Tuesday, 16 April 2019

White chocolate sour cherry cheesecake

White chocolate sour cherry cheesecake
We had a house guest staying last weekend. He's a friend of Paul's who comes over 3-4 times a year, but he lives a 3 hour train trip away. So if he comes to visit he stays the night so they can sit in the living room talking shit for hours. I assume - I usually go to bed. I limit my hostessing to washing the spare room sheets, cleaning the bathroom and making a salad.

Any excuse to make a pudding, however. The last time he came over I made Felicity Cloake's perfect pecan pie. Which was SO darn good. Really. Best pecan pie I have ever eaten. I've made it again subsequently and it's actually a bit tricky to think of other desserts to make when that exists in the world. It also makes other pies and tarts feel a bit shy. How can they live up to that?! Paul ended up solving the dilemma, when he asked for a cheesecake with a layer of a tart fruit jam on top.

It's quite a dense, baked cheesecake, and not too sweet (unusually for white chocolate). I used a very nice 70% fruit sour cherry preserve, which was just the thing.

White chocolate sour cherry cheesecake (serves 8-10)

120g ginger nut biscuits
50g butter
pinch salt
200g white chocolate
300g sour cherry jam, divided in half
300g cream cheese
300g sour cream
50g caster sugar
2tbs cornflour
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1tbs kirsch (or other booze)

Preheat oven to 180C, with a metal oven tray on the middle shelf.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and set aside to cool.

Melt the butter in a small pan. Using a rolling pin, crush the biscuits in a plastic bag until they are mostly fine crumbs, with the occasional bigger bit. Mix the crumbs into the melted butter, add a pinch of salt and stir well.

Line a deep 20cm round cake tin with a removable base (you don't really have to, especially if you are using a springform tin, but it helps avoid the cheesecake's tendency to crack as it cools because the lining moves with it) and firmly press the buttery crumbs into the base of the tin.

Bake the base on the preheated oven tray for 15 minutes.

Remove the tin from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 110C.

Dollop half the jam over the hot biscuit base, and spread gently around as it melts.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, cornflour, eggs, vanilla and lemon zest until smooth. Fold in the cooled white chocolate and pour into the tin, over the base. It's quite runny, so it should self-level well.

Bake for 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours, until set but still slightly wobbly in the middle. If you didn't line your tin, when you pull the tin out of the oven, run a palette knife all the way around the cake to make sure it's loosened from the sides of the tin (again, helps avoid cracking). Allow to cool completely.

In a small pan, warm the remaining half of the sour cherry jam with the kirsch until it's a bit runnier. Spread over the cold cheesecake. Chill before serving.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

A good start to the year: garlic thyme potatoes

Finger lime
Happy New Year! 2019 is currently feeling overwhelming and fairly terrifying, so my main hope for us all is that it won't be as bad as it looks.

Last night, as is our preference, we stayed home and ate a delicious dinner. I had planned our traditional fondue, but then when the groceries were delivered my cheese wasn't in it. I couldn't quite face the prospect of a trip to the shops, so I re-thought, and came up with a very good plan using the available ingredients.

Fortunately, our starter was not affected by the lack of cheese. When I did the seafood platter for last week's Christmas Eve meal, Paul was smitten with the finger limes. He decided that if it could be had, some caviar would be a perfect New Year's Eve nibble, garnished with the finger lime beads. Caviar was obtainable (at predictably terrible price, but hey, we didn't have to pay for taxis last night), and it was a perfect combination. The matching size and texture and contrasting flavour and colour was excellent. It would even have been worth brushing my hair and leaving the house for, but fortunately I didn't have to go to those lengths.

