Category Archives: Personal

Anniversary and first (baked) cheesecake

We celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary on November 3rd, and wanted to surprise my husband with a different type of dessert this year! We’re both fans of baked desserts/pastries, but this time around,  I wanted to prepare something creamy yet not too heavy.  Since I love cream cheese and always wanted to make a cheesecake from scratch, without having to spend half a day in the kitchen, I’ve  started searching for a recipe online.

I came across Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake recipe that has been apparently tried out by many fellow bloggers/bakers during Jenny‘s Daring Baking Challenge. Different people tried different variations, but I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, and use fresh berries if possible.

So, I decided to give it a go, made some slight changes (used Light creamcheese and reduced the number of eggs to 2).  The result was a delicious, creamy and light cake! My husband loved it, and my co-workers couldn’t agree more (I brought some to work today).  If you’re looking for a delicious and simple cheesecake recipe, I highly recommend this…

Bon appétit et bonne anniversaire Chery!

Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake adapted from here. See recipe below.

Crust:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs (I used an equal amount of crushed bran cookies)

1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cheesecake:
3 bricks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature (I used 2 bricks and 8 oz. Philadelphia Light)

1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs (I used 2)
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Biking in the city and a healthy snack!

I simply love summer weekends in the city and, although I haven’t traveled anywhere recently, I feel like Toronto has so much to offer that you just can’t get bored.  This weekend, we went biking to a nearby park, Betty Sutherland Trail, a scenic path alongside the Don River.

We enjoyed the beautiful scenery, the ride was pretty good (approx. 7 km) and took lots of pictures along the way.  I recommend this place if you’re biking, rollerblading,  going for a walk or looking for a great picnic place in the city.

When we returned home, we were of course starving…but luckily these wholesome muffins were waiting for us. This is one of my favourite recipe, delicious, easy to make and relatively healthy. Bon appétit!

Raspberry lemon muffins adapted from eatingwell.com

1 lemon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup non fat buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) raspberries

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 large (1/2-cup) muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon in long strips. Combine the zest and sugar in a food processor; pulse until the zest is very finely chopped into the sugar. Add buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla and pulse until blended.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk mixture and fold until almost blended. Gently fold in raspberries.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake the muffins until the edges and tops are golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Sweet Cottage Cheese Pastries “Branzoaice”

Growing up in Transylvania (Romania), weekends used to be dedicated to baking and of course eating. My mom used to bake all the time, all kinds of cakes and pastries. My sister and I were addicted to anything sweet and were always willing to offer a hand to speed up the process :). Sometimes, I can just think of a certain dessert and feel that I’m in my mom’s kitchen, eating and laughing with my family. And the smell is surreal…It’s amazing how our brain can bring back memories that feel so alive and tangible.

This Victoria Day long weekend, I’ve decided to make “Branzoaice”, a Romanian pastry made with farmer’s cottage cheese and raisins. “Branzoaice” comes from “branza” which means “cheese”, so the literal translation is something like “made from cottage cheese”. Traditionally, they’re eaten during Pies’ Saturday (Sambata Placintelor), the last Saturday before the Easter Fast. In any case, they make a great dessert/brunch idea. Simply irresistible…Bon appetit!

For the dough:
500 g all-purpose flour
1 egg
200 ml milk – at room temperature
75 g butter (melted)
1 t pure vanilla extract
4 T sugar
2 t yeast (I used quick rise)
lemon zest from 1 lemon

Step 1: Mix ingredients together  (except butter) in a bread machine or mixer. At the end, add in the melted butter and mix well. Add more milk if the dough feels too dry. Let it rise for 30 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the filling.

For the filling:
250 g sweet cottage cheese (farmer/pressed style)
1 egg
5 T sugar (or more to taste)
handful of raisins

Step 2: In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together, add more sugar if necessary.

Step 3: Preheat the oven at 360F. Transfer the dough on a well floured board or countertop. Spread the dough in 2 cm thick layers. Cut 10-12 cm squares. Fill each square with a bit of filling and fold it; brush over beaten egg. Transfer the squares to a parchment-lined baking sheet and let rise for another 15 minutes or so. Place in the oven and bake for approx. 40 minutes or until golden.

Forever young? Not really…

Yesterday was my 28th birthday. Not too bad, huh? I’m not that sure about that anymore. As I walked to the elevator to go to work, for the first time in my life, I had this unusual feeling…I felt old. Something in my body, the way I walked, the way I breathed felt different. I remember feeling different when I woke up and looked in the mirror. Young, but not the kind of early 20s young  when everything seems possible, when you’re invincible, when nothing really touches but goes through you.

As a child, I used to dream of growing up and imagine my life as an adult: my career with very specific details  and a stable personal life. I didn’t spend too much time worrying about my personal life. I was obsessed with having a dream job; of course that had changed over the course of my late childhood, teenage years from a successful and ruthless business woman (aka Sue Ellen Ewing 2) to a powerful criminal lawyer or later a curious and adventurous journalist seeking out the truths of the world.  I’d pray so much for the time to go by, for me to grow up once.

So, I’m all grown up now. I’m slowly heading into my thirties when your metabolism slows down, your biological clock is ticking (oh, how I hate this phrase) and apparently your hormones go crazy 🙂 And, I don’t feel too happy about it. I’d rather be in my early 20s, trying to figure out how I can mature faster :).