“You cannot discover a new land if you are not ready not to see the mainland for a very long time.” (proverb)
Not the usual SEO oriented incipit and not even the usual light-hearted post.
For this reason I include below the handy button….
I am not copying my favorite food blogger Lucia from lultimafetta.it like when I ungracefully try to shoot dark food photography. But her latest blog post moved something in me. I took the decision to sail and I have to seize the rudder if I want to discover this new land.
A bit of background
The other day while running I was listening to my favorite podcast: the Tim Ferriss Show. Guest of the episode was Brené Brown, researcher, public speaker and expert in human relations.
Her Ted Talk on vulnerability has 46 million views only on Ted (nuff said). If you don’t know her this is probably the best thing you can spend 20 minutes on today.
During the episode the two were talking about success, and finding the balance between perfection and the acceptance of one self.
Back to today
In her post Lucia talks about a book, The 5 am Club by Robin Sharma. I bought it straight away and added it to two other books I am already reading: one is from the Italian author Marco Montemagno called Lavorability, about the jobs of the future. That’s where I got the proverb cited above from.
The third book is called The One Thing, which is also cited by Marco Montemagno in his book. All is connected. Three books on self-improvement, that about all I read in the last few years.
Also considering what I heard on the podcast I stopped to contemplate my situation. Is my perpetual pursuit of improvement sane? Where is the line between striving for perfection and being fastidiously meticulous? How can you aim high without stepping on people’s feelings or even neglet relationships? Is it possible to get better while still accept ourselves for what we are?
Personally when I try to steer the ship back on course I try to improve myself, I read, I listen and I think. I wonder if this is the right approach.
The self-improvement issue
Lucia wrote something in her post that struck me “..learn to accept that acting on and accomplish something, albeit meager, is better then doing nothing while trying to figure out how to make it perfectly.”.
I should get this quote tattooed on my arm. But given the length of the phrase I should do body building first. Maybe at 5 am. See, my self improvement again.
Let me share a secret: I had a blog in local (on my computer) for 2 years.I was perfecting it for who knows what astral conjunction. Needless to say it never saw the light.
In a month (at the time of writing the original post) my blog Tortaoragione will be 1 year old. This would have never happened if I didn’t give myself a strict deadline. Perfectionism paralysis kills.
Sometimes one just has to jump, like I did in my recent project Food Sofa, informal chats with people of the Italian food blogging sphere. Something in between a Marco Montemagno and a Tim Ferriss wannabe.
I never did anything like that (interviews) so I just jumped in the void only with my phone and a microphone. I don’t know if this pilot will ever become something but I am happy I started leaving my perfectionism aside. And I like Food Sofa in its coarse imperfection.
Marco, 47-yr-old, profession “I still don’t know what I will be when I grow up”. Many interests, no specialization. A sentimental relationship that creaks under the weight of time. A totally unstable work condition. Worst nightmare? The classic cocktail party question: “So Marco, what do you do for a living?”.
Omg don’t you just hate that? If I’m in the mood I cite a great Italian actor and director: “I do things, see people”. Otherwise I just simply respond: “unemployed”. Usually followed by an uncomfortable silence.
Time goes by and it is exactly my time I decided to invest. The most precious thing I have.
When I was young I chose to study languages because I wanted to become a flight attendant. I thought it was a good way to see the world. Go figure.
But life is funny sometimes and what you think it was a mistake turns out to be a positive thing. My love for the English language took me to live in England where I could improve the language. Without knowing it English opened the doors to knowledge. Whether it was a book on self-improvement, a tutorial on YouTube or a podcast, now I could learn anything. The only investment was, and still is, time. That’s amazing!
Young people do not realize the potential they have within a click. Ok I sound old and boring.
In this new world of “easy to find” knowledge I got lost in way too many endeavors: from meditation to studying memory, from food photography to studying Polish, from the stock market to pastry making.
Can you see the thread there? No, because there is none. But I’d do everything again.
Montemagno’s book gave me hope though, as work is changing. It seems that there is a place for people like me too. People who can quickly adapt to an ever changing market.
I know that one day all the pieces of my puzzle will come together and I will be able to see the bigger picture.
