Hussein loves bread and always prefers bakery fresh bread to anything in a plastic bag in the supermarket. I’ve made quick, no-knead loafs with yeast before but really wanted to try my hand at sourdough. Many of my blogger friends had posted about Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa. I ordered the book and began my journey.
Since ordering this cookbook, I’ve made three loaves of bread (two regular sourdough and one whole wheat). Each better than the previous. Getting the techniques down is critical and a part of the bread making journey.
This is a labor of love
This is probably my most requested recipe. I saved this recipe for something special and that came in the form of ‘America The Great Cookbook’.
Cheesecakes are one of the first things I learned to bake on my own. I was in 4th grade and I purchased a cookbook from the school book fair. It had a blue cover and pages and pages of recipes inside. I made the New York Style cheesecake with Strawberry Topping. It was a hit with my family and I was designed as the cheesecake baker ever since!
This recipe came to life, as I was planning a dish to make for the MasterChef audition in the Fall of 2014. I wanted to make a dessert and Hussein kept insisting that my cheesecake was the best. I wanted to somehow incorporate my Lebanese heritage and was planning with phyllo dough. The first time I made this cheesecake, the baklava layer was the crust, but the two elements were baked separately and were individual size.
These cheesecake has several components. The crust, the filling, the baklava topping and the pomegranate reduction sauce (which can be made ahead).
The crust is a traditional graham cracker crust. Using a measuring cup, press the crumbs firmly into the pan. This will help keep the crust bound together.
Please be sure all of these ingredients are at room temperature to ensure a smooth filling. This takes planning, but when you are putting this much effort, you want to do things right.
The rose water is important. It can be found in Middle Eastern stores or here: Rose Water
The Baklava Topping
This takes the most effort. You must score the topping before placing it on the filling. This ensures you will be able to cut and serve your cheesecake after it has cooked and cooled. Placing the baklava topping onto the filling, requires extra hands (or a really big spatula). I would ask a friend or family member to help 🙂
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 4 packages (8 ounces each ) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tabelspoons rose water
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup walnut pieces
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 12 sheets phyllo dough, thawed if frozen
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- Mint leaves for garnish, optional
- Candied kumquats for garnish optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, fill a baking dish with water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. This will create steam in the oven, which will keep the cheesecake from cracking.
- For the crust: In a bowl stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until evenly moistened. Using the back of a spoon or the base of a measuring cup, press the mixture onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
- For the filling: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the flour, rose water, cardamom and salt. Pour the batter into the graham cracker crust.
- For the baklava topping: in a blender (preferably a high-speed blender), combine the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon and process until finely ground; Set aside.Cut the phyllo sheets into 9-inch rounds and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Place 1 sheet of phyllo down on your work surface and brush with melted
- butter. Place a second sheet of phyllo on top of the first and brush with melted butter. Repeat until you have a stack of 7 sheets of phyllo. Spread the walnut filling over the top. Cover with another sheet of phyllo and brush with melted butter. Repeat until you have used up all the phyllo.
- Using a very sharp knife, score the baklava topping into equal-sized pieces (think of a pizza: one cut down the middle, a second across, until you have 8 slices). Carefully place the baklava over the top of the cheesecake, making sure to place it in the center. This is best done with the help of a second pair
- of hands.
- Bake the cheesecake on the middle rack above the pan of water until the center is no longer liquid, about 55 minutes. Let cool in the oven, with the oven door open, for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, then cover and refrigerate for 8 hours before serving.
- For the Pomegranate Reduction: In a small pot, heat the pomegranate juice and sugar over medium heat until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.To serve, garnish the cheesecake with mint leaves and candied kumquats (if using), and dot some pomegranate reduction on each serving plate.
Make this recipe? I’d love to see! Please tag me @AmandasPlate #CreateAmandasPlate
Mashed potatoes are essential for Thanksgiving and as important as the turkey. There are so many ways to mash and season your potatoes. I like this Mashed Potato and Mushroom gravy Recipe best, as it is the perfect texture and creaminess. I use chives, lots of butter and heavy cream, salt and pepper for seasoning and of course the rich mushroom gravy to pour on top.
I L-O-V-E cranberry sauce. But not that stuff that comes out of metal jar. Yes, I know they organic cranberry sauce in cans but it is not as good as homemade.
This recipe is super easy to make and can be done two days in advance (I wouldn’t go longer, because we are making fresh cranberry sauce). My citrus spiced cranberry sauce is sure to be a favorite on your table this Thanksgiving!
