I often find it difficult to cook in someone else’s kitchen. I don’t know what tools and ingredients are available or where to find them. This is stressful on occasions where I really don’t want to screw up, and I usually opt for extremely simple. But, as I am visiting my best friend in Baku for her birthday, I needed to make her a surprise supertreat. Since Olga had resisted the impulse to glean figs from every front yard in Georgia, I was determined to attempt this fig cheesecake, which soon became an all day adventure. I found most ingredients in the supermarket, with two exceptions: ricotta and figs. (They might have ricotta in the supermarket in Baku, but again, I’m completely unable to read the labels). I ended up making fresh ricotta (see last post), which was the first success. I then wandered through the colorful and tempting rows of fruit at the Bazaar to buy a large box of figs, communicating with the vendor in hand gestures, which was the second.
I had no tart shell, so I bought some almonds from the dried fruit and nut store and crushed them with an empty vodka bottle (no rolling pin) until I got tired. Then I mixed the almond dust/crumbs with a minced ginger cookie and some butter and pressed the mixture into the bottom of the pan and baked just slightly. I then followed the recipe, using all of the ricotta that the 4 cups of milk yielded. I had to bake it quite long to get the filling to brown. Next time I’ll wait longer to add the figs. While it wasn’t the best cheesecake I’ve ever made, it was a small triumph. I’m looking forward to having my own kitchen and my own city very, very soon!