Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

chocolate-truffle-cheesecake

Crust:
1-1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
½ cup powder sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
Filling:
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Stir together crust ingredients and press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Refrigerate while preparing the filling. Melt chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in sweetened condensed milk, then melted chocolate, then eggs one at a time and finally, vanilla. Pour into prepared crust and bake for about 65 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Run knife around edges and remove sides. Keep refrigerated.

Creamy Spinach or Cauliflower Kugel

creamy-spinach-kugel

2 cups cubed French bread
2 cups grated pizza cheese
6 eggs
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained or frozen cauliflower, thawed and drained
1 cup whole milk
½ cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cubed bread along bottom of 9 x 13-inch pan or 2-1/2 quart casserole. Sprinkle cheese over bread. Beat eggs. Add spinach (or cauliflower), milk, sour cream and salt and pepper. Pour over cheese and bread. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove covering and bake an additional 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Dairy Berry Fruit Soup

fruit_berry_soup
Serves 8

1 quart orange juice
4 cups of any combination of sour cream, buttermilk, or plain or vanilla yogurt
1 tablespoon or more of honey
2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice

Dash cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
1 ½ pints of fresh berries

Whisk all ingredients together except the berries. Chill thoroughly. Slice strawberries and leave other berries whole. Add berries and serve.

Seven Layer Magic Cookie Bars

magic-cookie-bar
Easy
These are an old favorite – easy as can be but so good and so rich! They have to be saved for special occasions.
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup butter, melted
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup butterscotch-flavored chips (I usually leave these out)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1-1/3 cups coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together graham cracker crumbs and butter and press into the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with remaining ingredients. Bake 25 to 30 minutes – until lightly browned. Cut into bars when cool. Store in the refrigerator and take out a few minutes early to soften before serving.

Dairy Cantaloupe and Fruit Soup

cantelope-fruit-soup-m

3 cups fruit juice, apple or orange
1 banana
1 apple, peeled and chopped
½ teaspoon dried mint
Juice from 1 lemon
1 peach, peeled and chopped
2 cups cantaloupe, chopped
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup vanilla yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of allspice
Dash of nutmeg
¼ cup sweet wine
2 tablespoons fresh ginger

Combine all in a blender or food processor. Chill and serve.

White Chocolate Pound Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
5 eggs
6 ounces (about 1 cup chips) white chocolate, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sour cream
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
½ cup coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-inch tube pan. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla. Stir together flour and baking powder in a small bowl or measuring cup. In another small bowl, mix the sour cream with the crushed pineapple. Add the flour mixture to the batter alternately with the sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in coconut. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to wire rack to finish cooling

Almond Lover’s Cheesecake

Crust:
½ cup toasted slivered almonds
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup almond paste
¾ cup sugar
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs
Chocolate-Covered Almonds for Garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse nuts until finely ground and mix with graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press into bottom of a 9 or 10-inch springform pan. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
Process almond paste and sugar until finely ground. Add cream cheese and vanilla and mix well. Add eggs one at a time and mix until smooth.
Pour filing into crust and bake for 50 minutes. Turn off oven and let cheesecake sit there for 10 more minutes. Cool in pan on rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate. Remove sides before serving and top with chocolate-covered almonds if desired.

Greek Salad

greeksalad2

By Rivka Wilamowsky

Dressing
6-7 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together.

Salad:

3 heads Romaine lettuce, washed and cut to bit size pieces
½ red onion, sliced thin
5 Kirby or Persian cucumbers, peeled and sliced
½ large Daikon, peeled and sliced
2 Orange or Yellow peppers, sliced into sticks and then cut in half
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 can sliced black olives (preferably kalamata)
1 cup feta cheese, drained and crumbled

Mix half the dressing with the romaine lettuce on the bottom of the bowl. Layer the remaining ingredients one at a time ending with the feta cheese on tip. Drizzle remaining dressing over the salad and serve.

Mozzarella Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Stuffed_Portabello_lg

Ingredients
12 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed and gills removed
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
4 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
12 (1/2-inch) slices fresh mozzarella, roughly 1 to 1 1/2-ounces per slice

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Toss the portobellos in the balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the mushrooms on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
While the mushrooms are cooling mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, herbs and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil.
Place 1 slice (2 if the mushrooms are large) of mozzarella in the cupped side of each mushroom. Distribute the bread and herb mixture evenly over the mushrooms and return to the oven to roast for 5 to 6 minutes or until the mozzarella is molten and the bread and herb topping a nice golden brown. Serve either hot or at room temperature and enjoy.

