Thursday, December 22, 2016

Cranberry Orange Christmas Sangria

This is my last Christmas gift I'm opening early, I promise - it's from my parents this time. This also counts for my birthday gift as well, even if i's a few months away haha. 

This is Nikon's 85mm prime lens (my new lens from B is a Nikon 50mm for those who asked); it's perfect for this sangria recipe today because it can capture such great depth of field - you can see my tree and Christmas lights in the back.
Cranberry Orange Christmas Sangria | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
The prior two weeks was my glorious clinic block which means I get weekends, which means I can actually host a Christmas party! This cranberry orange sangria is a fabulous Christmas/holiday party recipe because it's so easy and festive.
Cranberry Orange Christmas Sangria | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
I set up a white elephant exchange for my friends since I had a nice large real Christmas tree to hold them (trying to take advantage of the real evergreen trees in North, rather than the Texas "trees" which are really shrubs) Many of my friends hadn't heard of the concept of white elephant, but you just bring an anonymous gift and your open gifts or steal from others base on the number you draw.

We all got very aggressive with our gift stealing (although still managed to remain friends, as we do have to work together the rest of intern year haha). I had stolen some adorable plates perfect for food blogging but my friend stole them back!
Cranberry Orange Christmas Sangria | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
The Christmas party of course featured lots of drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and of course plenty of dessert! What I like about sangria is that even if you're not a big drinker, it's light enough for all to enjoy. This sangria was the first drink to be finished up, which means a big success.

Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays from Obsessive Cooking Disorder!

Cranberry Orange Christmas Sangria

1 bottle white wine
pear juice (recipe below for homemade)
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1 cup cranberries
4 oranges, thinly sliced
cinnamon sticks and green sprigs, to garnish

3 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 Bosc pears, peeled
3 cinnamon sticks

Boil water, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon stocks and pears in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until pears are tender, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes. Let pears cool in syrup/juice and refrigerate (can be made ahead of time). You only ned the juice: you can eat the poached pears, use for this pear tart, or slice and add to the sangria.

In a large pitcher, combine all the sangria ingredients. Stir and then place in the fridge until chilled. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and herbs (rosemary, mint, etc) enjoy!
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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Curry Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

I have a new camera lens which I'm pumped to use. This is my other Christmas gift from B, which I also opened and used (I know, you must think I have terrible self control with gifts, but I just couldn't let all the holiday baking and cooking pass by with a new lens sitting in a box under the tree).
Curry Coconut Butternut Squash Soup |
One of my biggest fears is going blind. I have terrible eyesight, and the fact it gets dark at 3pm here doesn't help me either. I can see the darkness hitting as I fight against the sun to photograph food with whatever light I have left. The new camera lens helps with the brightness, but there's only so much you can do when it's dark; I usually have enough light to only photograph one dish at a time now.
Curry Coconut Butternut Squash Soup |
Today I want to share this cozy butternut squash soup, which has bold curry flavor and creamy coconut. The main way I cook butternut squash is in soups because you can cheat and bake the squash first, saving your knife and your wrists from a lot of effort (and fingers from getting sliced).

My mom always told me to eat lots of vitamin A to keep my eyes healthy. Butternut squash has so much vitamin A, but I'm not sure even eating tons of butternut squash can save my eyes from staring at the computer.
Curry Coconut Butternut Squash Soup |
This curry coconut butternut squash soup is really easy to make once you get the butternut squash out. Then you just let it simmer, do some work (or, not work *ahem*), and return after an hour to enjoy your rich hearty soup. Save the seeds and some cream/coconut milk to make a fun spiral! Adapted from NY Times Cooking

Curry Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
1 medium apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cups chicken broth
2-3 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 14-ounce can light coconut milk
Salt and ground pepper to taste
garnish: coconut milk or heavy cream, squash seeds, thyme, and paprika

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut your butternut squash in half and reserve the seeds. Drizzle the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place the butternut squash halves, cut side up in a foil lined tray. Roast for 30 -50 minutes, until flesh is soft. Scoop out and set aside. Also roast the seeds until toasted, about 5-10 min.

Heat the oil in a soup pot, and saute onions over medium-low heat until golden. Add the apple, squash, broth and spices. Bring to a simmer, then cover pot. Continue to simmer until the apples are tender, about 10 minutes.

Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender in batches), puree soup until smooth. Stir in the coconut milk; continue to simmer on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until well heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon soup into a bowl, drizzle with coconut milk or heavy cream, and top with squash seeds. Garnish with sprigs of thyme and paprika and serve hot. Enjoy!
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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mini Pear Almond Tart

Happy holidays everyone. It's my favorite time of the year - I'm all for decorating and blasting Christmas music and opening gifts. I know Christmas is more than gifts, but I can't help but light up like a kid when I get something I'm been wanting forever, but can't bring myself to buy it.

