Fresh food. Simple and seasonal. Mostly Mediterranean.
Juniper restaurant recently opened in Wellesley, Mass., and the Pantry Road Crew enjoyed a delightful al fresco lunch there the other day. In New England, we soak up every last warm day of autumn, knowing that winter's chill is just around the corner, and Maryanne and I plunked ourselves right down at an inviting sidewalk table in the sunshine. Knowing chef/owner Dave Becker's fine Mediterranean cooking and considerable talent, we knew we were in for a treat. What followed was an outstanding lunch that more than sated our current vegetarian-leaning palates with a Beet Salad, Quinoa Risotto, and Falafel Wrap. But the pièce de résistance was a Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chantilly Cream flavored with cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. The dessert was garnished with candied walnuts, which contrasted beautifully with the silky smooth cheesecake. After just a few bites, we both knew this delectable dessert deserved to star in our new feature "Seasonal Dish of the Week."
We summoned Pastry Chef Katie Kitendaugh from the kitchen to chat with us about her recipe and her culinary background. Turns out, Katie trained at Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and then went on to some of the area's best restaurants, including Rialto and Via Matta. She's thrilled to now be working for Dave Becker, whose artistry in the kitchen at Sweet Basil in Needham keeps crowds clamoring for his food night after night. Dave encourages Katie to get creative with her desserts, or as she puts it with a chuckle: "He tells me to try new flavor combinations, that weird is good." Well, this dessert isn't weird, but it sure is memorable -- and it's remarkably easy to make. Or better yet, simply head over to Juniper and let Katie do the cooking so you can sit back and savor one of the best autumn dishes in town.
1. In a cheesecake pan (removable bottom), add the almond crust and push it up the sides a little bit. Make sure to pack it down.
2. Pour in the cheesecake base.
3. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes or until set.
4. Let cool overnight before cutting.
1. Mix all 3 ingredients together with hands until it resembles the texture of damp sand. Feel free to add more butter if needed to acheive the right consistency.
1. Mix the cream cheese and butter in a mixer until smooth with a paddle attachment.
2. Slowly add the sugar while the mixer is on low speed.
3. Add the buttermilk, pumpkin puree, spices and salt.
4. Combine the eggs and vanilla, one egg at a time until it's all mixed together.
5. Strain through a mesh strainer to remove any lumps.