Kitchen Accomplice: Summer cheesecake

By John Kirkendall

I remember walking down 7th Avenue in Manhattan and seeing for the first time the Lindy’s cheesecake bakery. I had read about it for a long time and could not believe my eyes when it appeared on a casual walk around Times Square. This New York cheesecake is what all cheesecakes aspire to be.

As for the crust, forget the graham crackers. This is a butter, flour and citrus combination that is the quintessential encasement for its delectable contents. It is not difficult, but it does take a little time. Just plan for that.

As for a topping, one is not necessary. But I happen to know this farmer who grows ever-bearing strawberries the size of your little finger nail. Each berry exudes an intense strawberry flavor that grabs your attention instantly. A little homemade strawberry jam, mixed with a little lemon juice and butter makes the perfect glaze.

I remember being in Nice and walking along the Mediterranean. Our foursome saw this beautiful hotel overlooking the sea and thought we would try their dining room. Hardly did we know at the time the Hotel Negresco was home to one of the more famous eateries in France. We held our collective breaths after each course. The final course featured tiny wild strawberries that exploded with flavor. These are the strawberries I have found locally that continue to amaze and astonish me.

If you, like me, make a cheesecake once every five years, this is the one. To my notion, it is the perfect cheesecake. Don’t even think about caloric content. Take your respirator and nitro glycerin tablets and have at it. (Small portions are very satisfying.)

This recipe is as close to Lindy’s as you can find.

• 1 c. sifted flour.
• 1/4 c. sugar.
• 1 tsp. fresh grated lemon rind.
• 1/2 c. butter, butter.
• 1 egg yolk.
• 1/4 tsp. vanilla.

• 5 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened.
• 1 3/4 c. sugar.
• 3 tbsp. flour.
• 5 eggs.
• 2 egg yolks.
• 1 1/2 tsp. each orange & lemon rind.
• 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
• 1/4 c. heavy cream.

Butter the bottom and sides of 9 inch spring form pan generously. (This is one of the keys to not ending up with a cheesecake that has a split in the top – the other is not to over mix the filling.)

Prepare Crust:
Stir together flour, sugar and lemon rind in medium size bowl until well mixed. Make a well in the center; cut up butter into small pieces and add to well with egg yolk and vanilla. Mix with pastry blender. Form dough into ball; cover; chill 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Press 1/3 of the dough into even layer over bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack. Press remaining dough into an even layer over side of pan to a height of 2 inches. Increase oven temperature to 475 degrees.

Prepare Filling: Beat cream cheese, sugar and flour in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in eggs and yolks one at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Mix in grated orange and lemon rinds, vanilla and heavy cream. Pour into pan. Bake at 475 degrees for 10 minutes. Lower oven temperature to very slow 200 degrees; bake 1 hour more. Turn off oven; leave cake in UNOPENED oven for 1 hour. Open oven door; leave cake in oven 30 minutes more. Remove from oven to wire rack; cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until cold.

To serve, remove cake from pan. Wash and hull 1 1/2 pints of strawberries. Arrange strawberries, stem-side down, over top of cake. Using 1/2 cup strawberry jelly, 2 tablespoons of butter and a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice for a glaze – heat the jelly mixture, stirring constantly, in a small saucepan over low heat, until melted. Brush the glaze over strawberries. If you are fortunate to find the small strawberries, use a small artists brush to coat the strawberries – one whose bristles will not come out to nestle on the top of your cheesecake.

Makes 12 generous servings.

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at