I hope you are all well and not suffering from diarrhea.
Something very funny happened this past weekend: One of my newsletter posts was referred to on Snopes as a fact checking resource.
It was the piece called “Let's stuff popcorn up a chicken's ass and see what happens,” because of course it was that one. Thanksgiving is coming up soon and apparently the gag recipe about people stuffing uncooked popcorn kernels up a turkey’s ass is going back around the internet. Unfortunately, you cannot blow popcorn out of a bird’s bunghole while it’s in the oven, nor will the kernels pop if you try torching them directly with a live flame, but I had to learn that the sad way.
So naturally, I, Dannis Ree, the greatest food writer in all of history, was cited for my excellence in journalism, culinary prestige, and willingness to flamethrow a chicken’s rear end with my crème brulee torch. A food writer can receive no higher honor than being cited on Snopes, so I accept your applause and 12 billion dollars. Cough up the simoleans, dirtbags.
Today’s edition of the newsletter does not involve chickens, ass, or blowtorches, though. A Twitter friend, Luna, sent me a tweet from a fellow food writer named Bettina Makalintal:
It simply reads, “Speaking this into existence: crab rangoon cheesecake.”
Makalintal is a talented food writer who is currently a senior reporter for Eater. She also has an Instagram account where she cooks some particularly delicious-looking food, and has a TikTok account where she makes even more delicious-looking food. (And thank you Luna, for the heads up about this tweet.)
I decided to turn her tweet into reality by whipping out my non-existent baking skills, so let’s welcome the Crab Rangoon Cheesecake into existence.
Baking is generally not my strong suit, so I used asked my friend Google for the easiest route to success, as in, I searched for “easy cheesecake recipe.”
One of the search results brought me to the King Arthur flour website, which is an immensely fantastic baking resource. Normally I ignore recipe websites created by brands, mostly because their recipes tend to be crappy half-assed ones peddling whatever they are selling, but the King Arthur site really is fantastic.
Plus, this easy cheesecake recipe genuinely is easy. It only involves four ingredients for the crust (graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, melted butter, salt), and the filling only involves another four ingredients (eggs, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla), all of which are easy to get.
And when you think about it, a crab rangoon is already sort of cheesecakey, right? It’s got a crust element, which is the exterior fried wonton, and its filling is cream cheese-based, like a cheesecake. Just with savory stuff in it, namely imitation crab along with green onions. So I figured I could fool around with the components of the King Arthur cheesecake recipe, and incorporate the extra ones from a classic crab rangoon. This is some real mad scientist shit, fools.
Instead of a graham cracker crust, however, I thought I’d start with fried wonton strips.
I did not get them at the Korean grocery store. I got them at the supermarket, as Americans enjoy putting fried wonton strips on salad or dumping them into soup, which gives them an excuse to call whatever they are eating “Asian.” Obviously we Asians just dump a bunch of fried wonton strips onto everything. We sprinkle fried wontons onto our dishes, we shower with them, we fill our cars’ gas tanks with the stuff, that makes everything technically Asian.
I mixed the crushed fried wonton strips (which I crushed in a Ziploc bag) with butter, powdered sugar, and omitted the salt, only because the fried wontons already came salted, and smushed them into the bottom of a pie tin.
Now it was time for the filling, which as I mentioned earlier, only had four ingredients, eggs, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla.
I didn’t have a ton of time, but I knew that if my cream cheese was too cold, the cheesecake would come out all curdled. This has happened to me in the past, which subsequently made me feel real bad about myself. But if you nuke it too much, the cream cheese changes into yet another texture you don’t quite want, so you have to be gentle.
Davida suggested I run the cream cheese foil packs under warm water, so I put them in a Ziploc bag and into a warm water bath, which brought the cream cheese blocks up to room temp in a jiffy.
Once the batter was nice and smooth, which only took a few minutes, thanks to my water-warmed cream cheese and my ancient egg beater, I tossed in some imitation crab and a tiny handful of green onions, along with a dash of MSG granules and black pepper.
