But whenever I'm in Philadelphia I keep coming back to the Reading Terminal Market—and I send Nell Pratt there every chance I get. The place has a long history (which I will shorten here for you): it occupies the space under what was once the Reading Railroad Terminal in Center City, close to City Hall. The Terminal opened in 1893, and the market beneath has been there ever since (even though trains no longer run into the terminal: it’s the Pennsylvania Convention Center now, but the market survives, and didn’t even close during the construction of the convention center above it).
The market has just about everything: meat, fish, fruits and vegetables. Ice cream and candy (including some really weird chocolates). Cookware and cookbooks. Great places to grab a lunch, which many nearby workers do. I try to visit every time I’m in Philadelphia, and I come home with whatever I can carry (note: some items do not fare well in a suitcase!). There are Asian and Amish and Italian vendors, and just about anything else. It is one of the great treasures of the city, and it’s always full of people.
Ah, food. What have I bought and enjoyed? Mushrooms (which I’ve also written about for MLK). Meat from the Amish butchers. Chocolate Liberty Bells. Great lunches at the Down Home Diner (yes, I’ve even eaten a cheese steak there). It’s a great space to stroll through, and even if you aren’t hungry when you walk it, you will be after a few minutes.
Recipe? What better than a cheesecake made with the Original Philadelphia brand cream cheese? According to their website, the name "Philadelphia" was adopted in 1880, because the city “was considered at the time to be the home of top quality food.” And it came in foil wrappers even then. (Oddly enough, the parent company resides in the UK.) There have been a few changes in ownership since 1880, not to mention a variety of new! trendier! products, but the Philadelphia name is still on the package. And I firmly believe it is the best cream cheese to use for cheesecakes.
You would not believe how many cheesecake recipes the company offers (twelve pages worth), but I wanted to use something fairly classic, and also take advantage of the ripe strawberries available now. So I tinkered with a few recipes, and here’s the result!
Cheesecake in a Bowl
1-1/2 cup crumbs (cookie, graham cracker, whatever—I used Sandies)
1 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 Tblsp granulated sugar
1 tsp gelatin, dissolved in 1-1/2 Tblsp boiling water (stir quickly to dissolve!)
2 cups strawberries, pureed (you can put them through a sieve if the seeds annoy you)—or you could just mash them up
2 Tblsp confectioner’s sugar
A few fresh strawberries, sliced or quartered, for garnish
|Crumbs and butter, mixed|
For the filling: Melt the cream cheese and the white chocolate in a bowl over simmering water, or in a double boiler [you could probably do it in a microwave, but I wasn’t sure of the timing or temperature]. Mix and let it cool for 10 minutes.
Whip together the cream and sugar until stiff. Add the dissolved gelatin to the cream cheese mixture, then fold in the cream.
Spoon half the cream cheese mixture over the crumb layer in the glasses or bowls, then top with half the strawberry puree. Repeat. Take a knife and gently swirl the layers together just a bit.
Chill for two hours or until set. When you’re ready to serve, garnish with the fresh strawberries.