July 30, 2011

Northwest Lemon Tart

One of my favorite restaurants growing up in Seattle, Washington was the Wharf restaurant close to the docks downtown. We would go there once a year to celebrate the anniversary of our arrival to Seattle when I was about 5. My favorite item on the menu was their lemon tart and I'm pretty sure I got it every time. Well, all these years later I decided to try to duplicate this dessert and I think I've come pretty close. The crust is a shortbread recipe my sister uses for quiches and the lemon tart is a lemon curd that has just the perfect amount of sweetness. I have named this Northwest Lemon Tart after those childhood memories. I hope you enjoy a small piece of my own personal history when you make these! The recipe below yields 1 tart and serves about 12. Enjoy!

1. The longer you let the curd boil, the more firm it will be when it sets. If you want it to set almost like jello, boil it the full 2 minutes. If you prefer the curd to be more loose, boil it about 1 minute.
2. The decorative garnish shown above can be made using a simple tool or you can use a paring knife to cut strips off a lemon, cut the rind off and then curl them yourself by twisting them.

Tart Shell
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour

Lemon Curd
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 Tbs cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup cold water
3 egg yolks, well beaten
2 Tbs butter
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp lemon zest
3 drops yellow food coloring

Tart Shell
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Blend cream cheese and butter.
2. Stir in flour just until blended.

3. Chill about 1 hour.

4. Press into ungreased tart pan to make a shallow shell, then prick with a fork.

5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, just until shell is lightly browned.

6. Let cool completely.

Lemon Curd
1. In saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.

2. Blend in lemon juice and cold water.

3. Add egg yolks and blend until smooth.

4. Add butter.
5. Gradually stir in boiling water.

6. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
7. Boil 2 minutes then remove from heat.

8. Add lemon extract, zest, and food coloring.
9. Partially cool for 30 minutes.
10. Pour into the baked tart shell and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

11. Garnish as desired with lemon pieces or whipped cream.

July 26, 2011

New York Style Cheesecake

This cheesecake is as good as any found in a New York Deli. Thick, dense and relatively easy to make, it bakes without the normal cheesecake techniques of the water bath and tin foil.

1. This is not a dessert that can be made last minute. After baking for one hour, it stays in the oven for 5-6 hours and then ideally needs at least 3-4 hours in the refrigerator to settle.
2. The cooking method creates a beautiful rim which is excellent for holding in a topping of various kinds of fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, mangos, etc.

8 full graham crackers, finely crushed
2 Tbs butter, melted
4 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease a 9 inch springform pan.
3. Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter, then press onto the bottom of the springform pan.

4. In a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth.

5. Blend in milk.

6. Mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enountil incorporated.

7. Slowly mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth.

8. Pour filling into prepared crust.

9. Place on middle rack in oven and bake for 1 hour.
10. Then turn the oven off and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 5 hours.
11. Chill in the refrigerator at least 3-4 hours, but preferably overnight until serving.