Gastronomically Terrific

July 5, 2015

Raspberry ripple cheesecake

RaspberryRippleCheesecake2Wanting to make something for our dating anniversary at the end of June, I went for this no-bake cheesecake which didn’t have too many ingredients, so we wouldn’t end up wasting any before we went away for three months. The recipe is from an Annabel Karmel recipe book, and as such I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult.

Unfortunately, it’s a pretty ‘stagey’ recipe. I knew that before I started. What I didn’t know was that the recipe tried to make each stage simple – too simple, meaning the amounts weren’t really correct.

My first problem was that the recipe uses gelatine. Because hubby is vegetarian, I use vege-gel as a replacement, and, I admit, I don’t get on with that well. I love it when I can use real leaf gelatine, because it’s so easy! With vege-gel, I often seem to end up with clumps of gelatine, and that happened here.

The biscuit base was easy – just digestives and butter. That I can do.

The next stage was to make a raspberry coulis – a mixture of raspberries, icing sugar and cornflour, which you then heat. This seemed to be working well, until I heated the mixture up together. There was way too much cornflour, meaning it became much, much thicker than intended. At least it did thicken I guess. The problem was, this mixture is meant to be blobbed on top of the cream cheese mixture and then swirled to make a pattern. Whilst blobbing it was easy, it was too thick to swirl.

The cream cheese mixture itself was easy to do – just cream cheese, double cream and caster sugar. The problem here was adding the clumpy vege-gel. In the end I had to reheat the vege-gel with some of the cream cheese (I admit, I should have done the vege-gel by itself first…) to get the majority of the lumps out (there were still some). So some of the cream cheese was wetter than it should have been.

Finally, I had to put more blobs of the raspberry coulis on top of the cream cheese mixture. This time, I didn’t even try to swirl it. I did cover the whole thing in strawberries and blackberries, with a hint of melted white chocolate, so you couldn’t see that pattern anyway.

In the end, the cheesecake, on the whole, tasted fairly good – even if it didn’t look quite as good as it should have. But it was a very faffy recipe for a not brilliant result. I’ve made much better cheesecakes (in terms of taste and looks) with a lot less effort. This isn’t one that will be added to my ‘go-to’ recipes.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Annabel Karmel book


February 18, 2015

Strawberries and cream cheesecake

Filed under: Cake, pudding, Valentines Day — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:03 pm

Strawberries and cream cheesecake slice CUI haven’t done a lot of baking recently, but Valentines Day is generally an excuse for tasty cake in our house – and baked cheesecake is hubby’s favourite, so that’s what I made. Buying the ingredients and preparing the cake was, by necessity, all last minute – with a new baby due to arrive any day I didn’t want a bunch of ingredients sitting around in the fridge not being used because I was otherwise occupied. Luckily for hubby, baby did not make an appearance on Friday 13th.

This is a fairly easy cheesecake to make, although there are a few stages to it. For starters, you do the standard ‘melt butter/ bash up biscuits/ mix together and put in the fridge to set’.

Stage 2 is making the actual cheesecake mixture. Again, fairly simple – just mix together 600g cream cheese, an egg and 100g caster sugar. What you do need to do is add a boiled strawberry mixture to this. The strawberry mixture contains (funnily enough) 200g strawberries, 80g caster sugar and 30ml water. (Having said that, this nearly ended up being a cherry mixture because the first shop I went to had no strawberries. It probably would have worked, but I’m glad I found strawberries in the next shop because I don’t like messing up gift bakes)!  You boil all this together and then wait for the strawberries to go soft and the liquid to reduce by half. Once the strawberry mix is cool, add it to the cream cheese mixture. Then pour the whole shebang on top of the biscuit base and bake in the oven for about 30 mins on 160C.

Third stage: once the cheesecake is cool and has been in the fridge for a couple of hours, whip together 100g of mascarpone cheese and 20g of icing sugar. Then add in 100ml of whipped double cream, and cover the whole cheesecake with this topping. Pop it back in the fridge to set overnight.

