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Eat Your Strawberry Cheesecake, Fool

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Cheesecake. It’s bloody great isn’t it? As sweet foods go, it’s up there with chocolate, ice cream and brownies. The best of the best. I’ve made it my mission to eat cheesecake as frequently as possible, trying new flavours and textures, selflessly sacrificing those size 10 jeans in order to find the perfect one, one that could go head to head with the – so far- triumphant banana cream cheesecake currently residing at The Cheesecake Factory. Kate Moss once said that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. Clearly she’s never had cheesecake. What a sorry existence.

Loving cheesecake as I do, my excitement levels for our trip to New York is at fever pitch. Sure, sure, New York has super high skyscrapers, a fascinating history, amazing museums, excellent nightlife and the best shopping in the world. Blah blah blah. But it also created the perfection that is the New York Cheesecake. I’m not saying that the biggest draw for this trip is the food I’ll be eating, but lets face it, there’s surely nowhere else in the world where you can eat as well as in New York. Chinatown, salt beef and brisket sandwiches, bagels, Michelin starred restaurants, street food carts, BBQ joints, Italian-American food, endless food cultures, coffee obsessions, innovative bakeries, cupcakes galore and of course, cheesecake. I’m going to get fat and I’m going to freaking love it.

Knowing this about me, you can imagine my delight upon finding a recipe in Smitten Kitchen for Strawberry Cheesecake Fool. A new interpretation on two classics – the New York Cheesecake and the English Fool – with a hint of Eton Mess about it, how could I not give it a whirl? As a fellow cheesecake lover this also got the seal of approval from The Boyfriend, never one to turn down a dessert containing strawberries, cream cheese and a buttery biscuit base. It’s a fairly uncomplicated recipe to follow but has a few stages, one involves cooking the strawberries which appalled me until I got a taste of the super juicy strawberries that emerged from the saucepan. The point of cooking them is that you are left with sticky strawberries and a luscious sauce which you then swirl through half the sweetened vanilla cream cheese mixture so you have a beautiful pink mousse which tastes just like a strawberry cheesecake. A very, very good cheesecake. Layer all the different elements (strawberries, vanilla cream cheese, sugary biscuit crumbs and strawberry cream cheese) in whatever glasses you have lying around, top with a fresh strawberry and voila, you have a stunning dessert which tastes amazing. Like all the best cheesecakes, the cheese was light, fluffy and super smooth and actually tasting of the fruit rather than some synthetic version of a strawberry. The sugary biscuit crumbs gave the dessert some texture and crunch, and the strawberries just tasted delicious. A total success on a variation of cheesecake and a great way to use up all those strawberries on the supermarket shelves. And for an English fool heading to New York to eat cheesecake, it was pretty apt.

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Posted by on August 3, 2013 in American, Cooking, Food, Puddings

 

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Lamb Dhansak In Its Rice Anorak

If the title of todays bloggage means nought to you, then may I point you in the direction of the sublimely bizarre Mighty Boosh DVD box sets and hopefully all will become clear. Perhaps, either that or you’ll come away from the experience more confused than ever, who can say, it’s that kind of show? In essence though, I just pinched one of their lines as it perfectly suited what I’ve cooked the week, which obviously was a lamb dhansak. It’s always infuriated me that I’ve never managed to cook a decent Indian curry, heaven knows I’ve tried but they always end up watery, or tasteless, or tasting purely of tinned tomatoes. I know a homemade curry is never going to taste anything like a curry from the local Indian takeaway, but all I ask is that it tastes nice. Well reader, on Saturday I finally made some progress. Get out the champers and party poppers. I’ve tried curries from so many different cookbooks, all have failed, so it came as quite a surprise to me that the recipe that finally worked was from a recipe book for pies. Yes that’s right, not a curry book but a pie book. It’s like up is down and down is up. The reason for there being a curry in Pieminister is that you make the curry one day and dish up some as a regular curry with rice, and then the next day pop the remaining curry into pie, bake and serve. Genius. The recipe is called The Guru, I’m not sure why but recycling the curry into a pie seemed like a great idea to me. Plus the flavour in a curry intensifies when left for a day and reheated so in theory the pie should taste even better than your dinner the night before.
First things first, this recipe yields an absolute truckload of food so if you’re feeding a lot of people this is the dish to go for. We had enough for 2 servings of curry, 4 slices of pie and at least 2 servings for the freezer, but we have big appetites so less greedy people could probably stretch it further. It’s also packed full of healthy ingredients, but don’t let this put you off! Aside from the lamb, you’ve got chickpeas, lentils, onions, sweet potato, tomatoes, spinach and loads of spices so plenty of super foods which add flavour and texture, as well as added smugness which comes with the knowledge that actually the curry is really quite good for you. Pieminister also taught me that the way to avoid the tinned tomato taste is to use a jar of passata instead of the usual tinned stuff. There’s no metallic taste and its thicker so the curry ends up far less watery, two perils that until now I’d never been able to avoid. Such an obvious substitution to make but one I’d ever thought of and I urge you to give it a go too if you’re just as hopeless as me at Indian curries. In the end, the dhansak tasted pretty good. Nothing amazing, but pretty good nonetheless. It even looked like a proper curry, and had a decent amount of spice in it. Even The Boyfriend thought it was pretty good and he is my toughest critic. In the pie though, it was less impressive. I say that, but the curry was still tasty and definitely had developed more of a kick overnight. It was the pastry that let it down, that bloody shortcrust pastry. I’m just not a fan, it’s bland and dull and adds nothing to the dish, I should have just had the dhansak with rice again. The Boyfriend went so far as to say that shortcrust makes him feel sick, so it’s fair to say I won’t be making shortcrust pastry in my kitchen again. Puff pastry is the way forward. To accompany the pie I made Bombay roasted new potatoes from Jamie’s Britain which thankfully got the thumbs up, and some petit pois peas which always taste good.

