Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dining for Women/New York Style Cheesecake

Part 1: Tomorrow evening I'm going to a "Dining for Women" potluck.  "Dining for Women" is an organization that raises money for women's causes throughout the world. The premise is pretty simple.  The hostess volunteers her house.  The guests bring potluck dishes, learn about the charity, and donate what they would've spent on a dinner out, or whatever they can afford or feel like donating, to the charity. I'll blog more about it once I've actually attended.
Anyway, it was a kind of funny coincidence.  Judy heard about it and was interested in trying to start a group.  A few weeks later, Kathy mentioned that she'd been attending some dinners and asked if I was interested.  I said that I was and that Judy was interested as well.  So we will be going to our first dinner tomorrow.
This group is apparently mellow about what people bring, so people bring what they want without worrying about overlap.  Kathy said it always seems to work out food-wise.  Which makes sense - I have no objection to meals withover representation in certain types of foods, particularly dessert. 
I'm bringing a New York style cheesecake.  I almost made a chocolate terrine, but a few too many red flags went up with the recipe so I didn't want to risk it for the potluck.  Yes, I have learned a few things from my recipe geek experiences, and  I couldtotally see it being softer than planned and looking like literally like shit.  I decided to follow my mom's example and bring a cheesecake. That was her standard dish for potlucks when I was a kid.  It was always well received, since there was usually an overabundance of casseroles.
I'm using the recipe from the Cook's Illustrated book. If you'd like a copy, email me and I'll send it to you.  Basically, you make a graham cracker crust and bake it for about 15 minutes.  To make the filling, you beat 2 1/2 lbs of cream cheese (yep, you read that right) until it's smooth and creamy, add 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/3 cup sour cream, and 2 tsp each vanilla and lemon juice and blend well,  You then beat in 2 egg yolks and 6 eggs, a few at a time.  I was really glad I have a big stand mixer.
The filling is then poured into the springform pan containing the crust and placed in a 500F oven.  After ten minutes, the temperature is lowered to 200F and baked for another hour and a half or so.  The high heat is necessary to form the dark top crust, which isapparently traditional.  After about 45 minutes, it had risen a bit and got a nice brown top crust.  After an hour and a half, it looked pretty much the same but wasn't as jiggly. I pulled it out of the oven and let it cool.
While all the preparations were going on, the Recipe Geek taster cat was nowhere to be found, despite the presence of all that butterfat in the kitchen.  She was sleeping in the living room, completely oblivious.  After I poured the filling, i put a few spoonfuls into a bowl for her and called her. She ate it all and then promptly went back to sleep.
Part 2: Potluck report
The potluck was fun.  I walked in, not knowing anyone, and they offered me my choice of wine, whiskey, or Tuaca with cider. That was a very good sign.  Naturally, I chose the Tuaca.  Kathy and Judy showed up later.  It was a really nice group of people.  Afterwards, Kathy, Judy and I went out for more drinks.
The cheesecake was a tiny bit overdone but good.  It definitely had the taste and texture of a real cheesecake, with a different texture on the outside vs the inside, and took me back to the cheesecakes of my childhood, although those consisted mainly of cottage cheese.  I can't say it tasted that much better than the lighter cheesecakes, so 100% cream cheese isn't necessary.  I have a lot left over, so it's good that I liked it!

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