Went back to FLDG classic a few days ago to review a recipe I posted way back when for a sun-dried tomato cheesecake. I was trying to remember what I'd made the crust out of as I'd completely forgotten, and I was planning to make another savory cheesecake yesterday. That one was the first savory cheesecake I had ever made.
The post was far more interesting than I expected. I'd forgotten about how nervous I used to be about taking food over the border. My fears were both real and imagined: when I moved here there WERE more restrictions than there are now, and they changed on a whim it seemed so it was hard to sort out on any given day what was okay and what was not. The cheesecake I made that day was the first prepared food I ever tried to take north (I'd only come south with groceries).
But the other and most important thing in that post? It unwittingly documented the beginning of several long and important friendships. The home I was going to was Bill Spohn's who I'd met here talking about wine, and we would meet that day David and Nadine who have also become dear friends. Though they rarely post here, they do read this board regularly and so I have to give them a shout-out. In fact, it was that cheesecake that got me invited to participate in the first of Bill's annual terrine event (coming up next weekend!!!).
Anyway, today I'm going to make a grilled artichoke version; in fact I was going to make it yesterday to take to another garden party at Bill's but woke up with a headache so bad we had to stay home.
Here's the original post:
Date: 18-Jul-2004 20:28
Author: Jenise Email
Subject: RC: Sun-Dried Tomato & Herb Cheesecake (savory)
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I've long been intrigued by the idea of savory cheesecake, but I've never tasted one and have put off playing with the concept because cheesecake's just too big for a family of two. It came off the backburner yesterday, however, as a solution to the dilemma of what to take to a potluck gathering of geeks in Vancouver--most meat, dairy and fresh produce is verboten, and the list of what's okay is a moving target. Lest you underappreciate the threat, a friend recently had packaged dry dog food taken from her.
The cheesecake worked out fine. The border crossing went like this:
Border agent: Why are you coming to Canada?
Me: We're going to dinner at a friend's house.
Border agent: Bringing anything in?
Me: A few bottles of wine and a cake.
Border agent: Fine, have fun.
So last Friday I went hunting for savory cheesecake recipes. Alton Brown had a recipe for one involving smoked trout and chives--sounded interesting enough, but not good for red wines or vegetarians (of which I believed at least one of to be coming). However, I found his crust, with an egg white for additional glue, intriguing. Another recipe cut back on eggs and used cornstarch. Another involved herbs and gorgonzola. Another used a regulation pie crust which didn't appeal to me and was more quiche-like than cheesecakey, but it included some sun-dried tomatoes. I had a jar of them that I dehydrated myself marinating in the fridge. So in the end no recipe seemed just right, but borrowing from each and emphasizing the sun-dried tomatoes was going to get me the wine-friendly dish that I wanted.
An interesting accident, forgetting to buy the Wasa crispbread I meant to make the crust with led me to using a combination of matzohs and panko which I had on hand and then seasoning same for a little oomph. Well, next time I'll do it all over again that way on purpose: ground to the size/texture of oatmeal, the matzohs made a flaky crust whose coarse texture was an excellent counterpoint to the smooth cheese filling. I had more matzohs but added the panko because I hoped it's different shape and texture would act as a bond. Didn't want my crust to be so flaky that it didn't stay intact. The panko may have been unnecessary, but I can't argue that I didn't get the exact result I wanted so I'm including it in the recipe.
The finished cheesecake wasn't just good, it was as good as it possibly could have been. The flavor was out of this world, it was gorgeous to look at, easy to pass and serve, and a perfect chameleon for wine pairing. I was told in no uncertain terms that I will be required to bring this again.
Here's my recipe for a 9 inch springform pan.
Set the oven to 350 F.
1 1/2 c coarsely ground lightly-salted matzohs (food processor with steel blade works well, and you can re-use it to chop the tomatoes)
1/2 c panko or fresh bread crumbs
1 egg white
1/2 c melted butter
1/2 tsp dried oregano, rubbed fine
A couple grinds of fresh black pepper
Mix the above ingredients together and press them into the bottom and lower sides of a buttered springform pan. Optionally, reserve about a third of a cup to line the top edge of the filling with later. Bake the crust for 8 minutes and remove from oven to cool. Drop the oven temperature to 325.
1 cup rehydrated/compacted and chopped sun-dried tomatoes, pressed of all but about one tablespoon of oil; if starting with dry tomatoes, rehydrate and add back one tablespoon of EVOO
24 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoon corn starch
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 c chopped parsley
1/4 c chopped cilantro
2 T chopped chives
a couple grinds of black pepper
In a large mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese wit one egg and then add the cornstarch, remaining eggs and sour cream. When fully blended, stir in the herbs and tomatoes. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. If you saved some of the cracker crumbs, sprinkle them now around the outer edge of the cheesecake, about one inch wide.
Bake the cheesecake on a lower rack in the oven for one hour. Without opening the oven door, turn the heat off and allow the cheesecake to finish baking in the cooling oven for one additional hour. This allows the cheesecake to settle gently and evenly.
Allow 3-4 hours to cool, then remove from pan and serve.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov