Making the Best Ricotta Cheesecake – Part 2

Cheesecake Ingredients

Yesterday I started telling you the story of my Thanksgiving project of making a real Italian ricotta cheesecake for Bill (Guglielmo), using his own recipe. We made the candied citron, and today we’re going to make the cheesecake itself. Here are the ingredients:

3 lbs Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese (get a good brand, like Calabro)

1 ½ cups Organic Sugar

8 Large Organic Eggs

2 teaspoons Organic Vanilla Extract

Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Separate the eggs, putting the yolks into a food processor and the whites into the bowl of a mixer. Then add the sugar and the vanilla extract to the egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor and mix for about a minute. Add the ricotta cheese and mix for another 30 seconds or so.

Egg Yolks, Vanilla Extract and Sugar Mixture

Egg Yolks, Vanilla Extract and Sugar Mixture

Use the mixer to beat the egg whites on high speed until they form stiff peaks.

Egg Whites Beaten Until Stiff Peaks Form

Egg Whites Beaten Until Stiff Peaks Form

Add the beaten egg whites and the ricotta mixture (the bowl on my mixer was very large so I added the ricotta mixture to the egg whites). Add the chopped candied citron and orange peel (I used one of the small jars, about ½ cup) and mix everything together.

Add Candied Citron to Egg Whites, Ricotta Mixture

Add Candied Citron to Egg Whites, Ricotta Mixture

Coat two 8 inch spring form pans with generous amounts of butter, and then pour half of the ricotta/egg/citron mixture into each pan.

Coat Springform Pans with Lots of Butter

Coat Springform Pans with Lots of Butter

Fill Each Pan with Half of the Ricotta Mixture

Fill Each Pan with Half of the Ricotta Mixture

Bake in the 375 degree oven for 50 minutes, and watch periodically as the mixtures rise in both pans. At the end of the 50 minutes, check and see what the tops look like (see photo); they will have started to turn golden. Continue baking until the tops are deep golden brown and the sides begin to pull away from the pans (you might want to check every 5 – 10 minutes); I took mine out after 70 minutes.

Bake at 375 Degrees Until Golden Brown on Top

Bake at 375 Degrees Until Golden Brown on Top

Remove the pans from the oven and let them cool completely on cooling racks. It’s normal for the cheesecake to fall as it cools.

Let Cheesecakes Cool Completely on Racks

Let Cheesecakes Cool Completely on Racks

Cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate. When you’re ready to serve them, release the sides of the spring form pans and cut them into small pieces. You and your guests will agree that this is the best ricotta cheesecake you’ve ever tasted. I hope Bill likes it when we serve it to him after our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Maybe he’ll give me a pointer or two on how I can make it even better the next time I make it.

Happy Thanksgiving to your and your family and friends. I hope it’s full of wonderful memories of Thanksgivings past, and of hope for many more in the future. We truly have a LOT to be thankful for, don’t we?

Len

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Making the Best Ricotta Cheesecake

The Fingered Citron ("Buddha's Hand)

The Fingered Citron (“Buddha’s Hand)

For years our Italian friend Bill (Guglielmo) made his special ricotta cheesecakes and gave them to us and to other friends and family members. They tasted better than any cheesecake I’ve ever eaten, and I’d been told they took a long time to make. Bill is getting up in his age, and hasn’t made a cheesecake in several years, so this year we decided to surprise him and make him one of his cheesecakes for Thanksgiving.

I got out the recipe he had hand-written for us many years ago, and the cheesecake itself didn’t sound like it was that hard to make. However (and there’s always a “however”, isn’t there?), his recipe called for home-made candied citron, and I soon learned why his cheesecake took so long to make.

Citron is actually a primitive citrus fruit all its own, and not just some various lemons and oranges mixed together. We couldn’t find a “regular” citron in any of the local markets, but fortunately Whole Foods had the fingered citron variety, also known as “Buddha’s hand”, so that’s what I used.

Citron Sliced

I cut the fingers off the citron and sliced them in half. It’s the pulp and the skin of the citron that you want to candy, so the fingers seemed like the perfect starting point. Just for fun, I decided to candy a Navel orange too, so I sliced it up and separated the skin/pulp from the rest of the orange. The recipe I found on line said to boil them for 10 minutes, drain them, and boil them another 10 minutes in another clean pot of water. After the two boilings they were a lot more supple.

