Posts tagged ‘Natural Gourmet Institute’

July 31, 2012

Cooking with Fire: Baba Ganush

by Jen Wanous

Smokey, savory, so satisfying: Baba ganush. The guest star of this week’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) was eggplant. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make this Middle Eastern specialty at home.

Please the eggplant directly on your range top. If you have an electric stove, you can use the broiler.

Rotate the eggplant a few times until they are well charred, about 10-15 minutes.

Let cool.

Peel all the skin/black parts off and discard the top stem.

In a food processor, add 1/4 cup tahini; 2 tablespoons lemon juice; 1/2 teaspoon salt; a pinch of cayenne; and one clove of garlic pressed.

Add the peeled eggplant. As the food processor is running, drizzle in 1/4 cup of olive oil.

And there you have it: baba ganush in three easy steps and only five ingredients. Enjoy with pita bread, chips, or on a sandwich. The flavors meld well after sitting over night- not that it will last that long!


6 small eggplant

¼ tahini (sesame paste)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 pinch cayenne

¼ olive oil

*This was originally posted on Snap Guide which is a cool app for your iPhone on how to do things. The founder went to the same culinary school as I did. Check it out.

December 8, 2011

Sweetening the Deal – How to integrate natural sugars and why

by Jen Wanous

The other night, I was perusing (desperately searching) the isles of Trader Joe’s for a sweet treat. This was not a time when an apple or any other non-crack-like sugar would do. I went for the dark chocolate covered marshmallows…seasonally peppermint, of course. I proceeded to eat nearly the entire box. I say “nearly” because I offered a few to friends, who just had one or two, and I left two, so that I didn’t eat the entire box.  Dizzy and crashing hard soon after, I realized (yet again) that this needed to stop.

Sugar is so addictive! I’ve been struggling with regulating my sugar intake for years. It’s a vicious cycle that feeds into itself: starting with just a piece of pie and then, before you know it, you’re in a dark ally looking to score a Twix hit. To wean myself off, I usually tell myself no chocolate for one week, no refined sugar for one week and then usually I’m back on track and not totally obsessed.

In culinary school, we learned the origins of sugar and its effects on the body. Refined white sugar is the extracted juice of sugar cane or beet sugar. It goes through an intense series of high-heat filtration processes that strips it of all color and most nutrients. The product is then pure sucrose, which is a simple carbohydrate and can easily throw your body’s balance out of whack. Here is an explanation from the founder of my school, Annemarie Colbin in her book, Food and Healing:

To metabolize refined sugar, [the body] draws the missing companion nutrients (needed in the digestive process) from other sources. These sources can be either other foods present in the same meal or the body’s own tissues. for that reason, when we consume straight white sugar, we lose B vitamins, calcium, iron and other nutrients directly from our own reserves. This siphoning effect of sugar is also what lies behind the gnawing hunger it can produce in some people; since the hunger is for the missing elements- fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, water-it can provoke great binges as the sugar eater searches to satisfy it.

One way to help your body out is to eat sweeteners that are closer to their natural state. These sweeteners below have more of their natural vitamins, mineral and fiber intact – they are also more flavorful. I have also included some technical baking information on how to use the sweeteners as a substitute for white sugar. Most of the liquid sweeteners, you need less of and you need to increase the baking powder. This information is from the baking master: Chef Elliot at the Natural Gourmet Institute.

Brown Rice Syrup – is half as sweet as white sugar

  • Baked goods made with rice syrup tend to be hard or very crisp. Use in cookies, crisps, granola, pies and puddings. Substitute 1 1/3 cups for every one-cup of white sugar. Per cup of rice syrup, reduce liquid by ¼ cup and add ¼ teaspoon baking soda.

Date Sugar – ground, dehydrated dates

  • Can substitute like amounts for white sugar. Can use in crisps, some baked goods and sprinkled as a topping. Careful as it tends to burn easily.

