Our return to food reality was a little rough. After a weekend with a wine glass that seemed to be permanently affixed to my right hand, delivering a constant iv drip of various elixirs, and meticulously prepared dishes in dainty small plate form, we came home to a house with no foie gras, no pork belly, and a refrigerator with a jug full of apple juice.
What should we do for lunch? my husband and I asked one another.
We found ourselves eating leftover cold pizza that we permitted the children to enjoy with the babysitter. And then we laughed at the disparity in food experiences.
It took me a little while to get back in my cooking groove. I have to admit, after Pebble Beach Food & Wine, I found it a bit defeating. How would my cooking ever compare? So I started off slowly. I believe omelets were my first dish to reentry.
But desserts were easier.
Many of the sweet offerings at the tastings were transformed into more portable form – easier for both creator and eater. Mini parfaits, if you will. So while I was not feeling up to baking that hunk of a cheesecake my husband has been craving, I realized I would do it Iuzzini style (well, sort of) and make Lemon-Berry Cheesecake Parfaits.
Sweet macerated berries topped a velutinous whipped cream with cream cheese laced with fresh lemon curd. Crumbled cinnamon graham cracker cookies. Oh, you’ve got to dig your spoon into this.
Don’t worry, I’ve got my cooking groove back. After a spoonful of this, I will be just fine.
Lemon-Berry Cheesecake Parfaits
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup raspberries (frozen will work, too)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 oz 1/3 Less Fat "Neufchâtel" Philly Cream Cheese
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup lemon curd
10-12 cinnamon graham crackers, crushed into 1/2 inch pieces
In a glass bowl, combine the strawberries, raspberries, sugar and lemon juice and stir well. Gently press the berries with a masher to release some juices. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for about 2 hours (or overnight).
In the bowl of an electric mixer with a wire whisk, beat the heavy cream, cream cheese and confectioners sugar until it turns to stiff peaks. Transfer to an airtight container and chill until ready to assemble.
When the berries have softened and released their juices, place about 3 tablespoons of berries and some juice in the bottom of 6 8-oz serving cups. Add 1/4 cup of whipped cream mixture to each and smooth the tops. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon curd and spread over top to the edges. Place about 2 tablespoons of crushed graham crackers on top. Repeat with another whipped cream, lemon curd and graham cracker layer. Top with one more layer of whipped cream mixture. If making ahead, cover each parfait glass with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator. This can be done up to one day ahead.
Before serving, drizzle remaining berry sauce on top of each parfait.
Adapted from Blackberry, Lemon and Gingersnap Cheesecake Pudding, Bon Appetit, August 2010, via Epicurious.