My Aunty Lina is Fantastic. She is a fantastic woman. Lives in a fantastic house. Has many fantastic animals. Has a fantastic garden. And many fantastic trees. Fantastic orange and lemon orchards. Fantastic Pomegranate trees.
I spent many childhood days running around in her house and fields. I remember picking mulberries: drooling purple-red juice down my arms, as if I had just murdered a violet-blooded elf; peeling oranges under the orange trees; watching the goldfish in the water reservoir; being chased by a vicious rooster protecting his many wives, the cats, the charismatic sound of turtle doves purring, the quails, the chickens, the turkeys, the prickly pear trees everywhere, the peaches, the artichokes, the patches of mint, the freesias, the coolness of the water in her courtyard. Happy Days….
I had such a great time when I was at her house. Her bed was so high I was afraid of falling off. The mattress even higher…it felt like a bed of some princess. The books. I loved her books of fairy tales…. my favourite was Puss in Boots. The walks and the stories she told me, about monkeys in hiding. I swear I saw them. The kerosene lamps, the candles and the gas-operated fridge. I remember the times before they had electricity. Yes, I remember: her warming up the water to give me a wash, my going to bed, the lamps being turned off.
Her mum…. Big Lucy. A hundred questions she would ask me, about everything. In her little kitchen, the funny concoctions she used to stir. Rabbit heads, cows' tripe and pigs' trotters. I was spared….from being eaten and from eating, thank goodness. I feasted instead on soup, vegetables and crusty bread with chunks of tomato from the garden, fresh mint, oil and sea salt. Anything would be better than tripe.
This week, we decided to do our filming session it at Aunty Lina’s place. As we set everything up, I slipped back in time. There, between the orange trees, a pomegranate tree at my back, I felt 6 years old again. Only now, I was making pomegranate cheesecakes: crushed biscuits, ruby-red pomegranates, lemons, sweet vanilla yoghurt and luscious cream cheese, and icing sugar dust everywhere.
Aunt Lina and Joe soon came along to have a look. After it was all on film, we sat there eating pomegranate cheesecake like it was the most natural thing to be doing in an orange grove. Magical….
If you make this cheesecake, think of the orange groves; the rustling trees, the vivid green leaves, the fruit turning from green to bright orange; the blue skies, the gentle sun, the warm earth and the pomegranates, their beautiful skins in hues of yellows and pinks. Then crack one open…ruby-red juicy fruit to top luscious cheesecake cream and crunchy biscuits.
Enjoy the trip….
Keep it seasonal. Just top with any fresh fruit in season. Goes particularly well with fresh figs, strawberries, peaches, watermelon and pomegranates.
To save yourself time, just crush the biscuits, make the cream cheese mix, and peel the fruit ahead, then assemble when and as needed.
Serve in pretty individual cups.
In a large bowl, using a hand whisk, beat together the cream cheese and the sifted icing sugar. When evenly combined and creamy, add the vanilla yoghurt and mix well. This mix can be prepared ahead. Just keep in a sealed container in the fridge until needed. Give it a good stir before use.
Just before serving, layer 6 cups, first with 2 tablespoons of crushed biscuits, then with the cream cheese mix, then top with pomegranates.