Natural Cane Sugars – Sucanat (pure dehydrated cane sugar) and Rapadura

  • Relatively low cost; Use one for one of white sugar. Replace ¼ teaspoon baking soda per cup Sucanat.

Honey – 20% – 60% sweeter than sugar

  • Can use in all baked goods. Use ½ the amount called for in white sugar. For each ½ cup of honey used, reduce liquid by ¼ cup but if there is no liquid, add 3-4 tablespoons of flour. Also add 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda and reduce the oven temperature by 25°.

Maple Sugar – is from dehydrated maple syrup. Con is that it’s very expensive.

  • Can use in all baked goods. Use one for one for white or brown sugar. Per cup of maple sugar, add 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda.

Maple Syrup – it takes 40 gallons of maple sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup (that’s why it’s so expensive!)

  • Can use in all baked goods. Substitute 2/3 to 3/4 cup of maple syrup per cup of white sugar. Per cup of maple syrup: reduce liquid by 3 tablespoons and add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda.

Other alternative sweeteners include: agave(preferably low-heat processed), coconut sugar and stevia.

Sweeteners to Avoid:

-Artificial sweeteners like: Splenda, Equal and Sweet’n Low

-Brown sugar (is just white sugar with molasses added back in)

-White granulated sugar

-High-fructose corn syrup

‘Tis the season to cut down on refined sugar! Not likely, but here are a couple non-refined sugar cookie recipes that you can add to your mix this year.

Peanut Butter Balls

These couldn’t be easier to make: no baking required! It’s fun for little helpers to make too. Yields about 20 balls.


1 cup natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky, your choice)

1/3 cup honey

¼ – ½ teaspoon salt (depending on your taste and weather or not your PB is salted already)

1 cup crisp rice cereal (I used “Koala Crisp”)

Coco powder or powdered sugar for sprinkling (hey, it’s only a little bit. ;)


1. Add the salt to the honey then, in a large bowl, combine with the peanut butter. Add the rice cereal at the end.

2. Using a tablespoon or mini ice cream scooper, scoop out batter and roll in the palm of your hand.

3. Using a fine mesh strainer, add coco powder or powder sugar, holding above the balls and tap the side of the strainer gently until they are covered.


Almond Cranberry Cookies

Yield 20 cookies.


1 ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour (can use regular flour too)

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter, room temp

1 cup sucanat

1 egg

1 teaspoon almond extract

zest of one tangerine or clementine or orange

¼ cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup slivered almonds


1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease two cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.

3. In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and sucant until fluffy (about 5 mins). Add the egg and beat for one more minute. Add the almond extract and zest. Next, on medium speed, add the dry ingredients, gradually, doing 1/3 at a time. Once combine, manually stir in the cranberries and almonds (so you keep their shape intact).

4. On your prepared cookie sheet, place about 2 tablespoons of dough. Bake for 8-10 minutes until light brown. Remove from the cookie sheet and place on a cooling rack.

June 27, 2011

Working Together to Create a Memorable Meal

by Jen Wanous

A Japanese and Peruvian fusion meal was the culminating experience of my culinary education, thus far.  As part of our final, our culinary cohort of eight had to plan a dinner for 100.  The dinner ran smoothly and Annie even ate the seaweed and cherry spring roll.  Coming from the event planning world, I know that these types of gatherings take a lot of front loading. The pay offs are all in the smiles of your guests, as you stack chairs and save flower arrangements.

As the co-team leader of the group, I had the tricky job of facilitating consensus, or at least majority  (as the NY State Senate can attest, it is a possible task).  With eight refined and diverse pallets, we managed to come up with a sophisticated and flavorful meal for our guests.  Through the process, I was reminded of some basic yet profound approaches to working with others.  Although it is a struggle to follow these guidelines at all times, they have helped me to keep perspective in a wide array of situations.

1.  Have integrity with what you say.  Avoid gossiping and say only what you mean.

2.  Don’t take anything personally.  Nothing others do is because of you.  You never know what someone is dealing with from their past, or even what just happened that morning for them.

