Thursday, November 29, 2012

Simply to Supreme Pizzaiola.

Pizzaiola is a Neapolitan style of cooking cheaper cuts of meat in a sauce of tomatoes, olive oil and oregano; some versions include garlic, capers, peppers and basil. It is a way of making a hardy meal with what little you have to work with. So on to my story...

I had recently purchased 3 round steaks that were thinly cut to 1/4 inch thick; I'd had a recipe in mind for them, but then suddenly I was in the mood for pizzaiola.  I made it several times during my first marriage, but my ex-husband always hated it.  Funny thing about him was, his ancestry was Italian and he disliked Italian foods.  Should have known right then there was something not quite right about him, but he died four years after our divorce, so that's water under the bridge.  Anyway, back to the pizzaiola which I typically made with chuck steak which was cheaper, but also fattier in texture.  Here I was about to embark on a new adventure into pizzaiola making and I was going to make it a luxurious cruise.

Inside my freezer were one quart containers of both homemade pasta sauce and vegetarian pasta sauce. The homemade pasta sauce would work since it contained mostly tomatoes and Italian herbs; however I was looking to ump this dish up to the maximum. After deciding to choose the vegetarian pasta sauce, I then hit the vegetable bin: tomatoes, onions, green zucchini, mushrooms and green bell pepper. The colors would be amazing in the skillet, simmering in my rich sauce with slices of steak.

Now lets put this masterpiece together, shall we?

I served my pizzaiola with rigatoni; this tubular pasta with ridges caught onto and held the sauce so well.

So like I mentioned before, I used 2 1/2 lbs of thinly cut round steak which I cut into 9 separate pieces (they were large steaks). Whatever cut you use, the steak will be simmering and finishing off in your sauce.
You want to use a large, deep skillet for this dish; get it very hot and put a sear on your meat. Round steak is not very fatty, so I left in just long enough to get the sear, but not cook it completely. Fattier meats will take a bit longer and you want to discard the melted fat, or you'll end up with an oil slick on your sauce. Yuck!

Remove the steaks, give the skillet a wipe down with a paper towel; now spread 2 cups of sauce in the pan and lay the steaks on top of the sauce.
When I made this recipe before, I would just use sliced onions, but this time I was going for the whole color palette. Two tomatoes cut into wedges, 1/4 lb of sliced white mushrooms, two sliced zucchini, one julienned green bell pepper, one sliced large onion. There was no need for extra minced garlic or Italian herbs as it was already in my sauce. Yes, yes, all these vegetables were already in the vegetarian pasta sauce, but they had been cooked down and pureed. We were going for texture here.

Spread the vegetables over the steak.

Spread remaining sauce over all and work it between the vegetables with a spoon.   Remember, I used a one quart container of sauce.

Cover the skillet with a lid, set the heat on medium-low and let it cook for two hours. Occasionally stir the sauce throughout the vegetables and steak; if the sauce is bubbling hard and splattering, reduce the heat to low. Since it will be cooking for two hours, you don't have to rush to make your pasta, but have it ready once the pizzaiola is done. Use a slotted spoon to remove the steaks and as much of the veggies as you can to a serving platter. Take your cooked pasta and immerse it into the sauce remaining in the skillet and let it cook together for about five minutes. This will allow the pasta to pick up the flavors from the sauce.

I only got eight servings of steak as my current husband stole another piece of meat while I wasn't looking. I just love that man, and he so loves my cooking. Wish you could see the big grin on my face as I thought about that time and wrote about it for you.

Anyway, if you want to impress your family and/or guests, consider making this Italian dish. Enjoy!

Mary Cokenour

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Redemption of the Frozen and the Canned.

Recently on the Food Network show "Next Iron Chef: Redemption", the chefs had to transform a canned good into a five star dish.  After all the whining and complaining, many accomplished what they thought to be the impossible.  Honestly, I did not feel their pain, I did not have any sympathy for them; the average home cook doesn't get the privilege of five star ingredients.  Depending on the average financial budget and the goods available in the supermarkets, the average home cook works with many canned, boxed and/or frozen goods.

