Fresh Blackberry Cheesecake

I love having a delicious homemade cheesecake for serving at Christmas (or at any other time of the year) especially one which can be prepared in advance and frozen.

This baked cheesecake freezes beautifully before adding the two toppings, and the compote can be made ages in advance as it is a jam which will keep in a sterilised jar in the fridge.  

I try not to use refined sugar in my recipes but I did use caster sugar in this cheesecake and in the compote.   I substituted a mixture of *gluten-free biscuits for the digestive and gingernut biscuits adding a little pinch of ginger powder along with the cinnamon which worked well. 

This dessert was extremely popular over Christmas with my guests and not a crumb was left – a sure sign it was well received. 

INGREDIENTS:

For the base
*85g digestive biscuits
*40g gingernut biscuits
50g melted butter
1.5 teaspoon coconut sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the filling:
675g full-fat cream cheese
170g caster sugar (or sub coconut sugar)
1.5 teaspoons cornflour
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
100g blackberries
90ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon

For the compote:
200g blackberries
200g sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Fresh blackberries and blueberries to finish.

METHOD:

Blitz the biscuits to a sandy consistency, stir in the sugar and cinnamon then add the melted butter. Mix well then pour into a lined 8” springform cake tin and press down evenly.

Bake for 9 minutes at 180°C and cool.  Leave the biscuit base in the tin but cover the side and base with tin foil.  Put to one side.

In a large bowl using an electric hand mixer (or use a food processor) beat together the cream cheese and sugar then add the cornflour and eggs and mix together until smooth.

Crush the blackberries in a small bowl and drain some of the juice from them. Add to the cream cheese mixture together with the cream, lemon zest and vanilla and mix really well together.

Pour onto the cooled base and bake at 220°C for 10 minutes then for one hour at 110°C. Turn the oven off, open the door and leave the cheesecake to cool for a further hour in the oven. Pop into the fridge for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight before decorating.

At this stage, the cheesecake can be successfully frozen for completing at a later stage. Wrap well and thaw thoroughly.

To make the compote (this can be made in advance and stored in the fridge).
Crush the blackberries slightly in a saucepan. Add the lemon juice and sugar and continually stirring, slowly bring to the boil. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes until the ‘jam’ reaches 220° on a sugar thermometer. Pour into a sterilized jar and leave to cool. Store in the fridge.

To assemble:
Remove the cheesecake/base from the tin and spread the top with the homemade blackberry compote, using the remaining compote as a jam for your toast or scones.

Pile high with fresh blackberries and blueberries.

Delicious fresh Blackberry Cheesecake

Adapted from a recipe originally seen in StyleofWight.

NB: All photographs used in the blog have been taken by me, and are of recipes I have made and served myself.

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Parmesan Coated Spinach and Smoked Salmon Roulade

This is one dish which benefits from being made at least a day (if not two) in advance.  Leaving it to ‘set’ in the fridge makes it hold its shape perfectly when sliced and also leaves the way clear to have more time with your guests or prepare other dishes.

I served this beautiful Roulade for lunch on Christmas Day as part of a smorgasbord of various cheeses, homemade jellies, olives, crackers etc. and believe me, it went down a treat.   It not only looked superb and stunning, but was quite easy to make.  I gently teased the baking parchment off the roulade with a sharp knife and most peeled away easily.

INGREDIENTS:

Roulade:
250g baby spinach leaves
5 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon baking powder
50g Parmesan, finely grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Filling:
200g full-fat cream cheese
50g full-fat crème fraiche
1 lemon, finely grated zest and juice
A good handful of freshly chopped Dill
240g smoked salmon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD:

Line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment.

Wilt the spinach in a dry fry pan and when cool enough to handle, press out as much juice as possible.

Pop the spinach into a food processor together with 4 egg yolks, baking powder and plenty of salt and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped and well mixed. Pour into a large mixing bowl.

Whisk 5 egg whites until stiff. Gently fold the egg whites into the spinach mixture then tip the mixture into the prepared baking tin and spread to fill the tin.

Bake 180°C/Gas 6 for 8 to 10 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, place a large piece of baking parchment on the work surface and sprinkle with the Parmesan.   Carefully turn out the roulade on to the Parmesan and leave to cool.

