Tuesday 14 February 2012

Authentic Pagliacci's New York Style Cheesecake

I've had food on the brain - you may have noticed.  Here's another recipe that I have to share because it is a truly decadent and authentic cheesecake.

Five eggs, five packages of cream cheese.  It doesn't get more indulgent than this.  This is my favourite type of cheesecake, and the recipe is from one of my favourite restaurants.

   Victoria, BC, was our home for five years.  A wonderful city, in a beautiful part of the country.   Pagliacci's still holds a special place in my memories, and I vow to make it back there one day.   Some places just stay with you, and this place was meant to, with it's excellent Italian food, great atmosphere, and amazing dessert menu.

Their New York Style Cheesecake was my usual choice, and one day while eating there I noticed an article posted on the wall beside me, printed in Bon Appetit magazine, listing the recipe for the very cheesecake I was eating.  I copied it onto a napkin with a lip pencil from my purse, transferred it to a recipe card when I got home, and I've been making it ever since.

Pagliacci's New York Style Cheesecake

1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs (it's also good with vanilla wafer crumbs) 
¼ cup sugar 
¼ cup butter , softened 

40 ounces cream cheese (5 pkg), room temperature 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
2 teaspoons vanilla 
1 ¾ cups sugar 
3 tablespoons flour 
¼ teaspoon salt 
5 eggs, room temperature 
2 egg yolks 
¼ cup whipping cream 


Mix crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and butter and press into a 10" spring form pan. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

Preheat oven to 500ºF. 

Beat cream cheese with electric mixer in large bowl until very smooth. Blend in lemon juice and vanilla. Sift sugar, flour and salt together and gradually beat into cheese. Beat until creamy, smooth and light, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs and yolks one at a time. Blend in cream. Pour into crust. 

Bake 12 minutes. 

Reduce oven temperature to 200ºF. Continue baking until tester inserted in centre comes out clean. The original recipe said for 45 minutes but I find that it takes longer. 

Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan. Cool cake completely and refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving.

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    Monday 13 February 2012

    Genuine East Coast Donairs

    "In the early 70's, a Greek restaurateur in the city of Halifax introduced the donair. Within a few short years, virtually all pizzerias had added their version of the dish to their menus. Not to be confused with gyros, the donair has a vastly different flavour. Originally the dish was made with ground lamb, but this proved too costly and ground beef was later substituted. Technically, this resulted in an aberration of sorts, as the final product was not what the originator had intended. What resulted, however, is the legendary East Coast Donair."

    I have always loved donairs. I remember being introduced to them as a teenager, lunching at a local Lebanese restaurant during high-school. Years later, finding ourselves on the west coast and making late night snack runs to the best donair place in Victoria. Then spending time in Halifax, and being torn between eating every donair in the city or filling up on the fabulous Greco's pizza, which is also unique to the East Coast.. 

    This is the best recipe I could find that replicates the unique taste experience that is the Genuine East Coast Donair.

    Genuine East Coast Donair


    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp ground oregano
    • 1 tsp all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp onion powder
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
    • 3/4 cup white sugar
    • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
    4 teaspoons white vinegar, or as needed


    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a cup or small bowl, mix together the salt, oregano, flour, black pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.
    2. Place the ground beef in a large bowl, and use your hands to blend in the spice mixture. If you want the smooth texture of meat that you see in a real donair shop, you must do this in a steel mixing bowl and on a sturdy surface. Pick up the meat, and throw it down with force about 20 times, kneading it after each throw. This also helps the meat hold together better when you slice it.
    3. Form the meat into a loaf, and place it on a broiler pan. If you do not have one, a baking sheet will do.
    4. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven, turning the loaf over about half way through. This will ensure even cooking. This cuts better if you chill the meat overnight before slicing.
    5. To make the donair sauce, mix together the evaporated milk, sugar and garlic powder in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the white vinegar, adding 1 teaspoon at a time, until thickened to your desired consistency.
    6. Serve thin meat slices on warm pita with sauce, freshly chopped tomato and onion.

    The Donair Shop

    The Donair Shop

    Just Like Starbucks Lemon Loaf

    Baked goods at Starbucks make me happy, and good copy-cat recipes are hard to find, but this one is close to the real thing. This is the lemoniest lemon loaf recipe ever. 

    Photo Source
    The key ingredient is the lemon extract, so don't skip it.  It gives more lemon flavour than lemon juice  and zest by themselves can.

    Just Like Starbucks Lemon Loaf

    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3 eggs, room temp
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 teaspoon lemon extract
    • 1/3 cup lemon juice
    • 1/2 cup oil
    • zest of one lemon
    • Glaze:
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 2 tablespoons whole milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

    • 1
      Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan. I like to put a strip of parchment paper in the bottom to help the loaf release easily after it's baked.
    • 2
      In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
    • 3
      In a medium bowl, combine eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon juice with a mixer until blended.  Add oil and lemon zest and mix well.
    • 4
      Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.
    • 5
      Pour into loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  Mine took closer to an hour.  Remove from oven and pour glaze over it, then cool in pan on a rack.
    • 6
      Glaze - whisk to combine

      *I have tinkered with the recipe slightly since it was originally posted, partly due to my own experience with this recipe and also in observation of some earlier comments. The glaze is simpler and no longer requires cooking.  Also, I've removed poppy seeds which were my addition (I love them!) as the original Starbucks loaf does not have them.  Of course, you can add a couple tablespoons it you love them like I do ;)

      **Some of you are experiencing collapsed loaves.  This has never happened to me but I headed over to Google and came up with this:

      My guess would be that it's to do with the leavening quantities, and that perhaps you were too generous with the baking soda/ baking powder.  This can also happen in you accidentally use self-raising flour in a cake recipe that calls for plain flour (terms vary with geography, I'm sure you get what I mean)
      There are two leavening agents in the recipe, in addition to the baking powder you have baking soda which will react with the acids in the orange juice and the yoghurt (or lemon juice in the case of this loaf!).  Both of these reactions produce gas that makes the cake rise.  If too much gas is produced then the cake will rise up high, fairly quickly, but will become too big to support itself.  Some of the gas will leave the mixture before it has time to bake into a solid and the cake will collapse.  So although it might sound counter-intuitive, less baking powder/ baking soda may result in a larger, firmer cake.
      Cakes can also collapse after baking if they are moved or disturbed before they have cooled completely.  Depending on the type of cake, the cooling period can be a critical time for the cake to develop strength in a similar manner to the way that custards set when they cool down.  I've even heard that you shouldn't bake cakes in non-stick tins because then they don't stick to the sides as they cool, but rather allow the cake to slide down and collapse! 

      Source: http://forums.egullet.org/topic/133578-my-simple-loaf-cake-collapsed-why/

      *** Another great suggestion is to use a foil wrap around the baking pan to prevent the sides of the cake from setting too quickly as the sides of the pan heat up... read more here.

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