lemon sour cream cheesecake with strawberry glaze

The grocery stores seem to be inundated with lemons lately. Every time I walk through the produce section I can’t help but crave lemony desserts. I made these lemon bars when I last had that craving, but after eating way too many of them, I decided that I needed to make a dessert that wouldn’t be so addictive.

I like cheesecake, but it’s not my favorite dessert. I lean more towards chocolate desserts. Or lemon bars. My husband, on the other hand, adores cheesecake. So, I figured I’d get to satisfy my lemon dessert craving with a slice, and he’d benefit too. Plus, he’s always happy to taste-test experimental dessert recipes for me.

I wanted to make this with Meyer lemons, but I couldn’t find any at the grocery store on the day I made this. I also wanted to use marscapone cheese, but I couldn’t find that either. I used what I had on hand — regular lemons instead of Meyers and sour cream instead of marscapone.

The cheesecake turned out very light, with a perfect lemon flavor – and a bit of a tanginess – that was balanced perfectly with the sweet strawberry glaze on top. Craving (and husband) satisfied.

lemon cheesecake

Lemon Sour Cream Cheesecake



1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground shortbread cookies [I used Keebler Sandies.]


24 ounces cream cheese (3 packages)
8 ounces sour cream
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Crust preparation:

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium high speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Add flour and ground shortbread cookies and blend for 3 to 4 seconds until fully incorporated. Press the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan. Bake crust at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the crust to cool completely. When cool, wrap bottom and sides of the springform pan tightly with aluminum foil in preparation for cooking cheesecake in a water bath.

Cheesecake preparation:

Using an electric mixer (hand-held or stand mixer), beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the sour cream and sugar and continue to beat on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time. Blend in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Pour mixture into cooled crust.

Set the cheesecake into a roasting pan, and add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Place in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the cake is set and the top is golden. Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan and let cool on a wire rack. After it has cooled slightly, chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

For the strawberry glaze:

Puree two cups of hulled strawberries until smooth. Combine strawberry puree with 2/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low, cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Adapted from this recipe from Epicurious, by Chef James Irby.

getting my umbrella ready

Those who know me well know that I am at my happiest when I’m planning my next vacation. There may be a scientific reason behind this, but I just know that I adore planning trips. And going on them, too, of course.

We’re headed to Las Vegas in June, and I’m getting more and more excited about it. I’m not the gambling type — I’d rather get a sure thing for my money — but Las Vegas is such a great city for entertainment, food, people watching, shopping. And did I mention shopping? And food?

But guess where else I’m going. Go on. Guess!

I’ll give you a hint:

I’ve been to Seattle as a kid, maybe when I was around ten or so. I have a handful of memories of Seattle from way back then — eating bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, watching the salmon swim upstream through the locks. I also remember rain, lots of rain. I can hardly wait to see the city again as an adult. And to top it off, I get to attend a fantastic conference with lots of other people who all love food and writing as much as I do.

If you’re also interested in attending the IFBC, general registration opens on April 19th. Hope to see you there!

marinated beef kebabs – or, when things don’t go as planned

Our weekday routine is so hectic – with work, school, swim practice, and random errands that must get done – that we rarely sit down to a real family dinner during the week. I have a wonderful babysitter who picks my kids up from school three days a week, and on those days, the kids eat dinner with the sitter before my husband and I get home from work. By the weekend, my maternal guilt has usually set in nice and strong, and I feel the urge to bring everyone together for at least one good meal together.

cumin-scented beef kabobs

Sounds lovely and peaceful, right? The four of us seated at a beautifully set dinner table, a home cooked dinner on our plates, pleasant conversation about life and the issues of the day. Smiles and happy faces all around. Add some violin music, and it would be perfect.

Of course, it rarely – if ever – happens that way. Not in my house, anyway. Our version usually involves less peace and harmony and more whining and complaining from the kids, begging and pleading from me, and general annoyance and frustration by about ten minutes into it. The meal usually ends with me wondering aloud why I even bother.

cumin-scented beef kabobs

This past weekend I attempted the family dinner again. I made a recipe from the August 2009 issue of Gourmet for cumin-scented beef kebabs. The recipe turned out great. The marinade was incredibly flavorful. The combination of the oregano, cumin, coriander, garlic, and cayenne was delicious.

The family dinner did not quite go as I had planned.  Our gas grill ran out of gas as the meat was finishing up. When the gas ran out, the steak was only cooked to medium rare, a bit too rare for our tastes. The beef cooked a bit more as it rested, so most pieces were cooked just right. My kids refused to eat the roasted red pepper and pine nut dip that I served on the side. It was a great sauce for the beef and the mushrooms, but Madeline and Oliver wanted no part of that. The grilled mushrooms were so tender and wonderful, but I couldn’t get either child to try even the smallest bite.  A small consolation was that they did eat the jasmine rice and the beef.

But I will still continue to try. I’m determined that if I make a habit of the family dinner, the kids will eventually forget that they don’t like eating non-brown, non-hot-dog-shaped food. I’m a believer that one day they’ll look forward to the ritual of it. And hopefully they’ll look forward to my food, too.

cumin-scented beef kabobs

Since I followed the recipe exactly, I won’t duplicate it here. If you’re interested in trying it, this is where you can find it. I thought it was really tasty, definitely worthy of making again.