Orange Sliced

Then the recipe said to cut the blanched citron into small pieces and boil it in sugar water, using a candy thermometer and boiling the mixture until the temperature reached 230 degrees. I’ve never done anything like this before, and never used a candy thermometer. Little did I realize how long it would take to reach a temperature of 230 degrees! I guess in the old days when women spent all day cooking, it wasn’t uncommon to watch something boil on the stove for several hours. However, it certainly was a learning experience for me!

Citron Thermometer

After reaching the magical temperature I removed the citron mixture from the heat, cooled it, and separated it into small jars. I’ll use one of the jars tomorrow when I make the cheesecake itself, and I’ll give another one of the jars to Bill as a gift. The other two jars? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Citron Jars 2

Tomorrow I’ll give you Bill’s recipe for ricotta cheesecake, and we’ll follow it and see how it turns out.

Len

Posted in Rumson Fair Haven Real Estate, Rumson Fair Haven Real Estate Agent, Rumson Fair Haven Realtor | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A Tree Grows in Fair Haven

A Tree Grows in Fair Haven

After yesterday’s heavy rains, I wasn’t sure how many colored leaves would be left on the trees in our neighborhood. However, when I took the dogs for their morning walk I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of orange and red leaves still showing off their autumn colors. Here’s just one example.

Posted in Fair Haven NJ Real Estate, Fair Haven real estate agent, Rumson Fair Haven Real Estate, Rumson Fair Haven Real Estate Agent, Rumson Fair Haven Realtor | Leave a comment

A Sure Sign that Winter’s Coming!

A Fair Haven fire hydrant all decked out for winter.

A Fair Haven fire hydrant all decked out for winter.

Have you noticed the Fire Hydrants in Fair Haven? They all have tall, multicolored reflective sticks so they can be easily found in deep snow. A bit early, you say? Well there are lots of fire hydrants in Fair Haven, and it’s a lot easier to work on them when the weather’s warm than it is when the cold winds blow. We’ve had a relatively mild fall season until the past few days, but the cold weather that we’re experiencing now is more consistent with this time of year. When do you think we’ll see the first snow flurries, and when will we have our first real snow day?

Hope you’re enjoying the beautiful foliage. We’ve had lots of yellow and orange trees, and we’re finally getting to see some trees with bright red leaves. Don’t you enjoy living in an area where you can enjoy all four seasons? By the way, if you haven’t done so already, you’d better get those daffodil bulbs in the ground. It’s a lot harder to do it when the weather really gets cold and the ground is hard.

Len

Rumson Realtor Len DunikoskiLeonard “Len” Dunikoski, GRI
REALTOR® Associate
Diane Turton Realtors – Rumson Office
8 West River Road
Rumson, NJ 07760

(732) 239-0739  (cell)    (732) 530-6686 (office)

ldunikoski@dianeturton.com

http://www.rumsonfairhavenhome.com

@ListWithLen

Posted in Fair Haven Homes Sold, Fair Haven NJ Real Estate, Fair Haven real estate agent, Rumson Fair Haven Real Estate Agent, Rumson Fair Haven Realtor, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sellers’ Confidence Falls in October

I found an interesting article that I wanted to share with you. It was originally posted on October 27th by Amy Musser at http://www.redfin.com/research/reports. Interestingly, real estate activity in Monmouth County has picked up in October, both for buyers and for sellers. If you’re looking for a home, you might be pleasantly surprized by the number of homes that have been recently listed.

Len

Fewer Sellers Think Now is A Good Time to Sell Than Did Last Quarter

Over the past few months, sellers have gotten the message that the market is no longer skewed in their favor. In the latest Redfin Real-Time Seller Survey, the belief that now is a good time to sell dropped by 17 percentage points from last quarter. Sellers last quarter told us they planned to price their homes aggressively, but it turned out that most buyers were unwilling to pay above market price. And Redfin agents across the nation started reporting surges in price drops in the first portion of the third quarter.

timetosell

“In July and August, sellers were testing the market by pricing their homes above market value,” said Denver Redfin agent Paul Stone. “They were hopeful, but many got the message too late that the market had already shifted. They had to adjust their expectations and their home prices. As of September, it seems that sellers have gotten the memo and are pricing closer to market value.”