Strawberry Custard Trifle

Custard:
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
3 egg yolks
2 cups milk
Trifle:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (10-3/4 ounce) frozen pound cake, thawed
2 tablespoons crème to cacao
¼ cup strawberry jam
Fresh strawberries for garnish
In a heavy saucepan over very low heat, mix cornstarch and sugar. Whisk in egg yolks until smooth. Gradually stir in milk. Raise heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until custard boils. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Press plastic wrap directly on surface of custard. Refrigerate until chilled.
Beat together cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Cut cake into ½-inch thick slices. Arrange about half the slices in the bottom of a trifle bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon crème de cacao. Spread 2 tablespoons jam over cake. Spoon half the custard over the cake, then half the whipped cream mixture. Repeat. Garnish with fresh strawberries. Store in refrigerator. Can be assembled in morning before serving but should not be assembled immediately before serving (you want to give the liqueur and jam a little chance to be absorbed).

Streusel Coffee Cake

streusel-coffee-cake

Batter:
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups flour
¾ cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
2 cups sour cream
Streusel:
¾ cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup sugar
Glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine baking powder, baking soda and flour. Cream together sugar and butter until smooth. Beat in vanilla and eggs. Alternately beat in flour mixture and sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
In a small bowl, stir together pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. Pour half of batter into a greased bundt pan. Sprinkle with half of streusel. Cover with remaining batter, then remaining streusel. Bake for about 1 hour. Cool in pan for 10 minutes; then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
Stir together confectioner’s sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth glaze forms. Add more milk if necessary. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Mushroom Salad with Shaved Parmesan

12 ounces white mushrooms
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 lemons
1 4-6 oz piece fresh Parmesan cheese
6 -8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper

Clean and dry the mushrooms and trim stems ends and cut the mushrooms, vertically into paper-thin slices. Distribute half the mushrooms amongst 6 individual salad plates, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of fresh thyme, parsley and pepper. With a vegetable peeler, shave a layer of Parmesan over the mushrooms. Add the other half of the mushrooms, salt and Parmesan. Cut 1 lemon into wedges for garnish. Squeeze the juice of the other lemon into a bowl. Drizzle 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil over each salad and pour on the lemon juice. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper and serve with lemon wedges.

Mustard-Roasted Red Snapper

Adapted from original recipe by Ina Garten

4 (8 ounce) fish fillets, red snapper, or flounder
8 ounces crème fraiche (see below)
3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon whole grain mustard
2 Tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons drained capers
1 teaspoon paprika, preferably smoky

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place the fish fillets in an ovenproof baking dish. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Combine the crème fraiche, two mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Sprinkle with the paprika. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until it is barely done. Do not overcook the fish and it should be flakey at the ends when it is cooked through. Serve hot or at room temperature with the pan sauce spooned on top.

Crème fraîche
1 cup heavy or whipping cream, room temperature

1 tablespoon buttermilk or 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
In a jar with a lid, place whipping cream and buttermilk (or sour cream); cover securely and shake 15 seconds. Set aside at room temperature for 24 hours or until very thick. Stir once or twice during that time. NOTE: Cream will thicken faster if the room is warm.
Stir thickened crème fraiche well. Refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

The Best Plain Cheesecake

plain-cheesecake

Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup butter, melted
Filling:
2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
Topping:
1-2 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together graham cracker crumbs and melted butter and press into bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool.
For filing, cream together cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, continually beating. Pour filling into crust. Bake for about 1 hour.
Stir together sour cream and sugar. Spread gently over cheesecake and return to oven for 5 more minutes. Cool. Store in refrigerator. Remove sides of pan before serving.

Ginger Pound Cake

ginger-pound-cake

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
5 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time and continue beating. Stir together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add to the mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in gingers. Pour batter into greased 10-inch tube or bundt pan. Bake for 60 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack; remove from pan to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Oven Roasted Potatoes

4 medium baking potatoes
2 medium green bell pepper
2 medium red bell pepper
½ cup olive oil
3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 cup grated cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350F
2. Peel the potatoes and cut into ½-inch cubes. Core and seed the green and red peppers and cut into ½-inch cubes. Set aside.
3. Mix the olive oil, rosemary, salt, pepper, nd garlic in a small bowl.
4. In a small baking pan, toss the potatoes and peppers with the oil and rosemary mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
5. Sprinkle the potatoes with the parsley and cheese.