For our not-fondue main course, I pulled some flatiron steaks out of the freezer, which we grilled over charcoal, braised some chicory and made these fab, meltingly delicious potatoes. It's the same potato dish I made for Christmas, and I think making it 2 weeks running means it's worth writing up the recipe. It's still very buttery, so it's not a low-calorie option, but it's much lighter than a dauphinoise.
You can see how sticky and melting they are
Garlic thyme potatoes (serves 2)

3-4 medium Charlotte potatoes (or other waxy or all-purpose variety), peeled and thinly sliced
45-60g (3-4tbs) salted butter
1 big sprig fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine or white vermouth
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 180C

Grease the base of a small casserole dish thickly with 1tbs butter. Arrange half the potatoes evenly in it. Scatter the garlic, thyme leaves, a good grinding of pepper and half the remaining butter on the potatoes, then add the remaining potatoes.

Pour over the wine and stock - it should come up about 2/3 of the way up the potatoes. Press down on the spuds so they are briefly submerged. Scatter with knobs of the remaining butter and another grinding of pepper.

Bake for half an hour or so, until the potatoes are golden on top, melting in the middle and most of the juices have evaporated. If your dish is deep rather than long it'll take longer. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

2018 Christmas Feasting

Merry Christmas, all! Hope you had the best possible day yesterday.

Last year, of course, we ate mostly vegetarian over the festive period - and very nice it was too. This year we were back on the beasts. And it was just us so we pared things back to a few indulgent meals.
Solstice dinner
We started on Friday, to mark the Solstice. A roast rack of cured pork, with roast autumn vegetables (a Diana Henry recipe), steamed kalettes and parsley sauce. We had some gorgeous Somerset cider brandy later on, to toast the turning of the wheel and the return of the sun.

There was loads of pork leftover. The bones and some of the meat made a lovely thick bean stew, and the rest of the meat went into sandwiches.
Stollen buns
I made a big batch of Spiced and Fruity Stollen Buns for our breakfasts this week. I don't think we'll get through them before they go stale, but the last few are going to make a magnificent bread and butter pudding.
Miso-butter double salmon rillettes
For Christmas Eve we had seafood. Mostly a bought seafood platter - which was vast, we have loads of prawns left - but I also made these absolutely gorgeous miso-butter double salmon rillettes. The miso gives the rillettes an extra deep savour. We had some of the leftover for lunch on Christmas Day, on toasted olive bread, and we're very happy to still have some tucked in the fridge.
Salmon rillettes on chicory leaves, garnished with finger lime
Seafood platter
We had our Christmas Dinner in the evening. As people who don't have a carved-in-stone traditional Christmas meal, it's snuck up on me that my most enduring tradition is Diana Henry's persimmon and chicory salad, which has adorned our Christmas table on three of the last four years, only missing Christmas 2015 because I couldn't get persimmons. This year I left out the pomegranate, because they were really expensive for just a bit of garnish. We had a really lovely lightly-smoked venison rack, and sort-of confit potatoes, cooked slowly with loads of garlic and thyme, and white wine, butter and vegetable stock.

Going easy on the main course left us with space for a very boozy almond tiramisu, made with an abundance of amaretto. And I used Paul's decaf coffee, so we both got a good night's sleep afterwards. 
Tiramisu

Friday, 21 December 2018

Christmas Venison Sausage Rolls

The snowflake is optional
I originally thought I would make a batch of Rudolf Rolls for Paul's last shoot before Christmas. But the thought of making my own blue cheese puff pastry in the time I had available felt a bit like a stressful Bake Off challenge. This, then, has similar flavours but is very quick to pull together.

Christmas Venison Sausage Rolls (makes 16 chunky ones, 8 lunch-sized ones)

500g minced venison (I minced cubed venison through a medium screen)
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 tbs butter
6 juniper berries, crushed
50g fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbs cranberry sauce (I used a particularly nice Manfood cranberry, chilli and orange one)
100g strong blue cheese
1 egg
Salt & pepper
1 egg, extra
2 x 320g sheets ready rolled puff pastry

Preheat oven to 200C (fan).

Gently saute the onion in the butter until translucent. Don't rush it, it'll take a solid 10 minutes with an occasional stir. Set aside to cool.

