Monthly Archives: December 2011

Orange and Ginger Cheesecake

This is a perfect Christmas dessert or simply an after dinner treat!  I created this cheesecake as a festive dessert, and I have to say, it really worked! It is beautifully sweet, creamy and tangy all at the same time. The ginger gives it an extra fiery kick too.

I have used the basic cheesecake recipe before many times. I made it up in the summer as a way to use an abundance of fresh strawberries from my parents’ garden. I cooked them with a pinch of sugar and made a delicious jam to top the cake. It went down very well at the pot luck dinner I went to so I have made it again many times with different toppings and flavourings.

Orange and Ginger Cheesecake

Takes: Around 2 hours
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
110g ginger biscuits, crushed
80g plain digestive biscuits, crushed
75g butter, melted
100g full fat soft cream cheese
250g mascarpone cheese
100ml double cream
2 tsp vanilla essence
4 tbsp icing sugar
5 satsumas or clementines, peeled and sliced

For the glaze:
Zest of 2 oranges
Juice of 1 orange
5 tbsp ginger preserve*

*As part of the glaze, I used a ginger preserve from Sainsbury’s.

1. Mix the biscuit and butter and press into the bottom of your dish. Chill in the fridge for around 30 minutes or until the butter has hardened.

2. In a small pan, heat all the glaze ingredients until simmering. Stir continuously and add water/sugar if necessary. (Continue to simmer until it has significantly reduced and feels like a sticky jam.)

3. Mix the mascarpone, cream cheese and vanilla essence in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the double cream with the icing sugar until it has the stiffness of whipped cream. Gently, add it to the cheese mixture.

4. When the biscuit base has chilled, you can put the cheese on top. Put it back in the fridge for another half an hour.

5. By now the glaze should have the correct sticky thickness. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Do not let it go cold.

6. Place the satsuma slices in a neat decorative way on the cheesecake. Start with the large slices around the outside and end with the smaller slices on the inside. Brush the satsumas with the glaze, and use the remaining to glaze the visible parts of the cheese. Do it quickly and gently so as not to cook the cheese or press it out of shape.

7. Chill the whole cheesecake for at least 2 hours. I recommend making it a day before you want to eat it!

Take the cheesecake out the fridge 30 minutes before serving so as the soften the base enough to slice.

Enjoy! I really am very proud of this as it tasted so delicious and looked so festive!

The Liebster Blog Award

Thank you so much to Tasha from http://tashainthekitchen.wordpress.com/ for picking me for the Liebster Blog Award! I am so honoured to have been chosen and very excited! If you haven’t seen Tasha’s blog yet, go check it out! It has a beautiful selection of food photos and recipes.

The award is all about recognising your fellow bloggers for how awesome they are!

Here’s a little of the official information about the award:

“The Liebster Blog Award is given to up coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

The Meaning; Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

The rules for the Liebster Blog Award are:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.

2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you.

3. Copy & paste the blog award on your blog

4. Reveal your 5 blog picks.

5. Let them know you choose them by leaving a comment on their blog.”

It was very hard for me to choose 5 blogs, I follow many blogs that I think are brilliant and deserving. However, these are the top  5 I have chosen based on the criteria:

1. Martha – One Pink Macaroon http://onepinkmacaroon.wordpress.com/
When I saw the meaning for the Liebster Award I just had to choose Martha. She’s a 15 year old blogger with a clear passion for baking and a wonderful blog full of pictures and recipes!

2. Al – ChilliNinja http://chillininja.wordpress.com/
A super unique and interesting blog. Al grows many different varieties of chillies and blogs about their progress, as well as recipes using the chillies.

3. The Klutzy Chef – http://klutzychef.wordpress.com/
A great food/travel blog for it’s beautiful pictures and tasty looking recipes. I particularly like the meatless monday recipes! And check out the great idea for your leftover Turkey at Thanksgiving/Christmas.

4. Zoe – Lose Weight and Gain Health http://loseweightandgainhealth.com/
A blog about Zoe’s journey of losing weight and getting healthier – something we can all relate to! She posts a large and varied collection of beautiful healthy recipes.

5. Danya – EdibleSubstance http://ediblesubstance.wordpress.com/
Danya is one of the sweetest, cutest people I know. Yes, she’s my sister so I’m a little biased, but I genuinely love her blog too and I know how hard she works on it. She’s a student baker and writes about her experiments with baking. She includes her own recipes and beautiful pictures.

And there we have it! I hope you’ll visit these 5 blogs, they are all brilliant.

Nominees: You are in no way obligated to reply or pass the award on, it’s just a way for me to tell you that you’re great!

Vered x

Penne Funghi (and Hanukkah)

Hanukkah starts tomorrow, and many people know that Jews traditionally eat oily foods like doughnuts and potato latkes (a potato pancake made from grated potato and onion). I’m sure we will see many delicious recipes for latkes this week!

Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days when the Maccabees rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem after their victory over the Syrian-Greeks. Fried foods like potato pancakes (“latkas” in Yiddish and “livivot” in Hebrew) and doughnuts (“sufganiyot” in Hebrew) are traditional Hanukkah treats because they are cooked in oil and remind us of the miracle of the holiday. From: http://judaism.about.com/od/holidays/a/Hanukkah-Food-Traditions.htm

Another tradition which I had completely forgotten about (until my sister reminded me at our Christmukka themed food club evening) is that Jews often eat dairy at Hanukkah.

