Tag Archives: sour cream

Basil Cheesecake

24 Dec

I planned the whole menu for my sister’s baby shower… and appetizers is my thing. So I had a few ideas already in my mind. I would work with puff pastry to make something savory and something sweet. I would make a version of Rosemary Almonds but using cashews, which are easier on more adult teeth. Gotta think of the grandmas…

I brought with me an exquisite Pigeon Peas Antipasto too, but I was missing something else. Like a dip. But I was running out of ideas. I can’t make Veggie Dip one more time!!!

Then… I remembered a recipe I had seen from Giada DiLaurentiis – a savory cheesecake recipe designed to use a small cheesecake pan, just like the only one I have!! I had to adapt the recipe to make it egg-free and integrated some ideas I have learned while making Pumpkin Cheesecake over Thanksgiving.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we all did… this recipe is a keeper. Great for making in advance… great to bring to a party too!!!

basil Cheesecake  KFC


Butter, for greasing the pan
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese, at room temperature
3 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
2 tbs sour cream
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tsp egg replacer + 4 tbs water
Pinch of salt and freshly cracker pepper
1/2 packed cup chopped fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the egg replacer and the water. Whisk well to combine and set aside. The mixture will foam and grow a bit.
  3. Butter the bottom and sides of a 4 1/2-inch diameter spring-form pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with a piece of heavy-duty foil. If you don’t have heavy-duty foil, just double on the foil.
  4. Place the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, goat cheese and sour cream in a food processor. Pulse until mixed.
  5. Add the brown sugar, the egg replacer mixture, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Add the basil and pulse until incorporated.
  6. Pour the cheese mixture into the prepared spring-form pan. Place the pan in a glass baking dish that’s slightly larger. Pour enough hot water in the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the spring-form pan. Make sure the foil top edge is above the water line.
  7. Bake until the cheesecake is golden at the edges and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken (the cheesecake will become firm when chilled), about 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 1 hour.
  8. Remove the spring-form pan from the baking dish and remove the foil. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 3-4 hours. Remove the cheesecake from the spring-form pan. Allow the cheesecake to come to room temperature before serving, about 30 minutes.
  9. Drizzle the top of the cheesecake with extra-virgin olive oil and serve with assorted crackers.

This is a great recipe to make the day before you need it. Just chill in the fridge and get out before your guests arrive. The cheesecake will hold very well at room temperature.

basil cheesecake 2  KFC

Pumpkin Cheesecake

29 Nov

Someone over on Facebook was discussing which desserts everyone was making for Thanksgiving… and someone mentioned pumpkin cheesecake. I immediately knew that would be my dessert of choice this year.

Plus… I had pumpkin my Titi Carmín gave me and I wanted to use it all in my Thanksgiving cooking. I used part in my Pumpkin and Spinach Phyllo Pie and the rest of the mashed pumpkin in my Puerto Rican Pumpkin Fritters.

This recipe is an adaptation of 2 recipes I saw on the internet… I mostly followed Martha Stewart’s recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake, but I adapted the recipe to make it vegetarian without using eggs and used fresh pumpkin puree instead of canned pumpkin.

My springform pan is super small – I use a 4 ½” pan – and I use my toaster oven to bake it, I also had to adapt the times given in the original recipes. Because most of you guys probably have regular springform pans and will need to bake this in your regular large ovens, I will give you the original recipe proportions, temperatures and times. If you would like my adapted size, temps and times for using a toaster oven, let me know and I will gladly include too. OK???


10 graham crackers
¼ cup brown sugar
4 tbs butter, melted
4 packs of cream cheese
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
1 tbs cornstarch
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sour cream
1 tbs cinnamon
A few grates of fresh nutmeg
1 tbs vanilla powder
½ tsp salt
6 tsp egg replacer + 8 tbs water
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees, with rack in center.
  2. In a food processor, grind the 10 crackers into a meal. Add sugar and melted butter and process until well combined and resembles wet sand.
  3. Press the cracker mixture firmly into bottom of 9” non-stick spring-form pan. Bake until golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool a bit before adding the filling.
  4. Reduce oven temp to 300F.
  5. For the filling, add all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse and process until the ingredients form an homogeneous mix, but stop once it’s all combined. Avoid over-processing.
  6. Place spring-form pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour filling into spring-form, and gently smooth top. Tap pan onto the counter a few times to avoid having bubbles and for the batter to settle well. Transfer to oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake stay in oven 2 hours more (without opening the door at all).
  7. Remove from oven and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to cool completely. Unmold before serving.

I actually ¼ the ingredients in this recipe and It gave me enough batter and crust to make 2 cheesecakes in my 4 1/2” pan. Because I made in the toaster oven, as I saw no need to turn on a large oven for such a small pan, I had to adjust the cooking times because it does not need as much time in the oven as for a larger pan.

The end result is a delicious, delicious cheesecake. This is certainly a winner in my book… a recipe that will stay in my Thanksgiving and Fall repertoire for years to come.

Easy-No Cook Spinach Dip

25 May

It’s been a while since I’ve given you any dip recipes… haven’t you noticed?

Partly the reason has been I am in the midst of remodeling my apartment, including my kitchen, and between that and the miles I’ve racked up in several airlines in the last few months, there’s been little entertaining at home.

While cleaning my office I ran across a few recipes I had written but have not shared with you yet. I made this originally for a lecture on Vegeterian Appetizers at the Yoga Center.  This Spinach Dip is a quick put together, especially if impromptu company drops in on you. It’s made from staples I always have in my fridge and freezer.


