Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Cheesecake, and Christmas Memories

As the year is dwindling down, and Christmas is over, a New Year is awaiting us to start "anew" with a clean slate of resolutions, and promises. Leaving the old year with fond memories, and some sadness...not just what kinds of gifts we got for the holidays, and what parties or events we attended, but thinking ahead for the coming year, of what we can do for each other, to give, and get more BLESSINGS!
After visiting my new and beautiful friend, Jamie's blog @Mangiabella and reading her inspirational posts, and quotes, reminds me, that life is so precious, and that the true joys in our lives are family, and dear friends... let us not forget our faithful pets, and embrace new friends.
I concluded this thought, after leaving Jamie's blog, that:

"Bringing gladness to the hearts of others, and giving of the Greatest Gift of All"...(my quote)

So, I will share my most favorite cheesecake of all, that I make, just about for every special occasion...have memorized the ingredients, and method, to the point that this is seriously a "scientific" method, that you must follow, and not sway from it. It's a New York, or should I say New York Style Cheesecake, that can be left simple, without the sour cream topping, which really gives it a more amazing flavor, and dresses it up, but you can do it without it, because you will not see "cracks" on top of the cheesecake...I promise you that. You can dress this cheesecake up for the summer, with a fresh fruit topping, or for the holiday, as I did, with rainbow, holiday sprinkles, and surround them with handmade chocolate pieces that already has sprinkles on it, from your local chocolate shop, as I did. I'm not going into the "song and dance" recipe, to write it down, I will link the recipe back to this summer, when I made it the last time.
I kid you not...this is a "tried and true" recipe, that you will want to follow, to a T! The only important thing is, you should, and must make it the day before, so it will set nicely. Actually, I made this two days before Christmas, and let it chill nicely in my frig.

So, here's the link, and recipe: New York Style Cheesecake

If you want to please all your family members and dear friends who you have invited to your home for the best lasagne...ever!...and not feel guilty for making a meat sauce, since so many folks have turned vegetarian, or have cut out red meat, or eat less meat, as in a lot of cases, again, I say, this lasagne is a must on your list. My son, and wife have been vegetarians now for a couple years, my son, on-and-off, but for the last few months seriously on!
My daughter Lora  and I made this, the day before, a "real dual labor of love"...(and a few mother-daughter kitchen squabbles)...but all with love. She made the sauce, and "bechamel"...yes, a beautiful rich bechamel, from scratch. Lots of fresh basil, Parmigiana, and sliced...not shredded mozzarella cheese.
Unfortunately, she did not have dried lasagne noodles, neither of us wanted to run to the store at the last minute, on Christmas Eve, late in the afternoon, when all the stores were about to close, so either, we abandon the idea, or make homemade pasta, (without a pasta machine)...both pasta machines, hers and mine were at my house. I was ready to jump in my car, and drive the 7 miles back to my place to get the machine, but she did not let me, and believe me, the only solution I had, was to throw all the flour and eggs into her kitchen aid mixer with the "dough hook" mix it up, and use plenty of "elbow grease" to roll the huge dough. End result...truly amazing!

Recipe for the pasta dough, enough for a huge 10x13 lasagne pan, and extra dough and sauce for a small separate portion. This is my formula for fresh pasta dough, enough for 8 servings.
6 cups all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt, and pepper, to taste
Have extra flour to roll it in, at least an additional cup, or two. Mix all the ingredients together, in you mixer, with a dough hook, or even in your bread machine. If you don't have these kitchen wares, then you have to mix it by hand.
It has to be well incorporated, glossy, and shiny; at this point you are either ready to roll the dough to almost the last thinness, or divide dough in half, and roll it into a large cylinder shape fairly thin, but not too thin, cut into large strips with a pizza cutter, or a sharp knife, let it dry a little, adding more flour as you work, so it doesn't get sticky, especially, on the bottom of the dough. Drop a few pieces in a huge pot of boiling water, with a sm. amt. of oil in the water... do not drain the whole thing, just remove each piece one by one, drizzling more olive oil on it, to separate. By this point, you should have your sauces ready to assemble. Starting with a small amount of the red sauce on the bottom, the strips of dough, the bechamel, and the cheeses, ending with the pasta sauce, and cheeses on the top. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven, covered for the first 30 minutes, and uncovered for an additional 20 minutes, or until it bubbles, and gets nice and golden on the top. Let it rest for at least 15-20 minutes before cutting into it, to serve.
For the sauce: We used a huge restaurant size can, about 64 ounce, of the Contadina crushed tomatoes, and at least 3 cups of bechamel sauce, along with the grated, and sliced mozzarella cheese, that you can slice, yourself (not the fresh buffalo mozzarella) Plenty of fresh basil, just saute a large chopped onion, small amt. of chopped garlic, salt and pepper, and adding the whole basil to the sauce, and rolled up basil leaves, sliced thin, in between the layers of the assembly. The sauce is cooked for about 45 minutes. All vegetarian, and so amazingly yummy!
 OK...Feast your eyes! Although, this dessert to me, is a traditional dessert, perfect for 4th of July...but in this case, NO RULES, just an amazing Pasta Frolla-which is an Italian, sweet tart, filled with custard, and topped with fresh berries. Our dear friend, Ylaria made this...did not ask for the recipe for the frolla, but here's a good one which I use, occasionally. As for the custard, you can google a good one.

