Archive for March, 2011

March 28, 2011

Cheesecake and Golden Girls

by Jen Wanous

For the Golden Girls tribute drag show last year, I was charged with making the cheesecake.  (I know, your mind might explode, I just said so many amazing things at once.)  Of course, having mushy pieces of cheese cake might get messy for perfectly lipsticked queens, faux queens and their admirers–so I put the cheesecake on a stick and encased them with white chocolate.

Now, a certain cheesecake admirer and golden girl of mine, Treah, had been lusting over my pops for a whole year.  I had promised to make her a cheese cake for her birthday– and her special day arrived.  See below for my cheesecake recipe.

Jen and her chesse cake balls.

For some great pics from the Golden Girls night, visit Kelsy Chauvin’s photo fabulous Flicker page here. Many thanks to Lauren Logiudice, founder, co-producer and faux queen extraordinaire of the annual Golden Girls party.  Read her blog at:

Golden Girls Cheesecake Recipe

Total prep time: 30 mins-1hr, cook time: 2 hours, chill time 10 hours

—  1 pack Newman’s Own mint oreo cookies

—  1 stick of butter


—  20 oz cream cheese

—  2 c. sour cream

—  1/2 c light agave

—  1/2 c sugar (or granulated maple sugar)

—  1 Tbs vanilla extract

—  2 Tbs lemon juice

—  2 full eggs

—  3 just egg yolks

—  1/4 c chocolate powder

Preheat the oven to 300.  Use a spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a food processor pulverize cookies  (or smash a rolling pin to a full zip lock baggie).  In a bowl combine the cookie crumbs with the stick of butter (melted)(reserve a little bit to coat the pan).  Push 2/3 of this into the bottom of the spring form pan (this will be the bottom of your crust) (aka, yumminess!)  and put the other 1/3 on a cookie sheet.  Pop both of these in the oven for 10 mins.  When done put in the fridge to cool.  When cooled, brush the edges of the pan with butter.

In a big bowl, combine the sour cream, cream cheese and sugar/maple/agave and mix until well combine, about 2 mins.

In another bowl, combine the vanilla, eggs, yolks, and lemon.

Pour this mixture in with the other one and incorporate well. Pour 2/3 of this into the pre-baked pan w/ crust.  With the remaining 1/3, add the chocolate powder until well mixed.  For a fun swirly effect, pour in this chocolaty mixture with the white one.

Lower oven temperature to 250. Boil a kettle of water.  Once boiling, pour this water into a deep cookie sheet that is ALREADY sitting on a lower rack in your oven.  (This will help cook your cheesecake with steam.) On the rack above the try of water, on the middle rack,  place your cheesecake to bake for one hour.  Okay–here is a secret trick here: turn off the oven, open the door for one min and then shut it and leave it in there for another hour.  (total time in the oven, 2 hrs)

Let the cheesecake come to a room temp and then put it in the fridge for 8-10 hours to set.

Hopefully the edges of the cake have pulled away from the edge of the pan.  Pop open the spring form pan and place on a platter. With the remaining cookie crumbs, press them into the side of the cake.

Here is Treah, about to enjoy.  Happy birthday love!  xo

March 21, 2011

Bringing Beef Jerky

by Jen Wanous

Have I mentioned that my school is crunchy, earthy, herbal? Being educated in Santa Cruz, I am well versed in these ways. I have walked the straight and narrow as a vegan and was a proud (“meat is murder” bumper sticker sporting) vegetarian for 8 years. I have however since, changed my ways reigning as the current Bacon Throwdown champion of New York, enjoying the bounty of a carnivores diet.

In my class at culinary school, there are 16 of us. Five vegan. Four gluten-free. The rest are vegetarian, except for one other, besides me. (Maybe a few flexitarians when the ribs on the grill look too good.)

As a snack in my first week, I decided to pack along some beef jerky. High protein, low fat, stores well.  A shriveled up carcass of deliciousness resembling what a well mummified labia must look like.

As I slowly pulled it out of its pouch, I felt the 26 veggie eyeballs on my jerky. I quickly covered up the bag as I discreetly munched. I was sure that the beefy teriyaki aroma was filling the space around me and I would be detected. After getting through the tough chews of just a couple pieces, I stashed it back in my bag and decided to work on my corn chips.

Now, in my second week at school, I feel a bit better about my meat eating status. In fact, I just made a yummy bacon sandwich. As I’m writing this even, my fingers are slicked in a bit of lard, as I type this out on my handy dandy iPhone on my lunch break. (I do have a year’s supply of bacon you know!)

Here is the recipe:

Bacon Sammy

4 crisp pieces of bacon (more if you’re feelin it)*
2 slices of bread (sourdough is yum)
Goat cheese
Caramelized onions

Optional: sautéed kale
Parsley, chopped

* fake’in bacon will work too, veggies.

Here’s how you do caramelized onions:

Slice 1/2 an onion. Put about a tablespoon of hot fat in a pan. Add a few dashes of salt.  Med heat to get a little bit of browning on ’em then turn the heat down. Cook ’em for a good 15 mins on low heat until they get a really nice caramelly brown color. Pour a tad of wine in the pan (about 2tbs) to deglaze and pick up the deelish bits. Then you have caramelized onions to add to your bacon sammy.

Assemble all ingredients except the parsley in the sandwich. Place face open in a toaster oven or broiler for about 7 mins, until the goat cheese is browned. Add the parsley. Enjoy!


March 7, 2011

On the Eve of Day One

by Jen Wanous

My first day of culinary school is tomorrow.  Important questions are on my mind like what should I wear (on the only day I will not be in uniform) and what the heck should I bring for lunch!?

The school is the “Natural Gourmet Institute” so some degree of crunch, (both in outfit and in meal) will be expected.  A friend suggested showing up in a full clown costume…the idea of recreating myself sounds appealing…but “honk, honk” like a clown horn is a bit much.  I decided on my subdued (yet sexy) secretary look—light on the lipstick (god forbid I’d come off as trying too hard).  I’m sure my true hippyness and silliness will shine through—clogs and jokes will get me there.

Now, to more important things…frozen burrito, no too easy…almond butter and honey sandwich…closer, but not sophisticated enough…quinoa and kale—that’s the ticket!  I decided to add some of my homemade enchilada sauce, just in case I need to show culinary credentials on my hour-long lunch break.

It’s not likely that I’ll be quizzed on the ingredients of my sauce, but this is a big day…I want to sufficiently impressive.  I’ve been in the process of becoming a “good cook” for years and now I’ll have the proper education to back up my passion.

Outfit planed, lunch packed, I’m left to wonder about who my classmates will be in this intimate 16 person, six month-long program.  A cross between Survivor and Top Chef comes to mind…only less competitive I hope!  Who will be the crazy one?  Who will be the tough one?  I hope I’m the good cook one that people like.  It’s hard to kick that “people pleasing” thing…but that’s what will make me good in business…the super successful business I’ll have with food!  Here’s to setting intentions.