A friend and I recently enjoyed a great meal at Elements Global Cuisine in Gulfport. Catherine's cheesecake was the best I've ever had. Would she share the recipe? — Susan Gamelli, St. Petersburg and Massachusetts
Chef/proprietor Catherine Pawelek is happy to share the recipe for the popular cheesecake. It is creamy and light, with a hint of lemon, and the secret is to not overbake it. The variety of flavors is limitless, and Catherine has shared some below. Some substitutions can be made to lighten it. Although I didn't try any of the variations, I tested the main recipe, and it was delicious. I did double the foil to keep the water from seeping into the springform pan, which worked well. It was tricky getting the pan out of the water bath; the oven mitts kept getting wet and the water was hot. Then I got smart and drained some of the water out of the pan. This recipe is a keeper.
• Rhonda Latrella of Asheville, N.C., fell in love with calamondins while in college in St. Petersburg. She is looking for a calamondin connection to set her up with the fruit so she can make marmalade. Her relatives no longer live here and can't supply her. She will be in Jacksonville this summer and has friends in Orlando who could get them to her. Rhonda would appreciate any help in finding them. • Irma Cruz of New Port Richey would like appetizers or entrees that use goat cheese.
Substitutions: For those not able to have sugar, substitute the 1 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup of Splenda.
• You can use 24 ounces fat-free cream cheese instead of the regular cream cheese and mascarpone.
Variations: You can incorporate the following into the cheesecake:
• Key lime: Add juice of 2 limes.
• Raspberry white chocolate: Add ½ cup of small chips and spoon about 1/4 cup raspberry jam in a circular motion over top of batter. Use a knife to swirl the jam.
• Orange Grand Marnier: Add juice of 1 orange and its zest and 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier.
• Butterscotch Toffee: Add ½ cup of butterscotch chips, ½ crumbled Heath Bar, drizzle with caramel, swirl to make a design.
• Chocolate Chocolate: Put 1 cup chips in the filling and then swirl top with chocolate sauce.
• Eggnog: Add 1/4 cup of eggnog, lightly sprinkle top with nutmeg.
• Mango Tango: Add 1/4 cup mango puree, 1/2 cup diced mango and 1 tablespoon mango schnapps.