Wednesday, 24 September 2014

My Cheesecake Mountain

I made a cheesecake. I climbed the mountain, and conquered. For the last five years, I’ve tried a multitude of recipes and different ways to make cheesecake, hoping that each one will be the best one. They’ve all failed. The no bake cheesecake was promptly distributed amongst my 4 dogs who were going crazy with the smell, the quick and easy 6 ingredient one was manfully eaten and never mentioned again, and I don’t even want to talk about the others.

The recipes that seemed worth attempting all included using a water bath, which is by far the most intimidating thing I’ve ever done. If you know me (and you should by now), you’ll know that I’m inordinately clumsy. Over the last few weeks, I’ve cut myself in three different places on my hands, burnt my fingers on my shiny new frying pan, sliced a finger on glass and dropped countless knives a hairs breadth away from my toes. Pouring boiling hot water into a pan and then gently easing it into an oven is something I should not do without supervision!

Being a Parsi, we get 2 birthdays. One is of course the day we’re born, and the other is the day we’re born according to the Parsi calendar. Double presents, double the fuss, double the cake. My Parsi birthday was on the same day as my husband’s grandmums birthday, so I decided to bake her (us) something using some sweet and sharp flavours.

It was time to test my new kitchen and hopefully improved skills out. I found a relatively easy looking recipe online, which didn’t include using a gargantum amount of cream cheese and decided to go for it. The results were surprisingly yummy, if I do say so myself.

Raspberry & Lemon Cheesecake 

Oh lordy
Adapted from here 

You will need
For the Crust:
2 cups crushed digestive biscuits
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or cinnamon powder
½ cup melted butter

For the Filling:
1 pound softened cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups / 500 grams sour cream
1 lemon, zested
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

And your Topping:
A handful fresh or frozen raspberries
A few tablespoons raspberry coulis
A few mint leaves

Preheat the oven to 160 ° C.

Assemble your ingredients 
Step 1
In a big mixing bowl, crush the digestive biscuits - I use my hands to break them up, it’s vaguely therapeutic. Add the melted butter & cinnamon powder to your biscuits and keep crushing. It will look like wet sand and taste incredible. I am not too fussy about the size of the pieces, as long as they're small they don’t need to become too fine.

Like the branding shot? 
Biscuit crumb, Ready to be devoured!
Step 2
Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray (if not cooking spray, use some butter).

Step 3
Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. (I struggled with getting my crumbs evenly up the sides, and then eventually decided that it was a labour of love, and I was not being judged on perfection, so let it remain wavy.)

Doesn't that look awesome?

Step 4
Using your trusty kitchenaid (or a regular hand mixer) beat the cream cheese on low speed until smooth and free of any lumps.

Step 5
Add the eggs 1 at a time and continue to beat until combined. Add sugar in three parts and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl

Step 6
Add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla and continue to mix for a few minutes. This will take more time to do if you’re using a hand held mixer. The batter should be well-mixed but not overbeaten. Make sure you taste the mix, if you feel like you want it more lemon-y, add the zest of another half lemon.

Switch on your electric kettle, and put the water to boil.

Have you seen my awesome new bookstand? 
Step 7
Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan.

Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Feel free to lick the spatula, beaters, mixing bowl after!

Ready to pour captain
Step 8
Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil should keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Clumsy me dropped a teeny bit of water into the foil, and then had to pray madly that it didn’t make a difference.

On its way into the oven
Step 9
Bake for 1 hour. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so don’t overcook. I was paranoid that my oven was too hot, so I took it out after 50 minutes, which worked just as well.

Eat your yummy dinner while you wait
Step 10 – making the coulis
Take 100 grams (or thereabouts) of raspberries, add 75 grams of sugar and the juice of a lemon or 2 limes into a bowl. Let it sit for 20 minutes, the sugar will draw the liquid out of the raspberries.

Put in a blender and mix till smooth.

You can then use the coulis as is, or pass it through a sieve to get a smooth, silky sauce.

Refridgerate until needed.

Step 11
Let the cheesecake cool down in the pan for a while, around an hour, till the tin is not so hot.

Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. I made this night before, and so it stayed in the fridge for about 12 hours which is also a perfectly acceptable thing to do! 

Super excited to see it looking so yellow
Another angle
TO ASSEMBLE

Step 1
Take the cheesecake out of the fridge ten minutes before you want to unmould it. Loosen it from the sides of the pan by running a knife around the inside rim. Release the spring mechanism and Voila! Le Cheesecake!

Oh happy day
Step 2
Un-mold and transfer to a cake plate. I find this the most difficult to do, infact this to me is the moment of truth. I have a giant cake spatula which is very painstakingly eased under the cheesecake, careful not to break too much of the biscuit. IT HELD!!!

