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Sweet Cheese Pastries with Apricot Glaze

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The sweet yeast dough in this recipe can be used for all kinds of different morning pastries, like these cheese-filled sweet rolls, reminiscent of the cheese Danishes from your local bakery. Make the dough the night before so that assembly is easy the next day.


Sweet Cheese Pastries with Apricot Glaze

For the sweet yeast dough:

1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) whole milk

1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g.) granulated sugar

5 Tbs. (2 1/2 oz./75 g.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 large eggs

1 package (2 1/2 tsp.) quick-rise yeast

5 cups (25 oz./780 g.) unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed

1 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

5 oz. (155 g.) cream cheese, at room temperature

2/3 cup (5 oz./155 g.) ricotta cheese

1 1/3 cups (6 1/2 oz./200 g.) confectioners’ sugar

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

Flour for rolling out the dough

1 large egg, beaten

1/3 cup (3 oz./90 g.) apricot preserves

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the milk, sugar, butter, eggs and yeast. Add 4 1/2 cups (22 1/2 oz./705 g.) of the flour and the salt. Place the bowl on the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed, adding as much of the remaining flour as need to make a soft dough that does not stick to the bowl.

Remove the paddle attachment and fit the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Knead the dough on medium-low speed, adding more flour if needed, until the dough is smooth but still soft, 6-7 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.

Butter a large bowl. Add the dough and turn to coat with the butter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm spot until it doubles in bulk, 1 1/2-2 hours. (Or, punch down the dough, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 12 hours. Punch down the dough and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.)

In a bowl, using a handheld mixer on low speed, combine the cream cheese, ricotta, 1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g.) of the sugar, and the vanilla. Stir in the lemon zest. Set aside.

Cut the dough in half. On a floured work surface, roll out one of the dough halves into a 15-by-10-inch (38-by-25-cm.) rectangle. Cut into six 5-inch (13-cm.) squares. Set aside and cover with a kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place a dough square in front of you, with a point at the top. Place a generous tablespoon of the cheese mixture in the center of the square. Take the right corner of dough and stretch it over the cheese mixture; push the corner into the dough to secure it.

Pull and stretch the left corner to the right of the cheese to cover it, and press the corner into the dough to secure it. Repeat with the other two corners of dough, stretching the dough over the cheese to completely enclose it. Repeat with the remaining dough and cream cheese mixture.

Place the dough packets, spacing them 2 inches (5 cm.) apart, on the baking sheets. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until they look puffy, 75-90 minutes.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and another rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat to 350°F (180°C). Brush the tops of the pastries with some of the beaten egg. Place 1 sheet on each oven rack and bake, switching the sheets between the racks and rotating them 180 degrees halfway through baking, until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes.

In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the apricot preserves and 1 tablespoon water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Strain through a wire sieve into small bowl. Sift the remaining 1 cup (4 oz./125 g.) sugar into another small bowl.

Stir in 1-2 tablespoons water to make a thick, but pourable, glaze. Brush the apricot glaze over the pastries. Drizzle with the sugar glaze. Let stand until the glaze sets, 15-20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 12 pastries.

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Bacon, Caramelized Onion, and Gruyere Focaccia

bacon

Rich with olive oil, nutty Gruyere cheese, crisp thick-cut bacon and sweet onions, this focaccia is like taking a trip to the Alsace. Serve it as an appetizer, part of a brunch, or in place of bread at the dinner table.

Bacon, Caramelized Onion, and Gruyere Focaccia

1 package (2 1/4 tsp. ) active dry yeast
2 tsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) warm water (110°F/43°C)
3 cups (15 oz./470 g.) all-purpose flour
6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml.) olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
1 cup (4 oz./125 g.) loosely packed shredded Gruyere cheese
6 slices thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
2 yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced

In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the brown sugar in the warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flour, 4 tablespoons (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) of the oil, salt, rosemary, and cheese. Attach the dough hook and knead on medium-low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it back into the bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a large cast-iron frying pan, fry the bacon over medium-low heat until just crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Discard all but a few teaspoons of the bacon fat. Add the onions and saute over medium-low heat until they start to wild, about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon brown sugar and a pinch of salt and continue to cook until the onions are golden brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the bacon, and let cool.

Oil a rimmed baking sheet with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Dump the dough onto the prepared pan and press it into a rough rectangle. Using your fingers, stretch the dough into a rectangle about 10 by 14 inches (25 by 35 cm.) Cover the dough loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until puffy, about 1 hour.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425°F (220°C). Dimple the surface of the dough with your fingertips. Gently brush the dough with oil, then sprinkle evenly with the bacon-onion mixture. Bake until gorgeously golden, 15-18 minutes. Cut into squares and serve while warm. Makes 1 flatbread.

Baker’s Note: To use the focaccia for sandwiches, omit the onion and bacon toppings and shape the dough into a smaller, thicker rectangle or square. After it has cooled, cut into squares, split through the middle and fill with goat cheese and grilled eggplant and peppers, or any of your other favorite sandwich fillings.

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Ricotta Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

cheesecake

Making our own fresh ricotta is surprisingly easy, and the result tastes extraordinary. Use a good-quality ricotta for this cheesecake, and make sure to process it well so there are no lumps. You’ll be rewarded with a deliciously light and creamy cake.

