Chef Time!

Chef Time!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SAVORY CHEESECAKE RECIPES - THE PERFECT APPETIZER

WHEN SWEET CHEESECAKES ARE NOT ENOUGH
Normally when we think of cheesecake we think of sweet combinations, redolent with the scent of fruit, rhubarb and ginger perhaps. Who can resist a chocolate cheesecake or a New York Cheesecake?
Yet there is no reason to be restricted to sweet cheesecakes, using my secrets of savory cheesecake techniques, revealed in this lens everyday can be a cheesecake day. In general sweet cheesecake recipes are made with cream cheese.
Some of my personal favorites are crab cheesecake, Mexican cheesecake and a BLT Cheesecake with lemon aioli. Stilton with poached pears and a port reduction marries the perfect taste of pears and Stilton, the crust is enriched with walnuts and it makes a perfect Christmas Eve buffet dish.
I will reveal the secrets of a brunch favorite, which is a mascarpone cheesecake with a pesto of sun-dried tomato.
Sweet dessert cheesecakes are generally made with cream cheeses such as Philadelphia Cream Cheese, but they can be made with curd cheese or ricotta. However the savory cheesecakes have a different and often lighter texture because they are made with Cheddar, Ricotta or Curd Cheese.
CRAB CHEESECAKE
Base
Ready rolled pastry cut to fit the base of a 9" flan dish.
Filling
½ c. Onion, small diced
1 tbsp. Butter
4 oz. Crab meat
8 oz. Cream cheese, room temperature
¼ c. sour cream
2 large organic Eggs
1 tbsp. Hot pepper sauce
Rock salt and white pepper to taste
Garnish
2 c. Sliced, mixed wild mushrooms
3 tsp. Butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350.
Line the base of a 9" flan dish with the pastry, gently butter the sides of the dish. Cover the pastry with parchment and fill with baking beans then bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until golden.
Preparing the Filling
Sauté onion in butter until translucent. Add crabmeat and cook just until heated through, and then remove from heat. Blend cream cheese until smooth in a mixer fitted with a paddle, or by hand using a wooden spoon. Add the cream cheese and mix well. Mix in eggs one at a time. Gently fold in crabmeat mixture. Stir in hot sauce and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Spoon filling into prepared crust. Bake at 300° for 30-40 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
Serve warm
GAMMON AND STILTON CHEESECAKE
¼ c. fine dried breadcrumbs
½ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. butter
2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
½ lb. Stilton crumbled
1 ¾ lb. cream cheese at room temperature
4 large organic eggs
½ c. Heavy cream
A few drops of Chili sauce
½ lb. gammon diced, and cooked until crisp
Preheat the oven to 300.
Generously butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with deep sides, line the bottom with greased greaseproof paper.
Mix the breadcrumbs together with ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese. Dust the interior of the pan with the breadcrumb mixture, allowing the excess to stay evenly distributed on the bottom of the pan. To prevent water from leaking into the pan while the cheesecake bakes, place it on heavy duty aluminum foil, gather the edges up, and wrap them around the outside of the spring form. Secure with string around the sides of the baking pan.
Melt three tablespoons of butter and gently cook the shallots until fully cooked, translucent, but not browned.
Combine the Stilton cheese, cream cheese, eggs, heavy cream, and chili sauce in a food processor. Combine until smooth, then add the shallots. Add the gammon but do not over pulse, as it should retain some texture as a contrast to the smooth creamy cheese.
Put the cheesecake mixture into the prepared pan inside a larger roasting tin half filled with water. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup Ptarmigan cheese on top. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 40 minutes, checking the water bath halfway through the cooking time; add more, if necessary. At the end of the cooking time, turn off the oven and leave the door closed with the cheesecake inside. After 1 hour remove both pans, remove the foil wrapping, dry the bottom of the spring form pan, and place it on a wire rack to cool completely.
If this cake is refrigerated it goes heavy and solid it is best served at room temperature.
SAVORY MASCARPONE CHEESECAKE WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATO PESTO
For the crust
1 c. finely ground Wheat Thins or other wheat crackers
½ c. finely chopped walnuts
1 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
For the pesto
1 ½ c. packed fresh basil leaves
6 oz. sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained, reserving 2 tbsp. of the oil
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ c. freshly grated Parmesan
3 tbsp. pine nuts
For the filling
1 lb. mascarpone
8 oz. cream cheese, cut into bits and softened
3 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
8 oz. sour cream
1 tsp. all-purpose flour
Sun-dried tomato slices for garnish
Basil sprigs for garnish
Assorted greens with vinaigrette
Make the crust:
In a bowl blend together the cracker crumbs, the walnuts, the butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Press the mixture onto the bottom of a buttered 10-inch springform pan and bake the crust in the middle of a preheated 325 oven for 10 minutes.
Make the pesto:
In a food processor purée the basil, the sun-dried tomatoes with the reserved oil, the garlic, the Parmesan, the pine nuts, salt and pepper to taste until the mixture is smooth.
Make the filling:
In the bowl of an electric mixer blend together the mascarpone, the cream cheese, the eggs, and the flour until the mixture is very smooth.
Pour half the filling into the crust, spoon the pesto over it, spreading the pesto carefully with the back of a spoon, and spread the remaining filling over the pesto. Bake the cheesecake in the middle of a preheated 325 oven for 1 hour.
In a bowl blend together the sour cream and the flour, spread the sour cream topping on the cheesecake, and bake the cheesecake for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until it is set. Let the cheesecake cool in the pan on a rack and chill it, covered loosely, for at least 3 hours or overnight. Remove the side of the pan, garnish the cheesecake with the sun-dried tomato slices and the basil, and serve it with the greens.

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