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Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake An early Father’s Day present for my husband came in the form of a cheesecake. Testing recipes is an occupational and personal hazard for me (think hips), so I gave this fresh-flavored and ultra-creamy dessert to him as a gift. Being the good husband that he is, I knew he would share it. I could bake a cake and eat it, too. Pretty clever of me, wasn’t it?

Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake
Recipe from Robbie’s Recipe Collection

INGREDIENTS
20 vanilla cream sandwich cookies
1/4 cup margarine, melted
24 oz. cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 eggs
3/4 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
1. Process cookies in a blender or food processor. Pulse to finely chop.

2. Add melted margarine or butter and pulse until thoroughly combined.

3. Press mixture into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan; refrigerate.

4. Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy.

5. Beat in sugar and cornstarch.

5. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

6. Beat in bananas, whipping cream, and vanilla.

7. Pour mixture into prepared crust.

8. Place pan on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes.

9. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees and bake an additional 75 minutes, or until center is almost set.

10. Allow to cool completely before removing rim of pan.

11. Refrigerate cheesecake, uncovered, at least 6 hours.

Serves 12

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used a 9½-inch springform pan and I’m glad I did. This recipe does not make a tall cheesecake, so it was perfect with the smaller pan.

2. Because I used a smaller pan than specified, I used fewer cookies. Even then, the crust was a little thicker than I would have preferred.

3. I used butter instead of margarine, basically because I didn’t have margarine on hand. 1/4 cup of butter is equivalent to 2 ounces of butter for those that weigh their ingredients.

4. Even though the directions don’t state it, don’t forget to preheat your oven.

5. I served each slice with a dollop of whipped cream, a banana slice and a small sprig of mint.

Enjoy!

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Thai Barbecue Chicken Think Thai. Think of some of the most aromatic and flavor-packed ingredients that go into Thai cooking – lemon grass, ginger, coriander, and fish sauce. Think about expanding your barbecue repertoire. Think about the option of grilling outdoors or baking indoors. Think about a perfect dish to serve at a summer party. Think about eating juicy pieces of delicious chicken. Need more encouragement? Click on the photo to enlarge it. Okay, stop thinking now. Go out and buy the ingredients to make your own exotic Thai barbecue chicken for dinner tonight!

Barbecue Chicken
The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Thai Cooking

INGREDIENTS
1 chicken, about 3 to 3½ lb, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
Lime wedges and fresh red chillies, for garnish

For the Marinade:
2 lemon grass stalks, roots trimmed
1 inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
4 shallots, coarsely chopped
1/2 bunch coriander (cilantro) roots, chopped*
1 tbsp palm sugar or light brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce

DIRECTIONS
1. Here’s how to make the marinade: Cut off the lower 2 inches of the lemon grass stalks and chop them coarsely. Put into a food processor with the ginger, garlic, shallots, coriander, sugar, coconut milk, and sauces. Process until smooth.

2. Place the chicken pieces in a dish, pour over the marinade and stir to mix well. Cover the dish and leave in a cool place to marinate for at least 4 hours, or leave it in the refrigerator overnight.

3. Prepare the barbecue or preheat the oven to 400°F. Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade. If you are cooking in the oven, arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer on a rack set over a roasting pan.

4. Cook the chicken on the barbecue over moderately hot coals or on medium heat for a gas barbecue, or bake in the oven for 20–30 minutes. Turn the pieces and brush with the reserved marinade once or twice during cooking.

5. As soon as the chicken pieces are golden brown and cooked through, transfer them to a platter, garnish with the lime wedges and red chillies and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Instead of cutting up a chicken into parts, I opted to use chicken wing parts.

2. *The cookbook author notes that “Coriander roots are more intensely flavoured than the leaves, but the herb is not always available with the roots intact.” According to Fine Cooking, “If you can’t find any cilantro root, substitute chopped cilantro stems with a few leaves mixed in.” I read in several places that an appropriate substitution is two cilantro stems for each root, since coriander stems are not as potent as the roots.

3. My marinade looked greener than the photo in the cookbook – I added too much cilantro.

4. Palm sugar is sold in hard-packed cakes at Asian markets. Grate the cakes to measure and use.

5. I let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator overnight and for an additional half-day.

Enjoy!

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Citrus Gazpacho A trip to the American Southwest and blistering hot days prompt me to explore the world of chilled soups. After eating at Cafe Pasqual’s, a James Beard America’s Regional Cooking Classics award winner, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I left a few pounds heavier. Not only did I eat every bit of food that was placed before me, I also toted home two of Cafe Pasqual’s cookbooks in my suitcase. In one of the books, Chef Katharine Kagel shares a much-requested recipe for a refreshing citrus-flavored gazpacho.

Citrus Gazpacho
Recipe from Cooking with Cafe Pasqual’s

INGREDIENTS
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2½ cups freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest and fruit of 1 orange
Zest of 1/2 and fruit of 1 pink grapefruit
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1/4 medium red onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Fill a large saucepan with enough water to cover the tomatoes. Place over high heat and bring to a full boil. While the water is heating, use the tip of a sharp paring knife to score a small X on the bottom of each tomato, just piercing the skin.

