The first thing to come out of my reclaimed kitchen! And I think I started off on the right foot. Although I am planning on making paella (the one and only recommendation I've gotten so far!), I was seeing old friends today and couldn't help celebrating the occasion with a cheesecake.
Cheesecakes are probably my favorite dessert to make, and to eat ;) They are so incredibly rich and creamy... and they're like cookies, if you have the basic batter you can put virtually anything in them. This time around, by request, I picked one with homemade lemon curd!
This is actually a pretty basic cheesecake, buttery graham cracker crust and a sweet but tangy vanilla filling. The real kicker though is the bright lemon curd that someone so geniusly decided to swirl in. Lemon curd can be kind of scary, I admit, but it's easier than it looks and is definitely worth the effort. The two most important things to remember about making lemon curd are that 1) you should ALWAYS use real, fresh lemon zest and lemon juice. Meaning, no, don't buy bottled lemon juice, it should come from a real lemon, not one fashioned out of plastic. And 2) as long as the mixture's over heat, you should be stirring. If you don't whisk the ingredients as they cook you can end up with lemon flavored scrambled eggs. Gross.
The difference between cooking and baking is supposedly that cooking has more leeway for playing with ingredients. That may be true, but I tend to fudge any recipe ;) The lemon curd called for two teaspoon of lemon zest which I admittedly failed to measure, instead scraping as much as I could of my lemons. The more the merrier, right? I also doubled the crust recipe and would highly recommend doing the same. This gave me enough to have a substantial layer on the bottom and a pretty graham cracker edge around the sides.
I found this recipe on a blog I hadn't been to before, Anne Strawberry (http://annestrawberry.blogspot.com/search/label/Cheesecake). The picture of the cheesecake is gorgeous but the recipe didn't include the whipped cream that decorated the top! Any whipped cream recipe would do, I just beat some whipping cream until it was stiff enough to hold shape. You can use a piping bag to get creative with the presentation, just dollop cream wherever you so choose, or skip the whipped cream altogether (it really doesn't affect the taste). I love to pipe and purchase a whole set of tips over the summer so I went that route, but have failed to buy a real piping bag... so I use ziplocks as a stand-in and usually can't tell the difference ;).
Anyway, glad to be back, I've missed my kitchen and have got plenty more tricks up my sleeves for the next few weeks. Still plotting the paella I was told to make, turns out I need a really big pan so I have to get my hands on one of those and a really good recipe. We'll see what I come up with :D