Combine minced venison, cooled onion, juniper berries, breadcrumbs, cranberry sauce, crumbled blue cheese and the egg in a medium bowl. Season well with salt and pepper and mix well.

Unroll the sheets of puff pastry, leaving it on the paper it's rolled in, and brush with the extra egg, beaten (I find this helps the sausage to stick to the pastry).

Divide the venison mixture into 4. Take a portion, pat it into a sausage shape with your hands and place at one end of one of the sheets of pastry and squidge it until it's the same length as the pastry and an even thickness. Repeat with a second portion and place at the other end of the pastry, then repeat twice more with the other sheet of pastry.

You'll have 2 long sheets of pastry with a sausage at each short end. In case you are having trouble visualising.

With the help of the backing paper to keep it tight, roll the sausage over so it's covered by the pastry, then brush that strip of pastry with a bit more egg and roll again. So you have a sausage roll with a tidy top and a double layer of pastry on the bottom. Repeat from the other end, then repeat with the other sausages and sheets of pastry.

You now have 4 sausage rolls, still joined in the middle of the two sheets of pastry. Using a sharp knife, cut between the sausage rolls, then cut each sausage roll in 2 or 4, depending on your plans for them.

Transfer them to baking paper-lined baking sheets, leaving a good space to expand.

Brush them with more of the beaten egg. If I'd had any leftover pastry, I would have cut out Christmassy decorations to put on top, but I didn't. So I pressed a snowflake cookie cutter into the tops, cutting through a couple of layers of the lamination but not all the way through. I should have pressed just a little harder to make the patterns a little more distinct.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a rich gold. You'll probably need to rotate the sheets at half time so they cook evenly. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving.



Friday, 14 December 2018

Boozy Christmas Pudding Truffles


So-named because they contain Christmas pudding, not because they look like them. Although you could definitely take a leaf out of Nigella's Christmas Puddini Bonbons book and decorate them with white chocolate and glace cherries. They are basically a rum ball but I didn't use rum and bourbon balls doesn't quite capture it.

I had an out-of-date Christmas pudding that I wanted rid of before all my shopping arrived for this Christmas, so I opened it and gave it a sniff (seemed fine) then cooked it and ate a bit, to no ill-effect. I figured it was worth a gamble.

They are very dense and gooey and intensely flavoured. Even Paul and his lack of sweet tooth was impressed. He took them on a shoot, where they were rapidly re-named "Reindeer Poop" and devoured. Why you would want to eat something that you'd called poop is beyond me.

Boozy Christmas Pudding Truffles (makes 35+, depending on how big you make them)

600g leftover (cooked and cooled) Christmas pudding
200g dark chocolate
60g cream cheese
1/4 cup your choice of delicious brown liquor (rum, bourbon, brandy, whisky - I had bourbon)
100g dark chocolate, extra
sprinkles, to decorate

Place the 200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces, into a medium-sized glass mixing bowl. Put the bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure the water doesn't touch the glass) and gently melt the chocolate. I've never got the hang of melting chocolate in the microwave, but if you can you should.

While the chocolate melts, break the pudding into small chunks.

When the chocolate has melted, beat in the cream cheese, then the pudding chunks and alcohol, and stir well until it's all combined. The pudding will pretty much disintegrate. Chill in the fridge for about half an hour.

Set out paper (or foil, if you are feeling very fancy) petit fours cases on a baking sheet.

Roll heaped teaspoonfuls of the cooled mixture between your hands into tidy-ish compact balls and place into the petit fours cases. Return to the fridge for half an hour.

Melt the extra chocolate in a small bowl over simmering water. Drip half-teaspoonfuls of the chocolate over the truffles and then spread the chocolate out a bit with the back of a teaspoon. I find a swirly motion is the most efficient. While the chocolate is still soft, sprinkle with whatever sprinkles you are using to decorate.

