Cooking

By Barbara Beltrami

The winter holidays are a time of rewards. Toys for good little children. Electronic devices for good big children. Baubles and bangles and bicycles. Sweaters and scarves and sleds. (I don’t know…these days does Santa still leave coal for bad children?)

And of course, sweet indulgences for having endured the holiday hassle, the spartan salads and remarkable restraint of the past year’s daily fare, the life of lattes instead of lunch and denial instead of dessert.

From January to November with a few hops off the wagon in between, we all feel guilty about satisfying our sweet teeth (tooths?) But come December, it’s Wahoo! Bring on those cookies and candy canes and chocolate Santas. And hey! What’s for dessert?

Here are three of my favorite desserts for the holidays. They’re all festive enough for a holiday table and easy enough for a special family treat.

Apple Tartapple-tart

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening

2 teaspoons sugar

4 tablespoons ice water

3-4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into thin crescent-shaped slices

1/4 – 1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup confectioners sugar (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 F. In an electric food processor, blend the flour, salt, vegetable shortening and sugar; pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water and process again until mixture forms ball.

Remove, place between two sheets of waxed paper and roll out into large circle that will fit bottom and sides of a well-greased 8- or 9-inch spring form tart pan. Gently lift top paper away and invert crust over pan. Peel away bottom sheet. Spread and pat dough against bottom and sides of pan. With rolling pin, remove any irregular pieces from top edge of pan. (Don’t worry if you have to patch crust as the apple slices will cover it.)

Arrange apple slices in attractive circles to fill crust. Sprinkle with granulated sugar; dot with butter. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until crust is golden and apples are tender. Set aside on rack to cool: Gently remove tart from pan by pushing bottom of pan up. It is best to avoid trying to remove tart from bottom, but go ahead if you are brave. Before serving, sift confectioners sugar over top, if desired.

Cheesecake with Raspberry Topping

INGREDIENTS:

For the crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

For the filling: 

Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened at room temperature

5 large eggs, at room temperature, separated

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup granulated sugar

1 pint sour cream

For the topping:

1 pint fresh raspberries, gently rinsed and thoroughly dried

1/2 cup currant jelly, melted

Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix graham cracker crumbs with sugar, then with melted butter. Line sides and bottom of 9-inch spring form pan (with flat bottom insert in place) with crumb mixture.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  In large electric mixer bowl, with mixer at medium speed or “cream,” beat cream cheese, egg yolks, vanilla, lemon juice and sugar until smooth. Add sour cream and continue beating until well blended.

In clean mixer bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.  Fold into cheese mixture. Turn cheese mixture into crumb-lined pan.  Bake 1 hour, then turn off oven and let sit in oven 1 hour longer. (When cake comes out of oven and cools, it may sink.  Do not be alarmed! The berries will cover that.)

When cooled to room temperature, run knife blade around edge of pan to loosen crust. Be sure to keep blade pressed hard against inner rim. Unclasp side of pan and lift gently from bottom. Refrigerate until ready to serve or glaze.

Spread berries evenly around top of cake. With pastry brush, coat berries with melted jelly; let set. Refrigerate. When ready to serve, garnish with mint sprigs.

Profiteroles with Pistachio-Rum Ice Cream and Chocolate  Sauce

YIELD: Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup water

1 stick butter

1 cup flour

4 eggs

1 pint pistachio ice cream, softened but not melted

1 cup chopped red and green candied fruit or fruit peel

3 tablespoons rum

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate pieces

8 ounces heavy cream

DIRECTIONS:

For the profiteroles: Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a baking sheet. In medium saucepan, heat water and butter to rolling boil. Over low heat, vigorously stir in flour until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat and vigorously beat in eggs, one at a time until mixture is smooth. Drop the dough into 8 equidistant mounds onto baking sheet. With finger tips, pat mounds into symmetrical domes.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.  Allow to cool. With a sharp knife, slice about 1 inch off  tops; reserve. Carefully and gently scoop out soft dough from center; discard.  Five or 10 minutes before serving, let ice cream mixture soften a little;  fill the puffs with it and top with reserved sliced-off tops.  Stack into a pyramid and drizzle with chocolate sauce.

