Citrus and Chilli Cheesecake- Celebrating one year of blogging!

Citrus and Chilli Cheese cake

Every once in a while, life gives you an opportunity; that tests the extent of your extreme potential. Once in a lifetime, comes an idea so inspiring that it gets deeply rooted into the very core of your being, that it fires every cell in your body with such enthusiasm and excitement; because all you can see at the end of the road is that little signpost that says ‘Happiness’.  My dear friends, for me Tummy Tales is that one idea, that one such journey.  It all began a little more than a year ago, when I cooked something one lazy Sunday afternoon and much unlike me, posted a picture on facebook.  Seeing the picture a friend called me asking for the recipe, which I happily shared with her. She called again, a few days later asking for another recipe. This was when she had a flashbulb moment and suggested I start a blog.  I made the best excuses I could. Honestly, I was happy cooking on Sundays or whenever the opportunity arose. Blogging never occurred to me. My friend though remained undeterred; she pursued with her follow ups; until one day, I decided I needed to get the monkey off my back.  I  thought I’ll just blog once and that would be it. So, up went my first post. But deep down, I was happy, I had shared a recipe to the world. My recipe. I don’t remember, but I think that post got about 5 views. Excitedly, I put up another post. One post followed another, slowly, followers signed in and today  on November 7, 61 followers and roughly 10,000 page views later my blog turns a year old. There couldn’t be a more happier moment and how I wish I words could express the joy my heart feels. Simply, on the top of the world.

I did try very hard writing a  blogversary speech; but I realised that I had a long list of people to thank. That would make it seem like one of those glycerin drenched film award shows, but here’s a toast to each and every one of you, my readers and all others who have walked this path with me.. I am hugely humbled  to know that so many of you spend your precious reading the blog and sharing my world. Thank you once again. For sure, in coming times you will see more interesting and innovative recipes on the site. In fact, how about kicking off a series titled “The World on my plate” where we savor the best of world cuisine from the yakitori of Japan to the Spanish Potato Bravas  and the works. Drop in a line and let me know what you think. I shall wait to hear from you.

A birthday celebration incomplete without a cake right? And yes, a special cake was made for the blogs birthday. A cheesecake but I wanted to spruce it up a bit and yes, deviate from the traditional New York cheese cake. Then, it had to be healthy. Ahh, so many briefs to fit into one final cheesecake. So finally, I came up with “No bake, Citrus and Chilli Cheesecake”. Did I hear you swoon already. I have recently been intrigued by chilli. That robust flavour, that subtle back of the head kick. And then, the ever so dependable and very refreshing citrus. How can you ever go wrong when you have the goodness of oranges in it. All this held together by the rich, creamy, smoothness of cheese. This is going to be a cake to remember.  When I tried this one for the test run, I found it had a very intense chilli taste; to the extent of the citrus being overpowered by the chilli. So, I had to go back to the drawing board and rework on the ingredient quantities. The point here is you only need the chilli flavour and not the taste. Citrus and chilli are my recommended flavors; go berserk with  your choice of flavors like ginger-honey, citrus-cinnamon, or the more adventurous whiskey and nuts or vodka and star aniseed.

Its been a fabulous year in blogging, and here’s to many more of the same. And finally, A big “Thank you”. This would not have been possible without your support, inputs, comments and the so many other ways you show your love to “The Tummy Tale”. I do hope we share  an even bigger camaraderie and the love of food we always had.

Keep smiling and happy cooking!!!

Cheesecake

Citrus and Chilli Cheesecake

For the biscuit base:

6-8 digestive biscuits

1 tablespoon, brown sugar

2 tablespoons, butter

For the Cheese layer

200 grams, hung curd

80 grams, Parmesan cheese or cottage cheese

100 ml condensed milk

1 green chilli, de-seeded

1 teaspoon, citrus zest (use a combination of orange and lemon zest)

2 teaspoons, edible gelatin

For the Citrus reduction

Juice of 2 oranges

1 teaspoon, brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon, red chilli flakes

Procedure:

To make the biscuit base:

