Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Cheesecake to All!

Just a quick note to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season!

I ate what is perhaps the most interesting, wonderful combination of flavors at the dinner party we attended Christmas Eve. I offered to bring an appetizer after seeing this gastronomical giant posted in another blog, and I've never been so pleased about a food choice.

This lovely thing you see is a Blue Cheese Cheesecake from

Seriously, folks. It's amazing. Absolutely, astoundingly amazing. We couldn't stop eating it and damn near ruined our dinner of prime rib. It's got the creamy consistency we all know and love when it comes to cheesecake, but the blend of cheeses make for an interesting mix of mellow saltiness and a tiny bit of "kick" from the blue cheese - I found a lovely strong Danish blue with all the taste but none of the stink. Kevin doesn't like blue cheese and he tore into this thing. The blue isn't overpowering; it provides a background note and enough tang to make things interesting. Blue cheese fans will love it and blue cheese haters may well start to change their tune after eating a few bites.

It's topped with an onion-pear chutney that I've now deemed the best thing I've ever eaten in my life. I'll be making this in mass quantities and eating it with roasted chicken, on hamburgers, over ice cream - maybe just straight from a bowl. It's sweet but not overly sweet. It's tangy from the vinegar. It's savory from the onion. It is perfection.

We served it with an assortment of crackers, pita chips, and some lightly toasted brown bread. If I had to choose a favorite accompaniment, it would be the brown bread - but the wheat crackers were delicious too.

Blue Cheese Cheesecake
makes 1 9" cheesecake

1 3/4lbs cream cheese, at room temperature
4oz shredded Asiago cheese
4oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8oz blue cheese, crumbled
5 large eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 t pepper

Grease an 8" or 9" springform pan and preheat oven to 350*.
Cream together the cheeses until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding another.
Add cream and pepper, mixing well.
Pour into the springform pan.

Place pan inside a larger flat pan - like a roasting pan. Add hot water to the larger pan so it comes halfway up the springform pan.
If you already know what I'm talking about - bake it in a water bath.

Bake uncovered at 350* for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the center is set and non-jiggly.

Top with Pear-Onion chutney (below) and serve with crackers or bread.

Pear-Onion Chutney

4 cups onions, diced
2 cups pears, cored and diced (you can peel if you want, but I like them better with the peels on)
1 t olive oil
pinch of sugar
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 t salt
Several grinds of pepper

Over medium-low heat, saute the onions in the olive oil with a pinch of sugar until brown and caramelized.
Add the pears and stir gently to coat.
Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring gently. Cook until the pears are tender.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the pears and onions to a separate bowl. Continue simmering the liquid until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Return the onions and pears to the glaze and simmer, stirring gently, for 5 minutes.
Let cool to room temperature before serving with the cheesecake.

The best part?
There's plenty left over for my lunches this week, and I will be eating it. Yes I will.

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