Recipe: My Famous Lime Cheesecake

I’m putting myself out there here: This is the best cheesecake ever. Big-headed? Me? Don’t be silly!

No really, this has a buttery biscuit base and is topped with the most creamy mixture bursting with sweet and zesty citrus flavour. It’s my mum’s favourite and I think mine too. Plus, it’s so quick and easy to make, the hardest part is resisting it whilst it chills in the fridge overnight.

Serves 8. Or at least it should, but never goes that far in my house.

What you need:

  • 200g digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 350g full fat cream cheese at room temperature
  • 115g caster sugar
  • zest and juice of half a lemon
  • zest and juice of 3 limes
  • 175ml double cream

What you do:

  1. Mix together the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and spices until you have what resembles wet sand, then push it into the bottom of a springform tin. Leave this in the fridge to chill whilst you make the filling.
  2. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together along with the zest and juice from the citrus fruits until the mixture is smooth and creamy. This won’t happen if your cream cheese is too cold so plan ahead!
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the double cream until it reaches a soft peak consistency then add this to the cream cheese mixture and fold in thoroughly.
  4. Pour and scrape this mixture on top of your biscuit base and flatten and smooth it with a spatula or pallet knife then chill in the fridge, ideally overnight or at least for a few hours. When ready, devour with glee.

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July Roundup

July. The month that felt like the early 2000s with everyone talking about Pokemon and Blink 182. Not me though. I’ve been harping on about Celebrity Masterchef, the lack of decent strawberries in the supermarkets and how summer just doesn’t feel like summer when you don’t have a 6 week holiday.

Oh the good old days of school when life’s biggest worries were getting a ladder in your tights or not having a boyfriend like all the cool kids. I thought my teenage years were such a struggle. I knew nothing. I used to come home every day to my bed made, a home made dinner on the table and my washing done and ironed for me. Now, I come home to a messy house at whatever time the traffic allows and have to engage the brain enough not to mix my dinner up with the cat’s. I tried a cat treat once. It was a terrible, terrible mistake.

I’ve made some damn good food in July, though I do say so myself. I’ve recapped all of this month’s posts below in case you missed any or want to have a re-read.

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Recipe: King Prawn Linguine / Recipe: Steak’n’Stuff / Recipe: American Pancakes with Bacon / What I Ate In A Day #11 / Recipe: Masterchef Style Smoked Haddock / Top 5 Must Have Cook Books For Eating Well / Recipe: Peanut Butter Brownies / Recipe Review: Gordon Ramsay’s Bread and Butter Pudding / Recipe: Chicken Tikka Salad / How to be a Better Cook in 5 Easy Steps

See you in August!

Recipe Review: Gordon Ramsay’s Bread and Butter Pudding

I haven’t stopped going on about this since I made it. And ate the whole thing. Yes, just me, a spoon and a smile permanently fixed on my face as I devoured the whole scrummy lot along with some cold double cream. Even then it wasn’t enough. It still isn’t enough and I’m waiting for my next opportunity to make another batch.

Gordon’s recipe uses sliced pain au chocolat but I don’t like chocolate with dried fruit and I just wanted to be hit with cinnamon, sugar and creaminess without nuggets of chocolate getting in my way. Never though I’d say that! Nigella has an amazing recipe for chocolate chip bread pudding that I will go to for when I want such a thing.

I’ve adapted Gordon’s recipe quite a bit so what follows is my version. You can find his original in his Ultimate Cookery Course book.

Serves 4 generously (or 1, if you’re me)

What you need:

  • 12 thin slices of brioche bread
  • 50g soft butter
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 2 small handfuls of sultanas
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 60ml double cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

What you do:

  1. Cut your brioche slices into half diagonally to make triangles and generously butter one side of each triangle. Pile the bread into a bowl and leave to one side.
  2. Grease a pie dish (big enough to hold all the bread tightly) and sprinkle over one tablespoon of the demerara sugar and one tablespoon of the ground cinnamon.
  3. Next, make the custard by whisking together the milk, cream, eggs, vanilla, one tablespoon of the sugar and a little more cinnamon. Now pour half of this into the bowl where your bread is sitting and allow it to sit for a minute or two.
  4. To compile your pudding, lay slices of the bread with their pointy corners sticking up out of the dish and sprinkle in some sultanas as you go, pushing the bread together. When all the bread is used up, pour on the rest of the custard mixture, making sure it gets into all the crevices. Sprinkle over the remaining cinnamon and last two tablespoons of demerara sugar then bake in an oven set to 180°c for 35-40 minutes until set and golden. Leave to rest for a little while before eating unless you have a fire resistant mouth.

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Bread and Butter pudding should have a crunchy sugary top and be rich, creamy and luxurious beneath with lots of flavour from the spice and fruit. This delivers in every possible way. It may not be the prettiest pudding in the world but some of the ugliest things can be delicious. Just writing this up makes me want to get into the kitchen and get me some bread and butter pudding on the go. Enjoy!

