January 30, 2009

Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust

At the risk of blowing up Craig's ego again, I have to say this, "Craig, you were right."

The subject of pie came up one day, and Craig told me that the best thing to eat with apple pie was cheddar cheese.  Cheddar cheese.  Cheese.  With apple pie.  I just couldn't wrap my mind around it.  In my world, there was a line with fruit on one side and cheddar cheese on the other and never the twain shall meet.

So he dared me to make one.

And it really was the best pie I've ever had.  (Not that I've had many, but still: this pie is pretty darn good.)  How the savoriness of the cheese complements the sweetness of the apples is a mystery, but I'm content now that I'm on the right side of the line with the cheese and apple pies.

Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust
adapted from Epicurious

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons chilled butter, cubed
1 cup coarsely grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
5 tablespoons (or more) ice water

1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 medium sized tart apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cubed

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Blend in the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Add the cheese.  Mix in the water one tablespoon at a time until a dough forms--be careful that the dough does not become too wet.  Divide the dough in half, form each into disks, cover in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes and up to one day.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt.  Toss in the apples and lemon juice and mix.

Roll out the first disk of dough into a 12 inch circle and place in a 9 inch pie pan.  Brush the edges with the egg wash.  Pour the apple mixture into the pan and dot with butter.  Roll out the second disk of dough into a 11 inch circle and place over the filling.  Press and seal the bottom and top crusts together; trim overhang to 1/2 inch if necessary.  Tuck the overhang under and crimp.  Cut several slits on the crust to allow steam to escape, and brush the crust with the egg wash.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Cover the crust with foil and reduce the heat to 375ºF.  Bake for an additional 30 minutes or until filling begins to bubble.  Cool on rack.

January 26, 2009

Meyer Lemon Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce

The first time I tried to make cheesecake must've been when I was 16 or 17.  It was such a total and utter disaster that I didn't even contemplate making one until my aunt requested one two weeks ago.

You see, I thought I could get by without using a mixer.  Rookie mistake!  It was impossible to achieve a smooth batter by hand, and the resulting mixture had blobs of cream cheese floating in raw eggs.  I still baked it, and what crawled out of the oven tasted nothing like cheesecake.

I'm happy to say that my second attempt was much more successful.  The Meyer lemons are sweeter than regular lemons, and they complement the blueberry sauce very well.

Meyer Lemon Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce

1 cup finely ground graham crackers
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

2 lbs. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
2-1/2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blueberry Sauce:
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
3 teaspoons cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Mix the graham crackers and sugar, then stir in the melted butter.  Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch cake or springform pan.  (I made this with an ordinary cake pan, and other than the first couple of slices, the others came out perfectly.)

Bake the crust for 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow to cool.

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add in the sugar until incorporated, and then beat in the eggs one at a time.  Mix in the zest, juice, and vanilla extract.  Pour the batter over the crust.

Cover the top of the cheesecake loosely with foil to prevent brown spots.  (If using a springform pan, encase the entire pan in foil.)  Set the cheesecake pan into a roasting pan and fill the latter up with water until in reaches halfway up the cheesecake pan.

Bake at 350F for 1-1/2 hours or until the cake is set.  Remove the cake from the roasting pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.  Chill overnight or for at least 6 hours in the fridge.

Blueberry Sauce:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the berries, sugar, and lemon juice and mix.  Keep on stirring until the berries start to release their juices.

In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water.  Add to the berry mixture and stir until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Chill in fridge.