pumpkin cheesecake

Confession: I am a cheesecake snob. I womp-womp over cakes that are solid bricks of cream cheese, or over cheese-flavored jell-o towers. If it tastes more like a crumb cake or if I’m chewing on crystallized sugar, go ahead, you can finish it for me. And don’t even get me started on water baths — they’re 100% non-negotiable.

So, allow me to present the perfect cheesecake. It’s solid but fluffy as hell, with no added gelatin or weird binders. It’s sweet and tangy and completely melts in your mouth.

Also, pumpkin. Yeah. Basic as shit.

– L

Not that anyone actually follows this blog, but if you were wondering why I haven’t posted anything in 2.5 years, it’s because I’ve been a little busy baby-catching, cut-you-open-and-put-you-back-together-ing, ruining all my good shoes with blood etc, and generally running around like a crazy person. Pretty standard obgyn residency stuff. Yay!

 

recipe: pumpkin cheesecake

Ingredients
2 cups finely crushed gingersnap cookies
4 tbsp salted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
3 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
4 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream (can reduce to 1/3 cup if your canned pumpkin is super runny)
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree

 

Directions
1. Make the crust: Heat oven to 325°. Wrap the outside of a 9″ springform pan with foil and set aside. Combine gingersnap crumbs and butter in a food processor, and process until evenly combined. Transfer to pan and press evenly into bottom and halfway up side; bake until set, about 10 minutes. Let cool and set aside.

2. Make the filling: Set a kettle of water to boil. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, until evenly incorporated. Scrape the bowl as needed. Add cream, syrup, vanilla, and pumpkin, and mix until smooth.

3. Pour filling over crust and place springform pan into a large roasting pan; pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up side of spring-form pan. Bake until filling jiggles slightly in the center when the pan is tapped on the side, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

4. VERY IMPORTANT! To cool, turn off the oven and prop open the oven door. Don’t remove the cake from the oven until it’s cool enough to do so with your bare hands. A slow, gentle cool will help prevent cracks! Let cool to room temperature, and then chill in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.

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cream scones

cranberry scones

Rank lists are in, 20 days until Match Day! That’s all I’m going to say about that — you can go ahead and read more about it if you like.

I want to share with you one of my oldest, trustiest recipes. These scones redefine the way you think about scones. Most people hear the word and imagine a softball-sized chunk of dry, crumbly carbs that are hardly worth the extra coffee you need to drink to choke them down. No, these are totally different: they’re small, flaky, buttery, and so worth the 30 minutes it takes to make them. They are the perfect way to get a house full of people to appreciate you, and all you have to do is hit the snooze button 3 fewer times.

These guys originally call for an egg wash to make them very pretty to photograph, but in my experience a batch does not last 25 minutes out of the oven, so who cares what they look like. Save your egg for something useful, like dropped in a bowel of ramen or baked into a cake or fried on a burger or one of the other 9274857 amazing things we as humans have figured out we can do with unfertilized chicken ova.

– L

cranberry scones 2

recipe: cream scones

adapted from use real butter

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries, blueberries, currants, or mini chocolate chips
6 Tbsp cold butter
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup heavy cream, plus another 2 Tbsp

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in your fruit of choice (or chocolate). Grab a pastry blender and cut the butter into the dry mixture, until the butter pieces are about the size of peas.
  3. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 3/4 cup heavy cream. Pour into the flour mixture and toss with a fork to combine.
  4. Knead gently and briefly to bring the dough together in two equal portions. Shape each into 4-5″ rounds and slice into 6 triangles for a total of 12 scones. Arrange on the baking sheet, with equal spacing between each scone.
  5. In the bowl that held the egg yolk mixture, add a couple more tablespoons of cream and stir to pick up any extra yolk. Brush this mixture over each scone, then sprinkle some sugar over the tops. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden or the scones no longer look/feel raw. Let cool for a couple minutes before enjoying warm.

pumpkin spice latte ice cream

psl ice cream

Life is wackypants right now. I just applied to residency programs, I’m trying to scramble-write my research manuscript, my sub-internship (in which I wear a long white coat and try not to kill people) is about to start, and HOLY CRAP GUYS IT’S PUMPKIN SEASON.

Look at me. Look at this blog. This is a big deal.

I think it’s necessary to explain that I take pumpkin season very seriously. Like, try-to-transform-myself-into-a-winter-squash kind of serious. Last year, I cooked a brand-new pumpkin dish every single week for the entirety of pumpkin season, which, for all intents and purposes, extends from the beginning of September to the end of the year. This year, I’m continuing the tradition, with the added bonus of discovering a beer store down the road that has about 25 different (and changing) pumpkin beers in stock. I also recently figured out that home-roasted pumpkin is both cheaper and more delicious than canned pumpkin and having a couple of the little darlings around all the time doubles as home decor!

