Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shades of Pink: Newark's Cherry Blossom Festival and Raspberry Coulis

My 19 month-old son (Otis) is obsessed with a book called "Eye Like Colors." The pink page has flamingoes, cherry blossoms and raspberries (among other thing) and it gave me just the inspiration I needed for this post. Cherry blossom blooms were everywhere a few weeks ago and I saw the most awesome looking raspberries the other day. Pink (or a light shade of red) was the color of the day, so I bought a pint of fresh berries decided it would make the perfect coulis. Now what would go well with coulis?  

It didn't take me long to remember that I made the best cheesecake I ever made a month ago. The recipe for Upstate Cheesecake from Brooklyn's Baked was a total hit and I was thinking about making it again anyway.
So, on a lovely afternoon while both boys (canine and human alike) took long naps, I started on the cheesecake. It's not difficult to make, but you do need to carve out a bit of time. After making the batter the cake bakes for 10 minutes at a high temperature. Then it bakes for another hour at a lower temperature. Next there is a slow temperature reduction which takes an hour with the oven heat turned off (the cake is left in the oven). This cheesecake doesn't require a lot of hands-on time but, like I said, you have to keep an eye on things and stay close to the oven.
Everything was going great until a bit of the oil I used to grease the spring-form pan started dripping down onto the oven floor. One thing led to another and smoke started to fill the room (I'm not totally sure how this happened). Our 'talking' fire alarm started screeching "Fire! Fire!" and all the sirens went off. Omar, the pooch, went berserk and I hopped up on my aqua blue rocking chair in an attempt to dismantle the fire alarm. Being almost 7 months pregnant, I don't exactly have the balance I used to and I got side swiped by a ferocious bout of vertigo. This led to a free-fall down to the floor, fire alarm in hand, and me yelling, "Otis, don't worry...mommy has this under control." Otis had woken up from his nap and he wasn't buying it. 
Well, as it turns out, near kitchen catastrophes make the best dishes and the cheesecake came out perfectly...even with a cool down period that wasn't in the recipe's instructions and was done out of necessity (I had to cool down the oven and clean it quickly). The raspberry coulis was wonderful and very easy to make. My sieve wasn't fine enough so I did get some seeds, but it was still delicious.

As for the Newark Cherry Blossom Festival, it did not disappoint. My husband follows Newark's mayor Cory Booker (see: Street Fight) on his twitter feed. The Mayor promised that the cherry blossoms in Jersey were more numerous than those in D.C. and indeed they were. The flowering trees were beautiful and the crowds were enormous. There were some cultural performances and some excellent snacks. Okay, and I had my fair share of deep-fried Oreos. Because, you know, nothing says springtime like deep-fried Oreos! 
What a wonderful time of year...
Otis with one of his most favorite cousins....

Raspberry Coulis (Courtesy of The Top Chef Cookbook, Contestant Hung Huynh) 
1 pint fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and puree.  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pushing down on the solids.  Discard the seeds.  Taste and add more sugar or lemon juice if needed.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

I didn't make the cake in a 'water bath' which is supposed to help minimize cracking. That said, the cracking doesn't change the taste...not one bit!

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  1. Perfect pairing. I'm the type who would enjoy cheesecake served on an old shoe, but of course, I'd rather have it with raspberry sauce.
    Adorable little boy!

  2. That story made me laugh so hard. I've had similar instances where everything falls apart but the end result is great. Beautiful little boy.

  3. Gorgeous pics. Beautiful boy. Great story. Enjoy life's mishaps!

  4. This would make a great Shavout recipe. Beautiful pictures and what a cute boy!

  5. Can you please make this cake again and bring it to the office? It was absolutely fantastic. Oh, and bring the coulis too!