lundi 8 août 2011

A something in a summer's day

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Sometimes I feel like getting into a train or bus in any direction and just simply riding off. Movement of this kind inspires me and as strange as it may sound, I read best when travelling. The city still has the ability to surprise me with its buildings and skies and there's also the chance to observe fellow passengers; an Italian talking loudly in English about his numerous conquests, a French girl reading a German newspaper and translating it aloud for her friends, an elderly German lady explaining how her father could never think of how to keep her and her brother amused as children and let them ride on the circle line all day long. Recently though I've had a tendency to retrace my footsteps and go to the same places, partly from fear of disappointment or finding large masses of tourists there. The weather has been a strange mix of wet and warm of late which makes taking photos difficult and uncomfortable. Summer dresses are now accessorised by raincoats and wellies. Last Wednesday though, the only fine day of the week, I felt determined to adventure out a little and try something new. Bright and early, I took the S-Bahn to Priesterweg among all the commuters. When I arrived the platform was empty and I felt a tingle of excitement pushing open the metal gate to the still empty park of the Schöneberger Südgelände where an old trainyard used to be. There are still some tracks overlapping and running into the distance, a steam train stands gleaming in the morning sun and you walk through a series of grey concrete arches that wouldn't be out of place in a De Chirico painting. I wandered alone around a permanent exhibition of metal sculptures and then set off to explore the rest of the park with the gentle rustling of the wind through the trees and the occasional steps of a jogger passing by. Almost a week later and stuck at home with a summer cold, I can still feel the warmth of the sun's rays and see the groups of white butterflies dancing before my eyes.

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Back in England, I made my parents a blueberry New York cheesecake that last week, this time an American style one with cream cheese but it's still extremely light thanks to the beaten eggs. You can use cherries or strawberries if you prefer but let's make the most of summer in between the showers and stormy weather.

New York blueberry cheesecake (adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to be a domestic goddess)

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For the base:

250g digestive biscuits crushed to fine crumbs
150g unsalted butter, melted
225g plus 3 tablespoons caster sugar
24cm Springform tin

For the filling:

2 tablespoons cornflour
750g cream cheese
6 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150ml double cream
150ml sour cream
½ teaspoon salt
zest of 1 lemon

For the topping
200g fresh blueberries
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tabsp water

Mix together the crushed biscuits, melted butter and 3 tablespoons of sugar, and press into the base of the Springform tin. Put into the fridge for about half an hour to set.

Preheat oven to 170C. In a large bowl, mix together the remaining sugar and the cornflour. Beat in the cream cheese, egg yolks and vanilla, either by and or using an electric beater. Slowly pour in both creams, beating constantly. Add the salt and lemon zest.

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then fold into the cheese mixture. Scoop onto the chilled base. Bake for 1-1 ½h without opening the oven door, until the cheesecake is golden-brown on top.

Turn off the heat and let the cake stand in the oven for 2 more hours. Then open the oven door and let it stand for a further hour.

When the time is up, make the topping by placing the blueberries, sugar and water in a saucepan over a low heat until the fruit has burst and the mixture starts to thicken. Pour over the cheesecake and leave to cool.