Lemony Almost Fat Free Cheesecake

cheesecake

Ingredients
Crust:
Cooking spray:
1 3/4 cups fat-free vanilla wafer cookie crumbs, or any fat-free cookie crumbs of your choice or low fat graham crackers
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages fat-free cream cheese
1 cup fat-free sour cream
2 cups sugar or sugar substitute (recommended: Splenda)
3 large eggs or 3/4 cup egg substitute
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Lemon Curd:
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar or sugar substitute (recommended: Splenda)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits, or any fat-free butter substitute
Garnish with strawberries or blueberries and more lemon zest

Directions
Make crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Lightly spray a (9-inch) springform pan with cooking spray. Mix crumbs and melted butter in a bowl. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and 1 1/2 inches up side of pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly golden and crust is set. Cool on rack.
Make filling: In large bowl with electric mixer on medium-high, beat cream cheese and sour cream for 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar or sugar substitute. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, just until incorporated. Beat in zest and juice. Pour into crust. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes, or until center is almost set, but still slightly jiggly. (Do not overbake, as it will firm as it cools). Let cool completely.
Make lemon curd: In the top of a double boiler, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, egg, egg yolk, and sugar or sugar substitute over gently simmering water. Whisk until hot and frothy, about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in butter and continue whisking for 7 minutes or until thickened and coats back of spoon. Remove from heat and cool for 30 minutes.
Run a thin blade around the edge of the springform pan and remove sides. Transfer to a serving plate. Spread lemon curd over top. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Garnish with strawberries or blueberries and zest, if desired. Cool cheesecake in refrigerator several hours or overnight before serving.

Pizza Loaves

This is a unique bread treat that is perfect for a dairy meal.

2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1-1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups bread flour

Filling:
1/3 cup pizza sauce
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese
¼ cup sliced black olives
½ teaspoon basil
¼ teaspoon oregano

In a large bowl, proof yeast and sugar in warm until foamy – about 10 minutes. Whisk in oil and salt. Stir in flour and knead until a smooth, elastic dough forms. (Add extra flour if necessary). Sprinkle 1 teaspoon oil around edges of bowl and roll dough in it to coat. Cover with damp cloth and let rise 1 hour. Grease a 9-inch tube pan. Roll dough into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread sauce over dough to within 1 inch of the edges. Sprinkles with cheeses, olives and spices. Roll up dough jelly-roll style and place in pan. Pinch ends to seal. Cover again and let rise until doubled – about 1-1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake loaf for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing pizza loaf from pan. Best eaten warm.

Mascarpone Cheesecake with Nutella Drizzle

Ingredients

Crust:
1 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 (8-ounce) containers mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

Topping:
1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
1/4 cup whipping cream

Directions
For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Tightly wrap the outside of a 9-inch diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with 3 layers of heavy-duty foil. Finely grind the almonds, cracker crumbs, and sugar in a food processor. Add the butter and process until moist crumbs form. Press the almond mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan (not on the sides of the pan). Bake the crust until it is set and beginning to brown, about 12 minutes. Cool. Decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
For the filling: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, and sugar in a large bowl until smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the center of the cheesecake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 5 minutes (the cake will become firm when it is cold). Transfer the cake to a rack; cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.
For the topping: Combine the chocolate-hazelnut spread and cream in a small bowl. Heat in the microwave until warm, stirring every 20 seconds to blend, about 1 minute.
Cut the cake into wedges. Drizzle the chocolate sauce over the wedges and serve.