 

Ricotta Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

For the crust:

3 Tbs. sugar, plus more for sprinkling

4 oz. (125 g.) graham crackers (about 8 crackers)

Pinch of kosher salt

4 Tbs. (2 oz./60 g.) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

4 cups (2 lb./1 kg.) ricotta cheese

1 cup (8 oz./250 g.) sugar

1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g.) all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

4 large eggs

1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g.) creme fraiche

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. finely grated orange zest

For the strawberry sauce:

1 pint (8 oz./250 g.) strawberries, hulled and sliced

1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g.) sugar

2 Tbs. fresh orange juice

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C).

To make the crust, generously butter a 9-inch (23-cm.) springform pan; sprinkle the sides of the pan with sugar, knocking out the excess. In a food processor, combine the graham crackers, 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, and butter and pulse to form fine crumbs. Press the graham cracker mixture evenly onto the bottom of the pan. Bake until the crust is lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F (165°C).

To make the filling, in a clean food processor, process the ricotta until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar, flour, and salt and process again until smooth. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula as you go. Add the eggs and process until smooth. Add the creme fraiche, vanilla and orange zest and process until completely combined. Gently pour the filling into the crust-lined pan, being careful not to disturb the crust.

Bake until the filling puffs up slightly and the center jiggles very slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 2 hours. You can also refrigerate the cheesecake for up to 2 days before serving.

Meanwhile, make the strawberry sauce: In a saucepan, simmer the strawberries, sugar, and citrus juices over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries break down and the sauce becomes a bit syrupy, about 6 minutes. Puree the sauce with an immersion blender or in a blender. Let cool completely or refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve, remove the pan sides and slide the cheesecake onto a serving platter. Pour the sauce over the cake, and serve in thick wedges (you can also serve the strawberry sauce alongside the cake). Makes one 9-inch (23-cm.) cheesecake.

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Bite-Size Bacon and Cheese Scones

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These buttery, bacony cheesy scones are heaven in one easy bite. Perfect for brunch, they would also make for a great lunch alongside a bountiful salad. To take these scones over the top, add a pinch of grated cheese to the top of each one before you slide them into the oven.

 

Bite-Size Bacon and Cheese Scones

3 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon

2 cups (10 oz.⁄315 g) all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup (4 oz.⁄125 g) grated Asiago or Gruyère cheese

Pinch of kosher salt

1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1⁄2 cup (4 oz.⁄125 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1 large egg

3⁄4 cup (6 fl. oz.⁄180 ml) heavy cream or whole milk

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a frying pan, fry the bacon over medium-low heat until lightly crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and finely chop the bacon.

In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, cheese, salt, and pepper and pulse briefly to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cream until blended. Pour the egg mixture into the processor and pulse just until the dough comes together.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead in the bacon and then bring the dough together into a ball. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1⁄2 inch (12 mm) thick. Using a 1 1⁄2-inch (4-cm) biscuit cutter, cut out as many scones as you can. Gather the scraps of dough, roll out, and cut out more scones.

Space the scones evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the scones are golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool slightly on a wire rack before serving. Makes about 4 dozen mini scones.

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Happy 2016! These Foods Will Make You Feel Better Right Now

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If last night was full of Champagne toasts, you may be ready for some actual toast. Skip the diner breakfast, muster up a little energy, and make something at home instead—these hearty recipes are guaranteed to satisfy cravings (and as a bonus, you won’t have to leave the house). Don’t worry: New Year’s resolutions don’t kick in until tomorrow.

 

Toasted Breakfast SandwichToasted Breakfast Sandwich
Crispy bacon, gooey Cheddar cheese and a fried egg sandwiched between two slices of toasted bread—this is everything you want in one delicious bite.
Baked Eggs with Chimichurri and Prosciutto
Think of this generous spread, complete with quivering eggs, crispy prosciutto, mushrooms, spinach and feta cheese, as the contemporary version of a full English breakfast.
Poached Chicken Soup with Lemon and SpinachPoached Chicken Soup with Lemon and Spinach
We all know chicken soup heals the soul. This is comfort in a bowl, with shredded chicken, bright, fresh lemon and wilted spinach leaves. Add a spoonful of Sriracha for an extra kick.
Cheese-and-Marmalade French Toast SandwichesCheese-and-Marmalade French Toast Sandwiches
This is French toast like you’ve never experienced it: stacked and filled with cream cheese and marmalade and browned until just crispy on the griddle.
Chilaquiles with Tomatillo SalsaChilaquiles with Tomatillo Salsa
Top a stack of tortilla chips with chicken, sunny-side up eggs and plenty of queso fresco for an over-the-top breakfast that’s easier than it looks. For a shortcut, use your favorite prepared salsa.
Biscuit Breakfast Sandwiches
Stuff homestyle biscuits with all the trappings—scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon, avocado and tomato—for the ultimate breakfast sandwich.
Ludd’s Blood (a.k.a. the Ned Ludd Bloody Mary)
Sometimes a little hair of the dog is just what the doctor ordered. With tomato juice, pickle juice, lemon juice, hot sauce and sherry vinegar, the base of this Bloody Mary is like no other. If you’re up for it, invite your friends over for a Bloody Mary bar!
Bacon Grilled Cheese SandwichBacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Save your exotic cheeses for another use. This sandwich never tastes better than it does with Cheddar and Monterey Jack, thinly sliced and melted on the stovetop. Bacon slices add just the right amount of crunch.