Raspberry & Lime Cheesecake

raspberry and lime no-bake cheesecake

Why you may ask am I writing such a summery recipe when there is a good few inches of snow causing chaos on the roads outside. Welcome to the life of someone who writes & talks about food for a living. I often appear on local radio doing cookery demos and talk about national food issues. I’ve cooked in the BBC Radio Derby kitchen before so know it has to be quick & easy to put together with minimal equipment and not having to touch the ancient hob they have there. Think Blue Peter without the TV cameras, I even have one I’ve prepared earlier.

This morning I should have returned to the BBC Radio Derby studios to make unbaked cheesecake live on air and talk about the nation’s love of cookbooks but the rather inclement weather put a temporary hold on this. The day started at 6am shifting snow on the drive with my husband and neighbour, then having to push husband up the private road we live down followed by the only accessible road across the Trent to Derby closing due to the fact it had turned in to one giant ice rink.

Tomorrow I’m teaching a class of Primary pupils how to make bread & butter pudding. If Tuesday is declared a snow day I’ll be selling my buttery wares to passing drivers because frankly there is only so much bread & butter pudding two people can eat.

One advantage of this wintry weather is that is produces fantastic light for photography in the house. It’s only taken me 6 years to realise this. It casts the perfect bright white light without harsh shadows. Yesterday I had a big photography session taking pictures of any food I could get my hands on in an effort to build up an ingredient image bank.

The demo cheesecake was made in a 400ml foil container. The type fried rice usually comes in from the Chinese. Hence why you have photos of the ingredients (ignore the lemon) rather than the finished product because I like to think I have a bit of class. I usually have a stock of these foil containers to hand, you can pick them up in poundshops and the like. They are good for portioning up food and have the advantage of being able to be put in the oven for heating through if needs be.

As this is a very basic cheesecake it is quite soft so may not turn out of a tin too well. This is even more of the case if you use lower fat cream cheese. Either way it is sure to help any cheesecake craving. I have to admit imported raspberries taste particularly tart at this time of year, nothing like the beautiful British sweet beauties we get late summer. This recipe is great for these out of season raspberries as it mellows the tartness but still letting the raspberry taste shine though. You could also use frozen raspberries.

So the lovely Sally Pepper at BBC Derby will have to wait another week for the cheesecake I’d promised her.

Raspberry & Lime Cheesecake
Serves 4

4 digestive biscuits

40g butter,melted

300g cream cheese

80g icing sugar, sifted

Juice of 1 lime

60g raspberries, mashed

1) Crush the biscuits until you have no big lumps. I usually do this in the blender.

2) In a bowl pour the melted butter over the crushed digestive biscuits and stir until the biscuits are completely coated with the butter.

3) Pour the buttery biscuit base (sorry couldn’t help myself) into the bottom of a 400ml container. Using the back of a spoon press the biscuits down until you have a even base. Put in the fridge and allow to set for 1 hour.

4) In a large bowl beat the cream cheese until it has softened then stir in the sifted icing sugar and lime juice until well combined.

5) Mash the raspberries then fold in to the cream cheese mix. Don’t mix completely, you want the mixture to have swirls in it.

6) Pour the mixture on top of the set biscuit base and return to the fridge to chill for a further 3 hours and allow it to set.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2013/01/21/raspberry-lime-cheesecake/

Store cupboard staples

storecupboard

Life has been crazy here since Christmas in both a work and personal sense, hence lack of blog updates. There are big, exciting changes afoot and it means our cupboards are beginning to run low. All intentional you’ll understand. It’s made me realise what I class as staples in the cupboard and wonder where on earth that tin on chickpeas came from. I can’t stand the things.

sweet storecupboard

As the snow settles thick outside what you have in your cupboards seems even more important, especially if you can’t make it to the shops. We will however try to avoid the end-of-term concoction of pasta with baked beans we may have eaten once or twice at university.

Heinz baked beans

Ok, I have a weakness for these haricot beauties. There always has to be a tin in the cupboard, oh and they have to be Heinz. Don’t try to pass off any other brand, I can tell and I think they don’t taste the same. Hot buttered toast or a Full English isn’t the same without a spoonful of beans. Did you realise that they also class as one of your 5-a-day? Yes they do contain sugar and salt, but I think the fibre content makes up for it.

