Thursday, April 30, 2015

Strawberry Cheesecake

Marcus Porcius Cato
234-149 BC

If New York has a cake, it is most certainly our richly indulgent and sumptuously creamy cheesecake.  There is a lot of culinary history to support this claim.  And then there’s Junior’s, a Brooklyn Temple to Cheesecake which made history last year when its owner, Alan Rosen, rejected a $45 million offer to buy its downtown Brooklyn location.  Rosen simply didn’t have the heart to see the landmark torn down to be replaced by a condo tower.  That gives you some idea of how passionately New Yorker’s in general and Mr. Rosen in particular, feel about cheese cake.   Cheesecake itself goes back to the 1st Century AD.  According to an article written by Linda Stradley for the website,  Marcus Porcius Cato, a Roman politician and writer gave his recipe for “Libum”, a small cake used as a temple offering.  He wrote:  “Libum
Libum, the world's first
to be made as follows: 2 pounds cheese well crushed in a mortar; when it is well crushed, add in 1 pound bread-wheat flour” and then offered the first recorded piece of dietary advice about cheesecake, Cato adds: “Or, if you want it to be lighter, just 1/2 a pound, to be mixed with the cheese. Add one egg and mix all together well. Make a loaf of this, with the leaves under it, and cook slowly in a hot fire under a brick.” 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Springtime in a Bowl: Orecchiette with Sausage, Peas, Mint and Burrata

Last week, I went all the way back into the archives for Chewing the Fat.  I was astonished to see that an Orecchiette recipe that I posted very early on in the life of the blog has had precisely 40 visits. That is about 1/10th of what an average post should be.  The exact dish was a favorite of mine at a restaurant we still go to often.  It was so good that for a very long time, I never ordered anything else when we went there.   Sadly, there was a change of chef and the Orecchiette suffered immeasurably under his replacement.  It’s still on the menu but it is no longer the sumptuous sausage-rich version with its green broccoli rabe accents.  Now it’s too liquid-y and the sauce barely clings to the Orecchiette as it once did.  So I gave up on it at the restaurant.  But today, I started thinking about dinner and the fresh peas and sausage I had on hand and I decided to re-invent the dish as a celebration of Spring flavors.  The results were delightful.