Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sasha Yum Yum's Paris Cheesecake


Sasha Finkesztajn's (a.k.a. Sasha Yum Yum) shop on the Rue des Rosiers in the 4th arr. was one of my first stops on my April trip to Paris. I love this place--when Kathryn and I were living in Paris, it was our favorite place to go for French food-terminology tutoring/picking up dinner.

One of my favorite things about it is the cheesecake. For a long time, I assumed because it was so different than American style cheesecake that this must be the fabled Russian vatrushka, but this time I noticed that the vatrushka was on a different shelf and are round instead of rectangular. So ... these babies are just simple, awesome cheesecake.

They're thick, nearly two inches, with a light crust base. The taste is creamy but light enough that you don't end up with dairy tongue. My favorite is the slight carmelized flavor of the browned top. It comes in flavors like framboise, citron, and cerise.
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Monday, January 31, 2011

Skye Gyngell Has a New Cookbook!

On Saturday, I got an email from Nancy with the news: Skye Gyngell has a new cookbook! How I Cook looks as promising and quirky as her last two cookbooks. To celebrate, Nancy proposed a meal, offered to make the main course, a lamb stew with peppers, tomatoes, and chick peas, and recruited Kathryn and I to round out the meal. Kathryn made slow-cooked courgettes that, on first bite, won over everyone at the table who had always been lukewarm on squash.

My assignment: rice pudding with sherry-infused prunes. Cool thing number one about the rice pudding was that it called for arborio rice. Great idea. Overall, it was a fairly simple recipe, with the primary ingredients of milk, cream, lemon zest (I used the first ripe lemon from my new tree), a split vanilla bean, and sugar.

It was everything I want in a rice pudding: creamy, rich and sweet but not cloying, with a perfect interplay of texture.

Picture to follow. For now, here's the recipe (caution: metric system ahead)

Rice Pudding with Poached Prunes

250g Risotto rice (holds flavor better than other types of rice)
900ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
peel of 1 lemon
small pinch of salt
150g caster sugar
200ml double cream

Poached prunes:
150g plump, soft prunes
4 tbsp Pedro Ximenez sherry
5 tbsp boiling water

Rinse the rice well under cold running water, then tip it into a heavy-based saucepan. Add the milk, vanilla pod, lemon peel and salt and bring almost to a simmer over a medium heat. Now turn down the heat as low as possible (a heat-diffuser mat is useful here) and put the lid on, placing it slightly off center, so it isn't quite covering the pan. Cook, stirring every now and then for 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked but still retains the slightest bite.

In the meantime, stone the prunes and place in a small bowl. Pour over the sherry, followed by the boiling water and leave to steep for 20 minutes.

When the rice is cooked al dente, stir in the sugar and cream and cook for another 10 minutes. The pudding needs to be creamy with a soft consistency--it should drop easily from a spoon.

Transfer the rice pudding to a serving dish and allow to stand for 5-10 minutes. Serve warm, not piping hot, topped with poached prunes.

Serves 4-6

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Eton Mess


Couldn't resist posting one more. This is the dessert that greeted us after our drive to the cabin: Kathy's Eton Mess. It was wonderful; decadent summer on a plate. I hope we get a similar welcome next year!
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5-Minute Vacation: Summer Eating in Tahoe


It's a cold and rainy morning, and I just came across this photo of one of the spreads from last summer at the cabin in Tahoe. Eating outside every night, surrounded by family that loves to cook and loves to eat, has come to be one of my absolute favorite parts of the year. I'm already looking forward to next August, and planning what I'll make. I'm thinking tamales might be in order, since I recently got (from Kerri) a recipe for the best pork tamales I've had in my entire life. Also, I think the ice cream maker will be coming along this year. I'd love to recreate the success of the mint julep ice cream I made by combining the Chez Panisse Desserts recipes for fresh mint ice cream and Bourbon ice cream. And I'd love to make an herbal ice cream sundae of some sort, with basil ice cream and thyme ice cream, topped with candied nuts.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pie Photo Shoot


Just published America's Most Unforgettable Pies. What a fun story to research, taste for, and write. Found out all sorts of interesting things, including the following:

- Most key lime pie is made from key lime concentrate, not fresh squeezed limes. And that can make all the difference.
- "Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy" is a great song that gets easily stuck on autoloop in the mind. But with lines like "Makes your eyes light up, your tummy say 'howdy'," it's not a hardship.
- You don't have to live in Northern Michigan to enjoy sour cherry pie from Northern Michigan. That's what overnight shipping is for.
- Buttermilk pie makes people weep with happiness.

Pictured above is the green chile apple pie with a cheddar crust and apple streusal from Chile Pie (& Ice Cream) in San Francisco. Last weekend, Joel and I went out for a little tasting and photo shoot. The operation was a success.
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