Now I have explained before that Utah is a landlocked state and fresh fish is near to impossible to be obtained.  The fish I have to work with is frozen or canned; no shame in that if you can make it into a great dish though.  So, if those potential Iron Chefs don't like that idea, then be generous and send me even half your yearly budget for fresh ingredients.  Thank you, thank you very much.  Anyway, I am going to go through how to make a seafood stock that you can use to make a rich seafood bisque which includes ravioli and shrimp.  I'll write up the recipe for Seafood Stock as if you can find the fresh shellfish, but then tell you what to do if you cannot.

Seafood Stock (fresh shellfish available)


6 cups combination of shrimp, crab and lobster shells, broken up
1/2 cup white wine
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
water to cover


Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with water until one inch over all ingredients.  Set heat on high and let cook until water just begins to bubble; reduce heat to medium and let cook for one hour.  During cooking, skim off any foam that may develop; do not let the liquid boil, reduce heat if necessary.

Use a cheesecloth to strain the stock into a large bowl; discard the ingredients.  The stock can be used immediately or up to 3 days later if stored in the refrigerator.  The stock can also be frozen for future use.

Makes 2 1/2 quarts.

Now if you can only find frozen shrimp which is most readily available, don't panic as you have two choices.  Simply make shrimp stock, or add clam juice which is available in cans or bottles.  For the clam juice, put 4 cups of juice into a large sauce pan; add 1 tsp fresh thyme and 1 tsp fresh chopped basil.   Start with high heat until bubbles begin to form; reduce to low and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain through cheesecloth and the clam stock is now ready to be added to your large stock pot with the water you need to add.

The seafood stock is now ready for creating an indulgent seafood bisque; rich, creamy and full of flavor.

Seafood Bisque


2 cups seafood stock
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
4 cups heavy cream
salt and ground black pepper to taste


In a large sauce pan, heat the stock, tomato paste and butter on high heat until butter is melted; whisk in flour until completely incorporated.  Continue whisking as the heavy cream is slowly poured into the stock.  Bring liquid to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.  Add salt and pepper if necessary.

Makes 6 servings.

Now lets add some ravioli and seafood to that bisque and make one heck of a meal.  I like spoiling my husband and myself, so instead of using plain cheese ravioli, I used Buitoni's Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli.  I cooked it according to package directions, but instead of using the garlic butter sauce it comes with, I add the drained pasta to soup bowls and spooned the bisque over it.  I had also purchased medium shrimp which I shelled, deveined, sauteed in butter until just turning pink; added diced tomatoes, diced celery, diced carrot (cooked before hand till just softened) and thyme leaves and finished the shrimp up.  Into the soup bowls this combo all went and wallah: Seafood Bisque with Ravioli and Shrimp.  If you don't want to add the vegetables, that's fine; remember, it's your creation in the long run.

So here's my meal using frozen and canned ingredients; maybe the potential Iron Chefs could do better, but I made mine with love.

Mary Cokenour

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mongolian Grill is #1 in Durango.

Mongolian Grill

1135 S. Camino Del Rio, #230 (next to WalMart)
Durango, Colorado, 81303

(970) 259-7228 or 7229

Normally when you see "Grill", you think barbecue and you'd be partially correct.  Mongolian Grill does have barbecue, but Chinese style; and, in general, awesome Chinese food throughout their vast menu.

The interior is open, airy and bright; the all you eat buffet and grill situated away from the main dining area, so no people crowding near the tables while getting their food. This is a family run establishment and they're all friendly, and attentive to the needs of their guests.
After ordering, condiments and rice are placed on your table. The egg drop soup is light in flavor and taste; the wonton soup's broth is highly seasoned with black pepper and the wontons themselves are out of this world.

We wanted to sample all the appetizers, so ordered the Pu Pu Platter for Two (minimum order); it was all outstanding! No one appetizer outshone the others, they were all done very well in taste, flavor and texture.

The Beef Ho Fun is very similar to Cantonese Chow Fun except the noodles are not as wide. Mongolian Grill did an excellent job on this dish with thinly sliced grilled beef and perfectly cooked noodles.  It all tasted just as yummy when I reheated the leftovers the next day.