3.  Don’t make assumptions.  Express what you really want and communicate clearly with others to avoid misunderstandings.

4.  Always do your best.   You can always do your best. This applies to the hard stuff as well as simply taking good care of yourself.

These are adapted from the Four Agreements, by don Miguel Ruiz.  You can find the book by clicking here.  

Here are some pictures of our team on the night of the dinner.

Citrus Salad with Daikon

This salad was served as an appetizer for our dinner.  Its tangy sweetness is the perfect light pallet pleaser for summer.  If you don’t feel up for the pickle, just leave it out.  Enjoy!


1/4 pound daikon, thinly sliced

1/2 cup golden balsamic (or apple cider vinegar)

1/2 teaspoon salt


1 pink grapefruit

2 oranges

1 fennel, very thinly sliced

1/4 pound micro greens


1 lemon, juiced

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Place daikon on a paper towel and salt generously.  Set aside for about 45 mins.  Blot dry, in a small bowl, add vinegar and salt, set aside for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

2. Peel and thinly slice grapefruit and oranges into 1/8 inch thick round circles.

3.  Make the vinaigrette by combining the lemon and mustard and slowly drizzling in the olive oil while whisking.  (remember the slow drizzle while whisking is key to a good dressing. ;)

4.  Toss the micro greens with the dressing to coat.  Lay out the the slices of grapefruit and orange, layer with the fennel and pickled daikon.  Top with the dressed micro greens.

June 21, 2011

A Cookie Like Me

by Jen Wanous

This week, I celebrated my birthday.  It was to be a low-key event…but it turned into a very memorable one that lasted for days.

The lead up to my birthday actually started out as a big bummer when my bike was stolen.  As with most obstacles in my life, I tried to look for the silver lining.  Turns out, it was right under my nose within the reach of my friends and family.  I had the thought to reach out to my community to ask for support by setting up a birthday/bike fund.  The response I received was touching.  From five dollars to fifty, from inquires of concern and support, to offering their neighbor’s unused bikes–people gave generously.  It is hard sometimes to ask for help but it was good practice for me.  I was heartened by my community’s support.

My actual birthday fell on a school day.  It was our Raw Foods day and at first, I was not so excited about this.  However, it was actually a very delicious day–complete with cake and ice cream (well, raw brownies and fruit sorbet).  I brought along some vegan cookies to share with my culinary school friends who are vegan.  After some thought, I decided that these cookies are a lot like me; it makes the best out of what it has and it’s sweet, exudes calm and has a sprinkling of saltiness.  The recipe is below.

My birthday was punctuated by the best dinning experience I’ve ever had.  Annie treated me to a dinner at Blue Hill Farms.  This is a farm and restaurant an hour outside of New York City.  We saw deer frolicking and lightning bugs against the rolling crop lined hills.  Needless to say, this really impressed our city-slicker eyes.  They have a five course “farmer’s tasting” menu which leaves you in the masterful hands of the chef.  Each course offered seasonal awe and impressed us with its presentation.  A dinner highlight of a poached and fried egg that was perfectly circular when plated in pea soup and broke into a gooey goldenness.  Of course, Annie was cringing as she watched me eat this because she does not appreciate peas nor raw egg.  Luckily, there was plenty of other samplings to keep us both full and happy.

This birthday leaves me with a deep sentiment of gratitude to the many people who helped make this birthday a memorable one.  Even the person who, (as my friend Kristina said) “infinitely borrowed my bike”, had something to offer me this year.

Lavender Sea Salt Cookies

Yields 25 cookies

1/2 cup Earth Balance Spread (or one stick butter)

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg replacer or egg

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons edible lavender flower (find at your local farmer’s market)

zest of one orange

1/2 teaspoon corse sea salt for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Prepare two baking sheets either with a silpat pad or with light oil.

2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add in the egg (replacer).  Mix well.

3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. Add the flour mix to the butter/sugar until just combine.  Gently incorporate the lavender and the orange zest.

