New York Style Cheesecake

 

 

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This month, we a continuing to showcase the food of New York with this recipe for New York Style Cheesecake.

Contrary to popular belief, the first “cheese cake” may have been created 4,000 years ago on the Greek island of Samos and not in New York City. In Greece, cheesecake was considered to be a good source of energy, and there is evidence that it was served to athletes during the first Olympic games in 776 B.C. Greek brides and grooms were also known to use cheesecake as a wedding cake. When the Romans conquered Greece circa 146 B.C., the cheesecake recipe was just one spoil of war. They added their own spin on the recipe including crushed cheese and eggs. The Romans called their cheese cake “libuma” and they served it on special occasions. Marcus Cato (234 – 139 B.C,), a Roman politician in the first century BC, is credited as recording the oldest known Roman cheesecake recipe. The writer Athenaeus is credited for writing the only known surviving Greek recipe for cheesecake in 230 A.D.

As the Romans expanded their empire, they brought cheesecake recipes to Europe around 1000 AD. Great Britain and Eastern Europe began experimenting with ways to put their own unique spin on cheesecake. Cheesecakes were also flourishing throughout Scandinavia and northwestern Europe.

propertitle-lgIn Europe, the recipes started taking on different cultural shapes, using ingredients native to each region. A cookbook entitled “A Propre new booke of Cokery” (1545) was printed in London during the Renaissance and it described cheesecake as a flour-based sweet food.

It was not until the 18th century, however, that cheesecake would start to look like something we recognize in the United States today. In the 18th century, Europeans began to use beaten eggs instead of yeast to make their breads and cakes rise. Removing the overpowering yeast flavor made cheesecake taste more like a dessert treat. When Europeans immigrated to America, some brought their cheesecake recipes along.

Many foods that Americans have come to regard as uniquely “American”, are Jewish originating from the Ashkenazi. Because of the Jewish dietary restrictions (Kashruth), the restriction on serving meat and dairy products at the same meal gave rise to a set of traditional dairy dishes including blintzes, cheesecake, and noodle pudding. The concept of delicatessens also came to the United States in the mid-19th century with a new influx of European immigrants.

In 1888, Katz’s Deli was the first Jewish American delicatessen to open in New York City. The popularity of delicatessens that specialized in kosher food spread throughout American culture with the help of the Ashkenazi. As delicatessens began to spring up in many Jewish communities they locally became known as “delis” as they proved even popular with the general public.

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Photo Credit: Katz Delli circa 1920s.  Marvin Padover and Marlene Katz Padover

 

Cream cheese was an American addition to the cake, and it has since becomehistory_cont_1872_new.jpg a staple ingredient in the United States. It was invented in 1872 by American dairyman William Lawrence of Chester, New York, who accidentally developed a method of producing cream cheese while trying to reproduce a French cheese called Neufchatel. In 1880 Lawrence started distributing his cream cheese in foil wrappers under the name of the Empire Cheese Co. of South Edmeston, New York, where he manufactured the product. He called his cheese Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese, now a famous trademark. Lawrence adopted ‘Philadelphia’  as the brand name, after the city that was considered at the time to be the home of top quality food, including ice cream….but that is another story for another time. 

In 1903, the Phoenix Cheese Co. of New York bought the business and with it the Philadelphia trademark. The brand was bought by the Kraft Cheese Co. in 1928. Kraft Foods still owns and produces Philadelphia Cream Cheese today.James L. Kraft invented pasteurized cheese in 1912, which led to the development of pasteurized Philadelphia Brand cream cheese. It is now the most popular cheese used for making cheesecake today.

By the 1900s, New Yorkers were in love with cheesecake. Nearly every restaurant had its own version of the dessert on their menus.

 

 

arnoldreuben1946-2By the 1920s, the deli became a celebrated gathering place in Jewish and American life and the signature sandwiches were a standard. Sandwiches like the overstuffed pastrami or corned beef on rye was popular choice in Jewish American delicatessens — becoming a hallmark of an iconic New York institution. Even though he is best known for his resturants and signature sandwiches, Jewish-German immigrant Arnold Reuben (1883-1970) is generally credited for creating the New York Style cheesecake in 1929. The story goes that Reuben was invited to a dinner party where the hostess served a cheese pie. Allegedly, he was so intrigued by this dish that he experimented with the recipe until he developed the beloved New York Style cheesecake. New Yorkers have vied for bragging rights for having the original recipe ever since.

As all food lovers know, New York is not the only place in America that puts its own spin on cheesecakes. In Chicago, sour cream is added to the recipe to keep it creamy. Meanwhile, Philadelphia cheesecake is known for being lighter and creamier than New York style cheesecake and it can be served with fruit or chocolate toppings. In St. Louis, they enjoy a gooey butter cake, which has an additional layer of cake topping on the cheesecake filling. Even around the  World, every country  has its own take on the best way to make the dessert. For example, the Italians use ricotta cheese, while the Greeks use mizithra or feta. Germans prefer cottage cheese, while the Japanese use a combination of cornstarch and egg whites. There are specialty cheesecakes that include blue cheese, seafood, spicy chilies and even tofu! In spite of all the variations, the popular dessert’s main ingredients – cheese, wheat and a sweetener –remain the same.

No matter how you slice it, cheesecake is truly a dessert that has stood the test of time. From its earliest recorded beginnings on Samos over 4,000 years ago to its current iconic status around the world this creamy cake remains a favorite for sweet tooths of all ages.

 

Makes 1 9-inch cheesecake, Serving 8 to 10

Ingredients:
For the Crust:
1 ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
½ stick unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:
Four 8-ounce packages Philadelphia Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Fresh fruit, for garnish

 

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 º F.

