Dear SOS: The dark chocolate cheesecake served at Robert's Hollywood Grille on Hollywood Boulevard is truly exceptional. Much lighter and creamier than any other I have tried. Could you get them to part with their recipe?
Dear Maryann: Here's the recipe that is, indeed, lighter than most. In fact, it is similar in texture to the dry New York-style cheesecake, except slightly creamier. The cake cracks when baked, one of the characteristics of dry cheesecake, so don't be alarmed.
ROBERT'S HOLLYWOOD GRILLE DARK CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE
1 pound semisweet chocolate pieces, melted
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup fresh coffee beverage
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
1 (1-pound) carton sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Graham Cracker Crust
Melt chocolate with butter and coffee until smooth. Beat cream cheese until soft. Beat in chocolate mixture, sour cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Turn into prepared Graham Cracker Crust. Bake at 300 degrees 2 hours or until wood pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Graham Cracker Crust
1 cup crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
Combine crushed graham crackers and sugar in bowl. Work in butter until crumbly. Press into greased 10-inch spring form pan.
Dear SOS: Several years ago you printed a recipe for a delicious meatless loaf whose main ingredient was chopped mushrooms. Recently, one of our sons requested it for dinner and I was unable to locate my copy. I would appreciate having it and so would our son.
Dear Martha: I wonder if we are thinking of the same recipe. Here's one using not only mushrooms but carrots in prominent quantities. Let me know.
SY KRAMER'S VEGETABLE-NUT LOAF
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 cup chopped mushrooms
2 large onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
3 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
5 eggs, beaten
3 cups soft whole-wheat bread crumbs
Melt butter in skillet. Add mushrooms, onions and green pepper and cook until tender but not browned. Combine mushroom mixture in bowl with carrots, celery, sunflower seeds, walnuts, eggs and bread crumbs and season to taste with basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
Line bottom of 9x5-inch loaf pan with wax paper, then grease paper and sides of pan generously. Turn mixture into pan and bake at 325 degrees 1 hour. Makes 8 generous servings.
Note: The nut loaf mixture can also be used to form little meatballs or shaped into hamburger-type patties to be fried, baked or grilled.
Dear SOS: I was surprised when a lady wrote for a strawberry bread and you printed one using jam. One of the best strawberry bread recipes I've ever used was from your Food Section. I have gotten nothing but raves each time I have baked it. What could be better than using fresh strawberries?
Dear Mildred: Touche. What, indeed, could be better?
FRESH STRAWBERRY BREAD
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, or less
2 eggs, separated
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup crushed or chopped fresh strawberries
Cream together butter, sugar and almond extract. Beat in egg yolks, 1 at a time. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture alternately with strawberries to creamed mixture.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into strawberry mixture. Line 9x5-inch loaf pan with greased wax paper. Turn batter into pan. Bake at 350 degrees 50 to 60 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool 15 minutes on rack. Remove from pan and cool. Makes 1 loaf. Bread freezes well. Makes delicious toast.
Dear SOS: I love the chilled cucumber soup served at the Velvet Turtle restaurants around Los Angeles, but I can't seem to find a recipe for it anywhere. Can you help?
Dear Joan: We printed the recipe last year, but let's do it again. It's worth a round for those who missed it.
VELVET TURTLE CUCUMBER SOUP
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped leek (white part only)
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
Butter or margarine
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons chicken base
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
5 drops hot pepper sauce
Dash chopped fresh or dried dill
1/2 cup half and half, if needed
Sour cream, optional
Saute onion, leek and cucumber, reserving 1/2 cup diced cucumber, in 2 tablespoons butter until onion is transparent. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook and stir until blended. Add wine, water and chicken base and bring to boil. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in small pan and blend in flour. Add to onion mixture and simmer 1 hour.