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June 2009 Issue
Cream Cheese Magic
by J. Sinclair
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Cream cheese is categorized as a fresh cheese since it is unaged. As a result, it has a short shelf life, once opened. The flavor is mild, fresh-tasting, and sweet, yet has a pleasing slight tang. At room temperature, cream cheese spreads easily and has a smooth and creamy texture. It is sold in foil-wrapped blocks or in a soft-spread form which has air whipped in to make it spreadable right from the refrigerator.

Cream cheese is one of America's most widely-consumed cheeses. Its soft creamy texture gives richness to cheesecake, frosting, bagel-toppers, and dips and makes wonderfully light and flaky pastry crusts. But its usefulness extends to savory dishes as well. Here are two recipes that bridge the range. Enjoy!

 

Apple Pear Pork Loin Chops

  • 4 boneless pork loin chops, cut 1-inch thick
  • 1/2 tsp. ground sage
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 2 T. butter, divided use
  • 1/4 c. finely minced onion
  • 1/4 c. apple or pear brandy, slightly warmed
  • 1 unpeeled apple, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 unpeeled pear, cored and finely chopped
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
Pound each boneless pork loin chop with a rubber mallet or the back of a heavy skillet to tenderize. Reform into original thickness.

Sprinkle pork on both sides with sage, thyme, kosher salt, and fresh pepper. Pat gently into the meat. Place flour on a shallow plate. Dredge both sides of each seasoned chop, shaking off any excess.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a heavy skillet. Sear pork on each side, turning only once. Remove to a platter and keep warm.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet, along with the onions. Gently sauté until onions are caramelized and golden. Carefully pour the brandy into the skillet. Light with a long match and flambé the onions.

When the flames die out, add the apples, pears, and heavy cream to the skillet. Sauté, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in cream cheese, simmering until the cheese is melted and incorporated into the sauce. Do not boil.

Return the pork with its juices to the skillet, turning to coat with the sauce. Let cook 1 minute to reheat.

Serve pork loin chops with the apple-pear sauce.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes
 

 

Blueberries and Cream Cheesecake

  • 1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 1/2 c. plus 2 T. sugar, divided
  • 1/3 c. butter or margarine, melted
  • 3-1/2 c. fresh blueberries, divided
  • 3 T. cornstarch, divided
  • 3 (8-ounces) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 (8-ounces) cartons sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. water
Stir together graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and butter. Press mixture evenly in bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 325 degrees F for 9 minutes. Cool.

Process 2-1/2 cups blueberries and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in container of an electric blender or food processor until smooth, stopping once to scrape down sides. Pour into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Set mixture aside to cool. Cover and chill 1/2 cup mixture for making glaze.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, mixing well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons cornstarch and salt.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Pour blueberry mixture over batter; gently swirl with a knife. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until set. Remove from oven; cool on a wire rack 20 minutes.

Stir together sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla; spread over cheesecake. Bake at 325 degrees F for 10 more minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cover and chill 8 hours. Stir together reserved 1/2 cup blueberry mixture, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Gently fold in remaining 1 cup blueberries; cool.

Run a knife around the inside of the springform pan to separate the crust from the pan. Remove the sides of the springform pan. Spoon blueberry glaze over cheesecake.

  • Yields: 10-12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 75 minutes
 



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