Entries Tagged as 'cheese'

New York-Style Cheesecake With A Blackberry Coulis-OH!


For the 4th of July, Frank and I attended a neighborhood bash. I offered to bring a dessert, and when I saw the huge blackberries at Mt. Olympus Farm last week at the Kingstowne Market, I knew I had to use them in my dessert. I froze them for the week, while I contemplated what to make.

A tart? A fruit salad? Hmmm. Nope….a cheesecake! A decadent cheesecake that I could enjoy a small piece of. One that wouldn’t be hanging around, taunting me to eat more. Perfect. I would use those blackberries to make a blackberry coulis to top off my New York style cheesecake.

A coulis (koo-LEE) is a thick sauce using vegetables or fruits. The term coulis initially referred to the juices from roasting meat and is French for “strained liquid”. Coulis are smooth and even in texture, and generally used to accent a dish. For example, meats can be artfully plated with a pool of vegetable coulis underneath or on the side, and desserts can be accented with a sweet and tart berry coulis.

Berry coulis are sweetened with sugar to mitigate tartness as needed. Lemon is also commonly added to brighten the flavors. In my blackberry coulis, I used a cornstarch slurry to thicken it at the end of cooking, before straining the sauce through a chinois.  The slurry must be heated to the boiling point, or about 203 degrees to activate its thickening properties prior to straining.


The end product was a dense, moist cheesecake topped with the blackberry coulis, which looked like a deep purple ganache flowing over the sides. I reserved a handful of the largest berries to garnish the center of the cake.

The cheesecake looked beautiful plated on a white cake stand. Guests at the party admired it before the first piece was cut. After that, it went in a flash! Fortunately, Frank and I were able to enjoy a piece before it was gone.


New York Style Cheesecake with Blackberry Coulis

serves 8


For the crust

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter

For the cheesecake

  • 2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, full fat or light (not non-fat)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 6 large eggs

For the coulis

  • 2 pints blackberries (minus a few reserved for garnish)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar (more if needed)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water


Pre heat oven to 325 degrees.

For the crust.

In a bowl, combine the graham crackers, sugar and melted butter. Mix with a fork to incorporate fully. Spread the crust evenly into the bottom of a spring-form pan that has been buttered on the bottom and sides. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 12-14 minutes, or until it becomes aromatic.

Take the crust out of the oven, and allow it to cool while you make the batter.

 For the batter.

Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees.

**Between each step of adding ingredients to the batter and mixing, use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and the paddle. This helps prevent chunks of cream cheese in the final batter product.**

In a mixer using a paddle attachment (this might be tough for a hand mixer due to the initial thickness of the batter) add the softened cream cheese that has been cut into 2-3 inch chunks. Mix on medium-low for a minute to soften.

Add the salt and half of the sugar. Mix on medium-low for a minute.

Add remaining sugar and mix on medium-low for a minute.

Add sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix on medium-low for a minute

(are you scraping?)

Add egg yolks and mix on medium-low for a minute.

Add eggs, two at a time and mix for one minute between additions.

Place the spring-form pan on a baking sheet and butter the sides. Add batter and place on middle rack of oven. Bake at 500 degrees for 8 minutes. Without opening the oven door, turn the heat down to 200 degrees and continue to bake for 90 minutes.

Remove cheesecake from oven and allow to cool for 3 hours, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. The cake can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 4 days.

For the coulis.

Place berries, water and sugar into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium simmer. Allow to cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes, or until the berries are completely softened. Add the lemon juice and taste for desired balance of sweet and tart. Add additional sugar if need and cook until the sugar is fully dissolved.

In a small bowl, make the slurry by mixing corn starch and water. Whisk until smooth. Add slurry to the simmering berries and bring to a boil. Allow mixture to boil for 4-5 minutes, or until thickened.

Remove the coulis from the heat and strain through a fine sieve or chinois. Allow the coulis to cool, covered, in the refrigerator along with the cheesecake.

To serve, pour coulis over cake, allowing some to drip down the sides. Leftover coulis can be served on the side. Garnish witha few berries in the middle.

Cutting pieces of the cake can be made easier by using a knife which is warmed in hot water, then wiped dry. Cut cake, wipe knife, warm in water, and repeat.

At The Kingstowne Farmers Market June 20, 2008


Seeing familiar faces behind the fruit and vegetables at Allenberg Orchards was like seeing old friends. Except I don’t really know them. Or their names. And I’m not a stalker. Really.

The thing is-when I discovered how wonderful the Kingstowne market is last year, and AO in particular, it made me a little sad to say see you next year when the market season ended. I had come to discover how delicious their cherries and tomatoes are. Plus the peaches were the best I’d ever eaten. I hoarded all those good things and still have some vacuum-sealed in my freezer.

This week, Allenberg made thier 2008 season market debut. Along with yellow and red raspberries, they had sweet cherries and a nice selection of greens (note the signage). I bought up 2 quarts of cherries in my frenzied excitement, only to find that they were not at the peak of ripeness. They’re not bad, just not as sweet as they’re going to get. The raspberries were another story all together. They were perfect without any hint of sourness.

