Individual Cheesecakes

I started with this recipe but quickly made it my own thing.

Baker’s Joy (or just butter), for greasing the pan
graham cracker crumbs, for the bottoms of the cupcake pans
2 eggs, separated
3/8 cup sugar
200g cream cheese, softened (that’s one small German-sized package — a little smaller than the 8 oz. size typical in the U.S.)
1 tablespoon of sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the cups of a mini-muffin pan and put a half a centimeter of graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of each cup; set aside.

Cream egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, sour cream and cream cheese until fluffy. Beat egg whites until stiff; fold into creamed mixture.

Spoon cream cheese mixture into muffin tins, filling three-fourths full. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Cool 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully remove from muffin tins. Let ’em cool, then try to save at least a couple to show people outside your kitchen that you actually made them. Makes 10 cupcake-sized cheesecakes. They come out of the oven poofy at first, but form little depressions as they cool, which would probably be great for some Lemon Sauce or other fruit sauces

Indiana “Goonie” Jones and the Kingdom of Dr Pepper

Good news and bad news.

A colleague visiting from the U.S. brought us two twelve-packs — one each of Dr Pepper and Mug Root Beer. How cool is that? I’m having a cold Dr Pepper right now. It’s the first one in I don’t know how long. And it’s not even a fountain drink from one of the local Subway restaurants (you can get Barq’s there, but the mix is usually off). Given that we even dilute fruit juice with fizzy water to make Schorles, a full-strength cold Dr Pepper is knocking my socks off.

But that’s not the only of my senses to be teased with a twist of Americana this evening. We just got back from an OV* showing of the most recent (last? please?) installment of the Indiana Jones movie series.

Boo.

There, got that done. OK, ok…it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared, but it wasn’t as good as I’d dared hope. I think I liked it better when it was about pirates, not conquistadors, and the Fratellis were chasing the protagonists instead of the Russians. And yeah, I know both movies were Spielberg vehicles. That’s why there was a smart-aleck kid constantly combing his hair in both.

Oh, and remember that wacked-out Act III of AI? It’s here, too.

Mashups: Fred Schneider and Leek, Sun-dried Tomato and Brie Strata

This post is all about layering.

First, with Fred:

My man FredYesterday at Tammy & Matthias’ house we watched a recent episode of the Daily Show where they called in Fred Schneider of the B52’s to guest voice some segments of the audiobook version of Scott McClellan’s Bush Administration exposé. Then today I stumbled across this excellent mashup involving two bands of yesteryear I rather dig. Take a listen:

[audio:MadMixMustang-TheLoveCatsShack.mp3]

Secondly, the recipe

Leek, Sun-dried Tomato and Brie Strata

1 lb. leeks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
5 large eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (we used Grana Padano)
6-8 thick* slices firm white sandwich, Italian, or French bread, preferably one day old (we used a baguette)
12 oil-packed sund-dried tomato halves, drained, patted dry, and quartered
8 ounces (300 g before de-rinding) Brie, rind removed

This first part is for those who don’t yet know their way around leeks and getting the sand out of them. If you’ve done this before, skip to the next paragraph.
Trim root ends from leeks. Trim off darkest green tops. Peel off and discard any wilted or discolored outer leaves. Halve or quarter leeks lengthwise. Rise leeks well under cold water. Place in a bowl and fill with cold water. Repeat process at least twice to remove any sand from between layer, drain and pat dry. Cut into thin slices; yield should be about 4 cups.

Sun-dried Tomato, Leek, and Brie Strata Lightly coat a 9-inch (square) baking dish with some butter and set aside. Melt remaining butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring until tender but not browned, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt to taste and a grinding of pepper, remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until foamy. Whisk in milk until blended. Add Parmy goodness, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a grinding of pepper.

To assemble strata use half of bread slice to make a single layer in prepared baking dish, cutting them, if necessary to fit tightly. Spoon leeks evenly over bread. Distribute sun-dried tomatoes evenly over leeks and top with brie. Use remaining bread slices to make a second layer, once again cutting to fit, if necessary. Pour egg mixture evenly over top of strata, using a spatula to ress on bread so liquid is evenly absorbed. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours, or overnight. Preheat over to 350°F. Uncover strata and bake until puffed and browned, about 45 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 12*.

Bleu Cheese Crisps

Hang on tight, please — this post is going veer and swerve violently around three pillars of pleasure for me: linguistics, google, and cheese.