The Sizzling 3 Flavor with Vegetables is a House Specialty which contains chicken, beef, shrimp and vegetables in a rich, savory brown sauce. It is presented on a very hot cast iron platter; the food sizzling and steaming; absolutely delicious!

Sadly, we have one complaint about Mongolian Grill; they are not in our own area and we have to travel two hours for the opportunity of enjoying their wonderful atmosphere and, most especially, the food.  If you are in Durango and want sumptuous Chinese cuisine, go to Mongolian Grill.

Mary Cokenour

Mongolian Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 25, 2012

These Saddlebags are for Eating.

While watching rerun episodes of Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel, Adam Richman was at The Buff Restaurant of Boulder, Colorado.  One of their specialty items was a breakfast called "Saddlebag Pancakes".  Two giant pancakes, one with sausage, one with bacon; big deal you say?  The meat was inside the pancakes, not on the side; every forkful was a mixture of meat and pancake without having to root around on the plate.

Not being able to travel to Boulder to try the place out, I decided to make my own.  The first thing I had to decide was what type of pancake to use, so I let my hubby choose and he wanted honey wheat. While the restaurant braised their eggs, I did a simple over easy; mixed with the maple syrup, the egg yolks helped to create this rich, indulgent syrup for the meaty pancakes.

I used thick cut bacon and cooked it up till just crisp; I wanted a little remaining fat for when it was cooking up in the pancake batter.  Also, they would crumble up into small pieces if too crisp, but require being cut into bite sized ones. The sausages, however, were not the typical breakfast links you find in the supermarket.  Instead I used an all pork, fresh sausage without the additional seasonings you would find in breakfast sausage.  I love this type as it cooks up in the pan bubbling, squeaking and hopping around; the flavor is awesome and fun to watch, and listen to, cooking.  Reminded me so much of making the English dish "Bubble and Squeak", but that's for another blog post. I used an angle cut for the sausages for more surface texture.  For the six inch pancakes, I used 3 strips of bacon or 3 sausage links; but if you want both meats in your pancakes, then I would suggest just using 2 of each.

So lets get started, first I'll give you my recipe for the Honey Wheat Pancakes and then the construction of the actual Saddlebags.

Honey Wheat Pancakes


2 cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups old fashioned oatmeal (ground to flour or use oat flour)
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 ½ cups buttermilk
2 tsp canola oil
1 egg
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp honey


In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients; slowly add to dry ingredient bowl, mixing together as added. Do not over mix batter; let rest 10 minutes while griddle (stove top or electric) heats up.

Lightly oil griddle before each batch if using nonstick appliance. Use a regular ladle (1 ½ ladles per pancake) to portion out batter; using bottom of ladle to smooth out batter to a 6 inch circle. Each pancake will take 2-4 minutes per side depending on type of griddle used.

Makes 8 pancakes.

The construction of the Saddlebags begins once the griddle is ready for the batter. Remember to have your bacon and sausage cut up and ready to go. First get the batter on the griddle for two pancakes.

Add bacon pieces to one pancake, sausage to the other. Depending on how your griddle browns up pancakes, you'll know when to flip them over. Once flipped, leave them alone and just let the batter brown up as usual. Remove to a plate once done.

It was that easy; now have your eggs going at the same time, so everything will be pipping hot. Maple syrup goes best with these beauties, and eat enough of these saddlebags, you'll develop your own.

Mary Cokenour

Friday, November 23, 2012

Still Getting My Greek On.

While I still have not committed to going on a totally Mediterranean diet, I still make recipes with a Grecian accent. Participating in the Bountiful Baskets program sometimes give me the incentive to experiment. There are times I receive items in my basket and say to myself, "Now what in the heck am I going to do with this?"

Well here's the answer; not only is it quick and easy, but light and delicious.

Mediterranean Pasta


8 oz tubular pasta (ziti or penne)
8 spears baby asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup olive oil
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley
1/2 tsp crushed dried oregano
2 Tbsp crumbled Feta cheese

*Optional: 1/2 cup grilled chicken or shrimp


Cook pasta until al dente'.  To save time and water; place the asparagus pieces in a colander; put on top of pasta pot of boiling water and steam asparagus until they turn a bright green.  Immerse asparagus into cold water to stop the cooking process.