Prepare the filling by mixing the cream cheese, crème fraiche, zest and dill together until smooth and then add some ground black pepper and lemon juice, to taste.

Carefully peel the parchment from the egg roulade and gently spread the filling over using a butter knife. Top the filling with an even layer of smoked salmon.

Turn out onto the Parmesan

Using the parchment to help, roll up the roulade as tightly as possible making one long roll.   I chose to roll the roulade starting from the long end so that I could have plenty of smaller slices, but rolling from the short end will give you much larger slices but fewer.  Trim the ends and wrap firmly in the parchment. An added layer of either cling film or tin foil will keep the roll snug whilst it rests in the fridge.

Carefully unroll the paper when ready to serve and cut into even slices.

Serve with plenty of lemon slices

Plenty for everyone

This roulade is perfect as part of a smorgasbord but would also be lovely served with a fresh, crisp salad. Could be used as an appetiser, or as a light lunch. Perfect for any occasion.

NB: All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Red Cabbage (Slow Cooker)

Christmas isn’t Christmas in our house without a large bowlful of spicy red cabbage.  Delicious hot with most meats, or cold with the leftovers.

This recipe is perfect as it can be made well in advance and popped in the freezer just remembering to take it out the day before you need it, to allow it to defrost slowly.

This year I used my larger slow cooker and doubled the recipe so I would have plenty left over for using in the first few weeks of 2020.  The delicious aroma of this cabbage gently simmering away in the slow cooker filled the house with those lovely Christmassy scents.  My larger slow cooker needed to be on HIGH to reach simmering point and then I balanced it between HIGH and LOW for the cooking period.    This year I did use light brown soft sugar (I try to avoid using refined sugar as much as possible) but I have made similar recipes in previous years using coconut sugar.

INGREDIENTS:

1kg red cabbage
2 white onions, peeled and sliced
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
Zest of 1 orange
2 teaspoons ground mixed spice
100g light brown soft sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
200ml dry cider
25g butter

METHOD:

Turn your slow cooker on to LOW.

Peel away the outer leaves of the cabbage and discard. Quarter the cabbage and remove the thick core. Thinly slice the quarters.

Arrange a layer of the cabbage in the slow cooker, then top with some of the onions, apples, zest, mixed spice, sugar and seasonings. Continue layering up the ingredients until you have used them all up.

Season again and pour over the vinegar and cider and slice the butter onto the top.

Cover and cook for 4 – 5 hours until tender.   Give the cabbage a good stir half-way through cooking.

Simmer for 4 to 5 hours

This cabbage will keep in the fridge for a few days but up to 2 months in the freezer.

Reheat either in a pan or microwave.

Red cabbage as a side to Beef Wellington.

Original recipe found on the BBC Good Food Guide.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Smoky Trail Mix

Christmas is coming so I am always on the lookout for new recipes to try and this one caught my eye.   There is nothing nicer than nibbling on slightly spicy, smoky nuts and seeds which are homemade.

The ratio of nuts and seeds can be adjusted to suit your taste, as well as adding slightly more spices for a hotter mix.  I used local raw honey for my first batch and it was delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup cashew nuts (unsalted)
½ cup pecan nuts
½ cup pistachios
½ cup hazelnuts
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 level teaspoons smoked paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 teaspoons raw honey (or maple syrup)
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

METHOD:

Mix all of the nuts and seeds together EXCEPT the coconut flakes.

Melt the oil in a large saucepan and add the smoked paprika, garlic and onion powders, and salt.   Warm through and add the honey.

Take off the heat and stir in the nuts and seeds.

Mix well and spread in a single layer on large baking trays.

Ready for the oven

Bake at 350°F for approximately 7 to 8 minutes before stirring in the coconut flakes.

Bake for a further 7 to 8 minutes until lightly toasted.

Let the mixture cool completely before storing in airtight jars.

Keeps for up to a month but I doubt it will last that long once you have tasted it.

In a nice jar, this would make a delightful Christmas gift.

Delicious, smoky trail mix

This would make a lovely Christmas gift.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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African Sweet Potato Stew

Just the recipe I needed to find on a dreary, rainy Autumn day whilst my husband was out.   I lit the log-burner, had 60s music blasting out of my Echo and I was in heaven.

