Thursday, February 12, 2015

Potato Bread and Cheese Cake-and a Bonus Strawberry Sandwich Recipe

Quick, before some government advisory board decides to change the guidelines again make certain you get your fill of cholesterol laden foods!
 Fine, I know there's a difference between a couple eggs a day, and a cheese cake...but they've been wrong before-what's to say the fountain of youth doesn't  lie in a cake rich with eggs and sour cream?

Or perhaps the secret to achieving a good long life is buttery potato bread, hot from the pan.
Yeah, that's a life worth living...right there in that pan.

Both cheese cake, and potato bread are foods people take seriously (far too seriously to the point of being silly) and have strong opinions about the preparation of. As I don't give a toss about, "Authenticity" I'm offering a couple recipes that worked well for me, and I enjoyed. I have better things to do with my time than wonder if my cheese cake is authentic enough. It probably isn't, if your idea of cheese cake is the heavy New York style that's not unlike eating straight cream cheese. This is closer to the cheesecakes I grew up with, though typically it would be topped with sour cream, not fruit. I know, sour cream atop a cheese cake sounds like overkill but I come from a culture that adds a dollop of sour cream to a serving of cottage cheese. Probably a holdover from the days of dry cottage cheese, and totally unnecessary today...but so delicious. If you really want to indulge in your new found freedom to consume cholesterol, try the cottage cheese/sour cream combo with a plate of macaroni cheese. With tons of black pepper.

Should we start with the cheese cake, and have dessert first? If you make a cheese cake is that the dessert or cheese course? Hmm.

The recipe for the cheese cake comes from a wonderful cookbook I picked up at the Friends of the Library Book Sale for .25 cents. Traditional Jewish Cooking by, Betty S. Goldberg. I can't vouch for the tradition part of it as most of the recipes are new to me, but I can tell you this was the least complicated cheese cake I've ever baked, and it was delicious. I like that it didn't call for four pounds of cream cheese and a dozen eggs or something obscene like so many cheese cake recipes do. Sure, it isn't health food (new guidelines or not) and it is a dessert, but it isn't so heavy that you can't move after a small slice. There's indulgent and then there's competitive indulgence.

The recipe does not call for the use of a water bath to bake the cake. It does crack on top as it cools, which is just the nature of cheese cake, but if you can't bear it, or don't plan a topping to hide it, wrap the pan tightly in foil (I mean several layers) and bake it in a water bath to help reduce the crack. Again, I don't bother because I don't care, and it is extra work, but the water bath will help if you're the sort of person that obsesses about such things.

I used strawberries for my topping as we're starting to get beautiful berries from the South arriving in our shops. At the end of the post, I'll give my recipe for a strawberry sandwich which would make a lovely Valentine's Day breakfast.

For The Cheese Cake:

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used a combo of wholemeal and some chocolate wafers I baked recently)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (I'd go for the salted here if you have it, but that's me)
16 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar (I used 3/4 and it was more than enough with the sweet topping)
2 cups (1 pint) sour cream (I'm not a food snob, but I'd use a good sour cream without a bunch of gelatin and stabilisers)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crust: Mix crumbs and butter together. Pour into a 9 inch springform pan. Press into bottom and up sides partway. Set aside. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Use a mixer to beat the cream cheese until light. Scrape the cheese from the beaters and add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well. Beat in the sugar gradually, then the sour cream.  Beat in the vanilla. The mixture should be smooth, and I found it helpful to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula just to be certain it is all getting mix together.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and place the pan on a baking sheet (trust me on this one-never trust a springform pan. Ever.). Place in the oven and bake 45 minutes. Turn of the oven, and let sit an additional 30 minutes. Then, open the oven door, and let cake cool to room temperature. At that point you can cover and place it in the fridge. Meanwhile, make your topping.

2 cups (1 pint) fresh strawberries or blueberries. In a 1 quart pot, mix 1 cup hulled, mashed berries with 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cornstarch (cornflour). Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Bring to the boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently. Reduce to a gentle boil and cook 2 minutes longer. Cool to room temperature. Arrange 1 cup fresh berries on top of cheese cake. Spoon topping over them.
* I did not bother, and cooked the 2 cups of berries all at once. It made for a beautiful topping without fiddling with arranging fresh berries. Your call, either way it is great.