To make the crust: In a large bowl, add the crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Blend until a sandy texture is achieved.

Evenly spoon the crumb mixture into a 9-inch springform pan, halfway up, pressing down the sides and bottom firmly making the crust adhere to the pan.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and then bake the crust until set, for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.

To make the filling:  In a large bowl add 1 package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch together and using an electric mixer, beat on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl several times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each.

Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in the cream just until completely blended.

Gently pour the filling into the prepared crust.

Prepare a ban-marie (water bath). Place the cake pan in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes approximately 1 inch up the side of the springform pan.

Bake until the edge is light golden brown, the top is light gold, and the center barely jiggles, about 1 1/4 hours.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours undisturbed. While remaining in the springfrom pan, cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, for 24 hours.

On the following day, remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator and unmold from the springform pan. Serve chilled or at room temperature, garnished with fruit if desired.

Cook’s Notes:
In slicing the cheesecake, use a sharp straight-edge knife, not a serrated one, to get a clean cut. Be sure to rinse the knife with warm water between slices. Refrigerate any leftover cake, tightly covered, and enjoy within 2 days, or wrap and freeze it  for up to 1 month.

 

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Delmonico Steaks

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You deserve to have a steak for the running of the Belmont Stakes. It is so “New York”.

First run in 1867, it is the oldest of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, making it the longest continuously run race in North America, predating the Kent9428330.jpgucky Derby by eight years and the Preakness by six years. The Belmont Stakes is held every June at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, just outside of New York City. The race, nicknamed The Test of the Champion and The Run for the Carnations, is the third and final leg of the Triple Crown and is held five weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks after the Preakness Stakes, on a Saturday between June 5 and June 11.

And like most spectator sports, horse racing, at the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown are all about traditions, food and drinks. The Kentucky Derby is famous for it’s Mint Julep and Hot Browns Bibb Salads, while the Preakness Stakes is known for its Maryland Crab Cakes and Black Eyed Susans.

There are so many iconic food associated with New York City. And what comes to mind for me is a nice juicy steak, like the ones served at the legendary Delmonico’s Restaurant. Delmonico’s opened in Manhattan’s financial district in 1837 and it broke new ground in the American dining industry. It was the first establishment to go by the French term, “restaurant,” and the firsts did not end there.

del.jpegDelmonico’s was ahead of its time, allowing female patrons to dine without the accompaniment of a male escort. It was the first restaurant to have a printed menu, offer a separate wine list, use tablecloths and also the first to have diners sit at private tables.

Delmonico steak (or steak Delmonico) was one of several cuts of beef (usually the ribeye), with a thick-cut preparation popularized by Delmonico’s restaurant in New York City during the mid-19th century. A Delmonico steak may now, in the 21st century, refer to various cuts of beef steak, using preparations that vary regionally in the United States. The term “Delmonico steak” might refer to any thick-cut steak. In addition to the steak, the original meal also included a potato dish, known as Delmonico potatoes, prepared by making a mashed potato dish topped with grated cheese and buttered breadcrumbs, then baked until golden brown and served steaming.

With that being said, no other dish, but the Delmonico Steak would be the prefect meal serve to your guest on race day, with the accompaniment of side dishes like Dauphinoise Potatoes and Creamed Spinach or Green Beans .

Serves 6

Ingredients:
Six 20-ounce boneless prime rib-eye steaks, at room temperature
Sea salt, to taste
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the Herb Butter:
3 fresh bay leaves
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions:
For the Herb Butter:
Combine the bay leaves, thyme, and salt in a spice grinder and process until powdery.

Place the butter in a mixing bowl. Add the powdered mixture and, using a hand-held electric mixer, blend well.

Scrape the butter mixture onto the center of a sheet of plastic film. Pull the film up and over the soft butter and, using your hands, form the butter into a roll about 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or wrap in freezer wrap, label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months.When ready to serve, unwrap the herb flavored butter and, using a sharp knife, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, allowing one slice per steak.

For the Steaks:
Clean, oil, and preheat the grill.Wipe excess moisture from the exterior of the steaks using a paper towel. Season one side with salt and pepper.

Place the steaks on the hot grill, seasoned side down. Grill for 3 minutes. Season the top side and, using tongs, turn the steaks and grill for 3 minutes to just sear the exterior.

Remove the steaks from the grill and, using a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of each steak with olive oil.

Return the steaks to the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until the exterior is nicely charred and the interior has reached the desired degree of doneness on an instant-read thermometer.

Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes before serving with a generous pat of Herb Butter.

Cook’s Notes:
Alternatively, you can also cook the steaks by pan searing.Sprinkle each steak with the pepper and salt; then rub each steak with a small amount of olive oil.

Pre-heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat; then place each steak in the skillet. Uncovered, sear on one side of the steak for 5 minutes then turn the steak over and sear the other side for 3 minutes.Reduce the heat and cook for an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145 º F for medium doneness.

Serve each steak topped with slice of the chilled herb butter.

– – IMPORTANT FOOD SAFETY REMINDER – –

It is recommend to use an instant-read thermometer to check the doneness. Rare steak will have an internal temperature of 120 º to 125 ºF; medium-rare to medium should read 130 º to 150 º F. This should take somewhere near twenty minutes, depending upon the thickness of the meat and the heat. Above 150 º F, a steak is considered well-done, which is not a desirable temperature for a really good steak! A steak should sit for five minutes or so before cutting, so remember that it will continue to cook as it sits when you gauge the internal temperature.

Cooking temperatures and times and may vary for your oven, broiler stove top or grill.