In a large skillet, medium-low heat, warm up olive oil; add in pasta and asparagus; toss to coat and let cook 2 minutes.  Mix in tomatoes, parsley and oregano (also optional chicken or shrimp) and let cook another 3 minutes.

Divide between 2 plates and sprinkle tablespoon of cheese over each.

Makes 2 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fruity Adventure into Cheesecake.

Adding or putting fruit into a recipe, including desserts, isn't something new.  It adds sweetness, nutritional value and, in most cases, just makes it so much prettier and inviting to eat.  Once again I've been making cheesecakes, so want to share how to make those lovely swirl and/or fruit topped cheesecakes you "Oooooo" and "Awwww" in the bakery windows.

While you could cook up fresh fruit, and by adding sugar make the needed puree; the easiest thing to do is go to the supermarket and buy a can of pie filling.  Yes, that's all you need to make a "WOW" cheesecake and impress your family, friends and guests when dessert time comes around.

Lets get to some artistic work in the kitchen.  The photos I'm posting will be of cherry and blueberry cheesecakes; it's that easy!  Also, with this type of cheesecake, you don't have to use the Bain Marie method to bake it.  Any cracks that develop during baking will be covered up by the fruit topping.  However, you should use the Bain Marie method if you are just going to use the puree to make the swirl; then no cracking in the cake.

Fruit Swirl and Topped Cheesecake


For the Crust

1 ½ cups crushed graham crackers
5 Tbsp melted butter

For the Cake

1 (21 oz) can fruit pie filling (cherry, strawberry, blueberry or mixed berry)
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese
1 (8 oz) package mascarpone cheese (use regular cream cheese if not available)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs


Spray a 9 inch springform pan with baking spray; place a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit the bottom, inside the pan; spray also with baking spray. Mix the crushed graham crackers with the melted butter; press onto bottom of pan. Place in refrigerator for a half hour to set.

Preheat oven to 325F. Place a strainer over a small mixing bowl; pour contents of pie filling into strainer; use a spatula to move filling around to allow puree to strain into the bowl. The puree is thick, so lift strainer up slightly and scrape off bottom to allow continuous straining. One cup is needed for the cake swirl. Place remaining puree and fruit into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to use as topping.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla extract on high until well blended. Add the eggs and beat on low speed until well blended. Pour the batter over the crust and smooth out with a spatula. Gently pour the one cup of fruit puree onto center of batter; use a small spatula to swirl the puree throughout the batter.

Place inside oven on center rack; bake for 60 minutes; sides of cake will rise up more than center. Turn off heat, prop open oven door and wait for 30 minutes before removing from oven. Set pan on counter, run a knife around the rim of the cake to loosen sides; refrigerate overnight.

Before serving cake, evenly spread out the reserved puree and fruit over indented section of the cake.

Makes 12 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Monday, November 19, 2012

An Irish Wake for a Side Dish.

One of my earliest posts was about a Utah style side dish called Funeral Potatoes; named because it was a staple at after funeral get-togethers. While this dish tastes much better using freshly shredded potatoes, and when is fresh not best, but, depending on circumstances, a bag of frozen will just have to do. With the Thanksgiving holiday coming, making room in the freezer for the turkeys, yes turkeys as I have to roast more than one, I found bags of frozen potatoes and was going to make the Funeral Potatoes. "Was" was the operative word at the time.

Taking time to actually read the bags, I found they were O'Brien potatoes; diced potatoes mixed with diced onions and bell peppers. They're a very good mixture, but not exactly what I was hoping to use; until the light bulb went off and the cooking mad scientist came forth. By the way, I found I didn't have any sour cream in the refrigerator, so again I had to compensate in some way. There was heavy cream left over from the ganache I had made for the chocolate cheesecake. Oh yes, my mind was whirling with possibilities now. No regular cheddar cheese, but a block of extra sharp Vermont white cheddar; this was going to be good!

