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What do you get when you cross the mentalities of Vietnamese green mango, Greek pan-fried eggplant and a Thai dressing? This happy conglomerate of a salad.

When living in Newtown I frequently endured sad days of having very little food, however, if there was ever an eggplant in the house there was always a meal. Versatile, robust, damn good. It’s saved my hungry butt on many occasions; a symbol of hope and prosperity in financially dark times. My eggplant repertoire is vast and beautiful.

My friend Andrew graced my humble, ethnic hands with some green mangoes and some of his mum’s homemade chili salt the other day after I was banging on about how great it was eating it all the time in Bangkok (get a load of this white guy over here) so to pay tribute to my classic whatever’s in the fridge plus eggplant style of cooking I combined the two. Apologies to all of the traditional dishes that just got owned by my bastardised cooking but I promise it really is fresh and nice and all of those good things. This serves 2 or more mash-up hungry friends.

Eggplant + Green Mango Salad
(an original recipe)

1 eggplant, diced
1 green mango
2 tbs sesame seeds
3 tbs sesame oil

1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tsp fish sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of chili salt (optional)

1. Peel the green mango and slice into thin strips. Alternatively if you have one of those cool graters that does the job for you, use that. Place in fridge to cool.
2 Heat sesame oil in a large pan on high heat. Add eggplant and continue to toss until nicely browned and tender (around 5-10 minutes). Add some extra oil if required.
3. In a smaller pan lightly toast sesame seeds until browned slightly. Transfer into a bowl to cool.
4. Combine all dressing ingredients to taste. In a bowl toss eggplant, sliced mango and half of the sesame seeds. Add dressing to taste, toss and transfer to plate. Garnish with remaining sesame seeds.

With eggplant comes great responsibility versatility. Never forget.

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Mango Cheesecake with Chocolate + GingerCan we talk about cheesecake for a moment? Cool. Please take a seat and make yourself comfortable, this may take a while.

Let’s talk dense, dry cheesecakes. Lingering in our cafés. Lurking beneath cake box lids. Taunting us with a seemingly inviting berry glaze until we discover that chalky mess upon our first bite. Such a shame. A dairy-riddled tragedy. Ordering cheesecake when I’m eating out is a risk I’m just not willing to take these days, it’s an extreme sport of the yuppie variety.

This cake was actually inspired by that girl who cries all the time on MasterChef. She made a messy, lemon cheesecake last week and although I try to sympathise with the pressures of cooking with a plethora of cameras in your face I couldn’t help but feel a little taken back. As soon as the episode finished I promptly began working on this silky wonder to right the wrongs of that young beanie-head. I’m a cheesecake snob, a real jerk I’ll admit, so if I’m into this recipe then I’m sure you’ll be too!

Mango Cheesecake with Chocolate + Ginger

While I’m at it let’s get a dialogue happening regarding ginger because it’s so disappointing when awesome spices have such exhausted connotations. In my day-to-day life ground ginger only makes a brief appearance in hot cross buns at Easter, when not being overpowered by it’s far more popular cousin cinnamon, and on occasion gingerbread makes a vague appearance down here in sunny Australia. Like salt to chocolate, ginger to mango is really special. It makes me all warm and fuzzy.

The base of this cheesecake is wonderfully spiced and the cheese filling bakes to the texture of a firm custard. Add a little more chocolate on top, and… ahh. Hello, lover. I’ve used a combination of biscuits readily available in Australian supermarkets but of course you can use whatever you please so long as they’re crunchy. If you’re reading this out-of-peak mango season then using the tinned stuff is fine as well, the flavour will be a little more subutle.

Mango Cheesecake with Chocolate + Ginger

On another related note, I’ve been spending my free time (or what little of it I have left these days) interning at a really cool magazine here in Sydney taking snaps in cafés and learning heaps along the way from some incredibly talented people. For these shots I mustered everything I had learnt over the week and tried to apply them here; natural lighting, tripod skills and remaining calm. I threw open my blinds and took many deep breaths. Coincidentally they required the least amount of editing of any set of photos I’ve taken. I’m fairly pleased with the results but as always do tell me what you think! This will serve 10-12 people.

Mango Cheesecake with Chocolate + Ginger
(an original recipe)

125g ginger nut biscuits
125g chocolate ripple biscuits
70g butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
Flesh of 1 large mango (around 200g)
250g cream cheese
250g mascarpone
100g sour cream
120g caster sugar
40g brown sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
40g cream
1 tsp glucose / corn syrup
Cocoa, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 150°C and grease/line a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan.
2. Prepare biscuits in a food processor until ground. Add 1 tsp of ground ginger and stir in melted butter. Press into base of springform pan until flat and firm. Chill in refrigterator.
3. Prepare mango flesh in food processor until beginning to puree. Add cream cheese, mascarpone, sour cream, caster sugar and brown sugar and process until combined. Add the eggs and egg yolk and once again process until combined. Remove base from fridge and pour filling into springform pan. Bake in oven for 1 1/2 hours. The edges should be fairly firm with a bit of wobble towards the centre. Remove cheesecake from pan once cooled and place in the fridge to chill completely.
4. In a small saucepan (or microwave) warm cream until almost boiling. Pour over the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and stir until mostly melted and combined. Add 1/2 tsp of ground ginger and glucose and again stir to combine. Remove cheesecake from fridge and place on serving platter. Drizzle chocolate sauce over the top, Pollock style. Sprinkle a little cocoa and serve.

NOTE: You can also bake these as cupcakes if you like, I’d suggest baking them for around 25 minutes.

Mango Cheesecake with Chocolate + Ginger

Let’s dedicate this post to all the lost causes out there. Bad cheesecakes, my heart weeps for you. My heart weeps for this too but in a different way. It’s so naughty yet I feel no remorse. None, whatsoever.


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