Pasta Frolla-Italian Sweet Pastry Dough

  1. 1 In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and zest.
  2. 2 Cut in the butter, until it resembles coarse meal.
  3. 3 Add the egg and the vanilla and toss the mixture until incorporated.
  4. 4 Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead very lightly, forming into a disk.
  5. 5 Chill, wrapped in plastic at least 1 hour or overnight.
  6. 6 Let the dough stand at room temperature until softened, but still firm enough to roll out
  1. ? Have a question about this recipe? Ask the community.
Ylaria, who is from Bari, Italy, made this amazing tart, and the custard was "to die for" was not pleased as we all are at some point...or most of the time, critical of her own homemade custard, that it wasn't thick enoug. Honest? why would you want a thick and rubbery custard, when you can have the most splendid, "heavenly custard" nestled among the fresh berries that we get all season here, in S. Florida (but more expensive) the pasta frolla=pastry dough was so perfect too, that you wanted to savory every little bite!
For all of us "carnivorous" creatures, a beautiful tray of sliced broiled steak (no waste in slicing) made by my son-in-law, Chef Fabrizio (off at lunchtime) working later. We purchased a gorgeous package of 5 huge rib-eye boneless steaks at Costco, with (2 whole steaks left over) broiled to perfection, topped with fresh tomato bruschetta, over a fresh layer of, my, so perfect for "steak lovers...and like I said, NO WASTE!
My "fluffy" haired grandson, opening a present; look at all the little cars scattered all over the floor, his newest favorite toys!
My sweet " girls" (son's daughters) ...enjoying auntie Lora's cookies!

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  1. Elisabeth, what a wonderful family you have. How I wish I could be there and join the fab celebration. Everything looks absolutely delicious. I am drooling all over that lasagne and the steak. Yum.
    Have a fantastic holiday season.

  2. Happy Holidays, Elisabeth.
    Your gorgeous pictures reflect the fantastic time you must have had with your family.
    Yes, Bechamel sauce in the Lasagne und a fruit tart the way I bake mine. Yummy dishes!

  3. Oh my goodness I had no idea you were Lora's mother!? How did I miss this! I saw the picture and had to do a double take and then go back up and read the post again! ha All the food looks fabulous! :)

  4. Mmmmmm...I just love cheesecake...and boy does yours look incredible. Those sprinkles make it so festive...what a great idea!!!

  5. Yummmm tempting cheesecake..those sprinkles turned them soo beautiful..

  6. I love how you have decorated your cheesecake! It sounds like a wonderful go to recipe - thank you so much for sharing it. Happy Holidays!

  7. The cheesecake and lasagna both look delicious! I LOVE all the sprinkles on the cake!

  8. Those spreads are looks awesome. cute grand daughters and grand son.look like you had a fun filled chirstmas. Happy holidays.

  9. Food looks great! Beautiful family.

    God bless :)

  10. It's a gorgeous cheesecake and I love that it's topped with colourful sprinkles. Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

  11. Looks like a GREAT Christmas! So glad you were able to spend it with so many great people :). The food looks great and the cheesecake looks so good!!

  12. Awe what a sweet family you have the tart looks amazingly gorgeous, like a picture on a magazine

  13. loved the recipe for lasagna and the cheese cakes --yum! hope u had a merry christmas ! this post is bookmarked !

  14. What fun cake with all the sprinkles! Looks like you are having a wonderful holidays, Elisabeth! :)

  15. Sorry I didn't get a chance to stop by sooner and wish you a Merry Christmas! Everything looks incredibly delicious and you have a beautiful family!

