The World’s Most Perfect Hors D’Oeuvres

IMG_4322I’ve been saving this for you! For this very moment, when, after the round of holiday parties and dozens of the same old snacks, you need something new and different and yummy to take to that New Year’s Eve get-together or Super Bowl party.

This recipe for a savory cheesecake spread is incredibly easy, really tasty, and unusual enough to cement your reputation as a great and imaginative cook.

What you need before you start, though, is a small springform pan. I love using a springform pan because it makes me feel like a real cook. While it’s easy enough to find a standard-size pan of about 12 inches, you may need to shop on-line to find a 6-inch pan.

And you need some sort of savory jelly or jam. I got the recipe for this cheesecake from a woman who made garlic jelly—it sounds kind of gross but it was wonderful and the resulting cheesecake was spectacular. She sold the jelly with the springform pan and included the recipe—a kit for perfection!

The first time I served this at a party, a friend who LOVES food, wandered around our house with his plate full of the cheesecake, talking with his mouth full, saying, “this is the BEST thing I’ve ever eaten.”

People don’t usually say that about the things I cook so I knew I had a winner!

Since I made that first cheesecake and used up the garlic jelly, I’ve made the cheesecake with garlic jam made by Stonewall Kitchen, as well as hot pepper jellies that are much easier to find. All of these are equally grand or you might find a jelly that has hot peppers AND garlic!

IMG_4287Hot Pepper or Garlic Jelly Savory Cheesecake

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1 egg

6 oz. grated Monterey Jack cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

8 oz. cream cheese (easiest if you let it soften to room temp first)

1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns

1 jar (13-17 oz.) hot pepper jelly (or garlic jelly), divided

Mix first five ingredients together with half of the jelly.

Pour mixture into greased 6-inch spring form pan; I also cut a circle of cook’s parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan and placed the whole thing on parchment on a cookie sheet. I love using parchment paper because it makes me feel . . . well, you know.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes. It’ll get quite brown and be just a little jiggly in the middle. When you take it out of the oven, the top will be puffed up and will slowly sink, to make a perfect little bowl for the remaining jelly.

Cool completely. Remove the outside of the pan. Top with remaining jelly. Serve with crackers. Wait for people to ask for the recipe.

Loving Hands in the Kitchen: Yet Another . . .

choco chip cookies. . . recipe for chocolate chip cookies! Does the blogosphere need another recipe for chocolate chip cookies? Almost certainly not. But I’m posting this anyway because you might be in the mood right this minute for decadent cookies and, this way, you’ll need look no further.

Besides, I realized I write a lot about people making things but you have little evidence that I ever make anything myself!

I decided to make these particular cookies because we had a pantry assessment tour at our house and found mountains of oatmeal and chocolate chips. I don’t know how two people accumulated so much of those two ingredients but something needed to be done.

For me, cookies are just vehicles for the extras that get mixed in at the end. Sometimes I like a nice, understated snickerdoodle but, mostly, I want a big hearty cookie, brimming with goodies. These cookies fit the bill—I stir in what I have available. For instance, oatmeal. And chocolate chips. And then I found lots of walnuts, too, and coconut. You could leave out what you don’t like and add your own favorites. I’m told some people like raisins in oatmeal cookies (ick).

My add-ins: chocolate chips, coconut, walnuts. What would you put in? Leave out?

My add-ins: chocolate chips, coconut, walnuts. What would you put in? Leave out?

Be advised that these are not the light-colored cakey kind of chocolate chip cookies. These end up heavy and kind of flat and dense and moist and chewy.

Oatmeal/Chocolate Chip/Coconut/Walnut Cookies

Makes—3 ½ dozen cookies

Bake—about 10 minutes

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract*

2 cups all-purpose four

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon**

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups uncooked regular oatmeal

1 ½ cups coconut

2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup walnuts or pecans

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Preheat over to 350.

Beat butter and sugars at medium speed, with an electric mixer, until creamy and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat well.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, and stir well. Add oats and coconut, and stir well. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir until well blended.

Gently stir in chocolate chips and nuts by hand. Drop by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes*** or until brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan for a couple of minutes and then put them on a wire rack to cool further.

Notes:

* I make my own vanilla extract and used the one I made with bourbon for this recipe. Does it matter? Who knows! But it makes me feel like a real cook! And I always say that everything tastes better with a little bourbon.

** Have you tried Vietnamese cinnamon? It’s strong and rich and that’s how I like my men cinnamon.

*** If you have the patience, please consider baking one or two cookies at first, to get a sense of how long it will take. The last time I made these, I noted they took 9 minutes; this time it was more like 10 and a half. Baking is full of surprises!