pumpkin cheesecake

Confession: I am a cheesecake snob. I womp-womp over cakes that are solid bricks of cream cheese, or over cheese-flavored jell-o towers. If it tastes more like a crumb cake or if I’m chewing on crystallized sugar, go ahead, you can finish it for me. And don’t even get me started on water baths — they’re 100% non-negotiable.

So, allow me to present the perfect cheesecake. It’s solid but fluffy as hell, with no added gelatin or weird binders. It’s sweet and tangy and completely melts in your mouth.

Also, pumpkin. Yeah. Basic as shit.

– L

Not that anyone actually follows this blog, but if you were wondering why I haven’t posted anything in 2.5 years, it’s because I’ve been a little busy baby-catching, cut-you-open-and-put-you-back-together-ing, ruining all my good shoes with blood etc, and generally running around like a crazy person. Pretty standard obgyn residency stuff. Yay!

 

recipe: pumpkin cheesecake

Ingredients
2 cups finely crushed gingersnap cookies
4 tbsp salted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
3 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
4 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream (can reduce to 1/3 cup if your canned pumpkin is super runny)
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree

 

Directions
1. Make the crust: Heat oven to 325°. Wrap the outside of a 9″ springform pan with foil and set aside. Combine gingersnap crumbs and butter in a food processor, and process until evenly combined. Transfer to pan and press evenly into bottom and halfway up side; bake until set, about 10 minutes. Let cool and set aside.

2. Make the filling: Set a kettle of water to boil. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, until evenly incorporated. Scrape the bowl as needed. Add cream, syrup, vanilla, and pumpkin, and mix until smooth.

3. Pour filling over crust and place springform pan into a large roasting pan; pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up side of spring-form pan. Bake until filling jiggles slightly in the center when the pan is tapped on the side, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

4. VERY IMPORTANT! To cool, turn off the oven and prop open the oven door. Don’t remove the cake from the oven until it’s cool enough to do so with your bare hands. A slow, gentle cool will help prevent cracks! Let cool to room temperature, and then chill in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.

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caprese quiche with pancetta crust

food 005 (3)Know what the best part of dating a pescatarian is? When you hike a 4600-foot mountain together, camp on the shores of a lake, spend the evening stargazing from a split log three feet above the water’s surface, practically fall down the mountain in the morning because your legs don’t work, and then order the Adirondacker for breakfast at the General Store…

…he gives you his bacon.

My friends, it doesn’t get much better than that.

crusts

He’s still cavorting around the mountains for a little while, so I’m here baking myself my 107% favorite quiche. The crust is baked with pancetta and will give you superpowers. Like the ability to finish off an entire 9-inch quiche by yourself.

– L

food 008 (2)

Recipe: caprese quiche with pancetta crust

adapted from make it naked

  • 4 oz pancetta/bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 7 tbsp butter, cold
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 6 oz low-moisture mozzarella
  • 3 small plum tomatoes
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

  1. Fry pancetta in a pan until fat is rendered. In a large mixing bowl, cut butter into the flour using a pastry blender (or however you like to do it). Add pancetta (with all the rendered fat!) to the mixture and toss with a fork. Add one or two tbsp of cold water and toss again with a fork, until dough comes together. Shape into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap, and let chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Chop basil and mozzarella into 1/2-inch pieces. Slice the ends off the tomatoes and squeeze the seeds out (this will lower the moisture content of the tomatoes and keep the quiche from getting too soggy). Then chop two of the tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces and toss with basil and cheese. Slice the remaining tomato thinly and set aside.
  4. Take the dough and place between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it out to 10 inches across, then remove the top piece of parchment paper. Place a 9-inch pie plate lip-down on the crust, then flip the two together so the crust is resting in the dish. Remove the second piece of parchment, and press the crust into the bottom and sides of the dish. You can crimp the edges or just tuck the overhanging edge underneath itself. Poke the crust with a fork a few times and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove crust from the oven and pour the basil, cheese, and tomatoes into it, making sure to distribute everything evenly. Mix eggs and milk together and add a healthy pinch of salt and pepper, then pour over the quiche filling. Top with the remaining tomato slices and an extra sprinkle of black pepper.
  6. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the center of the quiche is set (I usually test by tapping it with a wooden spoon — as long as it isn’t wet/oozy, it’s done). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing.

butternut squash lasagna

butternut squash lasagna

You know that weird, repetitive situation when you tell people you like to cook? It’s borne out of a discussion of what you do for a living (“I’m a medical student”), where you’re going with it (“I’d like to practice OB/Gyn”), and what that involves (“long hours, lots of bodily fluids, and my handy-dandy speculum”), and then you’re desperate to change the subject so you can actually start to make friends. Conversation turns (or, more accurately, catapults) to your hobbies.

“I like to cook,” you say. “Oh! How relateable and interesting!” says your new friend. “What’s your signature dish?”

I hate this question.

I’ve been cooking somewhat seriously for several years, and baking for even longer. I cook for myself, for my roommates, for my family, for random birthdays, for anonymous potlucks, for romantic picnics, and sometimes for no good reason whatsoever. I have spices falling onto my head whenever I open my cabinets, more pyrex than I know what to do with, and roughly 12 different flours living in my freezer. I get updates from 50 food blogs on my RSS feed and always have a dinner plan. Truth is, there is so much food out there that I want to make that I’m not sure I’ll get to most of it before I hit menopause. And now I’m supposed to come up with one dish that, among the whacked out culinary creativity I’ve discovered through Google Reader (RIP), I can label as “my signature”? Dude, I’m 25. I am NOT there yet.

In an effort to humor the question, though, I’ll usually respond with something I’ve made many times, or something I’ll make for tons of different occasions. This butternut squash lasagna is one of those. It’s made appearances at all the above scenarios, and does a good job of deluding people into thinking you know what you’re doing.

– L

butternut squash lasagna

Recipe: butternut squash lasagna

adapted from sassy radish

For the filling:

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth (or water, if you fail at grocery shopping like I do)
  • 3 tbsp fresh sage, chopped

For the béchamel:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

For the rest:

  • 1 ball fresh salted mozzarella, grated
  • 10 oz log goat cheese, crumbled
  • 3 oz (1 cup) fontina, grated
  • 12 lasagna sheets, whatever kind you like, uncooked

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425°F and grab a 9×13″ baking dish. Toss cheeses together in a bowl and try not to eat all the mozzarella.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Throw in garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add squash, zucchini, salt, pepper, and liquid, and cook (stirring occasionally) until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in chopped sage, and set aside.
  3. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan, melt the butter and cook the garlic over low-medium heat for 1 minute. Add flour and whisk continuously for 2 minutes, then slowly add milk and don’t. stop. whisking. Once milk is all in and there are no chunks of cooked flour, add bay leaf, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil, whisking all the while. Reduce heat and let simmer, whisking occasionally, until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and remove from heat.
  4. Ladle the béchamel into the baking dish so it coats the bottom in a thin layer. Lay down three lasagna sheets with spaces left in between (like the letter E), then ladle another 2/3 cup of béchamel on top. Spread on a third of the squash filling, and then scatter with 2/3 cup of cheese.
  5. Continue: pasta sheets, béchamel, squash, cheese. Pasta sheets, béchamel, squash, cheese.
  6. Lay the final 3 pasta sheets on top, then spread the rest of the sauce and the rest of the cheese on top.
  7. Butter one side of a sheet of aluminum foil and tightly cover the baking dish with it (butter side down, dummy). Bake the lasagna in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden and wonderful. Remove from oven and let stand 20 minutes before serving.