For the filling: Fold one cup of the candied fruit and the rum into the ice cream.  Return to freezer.

For the sauce: In a small saucepan, heat cream and chocolate pieces together.  Mix with wire whisk over medium-low heat until it reaches the consistency of chocolate pudding. Remove from heat. Let stand till just warm or room temperature. Refrigerate.  Reheat in double boiler. Add more chocolate if sauce seems too thin. Let cool a little after reheating so it’s a little less runny.

By Barbara Beltrami

Hello, all you cooks and bakers! I’m back after a 25-year vacation and will once again be bringing you my favorite recipes; usually easy, original, healthful, calling for quality ingredients and sometimes modified from other recipes and tested.

For a good beginning to this column and to any company or holiday meal, what else but hors d’oeuvres? In the tradition of the season, what else but cookies? While the kids are wolfing down sugar cookies and gingerbread people (we must be politically correct and not call them gingerbread men anymore) from Grandmas’s treasured recipes, the grown-ups will be sitting around calmly sipping their cocktails and wine and nibbling (or binging) on these savory cookies.

Think thin biscotti with black olives, sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts. Imagine Parmesan wafers with pungent rosemary, or olive oil-black pepper cookies. So pour yourself a drink, preheat that oven and start baking!

Parmesan-Rosemary Wafers

YIELD: 2 1/2 dozen wafers

INGREDIENTS:

1 ½ cups freshly and coarsely grated Parmesan cheese (not the kind in the package!)

1 tablespoon flour

1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh rosemary or 1 ½ teaspoons dried

½ teaspoon coarse or sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Using a measuring teaspoon, not a regular teaspoon, and mixing well before each spoonful (the flour tends to drop to the bottom), drop mixture into little mounds onto prepared baking sheet. Bake midoven until golden, about 9 minutes. Cool on baking sheet about 5 minutes; with spatula gently remove and place on wire rack to cool.

Best if served immediately; otherwise reheat to crisp.

Biscotti with Black Olives, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Walnuts

biscotti-with-black-olivesYIELD: 3 1/2 dozen biscotti

INGREDIENTS:

1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

4 ounces freshly and coarsely grated Parmesan cheese (don’t use the packaged kind)

1/4 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

one stick of unsalted butter, sliced into ½-inch pieces

¼ cup Italian or Greek black olives, pitted and chopped

½ cup oil-packed and drained sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

½ cup chopped walnuts

2 ½ tablespoons milk

one large egg

DIRECTIONS: In a bowl, combine flour, cheese, salt and pepper. With a pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in olives, tomatoes and walnuts. In a small bowl, beat together the milk and egg; combine egg mixture with dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Shape dough into a ball. Divide dough in half; pat and roll each piece into a 6- to 8-inch log and place each on a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and refrigerate till firm, preferably overnight, but at least 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter two large baking sheets. Diagonally cut the logs into ¼-inch slices and place one inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake until the biscotti are just brown around the edges (10 to 12 minutes). With a spatula, transfer to wire racks to cool.

Best if served immediately; otherwise reheat to crisp.

Olive Oil Cookies with Black Pepper

oliv-oil-cookies-with-black-pepperYIELD: 4 to 5 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS:

Nonstick cooking spray

2 ½ cups flour

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon sea or coarse salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ cup extra virgin olive oil (yes, it does make a difference!)

¾ cup dry red wine

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly spray 2-3 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients. Beat together the eggs, oil and wine. Add liquid ingredients to dry mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms. Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonsful onto baking sheets. Bake until browned around the edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove with spatula and cool on wire racks.

The turkey may seem like the star on Nov. 24, but everybody knows it’s all about the sweet stuff. Go all out with these delicious recipes for Classic Pumpkin Pie and Caramel Macchiato Ice Cream Pie, a scrumptious and satisfying way to end your Thanksgiving feast.