Custard powder

Bird’s custard powder was invented by Mr Bird so his wife, who was allergic to eggs, could eat custard. Come on, can you imagine apple crumble without custard? It’s not worth thinking about. Custard powder is essentially yellow vanilla flavoured cornflour (with a couple of other minor ingredients). You don’t have to just make custard with this powder. Replace 1-2 tbsp of flour in cakes with custard powder to give a lovely taste and extra fluffiness to the sponge.

Pasta

We always have spaghetti and basics pasta in, but at the moment we also have orzo, macaroni and a giant couscous. Yes couscous is classed as a pasta. All types essential in my book for making a quick dinner, salad or bulking out soup.

Vanilla paste & extract

Unsurprisingly given my job I’m never short of vanilla in the house. I rarely buy the pods any more, though you may spot one in the photo, as they work out quite expensive and prefer to buy the vanilla paste. If you haven’t tried the paste I wholeheartedly recommend you do. It gives wonderful flavour to proper custard and biscuits. But don’t stop at sweet dishes, it also works well in marinades for meat.

Sugar – lots of

Granulated, caster, icing, muscovado, soft light, Demerara, you name it I can probably find a bag of it somewhere. Some sugars are interchangeable but some can make a significant difference to the taste and texture of a recipe. If you’ve run out of caster sugar for a recipe briefly blitz some granulated sugar in a blender.

Worcestershire sauce

This pungent sauce has the ability to turn a run-of-the-mill dish in to something far better. Hubs insists on sprinkling it on cheese on toast and I add it to most meat sauces. Forget umami paste, just use this sauce.

Passata

I used to be a huge fan of chopped tomatoes, until I realised passata gives better taste and texture to dishes. It makes a wonderful pizza sauce, but also makes a fabulous quick tomato soup. Only in the last year have supermarkets begun to sell their own brand passata and it is now as cheap (if not cheaper) than decent tinned tomatoes.

In reality I could go of for ever with all the ingredients I think a kitchen cupboard shouldn’t be without.

What do you see as store cupboard staples?

Disclaimer: The lighting in my kitchen makes it nigh on impossible to take good photos of the contents of my kitchen cupboards. Normal blogging and photography will resume soon.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2013/01/19/store-cupboard-staples/

Merry Christmas one and all

Christmas 2012 collage

The presents have finally been wrapped, we’ve battled the queues in the shops and the cupboards are full to bursting with the finest festive grub so it leaves us just to say one little thing:

Have the most wonderful Christmas and a fabulous 2013

(because we certainly will)

We will be back in the new year with a bigger kitchen and, if Hubs gets his way, a pizza oven for the garden.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2012/12/24/merry-christmas-one-and-all/

Writing for SheKnows

sheknows collage

If you’ve wondered why I’ve tweeted about being in the kitchen in the early hours of the morning, trying to grab the small amount of daylight we have at the moment while eating freshly cooked roast potatoes this is it. I now write articles for the UK arm of SheKnows.

Don’t worry. It doesn’t mean I’m abandoning the blog, far from it, it just means I now have a new space to write about topics that don’t always fit in with this blog. I’ve written there since October so there are now a bank of articles about food, travel and lifestyle ready for you to read, many of them with a Christmas slant.  Some of the most popular articles so far:

Please pop on by, have a read and leave comments. Also keep an eye on my author page to see more articles appearing on a weekly basis.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2012/12/21/writing-for-sheknows/

Mini Striped Meringue Kisses

mini festive meringue kisses

I have something to confess, only recently did I finally master meringues. Yes I’d made them before, but never had I made them exactly how I wanted. Sometimes the egg whites wouldn’t whip to soft peaks even though I followed every rule in the book. This frustrated me even more when Hubs made a cracking batch of macarons on his second attempt.

I can be a bit frugal with food and most of my attempts to make meringues have used just one egg white. Now I know this is a bad idea. When using an electric mixer, like my KitchenAid, due to the small amount of egg white it’ll go from unbeaten to soft peaks to over beaten in a matter of seconds. So learn from my mistakes always start with a minimum of two egg whites.