Recipe: Peanut Butter Brownies

Brownies are one of my most favourite things to eat and are also one of the easiest things to make. If you’re a kitchen novice or don’t have a successful track record in the baking department, give these a go. They are squishy, gooey and super chocolatey. You can either serve them warm by way of a dessert or have them at room temperature with a nice cup of tea as an afternoon pick me up.

I can’t take full credit for the recipe as actually I’ve only adapted one that I’ve been using for years. The basis of my recipe comes from Lorraine Pascal’s Cookie and Cream Fudge Brownie recipe in the Baking Made Easy cookbook. These are brownies with crushed Oreo biscuits baked in to them and are a revelation. I’ve made them so many times and they’re always successful but I wanted to try something different so I’ve adapted the recipe to remove the biscuits and replace them with spoonfuls of peanut butter.

Makes 16

What you need:

  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 200g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 170g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter

What you do:

  1. Line a 20cm square baking tin with foil and pre-heat the oven to 180°c.
  2. Melt the butter in a large pan on a low heat. Once it has melted, add the chopped chocolate, stir to combine then remove from the heat and leave to sit to allow the chocolate to melt completely.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the 3 whole eggs with the 2 yolks and the vanilla until light and fluffy. Once you reach the right stage of fluffiness, add the sugar half at a time, whisking well between additions. Keep whisking until the mixture stiffens.
  4. Now, add the melted chocolate and butter mixture and stir well.
  5. Spoon in the flour and cocoa powder and fold the mixture until everything is evenly combined. Pour this into your prepared tin.
  6. Take small dollops of peanut butter and place them evenly on top of the brownie mixture, then use a flat knife to swirl the dollops into the chocolate batter. Bake for around 25-30 minutes.
  7. Once the brownies are cooked but still gooey in the centre, remove them from the oven and leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack. Cut into squares when cool and give them to your friends or eat them all yourself, I’m not bothered.

You can serve them up all fancy shmancy style on a plate that’s far too big with some raspberries, icing sugar and double cream if you like. Or you can just eat them.

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What I Ate In A Day #11

Otherwise known as what I ate in a day whilst feeling sorry for myself because I have a cold. It really is only a cold, a cough here, a sneeze there, one of those annoying little niggles of an illness where you’re not too sick to be off work but really want to do nothing more than watch trashy tv and eat cake. No room for self pity here though, I had a full day at work followed by a two course dinner when I got home all made from scratch. One could argue that I’m mad, but I’ve had this most evil craving for bread and butter pudding and it simply had to be fulfilled so that was had for pudding.

Anyway, I should probably start with breakfast. I’m almost bored of saying it now such is the regularity of it, but I started my day with granola, yogurt, coconut flakes and fresh fruit. I then had a banana shortly after.

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Lunch was one of my favourites. There’s a sandwich place near me called Francombs who do really lovely pasta salads made to order. This is my take on their New Yorker boxed salad. It contains a base of pasta and Romaine lettuce then has pastrami, stilton, cucumber, gherkins, jalapeños, crushed tortilla chips and a dressing made with extra virgin olive oil, wholegrain mustard, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and salt. It involves a bit of prep work but I make enough for a few days, leave the prepared ingredients sitting in individual boxes in the fridge then toss them together with the dressing the night before and take the tortilla chips separately to add just before eating. It’s really good.

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I had a homemade peanut butter brownie with my lunch. Recipe coming soon!

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To tide me over until dinner I snacked on a satsuma and a fake Penguin biscuit from Sainsbury’s. These are hilariously called Polar bars but don’t have the terrible jokes you find on a proper Penguin. Sort it out Sainsbury’s! I did eat a nectarine too but I forgot to take a picture.

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Dinner was one of my favourite things to eat at the moment, my king prawn linguine. The recipe can be found here. The two slices of garlic bread on the side were there for aesthetic value. I actually ate 4 slices. I get really hungry when I’m ill.

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And now, what I’ve been waiting for all day. Nay, all week. Bread and Butter Pudding with double cream. *insert excited squealing here*

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I’ll tease you with this for now and treat you to the recipe soon! One thing’s for sure, I’m totally having some of this for breakfast tomorrow.

Recipe: Salted Caramel Pineapple Wedges

Sometimes recipes come about as a result of careful planning and consideration. Sometimes they happen almost by accident as you play around with ingredients in the kitchen until something magical happens. Sometimes you see a pineapple on offer in the local shop and hear angels singing to you, pushing you to buy it and create something delicious. That’s what happened here. A pineapple epiphany in the middle of the Co-Op.

