Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Chocolate Cheese Cake Pie

print recipe card posted in Sweets by Kathy Maister

This no-bake Chocolate Cheese Cake Pie is a perfect recipe for the beginner cook!

All it takes is just 5 ingredients:

The hardest part is that before you get to dig in, the pie has to set (get firm) in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving it!


There are many pre-made crumb pie crusts available at the grocery store, including ones made from graham crackers or from chocolate wafers.

If you are up to making your own crumb pie crust, all the better! I have done a photo-tutorial on How to Make a Graham Cracker Pie Crust. You can choose which crumb crust you would prefer, depending on your cooking skill level.



Start by finely chopping 12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate. (A serrated edge knife actually works the best for chopping both chocolate and nuts.) Put the chocolate into a heat-proof glass bowl or a metal bowl.

Now measure out 1/2 cup of the heavy cream (the remaining cup is going to get whipped!) and 1/4 cup (which is 4 tablespoons) of corn syrup.

You can buy either light or dark corn syrup. In this recipe I am using the dark (which has a more robust flavor), but you can use the light if that’s what you have on hand.

For those of you who live in parts of the world where corn syrup is not readily available, there is a fabulous description of liquid sweeteners and the appropriate substitutions at Cooks’ Thesaurus.

Add the cream to the finely chopped chocolate…

…and the corn syrup.

These three ingredients need to get melted together on top of simmering water.

In a medium sauce pan, bring about 2 inches of water to a simmer. (A simmer is when you see small bubbles on the bottom of the pan.)

Set the chocolate mixture on top of the simmering water. The water itself should not be touching the bottom of the bowl that the chocolate mixture is in.

Give the chocolate an occasional stir.

Do not remove it from the stove until the chocolate is totally melted. This will take only a few minutes at most.

Remove the chocolate from the stove and let it cool for about 5-10 minutes.


In a another bowl, beat the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream…

…until stiff peaks are formed. (For a quick review on whipping cream, check out my post on How to Make Whipped Cream)

Set the bowl of whipped cream aside for just a moment.

With your electric hand mixer, beat in the softened cream cheese to the cooled melted chocolate mixture.

Using a rubber spatula (not the electric hand mixer!), the whipped cream needs to get folded into the chocolate mixture. This lightens the chocolate mixture resulting in the perfect taste and texture for the final pie.

Folding is a technical cooking term that means to combine generally a lighter ingredient (the whipped cream) into a heavier ingredient (the chocolate mixture) by first placing the lighter mixture on top of the heavier mixture. Then vertically cutting through both ingredients in the center of the bowl, across the bottom and back up the side, across the top and …well that just sounds way more complicated than it is! Check out this video at Expert Village on How to Fold!

By the time you have finished folding all the ingredients will have a uniform look.

The filling is now ready to pour into the prepared pie shell.

This pie will take a good 3-4 hours minimum to set in the refrigerator. Once it does, it will develop a perfect “Cheese Cake” consistency, which no one can resist!


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Rice Salad-Curried with Fruit

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister

This cold curried- rice salad is great to serve year-round as a side dish. It’s perfect to serve with Chicken Cutlets (video), or quiche (video), and asparagus for brunch, lunch or dinner. And it’s great on a buffet table!

Start by cooking the rice (video) according to the directions on the box of rice.

It is important that the rice be cold when you mix everything together otherwise the rice will clump together. If you spread the cooked rice out on a plate it will cool down faster.

Next make the dressing by combining:

  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup of white vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons of curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper

I have used the same measuring cup for the oil and vinegar and I am going to mix the dressing ingredients together in my measuring cup.

It will look like this (below) when it is all blended together.

Set the dressing aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

You will need:

Shred the cheese and the carrot.

Dice a red (or green) pepper by first removing the core and seeds. (There is a wonderful illustration of this in my Vegetable and Dip video). Then cut the pepper into strips and start dicing.

For the apple, remove the core (video) and dice that as well.

