has also been under a ton of stress. Although I know she couldn’t eat this bread, I would like to dedicate it to her. This is for Veggie Girl!  (when I get my friend’s excellent vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe, I will really dedicate something to you…if I could just track down that recipe)

I made this bread with some leftover pesto and goat cheese.  I would like to send it over to Bayleaf’s Bread Mania Event.  It was quick and delicious!

Pesto-Goat Cheese Swirl Bread
(adapted from Betty Crocker)

3 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package quick active dry yeast
1 1/8 warm water
2-3 tablespoons of pesto
3 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled

1. Dissolve the yeast in the water with the sugar and salt. Make sure the mixture is bubbling so as to assure that you did not kill the yeast.
2. Mix in the flour and olive oil.
3. Mix in enough flour to make dough easy to handle.
4. Knead dough for about 10 min.
5. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise for 40-60 minutes or until double.
6. Grease a loaf pan.
7. Punch down the dough and roll it into a square. Spread with the pesto and sprinkle with the goat cheese. Starting at one end, roll up the dough and place into the loaf pan.
8. Cover and let rise for 35-50 minutes.
9. Heat oven to 425. Bake 25-30 minutes.