What do you get when you put together a self-professed cheese-loving comicbook geek, and a cheese-abhorring photography geek together in the middle of a breezy day in the park, while others are basking in their Valentine’s Day mini-getaway?
Nothing short of a wonderful birthday celebration for the mister, surrounded by his loves: cheese-y delicacies, geeky presents (a 1/18 diecast Mattel Tumbler Batmobile to add to his Batmobile collection, and Jeff Smith’s Bone graphic novel), and erm me.
Last year, I took the cheese plunge and braved the nauseating pungent smell over the stove, making macaroni and cheese. This year, the celebration boasted a full-on cheese spread with the return of macaroni and cheese (upon his request), my first attempt at pizzas: two mini pizzas slathered with mushrooms, sausages, tomato, mozarella and cheese, and my first attempt at a baked cheesecake!
Anyone following me on Twitter would have realised my trepidations about baking the cheesecake. I’ve had THE cheesecake recipe on hand for quite some time, courtesy of one of the readers, Emilia, but nerves took the better of me, and all sorts of what-ifs popped into my head. How do I store a cheesecake; how do I transport a cheesecake; will it keep well in the humid weather of the park; how do I halve the recipe when I don’t have half of an 8-inch round pan; what if they don’t turn out if I made them in muffin cups; what if I’m doing the waterbath method all wrong. Oh, and all the horror stories of cracking cheesecakes, and soggy cheesecake were enough to make me cower and hide in one corner.
And then there were the last minute talks with the mister, telling him that there be no promises of pizza the next day. That I may not have time to make them. That even though my meagre yeast journey had been encouraging thus far, anything could happen, and Murphy could have me against the wall with a pizza dough that fails to rise, or worse, a pizza dough not to his liking (he prefers his pizzas thick and bready). And all the should-haves popped into my mind: should have bought an instant pizza dough, should have bought the instant box of pizzas, should have bought a jar of pizza sauce.
As if Fate knew it was all for the most special boy in my life, everything went perfectly, more perfectly than I could’ve ever planned. The mister loved the cheesecake and compared it to his favourite cafe cheesecake; he gave the pizzas two thumbs up, even though the sauce was a tad too spicy; he asked if he could lick off the aluminium foil containing the macaroni & cheese.
It brought to mind what my mother told me once. That when you sincerely put your whole heart and soul in cooking (or in my case, baking) for a special one, the love will prevail and come through with every bite.
Because you are my special one, and because my heart is yours to keep. And because you’re the only cheese monster I would ever brave cheese for. I hope you had a lovely cheese-filled birthday, my dearest mister.
Homemade Pizza Dough
(adapted from here)
– makes 4 mini pizzas –
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 packet of active dry yeast
1 3/4 cup bread flour
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
toppings of your choice
- In a bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water. Leave to sit for about 5 minutes.
- In another bowl, sift together bread flour, salt and sugar. Add in oil.
- Mix in the yeast mixture, and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
- Place the ball of dough in a bowl lightly coated with oil. Turn the dough around in the bowl so that it gets coated with the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel, and leave to rise for about 1-2 hours, until the dough doubles in size.
- Preheat oven to 230C for about 30-50 mins.
- Punch the dough down, and divide into four small balls of dough.
- On a floured surface, take one ball of dough and flatten it using your hands. Use your fingertips to form it into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes, and continue to stretch and shape it until it reaches the desired pizza diameter.
- Spoon on the tomato sauce, sprinkle cheese and your chosen toppings.
- Bake at 230C for about 12-15 minutes.