Sunday, July 13, 2008

Petite Lemon Cheese Cake

I love cheese cake... All kinds of cheese cake. The light and airy ones to the heavy dense ones. I don't complain. We love doing these petite ones for our dinner parties. They are the perfect size and are small enough that you can justify having a dessert tasting menu with 2-3 different types of mini desserts. Chessa makes some awesome bruleed mini cheese cakes. You'll have to try them.

This one is a lemon cheese cake made with the zest of three lemons. I love meyer lemons the best, but if they are not in season, any smoothed skinned lemon will do. We have two mini-cheese cake pans so we can knock out 24 of these babies at one time. If you don't have a mini cheese cake pan, a regular spring form pan will do just fine.


1 pound regular cream cheese
3 meyer lemons, washed and dried
1/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (7 or 8 whole crackers)
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Pull the cream cheese out of the refrigerator to soften. It will be about the right temperature by the time it's needed.

Remove the zest from the lemons with a zester and put the zest in a small saucepan. Add the cream to the zest and heat just until the cream starts to bubble. Watch the pan carefully, since cream goes from bubbling to overflowing in a split second. Remove the pan from the heat,cover it, and let the zest steep for about an hour. In the meantime, prepare the cheesecake's crust.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt. Stir in the butter until the mixture is uniformly moistened. With the bottom of a small glass, press the crumbs into the bottom of each well of the mini cheese cake pan. Bake the crust for 4 to 8 minutes, until it is barely browned at the edges. Let it cool.

When the zest/cream mixture has steeped for about an hour pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees F.

Using a kitchenaid with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at low speed until smooth. Add the sugar and continue beating until smooth, scraping down the bowl regularly.

Increase the speed to medium-high and add the eggs one at a time. Then beat in the flour. Finally, strain the lemon zest cream and add the cream, beating until the mixture is smooth and uniform.

Pour the batter into each of the prepared crusts. Place the pan on a baking sheet to catch any leaks, and bake the cheesecake for 8-10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 200 degrees F and bake the cheesecake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until it is light brown on top, cracked, and just barely set in the center. (check the timing at it varies with a larger cake)

Cool the cheesecake on a rack and let "age" overnight to allow the flavor to develop.

You can serve this with fresh berries or powdered sugar, or top it with a fruit glaze. I like eating them right out of the pan (that's why we always make 24).... They are the perfect 2-3 bite dessert. You'll love them.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Perfect Scrambled Eggs with Fresh Chives

The Perfect Scrambled Eggs with Fresh Chives

Sorry for not posting in a while. June was a crazy month for me. Started a new job, took the scouts backpacking in the Sequoias for a week, swam the Alcatraz sharkfest and ran with my wife and friends in the Pendleton MudRun... It was all very fun, but busy. July should be a bit more restful...

I love scrambled eggs, but I can't stand dry rubbery ones that have no flavor. This is my favorite way to make eggs on a Saturday morning after a nice long swim. We have some great herbs growing in our garden and the kids love being sent out to "harvest" whatever herb has been requested. Chives are perfect with scrambled eggs adding a nice peppery/oniony flavor. If you like eggs, you'll love these.

3 fresh eggs
1 small bunch of fresh chives finely chopped
2 table spoons of butter
sea salt
Toasted wheat bread

The trick to great eggs is the heat of the pan and constant stirring. Treat the eggs like a risotto and you'll end up with creamy eggs that are really flavorful. I start by whisking the eggs in a bowl with a fork until you can't see any of the egg whites. Place a plan over medium heat and add one table spoon of butter. Add the eggs and turn the pan down to medium low (more towards the low side). With a rubber spatula keep stirring until you see curds form. Once they form keep moving the eggs until they get to the consistency you like. If the eggs are cooking too fast, just take the pan off the heat for a few seconds and then return (keep stirring)... Once the eggs are to done to the consistency that you want (about 2-3 minutes), remove the pan from the heat, add one more table spoon of butter, the fresh chopped chives and the sea salt to taste. Fold those remaining ingredients into the eggs and serve immediately with wheat toast. (You can add grated cheese if you really want to go over the top). But try making them this way the next time you are in the mood for a great simple breakfast. Your kids will love them this way.