19 August 2011

Layered Raspberry and Lemon Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of my favourite desserts, I love the creaminess of the filling, teamed with the crispy crunch of the base and a lovely tartness in the topping.

I stumbled across the fabulous The Italian Dish recently, and this week she made little cheesecakes in jars. In a previous post she also made a cheesecake parfait in glasses. I fancied a dessert last night, but didn't want to spend hours mixing and baking a cheesecake, so I followed her idea and deconstructed a no bake cheesecake and served it in jars (because how cool is that). I used fresh raspberries and loaded up the cheesecake with lemon juice, and used wholemeal digestive biscuits for the crumb mixture, and it was a little jar of decadence. It would also be fabulous with strawberries or other berry fruit. I'm going to experiment with the idea and try a caramel sauce and grated chocolate version with Baileys in the cheesecake mixture instead of lemon. Then it will definately be time to get back on that treadmill.

Layered Raspberry and Lemon Cheesecake
  • 200 grams wholemeal digestive biscuits
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 400 grams cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 400 grams raspberries
  1. Crush the biscuits into crumbs using a food processor or by hand and mix with the melted butter
  2. Sprinkle the raspberries with a little sugar and mash slightly, set aside
  3. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth and creamy, add the lemon juice and sour cream and beat a bit more
  4. Put a layer of crumbs in the bottom of a jar or glass, top with some cheesecake mixture then with a spoonful of raspberries, repeat the layering until you get to the top of the jar, and finish with a sprinkling of the biscuit crumbs.

12 August 2011

Crumpets anyone?

I'm bored! And no, that's not the children saying it, it's me. One good thing about boredom though is I tend to experiment in the kitchen. So the other day I was walking around Lakeland (you brits will know it - for others, it's a kitchen shop with loads of gadgets and cooking stuff), and I saw crumpet rings. I'd never even considered that crumpets were something you could make, rather than spend a small fortune on imported ones. How much fun to try though....so I bought the rings.

I googled the recipe and cobbled together a bowl of batter based on a couple of good recipes. There is something very satisfying about seeing a lovely yeasty batter, oozing and bubbling like it's alive - which I guess in a way it is.

I heated a frying pan with the crumpet rings in it, well greased (important point), and starting cooking. The first batch didn't quite work out, the batter was too thick and they didn't have the lovely holes that crumpets should, so I added a little bit of water to the mixture. Too much it seemed as the mixture ran out under the rings. So I added some more flour back in (this could have gone on for a while), and whisked and the next batch were perfect.

They do take a little while to cook, but the result is worth it - light, crunchy golden brown goodness. The first one didn't even make it to a plate, I just globbed on the butter and devoured it while standing at the oven cooking some more. I was a little more refined with the next few, and ate them drizzled with golden syrup. The recipe made about 16, so I've popped some in the freezer to toast for brekkie tomorrow, I can't wait!

  • 450 grams white plain flour (if you have bread flour, replace half of the plain flour with that)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 300mls lukewarm milk
  • 300mls lukewarm water
  1. Sift together the flour, salt and cream of tartar.
  2. Mix the milk, water, sugar, baking soda and yeast together and set aside for 5 minutes to become frothy
  3. Pour the liquid into the flour and mix well with a whisk. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for an hour. Give the batter a stir and you're ready to cook.
  4. Heat a frying pan over medium low heat for about 5 minutes to heat fully, pop the well greased crumpet rings into the pan for a minute, then spoon in the batter. The batter will be thick, but shouldn't be too thick. Within a minute or so, little bubbles should have appeared on the surface of the crumpets, if not, the batter is too thick and you need to add a little water.
  5. Cook the crumpets for about 12 to 15 minutes, you can remove rings once they're set (about 5 minutes) and pop them into another pan to speed up the cooking process. Once the crumpets are cooked, flip them over and cook the top side for 2 minutes or until it is a nice toasty golden brown. Enjoy!!

9 August 2011

Balsamic Caramelised Onion and Goats Cheese Pizza

It's Ramadan and a time for muslims to fast and reflect. As a non muslim in Qatar during Ramadan, it's a lovely lazy hazy time, as there isn't much happening during the day, and to be honest, at 50 degrees it is getting too hot to do more than pop out to the supermarket once a day for supplies, or dive into the pool to cool off. That means a lot of time indoors.

The little chefs are busy doing craft, playing the Wii or turning cushions, blankets and chairs into houses and forts, which leaves me plenty of time to indulge myself in the kitchen cooking up a storm, including cooking some freezer meals for the Green Box to deliver. Today I used their lovely goats cheese - you can order it online at http://www.thegreenbox.me/, along with their fabulous hormone free chickens and quality fruit and vegetables.

I love goats cheese - on it's own with crackers, in a cheesecake, where it adds a sharp tangy loveliness, or mixed with cream cheese, parmesan, herbs and nutmeg, popped on top of portabello mushrooms and grilled to cheesy perfection.

My favourite way to use it is in a tart or on a pizza, paired with some caramelised onions, and that's what the Green Box customers are getting today. I'm using chapati flour, as it's a lot less refined than white flour and creates a nice chewy base that crisps up well.

Caramelised Onion and Goats Cheese Pizza

This makes two large thick crust pizzas - for thin crust, use less yeast. I like to prebake the base for 5 minutes before putting the topping on - the onions can be a bit moist and I hate soggy bases.

Pizza dough
  • 4 cups of wholemeal or plain flour (or a combination of both)
  • 400mls of slightly warm water
  • 3 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Caramelised Onions
  • 3 large white or brown onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Goats Cheese
  • 300 grams Goats Cheese with Herbs or 300 grams plain goats cheese mixed with 1/2 teaspoon each of thyme and oregano
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • freshly ground black pepper

  1. To caramelise the onions, heat the oil in a large pan over low heat, add the onions and cook slowly, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. When the onions are translucent, add the sugar and balsamic vinegar. Turn the heat up to medium and stir frequently for about 10 minutes until the mixture is rich and caramelised. Watch it while it's cooking as it can burn once the sugar is added.
  2. To make the dough, mix the water, sugar and yeast together and let stand for a few minutes until starting to froth. Put the flour, salt and olive oil in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or into a bowl, just get ready to exercise those arms).
  3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and mix. The dough should be moist, not dry, but not too sticky. Knead using the mixer, or by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic (if you poke it with your finger, it'll spring back into shape quickly). Have I mentioned before how much I love my Kitchen Aid.
  4. Pop this into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave for an hour or two to rise. Check out just how much it will rise.
  5. Heat the oven to 200 degrees celcius (400 degrees fahrenheit), put an upside down baking dish, or pizza stone in the oven and heat for 10 minutes.
  6. Roll half the dough out to about 0.5cm thick. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes
  7. Remove from oven and spread with half the caramelised onion mixture, crumble the goats cheese on top, season with freshly ground black pepper and drizzle on a little olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes till base is crisp and cheese is a delicious golden brown.