Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer Dinner Party for 10 | The Ultimate Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake

Hello?  Anybody still out there?  My blogging intentions have been so good this summer (5 posts lay patiently waiting in draft form), but my time has been short.  Not because we are so busy, quite the opposite,  sunny days have been spent at the pool, rainy days spent walking to the movie theater or library in town,  I've had days (weeks?) go by without opening my laptop, I've read so many books I've lost count, and Jimmy and I have enjoyed many evenings out.  It's been nice.  I don't want to be reminded that only 5 weeks remain before the boys head back to school.  The thought of sending Charlie to kindergarten makes me want to clutch my chest and weep.  But we aren't there yet.  Plenty of time for me to get overly dramatic and emotional about all that. (Bet you can't wait. Ha.) 

Last week the boys spent the weekend at my parents.  As much as we love their company (and noise) it is such a treat to get a couple weekends a year to ourselves.  On Friday, Jimmy and I tried out a new restaurant and Saturday we hosted our Supper Club for dinner at our home.  I started out taking pictures early in the day, but once our guests arrived I was having too much fun to bring the camera back out, plus I think it can be a little awkward to take pictures while everyone is trying to enjoy themselves.  Never mind pictures that will be posted on a blog!  

I kept the menu very simple.  I purposefully choose food that could be nibbled using your hands or a fork, no knife or cutting necessary.  That way people were free to mingle standing up and could balance the plate and eat at the same time gracefully.  What actually happened was the men ended up on the patio drinking beer and eating, while the girls stayed in the dining room and talked girl stuff.  It wasn't intentional but it was fun.  Entertaining a large group can quickly start to feel like catering instead of a casual dinner party, there is a temptation to make a ton of food and a variety of dishes,  which results in lots of last minute assembly and a tired host.  I prefer to keep it simple, I like people to have enough food to feel satisfied but not so much they leave feeling over stuffed and tired.   It makes the evening feel more effortless and enjoyable (though there is really no such thing as effortless entertaining, the secret is just to make it appear so. :)  there is always planning and house tidying to be done!)  

St. Germain Sangria 
Cheese Board (I have a whole blog post, one of the 5 drafts, coming on how I like to assemble one)
Herb & Garlic Rack of Lamb (I doubled my recipe for the marinade and had 3 racks of lamb)
Herb Roasted Potatoes (made by one of the guests)
Blueberry and Lemon Cheesecake  (recipe below. this was my favorite thing on the menu and I'm not typically a big cheesecake fan.  It is incredibly light, not thick and dense like others I've tasted.  Plus the blueberries are so incredibly good right now.  I kept wishing my brother lived closer because growing up cheesecake was his favorite dessert, he ordered it every time it was on the menu! )

(To make: Combine 1 cup St. Germain, 1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc, fresh fruit (peach, berries, grapes) and let chill in pitcher for 4-8 hours) 

(I actually made the cheesecake again this week to make sure I got the same results before I shared the recipe, so the above pic isn't from the party, in case you were wondering why the napkins didn't match.  I know you guys notice the details. :) )

The Ultimate Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake

2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 32 squares)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
1 lemon, zested
1 dash vanilla extract

Warm Lemon Blueberry Sauce:
1 pint blueberries
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 10-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.

For the Filling:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well-mixed but not overbeaten. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it.  I tripled wrapped the pan so no water would leak in. Place the cake pan in a large rimmed baking sheet. Pour boiling water into the sheet pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Bake for 50-55 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, overnight. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cake plate, I leave it on the bottom of the springform pan. Using a spatula spread a layer of Warm Lemon Blueberry topping over the surface.

Slice the cheesecake with a thin, non-serrated knife, wipe dry after each cut.

Warm Lemon Blueberries:
In a small saucepan add all the ingredients and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or so until the fruit begins to break down slightly. Leave to cool before spreading on cheesecake.

(note: the ingredients and directions are identical to the linked recipe, I just used a larger springform pan and adjusted the cooking time and technique to match.  The reviews of the original recipe reported a lot of under cooked cheesecakes.  I made it twice and it was perfectly set, without being over cooked using the timing I wrote above.)


  1. So, I gotta tell ya, that cheesecake looks AMAZING. The blueberries nestled on top are just beautiful! I can relate to having good blogging intentions only to get sidetracked by life. It happens and you just blog when you can. You just enjoy the last few weeks of summer vacation with your kids!!

  2. Awesome!!! Food, decorations~lovely :)

  3. Looks like a lovely dinner party. You've combined nearly all my favorites in one meal: St.Germain, rack of lamb & cheesecake. I am bookmarking this for future inspiration!!!

  4. Scrumptious . . . I would say, without even tasting . . .
    Love the way you design and present NINE+SIXTEEN . . .
    Mixing Lavender and Tulips was perfect . . .

  5. Nice party. You always do a lovely job.

  6. Everything looks so beautiful and delicious! I love your flower arrangements, some of the prettiest I've seen in a long time! I've been loving reading through your beautiful blog! :)

  7. Your flowers are so pretty and your menu delicious. Honestly, you are serving as a good reminder to do have some of our adult friends over this summer. I am definitely going to try your menu.

  8. This dinner party looks divine! I especially like the tulips and lavender for the centerpieces!

  9. Yum, yum!! Looks delicious. You know I love the panzanella salad. It's one of my faves. Looking forward to your post about the cheese tray!

  10. I love seeing how people really entertain - especially those with such gracious style! Sounds like a perfect menu and evening. Btw, I am that crazy person that noticed the napkins even before you said something... I'm such a nut! I thought, wow, she had dinner napkins, then also had dessert napkins to coordinate with the lemon. I'm taking a little IG break this summer to relax and try to be more unattached from my phone - but I do check in every once in a while to see those precious boys of yours : )