While the number of homes for sale that had a price drop fell in September compared with August, 16.5 percent of homes sold above list price in September, compared with 18.1 percent in August and 23 percent last year.

“Right now the real estate climate is very different from this time last year,” said Boston Redfin agent Shawn Flynn. “There are more homes for sale but fewer homes are selling, whereas last year the opposite was true. I’m starting to have conversations with sellers for the first time in two to three years about how it’s no longer a seller’s market. While some sellers are disappointed that they can no longer expect double-digit price gains, increasing inventory and stabilizing prices provide relief for everyone — buyers and sellers — that we are moving toward a much more balanced market.”

The Waiting Game: Some Sellers Hold Out For Higher Prices and More Inventory

Many sellers are still hopeful that they can get more money for their home and are deciding to wait to sell. Fifty-nine percent of sellers said they want to hold out for the maximum price on their home.

“Sellers hoping for higher prices will face reality soon, as all signs point to lower price growth and less competition among buyers in coming months,” said Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson. “Buyer demand is there, but only at the right price.”

Oddly enough, low inventory actually dissuades potential sellers from listing, first because there’s nothing for them to buy, and second because of the perception that the market just isn’t doing anything. Sellers are waiting to list their homes because there are too few homes available (36.3 percent) or there are too few affordable homes (16.3 percent). The lack of homes for sale creates a vortex of short supply that can only be relieved when potential sellers find homes they want to buy and then list their own homes. However, we are seeing inventory loosening up slowly. In September, the number of homes for sale was up 4.1 percent from August and up 6.3 percent from September 2013 in markets served by Redfin.

Another way to measure housing supply is by looking at the number of months it would take to sell all current housing stock at the current rate of sales. Traditionally, supply of less than six months is considered a seller’s market, and more than six months is a buyer’s market. During the third quarter, months of supply increased to 4.7 from four, and sellers seem to have perceived this shift.
whywaiting

“We are definitely starting to feel the inventory crunch lessen here in Northern Virginia,” said Redfin agent Stacy Holscher. “In the past few weeks I’ve had several sellers who have decided to list their homes because they finally started to see more homes hit the market that they felt were reasonably priced. These lower home prices actually spurred them to list their home.”

Here’s what else we learned from sellers this quarter:

1. Sellers Want an End-to-End Experience when Listing Their Homes
Surprisingly, making top dollar is not the primary concern among sellers when listing their home. When asked what values they look for most when choosing a listing agent, 27.5 percent of sellers indicated that they look for an agent with a “willingness to take care of everything so the seller doesn’t have to.”
agentservice

2. Sellers Tend to Opt for “Tried and True”
Previous experience with an agent is the most common selling point for sellers looking for a listing agent, and even trumps choosing an agent based on their qualifications.
hireagent

3. Many Sellers Only Evaluate One Agent, But Most Sellers Still Have Concerns

Many sellers indicated that they are likely to choose an agent who is the most qualified, but most sellers (37.4 percent) said they only evaluate one agent before deciding to list. Thirty percent of sellers indicated that they’d evaluate two agents, 19.8 percent would evaluate three and only 12.8 percent would evaluate four agents or more.

agentnumber

When asked what their biggest concern is when working with an agent, 32.5 percent of sellers responded that they are worried that the agent will not do enough to market their home.

agentconcern

About the Survey

This survey was conducted between October 1 and 3, and respondents included 295 current and potential sellers. Respondents spanned 30 markets in the U.S., including West: Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orange County, CA, Phoenix, Portland,Riverside-San Bernardino, CA, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose,  San Francisco,Seattle, Ventura County, CA; South: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore,Dallas – Fort Worth,Fort Lauderdale,Houston,Raleigh, San Antonio,Washington, D.C., West Palm Beach, FL; Midwest: Chicago,Northeast: Boston, New York City (Bronx and Queens),Philadelphia, Rhode Island, Upstate New York.

Posted in Fair Haven NJ Real Estate, Rumson Fair Haven Real Estate, Rumson Fair Haven Real Estate Agent, Rumson Fair Haven Realtor, Rumson Homes Sold, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Autumn Splendor

Trees Navesink

I spend a lot of time showing homes in our area to potential buyers. My main focus is always to find the home that best matches the client’s list of “must haves” and “would like to haves” within their price range. The Rumson-Fair Haven area is beautiful any time of the year, but this is the time when the fall colors are getting to be their prettiest.

