• Romi Gonen. Photo courtesy of the family.
    Romi Gonen. Photo courtesy of the family.
  • Blueberry Cheesecake. Photo: Adi Shilon.
    Blueberry Cheesecake. Photo: Adi Shilon.
Recipe

Romi Gonen’s Favorite Blueberry Cheescake

Their favorite dish: Romi Gonen knows how to laugh and cry with you. Adi Shilon made her favorite - blueberry cheesecake

If you hear music at full volume and loud singing approaching, it is a sign that Romi is on her way. Maybe she already arrived but she had to finish shouting out the words of her favorite song to the end. The 23-year-old walking energy bomb is rarely seen at rest. Rumi, from Kfar Vradim, is the queen of the party. Whenever she meets up with friends, with whom she has been close since high school, she is the center of the evening. Everyone laughs to their core while story follows story, each one funnier than the last. With a wide smile and a huge heart, Romi always knows how to laugh with you, how to wipe your tears, how to cry with you and, just as importantly, how to get angry for you. With rare wisdom and courage, Romi is the first to say everything she thinks, even when others are silent.

In the army she served as a medic, immediately after that she went on a trip with Gaia, her best friend in the world and when she returned, she moved to Tel Aviv. She travels back north at every opportunity to meet her parents, Merav and Eitan, her four brothers and, of course, her friends. Music and movement are an integral part of Romi. As a child she danced professionally and as an adult, she continued to dance for her soul. Especially at the trance parties that Gaia and she love so much.

Romi Gonen and Gaia Halifa went to dance at the party in Kibbutz Re’im on October 7th and did not return. Romi was kidnapped by Hamas. Gaia was murdered.

Ingredients for Blueberry Cheesecake

For the base:

  • 7.7 oz (220 grams) butter cookies ground
  • 4 tablespoons (60 grams) butter melted (If the butter cookies are not really rich, you may need a little more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

For the cake:

  • 1.3 pounds (600 grams) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 4.2 oz (120grams) sour cream or yogurt
  • 2/3 cup (130 grams) Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • grated lemon peel from one lemon
  • 3 eggs
  • 8.8 oz (250 grams) blueberries Fresh, or frozen and thawed drained of liquid

For the sauce:

  • 8.8 oz (250 gras) blueberries Fresh, or frozen and thawed drained of liquid
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) Sugar
  • a squeeze lemon juice

Instructions

Prepare the base:

  • 1. In a food processor, finely grind the cookies and then add the butter. Pulse until the butter moistens all the crumbs. Line an 8" (20 cm) springform pan lined with baking paper and fill with the mixture. Press into the bottom and the sides of the cake. Put in the fridge to chill.

Prepare the cake:

  • 2. Preheat the oven to 284F (140C) degrees.

  • 3. Mix the cheese and the cream with a spoon. Add the sugar, cornstarch, cardamom and zest and mix well until no lumps remain. Add the eggs, one at a time, while mixing. Add the blueberries and gently fold in.

  • 4. Pour the mixture into the prepared base and even out the top. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (to keep the oven clean) and bake for 45-60 minutes, depending on the oven, until the sides start to turn golden and the sides are firm but the center jiggles. You can gently shake to check.

  • 5. Open the oven door a little and leave the cake there for a while, until it cools to room temperature. Transfer the cake to the refrigerator for four hours, preferably overnight.

Prepare the sauce:

  • 6. Place all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and stir gently until the blueberries soften a little and swim in the juice.

  • 7. Strain the mixture, return the juice to the pot and reserve the blueberries. Continue to cook the juice over medium heat until it thickens into a syrup. Combine the syrup with the blueberries. Cool slightly.

  • 8. Now I recommend slicing the cooled cake but not moving a single slice and only then evenly pouring the sauce over the cake. Serve and if there is anything left, keep it in the fridge.

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This recipe is part of Adi Shilon’s “Their Favorite Dish” project, which tells the story of 60 abductees through the recreation of their favorite recipe for a pastry or dessert. For all the details and additional recipes in the project.

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