First, the cheese:

Sarah’s mom gave her a book of recipes compiled by alumnae of her Catholic high school founded by an order of French nuns a couple of years ago (the giving, not the founding). Up until now, we haven’t done much with it except make fun of its name (I’ll spare you). But after our Strawberry Shortcake success on the weekend, I started thinking that we’ve become rather famous (at least in circles around the water cooler) for our dessert prowess. It might be good to branch out. So I started perusing the book and I found a winner pretty quickly.

Bleu Cheese Crisps

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 4-oz. package crumbled bleu cheese, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (pecans are so hard to find here)
1 baguette sliced

Mix butter and bleu cheese until blended. Stir in pecans and set aside. Place baguette slices in a single layer on baking sheets. Bake at 350°F for 3 to 5 minutes. Turn slices and spread evenly with bleu cheese mixture. Bake 5 minutes. Serve immediately. Yields 32 appetizers.

We’re thinking about editing the recipe; we’ll update this post if it works well. These are really good and easy, but we’re interesting in giving them a boost of red or black pepper (or paprika maybe) and seeing how that goes.

Which brings us to the linguistics:

This stuff is fairly similar to Obatzda, which is a typical Biergarten treat. You’d expect more flavory things in an Obatzda like onions and garlic, but the general concept here was by-and-largely the same, if a bit more refined, owing to the touch of Fronce. Anyhoo, I was thinking about Obatzda, the word. Not so much what it means (someone explained that to me years ago), but what its non-Bavarianized equivalent would be. Based on what I hear people at the office say when they’re excited (mostly negatively…is that telling?), I surmised that the ‘O’ represented a high-German “an” and that the ‘batzd’ was a past-participle with a silent ‘-ge-‘ past-participle marker that Bavarians (at least here in the Oberpfalz often just don’t need to use). Lo and behold, that wikipedia link above confirms the suspicion. How I found that out is the third pillar of this post.

What’s the sound of me dorkin’ out on the computer? “Goosh!”

Man, that’s fun to say. It’s short for the Google Shell (think bash, ksh, csh, tcsh if you ever had a unix account at your university or place of employment). For the keyboard-loving information junkies, just point your browser at http://goosh.org and go to town – start off with an ‘h’ command to show you what’s available. The best part? In my opinion, it’s the “addengine” command, which puts the goosh toolbar in your Firefox browser’s list of searchboxes. From there, you have the power of all those commands right in the search box. Here’s how I used it and was so tickled that I started this post: “wiki Obatzda” and “in regenblogsblog.com shortcake”. I love the keyboard.

Pfunds Molkerei

The Joint

Bautznerstr. 79
01099 Dresden

Tel.: +49 (0)351 / 80 80 80
Fax: +49 (0)351 / 80 80 820

http://www.pfunds.de/

Cliff

This place was recommended to us by our travel guide (not Frommer’s, but rather one that we picked up at a local bookstore in Regensburg). Given my recent cheese fixation, I was immediately drawn to the idea of visiting the prettiest dairy in the world (their website has the details).

It’s not in the Altstadt, where we’ve been spending most of our time here in Dresden, but rather somewhat removed from the old downtown area out in Neustadt. But that didn’t stop me (armed with our Familientageskarte from DVB, the local transit authority). The Neustadt had none of the Altstadt charm – but it’s realer — we passed grocery stores and resale shops and all the normal city stuff you won’t find near the Frauenkirche.

After looking around inside (we would have snapped lots of pictures of their beautiful tile work, but it was verboten), we went upstairs to their little restaurant. I had a glass of fresh purple milk (flavored with black current juice) and split an A.O.C.Käseplatte (cheese platter) with Sarah. Highlights for me were the caraway camembert (I think that’s what it was; might have been a brie for all I know) and fig mustard. The whole place was kinda kitschy, but that was pretty darn good cheese and milk.

I think finally we can bring the cheese chapter to a close.

Sarah

The place is certainly pretty and unique. It’s covered in Meissen porcelain tiles in shades of yellow, cream and blue – not what you would expect for a dairy shop, until you examine the tiles to find scenes of cows and milkmaids in rolling meadows. In addition to dairy goods, like chocolates and cheeses, the shop sells lots of tiles and old fashioned tin signs. Unfortunately, the Molkerei isn’t exactly off the beaten path. In fact, it’s a popular enough stop that it’s a marked unloading zone for tour busses. I would have liked to have bought something from the shop, but it was crowded enough to make turning around (let alone browsing) difficult.