Trees

Wherever I go I find some incredible sights, as long as I pay attention and look for them. Too often we drive from one place to another and are so focused on something that we don’t see all the beauty around us. We try to get somewhere by a specific time, or we’re lost in thoughts about something that’s on our minds. Have you ever ended a drive and thought that you didn’t even remember driving part of the route? We need to slow down and let our senses enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the world around us.

Trees Yellow

It was harder to do that last week when we had several days of rain, but the weather has been mostly sunny since then. I wanted to share with you some photos I took in the last few days. There were many trees with beautiful orange and yellow leaves, but I haven’t found a tree with truly wonderful bright red leaves yet. Don’t worry- one will appear before long.

Trees Entrance

Trees Birch

Trees Kemp Ave

Len

Dunikoski1212webLeonard “Len” Dunikoski, GRI
REALTOR® Associate
Diane Turton Realtors – Rumson Office
8 West River Road
Rumson, NJ 07760

(732) 239-0739  (cell)    (732) 530-6686 (office)

ldunikoski@dianeturton.com

http://www.rumsonfairhavenhome.com

@ListWithLen

 

Posted in Fair Haven NJ Real Estate, Rumson Fair Haven Real Estate, Rumson Fair Haven Real Estate Agent, Rumson Fair Haven Realtor, Rumson Local Expert | Leave a comment

Fair Haven Real Estate: 3rd Quarter Update

This Fair Haven home at 15 Buttonwood Drive (on Schwenker's Pond) sold in September for $715,000

This Fair Haven home at 15 Buttonwood Drive (on Schwenker’s Pond) sold in September for $715,000

People who contact me after reading my blog are mostly folks who are thinking of BUYING a home in Rumson or Fair Haven, so starting with this post I’m going to target my real estate updates to home buyers rather than sellers.

September was another slow month for Fair Haven home sales, with only 6 home sales compared to the 9 sales last September. Year-to-date, 6% fewer Fair Haven homes sold this year compared to 2013. Normally, fewer sales indicate less demand, and less demand tends to lead to lower prices. However, the year-to-date statistics still show that 3 of the 4 key real estate indicators look unfavorable for home buyers (there are fewer listings (less supply), the real estate absorption rate (months’ supply) is shorter and the median sales price is higher):

    Fair Haven Single-Family Home Sales, January 1 – September 30

                                    2013                2014                Comment

Sales                              78                   73      6% fewer homes sold.

Listings                         29                    27      7% fewer homes on market.

Months’ Supply         3.5                  3.1      Stronger demand vs. supply.

Median Sale         $660,000      $699,000     6% higher median price.

The real estate market did weaken a bit in the third quarter. At the end of the 2nd quarter, all 4 key indicators were in red or italics(i.e., bad news for home buyers): sales were up 28%, listings were down 3%, the absorption rate was 2.9 months and the median sales price was up 12%. The year-to-date number of sales was down 3% at the end of August and is now down 6%. In all of 2013, Fair Haven home prices increased only 1%, so a 6% median price increase so far this year is not such bad news if you’re planning to buy a home in Fair Haven. I’d be glad to show you the homes that are available in Fair Haven in your price range- just give me a call.

There’s still time now for you if you want to move to a new home before the end of the year, but you should get a letter of pre-approval from a mortgage lender. When you submit a copy of the pre-approval letter with your offer to buy a house, it reassures the seller that you’re financially able to complete the purchase. At about mid-November, the real estate market becomes very quiet, with only a few buyers and sellers active until early February.

Len

Leonard “Len” Dunikoski, GRI
REALTOR® Associate
Diane Turton Realtors – Rumson Office
8 West River Road
Rumson, NJ 07760

(732) 239-0739  (cell)    (732) 530-6686 (office)

ldunikoski@dianeturton.com

http://www.rumsonfairhavenhome.com

@ListWithLen

 

 

Posted in Fair Haven Homes Sold, Fair Haven NJ Real Estate, Rumson Fair Haven Real Estate, Rumson Fair Haven Real Estate Agent, Rumson Fair Haven Realtor | Leave a comment