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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Retro Cherry Cheesecake

I wanted to make something homemade - but being only 3 weeks until our new baby is to be born, I don't want to slaving in the kitchen for hours - just don't have the energy.  This Nigella Lawson recipe is delicious and easy and impressive!  I decided to create it as mini-cheesecakes for serving purposes and took them to a Christmas party as my "dessert" contribution.  I will probably make another full size one for Christmas day and add some fresh cherries on top.

 Ingredients:
125g plain biscuits (Nice)
75g soft butter (or melted)
300g cream cheese (leave out for about 1 hour to soften)
60g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
250ml double cream
1 x jar St Dalfour Rhapsodie de Fruit Black Cherry Spread

Method:
Crush the biscuits to crumbs.
 Add them to a bowl with the soft butter and stir till all is combined and biscuits moist.
 Either press the mixture into a 20cm springform tin, pressing a little up the sides to form an edge or share evenly in muffin cups (makes about 18 mini cheesecakes)
 Use a teaspoon to press the mixture flat and firm in the muffin cups.
Pop in the fridge whilst you prepare the filling.
 You can do this by hand if you like, but I find it easier to just throw it all in the mixer if you have one.  Beat together the cheese, icing sugar, vanilla and lemon.  Lightly whip your double cream and fold it into the cheese mix.
 Gently spoon the cheesecake filling on top of the biscuit base/s and smooth.  Put in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight for a full size cheesecake or about 2 hours for mini cheesecakes.

 When you are ready to serve, unmould the cheesecake onto a nice plate or cake stand and spread the black cherry over the top.  Alternatively, I served the little cakes below each with a tiny spoon on a pretty platter.
The full size cheesecake will serve about 8 people, the mini cakes up to 18 (depending on how many you eat yourself - lol)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The choc chip recipe I put up the other day is good - great for the kids and super easy... but if you want an absolutely TO DIE FOR cookie that is good enough to pack and give as a gift - these are the cookies to make!  Courtesy of the famous David Lebovitz - Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies... make David's website one of your favourites - it is worth it!

Sorry for the lack of step by step photos - the fam has gone into the city and took the camera with them.

This recipe makes 2 dozen cookies:

You will need...

115 g (4 ounces) of regular salted butter (at room temperature)
110 g (2/3 cup) firmly packed brown sugar
100g (2/3 cup) white granulated sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
180g (1 1/3 cup) plain (all purpose) flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Maldon Salt or flaky sea salt
200g (1 1/3 cups) coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (I usually buy the 200g bars of Whitmans 70% cocoa)
1 cup toasted nuts coarsely chopped (macadamias are divine, as are pistachio's or California walnuts)

Step 1:

In the bowl of your mix-master (or by hand :(  )  Beat the butter and sugars until smooth and creamy

Step 2:

Beat in the egg and the vanilla

Step 3:

Add in the flour, salt and baking soda

Step 4:

Take off the mixer and by hand stir in the chopped chocolate (including any chocolate dust and crumbs) and the chopped nuts

Step 5:

Cover and chill the batter until firm (overnight is ideal... but hey, who can wait that long!  Plus, my kids would probably just eat it)

Step 6:

Preheat your oven to 180oC (350 F).  Line two baking sheets with baking paper or use silicone baking mats.

Step 7.

Form the cookie dough into rounds about the size of a large unshelled walnut.  Place the mounds evenly spaced apart on the sheets and press down the tops to flatten them so they are no longer domed and the dough is even.

Step 8.

Bake the cookies for ten minutes, rotating the baking sheet midway during baking, until the cookies look about set, but aren't browned yet.

Step 9.

Remove from the oven and quickly tap the top of each with a spatula, then return to the oven for two to five more minutes, until the tops of the cookies are light golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool

EAT

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Raspberry Almond Cake - Gluten Free

 This moist delicious cake has only four ingredients... well 5 if you count the icing sugar sprinkled on top. 

Step 1:  Collect your ingredients
2 1/2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
6 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
2 cups almond meal (ground almonds)

Step 2:  Create
Lol - you can tell I am an Aussie - check out the vegemite in the background! 
Preheat your oven to 160oC. 
Grease your can tin (a springform tin is the easiest for this cake).
Line base and sides with baking paper.
Place 2 cups of the raspberries in a bowl.   Using a fork, mash them.  Keep the other 1/2 a cup of nice ones for decorating later.
Using your electric mixer or with some hard work using a whisk - beat the eggs and sugar for about 8 minutes until it becomes thick and glossy like the picture above.
 Using a metal spoon, gently fold in the crushed raspberries and the almond meal.
Pour the mix into your prepared tin.  Bake for 60 minutes - your cake will be big and fluffy almost like a souffle.  Cool in tin for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Top with remaining raspberries and a sprinkle of icing sugar.

This cake is best cooked in a conventional oven  - fan forcing tends to over-brown it.

Orange Poppyseed Muffins - Gluten Free

These delicious moist muffins are also gluten free!  Or you can use regular flour if you don't have a gluten intolerance.

Step 1:  Collect your ingredients:
 2 eggs
1/2 cup caster sugar + an extra tablespoon
grated rind of one orange
juice of one orange
250g block of cream cheese softened (leave out of the fridge for 1 hour)
100g almond meal
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 cup gluten free plain flour
2 teapoons gluten free baking powder
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon orange marmalade

 Step 2: Mixing the ingredients.

