my gratitude, and a recipe for key lime cheesecake

For many months now, I have wanted to write about my father.

I’ve wanted to write about how he forgets the names of my children at times. He calls my daughter by my name, and he calls Oliver by my brother’s name.  He doesn’t do this always, but just enough that it gets my attention. I wanted to write about how my father, an avid reader and accumulator of knowledge, stopped reading at least a year ago, or perhaps longer. He has my mother buy books for him, but they sit, untouched, on the table next to his recliner. I wanted to write about how he can no longer order from a restaurant menu without help. Instead, he just orders the same as my mother, probably because it’s easier for him that way.

I never wrote about these things, though, because he was still trying to live a normal life. What if his friends new? What if his business clients found out? But, of course, his business is dead, having essentially died the day this happened, two years ago. And I’m nearly certain his friends knew, in the way that good friends often know when something is wrong.

key lime cheesecake | the merry gourmet

Last weekend, I finally shared a piece of the story. I wrote about the difficult choice of placing my dad in a nursing home, and I wrote it simply because I had to. I was at a breaking point.

The comments you wrote on that post, the messages you sent through Twitter or Facebook, the emails you wrote to me — I have read, and reread, every single one. I am grateful to all of you who reached out to me. Every comment or message felt like a hug, a comforting squeeze of my hand. Thank you for that.

Mom and I are doing better. She finally shared what she’s been dealing with on her own blog. She sounds stronger than she has in the last 18 months. When I talk to her on the phone, her voice doesn’t tremble like it used to. I think she’s finally sleeping at night, the whole night through. She seems less frightened.

key lime cheesecake | the merry gourmet

Dad has been at the nursing home almost one week now. I don’t really like the place he’s in, but we don’t have a lot of other options right now. He has a new mystery book on his bedside table — and a huge magnifying glass to help him see the words — but he doesn’t read it. He keeps the television on, but he doesn’t really watch it. He picks at his meals, not remembering later what he ate. He mostly sleeps. He asks my mother if he can come home.

I know that we have more decisions ahead of us, but for now, my mom is catching her breath and regaining strength and I’m doing my thing – working, parenting, writing, and baking. We’re even going to do a bit of rest and relaxation on a warm, southern Florida beach very soon.

And about baking…

This is the cheesecake I baked on Saturday, the one that helped me to work through some of the stress of that day. Key lime pie is one of my husband’s favorite desserts, and, as it turns out, key lime cheesecake is now right up there as a favorite dessert contender.

And one more time, because I really mean it…thank you for being here.

key lime cheesecake | the merry gourmet

Yield: Serves 10-12.

Cook Time: 75 minutes

Key Lime Cheesecake

I think of Key lime pie as a classic Florida dessert, and if you have a cheesecake fan in your family, then you'll want to try combining the two. If you like the work of squeezing a bag full of tiny Key limes to get the juice needed for the recipe, then by all means, knock yourself out. If you're like me, though, you'll want an authentic Key lime taste without all of that work, so you'll use what I use - bottled juice. I highly recommend Nellie & Joe's Famous Key West Lime Juice.

Don't want cracks in your cheesecake? A water bath is essential. And trust me when I tell you that it's not as hard to do as you may think.

Ingredients:

Lime Curd:
7 large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Key lime juice (I use Nellie & Joe's Famous Key West Lime Juice)
Zest of one lime

Crust:
1-3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from 14 whole graham crackers)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
5 tablespoons Key lime juice
Zest of two limes

Directions:

For Lime Curd:

Whisk egg yolks, sugar, Key lime juice, and lime zest in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat until it thickens and comes to a boil, about 7-8 minutes. Let it boil for about 30 seconds, then remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

For Crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place oven rack in middle position.

Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the sides of the pan with a large sheet of aluminum foil (this will prevent leaking during final baking in the water bath). Whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt. Stir in the melted butter until combined. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and about 1-1/2 inches up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 5 minutes then let cool completely.

Decrease oven temperature to 325 degrees.

For Filling:

In a food processor or blender, process or puree the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, lime juice, and lime zest until smooth.

Spread the lime curd evenly over the bottom of the crust. Carefully pour the filling into the crust, on top of the lime curd. Set the foil-wrapped springform pan into a roasting pan. Make the water bath by carefully pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come 1 inch up the sides of the cheesecake pan, taking care not to splash the cheesecake. Bake for 70-75 minutes at 325 degrees, until the cake is set but trembles slightly in the middle when the pan is gently shaken. Turn off oven, crack the oven door, and let cheesecake sit in the cooling oven for about 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven, carefully lift the springform pan out of the water bath, and let the cheesecake cool completely on a rack.

