Tag Archives: quick

The Best Strawberry Cheesecake

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This is the cheesecake recipe I turn to when time is in short supply but I still want to make something delicious for the following day.  I started making this at 8 pm tonight,  less than an hour later,  it was ready to come out of the oven!

You can vary the recipe depending on what is in season (or which tinned fruit is languishing at the back of your cupboard).  I used rosewater as a flavouring but natural vanilla extract or lemon zest would be lovely too.

You will need :

8 digestive biscuits
50g melted butter
600g cream cheese (I use 300g full-fat and 300g light)
2tbsp plain flour
175g caster sugar
2 tbsp rosewater
2 eggs +1 yolk
142 ml sour cream
400g strawberries
1 tbsp icing sugar

Method :

Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/gas 4. Butter a 20 cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper.

In a food processor,  crush the biscuits into fine crumbs. Mix thoroughly with the melted butter and press into the base of the tin with your palm. Bake for 5 min.

Meanwhile, whisk the cream cheese, flour, sugar, rosewater, eggs, egg yolk and sour cream until well mixed and fluffy.

Wash half the strawberries,  hull and cut into quarters.

Pour the mixture delicately over the biscuit base, then scatter the strawberries over the top and push them down slightly. 

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Bake for 40 min until set but still wobbly in the middle.

Cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar, then carefully ease out of the tin when cool and transfer to a serving plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Keep 3 or 4 strawberries to one side, and wash, hull and quarter the rest. Put in a small pan with the icing sugar and cook on a low heat for a few min until soft. Blend to a smooth purée.

Before serving, thinly slice the remaining strawberries, and arrange on each plate with a slice of cheesecake and a drizzle of strawberry purée.

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Filed under Bakes, Cakes, Desserts

Saturday Night Pasta with Olives, Tomato and Chili

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Staying in this Saturday night? Lucky you: it is the perfect time to cook yourself some delicious, easy pasta, open a nice bottle of wine, and catch up on Ray Donovan or whatever else you are into at the moment. Don’t worry about the washing up, either: you only need 2 pans!

Have a lovely weekend!

You will need (for 2):

4 tbsp olive oil
2 anchovies in olive oil, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small red chili, finely chopped
2 tbsp capers in brine, drained
About 10-12 mixed green and black olives, halved
250 g cherry tomatoes
250 g wholewheat fusilli

salt, pepper

Method:

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a frying pan, heat up the olive oil over a medium heat, and add the anchovies and chili. Cook for 2 min, stirring, then add the garlic and cherry tomatoes. Cook for about 8 min, then add the olives and capers and leave to cook until the pasta is ready. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta and return to the pan, tip the sauce into the pan and combine. Serve with grated Parmesan, if you like.

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Filed under Mains, Pasta, Vegetables

Rhubarb and Orange Cake

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You will need:

500 g rhubarb
4 eggs
200 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest 1 orange (thinly sliced or grated)
160 g self-raising flour
30 g chopped almonds
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
30 g butter (for the tin)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220ºC /fan 200ºC /Gas 7.

Butter a 20 cm Ø  springform tin, then line the base with buttered greaseproof paper.

Trim and peel the rhubarb, then cut into 1 cm cubes.
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Find a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over one of your medium-sized saucepans.

Bring some water to simmering point in the pan. Break the eggs into the bowl and add the sugar and the vanilla. Place the bowl on top of the pan of simmering water, and beat with an electric whisk for a few minutes until light and foamy.
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Take off the heat.

Sift the flour over the mix in batches, mixing gently in between. Whisk to a smooth consistency, then stir through the orange zest.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, and tip the rhubarb over it. Press gently down on the rhubarb cubes to help them sink. Scatter the almonds over the top, then the golden caster sugar.

Bake for 30 to 35 min.

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Filed under Bakes, Cakes, Desserts

White Chocolate and Orange Cookies

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I have made several versions of these cookies over the past few months, changing the type of chocolate used, adding different types of nuts etc., and they always come out tasting great. Always.