2. Put the tomatoes into the boiling water for 20 seconds. Use tongs to transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl filled with ice and water. (This will stop further cooking.) Allow the tomatoes to cool for a few minutes, remove them from the water, and peel their skins with either a paring knife or your fingers, starting at the scored end. Discard the peel.

3. Core and dice one tomato and reserve it. Slice the other tomatoes in half crosswise, and squeeze out the seeds. Remove the cores. Put the tomatoes into the container of a blender.

4. Place the garlic, vinegar, orange juice, and orange and grapefruit zests into the blender with the tomatoes and whirl. Transfer the puree to a serving pitcher or a serving bowl and add the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, and olive oil.

5. To prepare the fruit, use a paring knife on a cutting board to cut off both ends of the grapefruit and orange so that the fruit can securely stand on end for cutting. Starting from the top of the citrus, slice off all the peel and pith, following the contour. All the fruit will now be exposed. Cradle the fruit in the palm of your hand you aren’t using for slicing, and use the paring knife to cut loose each fruit segment from the inner side of the membrane. Angle the long side of the blade between the fruit and the membrane toward the center of each segment, cutting in a V configuration. No membrane should be attached to the fruit segments.

6. Add the fruit segments to the gazpacho mixture and stir.

7. Add the salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.

8. Chill well before serving.

Makes 6 cups

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I couldn’t find pink grapefruit at my local market, so I used a red grapefruit instead.
2. The recipe didn’t indicate when to add the reserved diced tomatoes, so I added them in with the cucumbers, bell pepper, and red onions.
3. I added 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
4. Chef Kagel notes in her recipe, “The trick to this recipe is to cut all the diced ingredients into uniform dimensions.”

Enjoy!

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The Best Chocolate Cupcakes Make mine dark, sinful, rich and gooey. Make me want to lick my fingers. Make me the best chocolate cupcakes ever. But wait! Don’t use any sissy milk chocolate or not-really-chocolate white chocolate in my cupcakes. Make my cupcakes with dark, bold and slightly bitter chocolate. Please. Pretty please. And while you’re at it, add some aromatic full-flavored coffee to the batter. Yes, they will be perfect, down to the very last delicious crumb. Click on the photo to go to chocolate heaven. Mmmmmmm . . .

The Best Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe based on Hershey’s Black Magic Cake

INGREDIENTS
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa (100% Cacao Special Dark Cocoa)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong brewed black coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F (175° degrees C).

2. Grease and flour a cupcake tin or use paper liners.

3. Combine dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer: flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together and make a well in the center.

4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients: eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.

5. Beat at medium-speed for two minutes. Batter will be thin.

6. Pour batter into prepared cupcake tin.

7. Bake at 350° degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

8. Cool on wire rack.

9. Combine frosting ingredients and mix. Spread on cooled cupcakes.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. The moist and rich cupcake batter will saturate light-colored paper liners. See photo above. Not a bad thing, but the next time I make these I will use grease-proof liners.

2. If you prefer to grease and flour your cupcake tin, instead of rubbing butter and shaking flour in each section, make your life easier by using a cooking spray that contains flour.

3. In lieu of fresh brewed coffee, you can use 2 teaspoons instant coffee dissolved in 1 cup of boiling water.

4. If you don’t have buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to enough milk to make 1 cup (250 ml). Stir and let it sit for 5 minutes.

5. This recipe yields about two dozen cupcakes.

Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Adapted from a recipe by Robyn Stone of Add a Pinch

INGREDIENTS*
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
2½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
Pinch salt**

DIRECTIONS
1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.

2. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.

3. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.

4. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.

5. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears too wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. *The ingredients as posted make half of the original frosting recipe. I cut it in half because I was making cupcakes and not a three-layer cake. I had enough frosting to decorate 25 cupcakes, with some to spare.

2.** I added a pinch of salt with the vanilla and the espresso powder, because I use unsalted butter.

Enjoy!

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Javanese Marinade for Lamb Shish Kebabs To share or not to share? That was my dilemma. Should I reveal a family favorite recipe or should I keep it a family secret? Recognizing that life is infinitely better when shared and acknowledging that my mother-in-law graciously gave this recipe to me, I gladly present this tried-and-true Javanese Marinade for Lamb Shish Kebabs for you to enjoy. The remarkable flavor combination and the ease of preparation make it a winning entrée. It’s so good, you, too, may find yourself questioning whether or not to share the recipe!

Javanese Marinade for Lamb Shish Kebabs
From the recipe collection of Mrs. Y. Chang

INGREDIENTS
1 cup oil
3/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup chopped onions
3 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon coriander seed
3 tablespoons vinegar
3 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar
Curry powder, to taste
Chili powder, to taste
Ground cumin, to taste
Leg of lamb, cut into chunks

DIRECTIONS
1. If using bamboo skewers, immerse them completely in a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan filled with water for about 30 minutes.

