Out of this situation only good will come. I am Safe. One of my favorite affirmations.”
Louise Hay on twitter

I love reading about cookbooks people own, new ones they’ve added to their collections, and often find myself adding books to my wish list. Ottolenghi: The Cookbook was one such wonderful book, and I was thrilled when Hilda presented it to me. The connect was special, and the book worth every printed word. Reading about Plenty many times in the past few months, and then again last night on Nordjus made me update my virtual list! Yes, another one added to the ever growing list.
I couldn’t believe my good fortune recently, and felt extremely humbled when one of my blog readers from the Middle East decided to mail me another book that I had longed to own, The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Zareena who lives in the UAE got in touch with me ages ago looking for a cake to make for her brother’s birthday. Many mails later, she sent me beautiful pictures of the cake she made, spiral design and all, saying it was ‘the sponge was the bestest sponge she had ever had in my life’ . I was so touched and elated that it worked for her. She is a busy young mother of three little kids, and yet finds time to run her home, bake and mail me from time to time. Then one day she sent me a gift, this beautiful book; in her words ‘a small way to say thank you for inspiring me to bake‘.

It’s a BEAUTIFUL book, and one that all serious cake bakers should own. Carrying the enviable commendation of The Cookbook of the Year, it’s a book that covers possibly every cake under the sun, with variations galore, and exhaustive tips in every section. It is a cake encyclopedia that covers basic cakes, fillings, decorations, frostings, fruit preservation to some extent, and handy tips from novice to home to professional bakers. What was I waiting for? Spent hours every night reading the book, and the first thing I decided to do on priority was make fresh cherry topping from scratch.

It’s cherry season here, and the topping was calling my name. After reading for years about ‘a can of cherry pie filling’ in listed ingredients, here I was singing my way through making ‘my own’ fresh cherry topping from scratch. Armed with a cherry pitter and a weighing scale, I had the fruit ready in next to no time, and the topping bubbling away very soon. I had a cherry pie or cheesecake in mind, and so made a batch of quark that day as well.
Amazingly I got a shout out from Mardi @ Eat Live Travel Write that very day telling me about Hay Hay it’s Donna Day, and that she was hosting the event. Mardi was smart and chose a fabulously simple, yet brilliant recipe from Donna Hay’s collection – Blackberry Cheesecake Pots. The idea of the event is that you bake either the same recipe, or a twist to it, inspired by the basic recipe. I was on the ball and rolling. The mind was racing after I read that the recipe was a non bake one, and took about 10-15 minutes to put together. A quick check of what I could use had me in rejoicing in my little corner – I would use fresh cherry topping and quark. YES!! {You can read more about the event here which has now been taken over by Denise @ Chez Us.}

What I eventually made was possibly the best and most refreshing non-bake dessert that I have ever baked. It’s all from scratch, and can be made in advance, the fresh cherry topping and the quark 2-3 days prior. Putting it together takes about 10 minutes, and then you just leave it to chill. I gave it about 5 hours in the fridge, but an hour should be fine too as there is no gelatin etc that needs to set. It’s light on calories, healthy, and vegetarian too! I don’t think it can get better than this in our home!!

Thank you Zareena for sending me this beautiful book, and thank you Mardi for inviting me to be part of the event. Fate brought this post together, and it was very satisfying.  Quite a few readers of my blog often write to me asking how to whip up / stabilise low fat cream. Rose Beranbaum seems to have read our minds, and has presented a solution to stabilising low fat cream in The Cake Bible. Will try it out and share it with you soon.
{For my readers in India, you might like to look at an online bookstore Search for Books :

I have had the best experience ordering books from them for a while. They ship free across India and are very professional.} 

Cherry and Matcha Cheesecake Pots
Inspired by Donna Hay’s Blackberry Cheesecake Pots @ Eat Live Travel Write
380gms quark/curd cheese {recipe for homemade quark here}
1/3 cup vanilla sugar
200ml single/ low fat cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 a vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 tsp matcha powder
1 portion fresh cherry topping {Recipe follows}
Some fresh cherries to serve

Process the quark, vanilla sugar, cream, scraped vanilla beans and vanilla in a food processor until smooth. Reserve 1/2 cup in a bowl.
Add half the cherry pie filling to the processor, and process until just crushed. Spoon into 6 serving glasses, spoon the remaining cherry pie filling equally among the 6 glasses/ serving dishes.
Finish off each serving with a dollop of matcha quark cheese and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Serve with fresh cherries.
Serves 6.