1 small package of frozen spinach
1 cup sour cream
4 oz. cream cheese
¼ cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
1 tsp Garlic Salt – optional
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Thaw the spinach well and wring as much water out of it as possible. Cut it a bit with a knife or kitchen scissors to make the pieces smaller and easier to eat later on.
  2. Mix well with the rest of the ingredients.

If you use vegan cream cheese, vegan sour cream and Rice Parmesan cheese, this recipe is suitable for a vegan diet too. It’s just a matter of knowing the right products for your diet.

Serve it with crackers, pretzels or even carrot sticks.

Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

17 Jun

I love to eat baked potatoes… I remember when we first got a microwave oven, way back when, I was always in charge of making the baked potatoes. Prick them a few times with a fork… bake in the oven… wrap them in foil paper to retain the heat… and eat them just like if you were at a steak house.

That was AGES ago… now, I no longer have a microwave in my kitchen and steakhouses are not part of my restaurant rotation. But I still love to bake potatoes. But they take FOREVER in an oven… even in a toaster oven which is what I usually use if it’s just me and a few others to feed.

My sister gave me an Express Cooker last Xmas as a gift. One of the recipes in the booklet that comes with the Express is how to bake potatoes… and to do it in just 15 minutes. In the regular oven, it usually takes about 1 hour to properly bake a potato. So this is a real time-saver. But the real kicker is what to mix it with… Anybody can bake a potato, but the fixings are what make it special.


1 large baking potato
1 tbs butter
2 tbs sour cream
2 tbs cream cheese
1 large garlic clove, minced or grated
2 scallions, chopped
1 tbs of Vegan Bac’n
2 handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. I baked my potato using the Express… but you can do it in a regular oven or toaster oven. I cut the potato into 2 halves, oiled it with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. And cooked it cut side down for 15 minutes.
  2. When the potato is baked, I allow it to cool off a bit so I can handle it easily. But it needs to still be warm for you to easily be able to remove the flesh of the potato and leave the outer skin with a bit of potato so it has still some structure.
  3. Place the flesh of the potato in a medium sized bowl and mix in your favorite fixin’s… mine has butter, sour cream, cream cheese, garlic, scallions, these new Vegan Bac’ns I found at the health food store the other day and shredded cheddar cheese. I use a bit of cheese inside the mash and leave some for the topping.
  4. Mash all the ingredients together… season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a drizzle of olive oil if you feel the mixture needs some moisture.
  5. Take the potato mash and spoon it back into the potato shells. I like to mound the mixture so it looks luscious and abundant. Place what’s left of the shredded cheese on top.
  6. Place in a toaster oven on 450F or broiler for about 10 minutes to melt and brown the cheese on top.

To me, half a potato is plenty for me as a side dish… and both halves are good as a main course with a salad on the side.

Creamy Sour Cream Stuffed Mushrooms

4 Apr

I love to buy produce at Costco… but lately I’ve discovered “el pulguero”… yeah, the Flea Market. It doesn’t sound like the name of the place you would like to buy produce. And produce is only about 10% of what they sell there, but the prices and the bargaining power is amazing. Go with $10 bucks on hand, and you’ll fill a few canvas bags full of produce.

I learned about El Pulguero through Tania… she lives around the same area. She started going there to buy produce for the Yoga Center. You find bags of anything and everything for $1. It’s similar to The Boys Farmer’s Market near my sister’s house with their $1 bags.

The catch… most of the produce is ready to be used RIGHT NOW. Some things may have little blemishes or have a few leaves that need to be thrown out. This is usually not produce that you can allow to hang in your fridge or pantry for a long time. But the price is exceptional… way better than any grocery store. It’s like going to Marshall’s. You need to see what’s there and allow the produce “speak to you”.

My mom found the other day some great looking mushrooms, and coming from El Pulguero I didn’t want them to linger too much. That’s when I came across this stuffed mushroom recipe from Alex Guarnaschelli. Of course, I changed it up a bit to make it easier on me to make and to dirty less pots and pans.


10 white button mushrooms stemmed, reserving the stems
3-4 additional mushrooms to use for the filling, chopped finely
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup savory béchamel sauce, recipe here
½ onion, chopped finely
2-3 sprigs of thyme
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Handful of shredded parmesan cheese
2 handfuls of whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
Aged balsamic vinegar – optional, but highly recommended
  1. Clean the mushrooms well using a damp paper towel. Remove the stems and chop them into small pieces and set aside. Reserve the caps for later use.
  2. In a medium skillet, pour a little olive oil and sauté the onions and the mushrooms stems you already chopped. Cook until the mushrooms are browned. Season with the thyme, stripping the leaves from the stems, salt and pepper. Add the béchamel and sour cream. Remove from pan into a bowl and allow cooling a bit.
  3. Mix together the cooled mushroom stem/onion/creamy mix with the parmesan and panko breadcrumbs.
  4. Preheat oven to 425F.
  5. Place all stuffed mushrooms in a large baking dish drizzled with a bit of olive oil. Don’t push the stuffing too much into the mushrooms cavity, but do heap any additional stuffing generously on top of mushrooms.
  6. I usually drizzle a a bit of olive oil and sprinkle some additional salt and pepper to season the raw mushrooms themselves.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked and the top is golden brown.

Serve immediately…

A drizzle of balsamic vinegar at the table. It adds a really nice tang that finishes the dish.

I served this with Spinach Polenta and a side avocado salad…  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

%d bloggers like this: