Monday, September 21, 2009

All Kinds Of Celebrations - Where To Begin?

I know where to start. I'd like to wish a very happy Eid to all my fellow Muslims, from all over the globe! Weeeeeeee, time to party, eh (well, I never really stopped) ?! Ramadan just flew by, amidst lots of family and friends gatherings, feasts every day and hopefully a solid month of being "good". Did I succeed at the latter? Did you? I hope you all did better than I did. Well, I know I put in more of an effort this year than I have in previous years. And I definitely felt better this year - more centered, more focused, more at peace. But there's loads of room for improvement, and boy do I know it! We'll get to my list of "bad Muneeba BAD" stuff some other day, when the weather's foul and my mood reflects it. For now, it's a glorious day outside, it's still Eid, and joy is in the air. DH was away traveling for work, and only got back yesterday, on the first day of Eid. I treated him to a rich, meaty Lamb Korma (recipe in next post) and a fragrant, scrumptious bowl of traditional made-only-on-Eid Vermicelli Pudding (or sheer korma, as its commonly known in my language - recipe in next post).

The other fun thing we celebrated recently was my birthday. It just crept up on me this year. As for how old I am, let me tell you, I look at this new number that represents the number of years I've lived already, and it seems ... well, odd. It
looks like a lot, but it doesn't feel like it. I suppose I need to own it, and grow into it. The birthday itself was fabulous though. Would you just look at what DH got me?!
I've been wanting one of these babies for ages! But they're so damn expensive (why, I'll never know) that I had to wait for a special occasion to buy one. But my fancy new KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer is going to open up new worlds in baking for me. Cakes, cookies, cupcakes, muffins - all these goodies will now be just a whiz and buzz away. I love the bright, cheery color too. It reminds me of what cooking is all about for me - a happy adventure! Also, check out the gorgeous flowers I got from DH, the birthday cards from him and my Ozzy (I had no idea my cat's penmanship was so good!).
Ozzy hugs his Mama on her birthday - my darling boy!

Since one of my passions is learning about historical architecture, DH and I decided to go on one of Yale University's official campus tours (anyone can go). It was amazing! Our guide was a fun little thing, and we really got to see and experience the prestige of Yale, it's history and breathtaking architecture. I recommend it to anyone who comes to New Haven for a visit. I live minutes away now, so I'm pretty excited to go exploring on my own, now that I know a lot more about it. I went overboard with taking pics, and I won't burden you with the whole bunch, but here's a taste.
Yale's Law School is just as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside.

While I would have been perfectly happy with just my prezzies on me birthday, I had yet another unbelievably special treat awaiting me the next day. Take a look and guess where I was?!
Ahan. The US Open Men's Final between Federer and Del Potro. No kidding. I. Was. Stunned. I'd never been to the famous Arthur Ashe Stadium before! If I could, I would have skipped and hopped with excitement like a little girl! It was a beautiful stadium, a gorgeous night, an amazing match ... and I even managed to see some celebrities. If that's not a lifetime highlight, I don't know what is! I know I'll never forget this birthday -
Even though Federer played a respectable game ...

It turned out to be a historical win for Del Potro - the Argentinian stallion!

Pretty faces in Federer's box - his wife, Mirka, in the bottom row. And yes, that's Gwen Stefani and her handsome hubbs Gavin Rossdale, flanked by the ever-glamorous Anna Wintour (Vogue editor-in-chief) on the left.

The Donald (Trump) and his trophy wife, Melania.

I digress somewhat. This is a food blog after all, and I have yet to talk about food! A birthday isn't complete without cake. For me, it will always be cheesecake. And since DH was sweet enough to get me Dorie Greenspan's baking book recently, I decided to make a cheesecake inspired by one of her recipes. Amy from Nook & Pantry had me hooked with her take on Dorie's Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte. Honestly, my birthday was just an excuse to make this!
Hidden Berry Cheesecake (take a look at this recipe on Nook & Pantry for a truly droolworthy experience)
Serves 8

Click here for printable recipe

1 pack of graham crackers (5 oz, 9 whole crackers)
1 Tbsp sugar
5 Tbsp butter melted
2 8 oz. bars of cream cheese
2 eggs
1/3 C sour cream
1/2 C sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 C blackberry jam

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Process the crumbs in a food processor until ground. Add the melted butter and sugar and pulse until evenly mixed.

3. Press the crumbs firmly into bottom and up the sides (about 1 in) of a 9 inch springform baking pan. I like to use the flat bottom of a measuring cup or you can use the bottom of a drinking glass to pack the crumbs in tight. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in the food processor add the rest of the ingredients except for the jam, and process until smooth.

5. When the crust is done, spread the jam evenly on the bottom of the crust. Then pour in the cheesecake filling. Bake at 350F for about 50 to 60 minutes, or until the center is no longer jiggly.

6. After the cake cools for 10 mins, remove it from the pan. Let it cool to room temperature then chill before serving. Make a quick blackberry sauce to drizzle over it (optional).

Verdict: Honestly, this was good, but not great. I wasn't crazy about it, the way I was about my Red Velvet Cheesecake or Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake. But I think I know how to improve it for next time. Either I will use a different jam base - raspberry instead of blackberry - or I will make my own blackberry jam like Amy did. I love the way the color from her jam base seeps up into the cheesecake; too gorgeous for words! Overall, it was a moderate success, because it's all gone now (a good sign). Also, I love using sour cream along with the cream cheese, because it makes for a smoother, lighter mouthful.


Unknown said...

Gorgeous new kitchenaid! I was so happy when i got mine. Mine is apple green.

Selma - DUSBAHCESI said...

Eid Mubarak! I did discovered your blog recently, and must say that I really like it!! :) Sorry for my english, i;m writing you from the netherlands!!

Foodiewife said...

What a fabulous birthday. I had to gawk at The Donald's comb over! H-I-D-E-O-U-S! What fun to star gaze!!! I'm so excited for you having a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I was gifted with one about 10 years ago and I totally adore it. You are going to enjoy it.
PS: I get to hob-nob with Tyler Florence. Yep, this weekend I have a pass to the party, following an event I'm a volunteer for. Oh, I'll be taking lots of photos. Tyler Florence!!

Varsha Vipins said...

I was excited all through this post..starting from tht slurpy Lamb khorma ..through your bday gift,ur pretty face..;)..n right till the US open n cheese cake..Fantab post..!!..Belated bday wishes n hugs Muneeba..:)..I wanna try your cheesecake(red velvet mebe) for his bday coming up..but am scared to eat that load of already having its daily dose like rice or roti..:(
Happy Eid to u n family..:)
(Could you pls make the comment in pop-up..This forms always makes me comment twice..:P)

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday! Sounds like you had a nice celebration! Can't wait for the lamb korma recipe, that looks awesome!

Jennifer said...

What a great birthday you had girl! I am so happy for you. I love the color on that Kitchenaide, I got black, boring!

Finla said...

Happy Eid to you and your family.
Well wish i got a kitchenaid for my b'day :-)
Belated b'day wishes.

Parita said...

I am so jealous...u got a new kitchen aid? its so kewl :)

Sophie Sportende Foodie said...

Happy Birthday, Muneeba!!

Congrats!! Enjoy your Kitchen aid!! Have fun with it!! A lovely colour it is too!

Lovely pictures as well!

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

Festive greetings for Id and a very happy birthday too. Can see you had a wonderful day. :)

Anonymous said...

Happy Eid and Happy Belated Birthday, Muneeba! You received some great presents for your birthday, you lucky girl. I can't wait to see your lamb korma recipe.


Muneeba said...

Oooo, apple green .. that was my other top choice for a color Heavenly Housewife! I wish Kitchenaid had a policy where we could swap colors for our machines every year!
Dusbahcesi, thank you so much for dropping by & pls don't worry abt your english, it's just fine!
Debby .. u know how much I like u .. but now I'm just jealous! You get to hang out with TF himself??!! *waiting anxiously for your report & pics* ... try not to hug him too tight!
Varsha, I'll get right on it .. I was thinking abt fixing the comment box, but was too lazy to get to it!
Thank you Natasha - you'll like the lamb korma recipe; I'll be posting it very soon, promise!
Cheryl, black is not boring! But I know what you mean ... of all the colors this machine offers, seems funny to choose black. BUT the bottom line is that this baby works like magic, no matter what the color!
Happy Cook, Parita, Sophie, Betsy & Aparna .. thanks a ton for all the good wishes!

Sweetie Pie said...

Congratulations on the birthday and on the gorgeous new kitchen-aid. Mine is cobalt blue, which is my favorite color. :-) Isn't it fun to get to pick out one that suits you just right?

The cheesecake is beautiful, and I LOVE those plates!!

Doppelganger said...

Woah! You are, indeed, a lucky lady! That Kitchen Aid Artisan stand mixer is perhaps the best birthday present ever! But it's a win-win for both of you, since you get to use the mixer to make delectable yumminess and DH gets to consume it! ;)
Eid mubarak to you as well and hope you get to spend lots of wonderful, present-filled and unforgettable birthdays with those you love. Waiting for the Qorma recipe avidly, since I suck at making qorma of any kind!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Eid Moubarak! Have a great time celebrating!

Wow, lucky you! I'd love to have a KA! Unfortunately, if I want one, I'll have to buy it myself and put some money on the side ;-P...

What gorgeous food! I love cheesecakes and anything spicy!

I bought my ma'amoul mould in a Lebanese supermarket, just next door in France... You should be able to find them in the US (internet).

Yay to eaters without borders!!!!



mona said...

Mabrook!! the kitchen aid stand mixer looks cool! Nice color too.
Thanks for sharing the pics :-) The match was entertaining, must have been fun watching it in the stadium.

Duchess of Tea said...

Happy Birthday my darling, sounds like you had a lovely time and what a nice man this Mr. DH of yours...that is one nice gift. I have been thinking about buying one for years now. My birthday is coming up next month, may be then. Enjoy yours, you deserve it.
Happy Baking.

Karine said...

You assisted to the men's US Open Final? Amazing! I would have loved to see that! You are lucky!

By the way, your cheesecake sounds great. Thanks for sharing!

Arabic Bites said...

Eid Moubarak :)
Thank you so much for the comment on my blog.
Cheesecake looks so yummy :) & Can't wait till you post the recipes for Lamb Korma & Vermicelli Pudding :D

Lena Jayadev said...

Belatedbirthday wishes and hugs muneeba.. :)from the first snap of Lamb Khorma..and the cheese cake looks amazing dear.. :) Eid mubaraq to u and ur family.. :)

Joanne said...

Happy birthday girl and happy Eid! It looks like you have had a great time celebrating...the US Open AND a tour of Yale AND a Kitchen Aid stand mixer - lucky lucky. This cheesecake looks delicious but what really caught my attention was your links to your other cheesecakes - pumpkin pecan and red velvet!?!?!?! I will be making those for sure.

Yasmeen said...

Look at that smile,gosh you are a lucky.May Allah bless you with many more such wonderful birthdays :)

Kerstin said...

Happy Belated Birthday!! Sounds like you had an amazing celebration and I enjoyed the celebrity pics :)