5. On prepared baking sheets, scoop out 1 teaspoon sized balls and top with a hearty pinch of sea salt.  Bake for 7-10 minutes.  Remove from sheet and cool on a rack.

June 13, 2011

Health and Well-being: The Spiritual Side of Culinary School

by Jen Wanous

It’s hard to believe, but this is my last month of school.  The heat has really been turned up as I have been preparing for our final dinner for 100 guests and have been working in some of NYC’s top kitchens, trying to secure an internship.  Long days that turn into nights have me delirious and wobbly on my feet.  Yes, I love to be working with food…but it is dang hard work!  Through all of this, I have come to rely on some unlikely lessons I have recently learned in school to get me through.

A big component of our curriculum at school is food and its link to health.  We have gone over the basics in nutrition and have also gone deeper with different theories of healing through food.  Macrobiotic is an approach to physical and emotional wellness through food and philosophy.  Below, I have outlined the ten conditions of health according to the founder of macrobiotics, George Ohsawa.

Getting a solid night’s sleep and gently practicing the other conditions have really helped me get through this grueling time.  In alignment with the ninth condition, I would like to thank you all, who read my blog and support me in following my passion.  I hope that you too can find health and well being through taking good care of your body and mind.  You are certainly worth it.

Ten Conditions of Health

1.  Good appetite.  Things that might interfere with this are caffeine, snacking, skipping meals, too much sugar and alcohol.  Also, don’t eat when you are worried or angry.

2.  Good sleep.  What time do you need to go to bed to get eight hours of sleep?  Avoid late-night eating; try not to eat three hours before bed.

3.  No fatigue. Pace yourself and listen to your body when it needs rest.  When you start to feel sick or you injure yourself, slow down and take it easy.

4.  Good memory.  The very basic of this ensures our survival.  Remember how you felt the last time you ate something.

5.  Good humor. Don’t take yourself or life too seriously.

6.  Precision in thought and action. 

7.  Honesty.  Be honest with yourself and others.

8.  Humility.  Be open to not knowing and to learning.  It is okay to not know something.

9.  Gratitude.  Have trust in the universe that there is an infinite amount of abundance.  When you start appreciating the good things, even small, more good will come.

10.  Love.  First yourself, and then others.  Accept yourself as you are and be open to this connection with others.


To learn more about macrobiotics, follow this link.

May 1, 2011

Strawberries on the Cheap: Things to Consider When Buying Food

by Jen Wanous

If you know me, you know that I love a good bargain!  That’s why, the other night, when I saw a guy selling strawberries off of a card table for a buck on the side of the street, I got two!  Of course, these ripe spring jewels were not of the organic variety – those cost $6 at my local food coop.  Every time we make a food purchase, we are confronted with ethical, nutritional and financial decisions.  This time, for me, the financial component took precedence, but it doesn’t always.  Below are some things that I consider when choosing food.  Next time you are at the grocery or at a makeshift fruit stand on the side of the street, you can consider these things too.

Is it local? 

Is it organic?

Does it look ripe and fresh? 


I put local at the top of my criteria because buying local supports your local farming community, reduces the carbon footprint by cutting out shipping fuel and ensures that you’ll be eating fresh, seasonal food.  Your local farmer’s market will have a great selection of food that is grown within 150 miles and Whole Foods is stepping up its game now by sourcing products locally too.

Organic means that the food has been certified to be free of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, does not contain genetically modified organisms and is not subjected to irradiation.

Okay, this is quite the package to unpack, but here are some highlights:

Pesticides and chemical fertilizers keep the bugs off but poison the consumer and the environment.  The runoff from farms pollutes our waters and has health risks ranging from mild skin rashes to more significant environmentally-derived health problems like cancer and birth defects.

GMO food has been messed with on a genetic level.  We are talking DNA here.  Scientists, paid by monopoly seed producers and pesticide producers (like Monsanto) go into the DNA of a seed and change it to be resistant to chemicals or bugs, or anything.  The effects of DNA splicing in the food we ingest has unforeseen consequences.  Do you really want to eat food that has genetically modified DNA?