Potato and Mushroom Casserole

potato-mushroom-caserole

2 tablespoons butter
2 (8 ounce) packages sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup white wine
¼ cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup heavy whipping cream or non-dairy creamer
1 cup grated mozzarella or pizza cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté until mushrooms are lightly browned – 3 to 5 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in cream cheese until melted. In another skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and reduce heat slightly. Cook for about 15 minutes, until onions are caramelized, stirring frequently.
Grease a deep 9 x 13-inch pan. Arrange potato slices along the bottom and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with mushroom mixture, then caramelized onions. Pour whipping cream over all. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Salmon in Puff Pastry

salmon-puff-pastry

1 package puff pastry (2 large sheets)
1 whole salmon, filleted
2 cups white wine
1 cup sour cream
1 onion, diced and sautéed in 1 teaspoon oil
1 tablespoon dill
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place salmon in large baking pan. Pour white wine over salmon. Cover and bake for 1 hour. Remove from pan and cool. Break salmon into small pieces and combine with sour cream, onion and dill. Mix well. Lay one sheet of puff pastry on greased baking sheet. Spread salmon mixture over pastry leaving 1/2 inch border along all sides. Top with remaining puff pastry sheet. Crimp and seal edges – wet your fingers and the edge of the pastry if necessary. Brush with egg wash (1 egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon water) and bake for approximately 1 hour until brown. If you have extra puff pastry, you can make decorative shapes on the top

Dulce De Leche Cheesecake

dolce-le-che

Crust
16 squares of graham crackers, ground to crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup butter, melted

Cheesecake:
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest

Topping
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 jar Dulce De Leche
Viennese Crunch candy or other toffee candy

For the crust: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and the butter. Press firmly into the bottom and sides of a pie dish.

For the Cheesecake: Beat the cream cheese slightly, and then add sugar, eggs, vanilla and lemon zest. Blend until light and fluffy. Pour into the crust and bake until firm about 25 minutes.

For the topping: Combine the sour cream with the sugar and vanilla extract. Spread carefully over the pie. Cool. Refrigerate at least 8 hours.

To serve: Heat the dulce de leche over low heat until melted and gooey. Pour over the cake and sprinkle with crushed pieces of toffee. The cake should slice cleanly with the dulce de leche sauce oozing over.

Alternatively, you can slice the cake onto plates and drizzle the sauce over the cake and sprinkle it with the toffee.

Savory Pesto Cheesecake

savory-pesto-cheesecake

Crust:
1 cup finely ground wheat thin crackers
½ cup finely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup butter, melted

1 (6.3 ounce) jar prepared pesto

Filling:
1 pound mascarpone cheese (if you’re really stuck, use all cream cheese)
1 cup cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 tablespoon flour

Topping:
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon flour

Sun-dried tomatoes or toasted pine nuts for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together crust ingredients and press into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool.
For filing, beat together the mascarpone, cream cheese, eggs and flour until smooth. Pour half of filling onto the crust. Gently spread the pesto over this. Spread remaining filling over pesto. Bake for 1 hour.
In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream and flour. Spread this topping over the cooked cheesecake and return to oven to an additional 5 minutes. Cool in pan.
Store in refrigerator; remove sides of pan before serving. Garnish with sun-dried tomatoes if desired or sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

Fig or Plum and Almond Tart

fig-almond-tart

Adapted from original recipe by Giada De Laurentis

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 lemon, zested
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons ice water
3 1/2 ounces almond paste, at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey
6 large or 12 small fresh figs, sliced, stems removed or 20 dried figs, reconstituted *see Cook’s Note
1/4 cup apricot jam

Directions
Combine the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, lemon zest, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until blended. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the machine running, gradually add the water until moist clumps form. Turn the mixture out onto a work surface and form into a ball. Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for 1 hour.

In a clean food processor bowl, combine remaining sugar, almond paste, mascarpone cheese, vanilla extract, and honey. Blend until smooth.

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll out the dough into an 11-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a large, heavy baking sheet. Spread the almond filling over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Arrange the figs on top of the almond filling. Spoon the jam over the figs. Fold the dough border over the filling to form an 8-inch round, pleating the crust loosely and pinching to seal any cracks in the dough.

Bake the tart until the crust is golden, about 40 minutes. Place the baking sheet on a rack to cool for 10 minutes, then slide a metal spatula under the crust to free the tart from the parchment. Transfer the tart to a platter and serve.

Cook’s Note: To reconstitute dried figs, simmer in water for 5 minutes. Let the mixture cool completely. Strain before using.

Ultra Creamy Ultra Rich Mashed Potatoes

8 to 12 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
½ cup butter

In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for 20 to 25 minutes, until potatoes are soft. Drain off liquid and either mash (if you like slightly chunky) or beat (if you like super smooth) in cream cheese, sour cream and butter. This is NOT low fat but it’s really good.