I decided that my preshus berries needed to be frozen right away, lest any of them suffer from compression or exposure or just me picking at them before I could use them in a tart the next day.


First, I needed a tart pan. I don’t own any and usually cheat by using my spring-form pan. But I had perfectly gorgeous berries which needed that perfect crinkle edge that the pan gives. I found tart pans (loads of them) at La Cuisine in Old Town Alexandria. They were actually inexpensive, so I decided to get a large pan, along with 6 individual serving pans. OK, I threw in copper cleaner and a real Microplane microplane (truly, they are the best)for cheese. At that point, Frank looked at me and said “you planned this all along didn’t you? Just a tart pan, eh?”

For my dish, I found Raspberry Tart May on the Food Network site. It got good reviews and was from Gourmet Magazine, and made by Sarah Moulton. I had a feeling it would be a winner.

While the tart was blind baking (oh, by the way…if you don’t have pie weights or spare beans to weigh down the dough, you can use rice) I took the berries out of the freezer to thaw before I used them to top the tart. I used apricot jam to gloss over the top of the tart, because it’s what I had on hand and it worked perfectly.

This tart is like a thin cheesecake with fresh fruit. It’s elegant and easy. Plus, now that I’ve had a test run with it, I’m going to make 2 to take to a 4th of July get-together in my neighborhood. I think I’ll use blueberries and red raspberries for the whole patriotic color scheme thing.

Check out the photos for more information of what was at market and more berries, berries, berries!

Until the next At the Market, eat and buy local when you can.

Rosemary, Potato And Sharp Cheddar Frittata- Inspiration And Revelation


……or what to do with leftover pommes dauphinoise.

Over the weekend, I watched an episode or two of Top Chef season 3. If you’re a fan, you may remember the episode where the cheftestants were told to make a dish featuring chicken, potatoes and onions. It was a brilliant challenge. Think about those humble ingredients and how many dishes are made from them. From chicken pot pie, to chicken and potato casserole, it’s a cheap and accessible combination of food.

Last years’ winner of TC was Hung, who for this particular challenge, made butter poached chicken with pomme dauphinoise and a gorgeous looking au jus sauce. The dish, especially the potatoes, got rave reviews, as did Antonia’s (current season) potato gratin.I have since wondered what makes these potato preparations so magical; after all, it’s just scalloped potatoes, right? Or, was I  missing something?

I looked online for Hung’s pommes dauphinoise recipe to no avail. But, I did find this recipe, written by James Beard. Given the author, I thought “no need to look further, this is the real deal”.  The only thing I changed was the cheese. I had sharp cheddar on hand, and it worked nicely.

So, in the process of researching and making this recipe, I think I have learned a few things. I know for sure, that these were the best damn scalloped potatoes I had ever eaten. Here’s why-first, you have to use heavy cream. I used to make a bechamel sauce to simulate the thickness of cream, but the flour can make the sauce too thick over the course of baking. It was just never creamy in the end. The second thing I learned was to trust myself to cut the potatoes thin, and not use a mandoline to get them too thin. The potatoes held up much better when they were slice about 1/8 inch thick. Imperfectly, by the way!  My slicing them super think was due to concern that they would not be perfect and cook thoroughly. How many times have you or someone you know said “the potatoes have been cooking forever, and they’re still not cooked!!”

*raises hand*

Well, this recipe calls for the potatoes to be cooked uncovered-for a total of two hours in a low oven. Again, thinking that my potatoes wouldn’t cook through, I would turn the oven up to 425-450 and cook those suckers through. If the dish was boiling, well then good. That meant cooking them through. No need. Uncovered in a low oven for a  long period of time produced creamy, fully cooked potatoes that were infused with the fresh minced garlic that goes in between the potato  layers.

I’m telling you, try this recipe (and then walk 3 miles because there is a pint of cream in it *sigh*). I learned so much from this preparation of a humble ingredient. The best part was the leftovers, because the potatoes taste even better the next day.

Which brings me to this frittata. I’ve written about making frittatas previously, and can only say that once you’ve made one frittata, you will have endless possibilities using this method. I say method, and not recipe, because you can make your frittata, your way.

Here’s what I did; I cut a few sprigs of rosemary from my herb garden and minced the leaves. I sauteed about a half of a diced onion in a tablespoon of butter and tossed in the rosemary. After about a minute, I added about a cup of the leftover pommes dauphinoise and spread them evenly. I allowed them to warm through and brown a bit for 4-5 minutes. Then, I added 6 eggs, whisked, along with salt and pepper. I added a cup of shredded sharp cheddar on top and cooked the frittata until it was set on the bottom and sides. The frittata then went into the oven, under the broiler, until it was set and lightly browned.

I let the frittata sit on the counter for 5 minutes, before I put a large plate over the top of the pan, and turned it over to release it. Some potatoes stuck to the bottom, but I scraped them up and threw them back on top. No biggie!

