Saturday, December 15, 2007

Turkey Day

Alright, alright, I guess I'll go ahead and skip over things that have been waiting longer and move pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving to the front of the line (just so I don't end up posting next Thanksgiving about what I did the previous year.) So I made a cheesecake. Shocker, I know. And it was a pumpkin cheesecake, another huge surprise at Thanksgiving, but what are you gonna do?
I decided to celebrate Thanksgiving here in Spain by inviting all my American friends (and some Brits too, I mean, I guess the pilgrims were pretty much them , fresh off the boat) to come over and have a nice Thanksgiving feast. I would take care of the turkey, gravy and dessert, and they would provide the rest. And it turned out really well, and the best part was I got to keep all the leftovers and have a second Turkey Day and then some turkey-stock soup. Dericious. Just take a look at everything:
So, starting from the top and going clockwise we have: cranberry sauce (they actually sold cranberry sauce here at a British and American food store, but it still wasn't the giant cylinder we're used to, it actually had cranberries in it, but it was good), cheesey mushrooms, carrot and parsnip mash (courtesy of a brit), corn pudding (simple but extremely delicious), broccoli casserole (made with Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, also very delicious), a salad of lettuce, asaparagus, and orange, and finally turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes.

So now back to the cheesecake. I've actually made a pumpkin cheesecake before, but it was years ago and I don't think I liked it very much, I've never been a big fan of pumpkin pie. But just for this occasion, on my last trip over from America I brought a can of Libby's pumpkin puree. And I'll just remind everyone once again of how old school Spain can be, if you'll kindly direct your attention to the photo of the can opener that 'bites' around the edges of the can…and you have to do each 'bite' yourself. I tell you, the muscles I'm gonna have at the end of this...Anyways, finding a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake wasn't too difficult, and it's pretty well-known what flavors go well with pumpkin. So, my recipe is based loosely on one from good ole

Pumpkin Cheesecake

125 g butter
200 g maria cookies
fresh and already ground cinnamon

1 can pumpkin puree
600 g cream cheese, room temp, as always
about 100 g butter, also room temp
1 Tbsp cream
about 60 g brown sugar (until it's sweet enough)
big pinch of cinnamon
pinches of the following: ground ginger, clove, fresh nutmeg, and salt
3 eggs

250 g quark (or sour cream)
lots of bourban
lots of sugar

First crush up the cookies and mix with melted butter. Then throw in the already ground cinnamon, mixing again. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a springform pan. Then take a cinnamon stick and grate it (it’s ok if you get some large pieces) directly onto the pressed crust, so that you get a nice sprinkling over the crust. Then put in the oven at 170 C for about 10 minutes
Now start mixing the cheesecake batter. Use your handy can opener (ahem), and open the pumpkin and mix it in a bowl with the cream cheese, then add the butter and cream and mix well. Now add the sugar and stir again. So now you have your basic batter and you can do what you want with the spices and alter them as you need. I start with a pinch of everything, just remembering that you always want more cinnamon than the other stuff (epicurious calls for 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon and just 1/2 tsp of the other three spices). But I'm not big on measuring, so I like to throw in and taste as I go (this is also why I put the eggs in last, but really, raw eggs never stopped me from eating dough). And remember to put in a touch of salt, as it’ll really bring out the pumpkin and spice flavors. Finally put the eggs in and give everything a good stir. Pour it into the crust and stick it back in the 180 C/350 F oven until the knife comes out almost clean and it's still wobbly except around the edges (maybe 35-50 minutes).
When you take it out, you can whip up the topping so it cools off a bit. Easiest part: it all goes on taste. Mix together the quark, powdered sugar, and bourbon until it’s sweet enough but you can taste the alcohol. Spread on top and put back in the oven for 10-15 minutes until it’s bubbling at the edges and take out and let cool at room temp. Finally, stick it in the fridge overnight and then on Thanksgiving stuff your guests full of turkey and sides until they think they can’t eat anymore, and then bring out the pumpkin cheesecake…

And it's only a month after the fact!

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