Saturday, 27 June 2020

When in Rome........Cannelini bean cheesecake

When in Rome do as the Romans do? The inspiring Italian born chef Christina Bowerman does just that.She uses ingredients from traditional Roman cuisine and reinvents them in her own innovative style.Working with old recipes she produces her modern day interpretations.Tucked away in the labyrinth of small streets that prepandemic was the trendy area of Trastevere, you will find her Michelin starred restaurant Glass Hostaria.
I discovered the genius that is Christina through a Televison programme "Rome unpacked" in which art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon and Chef Giorgio Locatelli go in search  of the greatest food and art that they can find off the beaten track, in Rome.
Beans have always been a part of the Roman tradition.They used to say the Roman army would travel "on their stomach",and what they would carry in their packs would be like cicerchia.Cicerchia (Lathyrus sativus) is a legume that was once widely consumed, while nowadays, it is grown only in central Italy.Cicherchia was like wild chickpeas that the soldiers used to carry in their bags with salt and a little bit of flour. They would cook the beans,add things, and make some bread perhaps, so providing sustenance as they were advancing.This recipe would probably come as  very much of a surprise for a Roman soldier nowadays but drawing on his cultural gastronomic heritage I am sure he could conjure up a memory.A word of warning do not embark on this recipe unless you are looking for a challenge and have plenty of spare time.If you do decide to try it it the effort is more than worthwhile.
White bean cheesecake with pasta crumb base
It is almost a scherzo of a cheesecake,a playful jest of what we would traditionally expect from a cheesecake.Are you ready for a savoury cheesecake with a pasta crumb base and a custard of cannelini beans citrus and tahini? This is my interpretation of a Christina Bowerman recipe.For the crumb, she boiled the pasta,dried it, deep fried it, dried it in the oven then crunched it up to make a biscuit base.So instead of biscuits it is pasta.It has a wonderful melt in the mouth mousse like texture that is irresistible to an ever expanding waistline.
Serve dressed with a green tahini dressing.
CRUST
200g spaghetti
1 tbsp (15ml) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (60g) finely ground pasta
( or any other type of savoury crust,Crackers,breadcrumbs etc.)

White bean purée
1can (15oz,or 420g) cannelini beans
2 cloves garlic,crushed
1/4 cup (60g) tahini
1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
2 tbsp (30ml) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp Flor de sal
172 tsp black pepper

Cheesecake
350g (12oz) cream cheese
250g mascarpone cheese
300g greek yoghurt
4 large eggs 

TO MAKE THE CRUMB

Cook the spaghetti as you normally would following instruction on the packet.
Drain the spaghetti and dry it on a tea towel.When dry deep fry the spaghetti in batches until crisp and golden.Drain on paper towel and then dry in a low temperature oven(150C)
remove from the oven and allow to cool. when cool blitz the pasta in a food processor as you would if making a biscuit base for cheescake, until you have a coarse crumb.

TO MAKE THE CRUST
Pour the oil into the bottom of a 10" ( 25cm ) springform pan.
Using a pastry brush,brush the oil all over the bottom and sides of the pan.
Sprinkle the pasta crumbs over the bottom of the pan and rotate the pan around so that the bread crumbs cover the bottom and sides completely.Set aside.

TO MAKE THE WHITE BEAN PURÈE
In the bowl of a food processor add the white beans and garlic; process until smooth.Add the tahini,lemon juice,olive oil, salt and pepper and process again until smooth.remove from the bowl and set aside.

