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It’s Not Easy Being Cheesy…

My first cheesecake attempt

Apparently, it isn’t easy cooking cheesy either. For the record, the cheesecake had a good flavor which was really the only thing it had going for it. Well, that and the fact that New York style cheesecake is my husband’s favorite, so I got lots of brownie points there.

The things that went wrong:

From looking at it, you can see the top cracked. It was only the top, and the cracks weren’t as bad once it cooled off. The edges burned. The crust burned; therefore, it didn’t even transfer with the cake, which was fine in my husband’s mind, but if I go to the trouble of making a gram cracker crust, then I expect to be able to enjoy it with my cake.

What could have corrected the problems:

After some research (and wonderful info learned through ATK Cooking School), I overcooked (and maybe over beat) the cake. It’s most likely just the overcooking part because I used a dark cookie sheet under it to catch any of the filling if it spilled (as per the recipe), so aluminum pans (or lighter pans) would not have cooked the cake as fast. I think this is the reason it was split and why the crust burned-well, that and the fact that the recipe calls for the rack to be in the lower middle position. So, if the dark pan is drawing more heat and the cake is lower than middle, then it seems logical that I would have needed to check it sooner. Well, you live and learn. I’m not totally sure about the burning on the edges. It didn’t taste or smell burned, surprisingly. When I cook it again correcting these errors, then I will see if it still burns the edges. I’m hoping not.

The consistency of the cake, to me, seemed a little chalky; however, my mother says it was the best cheesecake she’s ever had (and she’s a straight shooter). Perhaps the next time I will get a more solid, creamy consistency. The recipe called for a flat paddle, and the mixer I was using didn’t have one, so I had to use regular beaters. I read comments online that over-beating can cause both this and the cracks in the top. Since then, I have purchased a new mixer with the flat paddle attachment. I don’t know if over-beating REALLY occurred, but if it did, I should be able to correct that on my mix go around. Wish me luck!


Oh What a Dilly…

I have encountered some of the most amazing potatoes. They are small. They are called Melissa’s Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes.

Dilly Potato Salad with Roasted Hen, Asparagus in light butter, and fresh, local grown tomatoes

I just tried them out one day because I thought they were cute (yeah, I know…what’s the connection). I made potato salad with them. The dish was my own creation–just a play on the traditional potato salad. I left out the relish and added parsley. I boiled the potatoes until they were beginning to get soft. I added mayo, salt, pepper, mustard and stirred them vigorously to cause some to mash a bit. The final result was really almost perfection for me. The potatoes were so buttery in consistency. I got LOTS of compliments on the dish.

When I try a dish and it isn’t what I would totally want it to be, it will bug me until I get it right. I mentioned this to my America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School instructor (Cali Rich), and she responded back to me with the name Dilly Potato Salad because my next attempt would be to omit the parsley and add dill (the herb). I did just that, and wow! I was completely happy with it. My husband kept making comments on how good it was over and over. I was very pleased! Posted is the picture of our meal with the Dilly Potato Salad.

Sweetness in the Storm

There’s this song that I sing to my son when I am nursing him, it goes “Yummy, yummy, I got some milk in my tummy…” Well, that is what you would want with this cake. A big, tall, glass of your favorite milk. As you know from my previous post, there’s been an explosion of flavor in my house lately. I am cooking and baking, and I AM LOVING IT!

Honestly, I feel like I have possessed by one of the America’s Test Kitchen interns (I don’t even know if I’d be good enough to be an intern). I may not be good enough to be an intern yet, but I could be within a year! I won a one-year subscription to America’s Test Kitchen’s online cooking school. Yeah. How lucky is that? How did I do it? Tweeted. For the first time in quite a while. I don’t really “tweet,” but I just happened to read an article from their blog and decided to take their cooking quiz, and TWEET. I was TOTALLY shocked because I never win anything. I am going to try my best to get the most out of it. I hope to make my cooking instructor, Cali Rich-senior editor of Cook’s Country magazine, proud.

The flavor explosion spoken of in previous posts has now turned into a different type of explosion. I’ve been working on reorganizing my kitchen. I don’t know what I have. Honestly, I had like 4 blenders! How does that happen? It happens by letting your husband put your dishes away, and he pushes them into the highest, darkest corner of the cabinets and you swear you had something but give up and decide, I must have sold it or given it away. You ask him, and he says, “What blender?” So, you buy another one. Yeah…

Baking this cake this weekend was quite a challenge because of the “explosion.” All of my kitchen accessories are on my kitchen table in the dining room. I’m like, “Hey, I’m going through all of my cabinets, so I may as well go ahead and clean them out, too, and oh yeah, while I’m at it, why not let’s cooks a cake from scratch for dear ole’ dad for his birthday.”

I shared with my family this evening after enjoying a nice slice of this cake that I really underestimate the time necessary to cook. I have learned where I’m losing a lot of my time. It’s in the preparation. Chopping, measuring, and other things required to have the items ready. When you just pull everything out and start the recipe straight from the book, you will realize that there were a great many steps you could have taken to make it a more seamless process. I did learn my lesson! AND…my kitchen should be back to normal — errr, uh, a more organized normal, this week.

My next dish is going to be a homemade potato salad I made a couple of weeks ago with baby dutch yellow potatoes. I want to add fresh dill this time instead of parsley, so that means I have to go back to Lowe’s and actually buy the dill plant instead of thinking I did. I am going to take pics of this one and share with you. It really is excellent! The potatoes are so smooth! You know what? There’s a lot to know about food. Like all potatoes are not created equal…just a little something I picked up from America’s Test Kitchen YouTube video (very casual, not pro video)  on “The Science of Cooking.” So tell me, what are you making?



Kitchen Explosion

Now I have your attention! Yes, my kitchen has experienced an explosion of my interest. When I was in the workplace full-time, I was out of the kitchen full-time. If you read my last article, you know that I am home full-time now (read the article for details on why). To my husband’s delight, I have a new found love for my kitchen. Yes, it’s a bit too small, but as long as I’m the only one in it, it’s just fine for me. Get in my way though, and I lose interest because of bumping into each other at every turn.

So what has gotten my attention and brought such love into my kitchen, great food and being home full-time with my son ! Of course there are several things that brought me around to that realization…the discussion of DIY items with my friend (which made me think of making my own bread, butter, jelly and more), the successful attempt at making a pound cake from scratch

My cake–from scratch! 🙂

(Taste of Home, Million Dollar Pound Cake), the purchase of a couple of All-Clad pans at a bargain price, and being introduced to Cook’s Illustrated magazine and America’s Test Kitchen videos on YouTube. Yes, that’s a lot I know, but one led to another. In a matter of days, this had all happened. It all started from that one conversation with my friend. It’s amazing what contemplation will do.

I have since baked another pound cake (same type) for a church function, and made indoor pulled pork by following a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. Can you say, AWESOME. I realized if I continue on this path, there will be a weight gain issue in our home. I was fortunate to find that Cook’s has a healthy recipes cookbook. They take many of the same recipes and work through them to make recipes that result in the same taste but with fewer calories and fat. That is a win, win in my opinion!! I was excited to learn that I can still love cooking without having to give up truly good food, using tried and true recipes, and participating in the fun of cooking led by America’s Test Kitchen. I’m so excited!!

So what’s exploding at your house?

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