Pretty fretty cheesecake
Step 3
Spoon raspberry coulis on top of the cheesecake and smooth it out. It should be a lovely even bright pink.

Mmm

Place your raspberries here and there (I have NO eye for decoration, so do as you please!) and strew a few mint leaves to finish.

Halfway through decorating
Voila!

Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Dig in! The cheesecake is soft and crumbly, the biscuit crunchy and delicious and the raspberry zinging through makes the entire thing absolutely delicious. 



Couldn't resist a close up



Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Three Times Tables

After a very rocky start (and several slightly inedible meals), The Table has become one of Mumbai’s most popular stand-alone restaurants.  It’s whacky décor and seemingly extensive menu of small and large plates (they change for lunch, brunch and dinner) make it a place you have to keep going back to.

It’s a bit of a challenge spending time with my family now that I don’t live at home anymore. It’s rare when everyone’s home for dinner at the same time, and it just so happened that we were all home for dinner one night chatting about our plans for the bank holiday (YAAAAY!) the next day. It had been ages since we’d been out for lunch together, so we decided to make a day of it. Called a couple of places and settled on The Table. I know I've reviewed this place before, but with the ever changing menu, it almost feels like it's new every time I visit! 

As you must know by now, we’re a family of foodies who more often than not don’t have any sense of quantity. The food was great, as always, with a few exceptions. 

We ordered a massive amount of starters, because you know, we like to eat lots :D 

Fries with Cajun Mayo, and our old favourite: Zucchini Spaghetti with sliced almonds and Parmesan. I've tried making it at home multiple times, it just doesn't have the same amazing flavour it does here. 


Zucchini Spaghetti

Spicy Grilled Calamari Salad
Roasted red beet salad with goat’s cheese, orange, mint & pine nuts. I'm not a major fan of beetroot, but this salad is nicely prepared. The beetroot is cut thinly which doesn't over power me with earthiness. The orange and goats cheese lend a nice bite to it, and the pine nuts add texture in an otherwise slightly mushy salad. 

Roasted Red Beet salad
 Boneless chicken wings – plates and plates of them with a sweet soy ginger glaze. This may just be The Table's signature dish - SQUARE shaped chicken wings drenched in this super sweet sauce. I spend a lot of time dipping my fries into the glaze once we're done with the chicken (about 10 seconds after the plate is put down in front of us). Yummy. 


Yummy
The Fish Tacos weren't super awesome, that I'm willing to bet that had we not ordered so many other amazing dishes we'd have loved this one too. 


Fish Tacos
 I watched Chef Alex demonstrate how to make these meatballs once upon a time a Kala Ghoda, and I have been hooked on them ever since. If you ignore the thinly sliced pomme frittes on top (known as salli to Parsis everywhere), its a relatively healthy dish. Drenched in tomato gravy with melted cheese hugging each meatball, this is a definite 'must order' dish. 


Meatballs & Pomme Frittes
 I didn't like the grilled octopus salad at all. In fact, I'm pretty sure it made me sick the next day. I've had it a few times before, but they've obviously changed the recipe. The octopus was dry, and the flavours of the dish didn't really go together.  


We'd reached a point where no one could eat any more. In addition to this, we had also ordered Korean Beef with a Kim chi pancake, tenderloin tacos and a warm chèvre salad. All fantastic in their own rights, but I was too busy stuffing my face to take pictures before they were attacked. We decided we would split 2 mains - the beefy mac and cheese which is a mac and cheese with minced beef baked into it, and the provencal lamb ragout which I wasn't too crazy about because it tasted a lot more like mutton to me than it did lamb. The rest of my table loved it though. My brother's girlfriend orders it every chance she gets! 

Silky lamb ragout



 Barely able to sit straight, we ordered ourselves the Pain Perdue with bananas and vanilla bean ice cream. YUM. 

Divine Pain Perdue

So pretty


We had grand plans to shop, visit people and generally bum around after lunch, which all went to pot. We stumbled to our respective cars, I’m not sure what the others did, but I drove straight home and took a long, long nap. 

All that eating is exhausting!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Finding Nemo

It’s been a while since I’ve been out for a meal. Yes I know – you’re shocked. Doesn’t mean I’m not eating amazing food; it just means that I’ve been lazy and ordering in. But when a friend (and partner) opens a restaurant, it means you have to go! The third in a chain of awesome restaurants, Café Nemo will open its doors today.

We were invited for a preview dinner a few days ago, and jumped excitedly at the chance. (I have a friend who has been there 4 out of 5 days since they started doing preview nights – any guesses who???!)  

Café Nemo is just off the sea link, in a strangely narrow lane in Worli fishing village. Driving up to the restaurant, you see a bright yellow coloured building, with hanging plants along the walls. Walking into the restaurant, the first thing I saw was a plate of chocolate topped profiteroles, and some other cake. That’s all I saw. I can talk about the cool décor, the different coloured rooms, and the bar, but the truth is I barely noticed any of it, all I could see were those profiteroles. Also, there are loads of other blogs who will talk to you about the walls – I was more interested in the food (and drink).