Classic Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin-pie-1YIELD: Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:

Pie crust

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 stick vegetable shortening

3 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water

Filling

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. With a pastry blender or fork, cut in shortening until mixture resembles course crumbs. Sprinkle in 3 to 5 tablespoons ice water, a tablespoon at a time. Mix lightly with a fork after each addition, until dough is just moist enough to hold together. Shape dough into a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll out onto a lightly floured surface in the shape of a circle until dough is less than 1/4-inch thick. Roll the dough around the rolling pin, lift up, and unroll over a 9-inch pie plate. Using your fingers, gently pat the dough into place. Trim any excess dough with a paring knife or kitchen shears, leaving a 1-inch overhang; then fold dough under to reinforce the edge. Whisk the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake for 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish with whipped cream. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Caramel Macchiato Ice Cream Pie

5c1bc0c7091c7a189b28e6018abfea30YIELD: Serves 10.

INGREDIENTS:

Crust

9 graham crackers

1 cup finely chopped almonds

1/4 cup granulated sugar

4 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling

1 container (1.5 quarts) Dreyer’s or Edy’s Grand Coffee Ice Cream, softened

1/2 cup Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, chopped, divided

1/2 cup Nestlé La Lechera Dulce de Leche

1 tub (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

DIRECTIONS: To make the crust: Heat oven to 325 F. In food processor, add graham crackers and pulse until crackers resemble fine crumbs. Add crumbs to bowl along with chopped almonds, sugar and butter; stir to combine. Press into bottom and up sides of 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Bake 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool completely. To make filling: Spread ice cream into cooled pie crust, smoothing out over bottom. Sprinkle with half of the chopped morsels. Heat dulce de leche in microwave-safe bowl on high for a few seconds to soften; stir. Pour over chocolate morsels, spreading evenly. Spoon whipped topping over dulce de leche, covering entire surface of pie. Sprinkle with remaining morsels and almonds. Freeze 30 minutes.

Remove pie from freezer and cover with foil. Place back in freezer for at least 4 hours, or until pie has set. Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving.

Turkey day is almost here!

Centering your holiday meal around a turkey cooked to golden perfection is the ideal way to serve a feast. Without the right preparation and execution, however, your bird could fall short. To ensure your holiday dinner centerpiece lives up to expectations, follow these simple tips, from purchase to plate:

Buy the right bird. Finding a turkey that’s just the right size for your expected party is the start to a successful gathering. One common rule of thumb is to buy 1 pound of turkey per person — so for a 10-person meal, purchase a 10-pound turkey. Don’t forget that nearly everyone loves leftovers, so you may consider buying a few pounds more than necessary.

Be patient. If you opt for a frozen turkey, don’t rush the thawing process. For larger turkeys, it can take days to defrost properly. Timing is everything. Finding the right amount of time for your turkey to spend in the oven is crucial but not always the easiest thing to do. For an 8- to 12-pound bird, aim for 2.5 to 3.5 hours; 12 to 16 pounds for 3.5 to 4 hours; 16 to 20 pounds for 4 to 4.5 hours, and so on. The key is bringing the turkey to a temperature reading of 170 F.

Let it rest. Instead of pulling the turkey out of the oven and immediately carving it, give it a chance to rest for 20 to 30 minutes, which allows the juices to soak into the meat and moisten it up. While the turkey typically receives all the attention at holiday gatherings, rounding out your meal with the perfect sides and desserts is the key to a successful feast.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows

sweet_potato_casseroleYIELD: Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

5 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes

1/2 cup Kitchen Basics Original Chicken Stock

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

2 teaspoons McCormick Ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon McCormick Ground Nutmeg

2 cups miniature marshmallows

DIRECTIONS: Spray inside of 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add sweet potatoes, stock and brown sugar. Cover.Cook 4 hours on high or until potatoes are tender, stirring after each hour. Stir in butter, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Cover. Let stand 5 minutes. Beat potatoes with electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Top with marshmallows. Cover. Cook 10 minutes on high or until marshmallows are slightly melted.

