Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Capitol Eats!

Did everyone have a faaaaabulous Memorial Day weekend? I did! I didn't do much during the actual weekend except the market and subsequent recovery period. But Monday, my roommate had to take a friend to the airport in Albany, so I decided to ride along, and I was so glad I did. First of all, it was a GLORIOUS day--just the right combination of warm and breezy--and the trees and grass along the very scenic Adirondack drive were a stunning, verdant, springy, chartreusey color. After the airport, we made our way to the ginormous Crossroads Mall. Now normally, I would run a mile in the opposite direction of a mall, but I had a purpose. I wanted to see a movie that was playing there that will never come to our town. (Plattsburgh gets lame comedies, horror movies, animated films for kids, and only the most major of blockbusters. Quirky little independents never find their way onto our eight hiss.) The movie was "Waitress," and oh, can I just say that I LOVE LOVE LOVED IT?? After all, it was a movie all about pie, so how could I not love it?! Keri Russell was quite charming in the lead, but my favorites were Andy Griffith playing a delightfully surly old coot (he should be remembered come Oscar time!), and Eddie Jemison as Ogie, a nerdy little elf who spouts spontaneous romantic poetry and won't take "no" for an answer when it comes to matters of the heart. The scene where we first meet him had me in tears, truly. RUN, DO NOT WALK to see this gem of a little dramedy. If you are a Hal Hartley fan, you will definitely enjoy this film. Poor Adrienne Shelley, star of the Hartley films, "The Unbelievable Truth" and "Trust" and the writer/director and actress in "Waitress," was murdered over a year ago, before she even got a chance to see the success of this film. So sad. Anyway, definitely put this one on your must-see list (have I underscored that point enough?). I really haven't loved a film this much since "Little Miss Sunshine" last year, and I want to spread the cinematic joy!

After the film, we poked around the mall for a bit. Normally, I loathe such activity, but I did manage to buy four new shirts and one unmentionable undergarment for a mere sixty bucks total, so that eased my general mall malaise. Then we headed north and made two food-related stops in Saratoga. First was a visit to Mrs. London's bakery which I'd seen profiled on the Food Network, I believe, and also in one of the the big gourmet magazines (was it Bon Appetit, perhaps?), Sadly, they were out of the wood-fired bread for which they are so highly-acclaimed, but we did manage to acquire this lovely assortment of pastries.

And then, to top off an already fine day, we stopped for dinner at PJ's Barbecue. What a fun place! It's like a 1950's car hop stand with BBQ pits in back, picnic table seating, hula hoops for the kids to play with, and either live music or P.J. the D.J. spinning the oldies from WBBQ, a makeshift radio station in a shed that blows bubbles from the roof. There are also special parking spots for Yankees and Bills fans as well as for bikers, and they have regular cruisin' nights, too, I'm told. What a hoot! And most importantly, the food was darn good. We sampled their smoky ribs and chicken with the famous Cornell marinade, as well as their spicy baked beans, creamy cole slaw, tasty curly fries, and peppery and oniony macaroni salad. And we washed it all down with their signature beverage, a loganberry soda. Yum! Next time, we vow to try the brisket and pulled pork...and oh yes, there WILL be a next time! :-) For all of my Plattsburghers, take exit 13N right off the Northway; you can't miss it, and it's definitely worth the detour when you're coming or going from Albany.

When we arrived home that evening, I remembered that I needed to make a treat for my trivia gang the next day, and I decided to try a recipe for a blueberry cheesecake that I saw on Joe's blog recently. It was just gorgeous with all that deep purple blueberry sauce dripping down into the cheesecake below, and even though I prefer my cheesecake quite plain and unadulterated (with only a sour cream topping), this one looked incredibly tantalizing. Indeed, it turned out very well, and I only brought three pieces (out of 16!) home last night, as I ended up sharing with my team and also the team from the Episcopal church downtown, affectionately nicknamed the "God Squad." I made some changes to the recipe, though. The original called for it to be made in a nine-inch springform pan, but I only have a ten-inch. Since I also intended it to feed a lot of people, I increased the proportions of ingredients, and I would definitely do that again. Also, I did not make additional blueberry sauce to go on top of the cheesecake, as the sauce that was swirled in was more than enough for me. The one thing I would do differently, however, is to be gentler with the swirling of the blueberry sauce into the cheesecake, and not drag the knife down all the way down through the batter. Though mine looked nice enough, and I liked having the pockets of blueberry goodness here and there in the middle of a slice, Joe's cheesecake was breathtaking with that thick layer of purple on top bleeding into the creaminess below. I will attempt to create that effect the next time I make it, and I will DEFINITELY make this one again! You should try it, too. It's time-consuming, of course, but it's really not hard, and it has a big "WOW" factor--people won't believe that you made it yourself!

Blueberry Cheesecake
(Source: adapted from which was, in turn, adapted from Cooking Light, though this is hardly a "light" recipe!)

For the crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup tablespoons sugar
pinch salt

For the blueberry filling:
2 cups fresh or frozen wild blueberries, thawed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar

For the cheesecake:
32 ounces ( 4 packages) block-style cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 325. In a medium bowl, toss together graham cracker crumbs, vanilla wafer crumbs and sugar. Drizzle in the butter and use a fork to combine the mixture until thoroughly mixed. Scoop the mixture into a 9" springform pan lightly coated with nonstick spray - use your fingers or the bottom of a measuring cup to firmly press the mixture down to form a crust. Bake for 10 minutes - remove and let cool on a wire rack.

To make the filling:
Add blueberries and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a food processor - process until smooth. Scoop puree into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick - about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

To make the cheesecake:
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until completely smooth, about 3 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch and salt - add to the cream cheese and beat until thoroughly combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and mix until combined. Pour the batter over the baked crust and smooth with a spatula. Place dollops of the blueberry puree on top of the cheesecake and use a knife to gently swirl the two together. Place the cheesecake in the center of a rack placed in the middle of the oven. Bake until the cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched, about 65 minutes. Remove from the oven (leaving the oven on) and place on a wire rack. Let the cheesecake cool for a few minutes to "collapse" back down in the pan to mend any cracks and to make room for the sour cream topping!

To make the topping:
In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Scoop the mixture onto the still-warm cheesecake and gently spread the mixture evenly over the top. Place back in the oven and continue to bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and run a thin knife around the outside edge. Allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 8 hours. When ready to finish, take the cheesecake out from the refrigerator and remove sides of the springform pan.


Randi said...

My sister saw that movie and raved about it as well. I just read about Mrs. London's. Was it in Saveur?? I really want to check it out if I'm ever up that way. Hmmm, I'm planning a trip to Lewiston soon to visit a friend. I wonder how far it is from there.......

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the movie review. We go to so few movies (Loved Little Miss Sunshine, too) that I hate it if we go to a dud. Is it appropriate for a 12 year old girl, in your opinion? I can't remember what it is rated.

Joy Bugaloo said...

Hi, Jennifer. The movie is rated PG-13, so I guess it would depend on how mature your 12-yr-old is. I can tell you that there is some violence (an abusive husband who hits) and there are quite a few sexual situations, though no nudity. So I'm not sure how you feel about that kind of content. But YOU should definitely see it regardless!