Eggless Cowgirl Cheesecake

By “cowgirl,” I refer to both Indian girls who like cows and Cowgirl Creamery, in case you were wondering.

I acquired 3 lbs of ricotta from Cowgirl Creamery, which set me back a few paychecks. But all is good. The nice boys there waxed poetic on the virtues of using their Humboldt Fog (goat cheese) in a mysterious cheesecake recipe. I have yet to try it, but I digress.

As yesterday was Deepavali, an important holiday for many of the Doctors in this country, I decided to make an eggless version of the ricotta cheesecake so my family could enjoy this creamy treat.

I was inspired to go Indian with the cheesecake after a conversation with my dear brilliant friend who wrote me a note saying that she was going to make a rosewater pistachio cheesecake. Holy! What a brilliant idea! Cheesecake itself is surprisingly similar to Indian desserts with excessive use of milky-fatty-creamy-buttery-sugary ingredients. So why not add a little subcontinental whiff of yum?

Eggless Cowgirl Cheesecake Crust

  • 1 cup crushed graham cracker (about 7 crackers)
  • 1 cup roasted shelled pistachios
  • 7 tbsp melted butter (or coconut oil if you want to minimize dairy. good luck with that. it’s a cheesecake recipe.)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cardamom pods

Put the graham crackers in a food processor and crush them (or pulverize them with your bare hands). Set aside. Put the pistachios in the food processor until the bits are pretty tiny but you can still tell it was pistachio. Open the cardamom pods and crush the seeds inside in a mortar. Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.

Eggless Cowgirl Cheesecake Filling

  • 1 lb ricotta
  • 1 lb cream cheese
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • Juice of 1/2 a small orange
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp rosewater
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp vanilla (or seeds from one vanilla bean- prettier)

Make sure all the ingredients are room temperature (set everything out a couple of hours beforehand). Mix the ricotta and the cream cheese on low. Don’t mix too much, just until smooth. Mix in the cream cheese. Then the honey and agave nectar. Then toss in everything else and mix just enough.

Butter a 9″ or 10″ springform pan, bottom and sides, then line with parchment. Press the crust into the bottom, then pour the filling into the pan. Cook for 45 minutes until top is nicely browned. This is a deep cake! Mob deep! Put it in the fridge overnight, by the next morning you’ll have a deliciously sweet cake! The nice thing about it is that you can safely taste the batter for sweetness and adjust the amount of agave nectar to your liking. This version is on the sweet side.

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What Do I Do With Plantains?

Doctor Squid knows EXACTLY what to do with plantains. Plantains were one of my favorite foods growing up. I had a serious starch addiction which my squid mother fed with mounds of rice accompanied by very spicy potatoes, taro and plantain curries. She also dipped long pieces of plantain in batter and deep fried them. They were my best friends growing up.

My plantains all sliced up

My plantains all sliced up

Slice ’em. But which ones, you might ask? And at what stage? Well, depends on what you’re trying to do. Let’s work the the sweeter ones for now. Go to a Mexican/Salvadorean market and you’ll see plantains organized by all stages of the ripening process from green to yellow to black. The blacker the sweeter. I like them somewhere between yellow and black. A bit sweet and soft but not too mushy.

Ok, back to slicing them. Well, I like them sliced about 1/4 inch thick into rounds. The flavor I’m going for is sweet, tangy and chili hot. This recipe will kick your ass.

1 plantain, sliced
1 cubic inch of dried tamarind pulp soaked in a 1/4 cup of HOT water
1 tsp black mustard
1 tsp urad dhal
1 tsp cumin powder
salt to taste
4-5 curry leaves
1/4 tsp asafoetida
chili powder to taste
1 tsp coconut oil (yay!)

Heat the pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the coocnut oil. Add the mustard seeds, urad dhal, cumin, asafoetida, curry leaves. When the mustard starts to pop, throw in your sliced plantain. Saute a bit, then squeeze the pulp of tamarind out and pour the water (usng a strainer if you are afraid of tamarind bits) into the mix. Toss it all around, add the salt and chili powder and keep stirring occasionally until the pieces are golden and toasty beautful.

My mom makes this with the green plantains sliced really thin, which has a totally starchy, non-sweet taste. I prefer the sweet version because I myself am very sweet.

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New Mochi Cake Toppings

Warm in the PanAs mentioned in a previous post, today I topped mochi cupcakes with lemon curd and Nutella (not on the same cupcake)! The way the mochi cakes dip in the middle helps with holding the sweet goo in. Lemon curd is a bit runny, but the taste works really nicely! I’m thinking about making plantain mochi cakes, either with mashed plantain or baking them with a oil coated slice right in the middle.

Here’s how they looked with the toppings.

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The Coconut Mik Challenge

Spent the morning assembling a batch of mochi cakes (some topped with lemon curd and some topped with Nutella) for my friend’s bridal shower and found myself yet again with more than half a can of coconut milk. And of course I used the creamy bits for the mochi cake. So I have some leftover watery goop and a few ingredients in my fridge and freezer to assemble in what I call:

THE COCONUT MILK CHALLENGE

Consider it Brung

Let’s see what I can doctor up with the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 piece of ginger
  • 1 jar of garlic paste
  • 3 oz tofu
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • Frozen french green beans
  • Frozen spinach
  • 2 serrano peppers
  • Coconut oil
  • Chili powder, cumin, coriander, frozen basil (brilliant invention), salt
  • And some brown basmati already simmering on the stove

I also have tamarind but somehow that doesn’t feel right. Same goes for the tub of hummus.