Feeling adventurous last night I also decided to whip up a dessert, vanilla soufflé with a raspberry coulis (what normal people call a sauce, however the recipe did come from my Masterchef cookbook so one can expect a little bit of pretension). Putting it in the oven I was convinced that the soufflé would be a disaster as the two components of the pud would not gel together in my mixing bowl, but I was wrong in my conviction as they rose splendidly and came out just as I wanted them to. The soufflés tasted perfectly of vanilla, which is reassuring considering vanilla pods aren’t cheap, and the smell of the milk infusing with the vanilla was amazing. Vanilla is easily my favourite smell of all time, it’s gorgeous. It was light, fluffy and reminded me of a just cooked pancake, albeit with a strong dose of vanilla instead of the traditional sugar and lemon. The coulis was also very good, sharp but sweet and added some punchiness to the soft, fluffy soufflé. My only beef with soufflés is that while they taste lovely, it’s like eating air and doesn’t give me something to sink my teeth into and therefore leaves me feeling somewhat deflated, much like a failed soufflé. In my eyes, the perfect desserts are either fudgey, gooey, chocolatey concoctions, fruity pies or crumbles with lashings of custard, or a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. With this up against it, it’s no wonder the soufflé didn’t entirely hit the spot, tasty though it was.

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Rainy Day Cooking

If you don’t think ice cream is the best thing mankind has ever invented, then I hate to break it to you, but you are wrong, wrong, wrong. Sure, the wheel has been pretty useful, and I guess penicillin has had its moments, but neither match the genius of ice cream. Days out at the beach = ice cream. First date at the cinema =ice cream. Broken heart = ice cream. I could go on, but I think you get the point. Making ice cream can be quite time consuming, so considering today has been cold and rainy I decided to dedicate a bit of time to making peach ice cream from Jamies’ America. However, making it is not for the faint hearted, so if you love ice cream but have even the slightest bit of heart problems, stop right there and go get yourselves some Ben and Jerrys instead (or maybe some heart medication). I however, like to live life on the edge and take risks! But seriously, trying not to scramble the custard base and then having to stir the ice cream every hour once it’s in the freezer is a pain in the arse so only do this if you want to dedicate a whole day to it. I know there are ice cream machines that could make perfect ice cream in an hour, but I also know this: if I had the wherewithal to make perfect ice cream that quickly, I can guarantee it wouldn’t take long for me to reach the point where if I needed to leave the house, it would only be achievable by crane. That’s why I don’t have an ice cream machine. That’s why I do it the hard way, so I only do it very occasionally.

This peach ice cream turned out pretty good in the end. Before I put it in the freezer I couldn’t resist having a taste and it was absolutely divine. Frozen it is still just as good, although the recipe calls for chunks of peach and when these are frozen in the ice cream they slightly ruin the effect of a smooth ice cream. Jamie should really have chosen to puree the peaches instead of keeping them chunky, the fool. However, the smooth, vanilla ice cream with a hint of peach is so good and really creamy. although it is no match for Ben and Jerrys cookie dough ice cream. But really, what is?

 

I also cooked another meal from my list today, one pot chicken and bacon stew from Delicious Magazine (September 2010). Yes, I’ve included my food magazines as well in this challenge, if I’m going to do this, then I’m going to do it right. And that too was very nice, really meaty and with a tasty sauce. Plus it was all in one pot so not a lot of washing up, and enough to freeze for another night.

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in Books, Chicken, Cooking, Puddings

 

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