07 July


Japanese Cheesecake

July 30: National Cheesecake Day

Some of the Asian supermarkets around town have bakeries built in the corner and we sometimes pick up a few baked goods on our way out to snack on during the drive home. We especially like the cotton-soft cakes, such as the rolled sponges and light layered ones. So when we saw a viral post on a 3-ingredient Japanese cheesecake, we had to try it to see if we can replicate one of the fluffy Asian confections from the bakeries.

This Japanese cheesecake is made with cream cheese and eggs, just like a New York-style cheesecake, but is airy like an angel food chiffon cake and not dense, creamy and heavy. We made ours mini size (6-inch round) and added a little vanilla for a hint of flavor.

Japanese cheesecake is a sweet and simple snack or a light dessert after a big meal and is a good recipe to try on National Cheesecake Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Epicurious)

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces (1 package) white chocolate (we used Baker’s brand), melted
  • 4 ounces (½ package/container) cream cheese (we used lactose-free cream cheese), softened
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Directions

Prepare a 6-inch round spring form cake pan by lining the bottom and sides with buttered parchment paper (cut a 6-inch round circle and butter it and cut a strip at least 21 inches long and 4-5 inches high and butter it). Cover the bottom of the cake pan with a large foil piece to prevent water from leaking into it. Set aside.

In a microwavable bowl, melt the white chocolate according to the package directions. Stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Mix in the softened cream cheese. In a small cup, beat the egg yolks with the vanilla, if using.

Add the egg yolk mixture to the chocolate-cream cheese. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually add small portions of egg whites to the above mixture and fold gently until incorporated each time.

Pour the mixture carefully into the prepared spring form pan. Place this pan into a larger pan. Pour warm water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the spring form pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until the cheesecake sets. Turn off the oven and leave the pans for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Place the foil-lined spring form pan onto a wire rack to cool completely. Discard the water from the other pan. Remove the cheesecake from the pan, peeling away the parchment paper, and put on a platter. Chill for about 4 hours before serving.

Notes

  • This Japanese cheesecake tends to deflate a little after it has been taken out of the oven but still tastes light and soft.
  • Substitute the vanilla for other flavorings, such as strawberry, orange or raspberry extract and garnish the finished cheesecake with sliced strawberries, drained mandarin oranges or raspberries. Try coconut extract and sprinkle with coconut flakes.
  • Try our other creamy cheesecake recipes on our blog for National Cheesecake Day.

 

Strawberry Daiquiri

July 19: National Daiquiri Day

Summers are hot, especially in Texas, so Highlander sometimes chills out with a strawberry daiquiri. The fruit is in season and is abundant around this time of the year here. So much so that we have been to two strawberry festivals in Texas (Poteet and Pasadena) which sell the fruit by bushels and baskets! On a hot summer day, relax and cool off with a classic cocktail—strawberry daiquiri—on National Daiquiri Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Cocktails at Love to Know)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups ice
  • ¾ cup rum
  • ½ cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries (washed and leaves removed)

Directions

In a blender, place the ice, rum and lime juice. Sprinkle the sugar.

Add the strawberries. Blend/puree/liquefy well. Pour into glasses. Garnish with a strawberry or slice of lime (optional).

Notes

  • For a mocktail (virgin version of strawberry daiquiri), eliminate the rum and substitute with lemon-lime soda.
  • Search our blog for more cocktail recipes.

Texas Caviar

July 18: National Caviar Day

Our Ukrainian friend Olga W. eats real Russian caviar but we have not acquired a taste for that luxury cuisine. We even tried to fill some champagne macarons with caviar as well but we still did not care for it.

Perhaps our taste (buds) leans toward the beer (budget) than champagne (and caviar) kind. So for National Caviar Day, we went the cheap route and asked our friend, Karen B., to make her version of Texas Caviar for our blog. Her recipe does not have roe but lots of richness from the earth instead—beans and colorful chopped vegetables.

Our guest chef is a true Texan and is the perfect person to share her recipe for Texas Caviar. Born and bred near Houston, Karen loves her cowboy boots, the rodeo, BBQs and country music. She and Islander are friends through the local culinary and cake clubs.

Served as a side salad or as an appetizer with (Texas-shaped) tortilla chips, Texas Caviar is an economical alternative to expensive caviar on National Caviar Day!

Recipe

From Karen B.

