Wednesday, 21 September 2011

White chocolate & pistachio baked cheesecake with a ginger crust

This recipe from Orchards in the Oasis by Josceline Dimbleby is just a basic recipe for cheesecake.  
You can add any flavours to the cheese mix and use any biscuits you fancy for the base.
I chose white chocolate and pistachio after trying a similar flavour combination at Mrs Marengo's Vegetarian Cafe & Cake Shop, Soho.

150g ginger biscuits
50g butter, plus extra for greasing
225g curd cheese
2 tablespoons of whole milk
1 level tablespoon of cornflour
75g golden caster sugar
1/2 level teaspoon of salt
2 large free-range eggs, separated
icing sugar for dusting (optional)

110g shelled pistachios, finely chopped
100g white chocolate, melted
50g white chocolate chunks

Butter a loose-based 22-23cm round cake tin.  Crush the biscuits in a food processor and turn into a large bowl.  Melt the butter, pour onto the biscuits and stir to combine.  Press evenly over the bottom of the cake tin and chill.

Heat the oven to 170oC.  Put the cheeses into a food processor with the milk, cornflour, caster sugar, salt egg yolks and melted white chocolate if using. Whiz thoroughly and turn into a bowl.  In a clean bowl, whisk the eggs whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks and gently fold into the cheese mixture along with the white chocolate chunks, using a metal spoon.  

Pour the mixture into the chilled base.  Bake in the centre of the oven for 50-60 minutes or until it feels only just set to a soft touch in the centre.  
Leave to cool completely.

Sift with icing sugar or dab on some gold leaf for extra decadence!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Som Tum - Green papaya salad

I ate this almost everyday in Thailand & picked up the recipe from a cookery school in Chiang Mai.  
It's definitely the best salad your likely to come across.  
The key to this dish is to use lots of chili, your nose should be running & yours eye's watering!!
If you can't find green papaya you can use cucumber or unripe mango.

100g Grated papaya
1 chopped tomato
5 green beans, chopped into 1 inch pieces
A handle of roasted peanuts
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 birds-eye chili

Put the chili and peanuts into a pestle and mortar and pound together.
Add the palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice and pound until the sugar has nearly dissolved.
Add papaya and tomatoes and mix well.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Best Banana Cake with Vanilla butter icing

This is the BEST banana cake you will ever eat. Fact.
The recipe is actually called banana bread, but after I added the icing I think it should be called a cake!  It is taken from Sophie Dahl's Voluptious Delights.

75g soft butter
4 ripe bananas, mashed up
200g soft brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 pinch of salt
170g plain flour

Preheat the oven tp 180oc. Grease and line your tin.

Pour the mashed bananas into a big mixing bowl.  Mix in the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract.  Add the bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix the flour last.  Pour into the prepared tin.  Bake for 1 hour, remove and cool.

vanilla butter icing
230g butter, softened
113g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk

Beat the butter with an electric mix until pale and fluffy, add the icing sugar vanilla and milk and beat until smooth (about 5 minutes). Spread over the cooled cake.

Red Leicester & poppyseed shortbreads

These delicious biscuits will give you heart-attack with every bite, but they're worth it!
I used an artisan red leicester cheese - the lovely people at Neil's Yard Dairy hooked me up with a nice big chunk! 
The recipe is from Dan Lepard's How to Bake series for The Guardian.

175g plain flour
½ tsp salt
A few good twists of freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
125g unsalted butter, softened
150g red Leicester, grated
Lightly beaten egg white
Poppy seeds
Put the flour, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter. Add the cheese and work the mixture to a smooth dough. Roll the dough into a cylinder about 30cm long, wrap it in nonstick baking paper and freeze for half an hour.
Remove the dough from the freezer, peel off the wrapper and stand the stick of dough on its end. Brush the outside all over with egg white, then roll in a scant layer of seeds, so they stick firmly to the outside. Wrap and chill the dough until needed.
To cook, heat the oven to 180C (160C fan-assisted)/350F/gas mark 4. Slice the dough into 0.75cm rounds, lay on a tray lined with nonstick paper and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Yellow thai prawn & pineapple curry

Another recipe from Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey.  I know making curry pastes from scratch might sound time consuming, but it's so worth it!  Make a big batch of it and keep in the freezer, you can then whip up a curry in minutes if needs be.

Serves 4

450g large raw prawns
4 heaped tablespoons of thai yellow curry paste
150g of pineapple chunks
150ml coconut milk
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
2-3 tbsp tamarind water
1 green bird's eye chili, thinly slices, to garish

Peel the prawns, reserving the heads and shells.  Put the shells into a pan with 450ml water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to the boil, skimming off the scum as it rises to the surface.  Leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
Strain 300ml of the prawn stock into a clean pan add the curry paste and simmer for 1 minute.  Add the pineapple and the prawns and simmer for another minute or two until the prawns have turned pink and are just cooked.  Add the coconut milk, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and tamarind water.
Spoon the curry into a serving bowl, sprinkle with the sliced green chili and serve with rice or rice noodles. 

Thai yellow curry paste

3 dried red kashmiri chillies 
1 red bird's eye chili, roughly chopped
3 fat lemongrass stalks, core chopped
25g fresh galangal or ginger, roughly chopped
2tsp turmeric powder
50g onions or shallots, roughly chopped
30g garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tsp shrimp paste

Cover the dried chillies in hot water and leave to soak for 30 minutes.  Then drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the liquid.  Put the chillies and reserved liquid into a mini food processor with the remaining ingredients and grind everything to a smooth paste.

Chocolate Oreo Ice-Cream

I've been making alot of ice-cream recently ... unfortunately it has been so tasty I've eaten it before I've managed to photograph it.  
This is a basic custard based ice-cream, you don't have to add chocolate & you can add any biscuits, dried fruits or nuts to the mixture you fancy.

Makes about 1 pint

2 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
250ml milk
150ml double cream
100g plain chocolate
1 packet of Oreo cookie biscuits

Pour the milk into a saucepan and slowly heat until boiling point.  In a bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale, add the hot milk whilst still beating.  Return the mixture to the pan and stir the mixture constantly until the mixture forms a film over the back of a wooden spoon.  Do not let it boil or it will separate.  Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stir until melted and the mixture is smooth.  Add the cream and leave to cool.
Once the mixture is cooled pour into the ice-cream maker and add the broken biscuits.  

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Spaghetti with grilled courgettes, peppers & tomatoes

I have been asked to collect some seasonal recipes for work - this was one recipe that I came across. 
I must admit I am not a huge pasta fan, however, this recipe was considerably delicious! It takes about 20 minutes to conjure up, so it's ideal when your in a rush.  It is also an excuse to chuck any veg that you might have hanging around in the back of the fridge.

Serves 4
4 red peppers
2 courgettes
1 handful of cherry tomatoes
Glug of olive oil
Spaghetti (about as much as you can fit in the ring between your thumb and index finger for each person)
2 garlic cloves (peeled)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small chilli if you like it spicy

Put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil. Meanwhile, chop the courgettes, peppers, tomatoes and chilli if using into generous chunks and spread out onto a greased baking tray. Add the garlic cloves. Slam under the grill on a medium heat.

When the water is at a rolling boil, chuck the spaghetti in and be sure to stir it a couple of times so that the strands don't stick to each other. Turn the veg chunks, making sure that they are soft and slightly caramelised.

Drain the spaghetti and put back in the pan. Glug some olive oil onto the veg and then tip the whole thing into the spaghetti. Mix, cover and leave to sit for about 30 seconds. Serve on warm plates with ciabatta slices and a good grind of salt and pepper.