Tomato, chilli, rosemary and mustard jam

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Despite this time of the year not being the best for fresh tomatoes, this Tomato, chilli, rosemary and mustard jam makes a nice Christmas present as it goes well with cheese or ham. It’s a good relish to accompany holiday snacking. The recipe came from a great little cookbook Movember people produced a few years back and they’ve named it ‘Man jam’. I’d given it for Christmas before albeit in tiny jars and the main comment was that it went too quickly so this year I made more. It’s very easy to make, first you sweat red onions, then add chopped red peppers, red chillies, peeled, cored and chopped tomatoes, turmeric, rosemary and grain mustard. Cook this for about 45 minutes then add salt, sugar and white wine vinegar and cook for another 15 or so minutes. It’s delicious, with a good chilli kick.

We have an early Christmas get together with Beloved’s Pater Familias today and I’ve made a few other things to take to eat including a bread to go with cheese, Plum pudding (instead of a traditional Christmas one) and a whole load of mince pies. Shall try to take photos and post later on.

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White chocolate and raspberry cheesecake

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An annual tradition this, staying with Beloved’s brother in Wales for his birthday and making him a cheesecake. I’ve made a couple of cheesecakes for friends and family this summer already so the recipe I used for this one was a mash up of sorts and it worked out beautifully. It is simple and quick to do and also relatively healthy as it hardly uses any sugar and while I am not a greatest fan of white chocolate, it works very well here with the combination of fragrant raspberries and coconut in the base.

Ingredients and method

Wash and clean 225g ripe raspberries, put them in a bowl and sprinkle with 1tsp of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice (I also squeezed a little orange juice as I found half an orange in the fridge, but this isn’t necessary). Leave to macerate while you get on with the rest of the cake. For the base: crush 150g digestive (unsweetened) biscuits in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or pulse briefly in the food processor then mix with 50g desiccated coconut. Melt 110g butter and pour over biscuit/ coconut mix, combine then press down into a 23cm springform tin lined (bottom and side) with baking parchment. Leave to cool in the fridge.  To make the filling, melt 200g white chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water). While this is happening, mix 250g mascarpone (or any other cream cheese) and 250g Greek yoghurt to combine, then add the melted chocolate and mix well. