If you like cheesecake with fruit, this is an easy and quick dessert to make — and best with local, fresh fruit. I don’t recommend using frozen fruit for this. Feel free to use whatever fruit you have handy — all berries work well, as do fresh summer peaches.
You’ll need a nine-inch metal tart pan with a removable bottom. If you don’t have one, you can find inexpensive ones at Target or a restaurant supply store.
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 stick very cold butter, cut into small cubes.
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese (do not use lowfat or fat free)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 to 2 cups fresh blueberries (or sliced fruit of your choice), rinsed and drained, stray stems removed.
- In the food processor, mix flour, butter, and sugar until mixture resembles cornmeal — dough should come together when pinched between the fingers.
- Dump the contents of the food processor into the tart shell, and with floured hands (or the bottom of a floured measuring cup) press the dough firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Place tart shell into the freezer and let it firm up — this takes about 15 minutes or so.
- Once the shell has firmed, place it into the oven, middle rack, and bake until it’s just starting to turn a slight golden color. Do not let it brown! Approximately 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven.
- While the tart shell is cooling (it needs to be completely cool before adding the filling) — mix the filling ingredients, minus the fruit, until completely combined.
- After the shell is completely cool, add cream cheese filling, top with a layer of fruit, pressing slightly on the fruit so it sticks to the filling.
- Refrigerate until firm — approximately 45 minutes to an hour.
- Remove ring from tart pan before slicing — serves 8 to 10, use a sharp knife.
If you don’t eat grains and would still like to make this dessert, you can! Make the filling and spoon the cream cheese mixture into ramekins, top with fruit, and refrigerate until firm.
This recipe is one that my grandmother used to make when I was little — it’s fast, it doesn’t require eggs or dairy, and was borne out of a time when eggs and dairy were difficult to get, or too expensive to “waste” on a dessert.
One unintended consequence of the no-egg, no-dairy aspect is the cake is vegan. Keep in mind, I butter the pan, and I use a quick buttercream frosting on this cake — but you don’t have to, if you want to keep this cake 100% vegan.
A couple of things about this cake: It literally takes five minutes to throw everything together, as you mix it right in the pan…so you don’t have to dirty up half your bowls and utensils. Also, it keeps really well in the fridge — it tastes even better the second day, if it lasts that long in your house.
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup warm water, combined with 1/2 cup leftover strong brewed coffee*
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, grease/butter an 8-inch square pan (I use a glass Pyrex square baking dish, but you can use a square cake pan if you have one.)
- Dump all of the dry ingredients into the pan, and then dump all of the wet ingredients into the pan. (Hence the name of the cake)
- Combine all of the ingredients with a fork, spoon, whatever…until well combined. Don’t overmix, as this will result in a tough cake.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on your oven. You’ll know it’s done when a knife or cake tester comes out clean, after being inserted in the middle of the cake.
- Let the cake cool completely before frosting. You can use a buttercream, or a ganache over the top.
I love muffins…as a snack, for breakfast, even for dessert. But most muffin recipes are either too sweet and cupcake-like, or too “breakfasty” for dessert. I think I’ve finally developed a recipe that makes a good all-around muffin with an interesting twist.
Strawberry Balsamic Filled Muffins
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
- 1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries, washed and hulled. (If using frozen, make sure they’re unsweetened and thawed before proceeding).
- 2 T sugar
- 2 T balsamic vinegar
Place the strawberries, vinegar, and sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, mashing the strawberries as they soften, with the back of a spoon. You want them to be chunky…like a good jam.
Let the strawberries cook on medium-low heat, bubbling but not boiling, until they become thick and syrupy. Don’t overcook or cook on high heat, as they’ll taste like burned sugar. Once thick and “jammy”, set aside to cool. Mixture can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge. Any leftovers can also be kept in the fridge, but they won’t last long…the filling is really good on toast or ice cream.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 T baking powder
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 T lemon zest
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Mix milk, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and oil together, combine with dry ingredients until just mixed. Do not overmix, or you’ll have tough muffins.
With a tablespoon or an ice cream scoop, fill half of each cup with batter, then add 1 T of the strawberry filling to each cup. Continue adding batter to each muffin cup until they’re filled almost to the top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven. I usually bake these for 20 and then check them by poking a knife in the center to check for doneness.
Apparently the idea of making homemade pickles appeals to a lot of folks, so here’s the recipe I used to make these:
- red onion
- garlic cloves
- sea salt
- dill (fresh or dried)
- mustard seeds (or a little grainy mustard if you don’t have seeds)
- cracked peppercorns
- white vinegar
I used 1 regular sized cucumber and two small picking cucumbers. You can use whatever size you have on hand. Quantities of water/vinegar, and spices will depend on how many cucumbers you have, and how sour you want them to be. The brine should cover the cucumbers completely, so plan accordingly.
Slice cucumbers into rounds — the thinner you slice them, the quicker they’ll absorb the brine. I find that 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices works the best. Any thinner and they’ll turn to mush. Slice red onion about the same thickness. Place all of the slices into a glass bowl or a heat-safe plastic bowl — DO NOT use a metal bowl.
Put water and vinegar in a saucepan (I used 1/2 water, 1/2 vinegar), with salt, mustard seeds, pepper, and garlic cloves. Bring to a rolling boil.
Taste the brine and adjust seasoning if needed.
Pour boiling brine over cucumbers and sliced onion, add dill. You can use dried dill if you don’t have fresh.
Leave on the counter until cool, cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge. These get better over time, but as soon as they’re cool, you can start eating them. They don’t keep forever, but they’ll definitely keep for a few weeks.
If you prefer bread and butter pickles to salty garlic dills, use less salt and add some sugar to the salt/vinegar/water boil.
I had the pleasure of visiting Restaurante El Salvador in Fells Point (207 S. Broadway) last weekend, and immediately fell in love with the place. Noisy and vibrant, with families and kids — it smelled good, felt good, and looked like a great place to grab something yummy. It definitely didn’t disappoint.
I ordered platanos con crema, a beef empanada, and a cheese pupusa. The empanada was served with curtido — pickled cabbage salad.
The plantains were fried perfectly, the black beans were pureed smooth, and it was a nice reminder of my old neighborhood in DC. The empanada was crisp on the outside, stuffed full of spiced beef and potatoes, and the pupusa was hot and fresh. Everything was good, the prices were reasonable, and the service was attentive. I can’t wait to go back.
You might know about, or even share, my obsession with old cookbooks. I’ve been collecting them for years — and I probably have culled my collection down to…50 or so. I read them like other people read novels. Reading old cookbooks gives you a sense as to what the world was like during the time the book was written — was the economy good? Was the country at war? Were people health-obsessed?
Not only are old cookbooks a window into the past, they’re a great way to find old classic recipes you never see anymore, or recipes that are more giggle-worthy than actually edible. (Peanut loaf? Umm…I’ll pass, thanks.) Enter “Rinktum Tiddy”. I found this recipe in the Good Housekeeping Book of Menus, Recipes and Household Discoveries, published in 1926.
- 1 pint canned tomatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- dash cayenne pepper
- 1 T chopped onion
- 1/2 lb. cheese
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 egg
- buttered toast or crackers
Heat the tomatoes and add all the seasonings. When hot, melt in the cheese, adding it gradually while stirring constantly. When smooth, add the butter and the egg beaten, stirring all the while. Serve on slices of hot buttered toast or hot crackers.
The Reading List
- Baltimore Brew
- Baltimore Crime
- Baltimore Heritage
- Baltimore Slumlord Watch
- Baltimore Sun Crime Blog
- Blonde Justice
- Boring Pittsburgh
- City That Breeds
- Ephemeral New York
- Gaia Street Art
- Generation JD
- Inside Charm City
- Jim Romenesko
- On The Record
- Pigtown Design
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Pop City
- The Atlantic Cities
- The Quinton Report
- The Real Estate Wonk
- WSJ Law Blog
- WSJ Real Estate Blog