I reckon that choux pastry gets a bad rap. People think that it’s super-hard to make when the truth is it’s really not and it’s no more temperamental than any other sort of pastry. You simply need a decent a pair of biceps for all […]
These are a lovely savoury twist on a sweet tea-time classic. You don’t have to limit them to afternoon indulgence though – these have proved very popular for breakfast and brunch topped with fried or poached eggs. You can use any hard, medium-fat cheese you […]
I think baked cheesecakes might be my super-power. (Making them and eating them). I never really have any problems with them and they always turn out well, slightly soft and rich and creamy, the way a baked cheesecake should be. This one is no exception – I mean just look at it… You know you just want to grab a fork and get stuck in to all that gooey toasted marshmallow!
There are a few very simple rules to follow when making a baked cheesecake which should more or less guarantee you dessert success. Always make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before you start. Wrap the base of the tin really well in tin foil and bake the cheesecake in a water bath. Finally let it cool in the oven before you chill it in the fridge – a good cheesecake cannot be rushed!
200g digestive biscuits
500g full fat cream cheese
200g sour cream
150g dark chocolate
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Start by lightly greasing a spring-form cake tin and securely wrapping the base with foil. Pre-heat your oven to 180°c. Crush the biscuits, either in a food processor or if you’re feeling a little tense then by putting them in a plastic bag and bashing them about with a rolling pin (Baking can be so therapeutic!). Melt the butter and combine this with the biscuit crumbs before pressing the mixture firmly into the tin. Pop this in the fridge to firm up whilst you make the filling.
Melt the chocolate (in a double boiler or microwave) and set this aside to cool a bit. Put the cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat them together until they are smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Mix in the sour cream and then add the chocolate, making sure that it is well blended. Pour the mixture over the biscuit base. Give the tin a little shimmy to level things off before giving it a couple of sharp taps to knock out any excess air bubbles. Put the tin in a bain-marie and bake the cheesecake for 40-45 minutes. Once it’s done it should still be a little wobbly in the middle but be a little puffed up and brown around the edges. Turn off the oven and take the cheesecake out of its water bath but leave it in the oven to cool. Once it’s room temperature move it to the fridge to chill.
Make the marshmallow topping by combining all of the ingredients in a spotlessly clean heatproof bowl. Place this over a pan of gently simmering water, be careful not to let the water touch the base of the bowl. Use a hand whisk to whip this continuously whilst it heats up. The mixture should become quite foamy and increase in volume. When the marshmallow is ready to come off the heat, it will feel hot to the touch and the sugar should be totally dissolved. Take the bowl off the pan of water and then use an electric whisk to whip the marshmallow until it is thick and glossy. Carefully remove the cheesecake from the tin and place it on a serving plate. Pipe or swirl the marshmallow on top, creating a peak effect. Use a kitchen blowtorch to toast and brown the marshmallow before serving.
As a non-meat eater I would be chuffed to bits to be presented with these for my Christmas dinner, or for any dinner for that matter! The pastry is gorgeously crisp and flaky against the creamy filling and tender sweet squash. The flavours are spot […]
Have you carved a pumpkin for Halloween? Did you toss away the seeds? I hope not, those babies are delicious roasted and hulled. They’re also a delicious (and cheaper) alternative to pine nuts in pesto.
Pesto isn’t just for pasta though. I actually ate this on our recent trip to Croatia, where it was served on sourdough toast and topped off with some local cheese and dried figs. It really was rather yummy! It also makes a very tasty topping for fish, especially salmon.
This will keep in the fridge for quite a few days. I think the parmesan makes this salty enough but you can obviously add a little extra pinch if you like.
60g hulled roasted pumpkin seeds
1 clove of garlic
juice of one lemon
50g fresh basil (including stalks)
3-4 tbsp olive oil
twist of freshly ground black pepper
Add the pumpkin seeds, garlic and parmesan to a food processor and grind them until they look fairly fine. Add the basil (stalks and all), lemon juice, oil and black pepper and pulse it until it is quite smooth. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
When you get really good ingredients it’s worth using them in a recipe that really shows off their full potential. That’s how I feel about these beautiful heirloom tomatoes anyway.
So often the fruits you find in supermarkets are insipid and disappointing but if you come across tomatoes like these, or are lucky enough to be green fingered and grow your own then you’ll know they’ll be packed with flavour and worthy of a bit more love than just tossing them into your Bolognese!
Look at how pretty the colours look in this tart, it’s a picture perfect summer dish. It tastes pretty wonderful too. The fennel seeds in the buttery pastry crust really bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes. Delicious!
150g plain flour
50g wholemeal flour
pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp fennel seeds
splash of ice cold water
5-6 heirloom tomatoes (different varieties if you can)
3 tbsp polenta/semolina
1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
seasalt, black pepper and fresh oregano
Whisk together the flours and then lightly rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Mix through the salt and fennel seeds and then use a little splash of water to bring it all together to form a soft, but not sticky, dough. If you prefer then you can do all this quite quickly and easily in a food processor, which also means there’s less chance of over-working the dough and ending up with tough pastry. Wrap the dough in some cling film and pop it in the fridge to rest for at least 15 minutes.
Pre-heat your oven to 230°c and cover a large baking sheet with some baking parchment. Wash, dry and slice the tomatoes, so that the slices are about 5mm thick. A serrated knife is the best thing to use here.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until you have a large roundish shape, a few millimetres thick. Carefully place this on the prepared baking sheet. Scatter the polenta or semolina (whichever you’re using) over the pastry, leaving a few centimetres gap around the edge. This will help soak up all those lovely tomato juices and stop the pastry becoming a soggy mess. Arrange the tomato slices on top, overlapping them as you go. Season really well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and then dot the surface with a little butter. Sprinkle over the parmesan and a little chopped fresh oregano. Carefully fold up the edges of the pastry, gathering it a little where you need to.
Bake the tart for 20 minutes before reducing the oven temperature to 190° and baking for a further 25 minutes. The pastry should be crisp and slightly golden when it’s done. Leave to cool to room temperature before serving.