We went upstairs to the café/restaurant where I had a nice latte macchiato and split the A.O.C. cheese platter with Cliff as an early lunch. I guess the tour bus dwellers were on a schedule, because none of them came up there. Because it was so empty, the service couldn’t help but be attentive, but I was quite charmed when the waitress asked if she could explain what was going on with the cheeses included in our order. I especially got a kick out of the combination of the saltier cheeses (Parmesan and manchego) with the sweet fig mustard.

can’t stop eating cheese

I can’t stop eating cheese lately. I have no good explanation for this, other than that it is delicous.

Off the top of my head, over the last three days or so:

…and there’s some more Chavroux in the fridge waiting for me.

I think I need to go to France again.

Crockpot Macaroni & Cheese

MMMMMM, mac & cheeeeeeeeeese. I have lamented the lack of decent cheddar here in Regensburg. I guess the cheese deities heard me, because I finally saw sharp cheddar and decided to take a chance. Cliff is especially glad I did. This stuff was fabulous and takes the edge off of the occasional homesickness.

1/4 c flour
1 t salt
1/4 t ground pepper
2 T minced dried onions
1/2 t paprika
3 c milk
1 c grated cheddar cheese*
2 c uncooked macaroni#

*The cheese I was able to find was in 100 gram packages of sandwich-sized slices. I used 2 entire packages cut into matchsticks in order to approximate shreds. I don’t know how this compares to amount given in the recipe, but I’m fairly confident that it was at least a little more than 1.5 cups.

#The uncooked pasta part made me nervous, so I parboiled mine, then combined everything in the crockpot. The noodles were a little mushy, but still good.

In a saucepan, combine all dry ingredients. Whisk milk into saucepan until there are no lumps. Over medium heat, continue stirring milk mixture until it thickens and boils. Add cheese a little at at time and stir until melted. Pour pasta and sauce into crockpot and stir until well mixed. Cover and cook on low for 2.5 hours or high for 1 hour.

Spinach and Feta sidedish

I finally did it! Everyone that’s come to visit us has eaten with us at Exil, our favorite restaurant. They serve a fabulous spinach as a side or as a filling for little turkey rolls. I think I’ve finally come close enough to recreating it to post it here. If you don’t like feta, you might be able to substitute yogurt cheese.

1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 T olive oil
2 pounds fresh spinach, rinsed and chopped
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground mace
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese

In a deep skillet over medium-low heat, sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil for about 7-9 minutes (or until tender). Don’t burn the garlic! If it starts to brown, turn down the heat.

Next, add the spinach by handfuls. There will be a lot of spinach, but if you only add 2-3 handfuls at a time and cook it with a lid on for 1-2 minutes, it will wilt significantly.

After you’ve added all the spinach and it has all wilted, add the salt, pepper, mace and pepper flakes and stir thoroughly. The spinach will start to give off a fair amount of liquid. Turn the heat up to medium-high to cook away the liquid. When you’ve cooked off as much liquid as you choose, stir in the feta and turn off the heat.

Serves 4

Walnut Romano Pasta Sauce

We got insprired to try this from a book our pal Natasha lent us. It’s easy to make, and a creamy sauce based on milk, not cream…so the guilt factor is a little lower.

1/2 cup walnut pieces
2 T butter
11/4 cups milk
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs*
2 T freshly grated parmesan cheese (we used lots more than that and it was pecorino romano)
pinch freshly grated nutmeg (OK seriously, who grates their own nutmeg?)
salt and ground black pepper to taste
fresh rosemary sprigs to garnish (we skipped those altogether)

*When they say fresh, they mean fresh. Using dry means you’ll have to tinker with the milk and cheese ratios to keep it saucier than chunkier.

1. Toast walnuts in dry, wide, flat skillet, over medium-high heat, 3-5 minutes or until fragrant, stirring constantly. Coarsely chop if desired. Set aside.

2. In medium saucepan, heat butter and milk until butter is completely melted.

3. Stir in breadcrumbs and nuts and heat gently for two minutes, stirring constantly until thickened. If sauce appears to become too thick, add a splash more milk.

4. Add parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

5. Toss with cooked pasta. Serves 2-4 people.