Pumpkin Cheesecake

IMG_4029 [54402].JPG

I was recently asked to make two desserts for the dessert dash at a fundraising auction. After a quick search online, I came across this recipe on Epicurious. It is from Gourmet magazine, which is one of my favorites for recipes, so I wanted to give it a try.

IMG_4056[1]The recipe was originally published in 1990—and to be honest, I bet I made it 20 years ago.

This time, however, I adapted the original recipe by substituting gluten-free graham crackers (available at specialty grocery stores). It was so simple. Plus, I was surprised how good the flavor was in the gluten-free graham crackers. At right is box from the brand I used.

Whether you opt for the gluten-free or original version, this will make a delicious addition to your holiday feast.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Serves 12 to 14
¾ cup gluten-free graham cracker crumbs (from five 4¾- by 2¼-inch crackers)
½ cup pecans (1¾ ounces), finely chopped
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1½ cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups sour cream (20 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)
Garnish: pecan halves

First, prepare the crust:
Invert bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (to create a flat bottom, which will make it easier to remove cake from pan), then lock on side and butter pan.

Stir together crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and ½ inch up the side of the pan, then chill for about 1 hour.

Put oven rack in middle position and Preheat oven to 350°F.

Next, make the filling:
Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl until combined.

Stir together granulated sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in a large bowl. Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

Finally, make the topping:
Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 minutes.

Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours.

Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and bring to room temperature before serving.

Baked cheesecake can be stored, chilled and covered, for up to two days.


Halloween Cookies

GU reunion + Fall food 014

Last fall, one of the many children I have the pleasure of cooking for requested cookies to decorate for Halloween. Now that Halloween is nearly here again, this seems like a good time to share my favorite cookie recipe. Continue reading

Ghostly Creations

GU reunion + Fall food 010

Halloween is coming up in less than two weeks, so it’s time to start thinking about treats that are better than anything that comes in a plastic bag from the grocery store.

I saw a photo of these in a magazine last fall and knew I wanted to recreate them. Lucky for me, I was catering an event for a group of 13-year-olds right before Halloween, which gave me an opportunity to make them without having to eat any. (Okay, I might have tried one.) Continue reading

Low-Guilt Treats for Tea

Scones (instagram)

I first saw this recipe a couple of years ago when I purchased the Gather cookbook. My friend Carrie and I agreed that I should make these. What appealed to me was the idea of enjoying a scone that had a fair amount of nutritional value. Continue reading


Spring 2015 036Here’s another of the recipes I made for the 90th birthday party I catered last month.

Saag is a South Asian dish of braised greens, usually served with bread or rice.  This was requested by my client to be served as a side dish with vegetable curry. Saag can also be served as an appetizer, as shown above with fresh bread from Macrina bakery, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, and the Lemon Tahini recipe I posted early this week. Continue reading

Lemon Tahini

Spring 2015 041Last month, I had the pleasure of catering a 90th birthday party. This was a celebration of the mother of a client I have worked with for many years, so it was wonderful to have the chance to see many members of a family I have gotten to know over the past almost-20 years.

We served vegetable curry along with numerous accoutrements. Two of those items are recipes that I would like to share with you. The first is the lemon tahini, which I served as a dip for vegetables and bread. Continue reading

Rhubarb Crisp

March 2015 018

Spring is here. In the Northwest, that means new produce is showing up in farmers markets and rhubarb is in season. A few of my clients have served this recently at dinner parties, so I thought it was a good recipe to share with you.   Continue reading

Easter Sunday Menu Ideas

lamb chops

With Easter just a few days away, it seems like a good time to suggest some recipes for a meal—whether you are planning Easter dinner or brunch. Continue reading

Israeli Couscous

cous cous before

This is another recipe that I served with the Grilled Lamb Chops that I suggested for an Easter menu. It is a nice side dish that goes well with meats like lamb or Moroccan Chicken, but could also be served with a roasted chicken or on its own. Continue reading

For Pi Day: Shepherd’s Pie with a Twist

Shepards pie - chicken (2)Because today is Pi Day (3.14)—and next Tuesday is Saint Patrick’s Day—this seems the perfect time to share a great pie recipe, even if it doesn’t have the usual pie crust.

Last fall, I was asked to make shepherd’s pie for a client dinner party. The “twist” was that they asked me to make it healthy and with ground turkey instead of the traditional ground lamb or ground beef (when it would be called a cottage pie). That’s the Irish tradition, anyway.  Continue reading