Food. You know it. That’s why we’re here. You like it. Nay! You LOVE it! Or is that just me? I dunno. Whichever the case, that’s what I’m blogging on about. My adventures with various foods: tasted, trialled, cooked, adjusted, and invented.
I hope you enjoy my adventure with it as much as I do.
Where did this obsession begin? Clearly not in early childhood because until I was about 3, I didn’t eat much other than pawpaw & mango. But I do recall ‘rating’ the cooking of various family members. Uncle Kivu did the best curry & veggie stews. I think he even did some awesome fish. Granny made the best BBQ chicken wings, and golden syrup dumplings. Mum made the most awesome tuna mornay & spaghetti bolognese. And although I never appreciated them at the time, her veggie fritters (with home grown veggies & eggs from our own chickens) are now remembered with more elegant taste-buds. My sister has also churned out some seriously good & simple noms.
University did not provide a great base for this, either. Budget constraints meant the most gourmet I got most days was grated cheese on a (poorly) poached egg. Or ‘mushroom steaks’ where big field mushies were pan fried & then topped with all sorts of things, from tahini to fried bacon. Meals did not often cover major food groups. They were, in fact, usually a single food group with limited toppings. Spaghetti with tomato sauce (yes… rosella tomato sauce from a bottle), or (a personal favourite) Cheesy Rice! Rice, soy sauce, and cheese. I was so excited to demonstrate this budget dish to new housemates struggling to pay the rent. I did attend what I will refer to as a ‘master class’ on making toasted cheese & tomato sandwiches without the use of a toasted sandwich machine.
Post-university, I moved to Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. A mining town of around 30, 000 people. Most of the Western Australian natives I have met have never left the state. the ‘west is best’ doctrine is so intrenched that many don’t see the point to rest of the Australia (mush less the rest of the world), so why visit it? In fact, there are quite a few that haven’t gone ‘over east’ because they don’t have a valid passport. But that will keep for another post. My point here is much of the town don’t eat anything more exotic than a cheese & steak pie. If it’s not meat & three veg, it’s not on! I’ve even seen people turn their noses up at desiree potatoes in the supermarket because they’re too left field. It is possible my foodie-ism has come in defiance of this town!
Or maybe it came from my, almost obsolete, large collection of cook books? I say obsolete because I almost exclusively rely on the internet for inspiration. There is certainly enough cookbooks in my collection to cover almost every taste. But I argue (with myself, as no one else is in the room) that many of those books are almost sealed in a layer of dust, so i can’t possibly be getting anything other than some kind of osmotic inspiration from them!
What about the ‘TV Foodie Explosion’? No*. Let me say it right here: NO! Although I am mostly entertained by these shows, I’m usually left enraged by cravats and bad kitchen clichés. One stirling episode, and I hope it was on a dare, the judges managed to describe almost EVERY DISH as either having, or lacking, punchy flavours. I declare shenanigans on that. Buy a bloody thesaurus, OR, develop your palate! Not everything is punchy, especially in a challenge that was trying to produce ‘gourmet’ food court meals. Oxymoron, much? Or just moron?? (*I am excluding Top Chef, because that show rocks my world.)
I think the bulk comes from one of the best presents I was ever given: A delicious. Magazine subscription. About 4 years ago, my husband gave me one for my birthday, and he still loudly proclaims it was the best thing he has ever bought anyone. Ever. Now, easily, I could see the magazine going the way of my books… dusting it up in piles surrounding an over flowing book shelf. But I vowed early on to make three dishes from every edition – and they can’t all be desserts!! I haven’t always kept that promise, but broadly speaking, I get to try three new recipes, each with their new & exciting ingredients, to trial new & under-developed skills on. The result? Noms. Freaking noms.
As tribute to the above rambling inspirations, I present my very own cheesecake. The ingredients may be hard to find, but the pepper berries will be worth it. Obviously, you can sub the red limes for regular limes.
Red Lime & Pepper Berry Cheesecake
250g basic biscuits, crushed (gluten-free coconut biscuits worked beautifully!)
125g butter, melted
125g cream cheese, softened
395g (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
125ml (1/2 cup) fresh lemon juice
zest of half a lemon (or green lime)
zest & intact pulp of 3 red limes
2 tsp ground dried Tasmanian Pepper Berries
1 tsp gelatine
1 tbs hot water
½ cup water
¼ cup castor sugar
1 red lime, thinly sliced
Crumble biscuits into a food processor & pulse to fine crumbs. Pulse in melted butter. Firmly press biscuit mixture into a 23cm diameter (base measurement), 3cm deep flan pan or cake tin. Refrigerate until firm.
With a food processor or electric beaters, thoroughly mix together the cream cheese, condensed milk, lemon juice & zest. Pulse through the red lime zest & pulp. Dissolve gelatine in hot water (lots of stirring), then pour into filling mix, pulsing to combine well. Separate off one third of the mix, and stir in the ground pepper berries.
Pour half of the lime only filling into to the prepared crust & smooth over. Pour in the pepper berry layer & smooth over. Top with remain lime filling & smooth over. Refrigerate until set (2+ hours).
Heat water & castor sugar in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add the red lime slices & heat on a moderate to low heat, stirring until slightly thickened. Pour over cheesecake before serving.
Photo may appear… one day.