Saturday, October 31, 2009

Midterm Mitigation (the genius behind 2 Stews Cheesecake)

Whoever it was that said "Midterms seem like a brilliant idea," clearly never had to study for them. This past month, I sold my soul to the library and dining halls and studied. Really, really hard. Now, for a few weeks at least, midterms are at bay and I can finally turn back to eating happier things than pizza.

This, of course, means cheesecake. 2 Stews, thank you, for coming up with a recipe so simple and brilliant: Cheesecake in the microwave. Seriously, this is one of those so-obvious-creations that it would take a genius to come up with it.

The premise is this:

"2 ounces low fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons egg white,
slightly beaten (egg whites in a carton work fine)

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch (prevents liquid from forming)

For "mix ins", add 1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips, or swirl in (not stir) 1 tablespoon jam of choice.

In a 1 cup or larger microwave proof mug, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy with a small whisk. Mix in the sour cream, sugar, egg, lemon juice and cornstarch. Whisk about 2 minutes until light. Alternatively, the mixture may be mixed in a small bowl with a hand held electric mixer and then poured into the mug. Add any "mix-ins."

Microwave on medium for 2 1/2 minutes* (in a 650 watt microwave). Since microwave powers
are different, you may need to experiment. You want the center to just start to bubble, and then stop cooking. If it is allowed to bubble and cook further, the mixture will "break" and you'll need to start over. Make a note of the successful cooking time for your microwave. Take out of the microwave and let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until fully chilled, about 1 1/2-2 hours. If any liquid has formed, carefully pour out. Sprinkle with graham cracker mixture and top with any topping of your choice.

*I also had success with 1 minute 50 seconds on high.
" ~ 2 Stews

Ingenious, right? I changed a few things in my creation. I used a whole egg instead of egg whites, because the things in the carton are EXPENSIVE. I did the cooking for 2.5 minutes. Because I am one of the people who has to have fruit with all desserts, after I chilled my cheesecake, I made strawberry topping! To make this take fresh strawberries (about 5), slice them, dump about a tablespoon of sugar on them, mix, and let sit until the strawberry release their juices into a syrup. Pour this on top of your cheesecake for a true New York experience. I also have never dug the whole graham cracker crust, so I tried using the graham crackers as... well, crackers and spooned some cheesecake strawberry mix on top.

A word of caution, even in the microwave, cheesecake is really rich, be careful on overusing this recipe in a short period of time. Yes, I speak from experience.

So, thank you 2 Stews for bringing this dessert into existence. There has never been a more perfect Midterm Mitigation. OmNom =)

Side Note: It's been brought to my attention that a lot of the basics of College Microwave cooking are unknown, so we'll be doing a quick series of entries on that this week. Let me know if there is anything in particular you've been wondering about.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

French Onion Soup (part 1 of I Don't Feel Like Eating)

Flu recovery is not as speedy or as inclined towards foods as I had anticipated. Therefore, I figured blog and life could compromise on items which are more appealing to those who aren't feeling too hot. Granted, this recipe is a long way from where I was a week ago (which was drinking water and powerade), so if you are indeed feeling meh this might not be a great place to start. However, my doctor said go for comfort foods and, for me at least, French Onion Soup has always been a comfort.

For this recipe I looked up Julia Child's version, because I figured if "French" was in the food's name she'd know something about it.
I tried to stick as closely to her recipe as possible, but had to deviate from ingredients such as white wine. Telling the store clerk that "really, I just want it to make French Onion Soup in my microwave" didn't seem like the most promising endeavor. If you have the ability to use white wine though, please do because it adds a really good flavor which my virgin soup was lacking. However, I do not know how to boil off alcohol in the microwave and to just add the wine to this could have unfavorable results whether in complications with the microwave or with the alcohol not actually boiling off. The other thing I didn't have was sugar. The onions are supposed to be cooked with the tiniest bit of sugar, but that tiny bit really changes the onions' flavor.

Alright, let's get started. This recipe make about a pint of soup.
You will need:
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pat of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2-3 pieces of bread
  • a little extra olive oil
  • tiniest bit of sugar maybe 1/8 teaspoon kind of size
  • a cup and half of beef stock
  • 2-4 slices of Swiss cheese
  • parsley, coarsely chopped (or dried flakes0 if you have it
First, cut the onion coarsely into roughly 1/2 inch squares and separate the pieces from their stacks. Next, melt the pat of butter with the olive oil (about 10 sec in the microwave) and mix it together in a bowl with the onions, garlic, and sugar. Now you can do one of two things. If you have an iron take the onions and dump them onto a foil sheet big enough that you can fold it in half and roll up the edges, but still have the onion pieces spread out and not built up upon each other. Iron the foil packet on the Cotton (usually highest) setting, flipping the packet over about every thirty seconds. After you start to smell the onions cook each side about three more times and then check to make sure that they are translucent. If not, repeat this process until they are almost transparent and are pretty soft. IMPORTANT NOTE: because this deals with oil, make sure that the packet is tightly sealed while you cook it, otherwise oil will leak everywhere. Also, when your iron has cooled make sure that you unplug and clean it!

If you don't have an iron, you can microwave the onion mixture for 2-3 minutes on High, definitely not as good, but it works. Then, add the stock. Microwave this whole conglomerate for 3 minutes on High. While it's cooking, toast your bread pieces using the method described in Grilled Cheese! With an Iron! Put the bread slices on top of the soup, then, put the cheese slices and microwave again for about 15 seconds. Sprinkle the parsley on top and voila! your very own French Onion Soup!

Sorry I've been gone! Omnom!