Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sour Cream Cheesecake

Back when I used to be athletic (ha), I had a tennis coach who insisted that his mother made the best cheesecake in the world. At the time, my high school taste buds thought the Cheesecake Factory had the best cheesecake I ever tasted, and I was dubious that anyone's homemade version could top that.

And then one day, he gave me an entire 12" cheesecake for me and my family to share.

Laden with berries, the cheesecake he gave us had a sophisticated tinge of...something. I didn't know what it was at the time, but it really was the best cheesecake I ever had.

I suppose I grew up a little that day. I finally understood what "complex flavors" meant--when sweetness is combined with another flavor dimension, it can make something as simple as a cheesecake into a mind-blowing memory.

It's been years since I've talked to my coach, and I recently had a hankering for that cheesecake. The only clue I remembered was that his mother used to work at Draeger's supermarket in Los Altos, so off I went, driving 25 minutes for a figment of my imagination.

When I arrived, I realized how ridiculous it all was. I didn't even know his mother's name. As I gazed at the pastry display case in my stupor, I read the ingredient list for Draeger's cheesecake.
Sour cream.

But of course. Why didn't I figure it out earlier? Whipping out my trusty Blackberry, I searched for a sour cream cheesecake recipe. And right on top was one by Alton Brown that had 5 out of 5 stars by 141 people. Good enough for me. I was going to try this recipe at home.

Sour Cream Cheesecake
recipe adapted from Alton Brown

Oreo crust (you can buy it premade or make your own)

20 oz cream cheese
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 cup sugar
1 T vanilla
2 eggs
3 yolks
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat sour cream for 10 seconds. Add the cream cheese and sugar and mix on low for 30 seconds and then turn up to medium. Scrape the bowl.

In a separate container, combine vanilla, eggs, yolks and heavy cream. With the mixer on medium, slowly pour the mixture in. When half of it is incorporated, stop and scrape. Continue adding the mixture until the rest of the ingredients are incorporated. Once combined, pour into the crust.

Place cheesecake into a preheated water bath, in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Turn the oven off and open the door for one minute. Close the door for one more hour. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and place in the refrigerator for 6 hours to completely cool before serving.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eric's Birthday Cake

My friend's birthday was this past week, and I was at a loss for what to give as a present. He's an avid gamer, but like most gamers, he already owned all the games he wanted to play.

"Why don't you make him a game cake?" my brilliant husband asked.

Countless Mario cakes have already been made, and I wanted mine to be different. So I searched the web for a screenshot of the classic game, and came up with this:

Can you guess my friend's name, his birthday, and how old he is now? :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Father-in-Law's Meatloaf

I never had meatloaf as a kid. My mom rarely made "American" food, so my family never saw it on the dinner table. It wasn't until college I finally had my first bite of meatloaf in the dorms and understood why it was so unappealing to the masses--shoveling through a dense, compressed brick of dry meat with a fork just seemed like a chore. I could diet on meatloaf because I never wanted to eat any. Plus there were all these weird colored specks packed in. It was as if the person who made the dish didn't have more than a celery rib to spare.

In fact, the first meatloaf I finally ever liked wasn't even made out of meat. If you haven't tried the "neatloaf" at Ananda Fuara in San Francisco, I suggest you give it a try. Don't let the fact the restaurant is in the Tenderloin scare you. Brave that urine smell and try something new.

When my husband and I first started dating, he kept asking if he could make his dad's meatloaf recipe for me. I kept making excuses. Most girls would go ga-ga over a guy who pleads to cook, but honestly? Meatloaf does not turn me on.

Eventually the day came. He made the meatloaf; I pored over a fashion magazine. Three mags later, my stomach growled. Are you done yet, I half-whined (it came from my stomach, I swear). The kitchen was a disaster, but my dear was in the midst of pulling the meatloaf out of the oven. Ten minutes later, dinner was ready.

I remember that first bite. It was good. I loved it so much I begged him for his dad's (now father-in-law) recipe. Four weeks later, he finally forwarded it to me:


This is from my memory since I am away from home. The quantity of seasoning
can be adjustable depending on what you feel like. You can also add other
herbs or stuff that you like to the meatloaf .

2 pounds ground beef (regular, not too lean) or half and half with
ground pork

1 egg
1 diced onion
1 shredded carrot
1 diced apple
1 cup 3-minute Quaker's oat meal (I always use), or bread crumbs
1 stalk diced celery
1/4 t ground pepper
1 t salt
1 T soy sauce/Worcester sauce

Mix all ingredients. If you don't like to clean the baking pan, you can line with aluminum foil before filling it up with the mixed ingredients. Bake at 350F for about 1 1/2 hours. When the top browns, the meatloaf should be done. Let it cool about 5-10 minutes before taking it out. Otherwise it might fall apart. Enjoy with ketchup and Worcester sauce.

Bon Appetit!


*Hint* For a nice meatloaf crust, securely pack the meat into the loaf pan and release the meat by flipping over the pan onto a foil-lined sheet before sticking it into the oven (see top photo).