What has this to do with the recipe? Nothing. But I believe in algorithms’ magic and if you are here (and read so far) you might have asked yourself similar questions. I hope to have at least given you some food for thought, or maybe you clicked “avoid being buttonholed” and you are no reading this.
Onto the Pineapple and Sage Cheesecake
An unusual combination for an unusual post. I can’t hide my love for food tv programs, especially the ones about pastry making and baking.
In the Italian TV program Best Bakery two judges go around the country looking for the best pastry shop. In every episode, amongst other trials they give the contestants a secret ingredient for the creative test.
In one of the episodes in my own town Florence they assigned a weird ingredient: sage. That intrigued me and I started to think what I would have made with it.
Here’s how my pineapple and sage cheesecake was born.
I had three attempts. In the first one I put sage in infusion in the cream but it was undetectable. The judges would have said “sage is not the main flavor”.
In the second attempt I tried chopping the sage and I have put it in the cheesecake cream. This time it was noticeable but the judges would have said “the pieces of sage in between the teeth are annoying”.
In the final attempt I heated the cream up, added the sage and left it in infusion all night. I then whipped the cream to make the cheesecake cream.
Third time a charm, this is what I was looking for. But the judges probably would have said “Going for a cheesecake, not very creative.”
But I’m not in Best Bakery so whatever. Cheesecake shall be.
Pineapple and Sage Cheesecake
For the crust:
- 65 g butter 2.3 oz
- 120 g biscuits, like Digestive 4.2 oz
For the sage flavored cheesecake cream:
- 150 g spreadable cheese, at room temperature 5.3 oz
- 200 g ricotta cheese, at room temperature 7 oz
- 100 g mascarpone, at room temperature 3.5 oz
- 220 g whipping cream, divided into 20g and 200g 0.71 + 7 oz
- 7 leaves of sage
- 10 g gelatin sheets, approx 2 sheets 0.35 oz
- 30 g pineapple juice from the tin 1.1 oz
- 15 g lemon juice approx 3 tbsp (0.53 oz)
For the pineapple puree:
- 1 can sliced pineapple in its own juice
- 7 g gelatin sheets approx 1 and ½ sheet (0.25 oz)
- 20 g confectioner sugar 0.71 oz
For the crust:
- Line the bottom of a 18 cm (7 in) springform pan with parchment paper.
- Also line the inside with pastry tape, or alternatively with a strip of parchment paper. Use some butter to make it stick to the sides.
- Melt the butter. Meanwhile blend the biscuits in the mixer. Combine them with the melted butter.
- Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
For the sage flavored cheesecake cream:
- Put 200g (7 oz) of cream in a small pot on low-medium heat. When it is close to boil remove from heat and add the coarsely chopped sage leaves.
- Let it cool off and transfer in a container or cup, cover with cling film and put it in the fridge overnight. This step is important so that the sage flavor is present.
- After the infusion time has passed, proceed to make the cream.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or large bowl if a handheld mixer is used) put the spreadable cheese, ricotta, mascarpone, confectioner sugar and the pineapple and lemon juices.
- Work at medium speed until the cheesecake cream is smooth.
- Leave the mixture at room temperature. It is important that the cream is not too cold when it gets in contract with the gelatin, otherwise it will make lumps.
- Filter the sage flavored cream through a strainer to remove the sage leaves.
- Whip the cream to medium-firm consistency.
- Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for 10 minutes.
- Heat the remaining cream (20g / 0.7 oz). Before it boils remove from heat and add the wrung gelatin sheets. Stir.
- Let it cool off, stirring every now and then. When it reaches 28° C (82 ° F) add it to the rest of the ingredients: drizzle the cream with gelatin in the main bowl while whisking with the handheld mixer at low speed.
- Pour the cheesecake cream in the prepared pan and level with a spatula.
- Let it settle in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
For the pineapple puree:
- Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water.
- Put 10 pineapple slices (approx 400g/14.1 oz) in the mixer together with some of their own juice and the confectioner sugar.
- Pulse until they become a puree. Pass the puree through a strainer to retain the fibrous part.
- Put 3 tbsp of this puree in a small pot on low heat, without letting it boil.
- Add the wrung gelatin sheets and stir to dissolve.
- Add this to the pineapple puree and stir well.
- Pour the puree over the cheesecake.
- Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before removing it from the pan.