CSA Week 4, and Cheesecake Squares with Roasted Rhubarb & Strawberry Coulis
What did our CSA share for last week hold? Still shades of green, with some new treats. Golden swiss chard, hakurei (salad) turnips, garlic scapes, daikon, leaf lettuce, field greens, kale, and basil (nice to have the latter this early in the season, thanks to the farm’s greenhouse!)
Daikon is fairly new to me; it’s a large, white root in the radish family, used often in Japanese cuisine. It looks similar to a large carrot that’s been sucked dry of its orange pigment, which always reminds me of the book Bunnicula (the whole series of which I read when I was young, and then subsequently read to my younger brother, too. We loved those books.) Anyhow, daikon tastes fairly mild and crunchy raw, and mellows even further when cooked; it keeps really well in the fridge for weeks. It’s a great addition to a slaw or sliced into a salad for some crunch, and sometimes I stir-fry it briefly with other vegetables.
Our fruit share this week contained probably the last of the season’s strawberries — with all the rain we’ve been having, the season won’t last much longer. Good thing we got plenty in our Fruit Bowl share to enjoy!
Since freshly-picked strawberries are so fragile and perishable (and SO delicious!), after I’ve eaten some right from the container and made my requisite strawberry-rhubarb pie (yes, I made it again and no, sorry, I did not get a picture!), I’ve been pureeing the remainder with just a little sugar or honey, straining the puree to remove the tiny seeds, and using it as a strawberry coulis. We had the coulis last week over cheesecake squares that I topped with the last of the season’s rhubarb, which I had roasted with sugar.
sprinkle the strawberries with a little sugar; let them sit until juices develop
puree until smooth, then strain to remove any seeds
The strawberry coulis is also fantastic as a sauce for ice cream (particularly buttermilk ice cream!), or mixed with a little seltzer or sparkling water to create a homemade, natural strawberry soda. It’s so refreshing!
I recently saw Dorie Greenspan tweet about roasting rhubarb, and thought it sounded like a nice new way to prepare it. Sprinkled with sugar, mixed in a pan and covered with foil, the rhubarb tenderizes and caramelizes in no time.
I had seen these cheesecake squares on Epicurious recently, topped with a few fresh blueberries (also a great idea, now that blueberries will be coming into season!) The cheesecake itself is flavored with a little lemon zest, and it’s baked on a graham cracker crust. The squares are super easy to make, easy to cut, and (topped with a fresh berry or two rather than the coulis) would make great transportable picnic food. A nice base for many of the berries coming into season soon (yeah!!)
Cheesecake Squares with Roasted Rhubarb & Strawberry Coulis
Adapted from Bon Appetit
These would be terrific topped with any seasonal berry. They slice well and would transport well for a picnic!
Makes 9 squares.
For the cheesecake squares
9 whole graham crackers
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the strawberry coulis
1 pint strawberries
1 tablespoon (or more to taste) sugar or honey
For the roasted rhubarb
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4-1/2 cup sugar (I used 1/4 cup because I had slightly under 1 pound of rhubarb)
To make the cheesecake squares:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a piece of foil into an 8×8 baking pan (use enough so that the foil overhangs the sides.) Butter the foil in the pan.
Place the graham crackers in a large ziptop bag and smash them with a rolling pin until they’re crushed to fine crumbs. Stir in the melted butter with a fork until the crumbs are moistened, then use your hands to press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Bake until deep golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside (you can start preparing the cheesecake filling while the crust is baking.)
With an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the egg and sour cream, then lemon zest and vanilla. Spread the batter over the crust once it comes out of the oven.
Bake cheesecake for 30 minutes, or until set and slightly puffed. Let cool completely on a rack, then chill for at least 2 hours until slicing into squares.
To make the strawberry coulis:
Trim and half the strawberries; place them in a medium bowl. Sprinkle sugar over the strawberries (I use about 1 tablespoon sugar for 1 pint of strawberries, but feel free to adjust to your taste) and stir to coat. Let them sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, until juices form. Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor until very smooth, then use a fine mesh strainer to strain out the tiny seeds. Store covered, in the refrigerator.
To make the roasted rhubarb:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Spread the sliced rhubarb out in a single layer in an 11×7 glass baking dish. Sprinkle the sugar over the rhubarb and stir to coat. Set aside for about 5 minutes to let juices start to form, then cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, peek under the foil to see if the sugar has almost melted. If not, replace the foil and roast another 5 minutes or so. When the sugar has almost melted, take the foil off the pan and roast, uncovered, 5 minutes longer. The syrup should be bubbling.
Remove the pan from the oven and let the rhubarb cool. You can store this, covered, in the fridge for a week.
Spoon a little roasted rhubarb on top of a cheesecake square; drizzle the strawberry coulis over the plate.