Tag Archives: cheesecake

Academy Awards 2012 Feast and a Little Obsession with Sautéing

25 Feb

I always enjoy eating a bit of everything during the Oscars.  Whether you are having a little get-together with family and friends, or it is just you and the pups, having good food is a great way to enjoy the awards show.

I think my favorite thing about this meal is the smell of onions sautéing in butter, a smell that brings back the very best memories of my childhood in Poland.   The smell conjures up a period of my life when time slowly melted away; the comforts of a childhood home that can never fade, the trivial daily routines of my mother or grandmother that gave me a sanctuary of stability, love and reassurance.

I am having just a few friends over and decided to combine a few fast and easy Polish dishes with a little Mediterranean flare.  If you are throwing a lavish party double or triple the recipes and always remember that presentation counts as much as the food, so let the fun begin.

A simple sausage can turn into am extravagant meal if you add the perfect sides; grilled potatoes, sautéed zucchini, grilled mushrooms, and a sauerkraut salad (surowka z kiszonej kapusty), trust me, it’s delicious.  For desert, an easy-peasy cheesecake with fresh strawberries.  I have a creamier, more intricate cheesecake recipe I will share in the future, but for this weekend who has time to bake when the Academy Awards are on.


Sausage -(2 sausages a guest) any kind will do, but make sure you are buying nitrite and nitrate free sausages.  Whole foods and Trader Joes has a grand assortment.  I have chosen a spinach, fontina and roasted garlic chicken sausage (all natural, raised with no antibiotics-Trader Joes)

1 bag Dutch yellow potatoes (or any small potatoes, that do not require peeling)

(I love You Trader Joe’s Dutch Yellow Potatoes, only $2.79 a bag)

4 carrots

(I always buy the organic small bunch from Whole Foods, they are very economical and no peeling necessary)

3 ½ onion (yellow or white)

5 zucchini

10-12 or 1 package baby bella mushrooms

10-12 Shitake mushrooms

1 Jar Sauerkraut (I recommend any Polish sauerkraut that you can get your hands on; I do believe it is the best.  However, for those of you that are not fortunate enough to have a global market in your town, any kind will do, although sauerkraut in a jar is much tastier than the stuff that comes in a bag!)

Olive oil

4 T butter

Salt and pepper

Ingredients for the Cheesecake

2 packages cream cheese

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 orange (for the zest)

1 Vanilla bean

Fresh strawberries

Go ahead and start on your cheesecake first.

Bring the cream cheese to room temperature

Zest your orange

Beat the cream cheese with 1/3 cup sugar (I am not a fan of overtly sweet desert, if that is what you enjoy add another ¼ cup of sugar), the vanilla bean, and the orange zest until the batter has a creamy consistency.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time until well blended

Butter your glass-baking dish and lightly coat with breadcrumbs or flour

Pour batter into a glass dish, I am not a fan of piecrust (it is usually made with hydrogenated oils (very bad for your health), unless you make your own, but in Poland, cheesecake is usually made without a crust.

Bake at 350°F for about 50 minutes or until center is almost set.

Wash and slice your strawberries, sprinkle with 1-2t sugar and mix well.  Garnish cheesecake or each individual slice or allow your guests to add their own strawberries.

The meal

Boil your sausages for about 15 minutes

Boil potatoes (stick a sharp knife into potatoes 15-20 after water starts to boil; you want the knife to slide in gently, do not over boil potatoes, or they will fall apart)

Melt 1 T butter, 1 T olive oil, sauté 1 onion  until lightly brown in a large skillet, slice potatoes leaving the skin on, throw onto skillet and lightly brown, sprinkling with salt and pepper to taste.

Sauté 1 finely chopped onion with 2 T butter and a drizzle of olive oil until lightly brown

Add chopped mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste (about 1 t each)

Sauté about 15-20 minimum until juicy and tender (adding ¼-cup red wine-optional)

Peel zucchini, slice, drizzle with olive oil, and sauté in skillet, adding 1t cayenne pepper and 1 t salt.  Make sure you do not sauté for more than 5 minutes; you do not want your zucchini to tender.

Finely chop 1 onion and sauté in 1T butter and 1T olive oil until lightly brown in a skillet, cut sausage into thin slices and toss into skillet, brown on both sides, about 10 minutes.

Place ½ of the contents of the sauerkraut into large bowl, grate 4 carrots and add to sauerkraut,  finely chop ½ onion and add to bowl, drizzle with 1T olive oil, sprinkle pepper about 1 t (don’t add salt), and mix will.

Walla, your meal is ready.  The secret word of the day seems to be sauté.  I just realized that there is a lot of chopping, sautéing and drizzling with this meal, but it is worth it.  Enjoy and do not forget to make sure you have a variety of drinks available for your guests: red or white wine, beer or even a variety of liquors that do not require mixing.

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