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Archive for the tag “Tamal Ray”

Tart of Triumph

Since I started my epic challenge to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021 (find out more about that  here), I’ve had a lot of success with Tamal Ray’s The Sweet Spot recipes (including: lemon crumble cookies, chai-spiced mousse with caramel pecans and Japanese cheesecake with cherries in syrup ). However, his mango meringue pie threatened to overcome my skill levels and make me redecorate our kitchen.

Never in the course of human pudding endeavours has one woman spent so much time wondering if she was doing it right. And this is a great thing about this project: I’m learning so much! And, as you’ll see from my triumphant end product, Tamal’s pie is so worth overcoming terror of processes, lack of knowledge and general apathy when faced by cooking setbacks.

A tin of mango pulp looking like something you might paint your walls with – trust me, I nearly did!

I don’t think my tinned mango pulp was the ‘kesar’ or ‘alphonso’ in the recipe but it seemed to work and tasted superb. For the mango filling, Tamal asks you to put the mango and lime juice into a saucepan and reduce them by 300g in weight – I’ve never had to do this before. I protected my scales from the hot pan with a cork mat and managed the reduction – although it took a little longer than 40 minutes. I think I was a bit cautious about the mix sticking to the bottom of the pan. It didn’t.

Mango reduction in construction

I’m getting a bit better at pastry (pricking, blind baking and all that) – but still not great at rolling out the pastry to the right size. As you’ll see from the pics below, my pastry shrunk too far in places.

The filling finally chilling, the pastry case baked, I set about making the meringue. I followed Tamal’s instructions and whisked the egg whites, taste of lime juice and salt to soft peaks bang on the moment the golden syrup, sugar and water hit 110C. Then, ass soon as the syrup reached the required 118C, I drizzled it gradually into the whites, whisking all the while. It looked like it would never go stiff and glossy. In fact it looked as deflated as I felt.

Don’t tell Tamal, but in a panic I put in some cornflour in the hopes this would remedy it. No luck. I did a quick internet search on Italian meringue and read something that said to whisk for ten minutes plus. By this time, I was overheated and so was my hand whisk. However: success! I had sprayed meringue over the recipe, across the work surface and up the walls. I didn’t care: my meringue was ‘stiff and glossy’.

The next challenge came with pouring the filling – which was a tad liquid – into the case – which was a tad challenged at the sides. I tucked some of the cooked offcuts into the worst gaps and tipped the orange mango nectar in. I ladled on the meringue and began to feel pretty good about myself. A quick blowtorching of the meringue and, hallelujah!

It is true that the filling was a bit runny when cut, so maybe I didn’t reduce quite enough after all but…

Dear reader, this pie is a beautiful thing. A fine centre piece for any celebration. Sweet, yes, but the touch of lime in filling and meringue is transformative. My Sri Lankan friend says that lime juice reveals the true flavour of mango. She is absolutely right.

My take on Tamal Ray’s mango meringue pie featured in Guardian Feast Issue No.173 (look closely and you’ll see my copy of Feast is spattered with meringue!

Original recipe:

Tamal Ray – mango meringue pie

Easter feaster: lamb, figs and airy cheesecake

I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

We were lucky enough to visit Japan back 2017. One of the many food-driven odysseys we enjoyed was the pursuit of the fabled Uncle Rikoro’s wibbly-wobbly cheesecake in Osaka (picture below) – read about that here. Ever since, I have dreamed of creating a similar delight at home. My few attempts have fallen woefully short.

Tamal Ray has delivered toothsome delights for us before (his chai-spiced mousse with caramel pecans is a dream in a glass), so my heart soared when I spotted his Japanese cheesecake with cherries in syrup in Feast No.168. I was delighted and a tad daunted. Light fluffy baked items have a way of deflating and withering on my watch.

Uncle Rikoro’s wibbly-wobbly cheesecake. Osaka.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s slow-cooked lamb with figs and pistachios from Feast Issue No.167 had already marinated in ginger, turmeric, coriander, dill, garlic, olive oil and cider vinegar overnight. We’d watched the sun rise over the Tweed on Easter morning and the lamb was tucked snuggly in the oven for a long, slow cook and already producing stomach-rumbling aromas.

Now, can I follow Tamal’s instructions well enough to deliver a madeleine moment of taste and texture to the waiting fam for our Easter feast? First indicators are pretty good. I manage to grind, beat, whisk and combine reasonably effectively – although I’m not sure what constitutes the ‘pistachio paste’ required by Tamal. I do like that there’s a pistachio theme for the meal.