Fresh Cherry Topping
Recipe from The Cake Bible, Rose Beranbaum, pg 344
280gms pitted tart cherries {from approximately 380gms cherries}
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsps cornflour {cornstarch}
Pinch of salt
1/8 tsp almond extract

In a large saucepan toss together the cherries, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Allow it to sit for about 30minutes to allow the sugar to draw out the juice.
Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and boiling. Simmer 1 minute. The mixture should just barely drop from a spoon. {I added 1/8 tsp of citric acid as the cherries were more sweet than tart. Juice of 1/2 a lime should work as well}.
Remove from heat and stir in almond essence. Cool and store in refrigerator, or spoon over cold cheesecake if desired.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

Don’t miss a post Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

“Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.”
Marcel Boulestin
This is my first entry for a Hay Hay it’s Donna Day event, & for some reason the event makes me somewhat nervous. I’ve wanted to be part of it for long, but can’t figure out if I meet the bill, or am on the right track. Just one of those things I guess… The Hay Hay it’s Donna Day food blogging event started back in October 2005 when fellow food blogger Barbara from Winos and Foodies blogged about a Donna Hay recipe entitled “Self-Frosting cupcakes”. Barbara invited bloggers to share their take on this idea, by alternating the spread if they so desired, but not the cupcake batter – this was to remain Donna Hay’s original recipe. Barbara coined the event “Hay Hay it’s Donna Day”, a play on Donna Hay’s surname, obviously, but also after a popular Australian variety show on T.V during the 80’s called “Hey Hey it’s Saturday”. In April 2008, Barbara handed the ropes to Bron, who is now the facilitator and caretaker of Hay Hay it’s Donna Day. HHDD #26 is being hosted this time by a very talented blogger Soma @ ecurry. Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but I can’t for the love of me figure out whether I’m on the right track or not. Anyway, this delicious ‘Roasted Red bell Pepper & Lamb Pasta’ that I made just the other day, & served with my first ever batch of No Knead Artisan Bread is my entry for HHDD #26.

It’s not often that I use lamb in pasta, my choice for a non-veg pasta is normally chicken. In fact, the only time I use red meat is when I make lasagna, my daughter’s fave pasta, though have now switched over to chicken mince on that front too. Chicken because it cooks faster, because personally I prefer white meat to red, & so does the heart … it’s also easier on Mother Earth. Oh, before I carry on, can I remind you to give your vote by turning the lights off for an hour 8.30pm-9.30pm local time. 8:30PM local time, wherever you live on planet earth. Saturday 28 March 2009 … for Earth Hour. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday. Right then, back to the pasta. I love red bell peppers & roast a few whenever I get a good deal. I had some roasted ones in olive oil in the fridge, leftover from my Pitanini sandwich filling. Thought I’d use them for the event Soma’s hosting. This recipe is a twist off the Ragu d’Agnello e Peperoni from The Pasta Bible, & is a light flavourful way to serve pasta. The bay leaves lend beautiful flavour, particularly to the lamb, & to the dish as well. Make sure to tear them & put them in. I tend to put mine into the hot oil to release the flavours. Using the bay leaves made me think ‘WOOD’, which is the theme for this month’s photography event CLICK @ Jugalbandi.This is my entry, ‘BAY LEAVES’, clicked from a bunch that my sis-in-law sent from Siliguri in West India many many years ago. I have always loved this bunch, & it’s been with me for almost 8 years. I use the leaves off the twigs whenever I need them, which is often, & then store it back carefully. ROASTED RED BELL PEPPER & LAMB PASTA
adapted from The Pasta Bible, pg 138
4tbsp olive oil
250gms boneless lamb; cut into bite sized pieces
6-8 garlic cloves; chopped fine
2-3 bay leaves; torn
1/2 a cup of red wine
4 ripe tomatoes; peeled & chopped fine
2 large red bell peppers; chargrilled & chopped fine
1 cup cooked sweetcorn
Handful of fresh oregano leaves
Salt & black pepper

  • Heat 2 tbsps of oil in a pan. Add the chopped garlic & bay leaves & saute on simmer till the oil gets fragrant. Add the lamb, season with salt & pepper, & cook over medium to high heat till the pieces are well browned.
  • Pour in the wine & let it bubble until reduced.
  • Add the remaining oil, the finely chopped bell roasted red bell pepper, the finely chopped tomatoes, the fresh herbs & the sweetcorn. Mix well.
  • Cover & simmer for 30-45 minutes until the lamb is fork tender. Stir occasionally & moisten with water if required. Remove the bay leaves once done.
  • When it’s about 20 minutes to go, put water on the boil for the pasta. Cook pasta, toss it with the lamb & roasted bell pepper mixture & serve immediately. A crusty bread on the side makes the meal sing. Add a salad, a glass of red wine, a bunch of flowers & it’s time to party!
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