Chill overnight, but serve at room temperature.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Flourless chocolate orange cupcakes

I mostly do my grocery shopping online. I like being able to ponder without pressure and other people. I like having various tabs open on my computer with recipes and a weekly meal plan. I like being able to duck down to check what I have in the freezer and being able to consider my budget. Of course, the down side is that there are some things that are less convenient. The smallest pack size for oranges is 4. So if I want to make something that uses the zest and juice of an orange, I have to come up with other things that use the rest of the oranges.

Which is my excuse for making these. They are mostly Claudia Roden's wonderful orange almond cake. Which is also Nigella's wonderful clementine cake. But deeply chocolatey. And small. They aren't particularly pretty - at first sight you might think they were going to be a bit healthy and worthy - but they are moist to the edge of gooeyness, with a voluptuous, rich chocolate orange flavour. Like an R-rated Jaffa cake.

Flourless Chocolate Orange Cupcakes - Makes 18 medium sized

2 large oranges (approx 375g)
6 eggs
250g caster sugar
2 tbs good quality cocoa powder
100g dark chocolate
1tsp baking powder
250g ground almonds
Chocolate decorations and a bit of marmalade if you are feeling extra, but this is not the time for buttercream

Wash the oranges and boil them whole for 1½ hours or until they are very soft, topping up with boiling water from the kettle as necessary.

While the oranges are cooling, preheat oven to 190C (fan) and line medium-sized cupcake tins with paper cases

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and cocoa powder.

Either chop the chocolate into small pieces, or break it up and pulse it to rubble in a food processor (you have the processor out to puree the oranges in a moment, so you might as well. You don't have to wash it up before you do the oranges. But I digress).

Add the baking powder, chocolate rubble and almonds to the egg and sugar mixture and mix well.

When cool enough to handle, cut the oranges open and remove any pips, then puree the oranges, including the peels, in a food processor. Mix the orange puree into the batter and divide between the cupcake cases - about 2 tablespoons in each, which will come up 2/3 of the way.

Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the tins at half time. Let cool before decorating with chocolate decorations or segments of chocolate orange or chocolate dipped orange peel or whatever, glued on with a dab of marmalade.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Triple ginger crunch slice


These rather fabulous morsels are what I think Americans call "bar cookies", but in Australia they are just known as slice. When discussing an office morning tea, you might say "I'm making a cake, so could you bring a slice?" and everyone understands that it's going to be a sweet traybake, often with a shortbread sort of base, cut into pieces that take just a bite or two.

Ginger crunch isn't Australian though - it's one of New Zealand's wonderful baked goods. My version isn't very crunchy: it has a tender oaty shortbread base and smooth ginger icing and it just feels like the right thing to eat with a cup of tea as the days get shorter and the weather cools down.

Triple ginger crunch slice (makes 24 pieces, the way I slice it)

Base
125g salted butter, softened
100g caster sugar (I used golden caster sugar with a vanilla bean stored in it, I think it adds to the flavour)
180g self raising flour
30g quick cooking rolled oats
2 tsp ground ginger
40g crystallised ginger, roughly chopped

Icing
125g salted butter
45g golden syrup (I know the Tate & Lyle tins are iconic but it's so much easier to get the squeezy bottles and measure straight into the pan on the scales)
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
180g icing sugar
1 tbs ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 190ÂșC.
Line a 7" x 11" pan with baking patchment.
In a small food processer, pulse the oats to crumbs, then add the rest of the base ingredients and process until it just comes together as a sandy dough.

Press the dough firmly into the prepared pan, flattening the surface with your hands, then bake until it’s light golden brown - about 20 minutes.

At the 15 minute mark, combine the butter for the icing with the golden syrup and grated ginger in a medium pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and sift in the icing sugar and last tablespoon of ground ginger and beat until smooth.

Remove the pan from the oven and pour the warm icing over the base. Tilt it around a bit to cover evenly, but it's fairly self-levelling. Let cool in the tin for about half an hour, then remove from the pan and slice with a sharp knife while still slightly warm.

It'll keep for 4 days in a sealed tin, if it gets a chance.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...