Like my new mini food processor! It's so adorable and useful and the perfect size.
I told B I wanted one for Christmas (with a stipulation that it had to be small). Although I told him to wait til Black Friday for sales, he bought one immediately and had it shipped.
As this mini prep cuisine food processor was just sitting around my apartment, I couldn't not use it. So I opened it up to make the dough for this pear tart. I'm not a very patient person (I was better as a kid, and actually waited til Christmas)

If you make any kind of pastry dough, getting a food processor for that alone is worth it (never mind processing things like vegetables)
 I love almond tarts and pears were a perfect combination for this. Any hard pear will do, but I recommend bosc pears in particular. You can use canned pears, but I do recommend poaching them as it's easy and you can add so much flavor while controlling the sugar. Poaching is basically boiling and simmering anything in a liquid, ranging from eggs to fruit. When you slice the pears yourself, it's so much prettier.

This pear almond tart is adapted from Epicurious; I made it with my mini 3 inch tart tins, so they're perfect for sharing amongst 2-3 people (or 1 if you're B). Enjoy!

Mini Pear Almond Tart

4 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 Bosc pears, peeled

see recipe for almond tart dough

2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg

PEARS: Boil water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and add pears. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until pears are tender, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes. Let pears cool in syrup and refrigerate (can be made ahead of time).

ALMOND TART DOUGH: prepare as per recipe for almond tart dough  (can be made ahead of time). Once the dough is chilled and ready, preheat the oven to 350 F. Fill your tart pan with chilled dough and bake blind for about 6-8 min.

ALMOND FILLING: Grind almonds in a food processor. Blend in flour, sugar, and butter and then mix in egg. Transfer filling to medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours (can be made ahead of time).

ASSEMBLY: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350F.

Take your cooled prebaked almond tart crusts and spread almond filling evenly in the crust. Remove the pear stem, cut each in half lengthwise, and remove out the core. Cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Line the pears on the almond filling so they overlap.

Bake tart until golden, about 55 minutes for a large tart (for my mini ones about 20 min). Cool tart in pan on rack and serve at room temperature, Enjoy!
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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Apple Caramel Cheesecake

A cheesecake is a fresh twist to the classic holiday pies.  I had wanted to make a big cheesecake for a long time, but didn't have a crowd to feed... until Friendsgiving. I decided to shy away from pumpkin, as we had quite the overload, but apples and caramel and nuts are just as fallworthy, and knew I had to make this Apple Caramel Cheesecake when I saw pictures of it online.
Since I didn't have space to bring all my kitchenware from Texas, I didn't have a full size springform pan. I asked my friends and colleagues to borrow any, only to get looks of confusion. However one friend did have one (I don't think she had ever used it since it was practically fused shut, and I wondered if this was actually a real springform pan haha). I finally managed to pry it open with success.

Sadly I only had two bites of this cheesecake before running to my night shift on Thanksgiving dinner, but my friend's husband loved this cheesecake so much he took it all home, and told his non-baking wife to get the recipe to make it for him. There's no better way to say "thank you" to a baker than to eat it all and insist on the recipe :)
The downside of nights is that you don't get good sleep - I could occasionally nap at night but hadn't slept more than 4 hours in a row during the daytime when working the past two weeks because day sleep just doesn't work for me. Since I was exhausted (and feeling lazy), I didn't set up a water bath as I normally do for cheesecake baking, hence the brown edges, but it was just as delicious.

The apple topping takes a bit of time but it's well worth it, and can hide any cracks as a bonus (mine had a lovely split since I didn't use the water bath or have time to cool it as slowly, hehe). You can use store bought caramel, as I did, but there is nothing quite like homemade caramel. This Apple Caramel Cheesecake recipe adapted from Bobby Flay.

Apple Caramel Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups graham crackers, crushed
1/4 cup sugar
6-7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinammon
pinch salt

1 tablespoon orange zest
3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup apple juice
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
toasted walnuts
caramel sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

CRUST: Finely grind the graham crackers in a food processor or hand crush with a rolling pin and ziploc bag. Combined the crackers, sugar, salt, cinammon, and melted butter in a bowl. Spray the pan with cooking spray, then pat the crust into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake in the oven until lightly golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove and let cool.

CHEESECAKE: Beat sugar, orange zest, and cream cheese until light and fluffy  Beat the eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla extract. Add the salt and yogurt and mix until just combined. Pour the batter into the springform pan with the cheesecake crust. Set up water bath if you want to bake it more evenly with less cracking. Bake until the sides of the cake are slightly puffed and set and the center still jiggles, about 55 minutes.

Water Bath optional: Wrap heavy duty aluminum foil around the bottom and sides. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan and pour hot water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake.

Turn the heat off and let cake slowly cool to room temperature over 2 hours. Cover the cake and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours until chilled through.

Bring apple juice, sugar and vanilla bean to a boil in a large saute pan over high heat and cook until slightly thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup. Stir in the butter until melted. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized and soft. Add the apple brandy and cook until reduced by 1/2. Transfer the apples to a plate and let cool slightly.

Top with the warm apple topping, drizzle liberally with the caramel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining toasted walnuts. Serve additional sauce on the side.
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