Bad aftertaste

July 16, 2007

I don’t make a point of watching it, but every time I see a bit of an episode of The Next Food Network Star, I become depressed. It’s such a celebration of camera friendliness over anything resembling a culinary sensibility, and it symbolizes everything that bothers me about the network’s recent programming trends. Just give me one half-hour with a serious cook who will actually talk about culinary techniques and food and not try so hard to charm me.

As for the third season of Top Chef, I’m just not engaged. The second season seemed like a particularly unpleasant year on The Real World, so maybe I’m gun shy. The contestants aren’t as obnoxious as they were last year, but I just can’t get into it. Maybe it’s the Miami setting. It seems too trendy.

Okay, ending on a more positive note, I’ve had really good luck with Giada De Laurentiis’s dessert recipes. I like these cheesecake squares a lot and have made them twice. They’re good with the limoncello, but they work nicely with lemon juice if you don’t have that particular liqueur on hand and don’t feel like buying a bottle. (I used up the last of the bottle we had the first time I made them and didn’t expect to be able to find it at any of the local liquor stores, so I improvised. Limoncello is yummy, though, especially during the summer.) I’ve never used biscotti for the crust, as I didn’t have any in the house either time, but vanilla wafers work well, and ginger cookies work even better. It sounds kind of weird, but the flavor really blends well with the lemony cheesecake.

The limoncello results in a creamier consistency, and the plain juice makes them cakier, so it might just depend on how you prefer your cheesecake. I like it both ways, so I found them equally good. Don’t be alarmed if the batter looks like it’s curdling after you add the juice, though. It comes out fine.