Caramelized Ground Pork in Oyster Sauce

I came across a recipe that looked delicious called Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Bowls — it looked divine and I was looking for something that wasn’t time intensive. There were a few ingredients I didn’t have on hand so I switched them out and everything came out so tasty! (see the original recipe below) The sauce “caramelized” similarly the way sugar does and just as delicious!

Here’s the link to the original recipe: https://www.recipetineats.com/vietnamese-caramelised-pork-bowls/

Ingredients:

FOR THE BASE:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 large shallots, finely minced
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced or paste
  • 3 garlic cloves , minced or paste
  • 1 jalapeno, minced

FOR THE GROUND PORK:

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce + 1-2 tbsp oyster sauce (keep separate)
  • 1 tbsp shao xing wine
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Instructions:

FOR THE MAIN:

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat
  2. Cook the shallots, ginger, garlic, and jalapeno for about 2-3 minutes, until slightly golden brown
  3. Add pork into the mixture and break apart with spatula to mince it as it cooks for another 5 minutes
  4. Sprinkle in the white pepper and salt, mix well
  5. Add in oyster sauce and mix to cover everything
  6. If you don’t think there is enough sauce to cover all, add in another tablespoon or two and mix well
  7. After three minutes, add in the shao xing wine
  8. Cook mixture until “caramelized” to preferred liking (I cooked further for about fifteen minutes, mixing only once in between to prevent burning)

Tips/Notes:

  • Can freeze and keep for two weeks
  • I didn’t have any scallions but if you do, I recommend adding some in at the beginning with thee shallots and all for added flavor

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Cast-Iron Skillet GF Individual Pizzas

I went a little button crazy when it came to buying flour during this pandemic! I have so many different types of flour in the house, than I know what to do with! One of the flours I have is called cassava flour. It’s naturally gluten free yet holds great flavor!

I browsed around at some random recipes with cassava flour to see what I could do with it and found a few posts about cast-iron skillet pizzas. This sounded perfect for a Sunday night in with the roommate and some wine! I found one recipe to follow for making the crust portion but did my own toppings.

Here’s the link to the original recipe: https://thedomesticman.com/2015/08/11/ottos-cassava-flour-pizza-crust/

Ingredients:

FOR THE CRUST:

  • 1/2 cup cassava flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

FOR THE TOPPINGS:

  • Pizza sauce or Pasta sauce of choice (I used a pasta sauce I had purchased from Trader Joe’s and it was delicious)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Pepperoni
  • Black olives
  • Corn
  • Bell Peppers (Red or Green)
  • Chicken (I had leftover cajun spiced chicken and diced it up to sprinkled onto the a pizza)

Instructions:

FOR THE MAIN:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F
  2. Combine the flours in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, combine the heavy cream, water, butter, and salt and warm over medium-low heat. Once the butter melts and the liquid just starts to bubble, remove from the heat
  4. Stir the cream mixture into the flour mixture and let cool for 5 minutes
  5. Add in the beaten egg and then knead together with your hands
  6. Add the sharp cheddar, white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and oregano to the flour mixture and continue to knead together until it’s dough-like
  7. If it gets too sticky to work with, dust it with some more arrowroot flour or water, little by little if too dry (makes enough for two small pizzas)
  8. Split the dough in half, then stretch out each half into the thinnest disc possible without tearing (use a rolling pin if you have one)
  9. Put one half in an 8- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet, spreading the dough to the edges of the skillet with your fingers
  10. With a fork, poke some holes in the dough to let air pass through
  11. Bake in the center of the oven for 6 minutes, then take it out and put it on the stovetop to cool for 1 minute (it gives the dough time to cook through without burning the toppings)
  12. Add pizza or pasta sauce, cheese, and all toppings as desired
  13. The put the pizza back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown
  14. For extra-crispy toppings, leave in for another minute or two
  15. Repeat the process with the other half of the dough and then enjoy!

Tips/Notes:

  • Best to eat when fresh, not the next day
  • I layered one of the pizzas with twice the toppings and baked them for an additional five minutes – not a bad choice!

