CRAVE: From sweet to savory dishes, eggs are essential for a variety of recipes

photo by: Brent Hofacker/Fotolia

Homemade Strawberry and Blueberry Cheesecake for dessert

NEW YORK-STYLE CHEESECAKE

Recipe courtesy American Egg Board

Yields 12 to 16 servings.

Ingredients:

Crumb Crust:

2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (56 to 60 wafers, crushed)

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

Filling:

5 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature

1 3⁄4 cups sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel

2 teaspoons vanilla

5 eggs, room temperature

2 egg yolks, room temperature

1⁄4 cup whipping cream

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300 F. Grease 9-inch springform pan; set aside.

To make crumb crust:

2. In a medium bowl, combine vanilla wafer crumbs and egg whites until evenly moistened.

3. Press evenly and firmly against bottom and 1 1⁄2 to 2 1⁄2 inches up sides of prepared pan. Refrigerate.

To make filling:

4. In a mixer bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, lemon peel and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Beat on high speed until fluffy.

5. Add eggs and egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add whipping cream and beat until blended.

To put it all together:

6. Place the chilled crust on a baking sheet, and pour filling into crust.

7. Bake in center of oven for about 1 1⁄2 hours, or until a wooden pick inserted midway between the center and the edge of the cheesecake comes out clean. (The center will still be soft, but it will firm up as the cheesecake cools.)

8. Remove cheesecake from oven and carefully loosen edges of cake from the pan with a metal spatula or a thin knife. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate, loosely covered, until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight.

Insider Tips:

l Remove side of springform pan before serving. Top with fresh berries or other fruit, or with prepared fruit pie filling, such as cherry or blueberry.

l To make crumbs, process vanilla wafers in a blender or food processor. Or place in a plastic bag, seal it, and then crush with a rolling pin or the flat side of a meat pounder. If desired, graham cracker crumbs can be used in place of vanilla wafer crumbs, following the same process detailed here.

l To avoid lumps in the batter, take cream cheese out of the refrigerator well in advance, allowing it plenty of time to come to room temperature. In a pinch, you can soften it in the microwave for a few seconds, but don’t overheat it. In addition, using eggs that aren’t refrigerator-cold prevents the fat in the cream cheese from re-hardening and making the batter look curdled or lumpy. Therefore, you should always use room temperature eggs.

• For a smooth, uniform batter, scrape down the sides of the bowl, as well as the beaters, frequently with a rubber scraper.

• Like other baked custards, cheesecake should be removed from the oven before the center is completely set. The center will jiggle slightly when the pan is gently shaken. The cheesecake will continue to cook after it’s removed, and the center will firm up as it cools. Over baked cheesecake will crack.

• Carefully loosen the sides when the cheesecake first comes out of the oven. The cheesecake will shrink away from the pan as it cools. Cracks are less likely to form if the cheesecake is not stuck to the sides of the pan.

• For easier slicing, use a thin-bladed knife, and wipe the knife clean with a damp towel or rinse it under warm water after each cut.

• Cover and refrigerate any leftover cheesecake promptly.

TOMATO AND AVOCADO EGG SALAD

Recipe courtesy American Egg Board

Yields 6 servings.

Ingredients:

Dressing:

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Salad:

6 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

2 avocados, chopped

1 cup chopped tomato

1⁄2 cup chopped red onion

1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

Spinach or lettuce leaves

Directions:

To make dressing:

1. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, salt and hot pepper sauce; set aside.

To make salad:

2. Reserve and refrigerate 6 center slices from eggs for garnish.

3. Chop remaining eggs into a large bowl. Add avocados, tomato, onion and parsley; toss gently to mix.

To put it all together:

4. Pour dressing over salad. Stir gently just until ingredients are evenly coated.

5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to blend.

6. Serve on spinach or lettuce leaves, garnished with reserved egg slices.

Insider Tips:• For neat, even slices in one stroke, use an egg slicer.

• To chop an egg, slice it in an egg slicer, then carefully position the egg crosswise in the slicer tray, and slice again. If you don’t have a slicer, use a sharp-bladed pastry blender.

• To hard-boil eggs, place them in a single layer in a saucepan. Add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Heat just to boiling. Remove from heat and cover pan. Let the eggs stand in hot water for 18 minutes for extra large eggs, 15 minutes for large eggs, or 12 minutes for medium eggs. Cool under cold running water, and then peel. Eggs are easiest to peel right after cooling.

• To peel a hard-boiled egg, gently tap the egg on the countertop until the shell is finely crackled all over. Roll the egg between your hands to loosen the shell. Start peeling at the large end, holding the egg under cold running water to help ease the shell off.

• Serve egg salad on crusty rolls or scooped into hollowed-out tomatoes.

LEMON POUND CAKE

Recipe courtesy American Egg Board

Yields 1 loaf, or 8 servings.

Ingredients:

13⁄4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

3⁄4 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1⁄2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Thin lemon slices, for garnish

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Coat bottom and sides of a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Dust bottom and sides of pan with flour, and tap out excess. Set aside.

2. In a medium-size bowl, combine flour, lemon peel, baking soda and salt; set aside.

3. In a mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, sour cream and lemon juice.

4. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture, 1⁄2 cup at a time, beating just until mixture is blended. Pour batter into prepared pan.

5. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then loosen cake from sides of pans with a thin knife, and remove cake from pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

6. Serve cake slices dusted with confectioner’s sugar and garnished with a thin slice of lemon.

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