My favorite imitation crab brand, in case you were wondering, is called Osaki, which as far as I can tell is only available at Asian grocers in the freezer section. I wrote about it for The Takeout once, but basically it’s the juiciest and best-flavored imitation crab I’ve ever had. It’s also the brand my mom always gets, and obviously she’s right, she gave birth to this stunning genius. Me. I’m talking about me.
One of my favorite aspects of this King Arthur easy cheesecake recipe is that it doesn’t involve some annoying shit like a water bath to cook evenly.
Trying to move a pan full of water in and out of an oven that has a cheesecake sitting in it is top tier kitchen danger. One false move and you’re covered in hot water, then you’ll drop the baking pan, your cheesecake will be on the floor, and your feet will be covered in even more hot water. Not good. It’s even worse when you have two of the dumbest cats on the planet, who’d be delighted at the chance to jump into an oven that’s currently still running.
Plus, it only bakes in 30 minutes. It’s kind of a culinary miracle.
After it baked, I let it cool off on the stovetop for a while.
Once I got a big whiff, I called Davida over to sniff it too, because it hilariously smelled like a crab rangoon. There was that tart dairy scent with the savory fake crab on the back end, along with a little allium pinch from the green onions. Plus it smelled nice and sweet at the same time.
I let the thing chill out in the fridge overnight, and while it deflated a little (as pictured above), it still looked just fine.
I cut out a slice and topped it with a bunch of bottled sweet and sour sauce.
I don’t know about you guys, but that’s one of the best parts about eating a crab rangoon. It’s all about that sugary sweet and sour sauce. Everyone knows that you eat an egg roll with brutally strong Chinese mustard or a little soy sauce, but crab rangoons must be doused in the vinegary, corn syrupy, unnaturally-colored stuff. This is a law.
As you can see, I did a miserable job making this thing pretty.
The squeeze bottle farted the whole time, like me after a big fat ice cream cone.
I think you can probably have guessed, but this thing was fucking delicious.
I know you all hate when things actually turn out okay and I don’t poison myself, but it was a fun idea to begin with. I mean, it’s two blocks of cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and imitation crab. None of these things are bad, plus crab rangoons are some of the greatest appetizers on Earth.
It was savory from the MSG, a little crabby, and had just enough green onions in it that you could really catch their scent. If anything, it was a little too sweet to read as distinctly a crab rangoon, but that’s also what made the whole thing entertaining. Your brain gets in this really weird argument with itself about what you’re eating, but it doesn’t matter, because you can’t stop eating the cheesecake anyway. Or rangoon. My brain is broken now.
But not broken enough to stop eating this crab rangoon cheesecake.
Many thanks again to Luna and Bettina Makalintal for this week’s inspiration. If you could please do me a favor, don’t forget to share the newsletter on social media, since I can’t be linked to by Snopes every week:
And of course, if you’re not already an upgraded subscriber, don’t forget to sign up for a paid subscription. You’ll get extra editions of the newsletter almost every week, plus you’ll be able to read over three years worth of archives at foodisstupid.substack.com.
Later this week I’ll be mailing out the adapted recipe for the cheesecake, so paid subscribers, stay tuned.
Finally: Another giveaway! Remember Kit from The York Peppermint Pattie Melt? She’s agreed to give away three of her daily trivia calendars which are now available for order. Simply share the newsletter on social media, take a screenshot to show me you did it, and reply to this email with the screenshot attached.
I’ll pick three of you out of the bunch at random (former pan winners, sorry, gotta give others a chance). Kit’s a former Jeopardy winner, so you know the trivia’s gonna be good. Oh, let’s say by midnight, this coming Friday.
As always, I love you all, you’re the best clowns in the world, and I’ll hop into some of your inboxes Friday. I’ll be taking next week off because of the holiday, so if I don’t hear from you, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
This might well be the only recipe you've ever created that I would actually eat. I don't know if that's a badge of honor or a mark of shame for you.
Why does King Arthur flour have a recipe that requires no flour? Inquiring minds want to know