We started off at the bar (I did notice there was a cool fish on it) with a couple of interesting drinks – a Thai Bloody Mary with Thai Red Chilli, galangal, kaffir lime, lemon grass and vodka and a Zucchini By The Sea which is zucchini juice, sea salt and vodka. I absolutely LOVED the bloody mary, it’s like drinking cold tom yum soup with vodka. My partner-in-crime-and-sparkles loved them so much, she had FIVE. The Zucchini by the sea is an acquired taste I think – it seems amazingly light and fresh, but too much vodka for me not enough other taste to mask it. The El Mysterio is a tequila cocktail, which another little blogger we were with (the tiniest one) liked, but I couldn’t even look at (tequila after my wedding makes me cry).

Bloody mary
We decided we needed to eat a little bit in between all the cocktail tasting we were doing, and sat down to attempt some ordering. The benefits of knowing the owners – they make the decisions for you! We ordered pretty much most of the small plates on the menu that night, and then sat back to wait (all the while, ostensibly sipping on a Southern Exposure, which is celery juice and gin…. Yummmm). What you see next is an absurd collection of every cocktail on the menu, mocktails for my brother, and vodka for us. 

so many drinks
I decided to depart from convention and order dessert first. In the last 2 years, I have never managed to reach a dessert course, which I’m always ok with but the profiteroles were driving me mad. We started with 5 (I ate 4). They were pretty amazing and filled with a coffee flavoured custard, topped with chocolate and shredded coconut. At one point, I was doing shots with them (this is when you take a piece, put your head back and put the whole thing in your mouth in one bite). Yummy. Must have.

Yummy
Next stop- Bao Bao land. I’d been recommended the bao bao buns before I even stepped into the place. We decided to skip modesty, and get one of each. Order pup- 2 penang chickens, 1 beef bulgogi and a char sui pork bao!



The penang chicken bao was fantastic – covered in an amazing thai sauce, with peanuts and basil, the chicken was superbly cooked and the bun was so soft I could have wrapped myself up in it. The beef bulgogi one will do better if shredded (which it probably might be soon). If you know me, you know I love char sui pork – the bao was soft, succulent and flavourful.

char sui pork!
In between bites of bao (say that ten times, go on I dare you), we ordered the loaded black bean dip, which was a silky smooth black bean dip loaded with guac, sour cream and accompanied by tortilla chips. I’m a bake your chips, don’t fry them kind of girl, but these were pretty awesome.

Chips & dip
The Gyoza was the highlight of my night. We ordered a vegetarian one – tofu and shitake – and had to order a second. It was that incredible. Crunchy and pan fried on the outside, soft, smooth and strangely meaty inside, the flavours come together with an incredible punch on your palette.

Gyoza
We were a bit hesitant to order tenderloin tartare in India (raw beef, produce etc.) but we needn’t have worried. It came on pieces of fried nori topped with shichimi sauce and was pretty awesome.

Tartare
Also on the small plates were the BBW pork soft shell taco, Korean fried chicken (awesome when you’re drinking beer) and a bacon pizza with chives and spicy gochujang sauce that was really great. The bacon flavor came through nicely, the sauce highlighted the dish and the chives just lofted it to lordliness.

baconnn
Look at it again... 
Now, how were we going to eat mains? How could we? It was pretty simple – everything with meat please.

The Seoul Bowl reminded me of Korean bibimbap, and came with rice, some greens, chili, peanuts, fried onion, char sui pork and a fried egg. If I’m ever not really hungry, I may just order this and sit with it all evening. It’s a perfect meal in a bowl, and I could sit with it and a book and be happy.

bowl full of seoul
The Galbi steak with kimchi puree and morning glory was a surprise, it came out with a whole potato that was finely sliced. I’ve seen this on pinterest and have been dying to try it out. The steak is good, nicely flavoured and the potato accompanies it well. There was a mix up in the kitchen, so we didn’t get the medium rare we’d asked for, but we were too full to eat it again so didn’t bother ordering another.

slurp


The ternderloin timpani was so cool to look at, and though a struggle for me to eat, absolutely hearty, warming and divine. Beef bolognaise, mixed with macaroni and gruyere, wrapped in some kind of pasta made from corn starch and then baked. It was like unwrapping a Christmas present, and tasted as fun as one.


What I love about Café Nemo is that they’ve been really bold with the different flavours they’re marrying together and they work. The food is fun, interesting, and packs an almost unexpected punch sometimes. I love the Japanese influence in a lot of their dishes, and will definitely be going back as many times as they can feed me.