Shavuot is approaching and the tradition is to serve dairy meals, stemming from a description of Israel as “a land flowing with milk and honey.” What a wonderful opportunity to create meals with ingredients that I love. Sweet butter, heavy cream, farmer cheese, cream cheese and sour cream will be transformed into vichyssoise, blintzes, cheesecake, and one of my childhood favorites, warm broad egg noodles tossed with butter, farmer cheese, cinnamon, and sugar. Sweet and comforting.
Of course the quintessential dessert for Shavuot seems to be cheesecake and my friend Rena H. is the local Cheesecake Queen. She has been making this recipe for years, and although she has recently “lightened” it up, I prefer the original. Growing up, my son David always anticipated having Rena’s cheesecake during the holidays, as did we all. I recently asked Rena to share this recipe and she told me it was originally adapted from a recipe by Dinah Shore! Who knew!
On Wednesday Rena brought over this delicious cheesecake, made with the original recipe.
Here is the original recipe.
1 and 3/4 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick melted butter
Mix all ingredients together setting aside 3 tbsp for topping. Press remaining mixture into bottom of 9″ spring-form pan.
2-8 oz. packages cream cheese (Rena uses Philadelphia brand)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups sour cream
Combine eggs with cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in sour cream. Pour on top of crust and top with reserved crumb mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour. Chill for 4-5 hours or overnight.
We are now three weeks away from Passover. This is the first time in about twenty years that we will be conducting the Seder in the dining room primarily because twelve of us can fit there. No need to empty out the living room, order extra tables, rent cloths and napkins. Yet instead of being happy about shedding all of the planning and angst that can accompany preparing for a large Seder, why are my thoughts drawn to Seders past with longing and nostalgia and to future Seders with something akin to dread. It has been a difficult year. My 92-year-old father passed away in September and for the first time, he will not be present at our Seder. Growing up in NYC, Seders were pretty traditional affairs; my father and the other men would stand and chant the Haggadah in unison, with no one else participating. The wives read along silently and the children wiggled and giggled and waited for dinner. It was not egalitarian or engaging or educational and yet I have warm and happy memories. The table was beautifully set, the fine china was brought out, wonderful aromas came from the kitchen, new clothing was purchased, cousins got together and my father and the other men argued about politics all through the meal. Pesach was special. Continue reading