The recipe below comes out of celebrated South African chef Mariana Esterhuizen’s new cookbook, Mariana’s Country Kitchen.
Mariana, who owns the famed eponymous restaurant in Stanford, says the following of this dish: ‘The texture and simple flavouring of this savoury cheesecake provide the perfect backdrop to turn the overused and underrated pea into a star again’.
250g shortcrust pastry
2 x 250g tubs creamed cottage cheese
1 x 250g tub crème fraiche
8 jumbo free-range eggs
2 cups shelled peas
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1t lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter a 22cm deep, loose-bottomed cake tin. Roll out the pastry and line the cake tin with a thin layer of pastry.
Combine the cottage cheese and crème fraiche in a mixing bowl and add the salt. Beat the eggs lightly and stir into the cheese mixture until all the ingredients are combined. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 20 minutes.
Turn the oven temperature down to 160°C and bake for a further 20 minutes. Check the cheesecake and if the top of the cake or the pastry edge is browning too fast, protect it with a double layer of baking paper or tinfoil. Bake for another 20 minutes.
When the top of the cheesecake feels firm to the touch, remove it from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before you take off the cake-tin ring.
Fill a saucepan with water, add salt to taste and bring to the boil. Add the shelled peas and cook for 1 – 2 minutes, until the peas turn bright green and are still firm, but cooked. Drain in a colander. Scatter the spring onions and peas over the cheesecake and sprinkle with lemon zest. Serve slices of the warm cheesecake with extra peas on the side.
SERVES 10 – 12 AS A STARTER
The Mariana’s Country Kitchen recipe book is published by Human & Rousseau and can be bought for around R350.