Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Best Raspberry Cheesecake

I was at a great party last night and brought this cheesecake and it went down tremendously well. There is nothing more gratifying than someone saying they don’t like something normally, but that they like this one you have made so much that they want the recipe. This is especially nice as cheesecake doesn’t always work out. It’s got a bad reputation for cracking, collapsing, undebaking, overbaking, burning…in fact I’m pretty sure the few times growing up I ever heard my mother say the word “fuck!” It was when a cheesecake was coming out of the oven.

This makes a very large party sized cheesecake, but if you would like to do the more reasonable home version I suppose, follow this link. I have made a few small changes to my recipe below. The linked recipe has a weirdly small amount of cookie crumbs, and I like to use vanilla sugar ( just pop a slit vanilla bean in a container of sugar and shake occasionally. Keep topping up the sugar, it will keep flavoring and scenting the sugar for years). I also like to whip the egg whites before incorporating as I like to try to get a little lightness into it any way I can.

Baked Raspberry Cheesecake

about 30 digestive biscuits (or half a sleeve)
70g butter , melted
900g cream cheese or 4 packages
3 tbsp corn starch
263g sugar or vanilla sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
210 ml sour cream
450g raspberries or 3 little grocery store punets
2 tbsp raspberry jam

Heat the oven to 180C/350F. Crush digestive biscuits in a food processor (or put in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin). Mix with melted butter. Press into a 24cm/10″ springform tin and bake for 5 minutes, then cool.

Beat cream cheese with cornstarch, sugar, vanilla extract, egg yolks and sour cream until light and fluffy (you can use the rinsed food processor for this). Whip the whites until firm and fold into the cheese mixture. Stir in 1 punet raspberries and pour into the tin. Bake for 60 minutes and then check, it should be set but slightly wobbly in the centre. Leave in the oven with the door ajar to cool.

Using the remaining raspberries, keep a few for the top and put the rest in a sieve with the jam and force and stir though. Serve the cheescake with the raspberry sauce and raspberries.

There is no calorie count as it would make your head explode. Besides, raspberry are good for you. Fruit! When you think about it, this is practically breakfast food.


Newfie Trifle

Christmas is over pretty officially now. Lights are coming down in all but the most oblivious households. All the cookies and baking have been begrudgingly eaten or gone stale. January diet season has started. It can all feel a little anticlimactic. It did for me anyways. I did not see my parents at all, in fact I spent the holidays with me new-ish boyfriends family, which was lovely. They did a great Christmas meal. But there is something a little formal about being around the new family. Everyone is on better behavior, you can’t force upon them your own, and perhaps eccentric, traditions.

My mothers family is from Newfoundland, a provence with a long tradition of eccentricity and also of making the most of often scant resources. So the traditional Christmas treats I grew up with I now can’t help but consider and think, what the good goddamn?

For example, my Nanny would make little treats called ‘Penguins’. They are little white cone shaped sweets dipped in a little bit of chocolate, thus, look a little bit like a penguin. But get this; the ingredients are coconut, icing sugar, and MASHED POTATO because why the hell not I suppose. And let me tell you, they are divine.

‘Trifle’ growing up was eaten, as you will see from the recipe below, not at all in the commonly held English idea of Trifle at. That is to say; cake, sherry, jam, custard, whipped cream, decoration. That is English Trifle.

This is my great-aunts trifle recipe, and could be considered a little weird perhaps. For one, there is no cake, because there would not have been cake just lying around having the opportunity to go stale. It in fact has white bread in it. This sounds completely mad but works SO MUCH BETTER THAN CAKE. It keeps the sweetness down and keeps its shape in a nice way. This is also something you can make entirely out of boxes and cans of things. In face if you wanted to go purely authentic with my aunties trifle, it would have tinned carnation condensed milk in it, because that’s what they used.

Regardless of how weird this recipe in its entirety might seem, please understand that this is the taste of total normalcy to me. It is a great example of how in life, you don’t know what you don’t know. In all the holiday wind down, when the weather stared getting really cold here, when I missed my family, this was what I had to make to make the post holiday sadness abate for just a little while. Because like this trifle, you don’t know you’re weird until you’re compared to someone else’s normal. And this is deliciously weird.

Newfie Trifle

2 slices white bread, frozen
1 box strawberry jello
1 can fruit cocktail
2 boxes vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
250ml whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
Maraschino cherries

Put the kettle on. Straight from the freezer, cut the crusts off the bread and cut into cubes. Put in the bottom of a glass bowl or trifle dish. Make up the jello with one cup boiling water and cool down with 4 ice cubes. Empty the can of fruit cocktail, juice and all, into the jello and pour over the bread. Chill for an hour or so.

Make up the vanilla pudding using the 2 cups milk and pour over the jello layer. Whip the cream with the icing sugar and blob over the pudding layer. Decorate with a few halved maraschino cherries.

Eat by the loving bowlful.


2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Are restaurants meant to be missionaries?

Last night I went out to celebrate a friends birthday at the new extension to Nicli Antica Pizzaria, Vicino . The meal was fabulous, the space very cool, birthday celebrations always good. But I have to admit that I went home with a stomach ache. It was certainly not Vicino’s fault, at least not directly. It had to do with the rather uncomfortable one block walk from Columbia and E Cordova to the restaurant. You see the only parking to be had was right in front of the Anchor of Hope Salvation Army. And the crowd out front did not exactly seem hopefully, in fact I was more than a little worried for my safety.

I thought I was being a little sheltered until I reached my group, and my boyfriend commented that I should have called from my car and had him come get me and walk me down the block. I was more than a little stressed out over this.

Am I a snob? Maybe. Sheltered? Well yes, probably. But the whole thing was so weird. To practically sprint down the block to avoid crackheads and then come in to Peroni, and $10 per oz. beef jerky, and in house made prosciutto, and other (really delicious) modern hipster excess just seemed completely bourgeoise.

Is this what Gastown is now? I suppose it was coming. Once a few dive bars started getting a more influential following, it was just a hop skip and a jump to organic butchers, South African gastropubs, and charcuterie down alleys. Then there’s Save On Meets, a Gastown experiment so smug it even got its own show on OWN . Is it just because it’s cheaper, better for business? Or is it just that elusive hipness that’s so necessary to keep a restaurant humming along in Vancouver. I have a feeling though that its much more desperate; the deep soul satisfaction that the middle class get when they help out somehow with “the downtown eastside situation”.

Now lets be frank; it’s shitty down there. Deeply horrible. But that doesn’t mean that putting a new nice restaurant in the middle of it is somehow helping out. It’s just forcing the unappealing to the side, over one more block maybe. At worst these new new places become the neighborhood equivalent of new gold fillings in a meth addicts mouth. They’re out of place, and kind of pointless if the recipient is still on the goddamn meth.

The the downtown eastside isn’t a zoo and I for one don’t like going down there to garp at the detritus. So I’m not sure what the point of all these new places are. Are we somehow bringing money into the area? Not unless we get mugged on our way to Chill Winston. Are we just putting a happy modern face on a poverty problem that shows no signs of slowing down? Pasting over poverty with high end furniture shops and gelaterias?

What do you think? Should we keep up the gentrification of Gastown, or leave the homeless a neighborhood to be homeless in?