The wife is baking a meatloaf consisting of hormone free, grain finished beef (mix of brisket, short rib and sirloin), ground tenderloin from a Duroc hog, ground veal from a milk fed Hudson Valley calf, purple garlic, Dijon mustard, bread crumbs ground from a Sullivan Street Bakery baguette, Ronnybrook Farms milk, sea salt and cracked black pepper.
I added a tray of thin sliced baby fingerlings in a pool of buerremont butter and some of that purple garlic.
It smells like Heaven in here right now.
1 lb. Russ and Daughters cream cheese
1 ½ lbs. Philadelphia Cream Cheese
½ cup sour cream
1 ½ cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
10 Graham Crackers, crushed
1 Tablespoon white sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Set your cream cheese and eggs out on the counter. They need to come to room temp before using. Use food processor or vitamix to break graham crackers down to rough crumbs. Or just put them in a plastic bag and bang it on the counter.
BTW, this recipe is very specifically based on a 9” springform pan. That diameter gives you a very thin (1/8”) graham cracker crust. I think that’s enough with a filling this amazing, and I’m a guy who typically wants the deepest crust possible. That being said, if you want a thicker crust increase the butter, sugar and graham crackers commensurately.
Melt the butter. Mix with the crushed crackers and the sugar. You can do this in a bowl with a fork.
Dump this mixture in the bottom of your 9” springform pan. Use the bottom of a rocks glass to flatten and spread it evenly.
Throw pan in a preheated 325 degree oven. Start checking after ten minutes. You need to pull it out at the exact point that the outer ring starts to harden and turn a clearly darker shade of brown. You can also smell the moment this starts to happen.
Pull pan out and set aside to cool. Set oven for 500 degrees.
While this process was happening you should have been building your filling.
Throw the room temp 1 lb. of Russ and Daughters cream cheese in your Kitchenaid with the paddle attachment. Set on 3 and beat for a minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula continually.
Add 1 1/2 lbs. of softened Philly. Let it beat for two minutes.
Add ¾ cup sugar and salt. Allow time to disperse, approximately one minute. Continue scraping sides and paddle. If clumps form on paddle stop mixer and dislodge.
Add other ¾ cup sugar and allow it to combine, another minute. Scrape bowl.
Add sour cream, lemon juice and zest, and vanilla. Allow beater to process for one minute.
Stop beater. Remove paddle and use spatula to scrape every inch of the bowl and paddle. Need to avoid any clumps of uncombined cream cheese. Get it all in the mixing bowl. By now the mixture should be a fairly thick liquid slurry.
Restart the Kitchenaid and add the eggs and yolks slowly, one by one. Allow the mixture to absorb them. At the end kick the mixer up to 8 for thirty seconds, just to be sure.
Partially melt the remaining butter and brush it on the inside walls of the springform pan as thickly as you are able to.
Pour filling into pan. Place in oven (middle rack).
Bake for ten minutes at 500 degrees.
Without opening oven reduce heat to 200 degrees. Bake for 90 minutes.
Turn oven off, keeping door closed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 10 minutes.
Run knife between edge of cake and pan. Open springform pan and remove. Cover cheesecake with saran wrap and refrigerate.
Wait 24 hours.
Russ and Daughters cream cheese may be difficult if you aren’t a New Yorker. They do ship, so it’s attainable for everyone really (http://www.russanddaughters.com) but time or money may be a factor. If so, I urge you to find the best available artisanal, housemade cream cheese you can. The lack of thickeners made a huge difference in texture.
Full fat sour cream, of course. The freshest and most local available to you. In my case it is Cabot, a fairly large farming conglomerate out of Vermont who make a fresh product, good but not great.
It’s tempting to up the salt content to jack up the flavor. It’s really hard not to. But don’t. This is delicate alchemy here.
No, you don’t need to use Meyer lemons. But Deion didn’t need to dance either. When he did he had earned the right. Use regular lemons if you must. We can’t all be Deion.