Finally, decorate the cheesecake with strawberries (and, if you’re me and bought them in anticipation of having no strawberries, cherries as well). I was planning on writing out ‘LOVE’ in the middle of the cake because it was Valentines Day, but that didn’t really fit – so I went with a ring of chopped strawberries around the edge and the outline of a heart done with cherries in the middle. Although you could just chop and throw I guess! The end result wasn’t bad – it looks OK and between the two of us we’ve managed to eat almost the entire thing (it fitted in a 9 inch based tin) in about 4 days…

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days, Tarek Malouf, pg. 120-121

September 23, 2014

Rooster’s roulade

Filed under: lunch, meat, party, vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 8:17 pm
Happy 2nd birthday! Some of the party food - Rooster's Roulade are in the foreground

Happy 2nd birthday! Some of the party food – Rooster’s Roulade are in the foreground

OK, so now on to the big event – my son’s 2nd birthday. I made a lot of things for his birthday party (salmon footballs, cheese and peanut bites, apple cake etc), but many of these I have made before, so they’re not really new or exciting recipes to me. They were just things I knew would keep my guests – whether 2 or 32 – happy. I’m not going to write about those things here; instead, I’m going to focus on the items I made that were new to me. Many of these came from the Children’s Party Cook Book – a fairly recent acquisition that I ended up getting after buying it for a friend as a birthday present and deciding I wanted my own copy!

The first new thing I made were these ‘Rooster’s Roulade’ baguette-type bites. Basically a variation on your standard sandwich, they were pretty tasty and can be made in advance (always a bonus when preparing lots of things for a party). The concept is pretty simple – you get a baguette, cut off the ends, then hollow out the middle leaving a 1.5cm crust. You then fill the baguette with, well, whatever you like really. I did two versions -a veggie one and a meaty one. The veggie version contained cream cheese, rocket, cucumber and spring onions. The meaty one contained the same things but had bacon bits added.

Cream cheese is a great choice for this because it doesn’t go off – you can make these guys 2 or 3 days in advance, store them in the fridge and they still taste fine. Obviously they’re a bit nicer fresh (this is baguette after all), but they don’t suffer too badly for having been made in advance.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hats and Bells Children’s Party Cookbook, Hatty Stead and Annabel Waley-Cohen, pg. 44-5

February 23, 2014

Chilli cheese crostini

Filed under: canape, side, vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:29 pm

DSC05015And so, on to our Valentines Day meal. For a starter, we made chilli cheese crostini. These are pretty similar to the double blue crostini I made back in January – but instead of a mixture of blue cheese, cream cheese, sour cream and jalapenos, you mix together cream cheese, sour cream, paprika, jalopenos and Worcestershire sauce to make a coral pink mixture. Except that we had run out of sour cream, and I replaced the Worcestershire sauce with dark soy sauce so my veggie husband could eat them.

Not having sour cream in these did make a difference, but it wasn’t the end of the world. They would have tasted nicer with it, but they were fine without too. The massive benefit of making these was that they take two seconds to do (and about the same time to devour), so the fact that our main course was already ready to be eaten didn’t matter too much.

Not as good as the double blue crostini, but a good alternative if you have no blue cheese in the house!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pg. 17

January 15, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 4:45 pm

Red Velvet Cupcakes

After my baking extravaganza this week, I think Anna was keen to show me up.  So she made these crazy cupcakes that don’t just taste awesome, the look awesome too.  I’m pretty gutted about it, since I was fairly pleased with my own efforts until now.  Or at least I would be gutted if I didn’t get to stuff my face on sweet sweet velvety goodness for the next week.

For those that don’t know, “velvet” cakes are basically just ordinary cakes with red food colouring.  But like all things, it’s not that simple.  There is some additional chocolately goodness to pay you back for picking the crazy coloured cake, and I think the consistency has been played with too as the ingredients involving mixing bicarbonate of soda with white wine vinegar! This gives it a very tight, slightly dense texture that does indeed feel velvety on the tongue.  Finally, the topping is cream cheese mixed with icing sugar, a really tasty combination that works really well here.

My only problem with them is that they are very, very rich.  Served in muffin cases, they are an awful lot of cake and a real challenge to get through… The second time we tried these, we had half each and used a fork to eat it which was a much better idea – I felt that I was in charge of the cake and not the other way around.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Cake Days: Recipes to make every day special, by the Hummingbird Bakery, page 178.

July 17, 2011

Angel Fruit Tartlets

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 4:11 pm

Hot little tarts…

With all that fruit it has to be good for you, right?

The tarts are extremely simple: just short crust pastry, with a sweetened mascarpone cheese topping (175g of the cheese, 1 tablespoon of caster sugar, and 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest).  Then a random selection of your favourite fruits sit on top.  Clearly, the only opportunity for excitement here is the topping, but this works really well, being very simple cream cheese with a very intense flavour from the orange.

I can merrily eat 3 of these in a sitting and its only British Social Reserve holding me back from a fourth.  Try them; they are tasty and easy!

Who made it: Anna.

Recipe: Cakes, Bakes, Puddings and Prayers, by Susan Over, page 8.

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