If you’ve ever made a turkey, you know how challenging it can be. But it does not have to be. My first attempt at this Citrus and Herb Turkey Recipe was a great success. I combined recipes and techniques from Bon Apetit and New York Times Food. I learned some tricks that I share below to ensure your turkey is also a great success!
Mango Quinoa Tabbouleh is a modern take on a classic Lebanese salad. This flavor-packed dish makes for the perfect accompaniment to any meal.
My family loves tabbouleh and it is a dish we often make together. My mom, sisters and I, would pick through bunches and bunches of parsley when making this for parties. I can’t wait for my daughter, Hannah, to join us in preparing dishes together.
It’s pumpkin spice season and you either absolutely love it or you don’t. Pumpkin spice is no longer limited to pies and lattes; they now flavor cough drops with pumpkin spice. Yes, they really do exist. :D. I used this blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, to create my Pumpkin Spice Pecan Muffins!
I have memories of the pumpkin candies my grandmother makes. She would buy the biggest pumpkins available and boil them, simmer them in sugar and dry them out.
I was afraid of them as a kid. The only “pumpkin-y” thing I wanted to eat was pumpkin pie and this candy did not resemble a pie. But then I tried it! And to my surprise I loved it!
When making these muffins, the batter will be thick. It is really important not to over mix it. I highly recommend using parchment muffin liners by Paperchef. You can purchase them here
It is also really important to check the dates on your baking soda and baking powder. Baking soda is good for baking for six months, once the container has been opened. Baking powder is good for about 9 months. I always write the date I opened the containers with a sharpie, to ensure my baked good turn out!
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoon vanilla bean pasta or vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted
- 4 tablespoons melted butter, unsalted
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Prep baking tins by spraying with non stick spray or lining with cupcake liners
- Make crumble my mixing melted butter, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar and pecans. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.
- In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, vegetable oil, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. *Do NOT over mix*
- Gently fold in toasted pecans
- Divide muffin mix evenly between 12 cavities
- Sprinkle over the crumble and press down into the muffins
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean
- Allow to cool on a wire rack
- Enjoy 🙂
You can use 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice inlace of the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. You can also make these muffins without the crumble topping, but I highly recommend it 😀
Make this dish? I’d love to see it! Tag me using #CreateAmandasPlate or @AmandasPlate
I love figs. They’re deliciously sweet and packed with flavor. They’re also really good for you and make a great addition to desserts. I made this salted caramel fig chocolate cake before baby Hannah came into the world, but did not have a chance to share it until now. I used mission figs from Melissa’s Produce. But any fig will work 🙂
I don’t often admit this, but I was a picky eater as a child and young adult. For some reason, I did not like soup (I think it was the texture?).
What are the foods you did not like as a kid, that you now enjoy? I’d love to hear about the transition from dislike to like 😀
I created this soup last fall, when I had a surplus of butternut squash on hand. I decided to roast the squash before pureeing to enhance the sweet notes of the squash. By roasting the squash whole, you don’t have to peel it or dice it first!
This soup doubles nicely and can be kept in the freezer in an airtight container (stores up to 2 months), for those busy, cold weeknights!
While this recipe is vegetarian, it can also be made vegan, by omitting the heavy cream. You can substitute the cream for more vegetable broth. 🙂
There are a number of toppings you can add to this soup! My favorites are fried sage, as it adds a deep, earthy flavor and homemade croutons!
- 1 large butternut squash (3 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, quartered
- 5 large garlic cloves
- 1 red bell pepper, quartered
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Croutons, fried sage, pomegranate arils, olive oil, goat cheese (all optional)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut butternut squash length wise and remove the seeds. Drizzle each half with olive oil. Place the squash flesh side down and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
- After the squash has roasted for 20 minutes, place the onion, red bell pepper and garlic cloves on the baking pan. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.
- When the squash is tender and the onion, bell pepper and garlic are cooked thru, remove from the oven. Peel the skin off the squash.
- If using a blender, as I did, place the squash, onion, pepper, garlic, vegetable broth, nutmeg, salt and pepper in the blender and puree until smooth. Lastly, add the heavy cream and blend until evenly incorporated.
- Transfer the soup into a pot and heat thru.
- Serve with fried sage, goat cheese, croutons, a drizzle of oil and pomegranate.
- Enjoy 🙂
Note: if using an emersion blender, place the vegetable stock, cream, squash, onions and garlic in a pot. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg, and blend until smooth.
Make this dish? I’d love to see! Tag me @AmandasPlate or using #CreateAmandasPlate