Do you know that I cook too :D? My friends and I watched "Julie and Julia" a few months ago and we've been trying to imitate the way Julia talks. I've always loved movies about food and ever since we watched that movie, we can't stop talking about when are we going to make the famous beef bourguignon, the last and famous dish on that movie and there I was in search of the perfect cast iron pan (you see, when they said "we", they actually meant me). When I was in college, I had a dream that someday, I would own my own le creuset pan (for real!) and cook so many dishes with it including the beef bourguignon, it is somewhat a weird wish for someone who doesn't major in culinary, but chemical engineering instead and of course it didn't come to reality as it was pretty costly for a college girl, especially when one book costs around $200.
Every Summer, I notice that instead of becoming more relaxed, I seem to be in a very fast pace of life, it's like I'm in race with the time all the time, it's one of those time when you wish that there are 48 hrs in a day. There are so many birthdays in Summer and if you're like me, you're more excited making birthday cakes with those lovely fruits compared to the Winter time, plus the ice cream season, the stone fruits, the berries, the sun, it's like even if I bake everyday, I still wouldn't be able to make every item on my list.
I was pondering for inspiration of what I should make on the weekend a few weeks ago. Planning is the key since time is so valuable so everything has to be planned out first to have a success baking time :). I was looking at my fridge and I saw some leftover cream cheese that needs to be used up pretty fast. I like to buy big blocks of cream cheese whenever I go to Costco, but I can never use it in one go. Once it's opened, you need to use the remainder soon before it starts to go bad. It is actually perfect this time to have cream cheese leftover as I have been wanting to try one of the cheesecake recipe from Alain Ducasse's book. I've been referencing recipes from this book for the last few posts in my blog and I fall in love with this book all over again. If you look closely to the recipes, a lot of them are actually manageable to make, it just has a very long step and components, which can be a turnoff.
I don't have the amount of cream cheese required to bake a full cheesecake, so I re-sized them according to the amount that I have and it's perfect for 8" round, which is more than enough for me. He paired the cheesecake with yogurt sherbet and berry compote. I decided to skip the berry compote and just topped the cheesecake with raspberry glaze and served it with fresh berries. The top is actually a raspberry jelly that I planned to make a pattern on top of the cheesecake with but it wasn't 100% successful, the pattern smudges out and doesn't look so cool anymore, so I just covered the entire surface with it and applied some clear glaze to get the shiny effect.
As I mentioned in the previous post, San Jose has been pretty cold for Summer this year. The temperature just stays around 70-75F during the day and mid 40's-low 50's in the morning and at night. I was hesitant at first turning on the oven for 3 hrs in a Summer day but I guess this is the perfect timing because it didn't feel hot at all. The outside temp was nice, the house is also nice and cool at 75 F even with the oven turned on. It seems like forever waiting the cheesecake to be baked for 3 hours! I was so tempted to take a nap at the second hour but I didn't. I even thought that the cheesecake will never ever set at 195F because it still looked wet after the second hour. But in the end, it sets beautifully, so creamy without being dry or dense at all.
Now, onto the giveaway. The CSN store, which has 250+ different sites, is graciously offering a $40 gift certificate that you can spend anywhere in their hundreds of store. They have HUGE selections of outdoor and kitchen stuff that you would absolutely love. An idea would be to use to it toward the le creuset pan that I've always wanted :).
How to Enter: All you need to do is just leave a comment here and tell me what do you bake/cook/make to make use of the Summer produce to the fullest. I would LOVE to know what people are up to in Summer :)
The giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only. The giveaway will open for a week until Tuesday, August 17th 2010 and I will pick one winner randomly on the following day.
Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
adapted from Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
yield: 8" round cheesecake
75 g toasted slivered almonds (or almond powder)
45 g graham cracker crumbs
20 g sugar
3 Tbs. butter, melted
24 oz cream cheese (three 8-oz blocks)
200 g sugar
3 eggs + 1 yolk
2 Tbs. flour
95 g heavy cream
vanilla bean seeds
200 g heavy cream
25 g granulated sugar
3/4 tsp powdered gelatin (add about 1 tbs of water)
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
150 ml whole milk
90 ml heavy cream
50 g atomized glucose
140 g granulated sugar
550 g plain whole milk yogurt
4 g (1 tsp.) sorbet stabilizer
25 g (6 1/4 tsp.) powdered milk
To make the yogurt sherbet:
Combine all ingredients, except yogurt, and heat until it reaches 183F (84C). Remove from the heat and chill to 39F (4C), then add the yogurt. Mix well and let sit (I refrigerated mine overnight to one day). Process in the ice cream maker
To make the Cheesecake:
To make the crust: if you're using slivered almond, pulse it in a food processor until fine, if using powder, just combine it with the rest of the ingredients. Press the mixture in the bottom of a springform pan (I lined mine with parchment paper too, but you don't have to). Bake the crust on 350F for about 10-15minutes until the crust is slightly brown. Let cool.
To make the cheesecake filling: combine the cream cheese, vanilla bean seeds, and the sugar and mix with paddle attachment until soft and creamy. Add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, then add the heavy cream and flour. Pour onto the cooled (or slightly cooled) crust and bake in a waterbath for 3 hours at 194F (90C). Let cool, leave to sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Spread the jellied cream on top of the cheesecake and smooth out with spatula, let it set. Remove the cheesecake from the pan.
- If you want to make it into 9" round springform pan, use five 8-oz blocks and re-size the rest of the ingredients for the cheesecake filling and the crust accordingly. You can use the same amount of the jellied cream and the yogurt sherbet.
- The book uses grind tart crust to make the base crust for the cheesecake. It also suggests using regular plain graham cracker crust if you have it available, but I'm never a fan of the regular graham cracker, and I've been using this almond crust for every of my cheesecake. You can use any type of crust you want.