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion (or half a Texas-sized sweet onion), chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions/scallions, chopped (green parts only)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 small Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black eyed peas, drained
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1 bottle (8 ounces) zesty Italian dressing

Directions

Finely chop the sweet and green onions, green/red/jalapeno peppers and cilantro leaves. Mince the garlic and dice the tomatoes. Put them all in large mixing bowl. Stir in the drained black beans and black eyed peas. Add the sweet corn kernels. Pour in the zesty Italian dressing and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for about two hours to allow the flavors to meld. Serve in a bowl, garnished with extra chopped cilantro leaves, if desired.

Notes

  • Thanks to Karen B. for taking some photos for our blog and for making Texas Caviar for us. Take special note of her adorable Texas-shaped bowl that she used to serve the dip with tortilla chips.
  • Our church puts on an annual “Denim and Diamonds” fundraiser so we were inspired to photograph the food with our jeans and rhinestones. “Denim and Diamonds” is a popular party theme in Texas and is also a perfect backdrop for Texas Caviar.

 

Patriotic Peanut Butter

M&M Cookies

July 4: American Independence Day

Americans are celebrating the 4th of July today by shopping the sales, seeing a blockbuster movie, watching fireworks, having a picnic or barbecue or enjoying the summer season with family and friends. Whenever we gather with them to celebrate USA’s independence day, we like to make festive food to share, such as these peanut butter cookies studded with red, white and blue M&M peanut butter-flavored candies. This dessert is easy to make and is always a welcome treat at parties with a patriotic theme. Happy 4th of July!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup peanut butter M&Ms (we used the seasonal red, white and blue peanut butter-flavored M&M candies)
  • ¼ cup sugar, granulated white

Directions

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Mix in the peanut butter. Beat in the egg. Blend well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Gradually add the dry to the wet ingredients and mix until everything comes together. Fold in the M&Ms. Scoop 1-inch size balls form the dough. Roll in the sugar.

Place each dough ball on a lightly greased cookie sheet, leaving about two inches to allow for spreading. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let the cookie cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Yield: Approximately 2 ½ dozen cookies.

Notes

  • The use of red, white and blue M&Ms in this patriotic-colored recipe is similar to the one of the election cookies we made a few years ago.
  • Change the colors of the candies to suit the season (for example, red and pink M&Ms for Valentine’s Day and red and green M&Ms for Christmas).
  • Search our blog for other patriotic-themed recipes.

 

Great Canadian Ketchup Cupcakes

July 1: Canada Day

Canadians seem to have an affinity for ketchup. Ketchup-flavored potato chips are a wildly popular snack—and ketchup cupcakes are a relatively new novelty from our northern neighbors. We made the latter to share with Highlander’s co-workers and proudly observe the national holiday of his birth country.

At first, he did not reveal what the “secret/special” ingredient (ketchup) was in the cupcakes, which look a lot like red velvet flavor. So it was a surprise when his co-workers tasted a tangy yet sweetly spiced cupcake. Canadian flag colors of white and red complete this confection; it is topped with white maple syrup-infused cream cheese frosting and red candy maple leaves.

The Great Canadian Ketchup Cake was introduced by the Heinz company to mark its centennial year in Canada in 2009. Curious cooks like us wanted to try the recipe (in cupcake form) and post the experience appropriately on Canada Day. It is a decent dessert from a creative advertising campaign!

Recipe

(Adapted from Heinz via Kraft Canada)

For the ketchup cupcakes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup tomato ketchup (we used Heinz organic)
  • 2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, stir together the water, ketchup and red food coloring. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar until fluffy.

Beat in the eggs. Gradually add some of the flour mixture, alternating with the ketchup mixture and blend until smooth.

Scoop into red paper cupcake liners. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on wire racks.

For the maple syrup-infused cream cheese frosting and maple leaf candy toppers

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (see Notes)
  • red candy melts (we used Wilton brand)

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with the cream cheese. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Stir in the maple syrup and blend well. Use a spatula to frost the tops of the cupcakes.

Melt the red candy melts according to the package directions. Spoon into mini maple leaf molds. Let set, unmold and place the candy maple leaves in the center of the cupcakes. Chill in the refrigerator and let the cupcakes come to room temperature for serving. Yield: Approximately 20 cupcakes.

Notes

  • Instead of maple syrup, substitute with a teaspoon of maple extract for a more pronounced maple flavor.
  • We bought our fall leaves candy mold when it was in season at our local craft store. The particular mold we used can be ordered online at Amazon.com. 
  • Search our blog for more Canadian recipes (see our Theme Menus). 

