Cheesecake (Take Two), 200 Posts, and a Giveaway

This is not how I’d expected this post (recipe) to go.

I was going to come out, all my culinary guns a’blazing, showing off my growth with an awesome cheesecake to celebrate 200 posts.

But, alas, that was not to be.

Instead, things did not quite go right…

So, Wednesday was my husband’s birthday – and I had the whole day (foodwise) mapped out.  Breakfast in bed, lunch out, tasty dinner, and a lovely cheesecake (his favorite) since last year’s did not go according to plan.  I was going for gorgeous looking and delicious this year.

The morning was a whirl – as I cooked breakfast, made the cheesecake, and set up dinner in the crockpot.

The cheese cake was a recipe I’d found on foodnetwork.com and had almost 500 reviews with a culminating score of five stars.  I was confident it was going to be a snap.  And it seemed as if it were.  The only thing that threw me off was that the recipe said to take the cheesecake out after baking for 45 minutes and that it should be jiggly.  It even stated ‘do not overcook.’  So, I left it in about 5 minutes longer and then forced myself to remove it, jiggly, as the recipe said.

After that it needed to cool and then be placed in the fridge for 4 hours to firm up.  No problem.

And when I finally took it out and released the springform mold, it looked gorgeous!

No cracks and a perfect crust! I was so proud…

It wasn’t until I began to slice, that things started to go wrong.

Apparently, it had not set.

I was so thankful at this point that we did not have guests.

(Did I mention that I wasn’t feeling well, so our friends cancelled?)

(Oh, and the dinner I made was not eaten – I’ll share that story next post.)

All in all, it was not turning into great day for him (or me).

Isn’t this just what you’d want on your special day??

(And yes, I also made a delectable strawberry coulis that was totally wasted – for those interested, mix strawberries, honey, and a little lemon juice to taste in a blender until smooth.  Delish!)

I was so sad.  I really felt like I’d let Hubs down on his special day.  But, of course, he found the silver lining of throwing away the rest of the cake, “At least we won’t eat all those extra calories, right?”

Sure, I guess.

But I was so looking forward to all those calories.  (And I felt that I’d let him down.)

Anyways, after a little introspection, I’m feeling that this recipe was a lesson for my 200th post.  It was the Cooking Gods letting me know that I still have so much to learn – so they gave me a little humbling experience to drive in the point.  They wanted me to renew my desire to continue to grow as a cook; to take chances and gain from the successes and the failures.

So, that’s what I’m going to do.

(And, as the Cooking Gods are my witness, I will make a perfect cheesecake before post number 300!)

(Oh, and I’m going to spoil Hubs rotten on Father’s Day to make up for it.  So don’t feel too bad for him.)

~~~~

Anyways, on to the really fun part of this post… the giveaway!

In celebration of 200 posts, I am giving away a $20 gift card to Williams-Sonoma to one of my lucky, lucky readers.  They have a ton of amazing culinary toys that are sure to please everyone.

To enter, leave a comment for the following:

First Entry:  Share your favorite recipe (and a link if you have one).  (I’m really looking forward to seeing these – always looking for new things to try. :) )

Second Entry:  Like Misadventures in Cooking on Facebook.  (If you already do, just leave a comment telling me you do.)  Or subscribe to receive emails in the box on the right.

Third+ Entries: Share this giveaway on your blog, on FB, on Twitter, or any other social media.  One extra entry for every time you share.

(Make sure that each of these is in a separate comment.  Enter your email in the comment form, so I can contact you if you win.  I will be choosing a comment using Random.org next Friday, June 22nd at noon, Pacific Time.)

Thank you all, once again, readers, for keeping me positive and encouraged – you certainly help me keep going after days like Wednesday!

Good luck!

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Crescia al Formaggio {Belated Easter Cheese Bread}

Have you ever seen a recipe on a favorite site and knew immediately that you wanted to make it?

And then it promptly left your overfilled brain.

But then another favorite site decided to make it, too… and then it was burned into your memory, taunting you with visuals of crusty, cheese-y goodness?

(Or maybe that’s just me.)

Well, several weeks ago, John from the Bartolini Kitchens made this amazing bread for Easter.  And you all know how I am about bread – so I immediately was pumped to make it.  But life got busy…and I forgot.

But the bread gods must’ve been looking out for me because soon after, Smidge, at Just a Smidgen, made it, too!

So, here I am, take three on this (obviously) wonderful bread.

The Recipe:

Crescia al Formaggio, adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 1/2 c bread flour

1 1/4 t instant yeast

3 large eggs

1 large egg yolk, (white reserved for glaze)

1/4 c warm water

1/4 c (4 T) softened butter

1 t salt

1 t ground pepper (black if you don’t mind the specks, white if you do)

1 1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese, or a combination

Beat on medium speed for 10 minutes, until the dough becomes shiny and satiny.  It’ll be sticky; stop the mixer to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl a couple of times during the mixing process if necessary.  Add cheese.  Beat until well combined.

Put the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with a damp cloth, and set it aside to rest/rise for 45 minutes in a warm place; it may not much, so don’t be worried.

Gently deflate the dough, turn it over, return it to the bowl, and allow it to rest/rise for an additional 45 minutes; again, it may not seem to rise much — again, that’s OK.

Divide the dough into three pieces; roll each piece into a 12″ log, and braid the logs.  Nestle the braid into a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.  Cover the loaf lightly, and allow it to rise for 90 minutes (or longer, depending on the warmth of your kitchen); the dough should have become noticeably puffy, though it won’t have doubled in size.

While the loaf is rising, put your oven rack in a lower position, just below the middle, and preheat the oven to 425°F.

Whisk the reserved egg white with 2 teaspoons cold water, and brush the top of the loaf.  Place the bread in the oven and bake it for 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, tent the bread lightly with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until it’s a deep, golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F.

Remove the bread from the oven, and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the edges, if necessary, and turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool completely before slicing.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

So, I kind of forgot to check the total amount of time needed to make this bread.  I realized, as the bread was doing the first rise, that I would not have enough time to finish it before leaving for an appointment…so I had to change the rise times from the original – I made up for it by making sure the bread rose in a warm place with a slightly damp cloth.  Just these small changes seemed to make the yeast super happy and ready to grow.

My other downfall for this recipe was a problem with separating my eggs.  This, honestly, was the very first (and second!) time I’ve ever not been able to do this.  Normally, I am an egg separating savant.  Seriously.  Hubs always gives me a hard time when I separate eggs, because I do it right over the batter, etc., full of confidence, and have never messed up.  While making this bread, though, I not only broke the yolk, but the second time I tried, the shell collapsed and my yolk fell into the white.  I was not a happy camper let me tell you (though I was glad that Hubs was not home to gloat).

Other than those little snafus, the bread worked like a dream.

And that cheesy bread smell filled the house for hours – bonus!

The bread actually had a really strong cheese flavor, since I mostly used Asiago, and the pepper added fun spice throughout.  The texture was all that you want in a bread: crusty on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.  All in all, just as good as I expected with the recommendations from the blogs above.

We had it with a salad, but I think it would be just heavenly dipped in a homemade marinara sauce.  Or even toasted with some butter.

Another bread win at our house.  :)

Happy Wednesday!