Chill well before serving. To unmould, run a knife along the edge and gently remove the ring whilst uttering softly, "Don't break, don't break". Don't attempt removing the cake from the bottom of the pan (it won't work) just cut and serve from it.

I'd serve it with coffee, but I know that's out of vogue these days (coffee in the evening). I'd avoid any terribly sweet booze with this.

On to the Potatoes!
I didn't call them, "Farls" because they're in eighths, but you get the idea. A pizza cutter makes the cutting go smoothly. Avoid the temptation to add too much flour as that makes them heavy. You'll need to work with the potatoes still hot, so if you have delicate hands, heat-proof rubber gloves may help. I just shoved my old arthritic hands in there and got to work-it was therapeutic.

You Will Need:

4 large-ish floury potatoes (I used Russets)
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

Boil and mash your potatoes and mix with the butter. I used a food mill for my potatoes, but if you prefer a coarser texture, a hand masher is fine. Stir in the salt and flour, and knead with your hands. You may need more flour-it should hold together, but not be at all sticky. It will be soft. Pat the dough out on a cutting surface to a round (about 10 inches) and 1/4 inch thick (or as close as you can get it). Cut into wedges (4, 6, 8-whatever you like) and cook on a hot, lightly buttered grill until browned on both sides. It helps to re-butter between batches, and you may need to keep adjusting the heat down if you use a cast iron pan as it holds heat. Serve hot, with more butter.

Strawberry Sandwich:

This is essentially eggy bread/French toast with a filling.

Two slices bread (I used a buttermilk white, but challah or brioche would be great)
Cream cheese
Sliced strawberries macerated in a 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon heavy (double) cream
Dash of salt
Butter for the pan

Lightly spread cream cheese on bread slices. On one slice, arrange the strawberry slices. Spoon over any juices. Affix top slice, pressing together gently. In a shallow bowl, beat together the egg, cream, and salt. Place sandwich in mixture and let soak a couple minutes, then gently turn and repeat on other side. Meanwhile, melt a knob of butter in a pan over medium heat. When sizzling, add the egg soaked sandwich. Fry until golden, then carefully turn and repeat on other side. Serve cut in half, lightly dusted with icing sugar,  with a bit of maple syrup on the side for dunking.

I don't know about you, but that made me hungry. Screw Valentine's Day, just make it for yourself.


Sue said...

TOF loves his tatty bread so I think I should give it a go now that I have the instructions. Thanks Mate!!

Beth Waltz said...

So muttering the "don't break, don't break" spell works for you, does it? Then pray tell us what magical mumblings extricate a gelatin from its Miro mold?

(A proper cheesecake must have a sour cream topping -- and be served with black coffee. It's a tradition! So is cutting it into itty bitty pieces, even if there are only 4 at the table and only crumbs will remain.)

Propagatrix said...

One of my choirmates just gave me a cheesecake of this exact sort. I hadn't had it since I was back in the Midwest; I'm not sure how a Filipina living in Northern California managed to produce the cheesecake of my childhood, but my hips and I are so glad she did.

So happy you're back, Goody. Missed you much.

Connie said...

OMG I have not had cheesecake in like forever! You're killing me.

Curtise said...

Now I do like a cheesecake, but really it's the potato farls that have me salivating - mmmm! xxxx

Jayne H said...

I want to eat everything and I've just had a really big dinner. We've been living off slow cooker food lately so you are inspiring me to do some actual cooking.

Goody said...

I hope it turns out well for you.

@Beth Waltz
I think you just dip the mould in a pan of hot water and hope for the best ;)
Glad to hear I'm not the only one that eats cheesecake with sour cream.

If someone makes you a cheesecake, that's a friend worth keeping!

I'd totally have you over for coffee and cake if we were neighbours. It IS a rather simple cake to put together, if you get inspired.

The worst part of making them is that my pan only holds two at a time-so they take a while.

Slow cookers ARE real cooking. I love the idea of putting something together in the morning and having a meal ready when you get home. Standing over a stove is overrated.