Serves 4

What you need:

  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • A shot or two (or five) of Malibu or other booze of your liking
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of shop bought salted caramel sauce, or caramel sauce with a pinch of salt added
  • Ice cream, to serve

What you do:

  1. Take your pineapple wedges and roll them in the brown sugar to provide a light coating which will help with the caramelisation of the fruit.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a pan and cook the pineapple wedges for a couple of minutes on each side until they start to brown and are warmed through. Pour your booze into the pan and allow it to bubble up and reduce for a couple of minutes.
  3. When the alcohol smell has disappeared add in your salted caramel sauce and coat the pineapples well. Once the fruit is glossy and the sauce is warm, plate up along with some vanilla ice cream and maybe a pinch of salt then tuck in.

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I’m slightly embarrassed to call this a recipe as I used a ready made sauce but it was so good that I had to share it. Plus, who doesn’t need a recipe for a quick and easy dessert to turn to in times of greed?

 

 

My Thoughts on Valentine’s Day

In exactly 7 days your Facebook feed will be bursting with posts from friends gushing about how they love their partner to the moon and back (what sort of stupid saying is that?) and how they don’t declare their love for them often enough so today they want the whole world to know. By whole world, they mean their 278 friends. These are the same people who were moaning about their boyfriend/girlfriend/friend-with-benefits/whatever-they-have-labelled-it just last week.

Instagram becomes an Interflora catalogue, beautifully shot pictures of huge bouquets filling your feed making you feel a bit deflated, then feeling better when you see your mate Jenny only got some from the petrol station and you realise that no flowers at all are better than those wilted specimens. There’s the occasional ‘the boy done good’ caption on a Michael Kors handbag or a Pandora charm bracelet, a few proposals, and usually one post that makes you think ‘what the heck has he done wrong to get you such an extravagant gift?’ Valentine’s Day is stupid. Its commercialism at its finest, a ridiculous excuse to spend money and make others feel bad when they don’t.

OK, so now I sound like a bitter old spinster. I’m not. And there was a time when I was doing the whole ‘I love my boyfriend so much it hurts’ social media posts. My whole body literally convulses when I see such things on my Timehop. It’s not that I don’t still feel the same way, but after 8 years together and living in the same house, I think we are both in agreement that we at least kind of like each other and don’t need a certain day of the year to show it. That’s not to say if he bought me flowers I would throw them back in his face, hell no, I would take those flowers straight to my Instagram feed.

So is Valentine’s Day all bad? No. Like all made up celebrations, it involves food. Therefore, I still quite like it. I absolutely refuse to go out for dinner on Valentine’s Day itself. I can only imagine the awkwardness of couples trying to be nice to each other or having to speak about something other than Eastenders. Or even worse, public displays of affection. That’s enough to put me off my creme brûlée for life. We do usually go out to eat though, normally the week after when everyone else is back to silently plotting to kill each other. I don’t know why we do it, but it’s become a sort of tradition now. Even though we don’t exchange cards or gifts, it’s nice to partake in something by way of a celebration. Though I do admit, if the celebration didn’t centre around food, neither of us would even pretend to be interested.

If you do want to be a melt and are stuck for ideas on how to treat that special person in your life, then carry on reading. These salted caramel and chocolate love pots are an absolute triumph. Yes, they are ridiculously sweet and rich, but isn’t that what love is all about?

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Love Pots

Serves 2 very greedy lovers / 4 normal, civilised people / 1 incredibly depressed singleton spending the night in their pjs watching Bridget Jones in a bid to feel better about themselves

What you need:

  • 75g butter
  • 75g soft light brown sugar
  • 1/2 a 397g tin of condensed milk
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 150ml double cream
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup

What you do:

  1. First you need to make the caramel layer. Melt the butter and sugar together in a pan over a gentle heat and once combined add the condensed milk. Turn up the heat and stir whilst the mixture bubbles ferociously. Do this for a minute or two until the caramel has thickened and turned a shade darker. Now add the salt. The best thing to do is add a little, taste and add more if you need to. Please don’t go sticking your finger into the caramel to taste it unless you want to end up in A&E. Put some on a spoon, let it cool for a minute then taste it. You want the salt to intensify the flavour of the caramel and to leave a little tingle on the sides of your tongue. Once satisfied, pour the caramel into some little pots and leave in the fridge to set for at least an hour. I used these vom-inducing heart shaped pots.
  2. Once the caramel is set, you can make the chocolate layer. Quite simply put the cream, chocolate and golden syrup into a pan and melt together over a gentle heat until all is smooth and combined. Leave it to cool and thicken a little before pouring over the caramel layer and popping them back into the fridge to fully set, which will be an hour or two minimum.
  3. To serve, remove them from the fridge half an hour before eating so that they soften slightly and sprinkle with a little more sea salt. I used pink salt as it looks so fittingly romantic.

Enjoy whilst looking longingly into your lover’s eyes and getting chocolate all over your face. Warning: This could lead to babies.

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Washing Up Score: Oh who cares, it can wait ’til the morning.