Zucchini Casserole

YIELD: Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

6 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, diced

3 medium zucchini, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch slices

2 medium peeled carrots, shredded

1 can cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 ounces)

1/2 cup sour cream

1 bag (8 ounces) herb seasoned stuffing mix, coarsely crushed

DIRECTIONS: In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion, cook until tender. Add zucchini and carrots and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in cream of chicken soup and sour cream, mix well. Sprinkle half of stuffing into a 13- by 9-inch greased glass baking dish. Spoon zucchini mixture on top, then remaining stuffing. Bake at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Roasted Chestnuts

INGREDIENTS: 20 fresh unpeeled chestnuts

DIRECTIONS: Using a small sharp knife or a chestnut knife, carve an “X” in the flat side of each chestnut. Place chestnuts in an even layer, “X”-side down, in a chestnut-roasting pan. Cook chestnuts over low heat until opened, 20 to 25 minutes. Peel immediately, using a towel if chestnuts are too hot to touch.

Next week: Holiday desserts

A previous year’s entry depicts Port Jefferson’s Village Hall. File photo by Heidi Sutton

Calling all gingerbread house enthusiasts and architects! Time to start your ovens! Suffolk Lodge No. 60 Ancient, Free & Accepted Masons will be hosting its 6th Annual Gingerbread House Contest during the 21st annual Port Jefferson Charles Dickens Festival on Dec. 3 and 4.

gingy

Every year thousands of people attend this wonderful festival to see the transformation of Port Jefferson Village into a town out of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

All Gingerbread House Contest submissions will be on display during the festival in the basement of the Port Jefferson Masonic Temple, 312 Main Street on Dec. 3 from noon to 10 p.m. and Dec. 4 from noon to 5 p.m. Entries will be judged for their creativity, execution and originality by a panel of judges that includes celebrated local artists and chefs.

First prize in the adult category will be $500, runner-up receives $200. In the under-18 category, first prize is a $125 Amazon gift card, and runner-up is a $75 Amazon gift card. All Gingerbread House Contest entry registrations must be submitted by Sunday, Nov. 23. For complete details, printable and online registration forms and rules, please visit www.gingerli.org. For further information, call 631-339-0940.

Want to spend more time with loved ones this Thanksgiving? Ditch the perfectly timed oven schedule and put your slow cooker to work. It’ll deliver the familiar flavors of your favorite holiday stuffing, sauces and desserts in a new, more convenient way.

Cranberry Sauce

cranberry-sauceYIELD: Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries

2/3 cup sugar

1 seedless orange, peeled and sectioned

2 McCormick Bay Leaves

1 McCormick Cinnamon Stick

DIRECTIONS: Place all ingredients in 4-quart slow cooker. Cover. Cook 3 hours on high, stirring every hour. Uncover. Stir well. Cook, uncovered, 30 to 45 minutes longer on high or until slightly thickened.

Oatmeal Apple Cobbler

1467913710-apple-cobbler-delishYIELD: Serves 10

INGREDIENTS:

Apple Filling:

5 medium Gala apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose baking mix, such as Bisquick

1 teaspoon McCormick Ground Cinnamon Oatmeal

Cobbler Topping:

1 cup all-purpose baking mix, such as Bisquick

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon McCormick Ground Cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces

DIRECTIONS: Spray inside of slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. For the Apple Filling, toss apple slices, brown sugar, baking mix and cinnamon in large bowl. Place in slow cooker. For the Cobbler Topping, mix all ingredients, except butter, in medium bowl. Cut in butter with fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over Apple Filling. Cover. Cook 3 hours on high. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Sausage Stuffing

images-1
YIELD: Serves 12

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

2 cups chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 pound mild (sweet) Italian sausage, casing removed

1 cup Kitchen Basics Original Chicken Stock

2 teaspoons McCormick Rubbed Sage

1 teaspoon McCormick Crushed Rosemary

10 cups cubed French bread (1-inch pieces)

DIRECTIONS: Melt butter in large skillet on medium heat. Add celery and onion; cook and stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Add sausage; cook and stir until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Spray inside of slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add stock and herbs; stir to blend. Stir in bread cubes and sausage-vegetable mixture. Cover. Cook 45 minutes on high. Uncover and stir. Cook, uncovered, 30 minutes longer. Source: McCormick

Thyme-Scented Roasted Vegetables and Beets

When the pace of family life gets busy, it seems easier than ever to forgo healthy eating plans, and the hectic autumn season is a big culprit. However, you don’t need to compromise flavor for nutrition when turning to convenient options that fit your busy lifestyle. Round out your meal with a simple side dish recipe focused on vegetables, such as Chili Lime Butternut Squash, Thyme-Scented Roasted Vegetables accented with sweet, tangy pickled beets or Caul-Slaw.