Chill, loosely covered, at least 8 hours (or overnight) prior to serving. When ready to serve, run a blunt knife around edge of cheesecake to loosen it from the springform pan and remove sides of the pan. Serve ungarnished or with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

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15 Responses to “christmas dinners of years past and a recipe: pressure cooker pot roast”

  1. Kate @ Savour Fare — December 15, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

    I’m always looking for good pressure cooker recipes. Mine doesn’t get nearly as much use as it rightfully should.

  2. Macaroni Mama — December 15, 2011 @ 9:32 pm

    I need to buy an electric pressure cooker. Ours scares me as well!

  3. Paula — December 15, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

    I’m sure your Dad will be making his famous pressure cooker pot roast next Christmas for you all to enjoy.

    Call me stupid but I’ve never seen nor heard of an electric pressure cooker but I certainly love the idea of it. I haven’t used a stove-top one for years and when I did I was always afraid of just what you said….the hissing and the thought that at any minute the top would blow and I’d have a hole in my kitchen ceiling 🙂

    Your version of your Dad’s pot roast looks fork tender and delicious. I think I’ve topped out my Christmas list for this year but I have a birthday coming up in several months. LOL

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 16th, 2011 @ 7:25 am

      Aw, thanks Paula. Yes, you definitely want to add one of these to your gift list in the future. I love mine. I wish Cuisinart was paying me to say so, but they’re not – and it’s true.

  4. Gail — December 16, 2011 @ 7:25 am

    Having witnessed a pressure cooker explosion, I’ve always steered clear of them.
    This pot roast looks and sounds really homey and wonderful.
    A 5 pound roast ready to serve in an hour? That’s pretty tempting, even for a ‘fraidy cat like me!

  5. Kathryn — December 16, 2011 @ 8:33 am

    I love that you have your own Christmas food traditions that work for your family – it makes it all the more special!

  6. Renée J. (RJ Flamingo) — December 16, 2011 @ 8:35 am

    I’m scared of those blasted things, too! Thanks for turning me on to the electric version – never knew they made them.

    The pot roast sounds scrumptious and I’m sure it will more than stand in till your Dad can make it for you again. 🙂

  7. Renee — December 16, 2011 @ 8:35 am

    My dad made beef stew in a pressure cooker. I’ve been wanting to get a pressure cooker lately and I’m glad to see a recommendation on a good one. The pot roast sounds good too!

  8. Chris — December 16, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful memory, loaded with sounds and aromas that bring back a vivid recollection. Of all the contraptions and devices that we have, I have never had a pressure cooker. It’s something I need to look in to.

  9. Karen — December 18, 2011 @ 12:33 am

    I am going to make this for tomorrow’s Sunday dinner. I haven’t done a pot roast in a pressure cooker for years… I use mine all the time to do dried beans and peas. Just an old Presto on top of the stove that is 30 years old, except for new rubber rings. Don’t be afraid –go for it.

  10. Amy — December 19, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

    I have a pressure cooker and anxiety using it as well after ending up with butter beans on the ceiling our first year of marriage. To tell you the truth, I’ve never heard of an electric one, but I’m totally going to check into that because we would use it weekly.

    Yummy recipe!

  11. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com — December 21, 2011 @ 12:31 am

    I use stove top pressure cooker a lot in Indian cooking — and it makes life so easy not waiting on foods to cook for hours 🙂

  12. Kait — January 26, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

    I am going to make this tonight. It looks great. I wish the Cuisinart came with more recipes. Thanks!

    I use a pressure cooker to make all my weeknight dinners. I learned to get over my fear on an All American stovetop pressure cooker/canner. I love it because in addition to the jiggler, it has a steam pressure gauge which tells me exactly what the pressure in the pot is +/- 2psi. It is a 22 quart though so I bought a Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker. I bought this cooker because I wanted something that I would still use once the American version of the Fissler Vitavit Edition comes out.

    My favorite pressure cooker cookbooks are for stovetop though (The Easy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and Miss Vicki’s Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes). I hope to learn more about my Cuisinart to adjust these recipes and expand my cooking choices.

    I love having both options of stovetop and electric. I do like the Cuisinart also. It cooks on Hi, Low, has a browning and saute setting, and automatically switches to warming which buys me an extra hour before it starts affecting the food. Nice little machine.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — January 27th, 2012 @ 7:39 am

      Thanks for the tips on the cookbooks! I have one for stovetop, but it’s not one that you mentioned. I’ll have to check those out.

  13. Kathe — February 24, 2013 @ 10:40 pm

    Made this for dinner tonight. Along with some mashed potatoes and homemade bread this was the best Sunday dinner I’ve made in a long while! Thank you!!! And a thank you to my Cuisinart electric pressure cooker!

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