Limoncello Cheesecake For My Birthday

Michelle made me an awesome cheesecake for my birthday. With lemon juice and limoncello liquor, it was amazingly creamy and lemony and off the hook delicious.

This makes a lot of cheesecake – it almost overfilled a 10″ springform pan. You could use two store bought graham cracker pie shells, instead. If you’re making your own crust, it will take 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs mixed with 5 tablespoons of melted butter to coat the bottom of the well buttered pan.

Because this is a low and slow method of cheesecake cookery, do not use a water bath in the oven.

 

Limoncello Cheesecake

4 packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
5 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup 2% Greek yogurt (we used Fage)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup limoncello liquor
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Whip the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar and mix to combine. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the flour and yogurt. Slowly mix in the lemon juice and limoncello. Add in the vanilla extract and lemon peel.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 3 hours.

Remove from oven and crank the heat to 500 degrees F. Place the cheesecake back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to brown the top. Turn off the oven and crack the door and let the cheese cake cool down for 30 minutes. Then run a knife along the edge to release from the pan and cool on the counter for another 30 minutes before putting it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before releasing the sides of the pan.

Corn Starch Lemon Meringue Pie for Pi Day

I suffer from innumeracy (and numerophobia and arithmophobia) but I appreciate the work that mathematicians and scientists do/have done/are doing. I am especially grateful for those who teach math and science, even in the face of attacks from legislators and religious extremists. Here in Louisiana, we just had BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) vote to add a provision to the standards laid out in a poorly named state law (the Louisiana Science Education Act) to encourage teachers to challenge evolution and climate change in their science classrooms.

Is it a surprise that Louisiana ranks poorly in national comparisons of science testing results?

Anyhoo, I also celebrate March 14th because I like pie. This one is a recipe my mom took off the back of the cornstarch box many years ago.

Corn Starch Lemon Meringue Pie

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1 1/2 cups cold water
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
Grated peel of 1 lemon, chopped fine
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
1 baked (9-inch) pie crust (I prefer graham cracker)
3 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine 1 cup sugar and corn starch in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in water until smooth. Stir in egg yolks. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and boil one minute. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon peel, lemon juice and butter.

Spoon hot filling into pie crust.

Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer at high speed until foamy. Mix 1/3 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon corn starch and gradually beat into egg whites. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue evenly over hot filling, sealing to edge of crust.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack at room temperature for 30 minutes; refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

Oh, and before you make your own pie crust using a pie plate you inherited, make sure it is 9 inches. As you can see from the picture, mine is actually closer to 10 inches!

Graham Cracker Pie Crust

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Mix together graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Pour in melted butter and stir to combine. Press into a pie plate, being sure to press down well on the bottom and sides. Bake for 8 minutes in a 375 degree F oven. Allow to cool before using.

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins

I’ve been looking for inventive ways to use my sourdough starter. After scanning the King Arthur Flour website on sourdough, I found these blueberry muffins. I made a few adjustments which I’ve put in below. Being a southerner, maple syrup was a non-starter, so I switched to cane syrup, available in many grocery stores or online. I also coated the top with cinnamon sugar (mix half cup sugar with 2 tablespoons cinnamon). I was using big blueberries from a you-pick farm, so I dropped that amount slightly (do use the full two cups if using grocery sized blueberries).

The resulting muffins are hearty without being heavy. They are lightly sweet with a burst of blueberry in every bite. I’m posting them with some of the beads from the Krewe of Nyx parade last night.

blueberry-muffins

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup cane sugar or honey
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
Cinnamon sugar for dusting tops of muffins

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with papers and lightly spray the inside of the papers with oil.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

In a second bowl, beat together the sourdough starter, milk, egg, melted butter and sweetener. Blend the wet ingredients with the dry until the batter just comes together. Gently stir in the blueberries until blended.

Fill the cups of the prepared pan with the batter; sprinkle the tops of the muffins with cinnamon sugar.

Bake the muffins for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan.

Upside Down Apple Pie for Thanksgiving

We decided on good ole Apple Pie for Thanksgiving but, you know me and typical. Instead of the usual fussing with pie crust, I’m doing a version of Apple Tart Tatin using puff pastry. And, because I can’t leave well enough alone- I added pecans.

apple-slice

Upside Down Apple Pie

3-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into quarters (you want enough apples to fill your skillet)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
pinch of salt
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (store bought is just fine)

1 pint vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss cut apples with lemon juice.

In a large ovenproof skillet melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the sugar and stir for 3-5 minutes until the sugar mixture is a golden caramel brown color, but still somewhat grainy in texture. Add the apple slices and cinnamon, stirring well to coat each slice. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring often. Add in the pecans and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer. Remove pan from the heat and let cool slightly.

Roll the sheet of puff pastry out until it’s large enough to cover the 10-inch skillet. Arrange the apple slices in a decorative circular pattern in the bottom of the sauté pan. Place the circle of puff pastry over the apples and tuck the excess dough down inside the pan.

Bake for 12 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown, puffed and crispy. Within 5 minutes of removing from the oven and using oven mitts, carefully invert the pie onto a large serving plate. The caramel sauce is very hot, so be careful not to get it on yourself. Serve the pie hot with vanilla ice cream.

full-apple-tart

Pineapple Sorbets

Pineapples were on sale, so we picked up a couple. The first recipe is for a light, tart and refreshing sorbet. The second is a bit sweeter but just as refreshing.

