While I return from a much indulged year-end holiday, I make New Year resolutions that I most definitely break! I guess we all do. Sometimes I feel they are meant to be broken so that we can come up with a better and more practical alternative. One such resolution that I have heard, over and over again, is to do with fitness. Many people pledge to hit the gym and have a healthy lifestyle. So, for those very few, who actually start the New Year on that note; this menu is designed and dedicated to you. If you ask me, I cannot stand diets, they make me unhappy, and that is something I don’t like to be. That’s why, at the start of every year, no matter what the rest of the resolutions are, whether I make or break them, all I want at the end of the day is to be happy. And frankly, that’s what matters, much like the song from the original soundtrack of Annie, ‘You are never fully dressed without a smile.’ And I mean a smile that reaches deep within your heart and makes you glow like a little glow-worm, that kind of happiness.
A very wise person once said, ‘You are what you eat.’ Well then, I want to eat a ‘fit person’ to be fit myself! But I am not a cannibal. So, I try and eat healthy and do my regular workout and yoga. And yes, I run. It’s one of those things that makes me happy. This January menu has been designed to make everyone happy. I do not understand starving or not indulging in stuff you like, that is if you can do everything in life with a little bit of common sense, it all works out fine. So go along with your heart but please take your brain along as well. Eat, love, dance, pray, laugh and hug…and I promise you that you will live a happier and more peaceful life. And never stop eating…but eat well, especially the foods that give you energy to stay bright and happy, with the universe and its collaborators.
This is one of the easiest desserts to make. There is something extremely romantic about strawberries.
And then when you add to them some sweetened cream cheese, the look and the taste makes gets you into that languorous dreamy kind of zone, in a very cosy kind of way. So, this would be my dessert of choice to end a romantic meal.
WHAT YOU NEED (TART PASTRY)
SALT- 1 PINCH
BUTTER- 80 GM, CHILLED CUBES
CHILLED WATER- 3 TO 4 TBSP
WHAT YOU NEED (CREAM FILLING)
CREAM CHEESE- 276 GMS
HUNG YOGHURT- 1/4TH CUP
SUGAR- 1/2 CUP
VANILLA ESSENCE- 1/2 TSP
CINNAMON POWDER- 1 PINCH
STRAWBERRIES- 1 PACKET, HULLED AND CHOPPED INTO BIG PIECES
HOW TO MAKE IT
Flour – 160 gm
Salt – 1 pinch
Butter – 80 gm, chilled cubes
Chilled water – 3-4 tbsp
HOW TO MAKE IT
•Sift the flour and salt in a bowl.
•Add the chilled cubes of butter and cut into them with a pastry knife till they resemble coarse breadcrumbs.
•Use your fingertips to lightly crumble the mixture.
•Add the water and stir with a fork to gather the mixture.
•Gather the pastry into a ball and let it rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
(I have used a basic recipe, without egg and sugar. Since the cream cheese filling is very rich, it is all right to keep the crust simple.)
•Roll out the pastry on a smooth floured surface with a thickness of about 1/6th of an inch.
•Cut out small circles and make small individual tarts, or else make one big 7-inch tart. You can also just cut out the hearts with a cookie cutter.
•Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C, for 5-8 minutes, till slightly brown.
•Let the baked tart hearts cool down. Keep them in an airtight tin and store in a dry place.
•Before serving, mix all the ingredients for the cream cheese filling, except the strawberries, and keep the filling in the refrigerator.
•Serve with a dollop of the prepared cream cheese filling and garnish the tarts with loads of strawberries.
Excerpted with permission from OM Books International from the title “From My Kitchen To Yours” by Maria Goretti