Weekend Food


"Cheater" Cherry Cheesecake

Pan-Fried Onion Dip

Let me take you through the scant experiences I’ve had with cheesecake. When I was growing up, my mother would spend the majority of her cooking time preparing entire meals from scratch. Rarely did I see her use shortcuts, except when it came to desserts. If we had dessert, it was something fun like no-bake cheesecake.

During college, my dormitory had a kitchen attached to the commons room. But, the kitchen was so rarely used that it seemed more like an afterthought than something purposefully built to be utilized. As such, it was never used by me or my dorm mate and sorority sister, (Codename: GPL). Instead, when we felt like “baking”, we’d buy a no-bake cheesecake and use a blender to combine the ingredients. Then, we’d refer to the whole thing as “baking no-bake”. The conversation would typically go like this:

GPL: “My Trees & Shrubs of North Carolina class was cancelled. Let’s bake no-bake.”
YC: “Fine. We should rinse out the blender first.”
GPL: “Okay. An afternoon of baking no-bake. Let’s sit on the Sigma Nu bench while it sets.”

Fast forward to after graduation, and I’ve moved to Chicago. My mother, who lives out of state, calls me while waiting for her doctor’s appointment and tells me that she read a Martha Stewart magazine that featured a traditional cheesecake. You know, the one where you use a springform pan and bake the whole thing in a water bath? My mother was so excited about the possibility of making a cheesecake this way that she ripped the magazine page out and purchased a springform pan immediately after her appointment. She then proceeded to visit me that weekend, recipe and springform pan in tow, and made the traditional cheesecake for the first time ever in my apartment complete with homemade blueberry topping.

Now, I’m all for making cheesecake the traditional way for those who have the patience, but I don’t. Nor do I feel that a no-bake cheesecake would be enough nowadays because I actually want put in some effort. In steps Nigella Lawson. As one of my favorite cooking personalities, Lawson has mastered the art of simplifying a recipe without sacrificing taste or the involvement that comes with home cooking. Plus, her British accent seems to make the recipe effortless, even though it may not be. After making one of her recipes, you have a nice sense of accomplishment while muttering, “Wow. That was easy!”

In her cookbook, Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast, Lawson included what I call a “cheater” cherry cheesecake recipe that was a happy medium between the traditional baking route and the no effort no-bake. This cheesecake turned out great! I don’t own a springform pan, so I just left the whole thing in the pie pan. I also used lime juice instead of lemon because that’s what I had on hand. A big thanks goes out to Yakiudon for giving me the idea to make a cheesecake for the blog! And, GPL, I hope you’re feeling better soon!

1&1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
6 tbsp. soft butter
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
10 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 c. heavy cream
1 10-oz. jar fruit spread or conserve

Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the butter and sugar until the mixture coheres. Press this mixture into an 8-inch springform pan; press a little up the sides to form a slight ridge.

Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice in a bowl until smooth. Lightly whip the cream, and then fold into the cream cheese mixture. Spoon the cheesecake filling on top of the graham cracker base and smooth with a spatula. Put it in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, unmold the cheesecake by removing the sides of the springform pan and spread the fruit spread over the top.

Serves 6-8


Even though I haven’t fully gotten into the spirit of autumn baking and cooking, I am geared up for football snacks! Yes, I could just buy the pre-made onion dips from the store, but how would that be fun? So, leave it to the only other food personality I can stand to come up with an easy onion dip recipe: Ina Garten!

Somehow, I doubt that Garten watches a lot of football in the Hamptons, but I can appreciate this dip all the same. Just make sure to have something else to do while the onions are caramelizing. A “cheater” cherry cheesecake, perhaps?

I first read about this dip from Brown Eyed Baker, so credit goes to her as well for posting the recipe!

2 lg. yellow onions
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
11/2 tsp. ground black pepper
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. mayonnaise

Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Serve at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftovers.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Molly
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 12:56:00

    wow, that no-bake idea seems right up my alley! And perfectly simple during the busy holiday season! Thanks!!

  2. Jessica
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 20:48:32

    There is nothing wrong with no-bake cheesecake. But it is satisfying to bake one from scratch. I may try your happy medium cheesecake for Thanksgiving.

  3. Serene - momfoodproject.com
    Oct 28, 2010 @ 00:19:44

    Okay, that dip may make you and Ina my new best friends. YUM. (I make all my own dips because I’m a cheapskate, but I never thought to do it that way.)

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