This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

Wouldn’t be Shavuot without Cheesecake

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 7, 2011

Cheesecake

Son is at his yeshiva high school for Shavuot and I wasn’t sure I wanted to make a cheesecake for just the two of us. After all, I had no trouble passing up lasagna! But it doesn’t seem like Shavuot without a cheesecake and cheesecake is so simple to make. Shavuot (the name literally means “weeks”) celebrates the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It is observed on the 50th day after Passover, after counting the period of the omer, which is 49 days (you count a “week” of “weeks,” i.e., 7×7 days).

A lot of customs are associated with Shavuot:

  • Learning the entire night. Many communities and synagogues set up schedules of lecturers for the entire night, followed by morning prayers and a light breakfast.
  • Reading the Book of Ruth at the morning service
  • Decorating the synagogue with greenery
  • Eating at least one dairy meal (hence, the cheesecake). Blintzes and lasagna are also popular

For explanations about the customs, meaning, family activities, and recipes, see the Aish haTorah page (in English). They have a recipe for a Snickers cheesecake. I kid you not. Too sweet for me but if that’s your thing, go for it. I don’t have a very strong sweet tooth, so I prefer a simple cheesecake that tastes of cheese and cream, not nuts and chocolate.

Simplest Cheesecake

500 grams cream cheese
200 grams sour cream
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Start with the ingredients at room temperature. Preheat oven to 300 F/150 C.

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Add the sugar gradually, beating thoroughly. Add the eggs individually, beating after each egg so that it is incorporated. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the mixture is thick. If you are using high-fat dairy products, you will get a rich, thick batter. If you are using low-fat, you will get a wimpy-looking milkshake.

Pour the batter into a buttered 9″ springform pan or baking pan (I used a quiche pan because my springform pan started leaking too badly to seal with foil, I tossed it out, and haven’t replaced it yet). Bake for 1 hour or until the cake is just set in the middle (bang the oven gently to see how much the cake ripples) and the sides start to pull away. Let the cake cool in the oven with the door ajar. (This helps prevent the cake from cracking.) When cool, cover loosely with foil and refrigerate.

Serves 10.

You may notice that I did not specify what kind of cream cheese or sour cream. There are so many different types available, with high and low fat content, and you probably know what kind you will buy. All I can say is that the smooth, rich texture and creamy taste come from fat, so if you make your cheesecake with diet products, you’re not going to get the same results. Cheesecake is not a health food, but you probably don’t eat it very often unless you’re one of my coworkers (dry, tasteless cheesecake is one of the standard desserts in the dairy cafeteria). Try to use real vanilla, rather than a synthetic extract.

Chag sameach!

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Zucchini and Tomato Tian

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 9, 2010

Vegetable Tian

Cold stormy weather is expected to move into our area tomorrow, so this recipe may represent the last gasp of summer! I associate tians with summer because they’re so light and easy to prepare with summer vegetables. I’m still hobbling around with a surgical shoe on my foot, so I’m not spending a lot of time in the kitchen. My husband was starting to chafe under the steady diet of leftovers, rice, chickpeas, and other pulses. He doesn’t like meat all that much, so my mid-week cooking tends to be vegetarian. Yesterday I made a sweet potato and zucchini soup, a walnut and raisin quick bread, and this zucchini and tomato tian.

A tian is really more of a method than a follow-the-recipe dish. If you have other vegetables that need to be used up, toss them in. If you’re watching your weight, substitute toasted breadcrumbs for the grated cheese (there’s only 2 ounces of cheese on top, just for colour and flavour). But please don’t try to leave out the olive oil!

You may be wondering why I put egg in the rice. The rice is there to add substance, absorb the juices of the vegetables, and I happened to have a couple cups of cooked rice left over. The egg turns the rice into a lovely, delicate, creamy crust under the vegetables, so if the combo seems odd to you, try it just this once.

Zucchini and Tomato Tian au Gratin

1 large onion, sliced into half moons
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbs olive oil (plus a little extra for drizzling)
1 large red pepper, thinly sliced
2 large zucchini, very thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes, cored and very thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
2 eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Oregano
2 oz. hard cheese, grated (whatever you have will work but Gruyere would be wonderful)

Sauté sliced onion in olive oil until starting to brown. Add red pepper slices and cook until tender. Add garlic and cook until aromatic.

Put the cooked rice in a bowl. Add the sauted vegetable mixture and mix thoroughly. Lightly beat 2 eggs and stir into the rice mixture. Season lavishly with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Oil a 1.5 liter gratin dish. If you don’t have a gratin dish, any shallow casserole will do. Smooth the rice mixture on the bottom of the dish. Add alternating layers of zucchini and tomato slices. Season with oregano, salt and pepper, and drizzle olive oil over the vegetables. Sprinkle grated cheese on top.

Bake in a preheated 400° oven for 45 minutes or until the zucchini is tender when you prod it with a knife.

Posted in Food, recipes | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

New Page on My Blog: Recipes

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 23, 2010

Grapes

I haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth! I’ve been busy with other things. I added a page to this blog to organize my recipes: Recipes page. I had hoped to add a tutorials page but I see that my tutorials are a bit sparse. (I’ll have to do something about that!)

I spent last Shabbat in Efrat with some of my husband’s oldest friends. This photo of grapes was taken in their garden.

Posted in Food, recipes | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »