Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ricotta Cheese Cake with an Almond Meal Crust


I have been reading up about the health benefits of Ricotta Cheese and while I admit that this cheese is high in saturated fat, a controlled portion can contribute to your daily intake of B-vitamins, selenium, protein and calcium. I came up with this recipe for a cheese cake when I was looking for wholesome and nutritious non-Indian dessert recipes. I used almond meal (from Trader Joe's) to make the crust of the cake. The end product was an immensely satisfying dessert that you can whip up in less than an hour of prep time, about 30-40 minutes of bake time and more importantly, it can be made the day before you entertain family or friends because it stores very well in the refrigerator. Just bring it to room temperature before serving and make the berry sauce fresh! Some of the photographs below are courtesy of my spouse.

Here are the ingredients:

Cheese filling:
1.5 cups Ricotta cheese
1.5 - 2 tbsp all purpose flour
3 egg whites
6 tbsp honey
3-4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cinnamon powder
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1.5 cups almond meal
1.5 tbsp fresh melted butter
2 tbsp brown molasses sugar

Berry Sauce:
1/2 cup frozen blueberries (strawberries will do to, or you can try a mix of frozen berries)
1/2 - 1 cup water
1 clove
1 small piece of cinnamon bark
1 tbsp brown sugar

To make the crust, brown the almond meal slightly in a pan. To this add the butter and sugar. Mix thoroughly. Once the mixture is cool enough that you can touch the flour, place the mixture in a pre-greased (with very little melted butter) pie dish.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Then, in a large bowl, beat the egg whites and add the ricotta cheese. Blend thoroughly. Then sequentially, add the fl our, honey and vanilla extract, blending at each addition. I used a spatula to blend the ingredients. Finally add the spices.

Now, pour this cheese filling onto the pie crust and bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes or until when a fork, when inserted into the cheese filling comes out clean.

In the mean time, make the berry sauce by combining all the ingredients in a sauce pan and cooking the berries un til they are soft (but nor squishy!). Make sure you have some liquid in the sauce pan, it can be handy for decoration.

Serve a piece of the cheese cake in a serving dish and decorate with the berry sauce.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sweet Potato and Bell Pepper stuffed Whole Wheat Wrap

I am back with a whole bunch of new recipes. I will start off with a personal favorite, my take on a sweet potato enchilada that I had eaten in a restaurant in La Jolla, San Diego a couple of years ago. I cannot recollect the name of the restaurant, but the taste of the dish stayed with me. I tried to recreate it in my kitchen using very little cream, no baking and whole wheat wraps.

To stuff two large whole wheat wraps you will need:

1 large sweet potato (white), almost cooked and cut into 1/2 inch cubes or mashed.
1 cup chopped red bell peppers in thin strips.
1 teaspoon cumin powder.
1 teaspoon dried oregano.
1 tablespoon olive oil.
1 tablespoon creme fraiche (I use the one from Trader Joe's).
A generous helping of Tabasco Smoked Chipotle Pepper Sauce.
Salt to taste
Grated Cheddar Cheese as per your taste.

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil. Once the oil is hot (do not let it smoke, olive oil heats up pretty fast) add the cumin powder and oregano. Saute for about 30 seconds and then add the red bell pepper strips. Once the strips are cooked, add the sweet potato cubes and continue cooking for a minute or two. The red bell pepper strips will provide the necessary liquid to hold the vegetables together. At this point, add a generous helping of the Tabasco sauce. I like my stuffing to be spicy, if you like it mild, I would recommend a few drops of the sauce. Finally add the creme fraiche and cook for another minute or so.

Place the wheat wrap on a cast iron griddle to heat it evenly. Then add several spoonfuls of the above mixture to one half of the wrap. Top with the grated cheese.

Fold over the wrap and cut halfway thought the center. Serve with fresh salad.