A root beer for Roger Ebert

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I don’t normally have an emotional reaction to the passing of celebrities. Of course I find them sad, but I don’t know these people personally so I find that it’s best to leave the grieving to their family and friends. When I heard of the passing of film critic and writer Roger Ebert, though, I admit that I felt a sense of loss.

With the death of Roger Ebert the world loses a man who was a rare combination of grace, wit, intelligence and amiability. We need more people in this world like Roger Ebert and the world is a little bit sadder of a place today because he’s gone.

Much as I admired Roger Ebert, I wouldn’t have normally talked about him on this blog since it’s dedicated to food, but today I stumbled on a beautiful piece that Ebert had written for his blog on the Chicago Sun Times wesbsite after he lost his ability to eat and drink a few years ago. It’s well worth a read.

Here’s to you Roger Ebert. I hope you are at piece now, enjoying a root beer with your dad.

Nil by mouth

By Roger Ebert on January 6, 2010 11:38 PM

I mentioned that I can no longer eat or drink. A reader wrote: “That sounds so sad. Do you miss it?” Not so much really. Not anymore. Understand that I was never told that after surgery I might lose the ability to eat, drink and speak. Eating and drinking were not mentioned, and it was said that after surgery I might actually be able to go back to work on television.

Success in such surgery is not unheard of. It didn’t happen that way. The second surgery was also intended to restore my speaking ability. It seemed to hold together for awhile, but then, in surgeon-speak, also “fell apart.”

A third surgery was attempted, using a different approach. It seemed to work, and in a mirror I saw myself looking familiar again. But after a little more than a week, that surgery failed, too.

Read the rest here 

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Passover over

Well last night was the official end of Passover. By far the hardest part of Passover for me is having to forgo beer (it’s fermented from grains after all!) for 8 days. So my tradition for the last few years is to break Passover with a slice of pizza and a beer so last night that’s just what I did. Yum.

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I must say, it definitely hit the spot.

There is one thing in the world that I will fully admit I am a total New York snob about and that thing is pizza. One day I’ll have to write an entire post about how what the majority of the country eats is not actually pizza, but rather some bread, sauce and cheese concoction which, while sometimes delicious, is not actually pizza. Alas that’s a post (a real one- I promise) for another time.

I hope you had a lovely holiday whether it was Passover or Easter.

Cheesecake mousse with orange curd and raspberry sauce

Last Monday night was the start of Passover and the first of the two Seders  the festive meals and retelling of the Passover story. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but Passover is my favorite holiday for 3 major reasons, it involves lots of food, storytelling/singing and has a heavy emphasis on social justice. Yea, pretty much all of my favorite things rolled in to one holiday.

I celebrated the first Seder at the home of my friends Ruth and Adam with several other adults and one very cute 2.5 year old who happens to belong to Ruth and Adam. I volunteered to provide the desserts, since I’d already planned on bringing a chocolate covered matzah cake. For the second dessert I considered making a crust-less cheesecake because it’s Ruth’s favorite dessert, but I didn’t know if I could pull it off in my NYC apartment sized mini oven.

Since all traditional cakes and cookies would violate the dietary restrictions of Passover I was struggling and so I revisited the cheesecake idea, but somehow got it in my head to Google, “cheesecake mousse,” and bam! Victory! Such a thing actually does exist.

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I used a recipe from Oprah Magazine which was said to serve 6. Since there were to be 8 of us I one-and-a-halved (is that English?) the recipe. That was my only mistake. It literally made enough for like 12 people! Luckily Ruth and Adam were happy to keep the leftovers.

Rather than make the gelee that the recipe suggests I decided to serve the mousse topped with Cara Cara orange curd because OMG I love curd and a raspberry sauce for add a bit of tartness to balance the dessert.

Cheesecake Mousse

Recipe adapted from Oprah magazine

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 24 oz whipped cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt

Place a metal bowl and the beater attachments from your handheld mixer in the freezer until very cold. I like to put them in the night before.

Remove from freezer, pour in cream and beat  until stiff peaks form, then cover and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, clean off the beaters and in a separate bowl beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until combined. Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

Using a rubber spatula, mix in 1/3 of the whipped cream. Fold in the remaining whipped cream, making sure to keep the mixture light and fluffy.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours.

When ready to serve spoon in to individual ramekins and top with orange curd (I doubled this recipe) and then a dollop of raspberry sauce.

Yields enough to feed an army.

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