Step 1-?: Cut a hole in the box. Ok, not really. Just cut the ginger, slice the serranos, saute with the garlic in coconut oil. Pour the coconut milk, add the spices, add the tofu and veggies, simmer for a little while, voila? Let’s give it a shot.

Damn, that’s good.

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Card-a-mom and make her feel young again

When I was a little girl, my sister and I would follow my parents to the Indian grocery stores in Berkeley on Universty Avenue. These stores continue to be the cheapest places to get a wide variety of spices used in Indian cooking, in bulk! So you can buy as much or as little as you like, and you won’t be left with a little bottle that says “Whole Foods” on it. Yes, I do fall into this trap. In San Francisco, the lone Indian grocery store is on Valencia between 16th and 17th. I very rarely find what I need there, and when I ask when the frozen coconut or curry leaves are coming next, the guy behind the counter always says “Oh, tomorrow.” I don’t fall for that. Maybe I should? So off to Berkeley (Vik’s) I go.

crush the cardamom

crush the cardamom

Back to when I was a little girl… my sister called me over with a big ass grin on her face. (I always fell for that.) She told me to smell the contents of a bulk bin. I stuck my head in, sniffed, and had a headache for the next hour after inhaling a large quantity of cardamom seeds. It took me several, and I mean SEVERAL, years to get over that experience.

Thank goodness I did, because cardamom is really nice in small quantities. I like to get whole pods, pound the green covers off, and then pulverize the crap out of the seeds inside. If I have a little time, I’ll toast the cardamom a bit before grinding it.

Why is cardamom so sexy?

Good question. Now, if you’ve ever had good Indian food, you know half the experience is the smell. And sometimes it’s the smell of some uncle tooting in the corner. But ideally it’s a delicious aroma. Cardamom is what makes chai smell and taste to distinctive, and is found in plenty of Indian and Middle Eastern desserts. And the taste is a bit sweet and gingery. It’s used to treat gum disease. Convinced of it’s hotness? No?

Put it in white chocolate and you’ll change your mind.

White Chocolates with a Sexy Factor

White Chocolates with a Sexy Factor

So I toasted some pistachios, chopped em up real fine and threw them in a vat of melted organic cocoa butter and white sugar (I know– I’m experimenting with honey powder). Then I ground up a couple of cardamom pods and threw that in too. Temper the chocolate a bit, pour the liquid into a mold, and voila! You have a sexy bitesize treat (after cooling in the fridge for a couple of hours).

The result is delicous! You can also melt Guittard white chocolate wafers and add cardamom and pistachio bits to the mix.

Dr. Squid recommends rest and enjoyment this Memorial Day weekend!

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Brown Goes Straight to Your HEAD

Brown Wine is hard to find. It was recommended by a pair that is so tasteful that I would hate to not taste anything they recommend. Which means I am in a state of hate. Brown wine was too hard to find.

And hard to define

But as with all aphrodisiacs, it has a taste that stays with you.

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Hot Chocolate, Churned Frozen Almond Milk

No, this post isn’t actually about “Hot Chocolate.” Well, literally it is. It’s about what happens when you heat chocolate up and use it to make all sorts of strange, wonderful, delectable things, like almond milk ice cream dipped in chocolate. Now, depending on how ambitious you’re feeling, you can actually think of this as more of an assembly exercise than a recipe. Though there would still be some heating involved. Let’s keep it simple for now. The end result will look like these tasty bad boys:

Love Cubes

Love Cubes

The way I make my almond milk ice cream is a bit lengthy, but you can adapt the times and methods and see how the recipe turns out. But the result is vegan, mostly organic (except for the flavoring, as I have not been able to find organic saffron or rose extract) and sugar-free! Wowee!

Saffron Rose Ice Milk Granita Cube-o-Licious Pimp Fest

4 cups organic almond milk
3/4 cup organic agave nectar (I’ve been using Madhava’s Light version)
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
1 tsp rose water
2 pinches saffron

Special equipment: blender, ice cream maker

Now– some adjustments are necessary here. First, check the ingredients on your almond milk if it comes in a carton. Lots have added cane sugar. If you are using such a almond milk, use less agave nectar (check the taste). If you’re a stickler about no sugar, make your own almond milk (which requires a whole extra day of advanced planning…).

Once you’ve figured out what and how much you’re actually going to use, toss all this stuff in a blender and blend. For 2-3 minutes. Then chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge. Once the mixture is nice and cold, pour it all in an ice cream maker. I happen to have a Norelco Lickety Split mamajama. I love it. Mama Squid won it 30 years ago in a call-in TV trivia show. Churn the mix until everything is frozen into a slushy wonderful mix. It won’t be very creamy, but it will be delicious straight from the machine.

Melting white chocolate

Melting white chocolate

I decided to put this concoction into some silicon ice cube trays and cover them in chocolate. Silicon trays help, you can pop the ice cream right out after they’ve hung out in the freezer for 4-5 hours. I melted some white chocolate wafers and dipped each cube in. The chocolate solidifies very quickly. Who knew? I didn’t. So you gotta work fast. You can melt just about any chocolate and dip the cubes in. If you want a really thick coating, use the chocolate as-is. If you want a thin coating, melt some coconut oil into the chocolate and you’ll get something thinner and crunchy like magic shell.

Let the cubes thaw at least 10 minutes before serving. Not the neatest treat to eat, but tasty as hell, and probably tastier to lick the drops off someone else’s rippled muscle-y chest. Maybe that’s why it’s an aphrodisiac?

Yours,
Dr. Squid

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