Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lobster Cakes

Many of you are asking for the Lobster Cake recipe that I made for the Christmas Tea Party.  I made a few changes to make these smaller than the original recipe stated by using a mini muffin pan instead of a mini cheesecake pan. Use either pan, they are wonderful both ways!

Lobster Cheesecakes
Source: Tea Time Magazine ~ November/December 2011
Prep: 30 minutes   Cook: 5 minutes   Bake: 24 minutes   Oven: 350 degrees F
Yield: 2 dozen mini cheesecakes (or 40 mini muffin size cakes)

2     cups finely crumbled round buttery crackers
1     cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
6     tablespoons butter, melted
1     large egg white
2     tablespoons butter
1/2  cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4  cup finely chopped green onion
3    (6 oz.) lobster tails, cooked, meat removed and finely chopped
2     tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/4  teaspoon ground black pepper
2     (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
2     large egg yolks
Garnish: fresh dill

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine cracker crumbs, Parmesan cheese, melted butter, and egg white, stirring to mix well. Press into bottom and halfway up sides of wells of 2 (12-well) mini cheesecake pans. Bake for 6 minutes.

In a medium skillet, heat butter over medium heat until melted. Add bell pepper and green onion. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add lobster, dill, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl combine cream cheese and egg yolks. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add lobster mixture to cream cheese mixture, stirring to combine. Divide mixture evenly among baked crusts.

Bake until set, 16-18 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from pans. Garnish with fresh dill, if desired.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Tea Party ~ Christmas Cheeseball

The most rewarding part of cooking and baking for me is sharing food with others. I love the looks of anticipation, raised eyebrows, savor of a first bite and smile as my friends and family try some new or repeat recipe out of the Melt kitchen. The past few weeks I had the opportunity to cater a Christmas Tea hosted by my mother for her church friends...in total about 60 ladies over two different weekends.

My perspective from the kitchen allowed me to visit with just about everyone, but simultaneously watch beautiful expressions of shared friendship, warm embraces and holiday joy on familiar dear faces. More than once, my eyes filled with tears and heart overflowed with the beauty of friends gathering and enjoying shared time together.

Lobster Cakes

I am sharing the menu, a few photo's of the food and a quick Christmas cheese ball recipe. The cheese ball recipe is one my mom has made for years...I just added some diced pimentos, water chestnuts and changed the nut from almonds to walnuts.

Christmas Tea Party Menu
3 Layer Sandwiches (Egg Salad, Ham Pate and Vegetable Cream Cheese)
Cucumber Christmas Tree Sandwiches
Cucumber Christmas Tree Sandwiches
Chicken Salad Puffs
Lobster Cakes
Christmas Cheeseballs and Assorted Crackers
Stuffed Tomatoes
Carrots and Celery with Ranch
Gingerbread Scones with Spiced Cream
Pistachio Cranberry Scones with Orange Cream

Fruitcake Tea Bread
Pineapple Carrot Cake
Spritz Cookies
Millionaire Shortbread
Red Velvet Cake Pops
Peppermint Bark

Orange Spice Tea
Vanilla Tea
Tea-based Christmas Wassail

Christmas Cheeseball 
Source: adapted from my Mom

1    pkg Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Dry Powder (milk recipe)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
8    ounces cream cheese, softened
8    ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4    ounces diced pimentos
8    ounces sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped finely
5    ounces walnuts, toasted and finely chopped

Mix dressing, mayonnaise, milk and cream cheese until well blended. Add cheddar cheese, pimentos and water chestnuts. Cover and freeze for 30 minutes. Shape into a ball and roll in the toasted walnuts. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Harmony's Thoughts
I rolled these into individual cheese balls using the same method. 

Red Velvet Cake Pops

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pumpkin Cheese Bread

Today was a beautiful winter day here in central Pennsylvania. Cold and crisp with lots of sunshine. I trudged the hills with my dog Max and my sisters dog Bailey. It was a welcome break from baking and prepping ingredients the rest of the day (I am catering a Christmas tea this weekend for about 40 ladies). 

As I explored and refreshed my mind with a walk, I was struck by how busy our lifestyles are this time of year. I know it is important to send Christmas cards, buy gifts, bake those Christmas cookies and entertain friends, but often we miss out on the enjoyment of these things because we scurry to the next task on our list. In the midst of "making your list and checking it twice," take one step back to soak in the moment and cherish those around you.

Now that I shared my thoughts, I want to share an amazing recipe from a new cookbook I recently purchased. This pumpkin cheese bread intrigued me as soon as I turned to its page. I knew it was either going to be terrible or terrific, and I took a risk, mixed up a batch and served it along side the soup and salad course for Thanksgiving dinner. The "big" risk equaled big reward! It was the highlight of our meal! 

If you have a can of pumpkin and some sharp cheddar cheese in your kitchen...go make this! If you don't have the ingredients, pull on your old sweats and go get them.......now that your back.....make this bread! Get the point?? Make this bread!!! :) The dough does have to be refrigerated overnight, but the recipe is incredibly simple. I ate this warm out of the oven, toasted for breakfast and (shhhh...) as a grilled cheese sandwich. 

Pumpkin Cheese Bread
Source: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Prep: 15 minutes    Let Stand: Overnight    Rise: 1 hour   Bake: 50 minutes   Oven: 375 degrees F

3 1/2   cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1         tablespoon light brown sugar
2 1/4   teaspoons rapid rise yeast (1 envelope)
1 1/4   teaspoons salt
1/8      teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4      cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1         cup shredded medium or sharp cheddar cheese
1         tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1         large egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water

In a large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, yeast, salt and cayenne. Add 1 cup water, the pumpkin and cheese and mix until well combined. The dough will be slightly sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it forms a smooth ball. (Add flour as needed) Sprinkle a large bowl with flour and add the ball of dough, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day take the dough out of the refrigerator, transfer to a lightly floured work surface and flatten the dough to a rough rectangle with your hands. Use the butter to coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Roll the dough up into a cylindrical shape and place seam-side down in the loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise at room temperature for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until almost doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, when the dough has risen for 35 minutes, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Slash the loaf down the center with a sharp knife. Brush the loaf with the egg-water wash. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Turn the bread out of the pan and onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Harmony's Thoughts
I used about 1 1/2 cups of extra sharp cheddar cheese.
I did not bother with the egg wash and just used regular yeast, not rapid rise.