Beat the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy (about 6 minutes in an electric mixer).  Fold through the orange rind, juice, half of the cream cheese, the almond meal and the poppy seeds.  Add the flour, baking powder and milk.

Step 3:  Baking

Spoon into paper lined muffin pan - makes one dozen.  Bake in a moderate oven (180oC) for 20 minutes or until golden and spring back when pressed lightly on the top.

Combine the remaining cheese with the marmalade and tablespoon of sugar and use as a spread on top - add a little piece of fresh orange to decorate, or marmalade if you like it.

Delicious.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Choc Chip Cookies

I don't like crunchy cookies - i like the American style soft chewy delicious sweetness - these choc chip cookies are so easy and so good.   Added bonus they are egg free!

You will need:

Ingredients:

1 cup choc chips
1/2 cup white sugar
1 can (400ml)  sweetened condensed milk
3 cups self raising flour (or 3 cups all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder)
150g butter melted

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180oC and line three baking trays with baking paper
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add more flour if required to make a good thick dough of "play doh" consistency.
Roll balls of dough and press on to baking trays.  Bake for about 10 mins... or until bases/sides just showing the tiniest bit of light brown colouring.  Remove from oven, cool and enjoy with a tall cold glass of milk - mmmmm

Makes about 3 dozen cookies (which lasts about 3 minutes in my house).

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Cranberry Almond Salad

This is simple and delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

1 punnet baby "a-roma-therapy" roma tomato - or small vine ripened tomato (sliced)
1 bunch rocket (washed)
1 packet baby spinach leaves (washed)
1 bunch watercress or 1 punnet snow pea sprouts (with stalks cut off)
Handful of shredded fresh basil
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup slivered almonds
1 tub baby bocconcini

Simply add all the greens to your serving platter or picnic container..
Toss all the other ingredients over the top
Enjoy

Lovely with a simple Balsamic vinegar dressing or a simple drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice.

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls

 These rice paper rolls are from a true authentic Vietnamese recipe.  The recipe is, I admit, not my own but from a Vietnamese lady I worked with.  So thank you Lien - they are AWESOME!

INGREDIENTS:
1 packet rice vermicelli
1 green mango (don't like mango?  you can substitute cucumber)
2 carrots
1/2 bunch fresh coriander
1/2 bunch fresh mint
1/2 bunch thai basil
lettuce
rice papers (available from the supermarket - asian section)
grilled lemongrass chicken (see recipe below or use a bbq chicken from the supermarket - or alternatively, small peeled prawns)

METHOD:
Place vermicelli in a dish and pour boiling water over.  Wait about 5 mins until the noodles are soft, then rinse them under cold water and drain well.
Slice mango into thin slivers.
Slice carrot into long thin slivers.
Chop herbs finely.
In a large bowl mix together the noodles, mango, carrot and herbs, toss well.
Shred/chop your chicken into thin strips.
Break lettuce into shreds.
Have everything out ready to go... your bowl of noodle salad, your chicken(prawns) and your lettuce.  Have a large flat bowl with hot water in it and your rice paper sheets ready to go.  Have a chopping board or a large plate ready for preparing the rolls.  All this stuff can be made in advance - but you should really make the rolls on the day you are going to eat them.
 Here my little assistant Miss 5, places a rice paper wrapper in the hot water and gently softens it.  She then places the rice paper circle on to the prep board.
 She adds the chicken / prawn pieces (usually a few more than this is better - lol)
 Add a handful of the noodle salad
 Add a few pieces of lettuce
 Fold up the bottom...(or as Miss 5 says, "pull up it's pants")
 Fold over the top... (pull down it's shirt)
 Tightly roll the contents into the rice paper.
Place in your serving tray / dish / picnic box with baking paper to help stop sticking together (good to sprinkle with a little water between the rolls so they don't stick together too badly).

LEMONGRASS CHICKEN RECIPE

This just boosts the rolls to a higher level of deliciousness - if you have the time - DEFINITELY worth it.

1kg breast or thigh fillets
4 cloves garlic
4 tbs finely diced lemongrass (you can buy it already diced in the freezer section of asian grocery stores)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbs sugar
1/4 cup oil

Throw everything in a bowl and marinade overnight - grill until brown.

AUTHENTIC HOISIN DIPPING SAUCE

1 bottle hoisin sauce - any brand is fine
1/2 cup of raw sticky rice (or cheat and use precooked rice from the supermarket)
2 tablespoons peanut butter (chunky is better)
1/2 garlic clove (or 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic from a jar)
2 cups of raw peanuts (or cheat and buy granulated peanuts from the baking section of supermarket)

Cook sticky rice up in pot with 1.5 cups of water.  Cook until porridge consistency (add more water as required).
In a blender or food processor add hoisin sauce, cooked rice, peanut butter, garlic and blend.  Or, mix well by hand.  If too thick, add small amounts of water to get a smooth consistency.
Roast raw peanuts in a dry pan over low heat.   Once brown, crush peanuts.
Add crushed peanuts to sauce upon serving.

These rolls are also delicious just by themselves, with soy sauce, or sweet chilli or hot sauce.