  • Combine the biscuits, sugar and butter in a zip lock bag and pound using a pestle or a rolling pin until the mixture resembles coarse wet sand. Alternatively, you could use a mixer.
  • Now, place a circular mould on a sufficiently large plate and empty the mixture on the inside of the mould. Level this out using the back of a spoon.
  • Keep this in the refrigerator for about half and hour till it sets well. 
To make the cheesecake layer:
  • Prepare the gelatin as per the instructions mentioned on the pack. Keep aside to cool.
  • In a bowl, add the hung curd and the grated mozzarella and whisk together, till evenly combined.
  • Add the condensed milk in small batches and mix well to combine. 
  • Next add the chilli and the citrus zest’s. Mix well.
  • Add the prepared gelatin and combine.
  • Pour this mixture over the prepared biscuit base and refrigerate for about 2-3 hours. Iff possible, allow it to set overnight.
To make the citrus reduction:
  • Add the orange juice in a saucepan along with the sugar and chilli flakes.
  • Heat till the juicereaches a boiling point. Then lower the heat and boil till the juice has reduced to half in quantity.
  • Take out from the heat and allow to come to room temperature.
To serve:
  • Demould the cheesecake and pour the citrus reduction over the cheesecake. Chill for about 15 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.
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Simple Butter Cake!

Walnut Butter Cake
Its been a while since I posted a cake recipe on the blog. Nearly a year almost.Why haven’t I baked in all this while…. Well call it my bane. The proverbial Achilles heel.  After a couple of baking attempts went put; I thought it would be better if I could focus on eating a cake, than baking one.The plan worked, till a reader wrote requesting if I could post a simple butter cake recipe. I discussed with a few friends who bake and they said it was pretty simple. I tweeted to another round of encouragement from folks. I wrote back to the reader saying I’d post the recipe. The good thing, there was time on hand. So, I searched for a simple recipe that would fit the brief. I was so spoilt for choice that I didn’t know which to choose. I narrowed down one and sent it to a friend for authentication. He sent it back with recommended changes.

So, preps done and I now was ready to face the music. I started whisking the butter gingerly, much like Sachin Tendulkar’s nervous edge down to third man to get off the mark. But as I covered the steps in the recipe, the confidence in process and myself start to increase. You need to love baking, experienced and professional bakers told me. I was now beginning to love the process. I did see the batter coming out just as my friend described it would.  I was happy. The tin was dusted and prepared. In went the batter. I had a few walnuts that I had saved from an earlier dish and felt they would give a nice crunch to the cake. In they went. But now was the true test. Waiting for the cake to bake. Believe you me those thirty five minutes seemed like and endless Rahul Dravid innings. Finally, the timer went off and I dashed off the oven as if my life depended on it.  It passed the skewer test. Now too wait for another few minutes, till it cooled completely. It finally did.

As I cut through each slice, the delicate cake was perfect. You will have to excuse the pictures, since it was a quick photo shoot. Trust me, the cake was inviting.

We enjoyed the cake with coffee. And yes, I did send the recipe to my reader who wrote

Dear Elson,

I did try the cake recipe you sent me. It was heavenly. Sheer buttery goodness.

Guess I will now use this cake to show off to all my friends that I too can bake. Thanks a lot for the trouble.

Shall also be trying the Fish Coastal Biryani soon. I’ll write and let you know how it turned out to be.

Do keep satiating our hungry souls till then.

It encouraged me to start a series for readers request recipe. Should you have a recipe that you want me to feature on the blog, please feel free to drop in a line on my email address thetummytale@gmail.com or stop by at my facebook page. There’s a lot happening there too.

Meanwhile, here is the recipe for the cake.

Simple Butter Cake
Ingredients:
  • 150 grams butter, (preferably unsalted)
  • 125 grams, powdered sugar
  • 125 grams, all purpose flour
  • 3 medium sized eggs
  • 1 teaspoon, baking powder
  • 15 ml milk
  • few drops of vanilla essence
  • Some extra butter and flour for lining the tin
  • 8-10 drops of flavoring essence of your choice (Optional, I skipped this)
  • A handful of mixed nuts- for laying out on the cake.
 Procedure
  • Brush an 8 inch baking tray with butter; then dust if with sufficient flour and keep aside.
  • Next, sift the flour and baking powder together at least 3 times and keep aside.
  • Preheat oven at 100 C for about 10 mins
  • Using an electric mixer on a high speed cream the butter till it changes its colour to off white.
  • Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and start adding the sugar in small batches. Continue this till the sugar and butter have combined well.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time and continue mixing.
  • Now, stop the mixer and start folding the flour in small batches, like we did for the sugar. Combine well using a spatula. Add the milk and vanilla essence.
  • Gently pour this batter in the prepared tin, spread out the nuts on top of the batter and bake for about 30 minutes. Use the tooth pick/ skewer test to check for the doneness
  • When its entirely done, allow it cool for another 20 minutes.
  • Enjoy with a hot cup of tea or coffee

Note:

Please note that 30 minutes is indicative. The baking time may increase or decrease, depending on your oven’s brand.

