Do you have a great recipe that you've been making for over thirty years and you just want to try new things or just blaze a new trail gastronomically speaking? That's me. I thought at one time that I would not live through another day if I didn't buy a mortar and pestle. I was determined to put my old Betty Crocker ways behind me once and for all and start fresh. No sooner did I get my new onyx mortar and pestle set out of the box did I hit a glitch. I live in a small town that generally has a line-up outside the beer store seven days of the week. And you have to set out at first light on the Saturday morning of a long weekend if you expect to find hamburger buns in any store within 20 miles. So it dawned on me that I would have to find a Spice Pusherman if I ever intended to use my new set. My town is so spice challenged that I have to buy Old Bay seasoning when I go to Ottawa to visit my daughter. Pink peppercorns and truffle oil and sel de fleur would only be found in a dream. I realized that I would have to go back to the basics. I'm not sorry I have the mortar and pestle in any case because the minute you walk into my kitchen and see it sitting on the counter, your first impression is that a serious cook lives here. And only I know that it holds bits and loose change and paperclips and the like. It's the thought that counts. Right?
Let's make a cheesecake. I've only made this one about a thousand times!
If you're not out to impress, just buy a Keebler graham crust shell. Otherwise, for the crust you need
1 1/2 cups of graham crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
3 tablespoons of sugar.
Mix it all together and pat it down into a pie dish and set aside.
For the filling:
2 packages of cream cheese
juice and zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup of sugar
a splash of vanilla
a splash of grand marnier (read at the bottom because I'm going to tell you how to make your own)
Preheat your oven to 350.
Using an electric mixer, mix all these ingredients at Medium speed until smooth (About 8 minutes)
Pour it into your pie pan and bake for about 35 minutes.
Put it in the fridge to chill for a minimum of 6 hours.
For the topping:
1 cup of sour cream
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
2 tsp of grand marnier
mix the topping with a spoon until the sugar is dissolved and spread it over the top of the cooled cheesecake
and arrange the mandarins in a beautiful design of your choice.
It's just that easy and such a crowd favourite too!
Homemade Grand Marnier
Pour a bottle of brandy (don't use the expensive stuff because it won't matter) into a large GLASS bowl. Don't use plastic or metal. Slice the top 1/4 off an orange and place it pulp side down into the middle of the bowl. Pour in 3/4 of a cup of sugar. Cover it with plastic wrap and push it to the back of the counter for a week. By then, all of the sugar will have dissolved. Remove the orange. Give it a stir and using a funnel, pour it back into the original brandy bottle. There will be a little bit more than what you started with, so pour that into your coffee and drink it! Cheers!