Chili Lime Butternut Squash

Chili Lime Butternut Squash
Chili Lime Butternut Squash

YIELD: Serves 4 to 6

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups butternut squash, large dice

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon lime zest

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

olive oil spray

DIRECTIONS: Heat oven to 400 F. In bowl, toss all ingredients except olive oil spray together. Spray foil-lined sheet tray with olive oil spray and spread vegetables over tray. Roast in oven 20 minutes.

Thyme-Scented Roasted Vegetables and Beets

Thyme-Scented Roasted Vegetables and Beets
Thyme-Scented Roasted Vegetables and Beets

YIELD: Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Whole Pickled Beets, drained, halved

1/2 pound baby carrots

1 medium onion, cut through core into 1/2-inch wedges

8 ounces shallots, peeled, halved if large

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

DIRECTIONS: Heat oven to 400 F. Line 15-by-10-inch jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Add beets, carrots, onion and shallots. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast, uncovered, 15 minutes. Add garlic to vegetables; toss well. Return to oven and continue roasting 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned.

Note: 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme may be substituted for dried thyme leaves.

Caul-Slaw

Caul-Slaw
Caul-Slaw

YIELD: Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

5 cups cauliflower, grated

1 cup carrots, peeled and grated

3/4 cup ranch dressing, fat free

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup green onions, sliced

DIRECTIONS: In bowl, mix all ingredients together. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Tip: Cut cauliflower into quarters, keeping core attached; this will keep cauliflower from falling apart during grating.

William Connor in his favorite room in the house — the kitchen. Photo from Amy Connor

By Rita J. Egan

Back in April, Northport Middle School student William Connor participated in the show “Chopped Junior,” and when it came to the outcome, he had to keep it a secret until the Food Network broadcasted the episode on Oct. 25. Turns out the local junior chef made it all the way to the dessert round before being eliminated. In the episode, titled “Snapper Snafus,” William and three other contestants were judged by a panel that included Danica Patrick, Jamika Pessoa and Scott Conant. Ted Allen was the host.

On the night of Oct. 25, William said his parents held a big party. He said on hand were his parents, Amy and Gene, siblings, James and Sarah, as well as his grandparents, friends, teachers and the two chefs, Rob Thall and Michael Roberts, who helped him train for the show. His parents also recorded the show. “I’m glad we taped it, though, because sometimes people were cheering so loud that I missed part of what happened,” he said. The 13-year-old admitted he was nervous, because even though William knew what happened, he was curious to see how it was edited and what the result would look like. “It was interesting to see the way they edited it, which was really awesome.  I was extremely proud of going on the show and making it that far and getting to show the skills I have in culinary,” he said.

After the network aired the show, William said he received many compliments from family and friends. “And everyone said they wanted to eat my curry ice cream,” he said. When he was at school the next day, in addition to receiving congratulations, someone gave him a note signed by 20 people, many he knew and a few he didn’t from different grades. He said it read, “Great job. We all watched you on ‘Chopped Junior,’ and you really inspired us.”

Now that the show has aired, William, who admitted he had hoped he would make it at least past the appetizers round, can talk about what went on during taping. “There was one time when Scott Conant said he didn’t know what a cheese ball was, so the next day I had to go back to film some more commentary stuff, and I brought him a cheese ball.  I didn’t get to see his reaction because we were in two different studios that day, but they told me he liked it,” he said. William also said that during the entrée round he had trouble finding basil leaves due to another contestant using all of them. He spotted another type of leaf, smelled it, realized it was mint and decided to use it for his pesto. “The judges loved it. They thought it was very creative of me,” he said. The future professional chef also said he was proud that he received positive feedback about his ice cream. “Ted Allen wanted to taste it, which he never does,” he said.