My point is this: posers spending $25 a week on Starbucks’ PSL ain’t got nothin’ on my pumpkin addiction. Which, at this moment, is manifesting itself in the form of PSL ice cream.

psl ice cream 2

Leave me a comment with suggestions for future pumpkin adventures! Fuel my crazyfire.

– L

Recipe: pumpkin spice latte ice cream

adapted from the NYTimes’ master ice cream recipe

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup coffee, coarsely ground*
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • pinch of nutmeg and cloves
  • 6 egg yolks*
  • 1 cup roasted pumpkin puree*

Directions

  1. In a medium-sized pot, combine everything except egg yolks and pumpkin. Simmer over medium-low heat until the mixture is warm/hot (think nice relaxing bath temperature. if you were to bathe in spiced coffee cream. I won’t judge.).
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks together, then carefully whisk in about a cup of the hot cream. Do this in a slow, steady stream, whisking all the while, because no one likes scrambled eggs in their ice cream.
  3. Add the egg mixture back into the pot and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. The mixture should thicken to be able to coat the back of a spoon.
  4. Remove from heat and let the custard steep for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  5. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve, then mix in the pumpkin. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  6. Churn it in your ice cream maker! I kept mine going for about 30 minutes, but I think my KitchenAid attachment is defective so just follow the directions for yours. Transfer the ice cream to a container and store in the freezer for a couple hours before serving.

Notes:

  1. Try to grind your coffee as coarsely as you can stand. I didn’t do a very good job of it and there were fine grounds in my ice cream. I didn’t care, but you might.
  2. My egg yolks were tiny, for whatever reason. If you’re using big eggs, maybe stick to 5.
  3. ROAST YOUR PUMPKIN. Oh man. It is so much better. Take a 2-3 lb sugar pumpkin, pop the stem off, slice it down the middle and scoop the guts out. Brush it down with some coconut oil and place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast at 350°F for about 45 minutes, or until easily pierced by a fork. Scoop the flesh out and puree in a blender/food processor. This makes about the equivalent of a 15 oz can. Put the extra in your morning coffee!!

bluebarb rosemary lime pie

food 005I tend to like my foods inside of other foods. Fruit salad in a watermelon, soup in a bread bowl, cocktails in a coconut, chocolate mousse in an adorable tiny chocolate cup with accompanying chocolate saucer and spoonlet. Maybe that’s why I’ll always choose pie over cake. I love being able to open up my food and find a delicious surprise inside!

This flavor combination was inspired by my neighborhood donut shop, Dough Loco, which likes to put weird things on top of their awesome yeasty donuts. Go there. But first maybe make this pie.

– L

food 008

Recipe: bluebarb rosemary lime pie

For the pie crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 9-12 tbsp ice water

For the filling:

  • 4 cups rhubarb (this was 2 1/2 monster stalks for me)
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 4 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1 tsp rosemary (last minute addition, so I used dried)
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour with sugar and salt. Cut butter into flour using a pastry blender until butter is the size of small peas. 
  2. Add water to mixture by the tablespoon and toss together with a fork, until dough comes together. Gather into two separate balls, flatten into disks, and wrap with plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator while preparing filling. 
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the rhubarb into 1/2-inch pieces and add to a large bowl with blueberries. Toss with sugar, tapioca, lime zest, and rosemary.
  4. Roll out one disk of pie dough into a round large enough to drape over the sides of a 9-inch pie dish with a 1/2-inch overhang. I prefer to do this between two sheets of parchment, for less mess and easy transfer to the pie dish.
  5. Fill the pie with the fruit mixture after giving it another toss to distribute the juices. Roll out the other disk of dough and lay it over the top of the pie. Crimp the edges together and cut vents into the top crust. Brush the pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle some sugar on top.
  6. Place the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet in the middle of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 350°F and bake for another hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving.

juice!

If you told 2013-Laura that by the end of her third year of med school she’d be buying bunches of kale and beets and mint and jankily juicing that ish with a blender and fine mesh strainer… she’d have attitude-punched you in the face with a pretty serious eyebrow raise.

Well, here we are.

Image

One of my residents turned me on to the idea, and after seeing how expensive store-bought juice cleanses are I was sure I could do it better and cheaper. I’m all about the liquid diet, usually in the form of smoothies and milkshakes and coffee, so I felt compelled to give it a shot. Futzing with the flavors and colors and stuffing actually healthy foods into semi-refreshing packages makes for some awesome summer kitchen playtime.

(also this is literally the first time in my life that my fridge’s vegetable drawer is full to the brim. hi mom.)

