Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

CRUSTS - Buy pre=made mini graham crusts. They come 6 to a package, I think?

Or Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter

2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 16 oz. can pumpkin
1 1/4 tsps. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs

2 cups sour cream
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
12 pecan halves


1, Combine crust ingredients, press into bottom of 9-inch springform pan; chill.
2. For filling, beat cream cheese and sugar in large mixing bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, spices and salt. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Pour into crust. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, for topping, combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Spread over filling, return to oven for 5 minutes. Cool on rack, chill overnight. Garnish each slice with a pecan half.

****This recipe makes 16 minis. Bake them at 350 for 25 minutes. They are better the next day after setting overnight. ****

Mashed Potatoes - a la Food Network

- serves 8 to 10 -

4 pounds yukon gold (or other yellow fleshed potatoes), cut into 3 inch pieces
8 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups milk or half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes, garlic, and salt and simmer, partially covered, over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes and garlic are fork-tender.

2. Drain the potatoes and garlic and return to the pot over high heat. Cook, tossing the potatoes, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until all the moisture is evaporated. Transfer to a large bowl and mash with a potato masher.

3. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, oil, and milk over medium heat until the butter has melted. Add to the potatoes and whip with a wooden spoon or whisk to a smooth but not soupy consistency. Mash any pieces of garlic until totally pureed. When the liquid is absorbed, season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

To prepare in advance, make up to 4 hours ahead, cover, and keep at room temperature. Reheat gently in the top of a double boiler over medium heat, adding extra milk as needed and adjusting the seasonings.
The Clever Cook Could:

* Peel the potatoes and purée with a potato ricer for a very smooth consistency
* Add 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or 1 or 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish or a squirt of wasabi paste
* Add 3 finely chopped leeks sautéed in olive oil to the mashed potatoes just before serving

Green Bean Casserole

For the topping:

* 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* Nonstick cooking spray

For beans and sauce:

* 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
* 1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1 cup chicken broth
* 1 cup half-and-half


Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Combine the onions, flour, panko and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Coat a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread the onions on the pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Toss the onions 2 to 3 times during cooking. Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the beans. Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.