This was a winner combination. The rosemary complimented the potatoes, and as with the potatoes themselves, the frittata was even better the next day. That would be breakfast today. Yum.

Salad Of Watercress, Strawberries, Gorgonzola Dolce And Candied Pecans With A Champagne Vinaigrette


Spoiler Alert! This salad is easy and delicious….and not one ingredient came from a farmers market! Gasp, I know. Me-Miss “eat and buy local”. I  know, I know.

Ahem. I can explain.

I have been buying quarts of strawberries at the markets, and honestly, they’ve been good, but not great. I’m not wowed and I really want to be. But, here’s the thing-we’ve had so much rain, and strawberries prefer dryer conditions. Dryer weather sweetens the berries and this area has seen over 9 inches of rain in the past month.

I’m contemplating building an arc-a small one-it only needs to fit 3 dogs.

Which is why I have been keeping an eye open for sales on strawberries at my local markets. Yesterday, I found them on sale at Whole Foods for $3.89 per pound. They are much sweeter than local berries at this time. I will be checking out the local farmers berries each weekend to see how the taste is coming along over the rest of the season.

This salad is a a perfect begining, or ending to a meal. The candied pecans will have you snacking on them again and again (the recipe makes 2 cups). The sweetness and crunch of the berries and nuts plays nicely off of the creamy, salty tang of the cheese and mild pepper taste of the watercress.

Salad of Watercress, Strawberries, Gorgonzola Dolce and Candied Pecans with Champagne Vinaigrette

serves 4



  • 1 large bunch watercress-about 6 cups loosely packed, washed and dried (you can use arugula or escarole)
  • 4 large or 8 small strawberries, washed and dried just before serving, quartered
  • 1/2 cup candied pecans (see recipe below)
  • 1/4 lb. gorgonzola dolce, crumbled (you can use any mild blue-veined cheese)

Champagne Vinaigrette

  • 2 Tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons spicy apricot mustard (you can use other mustards such as dijon, or cranberry, or any fruity mustard if you like)
  • kosher salt, pinch
  • pepper, 2-3 grinds freshly ground
  • 6 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Candied Pecans

  • 2 cups pecans, rough chopped
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch kosher salt


Preheat oven to 300 degrees

In a bowl, combine pecans and egg white. Coat fully.

Turn coated pecans out onto a baking sheet which has been sprayed with a non-stick spray. Sprinkle sugar over pecans and turn to coat evenly. Sprinkle pinch of salt over the pecans and spread evenly on baking sheet.

Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes. Turn once during cooking. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. The nuts can be stored in an airtight container for 4 days, or in the freezer for 1 month.

In a small bowl, add champagne vinegar, mustard, salt and peppers. Whisk briskly to incorporate. Continue whisking and slowly stream in olive oil. Continue whisking until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Adjust seasoning to taste.

To compose the salad;

Arrange watercress, quartered strawberries, crumbled gorgonzola and candied pecans on 4 salad plates

Drizzle vinaigrette over composed salads and serve immediately.

Fettuccine With Rainbow Chard And Grilled Chicken In A Gorgonzola And White Wine Sauce

Whew! That’s a long name for a simple dish.


I promised myself that this week, I would work my way through all the produce I bought from the farmers market (am I the only one who is guilty of throwing away produce because it spoils before I get around to using it ??). J&W Valley View Farm (Westmoreland County, VA) had such gorgeous greens that I went a bit crazy buying at the Alexandria West End farmers market last Sunday! With a bunch of spinach, I made a salad topped with grilled chicken and spring onions, Gorgonzola cheese, strawberries and pecans. I grilled up 4 chicken breasts and saved two of them for the dish I made last night.

I used the remaining Gorgonzola and chicken breasts, sauteed J&W rainbow chard and made a simple white wine sauce which I tossed with fettuccine. Oh, and to gild the lily, I sprinkled some Pecorino cheese on top!

It was all soooo Robin Miller.

Still in my refrigerator is parsley, cilantro and bok choy. Any ideas HG readers??



Fettucine With Rainbow Chard And Grilled Chicken In A Gorgonzola And White Wine Sauce



  • 1 box fettuccine, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 chicken breasts, grilled and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (reserve a few crumbles to top dishes)
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


Place a pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add onions and garlic. Sautee for 3-4 minutes. Add chard and saute for 5 minutes, or until it wilts. Remove pan contents to a bowl.

Increase heat to high and add wine. Allow wine to reduce by half. Add chicken stock. With the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and flour, make a beurre manie*. Stir beurre manie into the liquid and bring to a boil. Add gorgonzola, chicken and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, toss fettucine and chicken with Gorgonzola sauce. Sprinkle with reserved Gorgonzola crumbles and grated Parmesan or Pecorino prior to serving.

This recipe has been submitted to Presto Pasta Night. PPN is a fun weekly blog event sponsored by Ruth at Once Upon A Feast.

*A beurre manie is a dough, or paste made my mixing equal parts soft butter and flour. It can be used to thicken soups and sauces.