Love in the Time of Coriander

Thoughts on food & more.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Diving Right In

Okay, I think there's been enough intro for the time being. Parts of one's history will always leak out at other times. No sense in protecting against how the past might unfold. Am I expounding the Freudian fundamental rule of free association? Well, perhaps. . . So, let me leap straight into the present.

Last night, E & I had some friends over for dinner, and I prepared a pretty solid Indian meal. Here's what I put together:

*Mini-pappadums (bought at one of the many Indian grocery stores on University Ave)

*Salad with greens, orange bell peppers, tomatoes, and avocados dressed with a Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette (from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)

*Braised Chicken Maharaja (from the San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook, Volume 2. Laxmi Hiremath is a great Indian food whiz!)

*Vegetable Biriyani (also from the SF Chronicle Cookbook, Volume 2)

*Mango Lime Cheesecake with Ginger Snap Crust, topped with fresh mangos, shredded coconut & a lime sauce.

To be honest, I think that I fashioned the entire meal around the dessert. I had been itching to try to come up with a good recipe for Mango Cheesecake. I had it in my mind that I could really create something stellar with the combination of a creamy mango-ey dessert and a ginger snap crust. Thus, the experiment.

How did it go? The dinner went fabulously, and I must put in a plug for the Vegetable Biriyani, which was a winner. The chicken was also good, but came out a big dry. (I think that I haven' t quite figured out how to cook chicken optimally and blame this on my own lack-of-technique.) The sauce that the chicken cooked in was AMAZING, however. The recipe was well worth making if only just for the flavors of the sauce, which might intimidate those who don't have an adequately stocked spice rack. Of course, I shall not forget the salad, which was simple and delicious, and E receives credit for putting it together.

Now, the finale: the cheesecake. I would say that the cheesecake was okay. My guests thought it was yummy and that it did taste of mango. However, I wanted it to be even more strongly flavored with the fruit and would opt for augmenting both the amount of fresh pureed mango in the cake (I used two mangos) as well as the amount of lime zest. I also wasn't all that keen on the lime sauce. It tasted like a lime Jolly Rancher had melted all over the top of the cheesecake. No one can take credit for this more than me. I didn't do my homework and find a good lime reduction recipe. I just decided that putting lime juice and sugar together on top of the stove would yield some kind of topping. (I also added a drop of green food coloring to the mix, which was doubly the reason why it ended up looking like a hard candy.)

One of my guests, a fellow foodie & kitchen experimenter, recommended that I go next time for a ginger topping, which I think is a good direction. Maybe a carmelized ginger sauce or something using crystallized ginger? Maybe even something that has a crunch to it? Maybe with nuts? I'm not sure yet.

Anyway, I don't know how soon I'll be back to perfecting this recipe. E & I are getting hitched in the summer, and I don't want to be making cheesecakes only to be fattening up and unable to slip into my wedding garb. E says that I should focus on fruit tarts, which ain't such a bad idea given that spring & its bounty is arriving.

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