There are two school of thoughts when it comes to meringues. Dry meringues or chewy meringues. I think they both have their place but when the meringues are to be eaten on their own a chewy meringue will always win. The key to chewy meringues is the addition of cornflour. Only a small amount is needed, but this is enough to give the kisses a chewy centre.

stripy meringues

To make stripy meringues is easy. By using a cocktail stick draw lines on the inside of a piping bag with food dye gel. This is easier if you put the piping bag in a pint glass to keep the bag open. You can see two different batches on this post. One red and white and the second batch with a rather festive red, white and green.

I’ve recently discovered the foil backed parchment which is fabulous stuff… until you try and bake meringues with it. The paper acts like a bimetallic strip and curls in the heat. Even trying to stick the paper down with meringue mixture didn’t help due to the strength of the foil so a few meringues had to be sacrificed for my art.

meringue fail

To double-check, no triple-check these meringues were to my liking I ate some sandwiched with whipped cream. Delicious.

Mini Stripy Meringue Kisses
Makes around 50

2 egg whites

100g caster sugar

heaped tsp cornflour

food gel colouring

1) Whip your egg whites with an electric whisk until it reaches soft peak stage.

2) Gradually add half of your sugar and continue to whip. The mixture turns in to a thick glossy texture, almost like shaving foam.

3) Sprinkle the remaining sugar and cornflour over the whipped eggs. Fold in using a metal spoon.

4) Put a 1M piping tip in a disposable piping bag then fill with the meringue mixture.

5) Pipe the meringues on baking parchment. They will not change shape while being cooked so they can be piped quite close together.

6) Bake at 100°c for 90-120 minutes until the meringues are beginning to become unstuck from the parchment. Open the door slightly and leave to cool in the oven switched off. Once they have cooled get them in a tin. This little sugary bites love moisture and suck it up like a sponge.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2012/12/19/mini-stripy-meringues-kisses/

Salted Caramel Chelsea Buns

salted caramel chelsea buns

We all have ingredients we can’t do without. The ingredient that appears in nearly all the dishes we make and our cupboards are full of its variants. For me,and probably a great deal of the population, it is salt. Fish & chips are not the same without the salty tang and bread made without salt is not worth tasting. I usually have three types of salt to hand. Table salt – for all sort of cooking (and defrosting the drive at this time of year!), rock salt – for the table grinder and flaky sea salt – for flavour and garnishing. Maldon is one of my favourite flaky sea salt. I always love the shape of the crystals, it satisfies the maths geek in me.

Along with the ingredient we can’t do without we also all have a desert island dish and Maldon have asked various people for their desert island dishes. For me it has to be an enriched dough stuffed with some fruit with an added bonus it has been soaked in rum. Quite appropriate for being stuck on a desert island don’t you think?

salted caramel chelsea buns

Due to our love of all things food and drink we are often given alcohol as gifts off friends and family. Globetrotting brother always brings us back rum from his travels in the Caribbean. He has very good taste in rum, some would argue he’s a bit of a rum snob so how a spiced rum, he’s denying he spend his cash on, ended up in our possession I don’t know.  It’s a monster sized bottle and I find it too sweet and fragrant for drinking but it’s turning out to be the perfect alcohol to bake with. The strong spicy vanilla scent in the rum works well in most sweet recipes and could even work in the odd savoury recipe.

Over the last few years I’ve tried different Chelsea bun recipes but always come back to Quirky Cookies recipe as a base as it works so well. This reincarnation worked so well Hubs came home from work, chain-ate two then offered to do the washing up. I’ll have to make them more often. I use four different sugars in this recipe for the different flavours and  textures they give. The demerara sugar on the topping gives a satisfying crunch.

Maldon desert island dishes cookbook

To mark Maldon Sea Salt’s 130th birthday they have released a cookbook with chefs’ desert island dishes. I have my eye on the burnt cream recipe as quite frankly that would probably be my second desert island dish.