I didn't use the corn flake topping either; hubby and I have found that we simply don't care for it.  It tends to become soggy, and doesn't reheat very well either.  As you compare the recipe for funeral potatoes to the wake potatoes, you'll notice the differences I've incorporated.  Oh, the name Wake Potatoes; simply O'Brien is a good Irish name, and to keep with the idea of serving at an after funeral get-together, and the Irish do have some wonderful wakes; well there you have it, "Wake Potatoes".   You can also add some type of cooked meat or poultry to the recipe to make a complete meal instead of just a side dish.

Do you have to use frozen pototoes?  Of course not!  Just use the equivalent (6 1/2 cups), of parboiled diced potatoes; adding a half cup each of diced onion, green bell pepper and red bell pepper.

So let me introduce you to "Wake Potatoes".

Wake Potatoes


2 (14.75) oz cans Cream of Chicken soup
½ cup butter
½ cup milk
1 (8 oz) bar extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 (26 oz) bags O’Brien potatoes; defrosted and drained


Spray a 9” x 13” baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large saucepan, medium-high heat, bring the soup, butter and milk to a low boil; whisk in the cheese, cream and black pepper until cheese is thoroughly melted and incorporated. Remove from heat.

Spread one bag of potatoes into the dish and evenly spread half the cheese sauce over them; repeat with second bag and remaining sauce. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

A half hour before needing to bake set the dish on the counter to bring to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350F; remove plastic wrap and cover dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes before removing foil; bake an additional 15 minutes. Let casserole rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

*Option: mix 1 cup crumbled bacon, crumbled sausage, ground beef, diced ham or diced chicken to each layer of potatoes for a complete meal casserole. All proteins have been precooked before addition to potatoes.

Mary Cokenour

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Refurbished Pizza Hut is still just so-so.

Pizza Hut (Store #027498)

265 S. Main
Moab, Utah, 84532

(435) 259-6345


Several months ago a fire caused this Pizza Hut to close its doors and begin renovation.  Before then, we'd tried them several times and each experience was different; sometimes good, sometimes not so much.  Since renovating, we decided to try it out again and see how much had been changed, if anything at all.  While the interior looked much cleaner, the table we were seated at was uneven and rocking; seems the furniture didn't get changed after the fire.

Our waitress, Jaraka, was young and yet dour faced; we cracked a few jokes at her, but no smile, just a "Are you ready to order?"  After giving her our drink order, we began perusing the menu; I ended up ordering the Everyday Meal Deal for $6.99.   From column A, I chose the personal pan pizza with ground beef, red onions and diced tomatoes; from column B I chose the pepperoni rolls.

My husband ordered a hand tossed supreme and a side order of the boneless chicken wings.  He looked at the salad bar, but $3.49 for a one trip plate seemed a little too much to charge for what was offered. After receiving our drinks and meal items I began photographing; and that is when the waitress became much friendlier and smiled now; stopping by our table often to see how everything was, or if we needed anything.

My personal pan pizza was not bad; the crust was just browned, very bread like, but the toppings were good. My husband's pizza was more darkly browned and crisp; he liked the crust and all the toppings.
The boneless chicken wings were an absolute joke; they were buffalo seasoned chicken nuggets. In fact, when I went grocery shopping the next day, I showed my husband a bagged item in the frozen food section with the same photo of the nuggets on the package.

After the fire and renovating, we were looking for a Pizza Hut that had become better; we were disappointed in many aspects - interior, wait staff, and food quality. However, it is a popular chain restaurant in a busy tourist area, so they will probably do well in the long run.

Mary Cokenour

Pizza Hut on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Wonderful Buffet.

Wonderful Buffet

525 E. Broadway Avenue
Farmington, New Mexico, 87401


Website: N/A

Recently a new Asian cuisine buffet opened up in the Farmington, New Mexico area.  Cheerfully greeted by the hostess, you are lead to a table or booth and you immediately notice how open, airy and bright the interior of this restaurant is.

In the front dining area, the buffet consists of hot and cold salad items, including kimchi and steamed shrimp. Keep following this section around to the sushi items and eventually a dessert bar with fruits, cookies, cakes and ice cream.
The sushi items alone go as quickly as they are plated.

The inner dining area consists of the main buffet area; hot foods consist of a mixture of Asian specialities, as well as some American favorites such as roast beef and pizza. The beef, pork, seafood and chicken items were tender, bite sized pieces and the vegetables still retained their crispness, even under the heat lamps.