Kidney Bean and Beef Chili

I have a small, slightly funny story to tell you about a can of kidney beans I bought. I needed them for a recipe and when the pandemic struck I had done most of my ordering online through Instacart. I saw a can for a great price and added it to my cart. I received my order and the can of kidney beans had me in shock. The can was the size of a human head, maybe even slightly larger depending on the head! I was baffled! My roommate couldn’t stop laughing!

So now I had this massive can of kidney beans and I needed to make something with it. I could have made rajma which is an Indian kidney bean recipe and a delicious one, but I decided to go with chili since I had been craving it. I usually do a turkey chili but I decided to go the original route for this one with some tweaks of my own! This came out so well, I had to share!

Here’s the link to the original recipe: https://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipe/beef-and-kidney-bean-chili

Ingredients:

FOR THE HEART OF THE CHILI:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion (white or yellow) diced
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1-3 cans of kidney beans (whatever you desire)
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (or two large tomatoes diced)
  • Handful of parsley chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups beef stock

FOR THE SEASONINGS:

  • 1 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt + 1 tablespoon vintage merlot sea salt (or as desired for seasoning)
  • 2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder (I didn’t have an actual chili mixture)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Instructions:

FOR THE PREP:

  1. Chop all your ingredients as listed to keep them ready for tossing into the pot

FOR THE MAIN DISH:

  1. In a large Dutch oven (I have a 6 quart pot), heat olive oil over medium-high and add chopped onions and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until they have softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Toss in the ground beef and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Stir often and break up ground beef with a spoon if needed, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  4. Toss in ground cumin, ground coriander, oregano and smoked paprika and stir until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add in the jalapeno and further season if needed. Stirring often, adding a teaspoon or two of oil if they start sticking, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ancho chili powder and diced tomatoes here, mix well.
  6. Pour in the beef stock and reduce heat to medium, stirring often, until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.
  7. Add in 1 to 3 cans kidney beans. Cook, stirring often, until flavors meld, about 15-20 minutes.

Tips/Notes:

  • I generally like to make chili a day before because the flavors seeps in real nicely and you’re left with a flavorful bite every time! Not to say the chili now isn’t tasty but even better the next day!
  • I switched the poblano peppers for jalapenos as that was all I had. I know the flavor will change a little bit with a different pepper. Be sure to pick one that works for you!

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Pork Ribs in Black Bean Sauce

I have been wanting to experiment with short ribs for some time now and stumbled across this scrumptious looking recipe! I skimmed through to see that I had everything for the ribs and pressed forward. Luckily it has a slide option for serving sizes and reduced mine from 6 to 2. With that, I had to tweak the timings a bit.

Here’s the link to the original recipe: https://thewoksoflife.com/pork-ribs-black-bean-sauce/

Ingredients:

FOR THE PORK:

  • 3 1/3 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork ribs (cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 slice ginger (smashed)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons black bean sauce (or 2 tablespoons of fermented black beans)
  • 1 small green bell pepper (or 1 long hot green pepper or poblano pepper)
  • 1 medium onion (cut into 1 inch chunks)
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/3 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce

FOR THE CORNSTARCH:

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon water

Instructions:

FOR THE PREP:

  1. Mix the sauce ingredients and keep to the side
  2. If you haven’t already, cut the pork ribs into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  3. In your wok, bring water to a boil and add the pork
  4. Turn heat down to medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes
  5. After the 30 minutes, the liquid should be reduced quite a bit and you can remove the pork ribs to a plate
  6. Use a strainer and keep the pork stock from wok and set aside for later use (around 1 – 1 1/2 cups)

FOR THE MAIN:

  1. Heat oil in wok over medium and saute ginger for 30 seconds to caramelize a bit
  2. Add garlic, black bean sauce, onions and bell peppers to stir-fry for 1-2 minutes then add pork ribs back in
  3. After another minute or two add in Shaoxing wine
  4. After add in the pork broth (~ 1 1/2 cups) and bring it to a simmer over medium heat (just under medium mark)
  5. After you bring it to a simmer, add in the sauce mixture for about 2 minutes, mixing well
  6. Taste for salt and add more if needed
  7. Now slowly add in the cornstarch mixture while stirring the ribs around and mix well – add more cornstarch is too watery or less if it’s becoming too thick
  8. Toss chopped scallions in and the ribs are ready to serve

Tips/Notes:

  • You can add more stock or water on step 4 under the main course if you like your ribs saucy
  • You will cook the ribs for longer or shorter depending on your desired level of rare

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Beef and Pork Burger Patty

Looking for a good burger recipe? I’m not generally one to toot my own horn but this came out exceptionally well!

Last year, I started hitting up quite a few burger joints to find one I would make my “regular” joint. I have a list of the top burgers around town, hitting each spot if I get the chance during the gruesome work-week! However, since the lockdown, I haven’t been ordering out much. To fulfill my craving, I thought I’d give a shot at making some burgers at home. In my fridge I had both ground pork and beef meat to use for the patties. It was a great choice to mix the two together! Since they came out so juicy and tasty, I had to share it! My next try will be with just beef and see if I can get it to be just as juicy and flavorful!

Ingredients:

FOR THE INITIAL PATTY BLEND:

  • 1 1/2 lb ground pork (80/20)
  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef (90/10)
  • 1/4 large red onion minced (1/2 a medium sized)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 limes (juiced)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cooking sake
  • Handful cilantro minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno minced (optional)

FOR THE FINISHING TOUCH:

  • 3 tablespoons black truffle sea salt
  • Wax paper/parchment paper

Instructions:

FOR THE PREP:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat
  2. Hand mix the initial blend together well (add in minced jalapeno here)
  3. Once everything is blended well, add in the black truffle sea salt
  4. Make a tiny patty to test for salt level/flavor
  5. You can create the rest of the patties if you feel you added enough salt and place them on wax or parchment paper for easy moving

For GRILLING:

  1. Once the grill is ready, place tiny patty onto grill (cook for 3 minutes each side and taste for salt)
  2. If you need more salt, you can add more black truffle sea salt (or regular salt) and create your patties
  3. Once you have decided on a desired salt level, place the remaining patties onto the grill for 4-7 minutes per side (depends on your level of desired smokiness/rareness)

Tips/Notes:

  • Always good practice to make a small test patty, just in case you need to add more flavor somewhere
  • If there is a sauce you wish to have with the burger then use a basting brush and brush both sides of the patty lightly before putting it into a burger — this allows for flavor to really settle in
  • If you wish to add cheese, best time to add is last 30 seconds before taking the patty off the grill OR you can put a slice of cheese on top of one patty and place another patty on top of that for double the yumminess!

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Dark Chocolate Banana Bread Loaf

I really enjoyed my banana bread muffins but I had to take this recipe one step further! I modified the recipe to fit to my liking by adding in some dark chocolate cocoa powder and chunks because who doesn’t like chocolate?! Well I’m obsessed!

Ingredients:

FOR THE WET MIX:

  • 3 ripe/very rip bananas, peeled
  • 1/4 cup melted butter, unsalted or salted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (3/4 cup if you want more sweet)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE FLOUR AND CHOCOLATE PORTION:

  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder (or milk) 
  • dark chocolate chunks chopped up or mini chocolate chips on top if you desired

Instructions:

FOR THE MUFFINS:

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
  2. Coat loaf pan with non-stick spray or paper liners
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mash bananas with a fork until as smooth as you can get it and almost no lumps
  4. In another bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  5. In the bowl of mashed bananas, mix in the sugar, extract, egg and melted butter with a spatula
  6. Fold in the flour mixture to the banana mixture until it is all smooth and combined well
  7. Pour final mixture into loaf pan and spread evenly with spatula
  8. Sprinkle the chocolate chunks or chips over the top – make sure the chunks are small enough or they may not melt all the way!
  9. Bake loaf for 40 – 50 minutes (this depends on the strength of your over)
  10. With a toothpick, check to see if it comes out clean from the center — then it’s ready
  11. Let it rest for 5 minutes then enjoy!

