There is a certain holiness inherent in eating a good meal with friends in December over a long and lingering conversation. Sometimes, one needs something creamy and delicious. Here at Little Bird Farm, this is my choice for a bit of holiday decadence between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It makes an appetizer but also a dip or a heavy soup. For a real treat, bake an acorn squash and bake the crab cheesecake in the cavity of the squash…um….seriously stunning with a glass of red wine and a friend.
For the savory cheesecake…
The crust, pressed and set aside:
¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs
¼ cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
Sautéed and set aside:
¼ cup chopped yellow or red bell pepper
¼ cup chopped leeks or Vidalia onion
2 tbsp butter
Mixed and poured:
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large or 2 medium eggs beaten
1 cup heavy whipping cream
one 10 ounce or two 5 once cans of crab meat, drained
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Swiss or Emmantaler cheese
(sautéed peppers and onions added)
Into a spring-form pan of 5 inches, press a layer of the mixed melted butter, parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs to create a crust. Set this aside
Sauté the finely chopped bell pepper and onion or leek in butter until soft and onions are translucent. Set aside.
In an electric mixing bowl or by a strong hand, beat the softened, room-temperature cream cheese at a low speed and add eggs until they are combined. By hand, stir in the crab meat, heavy cream, Swiss cheese and sautéed peppers with the salt and pour/spread over the crust in the spring-form pan.
On a baking sheet, bake the savory cheesecake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until the center is almost set. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack and run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cheesecake. If you are serving it on another day, cool it on a rack and refrigerate, rewarm the cheesecake to room temperature and serve serving. To release the cheesecake from the pan, remove the spring-form pan edge, place a plate over the cheesecake and carefully flip the cake upside-down, remove the spring-form base, place a second (serving) plate on the upside-down cheesecake and flip it back over to end up right-side-up. Serve with toasts or crackers.
This recipe if forgiving and flexible. The filling can be placed into small ramekins, baked without the crust and served hot a s a heavy dip – if you want it as a dip served over a long evening for a party, simply place it in a small crockpot liner and bake it off, returning it then to the crockpot for a hot dip/spread. It can be set up in ramekins and then frozen uncooked for ready appetizers to be cooked off after thawing and it can be done in small ramekins for individual appetizers at a sit-down dinner. Remove the egg from the recipe and add half and half and you have a cheesy crab soup garnished with Old Bay Seasoning.