Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Coeliac friendly cheescake

I had a bit of a disaster on Sunday night whilst trying to make Nigella's Butterscotch Cake. She asks for large quantities of cream cheese and butterscotch to be mixed together to make the icing for the cake but when I did this I ended up with large quantities of cream cheese soup. I didn't want to throw out all this delicious stuff but couldn't use it to ice the cake either so I whisked into it 3 eggs and 3 egg yolks and a little vanilla essence to transform it into cheesecake. Helen, who works with me in the office, is a coeliac and I thought it would be great to make a coeliac friendly cheesecake so that she could have some. So my brainwave was to use a chocolate ricecrispy base made in the same way as for chocolate cripsy cakes and then pour the cream cheese custard on top. With fingers crossed I then baked it all in a bain marie (Nigella London Cheesecake style) for 60min. Luckily it all turned out well and tastes wonderful!!! (The sponges for the butterscotch cake have gone in the freezer for further cream cheese topping later)

Market goodies

It was Moseley farmer's market on Saturday and I popped down to see what seasonal delights I could find. And plenty there were - I wandered about before deciding on just a few items for tea. So I bought two of the lovely squashes above - the brilliant red one and a yellow one, some horse mushrooms and some cobnuts and damsons. The mushroom seller said that the mushrooms should taste vanilla-y but when I had them in a omlette last night they tasted just rather meaty - pleasant and a change from supermarket blandity. The cobnuts are wonderful - still fresh and crunchy once out of their husks and rather like hazelnuts but more fun! The damsons were used to make damson jelly with a little sugar and some Vegel to set it, extremely tasty and a good way to clean the palate after squash ristotto. So to the squashes, the yellow one, which I think is a pattypan, had very thick waxy skin that was a bugger to get off, was used to make a delicious risotto, and the red one, a red kuri I think, was roasted in wedges with the skin on for 30min. These wedges tasted just like potato wedges - yummy - and made a very scrumptious 'potato salad' with mayonaise for last nights tea.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Innocent hats

Over on the innocent website the knitting frenzy has started! They are requesting that we knit hats for their smoothies and drinks bottles and for every bottle sold with a hat between the end of November and Christmas in EAT and Sainsbury's, they will give 50p to Age Concern. So I have learnt to knit and here are my first two offerings. I wonder how many I can knock up?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pomp and Circumstance

After our trip to the Proms at the end of August I hatched a plan and invited Sarah and Juul over for dinner with J and me to celebrate the last night of the Proms. Sarah brought her Union flag along and there was much merriement and flag waving - but whatever happened to the well known tunes - I didn't find out. It seems that the BBC's scheduling cut off the end of the broadcast from the Albert Hall. A shame but it didn't detract from our evening. I had been perusing my cook books for something quintessentially english for dinner and what better than a really good bit of roast beef and yorkshire puds!! Waitrose did us proud with a beautiful piece of sirloin that just melted in the mouth. For starters I played around with Delia's recipe for feta and courgette cakes to make them a little less fatty and for pud a fabulous golden plum rataffia crumble (no photo of this one as we ate it all!!)

Courgette and feta cakes

3 courgettes
2 potatoes
200g feta cheese
200g cottage cheese
6 spring onions
2 red chillies
1 egg
handful of fresh mint leaves

plain yoghurt to serve

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Grate the courgettes and potatoes together and then finely chop the spring onions and chillies (removing the membranes and seeds if you don't like it reall hot, like me) and roughly chop the mint. Put everything in a bowl and add the egg and cheeses. Mix everything together with your hands until well mixed but the feta is still a little chunky. Then dollop tablespoons of the mixture on to baking trays and cook in the oven for 15min. Remove from the oven and turn over the little cakes. I actually let mine cool down at this point and then flipped them over and cooked them on the other side just before I was ready to serve them as a starter but you could cook them straight away too. Serve them with a little plain yoghurt for dipping.

Golden plum rattafia crumble

700g plums
75g dark brown sugar
55g plain flour
55g rattafia biscuits
55g butter
30g soft brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Cut the plums into bite sized chuncks removing the stones too. Then layer them in the bottom of a large baking dish. Sprinkle with the dark brown sugar. In a blender whizz the butter and flour together and then add the rattafia biscuits and whizz again until they are crumbs. Stir in the sugar. Use this mix to cover the plums. Then bake for 35min. Allow to cool and serve warm with vanilla ice cream, yoghurt, custard...... the choice is yours.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Have you found out about Perplex City yet? What fun - I am totally addicted and particularly liked card numvber 118 - Chemistry experiment, embracing both science and cooking!!! What more could a girl ask for......

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to get sent to Stresa on Lago Maggiore for a little buisness presentation and taking full advantage of the oppurtunity I have stayed on for the weekend in Milan. Imagine a hot autumn day surrounded by well dressed Italians and a sprinkling of tourists and you have pictured today. I got up early at the suggestion of my guide book (evil thing) and headed off to Navigli on the metro. A man got on a stop after me and sat directly opposite me and proceded to clear out his nose with his little finger! He got off after two stops and the lady next to me exploded into an italian rant - much gesticulating - so I just nodded and smiled. I had a superb walk through the relative cool of the morning along the canal (why can't ours be as clear as this one was?) but never found the saturday morning market that was supposed to be there. However I did find a clutch of gorgeous shops just opening and drifted along. I pottered into San Lorenzo and San Ambrogio to look at the 4th centurary mosaics, and inadvertantly saw a little of a wedding too. Happily I found a tiny bakery and bought extremely tasty tomato foccaccio for a light lunch. My business days had involved eating an awful lot so this was very welcome. I ate lunch in the shade of Castello Sforzesco before oggling the fishies in the Acqauiro. This was particulary impressive - the fish and the architecture. Then for another long wonder down the shopping streets to the Duomo, which is still/once more in scaffolding - I came several years ago and it was in such a state then. However the bits not enshrouded did look sparklingly clean so I think it must be worth it. Feeling rather hot by now I am headed back for a siesta, keeping a beady eye out for potential dinner spots. Last night I ended up in a fabuloud little trattorria run by Nico, a poet and a brilliant restaurant owner! His tiramisu, recommended by him, came with meringue on the top!
So after my siesta I went in search of dinner. I wandered down towards the centre again but found nothing - evrything had eluded me and when I pottered back to the area I was staying many of the restaurants were closed. Which is kind of funny for a Saturday night. So I went back to Nico's, who welcomed me and then seemed impressed that I was going to partake in a relatively Italian meal even if I had no-one to share it with, which seemed to be the major concern of the female staff. The antipasti were delicious and my hot sizzling lamg cuttlets were succulent, and the lemon sorbet was the best I have had! I wended my way back to my shoe box of a room very replete.
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