For the past week I’ve gone market shopping, both at the Sunday Tlacolula market and at the smaller, though equally satisfying Teotitlan del Valle market where I live. It’s easier now that I have LaTuga — a market trip can be spontaneous.
As the invitation list for my New Year’s Eve house warming birthday party dessert open house grew to over thirty, I realized I might not have enough pastries and wine. So, I made multiple trips to Amado’s tienda to stock up on red wine and mezcal.
At the market I bought flowers, queso fresco, sweet bread, goat cheese, and the ingredients to make tomato ginger chutney. I usually do this in the North Carolina summer when there is a two week window for ripe tomatoes. Here in Oaxaca, they are ripe year round. The chutney is great warmed and poured on top of the goat cheese, then spread on bread slices.
I made the fruit salad recipe I shared with you last week, but added mandarin oranges and poached, spiced crab apples. Eloisa baked me three giant Chocoflan cakes, and on impulse I bought a big homemade, layered jello extravaganza at the village market. It was a dessert buffet.
Yesterday morning, I decided on the spur of the moment to make a New York style cheesecake when I saw Amado had two pounds of Philadelphia cream cheese in his case along with Alpura brand sour cream and a tube of Maria’s cookies. My friend Ani gave me a gift of butter earlier, and I picked up a few extra eggs. Instead of liquid vanilla, I used fresh squeezed lemon juice (called lima here) and zest. I augmented the cream cheese with mashed and pureed queso fresco. When it didn’t look like I would have enough cookie crumbs for the crust, I added some of the sweet bread to the Maria crumbs. Adaptation is an important element for living in Mexico.
Lupe came to help me get the house ready and we prepared the cheesecake together. Her son Daniel hung the papel picado flags and the piñata filled with candies for the children to dismantle with a stick at the end of the party. Our village is party central. On December 30, I was at Janet and Jan’s home for her birthday celebration. The flowers were abundant and the food delicious.
I was too busy greeting, serving and schmoozing to take photos of my birthday accoutrements and friends. The cheesecake disappeared before I could stage a photo shoot. Maybe those who did take photos will share them! After everyone left, the rockets, firecrackers and band played on into the night to welcome the procession of the baby Jesus to Las Cuevitas. Even my ear plugs didn’t help. We will join that celebration later today.
Meanwhile, I am wishing you a very satisfying, joyous, content, and healthful new year. May peace and fulfillment be yours for 2014.
Norma’s Pie de Queso — Mexican Style Cheesecake Recipe —
- 1 package Maria cookies
- 1 slice of sweet bread or any sweet roll
- 4 T. sugar
- 4 T. melted butter
In a food processor, add the cookies and sweet roll, process until fine crumbs. Add sugar. Pulse until completely mixed. Add melted butter. Combine until butter is mixed throughout. Pour out into a parchment paper lined 8-10″ springform pan. Press crumbs firmly on bottom and up sides of pan about 1/4-1/2 inch. Set aside.
- 2 lbs. Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 lb. queso fresco (Oaxaca crumble cheese)
- 1 C. sugar
- 5 eggs
- juice of 1/2 large lemon
- 1 T. lemon zest
- 1 C. sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl with electric beaters on high speed, blend the cheeses until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and mix until white and smooth. Add eggs one at a time until completely mixed. Add lemon. Beat for about 30 seconds. Add sour cream and blend in on low speed until just stirred in. Stir in lemon zest.
Pour into a buttered springform pan (line with parchment to make clean-up easier). Put into preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Turn oven off. Leave cake in oven to cool for 30 minutes or more before removing.
- 1/2 C. sour cream
- 3 T. sugar
- 2 T. lemon juice
- 1/2 t. lemon zest
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir all ingredients together. Pour over top of cooled cheesecake and spread evenly over top with spoon or spatula. Put into hot oven. Bake for 5-7 minutes. Watch that topping does not brown or burn. Remove and cool.
Strawberry Fruit Topping (optional)
- 1/2 c. mashed berries
- 3 T. sugar
- 1/4 c. Cointreau (or Controy here in Mexico)
In a stainless steel pan, mix together the berries, sugar and liqueur. Cook over high heat for 2 minutes until berries are mascerated, juice begins to form and the sugar is melted. Remove and cool for about 2 minutes. Pour over the sour cream topping of the cheesecake.
If you cut a circle in the center and then make the slices from this circle, the cake will yield 16-20 servings. The remaining center circle can then be cut in 4-6 wedges.
And another sunset from the terraza to celebrate life’s infinite beauty.