Monday, October 20, 2014

Hashbrown Quiche

Pepperjack cheese quiche with hash-brown crust

Weekend brunch item to knock your socks off!  Pepperjack cheese is one of my favorites.  Actually I think all cheeses are my favorite.  

I've been wanting to make this dish for a long time and the hash-browns were just waiting to be opened.  When I decided to make it this morning I realized I didn't have enough sour cream so I used some cream cheese instead.  I only had extra large eggs so I reduced it to be roughly the same amount as a large egg.  I didn't have scallions so I opened up one of my salad packs and sprinkled on some chopped spinach.  

Changing a recipe to what you have on hand is really easy.  Trust yourself that it will still taste good and making mistakes is the only way we can understand how ingredients work in a recipe.

Pepperjack cheese quiche with hash-brown crust recipe
Adapted from Martha Stewart

2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus more for pan
1 package (1 pound) frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
8 extra large eggs
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup cream cheese
4 to 5 ounces shredded pepperjack cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 9-by-2 1/2-inch springform pan with butter. Line the sides of the pan with strips of waxed paper (the same height as pan); brush paper with butter.

Squeeze excess moisture from hash browns. Mix in a bowl with butter, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.   
Tip: beat egg separately then add to the hash-brown mixture to make sure the egg mixes properly.

Pat into bottom and up sides of prepared pan, using a moistened dry measuring cup. 

Place on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until set, 15 to 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk sour cream, cream cheese,  pepperjack cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until well combined; whisk in 7 remaining eggs.   
Tip: beating the eggs in a separate container and then adding them to your mixture ensures the whites and yolks will be distributed evenly.

Pour into crust, and sprinkle with spinach. Bake until set, 45 to 50 minutes. 

Unmold quiche, and peel off waxed paper before serving.  

Voila!  Perfect quiche!  So yummy!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Classic cheesecake

Classic cheesecake with Strawberry Creme Anglaise

It's one of those recipes that you pop out for your loved one or somebody special.  But I say you should just make it for yourself because you deserve it.  Working hard, juggling jobs, parenting, relationships and the list goes on.  

I had a chance to watch Disney's Brave with my almost seven year old son.  I was thrilled to see that the princess finally did not need true love to find happiness.  There's something that she said at the end of the movie that resonated with me.  Princess Merida: "There are those who say fate is something beyond our command. That destiny is not our own, but I know better. Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it."  So what is fate and why do people believe in it.  Is it really as simple as Merida tells us?  Does fate live within us?  And how does psychotherapy fit into it?

Theraputic topic for the week: fate and destiny.

Destiny is different than fate. Destiny, as psychiatrist Alexander Lowen (1980) notes, "is related to the word destination. It refers to what . . . [we become], whereas fate describes what one is." (p. 49) Destiny is what we do with fate, how we play the hand we're each dealt by fate. Destiny is determined not solely by fate, but by how we choose to respond to fate. We are responsible for those choices. Part of each person's fate includes a personal destiny. But whether that destiny is fulfilled or not depends in part on the person and whether he or she is willing to accept responsibility for and courageously pursue that destiny. Finding and fulfilling our destiny is a principal goal of existential depth psychology.
Excerpt from Psychology Today in an article called Essential Secrets of Psychotherapy : Fate, Destiny and Responsibility written by Stephen Diamond.

Classic Cheesecake Recipe

For the crust:
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the filling:
2 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbs. water
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin

To serve: Strawberry Creme Anglaise
2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup strawberries

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

To make the crust, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and lemon zest, and process to mix well. Add the butter and process until the crumbs begin to stick together. Drape your hand with plastic wrap to form a glove, and press the crumbs evenly and firmly over the bottom and 2 inches up the side of a 9-by-2 1/2-inch springform pan. Bake the crust 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

To make the filling, in a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and granulated sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until well blended. Beat in 1/2 cup of the cream and the vanilla until incorporated.

Place the water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let soften for 5 minutes. Place the saucepan over low heat and stir until the gelatin is dissolved, then gradually whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup cream. Add the gelatin mixture to the cream cheese mixture and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Spoon the filling into the cooled crust. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. 