While William is back to life as normal, with school and Boy Scouts, he has kept in touch with one of his competitors. “I’ve been in touch with Taylor, who got cut first — I think we got the closest.  We’ve been trying to get together but she lives in the city so it can be kind of hard.  She wants to be a chef too, so maybe we’ll be in culinary school together,” he said.

William’s appearance on the show has turned into a great learning experience for the Northport resident. “I think it really actually transformed me into the chef I am at this moment. I mean, it made me realize that I’m not perfect, nobody is perfect, and I still have a lot to learn.”

Staff members from the Sachem Public Library’s Community Services Department pose with Lidia Bastianich after the event: from left, Patrice Prawicka, Debra Vigliotti, Lauren Gilbert, Anne Marie Tognella, Lidia, Lorraine Silvering, Barbara DiPalmo, Karen Brady and Wendy Schlactus. Photo from Annemarie Tognella
The chef speaks to the a large audience at Sachem Public Library on Oct. 30. Photo from Annemarie Tognella
The celebrity chef speaks to the a large audience at Sachem Public Library on Oct. 30. Photo from Anne Marie Tognella
Teen librarian Kyle Quenneville gets his signed copy of Bastianich’s new book. Photo from Annemarie Tognella
Teen librarian Kyle Quenneville gets his signed copy of Bastianich’s new book. Photo from Annemarie Tognella

TUTTI A TAVOLA A MANGIARE!

Approximately 375 fans of celebrity chef, author and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich attended a talk and book signing event at Sachem Public Library in Holbrook last Sunday in honor of Italian Heritage Month. Lidia signed copies of her latest book, “Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook,” and posed for pictures with attendees both before and after her talk.

Lidia spoke about growing up in Italy and moving to the United States at the age of 12, how she got started in television with the help of Julia Child, going into business with her children and how important family is to her. She described some of the differences between Italian and Italian-American cuisine, how proud she is to be from “the two best countries in the world” and answered some cooking questions from the audience. The crowd was thrilled to meet her and enjoyed her personal anecdotes.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

Pumpkins are readily available in fall, when people carve jack-o’-lanterns out of pumpkins for Halloween or serve up pumpkin pie after a hearty Thanksgiving dinner. But people who are unsatisfied with plain old pumpkin pie can add something new to their repertoire this fall by cooking up the following recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust, courtesy of Lori Longbotham’s “Luscious Creamy Desserts” (Chronicle Books).

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

YIELD: Serves 8 to 10

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

INGREDIENTS:

Crust

1½ cups gingersnap cookie crumbs

½ cup finely chopped hazelnuts

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup sugar

Filling

1½ pounds cream cheese, at room temperature

½ cup packed light brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 cup solid-pack pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)

½ cup créme fraîche, homemade (see below) or store bought, or sour cream

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly butter an 8- or 8½-inch springform pan. To make the crust: Stir together all of the ingredients in a medium bowl until the crumbs are moistened. Press the mixture over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Increase the oven temperature to 425 F.

To make the filling: With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large deep bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and then the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and pumpkin pie spice and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the pumpkin purée, créme fraîche and vanilla, and beat until just combined. Pour the filling into the shell.

Place the cheesecake on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 250 F and continue baking for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 2½ hours. Then transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, tightly covered, for at least 10 hours, until thoroughly chilled and set, or for up to 2 days.

To serve, run a knife around the side of the cheesecake and remove the side of the pan. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature, cut into thin wedges with a sharp knife dipped into hot water and wiped dry after each cut.

Créme Fraîche (Makes about ½ cup) ½ cup heavy whipping cream ½ cup créme fraîche or sour cream with live culture Pour the cream into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and spoon in the créme fraîche. Let sit on the counter, with the lid slightly ajar, until the mixture thickens, from 4 to 24 hours, depending on the weather. Refrigerate, tightly covered, until ready to use.