Both make perfect summertime treats.

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Pineapple Lime Sorbet


1 medium pineapple – about 3 cups pineapple chunks
zest and juice of 2 limes (need 1/4 cup juice)
1/4 cup water
1 – 8 tablespoons sugar, depending on sweetness of pineapple

Place in a blender the pineapple, lime zest and juice and water. Blend together and then add in sugar as necessary. You will need to add some sugar, as the sorbet won’t set properly without it. Aim for something a little sweeter than how you want the final product to be, as it loses some sweetness during freezing.

Put mixture in your ice cream maker until it comes together. Place in the freezer to finish setting up.

Pineapple Mint Sorbet


1 medium pineapple, about 3 cups of chunks
1/4 cup mint simple syrup
4 mint leaves, torn into pieces

To make mint simple syrup: Bring to a boil 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar. Stir well to dissolve all the sugar. Pour over a handful of mint leaves and let steep on the counter for 30 minutes. Strain out the leaves and store the mint simple syrup in the refrigerator. Use in cocktails and sorbets.

Blend together the pineapple, mint simple syrup and mint leaves. Put in your ice cream maker until it comes together. Freeze for a couple of hours before enjoying.

Baked Strawberry Jam

I was watching Jacques Pepin the other day and he made a strawberry confiture that looked awesome. It reminded me of a recipe from Sunset Magazine back in July 1994. I’ve never been a fan of the stove top, stirring and boiling with pectin kind of jam making. This process of baking the strawberries with sugar in a low oven seems inspired for walk-a-way chefs like myself. As I just went to the Ponchatula Strawberry Festival, I had to make some for myself.

This is small batch preserving – I bought two pounds of strawberries but, after hulling and nibbling, only had 1 pound 12 ounces of strawberries. I used 14 ounces of sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to brighten the flavors and up the acidity.

The flavor is intensely strawberry without being overly sweet.

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Baked Strawberry Preserves


Hull strawberries and slice in half if large. Weigh the berries and then spread them out on a rimmed baking pan. For about every 2 pounds of strawberries, toss with 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Add 50% of the berries’ weight in sugar on top. Stir well.

Bake at 300 F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the berries are very soft and the pan is thickly layered with berry juice. Every 20 minutes gently stir the berries. Once the berries are done, pack the fruit and juice in sterilized jars and refrigerate.

I don’t know about you but my fridge isn’t that empty. I don’t own canning supplies. While I can anticipate inheriting a wide mouth funnel, rubber coated tongs for getting jars out of hot water or even pots with racks to lift hot jars out of a water bath, I don’t have them right now and did not want to twice cook the jam.

Go to Ball’s canning site for directions on safely preserving. They recommend a ten minute water bath. You can also follow the guidelines of the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

I, however, went old school and used the inversion method for sealing my jars. That means as I made the preserves, I ran my jars, rings and lids (I bought brand new, never used lids) and tongs through the dishwasher to get them really clean. As the preserves finished, I then put the jars, rings and lids in simmering water. Working quickly, I removed the hot jars from the water. After filling the jars with the strawberries to within about 1/8 inch of the top, I cleaned and dried off the top, fished out a lid and ring from the water and set them in place. I then finger tightened the rings and flipped them upside down to cool. The heat and inversion will typically be enough to create a vacuum to seal the jar. Any jars that didn’t seal, I was ready to put in the fridge and eat but they all sealed.

Don’t take unnecessary risks. Don’t do this with any low acid foods or with jars that aren’t pristine – no cracks or nicks. Once the jars have cooled, check the seals. The lid should be concave (curved down slightly in the center). If you can remove the lids easily with just your fingers or the lids are flat or convex or spring back when you press it, the jars didn’t seal properly. Put those jars in the fridge. Store the other jars in the pantry without the rings. When you take a jar out of the pantry to use, you should be able to lift the jar up by the lid. If it comes off easy, throw it out. If you see bubbles or it is fizzy in any way it is fermenting and needs to be thrown out. If you see mold, throw it out. Your peace of mind and your stomach are more valuable than a couple of jars of jam.

Lecture over! Time to enjoy some jam on toast. Or over ice cream. Or mixed into cream cheese frosting to top cupcakes. It is all good!

Pi Are Round and Good with Strawberries

If you ask a scientist what pi is, she’ll tell you it equals 3.14159. If you ask a mathematician, she’ll tell you pi equals the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. But if you ask me, I’ll tell you I want another slice!

If you round up pi, you get 3.1416, which coincidently is today. This recipe is from Michelle’s late grandmother, Nanny, and makes two pies. Trust me, it is so good and goes so fast, you’ll be glad for the extra!

strawberry pie

Strawberry Pie


2 9-inch deep dish pie shells
2 pints fresh strawberries, sliced
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 box strawberry JELL-O
2 pinches salt
6 drops red food coloring, optional

Brown pie crusts in the oven according to package directions, pricking the bottom with a fork before baking. Cool crusts while making filling.
In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, cornstarch and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture is clear and sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in strawberry Jell-o. Add red food coloring, if desired.
Divide the sliced berries between the cooled crusts. Pour cooked mixture over the berries. Refrigerate pies at least 4 hours or until well chilled.
Top with whipped cream (or Cool-Whip) and serve.