Monday, July 28, 2008

Supper Club: French Bistro Night, Lemon Cheesecake



D. and I are lousy members of our supper club. After our first meeting, we proceeded to miss the next two monthly meetings. To ensure we wouldn't miss another one, we wanted to host the fourth meeting. There was German night and Mexican night, so we decided to stick with the cultural theme and have French night. One of the reasons we picked it was that we enjoyed the dishes from D.'s birthday party and wanted to make them again.

Instead of the ratatouille, D. picked the glazed vegetable dish from
Bouchon. I enjoyed this dish, but I think the glaze is a bit too mild to alleviate the tubers' earthiness. Root vegetables are best for this recipe, so we went with carrots (both orange and golden), rutabagas, turnips, and beets. The result was a visually arresting dish.

Glazed Vegetables
(adapted from Bouchon by Thomas Keller)

Various root vegetables (carrots, turnips, rutabagas, beets, etc.)
Sugar (1 tbsp. per 2 cups vegetables)
Butter (1 tbsp. per 2 cups vegetables)
Thyme (1 sprig per 2 cups vegetables)
Rosemary (1 sprig per 2 cups vegetables)
Bay leaf (1 per 2 cups vegetables)
Chives, diced and trimmed to 2 inch "batons"

Place the vegetables in a single layer in a sauce pan or skillet. (Note: Keller advises cooking each vegetable separately for even cooking, but I was short on time and mixed them with no adverse effects.) Add enough cold water just to cover the vegetables. Heat on high until water boils. While heating, add sugar, butter, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Once water boils, lower heat to medium-high and cook vegetables at a hard simmer/soft boil. Cook until all of the liquid is reduced to glaze and toss vegetables to glaze. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle chives over.

If vegetables begin to turn mushy, remove from liquid and continue to reduce. Return vegetables to pan when liquid has been reduced to a sticky glaze.

Much to my chagrin, I'm now a fan of beets. However, I wouldn't do beets and rutabagas in the same dish, because they taste quite similarly and it's a little too much of a good thing. Pretty colors, though.

D. made fries again, which turned out beautifully. Fries at home are worth the trouble if one has patience for the heating times and the mess. The oil takes a long time to heat and cools rapidly when the fries are added. Mandolines make slicing infinitely easier and faster.

For dessert, D.D. and D.B. gave me lemons from their tree, so I made lemon cheesecake. This recipe was one that I made over and over again during '06-'07, then stopped because I tired of it. Still as good as I remember. It's a Paula Deen recipe, but she used Splenda and fat-free cream cheese, sour cream, and egg substitute. Although D. is diabetic, he's not a fan of Splenda-based desserts. For him, it's better to have a small portion made with sugar than a typical portion made with Splenda. (Disclaimer: This works for him and I realize all diabetics handle their regimens differently, so please understand that this is not to be applied to all diabetics.) When he saw this recipe, he shrugged and asked if I could substitute real sugar back into it. It worked really well. I also use real eggs, but I like to use light cream cheese and light sour cream.

Lemon Cheesecake
(adapted from Paula Deen's Joanne's Almost Fat-free Lemon Cheesecake)

Crust:
1 3/4 cup crumbs made from Trader Joe's Butter Almond Thins (just about any butter-based cookie or wafer works, but I like the Butter Almond Thins)
1/4 cup butter, melted

Filling:
3 x 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon zest
6 tablespoons of lemon juice (I accidentally added 6 tablespoons once, which was meant for the lemon curd, and I found it works really well... for a lighter lemon flavor, use anywhere from 2 to 6 tablespoons)

Lemon curd:
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
(Note: I find that store-bought curd tastes just as good as homemade, so it can be substituted in a pinch)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Crush Butter Almond Thins in a food processor. Measure out the crumbs, then mix with melted butter. Press into a greased springform pan, using the bottom of a drinking glass to even out the mixture. Bake for about 10 minutes or until edges have darkened and crust is set. After baking the crust, wrap aluminum foil around the bottom and sides of the springform pan, creating a barrier to prevent water from soaking the pan/crust.

While preparing the filling, heat water for a water bath. It just needs to be hot enough so the bath doesn't take too long to reach oven temperature. Do not allow the water to boil.

Combine cream cheese and sour cream and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high until fluffy. For stand mixers, the paddle attachment works best. Add sugar gradually and continue beating until mixture is smooth. Lower mixer speed and add eggs one at a time. Beat only to incorporate. Gently beat in juice and zest. Pour into crust.

Set the springform pan into another pan (roasting pans work well) with high walls. Place pan in oven. Very carefully, add enough hot, not boiling, water to reach the middle of the springform pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hr. 15 min. or until filling is set and slightly jiggly. The water bath is essential for prevention of cracked fillings.

When cheesecake is done, be very careful while lifting the springform pan out of the water bath. Turn off oven and leave water bath inside to cool. Cool cheesecake completely and transfer to refrigerator.

In a double boiler, combine every ingredient for the lemon curd, except for the butter. Whisk until hot and frothy. Add butter gradually and continue whisking until mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and cool. Curd should be jelly-like after it cools. Spread curd over cheesecake, then refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Our next supper club meeting: brunch!

9 bites:

The John said...

Supper Club sounds like fun! Erin and I have been wanting to do that with soe of our friends. Fries look really good!

hot garlic said...

What a cute blog! I found you on the foodie blogroll. I love the style and presentation. Will be back to peruse more of the actual recipes!

MetroSD said...

As a fortunate member of said supper group, I can say that D. and our culinary nerd outdid themselves again. Another fantastic meal. This blog gives a little insight into how much work you guys really put into it. You don't cut any corners on ingredients or preparation, and the results show it!

white on rice couple said...

I was actually looking at the glazed vegetable recipe in the same book the other day. Your results are just spectacular! All the colors and vibrancy is picture pretty and delicious!

Prudy said...

Those glazed veggies look fabulous and that lemon cheesecake sounds like a perfect ending.

mike said...

I've been looking forward to making the glazed recipe dish on my travels through Bouchon and you just enticed me to take the plunge!

Mike

mike said...

P.S., The rest of your blog is great, I'm glad I found it.

Janna said...

Yummy yummy yummy!

Auberta said...

Great work.

9 bites