2. Debone the leg of lamb or purchase a boneless leg roast, trim fat, and, cut meat into 1-inch chunks.

3. In a large bowl combine oil, soy sauce, chopped onions, ground ginger, coriander seeds, vinegar, brown sugar, curry powder, chili powder, and cumin. Stir to mix ingredients.

4. Add lamb chunks to the bowl of marinade; stir to coat all pieces of meat. Cover bowl and let marinade overnight in the refrigerator (or a minimum of 4 to 6 hours), stirring periodically.

5. Before grilling, let meat come to room temperature. Thread chunks of meat onto skewers.

6. Grill the kebabs.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I use canola oil and light soy sauce in the marinade.

2. My husband, who usually makes this recipe for family events, told me that he always adds way more spice and brown sugar than the recipe calls for. Since the last three spices are added to taste, here are the amounts that I generally use with good results: about 3 teaspoons of curry, 1½ teaspoons of chili powder and around 3/4 of a teaspoon of cumin. Start with those quantities and then add more seasonings and brown sugar as you see fit.

3. I also add a couple of twists of my black pepper mill to the marinade.

4. There is no added salt, because of the amount of sodium in the soy sauce.

5. If my husband and I make lamb shish kebabs for a crowd, we divide the meat into large zip-type plastic bags and pour some of the marinade into each bag. While marinating, we periodically flip the bags over and massage the bags to distribute the marinade.

6. I like to intersperse fresh mushrooms, chunks of onion, and green peppers in between the pieces of meat to add color and interest.

7. Don’t overcook the lamb; in my family, medium-rare is preferred.

Enjoy!

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Pineapple-Lemon Iced Tea What? O.C.D. iced tea? I need that! After putting on my reading glasses, I realize that it is not O.C.D. iced tea, but rather O.C.C. iced tea. O.C.C. stands for the Oahu Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii. With a pedigree like that, one would expect a thirst-quenching tropical-flavored drink. This recipe does not disappoint: the fruity sweetness of the pineapple juice balances the crisp tartness of the lemon juice, while the subtle hint of mint refreshes and brightens the beverage. Whatever acronym floats your boat, you’ll enjoy sipping this super easy-to-make iced tea on a warm and sunny day!

O.C.C. (Pineapple-Lemon) Iced Tea
A Taste of Aloha Cookbook

INGREDIENTS
1/2 gallon water
12 tea bags
3 sprigs fresh mint
1 and 2/3 cups sugar
12 ounces pineapple juice
6 ounces fresh lemon juice
Additional mint sprigs, for garnish
Pineapple spears, for garnish

DIRECTIONS
1. Bring water to a boil and steep tea bags and mint. Remove mint after 3 minutes.
2. Continue to steep tea until it is very dark. Remove tea bags.
3. While tea is still warm, add sugar and juices, stirring to dissolve sugar.
4. Pour into a gallon container, adding enough water to fill to the gallon level.
5. Chill.
6. Serve iced with mint sprigs and pineapple spears.

Makes 1 gallon

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used a good brand of regular-sized English Breakfast (decaf) tea bags.
2. The next time I make this, I will try using a sugar substitute.

Enjoy!

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Savory Brunch Muffins 12 – 1 = 11. But in the world of muffins, 12 muffins – 1 muffin = 1 very happy tummy. Combine traditional brunch ingredients – eggs, smoked salmon, and fresh dill – and present them in a delightful and portable manner. These muffins, topped with crunchy and salty potato chips, make for one fabulous brunch-to-go, or serve them hot at your next brunch gathering.

Savory Brunch Muffins
Better Homes and Gardens

INGREDIENTS
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1½ tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh dill
2 oz. lox-style smoked salmon, chopped
2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
1 cup wavy potato chips, crushed

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease twelve 2½-inch muffin cups or line with parchment paper squares; set aside.

2. In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

3. In a 2-cup measure whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, eggs, butter, and dill; add to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Gently fold in salmon and chopped eggs.

4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each three-fourths full. Sprinkle crushed potato chips over batter in cups.

5. Bake 15 minutes or until golden-brown. Cool in cups on wire rack 5 minutes.

Makes 12 servings

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I cut parchment paper into roughly 5-inch by 5-inch squares. Try not to get any batter on the paper when filling the cups. After baking, any batter stuck to the paper will appear as dark brown spots. This is not the worst thing in the world, but it will look a little messy.

2. Place the potato chips in a plastic bag and crush with your fingers. Some of the potato chips should be slightly pressed into the batter or else they will all fall off after baking.

3. Don’t overbake these muffins or they will be dry.

4. The next time I make these I will add a pinch of black pepper and some snipped chives or chopped green onions to the batter to enhance their flavor.

5. Because of the salty potato chips and smoked salmon, there is not a lot of additional salt added to the batter. If you like your food saltier, cautiously add more salt only after you have determined the degree of saltiness of the salmon and potato chips you are using. Not all smoked salmon or potato chips have the same amount of sodium.

Enjoy!

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