Irradiation is something that I had not heard about before I started culinary school.  I was amazed to discover that most of the non-organic food that we get in grocery stores has been exposed to low levels of radiation.  It is used to increase shelf life by killing bacteria, viruses and insects on food, including meat.  This process of exposing food to radiation has many drawbacks. Some of these possible issues are that it masks food that could be spoiled, it impairs flavor and, hello, we are eating food that’s been exposed to radiation.

All this being said about organic foods, we still have to consider that a healthy adult person has the immune capacity to deal with some non-organic products.  It’s not a must to buy all organic, just try to.

Here is a list of the “dirty dozen”, which are foods that you want to get organic, if possible:

1. Meat

2. Milk

3. Coffee

4. Peaches

5. Apples

6. Sweet bell peppers

7. Celery

8. Strawberries

9. Lettuce

10. Grapes

11. Potatoes

12. Tomatoes

Here is a little tip when buying produce to tell what you’re getting. 

We all see them and peel them off whenever we eat a piece of fresh fruit.  They are the stickers with numbers and they have a secret code so that you can tell what you are buying.

–  4 digit number means conventional (grown with pesticides and chemical fertilizers)

–  5 digit number and starts with a 9 means organic

–  Starts with the number 8, then it’s been genetically modified

To find out more about organic food, you can check out:

Food Inc. (movie)

The Future of Food (movie)

The Ethical Gourmet by Jay Weinstein (book)

Unhappy Meals by Michael Pollan (NY Times article)

Organic Food, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, genetic modification, irradiation, all on Wikipedia.

April 25, 2011

Woman with a Knife! (and other fun things like how to cut an onion)

by Jen Wanous

One of the things I was most excited to learn about in culinary school was how to use a knife.  There is something so hot about wielding a dangerous instrument, executing a task with effortless precision.  I wanted to be that Wonder Woman that can fillet a fish and stop a bullet cold.  With back to back classes on how-to, I started to build my repertoire of julienne, bruniose, chiffonade and other fancy French cuts.  Last week I cut 14 pineapples into a small dice in preparation for a dinner serving 100 people at which I worked.  It took me about four hours to do so, my hands smelled sweet for a whole day after and I was dang proud of my symmetrical tiny pieces.

An onion is something we all cut often.  It saves so much time to have a method of how to cut one properly.  Below is a video on how I cut an onion.  Enjoy the video!  xo

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Always use a sharp knife.

2. To avoid tears while cutting, chill the onion for 10 mins.

3. Keep your fingers tucked back behind your knife–even your thumb.


April 18, 2011

Friends + Meringues + Alcohol (stir well)

by Jen Wanous

This week in school we covered a lot of ground—from eggs, to seafood, to grilling.  I was sampling oysters before 11am one day and another day whipping up hollandaise.  I was inspired to make some egg-centric treats for a party that my roommates and I threw last night.  The chocolate peanut butter meringues were a big hit, and one partygoer mentioned they would be perfect for a Seder dessert.  The recipe is below.

I also made a lovely little gem of a cocktail that may not or may not have inspired the dancing for the evening.  (That and some Michael Jackson!)  Though it was monsoon-like last night, we still had a great turn out.  I tell ya, our friends are really special.  People arrived with boots soaked, umbrellas broken and outfits wet.  Once inside, people warmed up, mingled and enjoyed.  There was no real occasion for our party other than that the three of us who live here have some really good looking, interesting friends and a little magic happens each time we stir our friend pot.

If you didn’t make it out, it’s probably because you got stuck on your couch or because you live in California.  I forgive you.  Make some meringues and mix up a cocktail in honor of spring and think of me.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Meringues


1 cup egg whites

1 3/4 cups sugar

1/3 cup coco powder

10 oz peanut butter chips


Electric mixer

Two baking sheets

Parchment paper

1.  Preheat the oven to 225 F and line two baking sheet with parchment paper

2.  Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and then add the sugar a couple tablespoons at a time until the mixture gets still.