For the strawberry creme anglaise: Set a large fine strainer over a medium bowl and set the bowl in a shallow pan of cold water. In a large saucepan, combine the half-and-half and vanilla bean and cook over moderately low heat just until small bubbles appear around the rim, about 5 minutes.
In another medium bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks just until combined. Whisk in half of the hot half-and-half in a thin stream. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately strain the sauce into the bowl in the cold water bath to stop the cooking. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the sauce. Refrigerate until chilled.  Hull strawberries and add blender with the creme anglaise. Blend thoroughly. 

To serve, run a knife around the pan sides to loosen the cake. Release the pan sides and place the cake on a plate. Cut the cake into individual slices and spoon strawberry creme anglaise over each slice.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Catering for Charity

Red Velvet Cupcakes for Alderwood Elementary School's Cakewalk Fundraiser!  For more catering event details and information please visit

Monday, September 29, 2014

Specialty ballerina cake

This specialty cake was made for a little girl who loved ballerinas and the color blue!  Happy 7th Birthday Eva!  For more information on catering deserts please visit

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Homemade Eclairs

So I learned how to make pastry cream in my baking class and didn't have the heart to throw it away. I searched for ideas on what to do with it and there are a number of treats.  Cream puffs and trifles but then I saw eclairs.  Who doesn't love eclairs?  Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than light pastry filled with cream... and then dipped in chocolate. Pastry cream is one of the most basic techniques that every chef has a recipe for.  It can be whipped up in no time at all with ingredients you usually have on hand.

When I was younger Gale Gand's show used to come on Food Network called "Sweet Dreams".  My love for baking and appreciation for the final dessert product was encouraged by her.  It's too bad the show doesn't come on anymore because she has some really great techniques that any home cook can benefit from.  Nevertheless, her recipes can still be found on Food Network's website.

Therapeutic topic of the week: Be kind.

An act of kindness doesn’t have to be extravagant to be meaningful. The key is to bring mindful intention to these simple daily acts. You can hold a door for someone, let someone who appears rushed go ahead of you in line, write a kind note to a friend in need. These acts of kindness benefit you as much as they benefit the person you have helped.

Homemade Eclairs
Adapted from Gale Gand


2 cups whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
1 tsp vanilla
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

1 cup water
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs, plus 1 extra, if needed
Egg Wash:
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons water
Chocolate Glaze:
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Add vanilla. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the saucepan. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.

Pastry: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, immediately take the pan off the heat. Stirring with a wooden spoon, add all the flour at once and stir hard until all the flour is incorporated, 30 to 60 seconds. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Scrape the mixture into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer). Mix at medium speed. With the mixer running, add 3 eggs, 1 egg at a time. Stop mixing after each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy and the eggs are completely incorporated. The dough should be thick, but should fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl. If the dough is still clinging to the beaters, add the remaining 1 egg and mix until incorporated.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, pipe fat lengths of dough (about the size and shape of a jumbo hot dog) onto the lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between them. You should have 8 to 10 lengths.

Egg Wash: In a bowl, whisk the egg and water together. Brush the surface of each eclair with the egg wash. Use your fingers to smooth out any bumps of points of dough that remain on the surface. Bake 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 25 minutes more. Try not to open the oven door too often during the baking. Let cool on the baking sheet. Fit a medium-size plain pastry tip over your index finger and use it to make a hole in the end of each eclair (or just use your fingertip). Using a pastry bag fitted with a medium-size plain tip, gently pipe the custard into the eclairs, using only just enough to fill the inside (don't stuff them full).

Glaze: In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat just until it boils. Immediately turn off the heat. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Set aside and keep warm. The glaze can be made up to 48 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, and rewarm in a microwave or over hot water when ready to use.

Dip the tops of the eclairs in the warm chocolate glaze and set on a sheet pan. Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour to set the glaze. Serve chilled.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

birthday cake truffles

Red velvet cake truffles covered in chocolate and decorated in green and blue for a birthday meets baby shower event!  For more catering and specialty desserts please visit

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