Mango and Cottage Cheese Snowballs in Custard Sauce

“Stressed spelled backwards is desserts” goes a very popular quote. Couldn’t agree more since desserts somehow, have this innate ability to  transcend you into a fairy tale world. A world that has all things nice, mushy; a dream that has no end. Who can deny the mood lifting, luscious goodness of a chocolate cake , the delicate arrangement of a trifle pudding, the creamy goodness of a strawberry ice cream, the rich, silky smoothness of a custard with the caramel set on top. Sheer culinary pleasures!!

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Traditionally, no Indian meal is ever complete if there are no desserts. And then there is the omnipresent  ‘mooh meetha kijiye’ (‘please have a sweet’) usually when there is happy occasion to celebrate.  I am not exaggerating when I say that in a country of the size of India; you would get a new variety of dessert may every 200 kms. At my place, desserts are a regular indulgence. The most regular one being the “kheer” or the very Mangalorean “payasam”; while the more extravagant being the custards and rich cream cakes or puddings. So, like I had mentioned in my post on the “Kheema Kofta Pulao”, when we had guest coming over for dinner and we had Mango and  Cottage Cheese Snowballs in Custard Sauce for desert. Long name ehh? Relax and don’t let it scare you. This recipe is a product of my mums eureka moment. Honestly, I am not much a mango lover. As a kid, and even to this day I ran a mile at the mention of mangoes and when my mum explained the dish; I tried my best to cajole her into making something else but I guess the king of fruits deserved his rightful debut on the blog. You could make the snowballs and custard earlier at your convenience and refrigerate; combine the two just as your about to serve. My guest who were expecting some of the routine stuff, gave out a loud cheer when I brought them out. I felt I just won the moon!!

Go ahead and try these, the very regal mango given a makeover and perfectly complimented by the custard sauce. Your very own journey into the fabled land of desserts. I promise you mangoes and custard will never be the same anymore.

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Ingredients:

To make the snowballs:

  • 2 large and ripe alphonso mangoes, skinned and cubed into fine bits
  • 125 grams cottage cheese, finely grated
  • 50 grams powdered sugar
  • 8-10 slices white bread, cut of the sides
  • Sugar Syrup, for drizzling on the bread & 2 teaspoons for the cottage cheese and mango mix

To make the custard sauce:

  • 400 ml milk.
  • 4 teaspoons of custard powder (I used Vanilla Flavour)
  • 6-8 teaspoons sugar.
For the Garnishing
  • 1 ripe mango, pureed *Refer notes below
  • Few glazed cherries

Procedure:

To make the snowballs:

  • Grate the cottage cheese in a bowl and add the mango cubes & powdered sugar. Mix well.
  • Cut the sides of the bread and drizzle with the sugar syrup till the slice is sufficiently moist. Do not wet the bread slice too much as it may be too soft and may not bind well.
  • Now, place a spoonful of the mixture in the center of the bread slice and gently fold the slice into a sphere.
  • Repeat the same for all the bread slices.
  • Once you complete all the spheres, refrigerate for an hour

To make the custard sauce:

  • Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat
  • Combine the custard power in some water in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly so that there are no lumps.
  • Add this mixture to boiling milk, stir continuously. 
  • As the milk starts to thicken add the sugar. Continue stirring.
  • Once the mixture has reached desired thickness, remove from the heat and allow it to cool thoroughly.
  • Refrigerate for about half an hour.
To assemble:-
  • Keep one snowball in each of the serving portions.
  • Pour a generous quantity of the custard in each of the serving portions.
  • Add a spoonful of the mango puree and the cherries.
  • Serve chilled
Notes:
  • To make the make mango puree, combine mango pulp, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon of milk. Blend using a hand mixer till all ingredients are combined well and the mixture is of a pouring consistency.

Chocolate Fudge (With Walnuts and Raisins)

At the office, lunchtime discussions usually revolve around sports, movies and at times, current affairs. One such discussion revolved around what is the best invention in the history of mankind. We had a good time debating how inventions like electricity, telephone or even the atom bomb scored over one another when a colleague known for her wisecracks said “ it doesn’t matter who invented electricity, telephone etc, I guess the world’s best inventions are Kit-kat, Ferrero Rocher’s & Mars”. Her answer more or less closed the discussion with most of us agreeing that life is incomplete without chocolate.