Remove the stems from the parsley and chop it up.

Now all the ingredients have been prepared.

Put everything in a large bowl and…

… mix everything together.

Be sure to refrigerate this rice salad until you are ready to eat it. Enjoy!

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How to: Zucchini

posted in Food, Vegetables and Beans by Donna Diegel

It happens each year around the same time. Summer heat arrives and then – bam! – a bushel of zucchini lands on your doorstep, courtesy of a neighbor trying to offload their backyard bounty.

Or, maybe zucchini is just one of those vegetables you have no idea how to cook.

Well, the good news is, you don’t even have to cook it; it’s great raw in many dishes. And because it kind of has a split personality, you can use it in everything from stir-fries to cupcakes.

Is Zucchini a Fruit or a Vegetable?

Bright green zucchini squash is part of the gourd family. Along with its yellow cousin, the summer squash, it is considered both a fruit and a vegetable. The fact that zucchini contains seeds makes it a fruit, but it is used as a vegetable in most recipes.

How to Buy and Prepare Zucchini

Look for zucchini that’s about 4-6 inches long, and looks firm and shiny with no breaks or cracks. Large, older fruit will be tough and bitter; the best way to use very large zucchini is in zucchini bread.

It can be kept in the fridge for up to one week. When you’re ready to use it, wash the zucchini, then slice both ends off. If the skin of the zucchini has been waxed (to extend its shelf-life), peel the skin, but leave the skin on if it’s unwaxed. Larger zucchini should be peeled first because the skin can be bitter. Golden zucchini blossoms, the flowers on the zucchini plant (pictured below), are also edible. They can be battered and deep-fried, baked, stuffed or used as a garnish for high-class dining!

Zucchini is Good For You, Too!

Zucchini is a great source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. It’s high in water content, has only 20 calories per cup and is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Try Zucchini Raw or in These Recipes

  • Shred or grate raw zucchini into salads, or cut it into spears for vegetable platters.
  • Grill it: Slice zucchini lengthwise, brush it with olive oil, sprinkle both sides with whatever fresh or dried herbs suit your fancy and some salt and pepper to taste. Grill outside on your barbecue or indoors on a grill pan for about 5 minutes on each side until crisp-tender.
  • Chilled Zucchini Soup is the perfect starter for a hot summer night or an afternoon brunch. Make it ahead of time and dish it up right before serving.
  • The Italian version of an omelet, this Zucchini Frittata is simple to prepare and versatile. It can be eaten hot or cold, taken to picnics, packed for lunches or served as an appetizer at your next brunch.
  • Here’s a super side dish: Sauteed Zucchini with Spinach and Basil Pesto. Whether you make or buy pesto, it’s great on just about any summer vegetable. This is also a good idea for your South Beach Diet friends! This link has lots of other recipe ideas for zucchini.
  • Here’s a kid-friendly recipe for Broiled Zucchini with Cheese. It’s got only three ingredients, and it will use up a lot of extra zucchini!
  • A staff favorite from Food & Wine, Farfalle with Yogurt and Zucchini calls for just 5 ingredients, plus nutmeg. This fast bow tie pasta meal is made with yogurt, instead of cream, for a unique taste sensation.
  • Remember the movie Ratatouille, where Chef Gusteau says, “Anyone can cook”? Well you can, too! One-Pan Ratatouille is as easy as it sounds! Bursting with flavor and color, this dish gets its beauty from both green and yellow squash, red, yellow and orange peppers, red tomatoes and green basil. Serve over pasta, tear open a loaf of rustic Italian bread and serve with a bottle of Chianti. Your company will love it!
  • This Zucchini Bread Recipe makes two large loaves or 24 muffins to eat or freeze. You can’t get much easier than this, and your kitchen will smell sweet and spicy!
  • Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes are so moist, you don’t need frosting. Scatter a few chocolate chips on top or dust them with powdered sugar and you’re ready for a party! These cupcakes are so easy to make, you can put your heavy mixer away!

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