So, what is the secret, you might ask? What guarantees perfect cookies every time? The answer is actually pretty simple, although some of you might not like it. The secret to an amazing cookie is an equal ratio of butter and sugar, and the two combined should weigh more than the flour. In other words, sugar and fat taste great. It is hardly breaking news, but it still remains true!

 

You will need (for 20 cookies):

125 g caster sugar

125 g brown sugar

250 g butter, softened

2 pinches bicarbonate of soda

2 eggs

400 g plain flour

200 g good quality white chocolate, chopped

zest 1 orange, thinly cut

Method:

Mix the butter and sugars thoroughly, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well inbetween each addition.

Add the flour and bicard gradually, mixing well, then fold in the chocolate and zest. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for 1h.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/fan 190ºC/ gas 6. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, roll each into a log, and cut each log into 5 roughly equal slices. Shape each slice into a little ball, and arrange these balls onto the prepared trays, squashing them a little as you go.

Bake for 9-10 min until lightly golden on the edges and still soft in the centre. Cool on a wire rack.

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Filed under Bakes, Biscuits, Breakfast, Cakes, Desserts

Butternut Squash, Feta and Spinach Roast

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With all this windy, cold weather, I was in the mood for some nice comfort food tonight; a tender beef stew maybe, or simply sausages and mash. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to go the the butcher’s at the weekend, so I am having to rely mostly on vegeterian options this week.

I am, and forever will be, a committed carnivore, but I really enjoy a meat-free option every once in a while. Having no meat in the house usually forces me to step out of my comfort zone a little bit, and find interesting ways to cook vegetables.

This is one of my favourite meat-free dishes; it is quick enough to prepare on a weeknight after work, and it features feta which I adore. It is easy to substitute some of the ingredients depending on what you have available (parsnips, sweet potatoes or turnips work very well here too).

If you don’t fancy pumpkin seeds, try some toasted flaked almonds or cashew nuts instead.

You will need (for 2):

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp thyme

A few pinches chili flakes

1 butternut squash

2 large carrots

1 large onion

3 garlic cloves

2 handfuls spinach leaves

200 g feta

3 tbsp pumpkin seeds

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220ºC/ fan 200ºC / gas 7.

Peel the butternut squash, cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and membrane with a teaspoon, discard. Cut the flesh into cubes (roughly 2 cm). Peel the carrots and cut into thick slices.

Peel the onion and cut into rough 1 cm cubes. Peel and crush the garlic.

In a roasting dish, mix the squash, carrot, olive oil, thyme and chili. Use your hands to mix thoroughly so the veg is well covered with the oil and flavourings. Bake for 20-30 min or until tender.

Meanwhile, wash and drain the spinach. Chop the feta.

When the vegetables are cooked, add the feta, spinach and pumpkin seeds to the dish, mix briefly, and return to the oven for 5 min.

Serve with some crusty bread.

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Filed under Mains, Vegetables, Vegetarian

“Sweet Chick” Chorizo Stew

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Every night, I race from work to nursery, where I pick up my Little Greedy Tadpole (19 months). Then I race home from nursery. Then I race around the kitchen trying to prepare dinner as fast as I can (no wonder I am exhausted…).

Dinner on a weeknight therefore needs to be quick, nutritious, grown-up enough for me and Mr Greedy Frog to enjoy, but also suitable for our little one. This recipe is a good example of something that works, and it features some of my go-to ingredients: sweet potatoes and chickpeas (hence the rather daft title).

I tend to rely heavily on tins of pulses; they are very quick to cook and can be used to bulk out pretty much any meal. I also try and have some sort of root vegetables in the house at all times, as they tend to keep rather well. Finally, I always have some onions and garlic, because a life without them is just not worth living!

The ingredients in this recipe can be modified at will, depending on what needs using up in your fridge or cupboard; potatoes, mushrooms, leeks, butter beans or any other vegetables or pulses could be added, it also tastes lovely with some feta added in at the last minute, and the stock can be replaced with a tin of chopped tomatoes and a bit of hot water. In fact, pretty much anything goes!

