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Archive for July 29, 2016

RECIPE: No-Bake Cheesecake In A Jar

No Bake Cheesecake

Lemon Curd Tart

[1] A quick summer cheesecake (photo courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com). [2] An even easier dessert: Fill tart shells with lemon curd. You can add mascarpone underneath the curd, or as a garnish (photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE).

 

Want a cheesecake experience without turning on the oven?

Here’s a recipe we adapted from Eat Wisconsin Cheese, that combines the old and the new.

  • The old: Before the invention of cream cheese in New York State in the late-1800s (see history below), cheesecakes were made of mascarpone, ricotta or other soft cheese, including goat cheese.
  • The new: Over the past decade, Mason jars have gone from uses for canning and packaging for artisan jams to containers for cocktails, desserts, layered salads, and so on.
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    You can also use parfait glasses, wine goblets or anything else you have.

    You can also substitute any flavor of curd for the lemon.
     
    RECIPE: NO BAKE LEMON CHEESECAKE

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1/2 cup lemon curd (buy it or make it)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup whipping [heavy] cream
  • 1 container (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups (about 28) crisp gingersnap cookies, crushed into crumbs (substitute graham crackers)
  • 1 cup/8 ounces strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
  • Optional garnishes: candied lemon peel (recipe), citrus zest, pomegranate arils, skewered berries and/or mixed color grapes, sliced star fruit
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    Preparation

    1. BEAT the lemon curd and honey in a mixing bowl with electric beaters, until smooth and creamy.

    2. BEAT the cream into curd mixture until smooth. Add the mascarpone and beat just until thickened. Do not overbeat.

    3. ASSEMBLE: Layer the cookie crumbs, lemon mascarpone cream and strawberries in individual parfait glasses. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used.

    4. REFRIGERATE for at least 2 hours, garnish and serve.

     
    THE HISTORY OF MASCARPONE

    Mascarpone, the Italian version of crème fraîche, but thicker and sweeter. It’s hard not to sit down with the entire container and a spoon. (Here’s the difference between mascarpone, crème fraîche, and sour cream).

    It used to be that all mascarpone was imported from Italy. American artisan cheesemakers make an even better product than what gets imported. Our favorite domestic mascarpone brands are Crave Brothers and Bel Gioioso, both in Wisconsin, and Vermont Creamery.

    Mascarpone is often refer to as Italian cream cheese; but please, don’t think of this rich, lush, soft fresh cheese as anything resembling a brick of foil-wrapped soft cheese filled with gum.

    Made from cream, not milk, mascarpone is the richest fresh cheese, ranging in butterfat content from 70% to 75%. It has a subtle natural sweetness, but can be used in savory recipes and toppings as well.

    As points of reference: A French double-crème Brie or Camembert has 60% to 75% butterfat. French triple-crème cheeses must have a butterfat content of 75% or more. Butter has a minimum of 80% fat in the U.S., 82% in France; going up to 86% for premium butters.

    In the U.S., mascarpone is most often associated with desserts, especially the classic tiramisu or as a topping for berries. But it can be used in savory recipes as well—pasta sauce, savory tarts/tartlets, stuffed chicken and tortas, among others.

    The name likely derives from “mascarpia,” the local dialect term for ricotta, because both ricotta and mascarpone are made by very similar processes. Mascarpone could have been a glorious accident in the preparation of ricotta.

    No cheese starter or rennet is used in its production; the moisture is drained from heavy cream using a small amount of citric acid and finely woven cloth. You can make it at home. Here’s a recipe.

     

    PRONOUNCE IT CORRECTLY!

    Mascarpone may have the distinction of being the most misspelled and mispronounced cheese.

    Too many Americans call it “marscapone,” mar-sca-PON-neh, trespassing the consonants. The correct pronunciation is mas-car-POH-neh.

    The cheese is believed to have originated in the Lombardy region of Italy, in the late 1500s or early 1600s. Lombardy, in the northern part of the country (it includes the cities of Brescia, Cremona, Mantova, Milano and Sondrio), has a rich agricultural and dairy heritage.

     
    THE HISTORY OF CREAM CHEESE

    In the 1870s, New York State farmers farmers began to make a soft, unripened cheese modeled after the French Neufchâtel cheese. Within a few decades, a recipe for “cream cheese” appeared, made by mixing cream into the Neufchâtel curd.

    The new soft cheese was molded into small wood block forms. Because the city of Philadelphia had a reputation for fine food, a New York-based manufacturer, Phenix Cheese Company, named its product Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese.

    It was the leading brand then as now. J.L. Kraft and Bros., established in 1909, acquired Phenix Cheese Company in 1930. The company is now called Kraft Foods Group.

     
    WHAT IS CURD?

    Fruit curd is a creamy spread made with sugar, eggs and butter, generally flavored with citrus juice and zest. Lemon curd is the classic variety, but lime curd and blood orange curd can be found, as can other fruit curds such as the strawberry.

    A citrus curd is refreshingly tart, as opposed to more sugary jams and preserves. Unlike lemon custard, for example, lemon curd contains more lemon juice and zest, which gives it a more piquant flavor. The butter creates a smoother and creamier texture than jam.