3.  Incorporate the coco powder and fold in the PB chips.

4.  With a spoon plop out little dollops of the meringue onto the baking sheets.  Bake until crisp, about 2½  hours.

Makes about 50 small ones

Lavender Lemon Cocktail 


1 cup sugar

1 cup water

¼ cup lavender flowers (baking grade)

7 lemons

1 liter seltzer

1 liter vodka


To make this springtime gem, you need to infuse the simple syrup with the lavender.  They don’t call it “simple syrup” for nothing!

1.  Combine sugar and cold water with lavender in a small pot.  Slowly bring to a simmer for five minutes.  Strain out lavender buds, let cool.

2.  Juice lemons.  Combine with simple syrup.

3.  Over ice, add about 2oz of the above mixture with about a shot glass amount of vodka.  Top off with seltzer.  Stir.

4.  Drink and dance.

Makes about 12 cocktails


April 5, 2011

Seaweed: It’s Delicious, Who Knew!?

by Jen Wanous

My mind was blown last week at school. Why you ask? Seaweed, simply. Who knew!? What barely has a life outside of a sushi roll has a plethora of uses and can taste rapturously savory in all its salty glory. Like deep fried seaweed- potato chip of the ocean! Yum! Did you know we already eat seaweed in an everyday food like ice cream (carrageen). (ehem, ice cream is an everyday food for me.) Seaweed is a useful thickener and flavor enhancer as well as its own shining star.

Here are some of its health benefits:

– rich in minerals and vitamins
– helps metabolize insulin for diabetics
– breaks down fatty deposits
– cleanses the lymphatic system
– aides in digestive disorders
– detoxes the body of radiation and heavy metals (have miso soup after getting an x-ray)

With a month of culinary school down, one question that keeps popping up is: “Have you learned anything you didn’t know before?” Well, seaweed met that mark in opening my eyes to a whole new world of food that lives beneath the sea.

Have you seen the snack packs of Annie Chung’s roasted seaweed? It’s a great gateway seaweed, so pick one up next time you’re at the grocery.

Below are a couple of simple ways to use it at home. When you experiment with seaweed, know that some have a stronger flavor (like a salty sailor’s panties) and some are more mild (like a mermaid’s subtle seduction). Hijiki is the sailor and arame is like the mermaid. (whatever floats your boat!) Nori is what we all know and love; it is the green wrapper that surrounds your most beloved piece of sushi. Dulse is Irish and is middle of the road mild. Click here for some wiki seaweed info. Recipes below.

Sea Chip
(super simple)
– 1/2 c Coconut Oil

– 15 Kombu Strips

Heat coconut oil over med/high heat. Dust off white saltiness from the outside of the kombu strips with a semi-damp towel. Make sure they are dry again. Place kombu strips in a few at a time, watch them balloon open and then remove quickly. Crunchy, salty goodness!

Agar-Agar Ahoy! Fruit Treats
(Mom Alert!)

– 2 Tbs Agar-Agar Flakes

– 2 c Juice (ie: apple, pomegranate, cranberry)

In a pot, mix the agar-agar flakes with the juice, be patient and wait about 10-15 mins until all the flakes are dissolved. Then slowly bring the mixture to a simmer for 5 mins. Pour into a small dish and chill. You’ll have a natural gelatin, and it’s way better for you than Cosby’s!

If you are feeling adventurous, you can try a can of Coconut Milk (13.5oz), the Juice of a Lime and 1/4 c Agave with the Agar-Agar. Follow the same procedures as above.

Enjoy! xo

In Japan now, the use of seaweed in diets will help in detoxing people’s radiation exposure. For those of us in the US, care needs to be taken when choosing your brand of seaweed. For the time being, I would use our local, Atlantic harvested seaweed from Maine: The Maine Seaweed Company. The two women in the pic below from class are from Maine and highly recommend this family-run, sustainable company.

Sea how happy seaweed makes them!?

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