I make some sort of variation of this about once a week, and I don’t think I have ever made the same combination twice. I would love to hear from anyone trying this with different ingredients, as I am always looking for new ideas, so please pass on any suggestions!

You will need (for 3 portions):

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
100 g chorizo, diced (if feeding a toddler, make sure you don’t serve them any of the chorizo as it is a bit hard to chew for little teeth, although they will enjoy the taste it gives the stew)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
3 handfuls basmati rice
500 ml hot vegetable stock
1 x 400 g tin chickpeas, drained
2 bay leaves
Paprika
Salt, Pepper
Grated parmesan, to serve

Method:

Heat up the olive oil on a medium heat in a large, deep pan with a lid. Fry the onion and garlic for about a minute, then add the chorizo, sweet potato and rice. Stir well for a few seconds.

Add enough stock to just cover, sprinkle with a bit of paprika, salt and pepper, add the bay leaf and chickpeas, and cover with the lid. Leave to cook for about 10-12 min, stirring once or twice, until the rice and sweet potato are cooked through and tender. Check the seasoning, then serve and sprinkle with a bit of parmesan.

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Filed under Mains, Vegetables

The Art of Speed-Baking: Soda Bread

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I cannot do without bread. I don’t know whether it is due to being French, or just a matter of taste, but I have to eat bread several times a day. I know bread has been the victim of bad press recently, and I know lots of people who proudly announce that they have “cut out bread”, and proceed to tell you how much better/happier/thinner they feel, but for me, it just wouldn’t do. Tell me I have to cut out bread, and I will ask you for a length of rope and directions to the nearest rafter.

Since moving to Britain, I have been paying more attention to the bread I eat. I never really needed to before, as fresh, traditionally made bread is still the norm in France, and finding good bread is very, very easy. In Britain, things are different. Although there is a bit of a baking revival at the moment, and new bakeries are opening, selling proper, additive-free bread, sadly none are to be found near where I live.

The only shops selling bread around here are supermarkets, and frankly the offering there is not really exciting. The choice is mainly between pre-sliced industrial loaves, which remind me of the little squares of sponge we used to use at school to wipe the chalk off our slates; or the “nicer” bread, usually labelled with something along the lines of “artisan” or “tradition”. Although much better than the other option, this bread still doesn’t quite taste like the real thing, and is very expensive for what it is (I saw a sourdough loaf selling for £2.00 last week; this would bring our bread budget to £8/week!!).  

This led me, a few years ago, to start baking my own bread. I now bake twice a week, to provide enough for 3 people for breakfast, sandwiches to take to work, dipping in soup, etc. I used to knead by hand, but since receiving my KitchenAid a couple of years ago, I have been happy to delegate this task to the trusty mixer. It doesn’t take up much of my time, doesn’t cost a lot, I know exactly what is in my bread, and I can make any type of bread I want.

As easy as I am finding it though, sometimes life gets in the way of baking. One night last week for example, I realised at around 21:30 that we had no bread left for the following day; and it was rather late to start making proper bread, as I intended to go to bed at some point that night, rather than wait for the dough to prove. The answer? Soda bread of course! 40 min flat from when you start weighing out the ingredients, to when you pull a gorgeous, golden-crusted loaf out of the oven… this really is speed-baking!

Soda bread is delicious lightly toasted, with either butter and jam, or cheese. It is also perfect alongside a nice, hearty soup.

 

You will need (for 1 loaf):

170 g wholemeal flour
170 g self-raising plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300 ml buttermilk or full-fat milk

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200ºC/fan 180ºC/ Gas 6.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients, then add the buttermilk or milk and mix to a slightly sticky dough.

Line a baking tray with baking paper, sprinkle a bit of flour on it. Shape the dough into a round, place it on the tray and flatten the top slightly with your palm. With a knife, cut a cross on top of the loaf.

Bake for 25-30 min, or until nice and golden on top, and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

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Filed under Bakes, Bread, Breakfast