When you begin your trek down the buffet line, the beginning offers a hibachi area with fresh vegetables to choose from, as well as slices of beef, pork and chicken; and several items from the sea. The grill is hot and ready for your order to be cooked up in front of you by the grill master.
Save a bit of room on your plate for at the end of the line is the fried food area containing crispy wontons filled with cream cheese, spring rolls, and for those die hard must have American food diners, french fries and chicken fingers. There is also a soup station featuring egg drop or hot and sour soups.

The manager, Ken, is an extremely friendly and personable gentleman.  He takes great pride in this new restaurant, and it shows in his smile and in his answers to any questions you may have about the food items.   Wonderful Buffet offers party trays for holidays or any special occasion.  The buffets offered are lunch, dinner or weekend/holiday; there is also special pricing for "buffet to go" containers for those wanting take out.

If you are in the Farmington, New Mexico area, wanting something to eat, but can't decide on what; try out Wonderful Buffet and see if they can't satisfy those hunger pains.

Mary Cokenour 

Wonderful Buffet on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Definitely Death by Chocolate.

I have admitted that I'm not a big fan of baking; I don't enjoy doing the precise measurements required for a perfectly baked item.  However, that doesn't mean I shy away from it altogether, and do find ways of experimenting.  One cake I love to play with is cheesecake; using different types of cookies for a crust, pureed fruits, candy pieces, various flavor combinations. It's almost as fun as making cookies, and there are hundreds of variations of those.

Now I have also admitted that I adore chocolate, so I hope you're seeing the path I'm about to travel on.  If not, well it's Chocolate Cheesecake; a completely decadent, all chocolate cheesecake: chocolate crust, chocolate cheesecake layer, topped with a chocolate ganache.  My version is not overly sweet, but the chocolate is so rich and flavorful, the extra sugar is not missed.  I have had adults and children try this cake recently at a party, and everyone loved it.  A normal slice of cheesecake has about a two inch width; but a one inch width slice will be about as much as you can eat of this cake.  Afterwards you will definitely want a nap as you experience blissful joy.  Eat anymore of it and death by chocolate might just occur as you lapse into a coma of complete nirvana.

Enough of the tease, lets get to the recipe.

Chocolate Cheesecake


For the Crust:

2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers
5 Tbsp melted butter

For the Cake:

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese
1 (8 oz) package mascarpone cheese (use regular cream cheese if not available)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 (4 oz) package Ghirardelli Bittersweet Baking Chocolate, melted and cooled

For the Ganache:

½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 (4 oz) package Ghirardelli Bittersweet Baking Chocolate, broken into pieces


Spray a 9 inch springform pan with baking spray; place a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit the bottom, inside the pan; spray also with baking spray.

Mix the crushed graham crackers with the melted butter; press onto bottom and halfway up sides of pan. Place in refrigerator for a half hour to set.  Preheat oven to 325F.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla extract on high until well blended. Add the eggs and melted chocolate; on low speed mix until well blended.

Take pan out of refrigerator, set on top of a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap foil up around the sides. Pour the cream cheese/chocolate mixture over the crust and smooth out with a spatula.

Place the pan inside a 3 quart baking dish, so that it sits flatly; pour cool water into the baking dish ¼ up the side of the pan. Be careful no water gets inside the aluminum foil. Place inside oven on center rack; bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Turn off heat, prop open oven door and wait for 30 minutes before removing baking dish. Set pan on counter, run a knife around the rim of the cake to loosen sides; refrigerate for 4 hours.

To make the ganache, in a small saucepan, medium-high heat, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Add in the chocolate and quickly begin whisking until chocolate is melted, incorporated well and has a smooth, shiny texture.

Let cool slightly; remove cake from refrigerator and pour ganache over the top, smooth out with a spatula. Return cake to refrigerator for 4 more hours or overnight; depending on when it is planned to be served.

Carefully open springform pan; use a long, wide spatula to get between pan bottom and parchment paper. Carefully lift cake onto serving dish; cut into 16 slices.

*Makes 16 servings.

Mary Cokenour