Tips/Notes:

  • If you don’t intend to eat the banana bread right away, then after it cools for five minutes, wrap it in saran-wrap (clear plastic wrap) or an air-tight container and store for a week.
  • Place in the fridge if you wish to keep it for more than a week (lasts possibly another few days)
  • The last photo shows the chocolate chunks on top instead of like the other photos where they melted – flavor was still just as tasty – whatever you prefer!
  • Slice with bread knife recommended

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Banana Bread Muffins

My mom would bake for our family growing up and always made some scrumptious, delicious desserts! The banana bread was always so soft and tasty — didn’t look hard to make. I decided to finally put it to the test. I took three different banana bread recipes and modified them to fit in mini muffin trays!

Ingredients:

FOR THE WET MIX:

  • 3 ripe/very rip bananas, peeled
  • 1/4 cup melted butter, unsalted or salted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (3/4 cup if you want more sweet)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE FLOUR AND CHOCOLATE PORTION:

  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions:

FOR THE MUFFINS:

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
  2. Coat muffin tray with non-stick spray or paper liners
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mash bananas with a fork until as smooth as you can get it and almost no lumps
  4. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt
  5. In the bowl of mashed bananas, mix in the sugar, egg and 4 Tbsp melted butter with a spatula (or all if you prefer – I used the remaining to top off the muffins at the end)
  6. Fold in the flour mixture to the banana mixture until it is all smooth and combined well
  7. Pour final mixture into muffin tray evenly
  8. Bake muffins for 10 – 15 minutes (for mini muffins) or 25 – 30 minutes (for larger muffins)
  9. With a toothpick, check to see if it comes out clean from the center — then it’s ready
  10. Let it rest for 5 minutes then enjoy!

Tips/Notes:

  • If you don’t intend to eat the banana bread muffins right away, then after it cools for five minutes, wrap it in saran-wrap (clear plastic wrap) or an air-tight container and store for a week.
  • Place in the fridge if you wish to keep it for more than a week (lasts possibly another few days)

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Galbi Jjim (Korean Braised Short Ribs)

I had my boyfriend over and he mentioned before that he wanted to try to make a dish called Galbi Jjim – Korean Braised Short Ribs. I did some research and we made this dish together for dinner just in time for a Zoom happy hour session!

Here’s the link to the original recipe: https://mykoreankitchen.com/galbi-jjim-korean-braised-short-ribs/

Ingredients:

FOR THE MAIN COURSE:

  • 1.5 – 1.8 kg bone-in beef short ribs (3.3 to 4 pounds)
  • 1 1/2 cups water + water to help boil meat in the beginning (eyeball)
  • 2 carrots (275g / 9.7 ounces), cut into medium size pieces
  • 8 dried jujube (optional)
  • 10 ginkgo nuts , peeled (optional)
  • 10 chestnuts , peeled (optional)

FOR THE SAUCE/MARINADE:

  • 1 red apple or nashi/asian pear, (170g / 6 ounces), cored & chopped
  • 1/2 onion (60g / 2 ounces), peeled & chopped
  • 6 Tbsp regular soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine (mirin)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 whole black peppers

Instructions:

FOR THE BEEF PREP AND SAUCE/MARINADE:

  1. Submerge the beef ribs in a bowl of cold water for 10 – 20 mins to draw out the red liquid from the meat
  2. Change the water a few times during this time just to make sure
  3. In-between the meat soaking times, blend the sauce ingredients in a mixer or food processor
  4. Set it aside until needed

FOR THE MAIN DISH:

  1. In a large pot or dutch over (at least 6 quart), fill the pot with water, just enough to cover all beef ribs
  2. Once you’ve gotten the water to start boiling, add ribs and boil for 6 to 8 minutes over medium high heat
  3. Drain the water and rinse the ribs in cold running water then cut off any obvious excess fat from the ribs
  4. Place the ribs back into your pot or dutch oven and pour the water (1 & 1/2 cups) along with 2/3 of the sauce/marinade
  5. Bring them to a boil them on medium heat for about 25-30 mins, covered (It burned the first time with this heat and time combo so instead I chose to bring it to a boil on high heat, then after 5 minutes, reduced the heat to just under medium to cook for 10 minutes and then increased the heat to medium for the remainder)
  6. Remove the cover to stir gently and change the position of the ribs
  7. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 10 minutes, covered
  8. Add the remaining ingredients (carrots, jujube, gingko nuts, chestnuts and the remaining 1/3 sauce) and continue to simmer over medium low heat for about 20 mins, covered (I added a touch more water as well)
  9. By now the ribs should be fully cooked, but they may not be as tender as you desire — Continue to simmer over medium low heat until your desired tenderness in the beef ribs is achieved (I simmered for an additional 45 minutes covered)
  10. Depending on how long you simmered it, you may still have a reasonable amount of sauce/liquid left in the pot. You can either boil it off, by increasing the heat to medium high for 10 to 12 minutes, covered — which should thicken the sauce and leaves just the right amount of it at the bottom of the pot. Or alternatively, you can spoon/pour the sauce out into a bowl and save to use as a base for fried rice – which is what I did and the flavor was amazing and I highly recommend!
  11. Best to serve galbi jjim hot with steamed rice or fried rice

Tips/Notes:

  • To reheat the galbi jjim the next day, add 1/3 cup of water in a dutch oven and boil it for 5 to 7 mins over medium high heat, covered
  • For the main portion of galbi jjim, the ingredients listed above are your typical ingredients, however, I used potatoes once when making this since it was all I had at home and the flavor was just as good!
  • According to the original recipe, you shouldn’t let the meat fall off the bone since it doesn’t look nice when serving – this of course is just a suggestion and not necessary to follow (to each their own)

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Mochi Muffins with Sesame Seeds

I’m not a baker but occasionally I indulge! This recipe was discovered by a friend who made a batch and shared the wealth – the result – Money! Thanks to my friend, I was able to enjoy these buttery, delicious, chewy muffins that aren’t too sweet!

Here’s the link to the original recipe: https://www.snixykitchen.com/butter-mochi-cupcakes/

Ingredients:

FOR THE WET MIX:

  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (plus more for greasing pans)
  • 1 13.5-13.66-ounce can full-fat coconut milk (see note)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon molasses (optional, added for flavor)

FOR THE DRY MIX:

  • 2 cups (320 grams) mochiko sweet rice flour
  • 1 cup (200 grams) organic dark brown sugar*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ tablespoons each, black and toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Instructions:

FOR THE MUFFIN MIX:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and place the oven rack in the middle of the oven
  2. Generously grease the sides and top of a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray or softened butter
  3. In a medium bowl, hand whisk together the sweet rice flour, dark brown sugar, baking powder, and salt
  4. In another bowl – or a stand mixer, if you have one fitted with the whisk attachment – whisk together the melted butter, coconut milk, eggs, vanilla, and molasses
  5. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients mix to the wet ingredients mix and slowly blend until completely combined not to over blend it
  6. Divide the batter evenly in the muffin tin, filling each cup all the way to the top
  7. Sprinkle the tops with black and white sesame seeds
  8. Bake 55-65 minutes – until the top is brown and crispy and the cake springs back when poked with a finger
  9. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely
  10. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days

Tips/Notes:

  • Molasses is optional but I highly recommend adding this in to elevate the flavor and get the right color
  • Eggs, can also be placed in a dish of warm water for 5 minutes to bring to room temperature if needed
  • The thickness of your batter will vary depending on the brand and thickness of your coconut milk and temperature of your butter
  • Coconut milk must be full-fat – anything less and the muffins don’t come out right
  • When using regular cane sugar instead of dark brown sugar, the muffins will come out just fine but in a lighter caramel-like tone
  • The muffins get softer after a few days but you can pop them into the oven for a couple minutes to get the crispiness back

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Mini Lavender Cheesecakes with Blackberry Coulis

This recipe is one I plan to continue to use until I get tired of it (not sure that will happen). After a few tries, I have been able to successfully make these delicious mini lavender cheesecakes with the right amount of lavender and fluffiness!

