Cheesecake for people who hate cheesecake

Lemon ricotta tart

I can't claim credit for the lovely dishes, unfortunately

I can’t claim credit for the lovely dishes, unfortunately

I, like a small minority of Americans, do not like cheesecake.  I’m not sure if it’s the texture, although that doesn’t help, or the richness or what.  I like cream cheese.  I like cheese danish.  Why not cheesecake?  There is, however, one kind of cheesecake that I love.  I love ricotta cheesecake.  I had a wonderful slice of ricotta cheesecake from an Italian restaurant around NYU years and years ago.  I think I liked it because it wasn’t so sticky as traditional cheesecake, nor was it quite so sweet.  I’ve spoken with other people who feel this way.  In fact, lucky me, I happened to make this dessert for a friend who had a similar experience with a, shall we say, alternative cheesecake in London.  This tart is creamy and rich, but not sticky and heavy.  If you’re ever thought of yourself as “not a cheesecake person,” this is the one to try before you write it off completely.

nestled in the springform pan

nestled in the springform pan

A few notes on the recipe are in order.  First of all, the recipe calls for a 9 inch tart pan.  Wouldn’t you know it, my only tart pan is a 12 inch.  Baking is way too sensitive to mess around with the size of the pan.  Someday I’ll have a kitchen big enough to have multiple tart pans…  What I do have is a 8 or 9 inch springform pan.

Calphalon, take me away!

Calphalon, take me away!

I thought this would be a fine substitute because it is the right size and it has the removable bottom feature that a tart pan has.  Plus, you usually make cheesecake in a springform pan, don’t you?

Second, the recipe calls for 72 vanilla wafers.  Big sigh.  Let me translate that for the layperson: One box of Nilla wafers.  Note the serving size and servings per container:

Low cholesterol...so that's something...

Low cholesterol…so that’s something…

Ignore everything else on that nutrition label, by the way.  Here is what the box of Nilla wafers looks like in the food processor before it is ground into wonderful, sweet crumbs:

One box fits just fine

One box fits just fine

This is mixed with butter and pressed into the bottom of the tart pan/springform pan and baked:

Blinded by the baking!

Blinded by the baking!

The crust is delicious and lighter than a graham cracker crust.  The filling has a subtle lemon flavor and that wonderful texture.  It makes for a light, but very satisfying dessert.  We had it with an awesome brunch with a lot of great savory flavors (including a savory bread pudding I really need the recipe for), so this was a great way to balance it out with something sweet.

I did have to cook this tart longer than the recipe said, and I think that did have a little something to do with the size of the pan.  I think my pan might have been only 8 inches, and I think that meant that the crust was thicker in places than it would have been in a 9 inch tart pan.  Also, my tart never browned.  The recipe made a huge deal about how to cover up the brown spots.  I never got brown spot one.  No idea why.

The tart was a huge hit.  My friend thought that it captured the taste and texture of the cheesecake from London she’d been trying to find.  Success!

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It’s a potato

Baked Potato Bar

G here, kicking off the potato post.  The post-tato!

Peer and Pedro Potato or Sven and Salvador Spud

Peer and Pedro Potato or Sven and Salvador Spud

I took the Scandinavian toppings and the Tex Mex toppings.  The Scandinavian one had smoked salmon, sour cream, and chopped green onion.  It was great.  Smoked salmon is delicious and sour cream is a natural choice for a baked potato.  The Tex Mex one has black beans (which are dry), goat cheese (which is pretty dry), and salsa.  The salsa isn’t juicy enough to make up for the rest of it.  It was quite dry.  I wound up scraping all of the stuff off of it, adding butter and sour cream, and adding the toppings back.  There’s really not much to report here.  If I was going to have smoked salmon, I’d want it on a bagel.

G out.

B here.

I don’t have fancy names for my spuds, but if I did, this one would be Giovanni.

Not my best photo here...

Not my best photo here…

This one consisted of ricotta, spinach and pepperoni.  Instead of using frozen spinach as called for, I sautéed up some fresh baby spinach with garlic, because obviously any kind of spud that can call itself Italian needs some garlic.  I also chose to mix my spinach in with my ricotta like you would for a lasagna filling.  And I used turkey pepperoni, which may have been a mistake.  It was fine really, but I think it would have been tastier with the real thing.  I also think a small amount of marinara would have gone a long way here.  Like G’s Mexican potato, it was a bit dry.  Overall, the flavor was pretty enjoyable, but maybe not to the point I would think to make it again.

And what the heck, I may as well follow through with this naming thing to the end of the post. So here is Jake Spud, the All-American Quarterback potato.

IMG_0690

This one was really classic!  Melted cheddar, peas and cubes of a really delicious ham I had made earlier in the week.  This is the one that reminded me of dinner as a kid.  The melted cheese sort of helped keep the peas in place, but not enough so you didn’t still have to chase a few around the plate.  The obvious solution: MORE CHEESE! I think I am far more likely to make this one again  than the Italian one.  I could see it being a really satisfying dinner on a night when the Bear I live with is at a work function (this happens a lot).