Dairy foods did not become popular on Hanukkah until the Middle Ages. The custom of eating things like cheese, cheesecake and blintzes emerged from the story of Judith. According to legend, Judith was a great beauty who saved her village from the Babylonians. The Babylonian army was besieging her village, when Judith charmed her way into the enemy camp with a basket of cheese and wine. She brought the food to the enemy general, Holofernes, who consumed increasing amounts of wine along with the cheese. (According to the story, the cheese was very salty, hence making Holoferenes very thirsty.) When Holofernes eventually became drunk and passed out, Judith beheaded him with his sword and brought his head back to the village in her basket. When the Babylonians discovered that their leader had been slain, they left. In this way Judith saved her people and eventually it became traditional to eat dairy foods in honor of her bravery. From: http://judaism.about.com/od/holidays/a/Hanukkah-Food-Traditions.htm

I personally think this tradition is all wrong and really we should be drinking more wine to remember Judith on Hanukkah! Oh well, there’s always Purim! (On the festival of Purim, Jews are supposed to get drunk.)

At Hanukkah, lots of Jews will eat their dairy in the form of cheesecake, or cottage cheese on their latkes, yum! Here is how I will be eating my dairy this year; it ties in with my pasta obsession and my love for savoury foods.

As you may have realised, I’m a big fan of easy, quick recipes. This is also a super simple and cheap recipe and works really well as part of a ‘pot luck’ dinner or buffet style lunch. And of course, it’s totally kosher. If you’re in a real rush you could get the pasta on as soon as the garlic is cooked. Make sure you give the mushrooms enough time to cook though. I personally don’t like half-cooked mushrooms as I think they can be a bit slimy that way and it gives them a bad reputation!

Penne Funghi

Takes: 35 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
300g penne pasta (or your favourite pasta)
100g button mushrooms, sliced
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp dried oregano
25g butter
3 tbsps olive oil
3 tbsps soft cream cheese

salt & pepper

1. Heat the butter and oil in a pan on a low heat. When melted, add the garlic and about 2 minutes later, the mushrooms.

2. Soften the mushrooms for about 10 minutes or until they are all cooked and soft and covered in the garlicy butter. Then add the herbs, and some salt and pepper, stir and continue to cook on a low heat. If the sauce starts to dry out, add a little water.

3. In a separate pan, boil your pasta in the usual way for about 12 minutes or the time stated on the packet.

4. About 2 minutes before the pasta is ready add the cream cheese to the mushrooms and stir though until melted. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

5. As soon as your pasta is sieved, stir in the sauce and serve hot!

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I would like to, once again, enter this recipe to Pasta Presto Nights, hosted by Ruth. The next post PPN will be in 2012!

Purple Brussel Sprouts

Food Club this week was Christmukka (Christmas and Hanukkah) themed. We had some delicious foods, including mulled cider, potato latkes, mince pies, my sister’s delicious christmas tree brownies, and spinach and artichoke dip (from Elly of VCBT).

Amongst other things, I made brussel sprouts. Is this your idea of food hell? Well, I know they are not the most popular vegetable for a lot of people, but they are traditionally eaten at Christmas and personally I like them! The problem is that too many people boil them until they are soft and smell like farts. Yes I said farts.

Brussel sprouts are so much better paired with garlic (I’m Indian-Italian; every meal starts with garlic!)

Purple sprouts seem to be relatively newly available.  The first mention I can find of them being available to us in the UK is from November 2010. When I saw them in Tesco I have to admit I was a bit excited! They are beautifully rich in a reddish-purple colour.

I boiled them for a few minutes until they were just starting to soften and then fried them in butter, olive oil and plenty of garlic. They lose some colour when boiling and the water turns purple!

My first impression when eating them was that they were slightly sweeter and less ‘cabbagey’ than normal sprouts. They were really quite tasty and everyone at food club thought so too!

My conclusion is that they are really tasty and worth a try; excitingly new and full of colour! However don’t give up on the regular green sprouts; we don’t want to make them redundant!

Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

This is one of my very simple recipes for those of you who enjoy an Indian style vegetarian curry. You can eat this as a veggie main with rice or as a side dish as part of an Indian meal. It also goes nicely with other vegetarian Indian food such as my paneer recipes. 😉

I recently watched the Great British Food Revival on the BBC, which is a programme attempting to remind us Brits about the delicious and fresh local produce growing all around us. Well-known chefs have teamed up to teach us new recipes using the great British produce.

One episode showed the Hairy Bikers cooking with cauliflower, and reminding us that this is a delicious, healthy, and cheap vegetable. Above all it is also an incredibly versatile vegetable. It is delicious when fried, roasted, pureed, and should certainly not be over boiled and served without seasoning! However as the hairy bikers said, the cauliflower has become somewhat unfashionable compared to its posher cousin, the purple sprouting brocolli and other similar vegetables.

I have always liked cauliflower and I think it is a beautiful vegetable. This is a recipe I created to accompany an Indian meal. I have made it a few times now and found that it is always successful and there are never any left-overs!

 

Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

Start to finish time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4 (as a side)

Ingredients:

Half a cauliflower, washed and cut up small
2 tbsps sunflower/vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1cm thick ginger, chopped small
120g tinned chickpeas, drained
2 tbsp tomato purée
handful fresh coriander, chopped

Spices:
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric

Salt & pepper

1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the sliced onions and soften on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and the ginger and continue to cook in the same way for 10 minutes. Add more oil if it gets too dry.

2. In a separate pan, heat all the spices for a minute. Then, add it to the onions and stir in.

3. You can now add the cauliflower, coriander and 1/4 cup water and put the lid on the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.

4. When the cauliflower has softened, add the chickpeas and the tomato puree. If the curry is looking dry, add a bit more water. (You don’t want it to be runny though as it isn’t a sauce.) Taste, and add salt and pepper accordingly.

5. Cook for 10 more minutes and then serve hot.

I ate mine with basmati rice and my homemade tandoori chicken! Delicious!

I hope you enjoy my recipe and as always I’d love to hear from you if any have tried it or any comments/advice/questions!