Archive | February, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Teddy Graham Crust

22 Feb

I have a crazy sweet tooth, and have always loved Cheesecake.  What’s not to like?  It’s got a creamy filling that is both sweet and tangy, and often a graham cracker crust.  In fact, my sister is the only person I know who doesn’t like it.  We’ll give her a pass on this one as she usually has excellent food judgment.

I’ve never really considered making Cheesecake, just mostly ordering it off menus.  I recently decided to make it at home after finding myself at Macy’s in the kitchen section (again), holding new plates, a set of peelers, and a random spring-form pan.  I’m not sure how these things always happen to me.  Other people impulsively buy purses or shoes.  For me it’s always kitchen gadgets…and well purses and shoes.  Right then and there I decided I needed this pan (peeler and plates), and couldn’t possibly go another day without adding it to my already packed cabinets.  

Enter Paula Dean.  I frequently consult her if I want the real deal version of a dish.  I also frequently consult my downstairs market when the weather is bad, and was able to pick up all of these ingredients for her recipe.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Teddy Graham Crust (adapted from Paula Dean, serves 8 people)

The crust ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups chocolate chip Teddy Grahams crumbs
  • 3 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick of butter, melted

The filling ingredients:

  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Pulse Teddy Grahams in a food processor until you get fine crumbs.  Combine the crumbs, sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.   Then add the melted butter.  To be perfectly honest, I could have stopped there and rebaked this goodness into a cookie.  Instead I followed the recipe and pressed the crumb mixture into a 9-inch spring form pan. Set aside.


Now beat the cream cheese until smooth in a mixer. Add the pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices and blend together. Next add the flour and vanilla. Then beat together until well combined.  Pour the yummy filling into crust and bake for 1 hour.

The result should look like this.  Let the Cheesecake cool for 15 minutes and cover with plastic wrap.  Now comes the hardest part!  You’ll need to refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours prior to serving.

Do not panic if your Cheesecake cracks!  Mine had a crack the size of the Grand Canyon and was still marvelous.

I’ll be honest, it was very hard to wait for this to chill overnight, and I seriously contemplated a piece for breakfast.  Absolutely delish!


I Heart Screwtop

11 Feb

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching, and it’s only fitting that my first restaurant review should be a place I love.  ♥

Screwtop is a charming neighborhood wine bar in Clarendon, VA.  I’ve been there several times and have yet to be disappointed.  The staff is knowledgable and friendly, and the food is creative and whimsical.  The wine…lets just say I’d be happy to celebrate or drown my sorrows anytime with their selection!  In fact, the place is just perfect for book club; provided that book club is really an excuse to drink and nosh, instead of actually discussing a book. 

Moving on!  My most recent trip to Screwtop was with my best friend RB.  She had recently returned from a trip to South America and was really pleased the featured flights that evening were from Argentina and Chile. 

I started my dinner with the Obscurely Delicioso flight of red wines.  How could I pass them up with a name like that?  Total consumer.  I really enjoyed the Familia Mayor Bonadara and Yale Cabernet Carmenere wines.  I wasn’t a fan of the Alma de Chile Carmenere, and thought it tasted too much like the Chili Dog wine from the VA Wine Festival.  RB ordered the Chilaxing in the Andes white wine flight.  All three of her wines were light and refreshing.  

The two of us also decided order the Baked Camembert cheese with fig compote, walnuts and crusty bread.  It warmed me up from horrible cold, and was incredibly comforting.  I felt transported to a ski lodge somewhere sitting by the fire.  Heaven knows I strongly prefer the great indoors to snow.

After the cheese we decided to order… more cheese.  RB ordered the Mac’s Mac & Cheese Trio.  This included three adorable portions of pasta.  The flavors were blue cheese, traditional and truffle.  She let me sample (another plus to being best friends) and I LOVED the truffle.  The blue cheese was surprisingly good and tangy.  The traditional was fine.  I liked it, but I’d rather save room for the other two flavors and eat the truffle oil popcorn.

I ordered Wendel’s Low Country Lasagna served with a side of their yummy tomato soup.  The soup was thick and had chunks of tomato that made it seem more like a bisque.  I’ve ordered it before and it’s a real winner.  The lasagna was made with beer-braised beef and a good amount of tomato sauce.  I thought it was a nice twist on a very traditional receipe.  

All and all, I thought this was a great meal.  I love this funky little place and would order most of the items we ate/drink again.  I also thought the truffle oil popcorn was a nice touch with the wine.  Overall Rating B+ 

After a filling and rich dinner our thoughts turned immediately to a nice brisk walk.  We were so full we were busting at the seams!  Somehow (these things just happen) we decided after a few minutes that we needed to finish the night on a sweet note.  We ended up outside of Crumbs and this happened.  

My excuse-I overdid it on the cheese and simply blacked out.  That happens to people right?!