Eastern Shore Seafood Cheesecake
Waterside living—be it poolside, bayside, lakeside or a picnic at the river or on the bank of a stream—is best when shared with friends and family. As we all know, food plays a key role in any waterside gathering and the simpler the better to ensure that that “galley chef” is outside sharing in on all the fun as well!
I have developed several recipes over the years for savory cheesecakes that make our get togethers “Simply Entertaining” for my guests and for me. Served indoors or out—they are guaranteed to get you waterside (tailgating or fireside) with your guests with only a minimum amount of time spent in your kitchen!
1 cup fine dry Italian-style bread crumbs
½ c. salted butter, melted
2 T. EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)—more as needed for sauté
1 cup scallions, sliced thinly and diagonally
1/3 c. red sweet pepper, chopped finely
1/3 c. yellow sweet pepper, chopped finely
1/3 c. orange sweet pepper, chopped finely
2 ½ teas. kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal ONLY—different brands = different levels of saltiness so please be cautious if using another brand)
¼ teas. freshly cracked black pepper
½ teas. onion powder (not onion salt)
¼ teas. garlic salt
1 teas. chicken bouillon (I use Knorr Caldo Con Sabor de Pollo—find it in the authentic Hispanic/Mexican section of your local supermarket)
4 oz. smoked gouda, shredded (1 cup)
3 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
3 jumbo eggs
12 oz. of fresh or frozen shelled crawfish tails (juice and all)
½ cup (4 oz.) crabmeat—real only and as fresh as you can get it
½ cup (4 oz.) cooked salad shrimp, roughly chopped
½ cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat your oven to 350° and line the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and center a baking rack (that fits within the rims of the baking sheet) on top of the paper lining. (The oils from the cheesecake can drip and the rimmed baking sheet will prevent oven spills, the parchment paper ensures an easy cleanup and the baking rack ensures that the cheesecake has air circulation throughout it’s baking time).
In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.
In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, sauté scallions and sweet peppers in EVOO until just heated through—1 to 2 minutes max. Season sautéed scallion and peppers with salt, pepper, onion powder, chicken bouillon and garlic salt and cook for an additional minute, then remove from heat and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat room temperature cream cheese and smoked gouda with an electric mixer until smooth. Add jumbo eggs—be careful to mix ONLY until just combined without overbeating.
Stir in the onion and peppers mixture, seafood and heavy whipping cream.
Pour the seafood cheesecake filling over prepared breadcrumb crust in the springform pan. Place springform pan on baking rack on prepared baking sheet and place in your preheated oven on the center rack.
Bake for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes total or until the center appears nearly set when you shake—like a thick pudding. It should quiver ever so slightly and that’s it.
Remove from the oven and bring to room temperature—about 1 hour on a baking rack. Slide a thin knife all around the inside of the perimeter of the pan and remove the side of the springform pan. Serve immediately or cover tightly and refrigerate—it will keep for 3 days in the fridge. I have found the flavor is always most fabulous if you bring a savory cheesecake back to room temperature before serving.
Serve with crackers, “So Simple Crostini’s” (always disappear first at my house—with guests waiting at the oven—directions follow), pita chips—whatever you have onhand!
I will be posting several more of my savory cheesecake recipes in future posts—all perfect for waterside, tailgating and with a glass of wine in front of the fireplace (or fire pit)!
“Sea” you soon, my friends! (Delightfully “Cheesy” ending—perfect for a “cheesecake” recipe—don’t you think?!)
So Simple Crostini’s
2 or 3 good (real!!!) freshly baked French baguettes (The quality of the baguette is key to the success of this recipe. Long, narrow—crispy outside, chewy inside—baguettes only, please! Big squishy loaves will just burn and turn to powder…not a great basis for any toppings!)
2-4 T. of the best quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) that you can get your hands on. (“Lucini” is a great brand that is relatively easy to find.)
Freshly cracked sea salt
Put your oven on broil—high. Slice baguettes on the diagonal—a little more than bout ¼ inch thick. Place baguette slices on a baking rack, drizzle liberally with EVOO and then freshly cracked salt. Broil for two minutes or until edges are JUST golden. Serve immediately. (Be prepared to repeat several times—preparing batches one right after another as your guests discover these!)