Friday, December 30, 2011

Lidia's Italian Cheesecake

Lidia Bastianich has a new book out, Lidia's Italy in America. Some of you may know that I am a huge fan of Lidia's but more importantly enjoy cooking Italian foods. They truly are my favorites and most of her other books take you to different regions of Italy and are authentic Italian cooking. This book is somewhat different in that she takes you to different areas of our own country and shares some of the Americanized Italian recipes. She also has new programing if you are interested, on the PBS channel with this new book. Lidia's program as I have often mentioned here is more than the same ole same ole foodie program. Watch it you would love it.
My first recipe that I prepared from this book was her Italian cheesecake. I prepared it as my dessert for Christmas and no one was disappointed. I have a fabulous recipe that I have made for years but I really do like this recipe and it may very well become my new favorite.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup amaretto cookie crumbs (from about 4 or 5 amaretti)
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons dark rum
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups drained fresh ricotta, at room temperature
1 cup mascarpone, at room temperature
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush an 8-inch springform pan with butter on the bottom and sides. Coat the bottom and sides with amaretto crumbs, tapping out the excess. Put the raisins in a small bowl, and pour the rum over them. Let soak while you make the filling.

Beat the eggs, sugar, and salt in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on high speed until it is foamy and the sugar has dissolved and no longer feels grainy, about 2 minutes. Plop in the ricotta, mascarpone, and citrus zests. Strain into the batter the rum in which the raisins soaked, and mix on medium until smooth and fluffy, about another 2 minutes. Now fold in the raisins and pine nuts with a spatula.

Put the spring form pan on a baking sheet, and pour the batter into the pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake until the edges are set and light golden, but the center is still a bit jiggly, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before removing from pan and serving.
I did line my sheet pan with aluminum foil and also placed foil around the bottom of the springform pan. I did not add in the raisins either or the pine nuts. I did not think my husband would have eaten it if I had but I did of course, add in the dark rum which is a MUST.

It comes out just a beautiful golden color and ever so slightly jiggly in the center. I always keep a thermometer in my oven to make sure my temperature is accurate and it was.

I also made Ina Garten's Triple Raspberry Sauce since I had found some beautiful raspberries just before Christmas.

Ina Garten's Triple Raspberry Sauce

1 half-pint package fresh raspberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup (12 ounces) seedless raspberry jam
1 tablespoon Framboise liqueur

Place the package of raspberries, granulated sugar, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, jam, and Framboise into a bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Chill

I use this recipe all the time, it is so very easy but absolutely delicious. Fabulous over Coeur la Creme.

This recipe is slightly different than most cheesecake recipes. I loved the hint of the amaretti cookies on the bottom, the texture was ever so slightly different in that it wasn't quite as creamy. I think that may have been because of the use of the marscapone and Ricotta and the orange and lemon zest just put it over the top.

Another note of mine: A cheesecake definitely requires a stand up mixer, not the time to use a hand mixer and I have found that blending it for a long time makes for a much creamier cheesecake.
An excellent cheesecake and one I will make again and again.

I am linking this post to Foodie Friday  at Designs by Gollum to share with other outstanding recipes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Dinner Table Setting

I haven't posted on my blog in such a long time. I have had some health issues the few weeks leading up to Christmas but am doing much better now. I am finally so glad that I can post my Christmas dinner table.

Trying to keep it simple I used my Spode Christmas Tree dinner plates and salad bowls, my Waterford red wine hock glasses and the water glasses I have had for years and are so simple that I use them with everything. Sometimes a table just needs some simplicity with everything going on. The place mats I found years ago at my favorite place to shop while in Atlanta, Boxwood. They are a very sheer green with the raised design around them. I also found the napkin holders at Boxwood as well, a ring of faux berries. My runner is a piece that I found at a local gift shop that I frequent with the dimensional poinsettia's and a velvet edging sitting atop my damask French red tablecloth. A lot of red sitting in this red room but I tried to break it up with the shades of green.

The walls of my dining room are a cherry red and I do love the color. At night the color just bounces off the prisms of my Swarovski crystal chandelier and it's just magical.

I usually like to incorporate some of my collection of silver birds in my centerpiece's for holidays.

And of course, I always use my Fitz and Floyd Salt and Pepper.
I always do my own fresh centerpiece, it is a therapeutic thing for me and during the holidays, a therapeutic thing is a MUST. Often I will cut greenery from my garden and use freshly bought flowers.

On my French doors hang two wreaths, dyed hydrangea blooms with burlap ribbons. Each individual petal of the hydrangea has been taken off and attached to the wreath base. It makes for a unique dimension for a wreath.

When the lights are dimmed and the candles lit even on the wall sconces it makes for a romantic setting. You know I do sometimes have people stop and ask me about the red in my dining room and how it looks from the street when it is lit?????
It is once again time to join Susan's blogging party at Between Naps on the Porch.

I hope each of you had a wonderful Christmas and please do have a safe and Happy New Year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Very Special Christmas Table

Many years ago my grandmother who was so special to me crocheted some angels, bells, and snowflakes for a Christmas Tree that I wanted to do in my house. That was more than 30 years ago and I have been doing this tree ever since. It has so much emotional significance for me.
These handmade crocheted ornaments are so very dear to me. I think they were the last thing my grandmother made for me before she died. I have been decorating this tree with these ornaments ever since. I place this tree at the end of our upstairs hallway and it is also part of my outdoor scheme when lit in the evening. This tree is viewed from the front of my house.

These are some of the individual ornaments.

They are so delicate and so very cherished. Here is the tree topper, an angel crocheted by my grandmother so many years ago.

The cedar lined trunk that it sits upon has a story too. It was made by my great great grandfather who was killed by a black man over a "still" . Apparently they were building a "still" together, had an argument over God knows what and his partner killed him, shot him. The partner went to jail, of course, but this cedar lined trunk has a story, a history if you will.
This year I added something new to my very "Special Tree" . Underneath the tree you will notice a beautiful cutwork runner. It was gifted to me by a very special friend and I couldn't think of a better way of using this beautiful runner but to incorporate it in my sentimental vignette. I am sure I will use it in other ways but for now it is a part of my vignette. As I walk downstairs everyday at least 100 times I am reminded of my friend AND my dear grandmother. It's a "good thing".
It is a lovely addition to my most special Christmas Tree.

I am very sentimental about things that loved ones who have made things for me but also about gifted things to me that have a very special meaning. I am so very appreciative of those things that were handed down but also appreciative of those very special gifts from very special friends.

I feel truly blessed. The doll here in the photo, Clara from The Nutcracker, only adds to the sentimental vignette, my daughter danced in The Nutcracker in our community while in our community Ballet Company. It is a reminder of that wonderful place in time.

I am joining Marty at A Stroll Thru Life at her blogging party Table Top Tuesday.

Enjoy your day to everyone.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Luncheon

A small and intimate luncheon for four on a dreary rainy afternoon.
What better way to spend an afternoon but over lunch enjoying the company of friends. I tried to keep this very informal table simple. I already had the flowers in my vase that is sitting on my breakfast room table for about a week and they still looked great. I intend to change them out soon but will keep the mercury glass vase on this table.

I've used these black trays over and over again, what a great purchase and I got them from Nell Hills of Atchison, KA. That would be Mary Carol Garrity's interior design shop. I have all her books and just love her decorating concept.

Layered with a French Christmas quilted place mat, plain white dinner plate (Vilroy & Boch), Mary Carol's black and white Christmas wreaths and then a napkin from that same French company.

These little snowmen napkin rings I have had for years and they looked so well with the mercury glass container of flowers. My little votive candle holders I placed split peas in and then topped them with little Christmas tree candles. I'm thinking I need to add a few more of the votives and intersperse some burlap ribbon to give it a more finished look.

Since we were having such a dreary day, overcast and raining and since it is Christmas even during the day I decided to light my candles.
My first Christmas celebration and I am working diligently to get the rest of my home decorated.
I am linking this post to Tablescape Thursday hosted by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch. Click HERE to see a wealth of ideas.