The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project Celebration at Jimmy's No 43

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The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project is an effort to support food diversity and to revitalize a pumpkin’s reputation from the porch to the kitchen. Over a year ago, I collaborated with pioneer farmer Stephanie Gaylor and her partner, Cheryl Frey Richards of Invincible Summer Farms and Salt of the Earth Seeds, to start the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project that is championed by the Long Island Regional Seed Consortium (LIRSC), their not-for-profit that is dedicated to education, advocacy and research to foster and nurture local seed systems.

The mission of the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project is to preserve, restore and bring culinary awareness of this local variety.

The project is made up of various food system shareholders or “Ambassadors”—such as chefs, growers, schools and eaters—who advocate for the dynamic use of this regional pumpkin across a broad spectrum of organizations to elevate this historical heirloom that has an incredible and versatile flavor for sweet, and yes, savory dishes.

Our official launch of the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project was at the 2nd Annual Seed Swap in February of 2016, hosted by the LIRSC. Since then, due to the efforts and enthusiasm of the Ambassadors, the pumpkin is once again growing in popularity.

Some notable happenings:

Edible School Gardens planted the pumpkin at 25 schools. The Blue Point Brewing Company created a LI Cheese Pumpkin Beer, and Eat Local NY, partnered with Maya's Jams to create Jams and Syrups. Slow Food East End co-hosted a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Market Dinner at 18 Bay Restaurant that honored Susan and Myron Levine, and on Sunday, October 30th is co-hosting with the LIRSC, a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Barn Social Potluck at the Naugles Barn at Hallockville. (get your tickets here). Seed Breeders, like Ken Greene of Hudson Valley Seed Library partnered with Glynwood to grow out the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin for their Kitchen Cultivars that promotes biodiversity and food. Some chefs around the tri-state area are replacing acorn and butternut squash for the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin. Publications like Edible East End have written extensively about this original pie pumpkin. (you can read my most recent What's in Season article here) And some home gardeners from Long Island to France grew this historic regional pumpkin for its indelible qualities.

For those of you who missed the Slow Food East End, Market Dinner, or, are not available on October 30th to attend the Barn Social Potluck you are in luck.

We partnered with Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy's No. 43 in NYC, to celebrate the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project. See below for a description of the days events.

Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project Celebration

Join us for a three day celebration of the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin. Saved from near extinction from local seed saver, breeder and botanist Ken Ettlinger, the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin has emerged once again as the region's top pie pumpkin.  Come learn the incredible story behind this amazing variety with distinguished guest panelists such as Amy Goldman Fowler, Ken Greene and Johanna Kolodny and Derek Diguglielmo. Sample dishes, desserts and beer all made from the pumpkin. Take part in a dessert competition or chef's cook-off.  Join us for a 5 course dinner by five NYC renowned chefs!

November 12

  • Salon, Tastings, Dessert Competition
  • 12pm - 3pm
  • $15

November 13

  • Chef's Cook-off
  • 12pm - 3pm
  • $20

November 14

Join us in the celebration! November 12-14, 2016 at Jimmy's No. 43 in NYC.  Your ticket purchase goes towards protecting regional varieties such as the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin for generations to come.

Tickets start at $15. if you buy all (3) days you get $10 off.  CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT BIODIVERSITY!

My Grandfather's Ricotta Cheesecake

I have never felt comfortable sharing my grandfather's ricotta cheesecake recipe as it has been a work in progress. My recollection of his recipe is slightly different than my mother’s and unfortunately it did not make it to my grandmother’s recipe box. We will have lengthy conversations about what type of pan or pot he may have used and the exact technique when whipping the egg whites and folding them into the ricotta mixture; my mother remembers the egg yolks being whipped separately—I don’t. What we do agree on is how long it took my grandfather to fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture; it was like watching a symphony with four movements: fold to the right, fold to the left, fold up and then fold down and continue until the mixture crescendos into a light consistency. And, if you open the oven, before 1 hour, while it is slowly cooking at 325°, my grandfather would scream. Back in those days his industrial oven did not have a convenient window to peek through, he innately knew at one hour to check the cheesecake. My grandfather would pick up homemade whole milk ricotta from the cheesemongers of the Arthur Avenue Retail Market; I remember how thick and creamy the consistency was. If you want to try your hand at making spring whole milk ricotta you can read my column, What’s in Season, for Edible East End. I used raw spring milk from Chris Wines’s Jersey cows of Ty Llwyd Farm in Riverhead, truly a wholesome treat. 

This recipe for ricotta cheesecake is a work in progress and is worth the effort as it is truly delicious. In the meantime, I practice and pray that my grandfather comes to me in my dreams and explains in detail the exact way to make it.

Ricotta Cheesecake Recipe

ingredients

  • 3 pounds of whole milk ricotta
  • 9 large eggs, separated
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Pinch of sea salt

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°; set rack in middle of oven.
  2. Butter and flour a 9 x 3-inch springform pan and tap out excess flour. Place on a baking sheet.
  3. Separate the eggs; yolks in one bowl and whites in another.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta and zest; whisk until smooth. Add the sugar, egg yolks, pinch of sea salt and vanilla; gently mix until combined.
  5. Put egg whites in a stand mixer and beat on high until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture. 
  6. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 2 hours. Check the cheesecake at 1 hour—it should be a light golden color. Make sure the edges of the cheesecake do not burn; if edges are getting to dark, cover with tinfoil. The center should be fairly firm and jiggle ever so slightly in  the middle. 
  7. Cool cheesecake completely on a wire rack; room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and set, about 3 hours.