Salted Caramel Chelsea Buns
makes 9

For the dough

225g strong white bread flour

25g caster sugar

1/4 tsp salt

25g softened butter

1 1/2 tsp fast action yeast

1 medium egg, beaten

90ml  warm milk

 

For the filling

75 ml spiced rum

50g sultanas

30g glace cherries, chopped

20g mixed peel

25g butter, softened

30g soft dark sugar

30g demerara sugar

 

For the topping

10g soft dark sugar

20g demerara sugar

25g softened butter

100g icing sugar

Pinch of flaky sea salt

 

1) Put all the dried fruit in a saucepan with the rum. Bring to the boil then take off the heat. Allow the fruit to soak up the rum. When you are ready to use the fruit drain off any remaining rum.

2) Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the softened butter, egg and milk. Mix to make a soft dough then knead until smooth.

3) Cover and prove until doubled in size. Due to the amount of yeast in the dough this does happen quite fast.

4) Flour your work surface, and roll out the dough, (no need to knock it back) to a rectangle measuring about 12 x 9 inches. If you get the edges as square as you can it will help to make your buns look even.

5) Spread the softened butter for the filling as evenly as you can over the dough. Sprinkle the two sugars and the rum soaked fruit on top.

6) Roll up the dough along the long edge, as though you were making a Swiss Roll. Turn the roll over so that the seal is underneath and divide the roll into 9 equal buns.

7) Place the buns, swirl side up, into a lined 8in x 8in tin, and leave to prove until the dough has doubled in size, and the buns have all joined together. Sprinkle the demerara and soft dark sugar over the top of the buns the dot with the softened butter.

8) Bake at 180°C, for 15-10 minutes until buns are risen and golden. Once cooked, cool on a wire rack. Mix the icing sugar with a small amount of boiled water to make a glace icing then drizzle this over the buns then sprinkle with the flaky sea salt. I should confess I think Chelsea Buns taste best warm from the oven.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2012/12/14/salted-caramel-chelsea-buns/

Chilli & Blue Cheese Bread

chilli blue cheese bread

Sometimes I get stuck in a rut with bread falling back on my favourite recipes. In local markets Claybrooke Mill often have a stall. They are a Leicestershire based mill that has milled award-winning flour since 1987 and are well-regarded locally. Many local producers use their products. As well as regular flour they sell strong flour mixes that are great for bread making. A few weeks ago I bought some of their chilli mix flour to experiment with. I want to try their Woodhouse flour mix (poppy & fennel seeds) next.

chilli blue cheese dough

The chilli flour I’ve used here is a white flour with chilli powder, bell peppers and mixed herbs. Of course you could make your own chilli mixture but sometimes it;s nice to cheat. The first loaf with this flour was just a bit too spicy for my liking so after a bit of tweaking I found that 50:50 strong white to chilli flour mix works the best for us.

dough knot

We have a fridge full of cheese at the moment thanks to a hamper I’ve been sent so I decided to try this bread with some Oxford Blue in i,t as inspired by an amazing Stichelton bread I’ve tasted from Welbeck Bakehouse. The Oxford Blue works well and isn’t over-powering. It gives a nice earthiness to the bread and works well with the chilli.

To give the rolls a bit of festive cheer I decided to make wreaths use the pain d’epi method. Simply roll in to a sausage, turn in to a ring, make slits at 45° angle, then spread the cuts outward to give the look of a spiky wreath. I also had a go at making a knotted roll. Simply bend a short bread plait to make a circle. As the bread rises it closes in the centre and knots in the centre.

This bread is perfect warm from the oven and dunked in a steaming bowl of soup.

Chilli & Blue Cheese Bread
Makes 6 rolls

250g strong white bread flour

250g Chilli flour mix

5g fast action yeast

8g table salt

300ml warm water

1 tbsp olive oil

80g blue cheese, cubed

 

1) Mix all the dry ingredients together then add the water and olive oil.

2) Mix the ingredients until you have a dough then knead for 5 minutes.

3) Add the cubed blue cheese to the dough and knead for a further 5 minutes. If the dough gets too sticky add a small amount of flour.

4) Put the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Allow to rise in a warm place until dough has doubled in size.

5) Split the dough in to 6 equal pieces and shape the dough how you wish. Place on a floured baking tray and allow to rise for 30 min.

6) Bake at 220°c for 10 minutes then turn down the oven to 180°c and bake for a further 10 minutes. The rolls are cooked once they are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Once cooked transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2012/12/10/chilli-blue-cheese-bread/

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