Get the best vanilla that you are able to. Some friends of mine make their own; that’s just too Brooklyn for me. But I do think the extra expense of Morton & Bassett is a justifiable expense.
I use Buerremont butter. It was created by Paul Bocuse at a Vermont dairy farm specifically for baking. French method (cultured cream) and 83% butterfat. Plugra also works. Basically use the best unsalted butter with the highest fat content you can get your hands on. That goes for any recipe I ever use, not just this one.
Now even perfecter!
I have been using Thomas Keller’s high-heat method for roasting chicken with excellent results. A few tweaks, however, truly have made for a perfectly cooked bird with crispy skin and ridiculously juicy meat.
Start with the best chicken you can get, preferably something organic from a local source but at the very least make sure the bird is air chilled, this is important. Remove any gizzards and pat dry. Leave out on counter for 45 minutes to come close to room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450 degrees, leaving a skillet inside on middle rack to heat up. When oven is ready shower the bird with coarse salt, pepper and herbs de provence.
Remove skillet from oven and drop in a tablespoon of softened unsalted butter, preferably a high-fat cultured European style. Swirl around to cover bottom of pan. Place chicken in pan breast side up, hear it sizzle. This will put a little crisp on the skin and give the dark meat a head start. Return pan to oven.
After 25 minutes remove bird from oven. Add three tablespoons of olive oil and 30-40 cloves of peeled garlic to pan. Return to oven.
After another 25 minutes turn the oven off but do not open the door. Let bird sit for another 20-25 minutes as the oven cools. Remove chicken from oven and set up on carving board. While it cools take the contents of the pan (roasted garlic, butter, olive oil and whatever browned chicken bits you can scrape off) throw them in a blender with the juice of one lemon and another tablespoon or two of butter and puree. Use the roasted garlic puree to sauce whatever vegetables you roasted along with the chicken.
I’ve been working on refining the chocolate chip cookie and I believe I have pretty much perfected the recipe and technique. Just ate one that I baked this morning and my Lord is it good. Perfectly soft with just a slight bit of chew to it. Combined tastes of butter, sugars, salt, vanilla, walnut and of course the chocolate chunks. The differing mouth feels of the soft buttery dough, the crunchy diced sugared walnuts and the semi-soft chunks of chocolate all combine to make one damned good cookie.
It’s astounding to me that in this day and age petty-minded bigotry still exists. If a businessman wants to expose his ignorant, backwards ways and potentially lose a number of customers that’s certainly his right. I do, however, reserve the right to call him out on it and question his judgement. All of which ignores the most salient point:
Barilla makes an aggressively mediocre product.
It’s just crappy pasta. That’s all there is to it. It’s the largest selling brand in Italy like McDonalds is the most popular restaurant in the States. I tried it once because it was on sale and I was trying to be thrifty. We wound up throwing it in the trash. Mind you, this was well before the company management proved to be a bunch of narrow-minded idiots. It was strictly a value judgement and the product was lacking in every sense.
We are lucky enough to have fresh, handmade pasta available to us. Most folks do not have this advantage. The truth is that pasta is not that difficult to make at home. It’s flour, eggs and water. Still, many do not have the time or skillset to make their own. There are many better options than Barilla. As in, everything that’s not Barilla.
We augment fresh noodles with artisanal dried pastas from Italy. Rustichella d’ abruzzo is a particularly good brand but there are countless others. You can find them in any Italian specialty store or deli. If you don’t live close to a place like that you can find such noodles in Whole Foods or other high end grocery stores or delis. There is a premium cost to these items, and if that’s an issue you have an even easier option.
De Cecco is widely available and makes an excellent product. It is objectively head and shoulders above Barilla. De Cecco uses much higher quality wheat. Though they brag about using brass dies to shape their pasta I think the slow heat drying process is more critical. Whatever the cause, they make a wonderful product. It’s slightly more expensive, though not at all prohibitively so. There really is a wide range of taste and quality in as simple a product as a shaped egg noodle. Do your tastebuds a favor. Life is too short to eat shitty pasta.