    Curd also can be used to fill tart shells, and as a garnish. Here’s the comparison of curd to the jelly, jam, marmalade, preserves, etc.

     

    Mascarpone & Fruit

    Mascarpone & Strawberries

    [1] Mascarpone, plain or flavored, can be used as a dip for fruit or cookies. The top bowl is flavored with coffee liqueur, like tiramisu (photo courtesy East Wisconsin Cheese). [2] Mascarpone has many uses. Here it’s an easy topping, piped onto fresh strawberries (photo courtesy Giant Eagle). It’s also delicious with dates.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Mix Up Some Coolers

    Blackberry Cooler

    Peach Wine Cooler

    Watermelon Cooler Recipe

    Bottled Wine Coolers

    [1] Blackberry cooler (photo courtesy FreidaFroo.Wordpress.com). [2] A peach wine cooler (here’s the recipe from TasteOfHome.com). [3] Watermelon cooler with green tea and white wine (photo courtesy Serendipitea.com). [4] Commercial wine coolers: the lowest common denominator (photo courtesy Majestic Brands).

     

    WHAT’S A COOLER?

    Short for wine cooler, a cooler is a tall drink typically made with wine, fruit juice and soda water (you can use any glasses you have).

    It’s a less complex relative of sangria. Don’t like wine? Try the latest cooler incarnation, the beer cooler.

    Modern coolers are refreshing summer drinks that trace their ancestry to hot-weather countries in ancient times.
     
    HISTORY OF THE WINE COOLER

    Wine-based drinks have long existed in the Mediterranean, the birthplace of wine. The earliest archaeological evidence of wine production found to date has been in Georgia (c. 6000 B.C.E.), Iran (c. 5000 B.C.E.), Greece (c. 4500 B.C.E.), and Armenia (c. 4100 B.C.E.).

    The wine could be drunk straight or mixed with honey, spices or other ingredients, especially by the kitchen staff of rich households and at public drinking houses for the hoi polloi. It was a less sophisticated product than today’s wine, with no sophisticated fermentation or aging techniques. Thousands of years before stoppered glass bottles were invented, wine was stored in clay jars.

    Flash forward to the present: Wine coolers have been sold commercially since the early 1980s [Source]. Bartles & Jaymes, a brand of E & J Gallo Winery.

    The latter makes flavors dozens of flavors, including Strawberry Daiquiri, Fuzzy Navel, Margarita and Piña Colada.

    However delicious these may sound, they were formerly made with wine that Wikipedia calls “the cheapest available grade,” since most of the wine flavor in obscured by the sugar and the fruit juice. According to Lucas J. Meeker of Meeker Vineyard in Sonoma County, domestic wine coolers were largely made from a base of apple wine.

    Today, many bottled wine coolers have no wine. Because of a quadrupled excise tax levied on wine beginning in 1991, most brands replaced wine with cheaper malt. Bartles & Jaymes calls their revised product line a “flavored malt cooler.”

    The malt, according to Meeker, renders the result more like beer but still largely the same: “a largely flavorless base beverage is combined with flavor and color additions, then carbonated and bottled.”
     
    WINE COOLER RECIPE TEMPLATE

    Blend your own recipe to find create your signature wine cooler. To develop your recipe, use a shot glass to combine 1/3 each of wine, juice and sparkling water.

    Choose one from each group:

  • Wine: red, rose, white
  • Fruit juice: cherry, cranberry, grapefruit, pineapple, etc.
  • Fizzy water: club soda, mineral water, seltzer, flavored seltzer (alternatively, Ginger Ale, 7-Up, Sprite)
  • Optional sweetener: agave, honey, simple syrup, superfine sugar
  • Optional: splash of fruit liqueur (adding spirits turns the drink from cooler to cocktail)
  • Optional garnish: berries or other fresh fruit, mint or basil leaves (tip: you can use frozen fruit, which will help keep the drink cold)
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    Here’s a recipe for a green tea cooler from fine tea purveyor Serendipitea:

     
    RECIPE: GREEN TEA WATERMELON COOLER

    Ingredients For 4 Tall Drinks

  • Seedless watermelon or 1.5 cups watermelon juice
  • 1.5 cups dry-yet-fruity white wine*
  • 1 cup Dragon’s Well China Green Tea (or substitute), brewed and chilled
  • Optional garnish
  • Ice cubes
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    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the watermelon and run it through a fine mesh sieve (yield about 1.5 cups juice).

    2. WARM a teapot with a little hot water, discard, place the tea leaves in the pot, allowing heat of the pot to release the bouquet of the tea leaves.

    3. HEAT water to below boiling (approximately 180°F). Steep 1 teaspoon (2.5 g/8 oz. cup) up to 3 minutes & refresh cup as desired. Vary the time according to taste with this caveat: steeping tea leaves beyond 3 minutes does not give you more flavor, only bitterness.
     
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    *Try Albariño, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Gruner Veltliner, Muscat, Pinot Gris/PinotGrigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

      

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