TO MAKE THE CHEESECAKE
Pre-heat the oven to 325F / 170c or gas mark3
In the bowl of an electric mixer,using the paddle attachment,mix the ceam cheese,mascarpone and greek yoghurt until softened,scraping down the sides of the bowl underneath the paddle,and the paddle itself frequently with a rubber spatula,for about a minute.
Add the white bean purée and mix for a further minute,until completely smooth,add the eggs,one at a time,and mix until combined,about 10 seconds after each egg.
Pour the batter over the crust and level it with a small offset spatula.
Take a baking pan that is large enough to hold your springform pan, and is also large enough to allow for water to surround the springform pan. Next, cut a large single sheet of aluminum foil, making sure that it is wide enough to surround all sides of your springform pan.  (Use an extra wide aluminum foil if it is available rather than two narrower pieces of foil to avoid any chance of leaking.)
Wrap the pan, making sure that the sides of the pan are fully covered by the foil.  Also make sure that you don’t tear the foil as you wrap it.
Place your prepared cheesecake in the springform pan into the baking pan.  Then, add about an inch of very hot water to the baking pan so it surrounds the pan.  You want to add enough water to the pan to ensure that the water does not fully evaporate during the baking process.(It should come up halfway around the sides of the pan).Bake for about one hour,until the cheesecake is firm around the edges,but still a little bit jiggly in the middle.remove from the oven and remove the cheesecake from the water bath.gently run a small sharp knife or small spatula carefully around the edges of the pan to loosen the cheesecake from the sides.Allow to cool at room temperature.Place in the fridge for at least eight hours till set completely.
To unmould the cheesecake,gently run a small sharp knife around the edges of the pan.Release the latch on the side of the pan and then lift the ring straight up.Refrigerate until ready to serve.
What's her name? Si chiama Cristina Bowerman.
She's very inspiring, the way she works with old recipes.
Her food is really top-notch.
Maybe she can cook us some beans, eh? Well, that's Let's hope so.
Cristina's Michelin-starred restaurant is called Glass Hostaria.
It's in the trendy neighbourhood of Trastevere in the centre of the city.
You come from these great, wide avenues into these little almost like labyrinths of streets.
With all these bars and restaurants, everybody eating and drinking.
This is it? I'm going to introduce you.
Cristina.
In this beautiful tavern.
How are you? Can we come in? Welcome.
Very well.
Yes.
Come on over.
Cristina uses ingredients from traditional Roman cuisine.
Today, she's going to cook for us a unique cheesecake.
A cheesecake? A cheesecake with pasta, with beans, and mussels.
Are we talking about almost a scherzo on the cheesecake? Exactly.
Cos it's a joke on the cheesecake.
That is exactly it.
Cos we're savoury here.
We're not sweet.
Exactly.
This is actually the base of the cheesecake, but let me show you how I did it.
She boiled it, and then she put it into a dryer, and dried.
Can I just get that right? The base of the cheesecake - you cook pasta? Exactly.
You then, when it's cooked Dry them.
.
.
you deep-fry it? Yes.
Deep-fried it.
Then you dry it in the oven? And then you crunch it up? So, it's instead of the biscuits? Exactly.
How thick do you want it? I want it, like, this thick.
OK.
And you need to press it.
So, now What's this extraordinary? That's the beans.
That's the beans.
This is cannellini beans.
The cannellini beans that have been made into a puree.
This is what that becomes? Exactly.
That's exactly it.
Beans are really part of our tradition.
They used to say the Roman army would travel on their stomach, and, you know, what they would carry would be like cicerchie.
They will have Chickpeas? Yeah, like Cicerchie is like wild chickpeas that they used to carry on their bags with their salt - their own salt - and a little bit of flour.
So, they would do this, like, cook the beans, add things, and make some I don't know.
Some bread.
And they would make up something like that, even as they were advancing.
So, even this would probably very much surprise a Roman soldier, but he would still, in some taste memory, he would know what it is.
It's going to look like a dessert! Exactly.
And this is my last touch.
Smell it.
Wow! That is Those are mussels.
Goodness me.
So, how have you prepared those? I cooked them up, then I dehydrated them, and then I powderised them.
Goodness me.
I never heard of that.
Can you buy this or? No, you have to make it fresh.
No, no, no, I made them.
You make it yourself? Yeah.
Yeah.
So, you're going to have that bean taste, pasta taste, and then you're going to be hit by that sort of flavour of the fish because, you know, like, the mussel, they've got that really fish Rich, fishy flavour.
That is very ingenious.
So, when did you invent this recipe? Last month.
Last month?! So, this is straight off the wheel of time.
Mm! Can you taste the mussels? Yeah.
Very strong.
The mussel comes at the end At the end.
.
.
with the seasoning and And that's the thing that should stay with you.
What I love also is this crust.
I have one little more surprise.
Could you wait just 20 seconds? I'm going to go get it.
OK.
We can wait.
You can clean up here, so I can put it right there.
We can eat a bit more of this if you want.
So Ooh, wow! Cannelloni.
I want you to taste it and guess what it is.
Mm! It's some kind of beautiful semifreddo.
Mm-hm.
Made of? If you're going to put me to the test, it's like nougat? Almonds? OK, I'll make it easy for you.
They are all beans.
That's all beans?! This is a meringue made out of the leftover water from cooking the beans.
That's a bean powder, and that's a bean mousse.
You're kidding me! Yes.
You are kidding me.
The only different thing is it's an almond outside.
There is an almond.
I knew there was an almond.
Yeah, the green stuff.
But everything else is a bean? Everything else is a bean.
You are kidding me.
So, you can make anything out of a bean, right? Not only.
You use everything, even the water.
No, I don't mean I don't mean one.
I mean YOU can make anything out of a bean.
Thank you.
Yes.
You really can.
Come on, let's go.
Thank you.
This was delicious.
That was fantastic.
It's BEAN great.

Read more: https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=rome-unpacked-2018&episode=s01e02

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