  16. wonderful photos and lots of fun.
    the cheesecake looks delicious, love the way is decorated :)
    thanks for sharing these wonderful family memories.
    have a joyful season

  17. Wow! Thats one delicious looking cheesecake!

  18. What a wonderful Christmas you had, surrounded by loving friends and family. :) The cheesecake (and everything else too) looks delicious. I love the sprinkles. :)

  19. When I saw this I literally let out a gasp! It looks sooooo creamy and delicious! I MUST make this! Thank you for sharing your tried and true recipe!

  20. Beautiful cheesecake,beautiful family,all beautiful!!!!;-)
    1000 kiss and Happy New Year:-***

  21. Back again...this time to drool over the lasagne and the other delectable goodies! And also to ask what else I can use the French brioche molds for? Thanks, Lizzie...and I love the photo with your granddaughters...that seems to happen with all my family pictures, too :)

  22. Thank you, everyone for your kind comments, hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, with New Year's Eve just around the corner, and most of you are experiencing the snow storms-I feel for you! Been there, years ago... living in Southern Ohio, actually, in Solon.

    I was so happy to share the memories of our household with you all...mind you, that I had "unwilling participants" in the photos; seems like every photo I take is not a "set prop" so it's quick, and random...maybe these are the best kind.

    Lizzy-I replied back to your question, and posted another link, re: the brioche molds.
    Also, everyone! I found King Arthur's Blog...yeahh! Great blog, they have all the best recipes, with step-by-step photo instructions. Check this link out. Love it!

    Wishing all of you friends, a safe, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  23. THANK YOU! Love the KA blog :)

  24. Kedves Erzsi!
    Nagyon örülök, hogy rábukkantál a blogomra, így most már én is rendszeresen jöhetek hozzád gyönyörködni!
    Csudaszép a blogod, nagyon színvonalas, öröm nézelődni, különösen nagy dolog, hogy ekkora távolságot ilyen egyszerűen " átugrunk".
    Remélem, neked és szép családodnak is csodásan teltek az ünnepek!
    Üdv: Trinity, aki valójában Lilian :-)

  25. Wonderful pictures and a lovely family :)
    Wishing you a most amazing New Year!

  26. Hi Elisabeth, Yummy looking cheese cake, love the sprinkles :)

  27. I can't tell you how much Liv would love this dessert! She is all about the color and your sprinkles are absolutely lovely!!

  28. What great food and great family time! I'm drooling :) The cheesecake looks irresistible. I love that you make the lasagne pastry yourself. Must be very delicious. Thanks very much for sharing. Happy Holidays! MaryMoh at

  29. omg omg...all the gorgeous looking cakes! So festive and delicious! And that lasagne is killing me....
    I wish a house with a swimming pool...;-)) How nice!
    Happy New Year!

  30. Happy Holidays!! I am your newest follower! I invite you to follow back. This recipe looks delicious!

  31. Elisabeth, I love the pic of you and your grand kids. They are so adorable. It is heart warming to see you and your family enjoying the holiday. All the food looks delicious. Thanks for sharing your joy with us.

  32. All I can say: God bless you all! Family is the best!!!!!

  33. I love that quote. The sliced broiled steak looks so right to me. That sounds delicious! I really like the looks of that cheesecake. Thank you for the tips. I don't have much cheesecake experience at all. Thank you for sharing!


  34. Your family is just beautiful. I loved seeing and hearing about all of these Christmas memories. Your cheesecake and lasange would make me and my Italian husband very happy. Thank you so much for sharing all this deliciousness!

  35. Hi Elisabeth! Such a feast with sinful treats. {drooling away} They are all so beautiful. I really love your recipes and really can't wait to try them out one by one. Am definitely
    book-marking them. Happy Holiday and Happy New Year 2011! Huggss.. Jo

  36. Ohhh you have such a beautiful family! Everything looks so yummy... especially that cheesecake with sprinkles :)

  37. ur cheese cake is so cute... so r ur grandchildren..hw wonderful it would have been to get together like that! am drooling of all those delicacies..slurp ;) have a wonderful new year!

  38. I try to always kitchen aid item for making food.

  39. Kedves Erzsi, én Trinity blogjáról találtam rád, nagyon jók a receptek, és ez a sajttorta csodaszép!! Gratulálok!!!