I haven’t had the guts (or low-stakes environment, or lack of hanger in the mornings) to do a real-boy juice cleanse yet, but I think I’ll get there soon. Mostly to see what kinds of pretty colors I can make my pee turn!

– L

Image

Recipe: green juice, red juice, cashew milk

Green:

  • 3-5 kale leaves, stems removed (I use red kale)
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 green apple, cored
  • 1 small or 1/2 large cucumber
  • 2 sprigs mint, stems removed
  • ~1 cup water or coconut water
  • (optional) 1 Bartlett pear, cored, or a few small chunks of pineapple

If you’re like me and don’t have a juicer:
Put in a blender. Turn it on. Once it looks more or less uniform, dump into a large fine mesh strainer over an appropriately sized bowl. Whisk into the mesh until all that’s left is pulp. Pour juice and enjoy!

Red:

  • 1/2 red beet, peeled
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 green apple, cored
  • 1 Bartlett pear, cored
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp chopped/grated ginger
  • ~1 cup water

Same as above?

Cashew milk:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Dash cinnamon
  • ~1 tbsp honey, agave, whatever

Soak cashews in a bowl of tap water for at least 4 hours. Drain and rinse them well, then add to blender with water. Use less water for a thicker milk. Blend on low for a couple minutes, until smooth. Add other stuff. Chill before drinking because blending it will make it kind of warm.

Each recipe makes roughly 20 oz of juice.

butternut squash lasagna

butternut squash lasagna

You know that weird, repetitive situation when you tell people you like to cook? It’s borne out of a discussion of what you do for a living (“I’m a medical student”), where you’re going with it (“I’d like to practice OB/Gyn”), and what that involves (“long hours, lots of bodily fluids, and my handy-dandy speculum”), and then you’re desperate to change the subject so you can actually start to make friends. Conversation turns (or, more accurately, catapults) to your hobbies.

“I like to cook,” you say. “Oh! How relateable and interesting!” says your new friend. “What’s your signature dish?”

I hate this question.

I’ve been cooking somewhat seriously for several years, and baking for even longer. I cook for myself, for my roommates, for my family, for random birthdays, for anonymous potlucks, for romantic picnics, and sometimes for no good reason whatsoever. I have spices falling onto my head whenever I open my cabinets, more pyrex than I know what to do with, and roughly 12 different flours living in my freezer. I get updates from 50 food blogs on my RSS feed and always have a dinner plan. Truth is, there is so much food out there that I want to make that I’m not sure I’ll get to most of it before I hit menopause. And now I’m supposed to come up with one dish that, among the whacked out culinary creativity I’ve discovered through Google Reader (RIP), I can label as “my signature”? Dude, I’m 25. I am NOT there yet.

In an effort to humor the question, though, I’ll usually respond with something I’ve made many times, or something I’ll make for tons of different occasions. This butternut squash lasagna is one of those. It’s made appearances at all the above scenarios, and does a good job of deluding people into thinking you know what you’re doing.

– L

butternut squash lasagna

Recipe: butternut squash lasagna

adapted from sassy radish

For the filling:

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth (or water, if you fail at grocery shopping like I do)
  • 3 tbsp fresh sage, chopped

For the béchamel:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

For the rest:

  • 1 ball fresh salted mozzarella, grated
  • 10 oz log goat cheese, crumbled
  • 3 oz (1 cup) fontina, grated
  • 12 lasagna sheets, whatever kind you like, uncooked

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425°F and grab a 9×13″ baking dish. Toss cheeses together in a bowl and try not to eat all the mozzarella.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Throw in garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add squash, zucchini, salt, pepper, and liquid, and cook (stirring occasionally) until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in chopped sage, and set aside.
  3. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan, melt the butter and cook the garlic over low-medium heat for 1 minute. Add flour and whisk continuously for 2 minutes, then slowly add milk and don’t. stop. whisking. Once milk is all in and there are no chunks of cooked flour, add bay leaf, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil, whisking all the while. Reduce heat and let simmer, whisking occasionally, until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and remove from heat.
  4. Ladle the béchamel into the baking dish so it coats the bottom in a thin layer. Lay down three lasagna sheets with spaces left in between (like the letter E), then ladle another 2/3 cup of béchamel on top. Spread on a third of the squash filling, and then scatter with 2/3 cup of cheese.
  5. Continue: pasta sheets, béchamel, squash, cheese. Pasta sheets, béchamel, squash, cheese.
  6. Lay the final 3 pasta sheets on top, then spread the rest of the sauce and the rest of the cheese on top.
  7. Butter one side of a sheet of aluminum foil and tightly cover the baking dish with it (butter side down, dummy). Bake the lasagna in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden and wonderful. Remove from oven and let stand 20 minutes before serving.