Saturday, 21 July 2012

Lime, Pumpkin & Ginger Cheesecake story, Cumquats and a great hot chutney/sauce

There are a couple of reasons I've been lying low for a few weeks; first one is that we were burgled six weeks ago, while we slept; although I suppose that's the one good thing about it all, really. At least no one was hurt.
The repercussions, however, have of course been rather painful, especially with the loss of my computer and with it a month's work on my 'Chutneys Pickles and More' book ( the deadline is end of August) and all the photos of our 6 months in France and Italy last year. Plus family photos and of course my mobile phone and with it my contact numbers. All very frustrating and upsetting, as other stuff can be replaced but not the work and photos.

There is some good news, though - 20 proofs from the new book are going to the Frankfurt Book Fair in September with the publisher, so that's great news and I've pretty much got those proofs covered. Carolyn Robertson has shot some wonderful photos for the book that are nearly all done now so we will get there!

The other reason is that cousin Erin was travelling this way to be a personal chef when he had a horrible road accident, ended up in Waikato hospital for 10 weeks and is now in rehab here. So there have been family staying with us for extended times and that will continue for a while as the limbs will take a long time to repair. So glad that we can help out by providing beds, meals and fill in some visiting gaps.

Erin and I talk quite a bit about food of course, and he mentioned a pumpkin cheesecake a couple of weeks ago, made in a restaurant he used to work for. He never made it himself, couldn't remember proportions or flavours, only that it contained pumpkin and eggs; and that the topping was toasted chopped pecan nuts mixed with pure maple syrup. Well. . .

Lime, Pumpkin and Ginger Cheesecake
with pure maple syrup
No sooner said than . . .
I love the challenge of creating something from just a description, a taste, a sight, or simply from imagining a combination of flavours or textures.

Not wanting a 'pumpkin pie' taste, an injection of other flavours appealed, although I liked the idea of using the pumpkin texture as a vehicle. What I've ended up with is a gingernut (or ginger flavoured biscuit) crust, a very nicely textured filling with lime juice and zest and glace ginger, and a nut topping drizzled with pure maple syrup. The pumpkin has to be either roasted or microwaved to avoid too much liquid, and the photo shows toasted flaked almonds rather than pecans, simply 'cos I didn't have pecans. Extra maple syrup is a nice treat, drizzled over the top.

I don't think my effort is much like the one Erin remembers, but we both liked the result - and it worked first time! It'll be published in the Waikato Times 'Lifestyle' mag sometime (I asked for a photographer after the first taste), but email me if you want the recipe.

Other news is that I've been in contact with an enterprising couple from Hawke's Bay, Diana and John, who own Mantell's orchard in Hastings. They are very particular about how and what they grow, and I can certainly vouch for the flavour of their produce - it's stunningly good. I was so impressed to hear they have undertaken to grow the entire national heritage apple collection, which would otherwise be lost (although they also grow commercial varieties). They have many varieties of French pears (including Seckle, a sweet 'baby' pear I've wanted to get my hands on for years) and apples, favourite as well as unusual citrus fruits, lots of different plums including greengages and lots lots more. The potager they're developing will showcase heirloom vegetables too.

The kaffir limes they sent me as part of a sample box taste good and have a respectable amount of juice - unlike mine, I've only ever used the leaves for cooking as my fruit are always dry and really not worth bothering with.
As for cumquats, I confess I've never grown or cooked them but when you're given something out of the ordinary. . .

Whole cumquats in ginger syrup


Preserved Sweet/Sour Cumquats 
Those are kaffir limes in front, mainly because of their gorgeous colour

I can't wait to try the sweet and the sweet/sour cumquats, but I'll have to wait a few weeks  . . .
Meanwhile, here is a recipe from the new book and one you can make now if you're happy to use tinned tomatoes instead of fresh - the citrus flavour in this really gives it an interesting twist and it's certainly a hit with all our friends.

 Hot ‘Top Shelf’ Tomato Chutney/Sauce

Not quite chutney or sauce but something in between, this is arguably one of the best tomato condiments ever.
Orange zest and lime add zing without being identifiable, and warm spices balance out the flavours. It is hot, but not excessively so - reduce the chilli content only if you’re concerned; this chutney/sauce is a winner as it is.
Processed garlic and ginger are fine to use here.
Makes 8 jars.
2 ½ kg tinned tomatoes, diced *or equivalent fresh, peeled and diced
100g ginger, peeled & chopped finely
100g garlic, peeled & crushed
2 Tbsp (15g) chilli powder or to taste
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
Juice of 5 limes, preferably, or 4 lemons
2 Tbsp salt
3 cups malt vinegar
1 kg sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1½ tsp ground cloves
300g dates, chopped small

Place all the ingredients in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan and combine thoroughly.
Simmer uncovered, stirring regularly, until reduced almost by half and thickened to the consistency you want. This should take about one – one and a half hours.
Transfer to hot, sterilized jars and screw on hot, sterilized metal lids.
*Include juice.
The idea of combining citrus and tomato came from ‘Rachel’s Hot Tomato Chutney’ in ‘Chutneys, Relishes and Sauces’ by Margaret O Sullivan.