Is this a pistachio paste? All I know is that the blender began to overheat.

My meringue seemed bouffant and glossy enough, and in it went to the mix.

Early indicators were good. The cheesecake puffed up proud and regal in its water bath. I had high hopes. However, that moment I finished scraping the mix into the tin and said: ‘I’m not sure I’ve done this right’, would come back to haunt me.

Tamal says: ‘Line the base of a 20cm round cake tin with greaseproof paper, grease the sides and base with butter, then cover with a double layer of aluminium foil.’ The eldest daughter says she would not have come up with the solution I did but allows that the instructions are not totally clear (I think she was being kind!). I see now that lining the bottom of the tin with a double layer of tinfoil rather than lining the whole thing had a fatal flaw. Ho-hum.

My take on Tamal Ray’s Japanese cheesecake with cherries in syrup

Look, the result was a cheesecake light, fluffy and scrummy on the top half and a tad water-logged and slippery on the bottom. We still wolfed it down – and the zingy cherries in syrup (I used sour cherries) were a perfect foil to the cheesecake’s floaty dreaminess. The other great thing about Tamal’s cake is that it has none of the eggy flavour that such cheesecakes sometimes have. Another plus: Tamal’s recipe is quick and easy – next time it will be perfect!

Happy Easter and happy eating.

Original recipes:

Yotam Ottolenghi – slow-cooked lamb with figs and pistachios

Tamal Ray – Japanese cheesecake with cherries in syrup

Cheers to chai!

I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

I’m on crutches and have to keep my foot up, so no cooking for me for the next few weeks. Fortunately the eldest daughter is still on her Covid staycation here in Berwick. Tamal Ray’s chai-spiced mousse with caramel pecans in Feast Issue No.162 took her fancy. I always think of Angel Delight when the word mousse crops up – those pink, beige and yellow sloppy whips were such a thrilling part of my childhood. However, Tamal’s recipe sounds a lot more grown-up than Angel Delight and conjures a different memory.

This week in my year cooking from Guardian Feast it's Tamal Ray's chai-spiced mousse with caramel pecans - conjured up by my daughter
Bay leaf caramel

The daughter and I both remember falling in love with the flavour of chai spices on a trip to New York 20 years ago. In my memory we get a chai latte from a Starbucks by a subway station. In hers it’s from a boutique coffee house. I prefer her memory! The other reason I’m impatiently listening to her endeavours in the kitchen is Tamal’s lemon crumble cookies from Issue No. 157 a few weeks back. Tamal’s play on flavour balance and texture has me hooked – and the idea of crunchy caramel pecans alongside a smooth chai-infused whip-up… Be still my beating heart.

This week in my year cooking from Guardian Feast it's Tamal Ray's chai-spiced mousse with caramel pecans - conjured up by my daughter
Tamal Ray’s pecan brittle by the eldest daughter

The daughter and I are both intrigued by the idea of 15 bay leaves to infuse the caramel sugar – fortunately I have a branch tucked in a cool dark corner. She’s a bit anxious that three gelatine leaves will deliver rubbery mousses – only time will tell.

Mostly, she’s humming happily as she potters – infusing the pud with good vibes as well as chai spicing. There’s a slightly hairy moment when she overwhips the cream. She takes Tamal’s advice to: ‘just stir through a little more fresh cream until the mix is liquid again’, and Bob’s your uncle she’s humming again. The caramel syrup tastes intensely of bay and takes ‘ages longer’ than Tamal’s allotted 6-8 minutes to turn amber. The bay flavour dissipates or, you could say, blends with the cooling and setting of the caramel. The Husband declares it gives the mousses a ‘grown-up’ taste – phew, not Angel Delight, then!

In truth, the finished articles look stunning and taste sublime. They are pleasantly scoopable but in no way rubbery. The pecan crunch is literally a cracking crown. I’ve had all sorts of chai thises and thats. Trust me, Tamal’s spice combo in this mousse is the most flavoursome I’ve tasted since my New York initiation. Thank goodness the recipe makes six and we can have another one tonight!

This week in my year cooking from Guardian Feast it's Tamal Ray's chai-spiced mousse with caramel pecans - conjured up by my daughter
My daughter’s version of Tamal Ray’s chai-spiced mousse with caramel pecans

Original recipe:

Tamal Ray – chai-spiced mousse with caramel pecans

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