I had to adapt the recipe to cater for what was in my cupboard but the end result was absolutely delicious.  The original recipe called for fresh coriander which I didn’t have.  It also suggested using peanut butter.  As I had almond butter I sprinkled the finished stew with toasted almond flakes and the nutty crunch was perfect.

I increased the quantities slightly from the original so that we had plenty of stew and enough left over for lunch the following day.    I thought the taste would be quite mild but was pleasantly surprised how ‘warm’ the stew was.  Possibly I added slightly more cayenne!

INGREDIENTS:  to serve 4

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon+ mild curry paste (I used a Korma)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 ½ cups good quality stock (I used chicken stock)
2 x 14oz cans chopped tomatoes
2 cups+ button mushrooms
1 bag baby spinach leaves, chopped slightly
3 tablespoons almond butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Toasted flaked almonds

METHOD:

Gently saute onion, garlic, ginger and cayenne in the olive oil for 10 minutes.

Add the curry paste, stir well and cook for a further 1 minute.

Stir in the sweet potato and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the stock and tomatoes and bring to the boil.   Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are just tender.

Simmer for about 20 minutes

Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Stir in the spinach.

Mix the almond butter with a little of the hot liquid in a small bowl and then add back into the stew.   Stir well and season to taste.   

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with toasted almonds.

Ladle into bowls

Sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds.

I served my stew with a few slices of my homemade flaxseed focaccia. A perfect combination.

Recipe adapted from Hugh Jackman’s African Sweet Potato Stew.

Nb: All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Special Fruit and Nut Rice

I have been making this ‘special’ fruit and nut rice for years.  It has always been a firm favourite in my family and such a handy dish to have in the freezer as it is delicious with curry and most hot meals, as well as being a tempting side dish to have on the table to go with salads and cold meals etc.

I have no idea where the recipe came from as it was written on a scrap of paper from probably 40 odd years ago.  It is one of those recipes which changes slightly each time I make it, depending on which seeds, nuts and fruit I add.   I always make a large quantity and freeze it in portions, as it doesn’t seem to last long in our house.

I have guessed the weight of the nuts, seeds and fruit as I tend to take handfuls out of the large bags I keep and nearly always add more cashew nuts as they are my favourite.  I used to always spend ages chopping up my dates and apricots but now I buy the large 1k bags of ready-chopped fruit from Wholefoods and it is so much easier.

INGREDIENTS:

1k (uncooked weight) long grain rice, cooked and drained
1k (uncooked weight) long grain rice, cooked with 1 tablespoon+ turmeric added to water and drained
1k onions, peeled, chopped and sautéed in a little oil of choice
250g unsalted cashew nuts
250g almond flakes
250g pumpkin seeds
250g pine nuts
250g chopped ready-to-eat apricots
250g chopped ready-to-eat dates
250g pistachio nuts
250g sunflower seeds
250g sultanas
Optional: sesame seeds, linseeds

METHOD:

In a very large bowl, mix all ingredients together.

This rice is so versatile it goes with many dishes.

Pack into suitable containers – either one or two servings size, and freeze.

Serve hot or cold.  If serving hot, reheat thoroughly.

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Grilled Courgette Salad

This recipe came at just the right time as I was given a bag of delicious home-grown courgettes recently.

So easy to make and extremely tasty, this salad can be served on its own or as a side dish for another meal.   I chose to serve it with some roasted sweet potato ‘chips’ and it was the perfect summer evening meal.

INGREDIENTS: Serves 2 as a main course

2 or 3 courgettes (depending on size)
50g fresh or defrosted peas
50g pea shoots
50g toasted pine nuts
2 tsp oregano
1 teaspoon garlic granules
½ teaspoon paprika
1 lemon, juice and zest
1 teaspoon raw honey
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
Coarse Ground Black pepper and sea salt

METHOD:

Mix together the dressing – oregano, garlic, paprika, lemon, honey and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and set to one side.

Wash the courgettes and cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. Toss in 1 tablespoon olive oil.    Heat a griddle pan and cook a few ribbons at a time using tongs to turn over and get char marks.

Add the courgette ribbons to the peas and pine nuts and toss with the dressing.

When ready for serving, toss with the pea shoots and season with black pepper and sea salt to taste.

Delicious Grilled Courgette Salad

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and cooked myself.

Original recipe courtesy of Schwartz.

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