I recently had the opportunity of attending Feast Portland in mid September, an incredible food and wine festival centered around local and seasonal deliciousness and food education. Chefs, food nuts, food writers, venders, foragers and lovers of food filled the city for 3 full days.
I partnered up with 2 incredibly talented local Portland chefs, Gregory Gourdet and Ken Ruben, to offer a private welcome dinner for Mark Bittman and some of the local organizers and sponsors of the festival. It was a great experience working with two excellent chefs in developing a menu that showcased our personalized style within a multi course menu for such an intimate group. Our challenge was to use as many local ingredients as possible and let the diner experience a story through the progression of the courses rather than just offering a meal. From collaboration dishes to a few trio plates that showcased each of our styles, it was definitely an over the top menu.
This recipe was my contribution to the dessert trio we presented. Please note that this is a new recipe creation I did for this dinner, so amounts may slightly vary. I gave it my best shot to jot it down though for you.
I definitely consider it a decadent and sexy dessert that showcases the season with local peaches, pears, and Riesling that I found at the market that morning.
The recipe when making it in full is quite long and extensive, but take note that all components within this dessert are very versatile and can be used in so many applications. It just so happens that they all complement each other perfectly when combined together into this dessert.
Meyer Lemon Cheesecake with Poached Pear, Peach, Reisling Jelly and Lacuma Crust
Lacuma is a Peruvian dried fruit powder that you can find through any raw food online store, or in many Whole Foods Markets in their raw food section. It has a real nice vanilla and gram flavor and perfect for raw crusts. This was one of the staple crusts at SAF, my London restaurant, adapted from my kick ass pastry chef in London, Amy Levin.
1 cup lacuma powder
1 ½ cups almond flour
½ cup agave, or maple
½ teaspoon vanilla pulp, or extract
Small amount of water
Pinch of sea salt
In food processor, process all ingredients, adding the water slowly, and just enough to be a fine crumble. Press in your hand, if it holds for a sec, then crumbles, it is the consistency you want. In spring form pan, or 2 inch half hotel pan, spread the crumble and press firmly for to create an even layered crust on the bottom of the pan.
4 small semi-ripe pears, cored and peeled (depending on the size of pears you ma be able to poach more)
1 cup mandarin juice
2 star anise
1 vanilla bean, sliced down middle
1 bottle Riesling (I used a local Oregon one)
½ cup apricot paste (soaked dried apricots, blended with water) or you could use agave
On medium high heat, put all ingredients in small pot and bring to simmer. Drop in pears and poach for about 15 minutes, remove and cool. Continue to reduce the poaching liquid by half. Set aside to make jelly.
2 cups poaching liquid from the pears that had been reduced by half
1 ½ tablespoons Agar Agar powder, or flake
Bring liquid up to a simmer, add in the Agar.. Using an immersion blender, blend quickly for a few seconds. Remove from heat, and pour liquid on a plate, or shallow bowl to the thickness you would like for the jelly. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes to an hour until it sets.
Meyer Lemon Cheesecake
3 cups of cashews, raw soaked for a few hours to overnight to soften
½ cup agave
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
¼ cup coconut butter
1 whole vanilla bean scraped, or ½ teaspoon pulp
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, fresh ground
Sea salt to taste
In high speed blender add all ingredients and blend until smooth. You may need to adjust the sweet and acid for the perfect balance you are looking for. Once blended smooth, pour over the lacuma crust. Place in freezer to set. Once set, you can cut to desired size.
Using a small ring mold, once the cheesecake has set, press out the size of the individual portions you would like. Slice poached pears and peaches in ¼ inch slices and using the same ring, punch out even rounds
Do the same for the Riesling jelly once it sets. Layer all evenly and serve. Garnish with flower petals, and popping sugar for that extra little surprise for your guest.
Nutritional Note.. Beware, this dessert is wicked decadent, and although it is better for you than a dairy laden cheesecake, it is serious business so it can be highly addictive so be sure to share.
What is your favorite dairy free alternative dessert to highlight peaches and pears?