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Video: Giada’s sweet and easy holiday recipes

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    >> all right, as you said, the humane society of new york is where you can find the pets here and many others available for adoption. some favorite, easy holiday ideas.

    >>> this morning in "today's" holiday kitchen, here to share her favorite super easy holiday recipes including her sweet basil cheese cake . good morning. just the mere word sends tingles up my spine. santa knows if you're naughty or nice but he can also help you plan a party. how is that possible?

    >> here's how santa can help you, you spell out his name, and here's a few things to remember, s is for sweet and savory. a is for appetizers. n is no fuss. keep it as simple as you can. t is for treats. and a for arrangements. make it pretty but simple.

    >> so we're tackling the sweet and savory.

    >> savory and sweet all in one. we're going to use a little bit of goat cheese . a half a cup of goat cheese and we have got three different cheeses in this cheese cake . and you have got a little bit of cream cheese as well.

    >> and the thing about this i like, you can make this a couple of days in advance.

    >> three days in advance and put it in the fridge. cheese cake -- i mean do you eat cheese cake ?

    >> that's a silly question.

    >> for a lot of people, they -- tons of fresh basil. and then you puree it all together. until it's all creamy.

    >> this always happens.

    >> there we go. you just puree it until it's all creamy. you put it in a little spring form pan. i buttered it to make it easy to come out. what you want to do is a cheese cake , this is the secret. there's two secrets to keep the cheese cake nice and moist. first of all bake it in the oven with a little bit of warm water. the steam keeps it from cracking and keeps it moist. once it's done cooking at 350 for 50 minutes. turn off the oven and let it cool in there for a while.

    >> good tip. and this is --

    >> this is what it looks like. and i just brush the top with a little bit of olive oil and you can decorate it with a little bit of fresh basil.

    >> you don't have to ask me twice.

    >> it's pretty never than just a regular cheese cake . and it's so easy to transport.

    >> and what do you have here?

    >> these are two really, really simple gifts .

    >> thanks a lot.

    >> we have got some dip and then you add a little bit of sour cream .

    >> got to love that.

    >> and some chives. and you mix it all together. and that's it. it's got the red and the green in it. so it looks very festive. people usually just adore it.

    >> you're keeping this really easy. it's fantastic. i love it.

    >> simple and pretty. and then you just put it in the bowl. and then you can do, the last one i think is fantastic. it's garbanzo beans . so it's chickpea pie.

    >> garbanzo beans and some olives, black olives , really simple. lemon zest , lemon juice . parsley, and of course you know everything's prepped for you it makes it even easier.

    >> you got to try some of that cheese cake .

    >> it's delicious. i'm going to let you finish this, thank you so much.

    >> i'll let you finish up here.

    >> there you go. so this is gre --

    >> i'm sorry i rushed you through your last peacery. coming up -- . . .

TODAY recipes
updated 12/17/2010 5:00:36 PM ET 2010-12-17T22:00:36

Recipe: Sweet basil cheesecake

  • Butter for greasing the pan
  • 1/2 cup, or 4 ounces, of ricotta cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup, or 4 ounces, of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup, or 3 ounces, of goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1/2 packed cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Assorted crackers

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter the bottom and sides of a 4.5-inch diameter springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper. Wrap the outside of the pan with a piece of heavy-duty foil.

Place the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, and goat cheese in a food processor. Pulse until mixed. Add the sugar, egg, egg yolk and salt and blend until smooth. Add the basil and pulse until incorporated.

Pour the cheese mixture into the prepared pan. Place the pan in an 8-inch-by-8-inch square baking dish. Pour enough hot water in the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 50 minutes until the cheesecake is golden at the edges and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken (the cheesecake will become firm when chilled). Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for one hour. Remove the springform pan from the baking dish and remove the foil.

Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate the cheesecake for at least three hours and up to two days. Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan. Allow the cheesecake to come to room temperature before serving, about 30 minutes.

Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the cheesecake with extra virgin olive oil and serve with assorted crackers.

Serving Size

Yields four servings

Recipe: Whole wheat pita chips with mascarpone and chive dipping sauce

  • 4 whole wheat pita breads, halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, finely chopped
  • 1 cup, or 8 ounces, of mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut each pita half into four wedges. Arrange the pita wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush with the oil, then sprinkle with the oregano, salt and pepper. Bake for five to eight minutes until crisp and golden.

In a medium bowl, combine the bacon, mascarpone cheese, sour cream, and chives. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl.

Arrange the pita chips and dip on a platter and serve.

Serving Size

Yields four to six servings

Recipe: Garbanzo bean and olive tapenade

  • 1 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup pitted black olives, such as Kalamata
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Belgian endive leaves, crudite

In a food processor, combine the beans, olives, oil, parsley, lemon juice, honey, lemon zest, rosemary and salt. Blend until smooth.

Spread the tapenade onto Belgian endive spears or serve as a dip with crudite.

Serving Size

Yields four to six servings

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