Cody's Food Bit for Nov. 9, 2010
Each week, NU Hospitality major and gourmand (fancy word for food lover) Cody Castiglia will feature fascinating food facts, cooking tips, local restaurant reviews (helpful if for some reason you get sick of Clet food) and other food-related news for those who love to cook as well as those who would like to start. This week's tasty morsel of knowledge features a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake.
Chilling on Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and that means time away from campus, giving thanks and, of course, incredible food. Much preparation will be involved, and you may wish to contribute to your family's feast. Make sure you do not work too hard “ you are going to be on vacation after all.
However, I spoke with your family and they would be extremely grateful if you would make this pumpkin cheesecake for them.
Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
The aroma of this cheesecake owes a giant debt of gratitude to the traditional pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves) in this recipe. There are plenty of ingredients, and I would recommend measuring each one.
When cooking, improvisation is easy and fun and won't usually hurt a dish. Your own creativity might lead you to put a handful of shaved Parmesan cheese in a pasta dish or a liberal pour of extra virgin olive oil. Baking is an exact science and most recipes shouldn't be altered. Leave the creativity to the way you want to serve the cheesecake “ perhaps on decorative plates with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top?
Makes one 9-inch cake, serving 12 to 16 people.
5 ounces graham crackers (9 whole crackers), broken into large pieces
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (10 1/3 ounces)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks and left to soften at room temperature, about 30 minutes
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
5 large eggs, left at room temperature, about 30 minutes
1 cup heavy cream
1. For the crust: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray.
Pulse crackers, sugar, and spices in food processor until evenly and finely ground, about 15 two-second pulses. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle melted butter over, and mix with rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Turn crumbs into prepared springform pan and, using hand, spread crumbs into even layer. Using flat-bottomed ramekin or drinking glass, press crumbs evenly into bottom of pan, then use a soup spoon to press and smooth crumbs into pan edges.
Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges (about 15 minutes). Cool on wire rack while making filling.
2. For the filling: Bring about four quarts water to simmer in stockpot. Whisk sugar, spices, and salt in small bowl; set aside. To dry pumpkin, line baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels. Spread pumpkin on paper towels in roughly even layer. Cover pumpkin with second triple layer of paper towels and press firmly until paper towels are saturated. Peel back top layer of towels and discard. Grasp bottom towels and fold pumpkin in half; peel back towels. Repeat and flip pumpkin onto baking sheet; discard towel.
3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl well with rubber spatula. Add about one third of sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape bowl and add remaining sugar in two additions, scraping bowl after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add three eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add remaining two eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape bottom and sides of bowl and give final stir by hand.
4. Set springform pan with cooled crust on 18-inch-square, doubled layer heavy-duty foil and wrap bottom and sides with foil; set wrapped springform pan in roasting pan. Pour filling into springform pan and smooth surface; set roasting pan in oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan. Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when pan is shaken, and center of cake registers 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours. Set roasting pan on wire rack and use paring knife to loosen cake from sides of pan. Cool until water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath, discard foil, and set on wire rack; continue to cool until barely warm, about three hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least four hours or up to three days.
5. To serve: Slide thin metal spatula between crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide cake onto serving platter. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Cook's Illustrated.
My personal Thanksgiving
This year and every year, I am thankful to live in a country in which we have relatively good quality food and clean water. Though I appreciate the finest quality in food and may be disappointed with a restaurant for serving anything less, I am extremely grateful that I have enough to eat each day. Hunger is a global issue. According to the World Hunger Programme, there are 925 million undernourished people in the world today. That means that one in seven people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life.
Even in our region, many people struggle with not having enough to eat. According to www.foodbankwny.org, The Food Bank of Western New York serves about 100,000 people a month. Recently, some food- related action has taken place in our region that St. Vincent de Paul and other friends of the poor would appreciate.
Our school's campus ministry department has been very active in efforts to help the hungry. The NU St. Vincent de Paul Society is collecting groceries on Saturday, Nov. 13 from 10:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at Tops in Lewiston to benefit Our Lady of Lebanon Food Pantry located on the east side of Niagara Falls. The NU SVDPS also has started the Soup Shack, which passes out hot soup and sandwiches twice a month at the Our Lady of Lebanon Food Pantry. The students have coordinated the sandwich making, and Dr. Amelia Gallagher from the religious studies department has generously donated her time to make delicious soup! Campus Ministry, in conjunction with the Veterans Association, will collect food the week of Nov. 8 to 12 to benefit the homeless veterans.
Monica Saltarelli, NU campus minister, also has assisted the residence halls with any leftover food that they wish to donate. It has been distributed to families in need and RAs have taken it to Fellowship House located on Memorial Parkway in Niagara Falls. The RAs in residence halls have been working with her to have canned good drives in conjunction with other programming to benefit Our Lady of Lebanon Food Pantry. Additionally, the Alumni Chapel Community will collect non-perishables during the month of November to benefit the Emergency Food Pantry at Heart, Love, and Soul Food Pantry.
The Buffalo Sabres announced that they will wrap up any prepared “ but not served “ concession food and take it to the City Mission on game nights and after any HSBC Arena events. This latest reason to root for the hometown team resulted in more than 25 pizzas, 25 submarine sandwiches, 75 to 100 jumbo pretzels, about a dozen salads and some popcorn in a recent game against Montreal.
Food for Thought
What you lack in talent can be made up with desire, hustle, and giving 110 percent all the time.
Next week I will do my first restaurant review.
Food questions, comments or suggestions for a restaurant that you would like me to review? Shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org