I used Girl Scout cookies – Thin Mints – instead of graham crackers as the crust on my latest attempt – SUCH A GREAT IDEA! You have to try it!

Ingredients:

FOR THE CRUST:

  • 1/2 box (7 oz.) graham cracker crumbs (Or a half box of favorite cookies
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cube (4 oz) butter, melted and cooled

FOR THE LAVENDER CHEESECAKE:

  • 2 tablespoons lavender buds, finely chopped or crushed
  • 4 (8 oz) packages. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature

FOR BLACKBERRY TOPPING

  • 6 oz (180g) blackberries, pureed and strained
  • 5 tbsp (65g) sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp cornstarch

*Substitute sour cream with even parts heavy whipping cream, greek yogurt and mayo (make sure you only use 1/2 cup of mixture for use in the recipe)

Instructions:

FOR THE CRUST:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Spray 9-inch springform pan or Silicone baking tray with non-stick spray (or butter)
  3. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs and sugar (If you use cookies don’t add more sugar) then add in the melted butter and toss with a fork until evenly moistened (should look like damp sand)
  4. Divide evenly into the prepared pan, press down firmly with the flat bottom of a measuring cup or the flat bottom of a cup
  5. Transfer pan into the oven and bake the crust for 10 minutes
  6. Remove and set on a cooling rack while preparing the blackberry topping

FOR THE BLACKBERRY TOPPING:

  1. Add the blackberries to a food processor and puree until smooth (a little more than 1/2 cup of puree)
  2. Mix together the blackberry puree, sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan
  3. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring consistently until mixture thickens and comes to a boil (about 5 minutes)
  4. Allow to boil for 45 seconds to 1 minute, then remove from heat
  5. Pour into a glass container and refrigerate and allow to cool completely

FOR THE LAVENDER CHEESECAKE:

  1. Set the crust pan to sit inside a larger, deep-sided pan such as a roasting pan. Fill the lower, larger pan with hot water that comes up to 2/3 of the top pan
  2. MAKE SURE TO ARRANGE THE OVEN RACK TO THE LOWER-MIDDLE POSITION OF THE OVEN AND REDUCE THE OVEN HEAT TO 325°F
  3. Place the dried lavender buds and reserve into a spice grinder and bring to a powder then set aside
  4. In a large bowl, add the cream cheese and sugar to a mixing bowl (a stand mixer if possible) then beat on medium-low speed for 1 minute until smooth 
  5. Add the cornstarch, salt, sour cream* and vanilla. Beat on medium-low speed for another minute until creamy
  6. Stop the motor and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula
  7. Keeping the mixer speed on medium-low, beat for another minute while adding the eggs and yolks, one at a time, mixing well between each one, not to over mix
  8. Fold in the lavender bud powder with a spatula (add less for not so potent lavender taste)
  9. Pour the mixture on top of the crust pan and place into oven
  10. Bake the cheesecake for 50-55 minutes, then turn off the oven immediately and crack the door open or prop it open letting the cheesecake cool slowly for 1 hour 
  11. Then carefully take out both pans from the oven and lift the cheesecake from the water bath
  12. Let the cheesecake cool for another 30 minutes then top with blackberry topping and serve

Tips/Notes:

  • Cream cheese can be quickly brought to room temperature in the microwave. Set the microwave on ‘defrost’ setting for 10 to 15 seconds
  • Eggs, can also be placed in a dish of warm water for 5 minutes
  • Blend the ingredients on slow speed as a high speed will add air into the batter which will cause the cheesecake to puff up during baking and crack during cooling
  • The refrigerated cold cheesecake will slice easily by dipping a sharp knife in hot water and wiping it off before each slice is made

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