There is there nothing that is not written about chocolate already, so I think I’ll leave my gyaan baazi (unnecessary knowledge sharing) for later.  What is interesting to note is that despite its versatility, chocolate is one of the most difficult ingredients to work with. In fact, you cannot work with chocolate, you need to gently seduce it to working with you. It can be done though, all it needs is a little bit of patience and confidence.

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Today’s, dish then is the outcome of our  families slight cravings for something sweet after a wholesome meal. It is especially for those times when you want just little sweet to round off on your palate and not  load yourself with calories  by having an ice cream or pastry. What better than the goodness of dates and raisins and of course, add in some chocolate and you have a desert ready. Not too filling, yet nice enough to satisfy those cravings and importantly gets done in a jiffy.

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Go ahead and try these babies, chocolate indulgence at its best!

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Chocolate Fudge (With Walnuts and Raisins)

  • 200 grams dark chocolate (chopped into fine pieces)
  • 100 ml of condensed milk
  • 50 grams walnuts (roughly chopped)
  • 50 grams raisins
  • A small blob of unsalted butter

Method:

  • Line a cake tin or a flat based box with butter paper and keep aside.
  • In a double boiler, place the chocolate, condensed milk, butter and salt. Allow the chocolate to melt and combine well with the other ingredients.
  • Once the chocolate and the other ingredients have combined well, add the walnuts and raisins give it a nice mix.
  • Pour the mixture into the cake tin and smoothen with the back of a flat spoon.
  • Refrigerate for a few hours and cut into squares and serve.

Gajar Halwa (Indian Carrot Pudding)

My dear readers, this is a very special post for me. This post is to celebrate 50 fans on my face book page ( https://www.facebook.com/TummyTales)  When I started the blog and created the face book page to share recipes, I was just doing something I always wanted to even as a kid, that is cooking and sharing recipes. However, the support and encouragement you have shown only drives me to keep raising the bar. It is said that behind the success of a man there is a woman; in my case there are two. My dear mom and my sister who have been encouraging and supportive in the blog, my mum has also willing opened her treasure of recipes some of which you have already seen on the blog. Each and every recipe passes through their stern exacting standards and only the perfected product makes it to the blog. Thanks dear mum and little sister.  To be honest, I  don’t cook because I have to blog or vice versa, I cook because it’s a passion for me and the reward is when someone tries a recipe from the blog and it turns out well. Thank you very much dear readers do keep writing with your thoughts, suggestions and comments. It would be nice to hear from you on what you feel on the face book page or the blog.

And so, to celebrate the 50th fan, we will make something that is synonymous with celebrations in India. Did I hear a loud and collective “Gajar Halwa”? Yes, absolutely right! We shall celebrate with the gajar halwa, a desert so rooted in Indian culture that Indian women can almost make it blindfolded. Its cousin the Doodhi (bottle gourd) halva also has an equally good reputation but it’s the gajar halwa that calls the shots nevertheless. The test for a good gajar halwa is simple.  It should melt the minute you put it in your mouth.

This is also the right time to try out this recipe since carrots are best in this season. I tried my best to retain the original recipe and keep it as low as possible on the calorie meter as possible. I don’t like sweets too much; fortunately, it passed the quality test and here you have moist, succulent and melt in the mouth gajar halwa.

Make it. I’m sure the accolades and compliments will follow.

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Gajar Halwa

Ingredients:

  • 1 Kg Carrots
  • 5-6 tablespoons ghee
  • 60 grams roughly chopped mixed dry fruits (I used cashews, raisins, pistachios and almonds)
  • 250ml condensed milk
  • 600 ml good quality milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (you could use whole sugar if you like)
  • ½ spoon green cardamom powder

Procedure:

  • Wash, peel and grate the carrots and keep aside. Roughly chop the dry fruits as well.
  • In a deep pan, add ghee. When the ghee is heated, add the dry fruits and lightly roast them. Once done, take out and drain on an absorbent paper. In the same pan, add chopped carrots and sauté those for about 7 minutes till the carrots are limp.
  • Add in the milk and the green cardamom powder and cook till the milk has dried up.
  • Now add the condensed milk, sugar and mix well till sugar has dissolved and the mixture forms a single mass. Please keep stirring continuously at this point or your carrots may burn near the bottom.
  • Add the dry fruits and give it a nice mix so the fruits are spread evenly throughout the halva.
  • This can be served cold or at room temperature. But it tasted best when it’s hot.
  • Want to indulge a bit more, add a small blob of ghee on your portion.

 

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