I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Red Wine Rosemary Pears

I love taking classic dishes and adding a little twist, without adding a whole lot of work. Cheesecake topped with syrupy fruit is definitely a classic. In my younger years, cheesecake with strawberries, or later the more fanciful raspberry coulis, was the go to dessert for romantic dinner menus. With this recipe, you get the brilliant, creamy sweetness of a classic cheesecake, but the goat cheese adds this lovely tang. Pears poached in red wine are another cool-weather dessert stand-by, but add a little rosemary and it reaches a whole new dimension. So a simple classic becomes a sophisticated new dessert, perfect for a party or a romantic dinner. And I have to say, leftovers make a pretty good breakfast as well.

Use a wine you would want to drink to poach the pears, but don’t sacrifice your best bottle. I have also made this cheesecake with a crust made of gingersnaps which adds a little spice. The rosemary in the poaching liquid is such a special and unique twist, but you could swap it out for a cinnamon stick and a few pods of star anise for a spiced version. The presentation of this dish is striking, with the creamy cake and ruby-tinted pears. A little sprig of rosemary on top adds flair and a hint of the tastes to come.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Red Wine Rosemary Pears
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. For the Pears
  2. 1 ½ cups red wine
  3. ¾ cup sugar
  4. 3 sprigs rosemary
  5. 4 pears, forelle, Anjou or bosc
For the Crust
  1. 15 graham crackers (the whole sheet)
  2. 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  3. ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the Cheesecake
  1. 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  2. 12 ounces soft goat cheese, at room temperature
  3. zest of 1 lemon
  4. 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  7. 4 large eggs
For the Pears
  1. Peel the pears and cut into small chunks. Pour the red wine into a saucepan and stir in the sugar. Heat over medium high heat until just boiling and drop in the rosemary, pressing it down to submerge it in the liquid. Add the pears and stir gently to cover with the wine and cook until the pears are soft and tender and the wine is reduced to a syrup about the consistency of maple syrup. Remove from the heat and leave to cool and for the wine to soak in and tint the pears red. Remove the rosemary stems and any stray needles before serving. The pears can be prepared a day ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated.
For the Crust
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
  2. Break the graham crackers into small pieces and drop into a food processor. Pulse until broken up into crumbs, then add the sugar and process until very fine. With the motor running, drizzle in the melted butter and process until the crumbs are all moist. Dump the crumbs into the prepared pan and press into an even tight layer. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325.
For the Cheesecake
  1. Beat the cream cheese and goat cheese together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to break them up. Add the lemon zest, juice and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times. Beat in the sugar until light and fluffy and smooth. Beat the eggs in one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Spread the filling over the crust in the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes until lightly golden and firm, but slightly jiggly in the very center. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack, then transfer to the refrigerator loosely covered and chill for several hours, but overnight is fine.
  2. Remove the springform ring, slice and serve topped with the pears and syrup.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

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