Because this house of two people doesn't need a full sized cheesecake laying around I make some mini-cheesecakes instead. Though this time I had to make them twice. My normal recipe requires scratch made sour cream, cream cheese vanilla extract and graham crackers but it also requires more off the shelf things like eggs.

More to the point it requires half an egg. Half a egg. That is hard to do. Rather difficult actually. So I tried subbing the half an egg for 1/2 a tablespoon of ground flax and two tablespoons of water. After all that has to be easier than making half an egg. The mise en place looked a little something like this:

mini-cheesecakes mise en place

Did it work? Yes. But not great. Good enough? Yes. But not perfect. You could see the little bits of flax suspended in the custard matrix. It tasted fine, the texture was better than most of the cheap store bought stuff but it wasn't perfect. You could use it. I might use it again and try subbing out the stand alone yolk as well. I have plenty of the ingredients left so might give it another test run after all these dishes are cleaned up.

So I did it again the normal way. Except, as you can see in the picture below, I accidentally included both halves of the egg in the picture. Oops. Maybe when I make it again I will take a picture with just one half of an egg but then make it with all the egg bits substituted with flax for actually cooking experiment.

Find the recipe along with the sub recipes for the sour cream, crusts and graham crackers here

mini-cheesecakes mise en place

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graham crackers

Graham crackers are not the healthy snack that people make them out to be. See my prior post to get an idea of how much butter and sugar goes into batch of these. Saying sugar isn't even really right. There is sugar, honey and molasses (75% sugar each).

Three notes:
1) While I wouldn't normally make these for myself they are a favorite of the other person in the house.
2) The key reason to make these is because I will need them to make a crust for cheese cake. This is the best reason ever to make graham crackers.
3) I figured these would be safe to eat for about week. A few months ago I found some of these I had made a year ago. I was expecting them to be covered in nasty fuzzies when I opened them up. Instead they looked like the day I had made them. I cracked one expecting it to be soft and stale. It was firm and crispy. So I took a bite. Just as good as the first day. Apparently if you adhere to proper safety guidelines these things will last forever just like the store bought ones. Here is theupdated recipe.

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cream cheese

I was going to post an illustration today but when I got home and went to go check on the cream cheese I was making I decided that it was just too picture perfect to delay posting a picture of that instead.

This recipe was a test. When you are making cheese of any kind you need to form a curd with rennet. Ultra-pasteurized cream is getting hard to find in stores. The good thing about ultra-pasteurized cream is that it is self stable at room temperature for a very long time until you open it. The bad news is that it will not form a curd. The last time I made cream cheese I found unpasteurized heavy cream and had no problem but this time I couldn't find any and I had to make an executive decision. The girlfriend wanted cheese cake this week. The local grocery chain was offering pints of heavy whipping cream as a buy-one-get-one offer with no limit. I was either going to have to risk upsetting the girlfriend or I was going to have to see if cream cheese could still happen with ultra-pasteurized cream. Game on. As you can tell form the spoon standing up in the picture it worked just fine even though I never got a firm curd. Mission accomplished. I will not have to sleep on the couch.

Some of these recipes I post as I create and prove them. Some I am saving for the final book. I'm going to do something a little different this time. If you want this cream cheese recipe before I finish this massive project you can email me at and I will send it to you. I won't spam you. I will just send the recipe and nothing more.

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lentil burgers

This is the mise en place for an infrequent meal my mom would make back when I was in my teens. It is a pretty simple dish with a great earthy flavor. I'm not sure where the recipe originally came from but I'm pretty sure if you handed a bag of lentils to an Italian that this is exactly the recipe that would result. The results of the recipe is kind of a slow-food-fast effect. Tasty, healthy, deep.

This is my first attempt to make it which means I had to call mom to figure it out. True to fashion it is some of this, a bit of that and a few of those. This is how I learned to cook and it served me very well until I got a live-in-girlfriend who would always eat what I cooked and say "That was great. When can we have it again." My response would be "Again?" While being able to throw a meal together without a recipe is an essential skill it creates a problem when someone wants to eat the same thing twice. It took me a few years of practice to get in the habit of being able to measure everything all the time so that I could write down a recipe to allow us to indeed have the same meal twice. This was one of the three foundations of what would eventually become Scratch Cooking.

It is a simple dish that works both as a side dish and between a bun as a lentil burger. Cold or hot, fresh or chilled for a few day first, it doesn't really matter because it will still be tasty. Because of these traits there is no reason to make a small batch. It can supply a week's worth of meals and sides if you make a big batch.

Today I am taking them and putting them on burger buns. A vegan burger.

You can get the recipe for the lentils here: The buns can be had here:

Just a word of advice: There is nothing wrong with you want to put shredded parmesan on top of this. Nothing wrong at all.

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I don't think they understand what scratch-cooking means.

I tracked down the ingredients list.   Let me highlight the things that just aren't scratch cooking (bold) and the ones that you can fake at home (italics).  

Marinade: Maltodextrin, Flavourings (contain Celery), Salt, Garlic Powder, Potassium Chloride, Extra Virgin Olive Oil (1.6%), Parsley (1.5%), Pepper, Sugar, Marjoram (0.8%), Mushroom Juice Concentrate, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein, Basil, Oregano, Yeast Extract, Smoke Flavouring, Sauce Mix: Palm Fat, Processed Cheese (16%) [Blue Cheese, Hard Cheese, Crescenza Cheese, Whey Product (Milk), Emmental Cheese, Gouda Cheese, Danbo Cheese, Camembert Cheese], Salt, Flavourings (contain Celery), Lactose, Sugar, Tomatoes, Garlic Powder, Milk Proteins, Yeast Extract, Potassium Chloride, Extra Virgin Olive Oil (1.2%), Oregano (1.2%), Parsley (0.9%), Red Pepper, Basil, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein, Marjoram, Smoke Flavouring, Rice: Rice (99%), Tomatoes, Red Pepper

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