An administrative assistant for Kings Park School District, she lives in Kings Park with her husband and 17-year-old son.
Have you been cooking for a long time? Since I was a kid. My mom was a cook. My grandmother was a cook. It was something I picked up. Now I get recipes from books, magazines, newspapers, the Internet. And I try them out for friends, family, co-workers.
Are you primarily a baker? I cook a lot, but baking is my favorite. It's just something that relaxes me. I get in the kitchen with my stuff and forget about everything else going on. My son likes my chocolate- chip cookies. My husband likes cheesecake. I've made chocolate cheesecake, chocolate-chip cheesecake, apple-pecan cheesecake.
Does your baking change with the seasons? The blueberry cheesecake is my husband's favorite, but I do like to bake with seasonal ingredients. I made an apple tart recently. I make a pumpkin cheesecake around this time of year. I just found a recipe for an eggnog cheesecake that I'll be trying when the weather gets colder.
Any tips on making cheesecake? I always bake cheesecakes in a water bath, which helps to keep them from cracking on top. And I'm careful not to overbeat the eggs, which can also cause cracking. For everything I bake I make sure to bring my eggs, cream cheese, sour cream, butter, really anything from the refrigerator, to room temperature. I do this even when I'm making chocolate-chip cookies. A lot of people complain that their cookies are flat, and I think one of the reasons is they're starting with eggs and butter that are too cold.
Blueberry Streusel Cheesecake
1½ cups plus 3 tablespoons flour
11/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup full-fat sour cream
4 large eggs
2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan in a double layer of heavy-duty foil.
2. Combine 1½ cups flour,1/3 cup sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve ½ cup. Press remaining mixture onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, remaining 3 tablespoons flour, remaining 1 cup sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well blended. Add sour cream and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed until just blended. Pour over crust. Top with berries and reserved crumb mixture.
4. Place pan in a roasting pan with ½ inch to 1 inch hot tap water. Carefully transfer roasting pan to oven. Bake until center of cake is almost set, 1 hour 25 minutes to 11/2 hours.
5. Carefully lift pan out of water and place on a wire rack. Run knife around rim of cake to loosen it from sides of pan and let cool completely. Cover cake, still in pan, with plastic wrap, being careful not to let plastic touch surface of cake, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day. Release cake from pan sides, slice and serve.
Makes 16 servings.