 

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

July 14: National Grand Marnier Day

We once made orange macarons with a chocolate ganache filling flavored with Triple-Sec, considered a “poor man’s orange liqueur”. But we splurged this time and used Grand Marnier in a chocolate cake to make it taste even richer! Then we topped off this decadent dessert with a floral design using colored confectioners candy melts. This project was worth the time and effort when we were rewarded with “oohs” and “ahs” from friends who indulged with us in eating a chocolate Grand Marnier cake in observance of National Grand Marnier Day.

Recipe

For the Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 box chocolate cake mix (we used Devil’s Food)
  • 1 small box (3.9 ounces) chocolate instant pudding mix

Directions

In a large bowl, beat in the eggs with the sour cream, water, Grand Marnier and oil.

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

Stir in the orange zest and extract. Mix well.

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

Add the chocolate cake and pudding mixes. Blend until smooth. Pour batter into a 10-inch round cake pan that has been lightly misted with cooking spray. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, testing the cake for doneness. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Place the cake on a board, plate or pedestal for frosting.

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

For the chocolate-orange frosting

  • 8 ounces (8 squares) semi-sweet chocolate (we used Baker’s brand)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup

Directions

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate. In a microwave-safe cup, heat the whipping cream for 30 seconds until warm. Pour over the melted chocolate and mix well. Flavor with Grand Marnier. Stir in the corn syrup until well blended. Let cool at room temperature to desired spreadable consistency (or for a quicker cool down, place in the refrigerator, checking constantly that it does not harden).

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

Smear some frosting on the cake board/plate/pedestal to act as a “glue” to the cake. Place the cake in the center. Use a spatula to spread the frosting over the top and sides. Fill a piping bag with the remaining frosting and pipe shell borders (we used Wilton star tip #21). Let the frosting cool and set.

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

For the flower decorations

  • dark chocolate, melted
  • orange candy melts, melted
  • green candy melts, melted 

Directions

Print out a clipart of flowers as a pattern. Place on a flat surface, such as a cake or cutting board. Tape waxed paper over the pattern. Fill a piping bag with melted dark chocolate. Trace over the flower pattern. Transfer the board to the refrigerator to let the chocolate harden and set. Fill in the flower areas with orange candy melts. Transfer the board to the refrigerator to let the chocolate harden and set.

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

Finish the candy decoration by filling in the leaf areas with green candy melts. Transfer the board to the refrigerator to let the chocolate harden and set. Remove from the refrigerator and invert onto the board. Carefully peel off the waxed paper. Position the decoration on the cake. Serve the cake at room temperature.

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

Notes

  • Like to bake with booze? Search our blog for other “spirited” baking recipes.
  • Chocoholic? Search our blog for chocolate-based recipes.

Loslos

(Filipino Deep-Fried Pork Ribs)

loslos

July 4: Filipino-American Friendship Day

While the United States is celebrating its Independence Day, the Philippines is acknowledging Republic Day (also known as Filipino-American Friendship Day). The holiday was initially a commemoration of the establishment of the Republic of the Philippines on July 4, 1946, to coincide with America’s birthday (Philippine Independence Day is on June 12). But now it is simply a day to recognize the special and historical relationship between peoples of the two nations.

Hamburgers, hot dogs and BBQ ribs are popular foods during America’s Independence Day gatherings. If cooking ribs, give them a Filipino flair by frying them à la state fairs and festival style. “Loslos” is a delicious deep-fried pork ribs recipe from Cebu, although various provinces have similar versions. The meat is marinated in “adobo” sauce (vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and ground black pepper) then dredged in seasoned flour before frying. These pork ribs are popular at parties for independence/republic day dining and certainly for Filipino-American Friendship Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Serious Eats)

Ingredients

  • 1 slab baby back pork ribs
  • ½ cup sugar cane (rice or apple cider) vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4-5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • oil for frying

Directions

Wash and dry the meat. Cut the slab of pork to make individual ribs. Arrange them in a deep baking pan. In a bowl, make the adobo marinade by mixing the vinegar, soy sauce and minced garlic.

loslos

Add the black pepper and oyster sauce. Pour over the ribs, turning and coating them in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. In a bowl, combine the cornstarch and flour. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Dredge a wet rib in the flour mixture.

loslos

Deep fry at 375 degrees F in batches until golden brown and cooked through (about 7-8 minutes). Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper to taste. Or serve hot with BBQ sauce or a vinegar-soy sauce dip.

loslos

Notes

  • For bite-sized pork ribs, ask the butcher to cut across the ribs into smaller pieces. Adjust/shorten frying time.
  • Search our blog for other patriotic and Pinoy foods.
  • Also, Happy 4th of July, America! God shed His grace on thee!

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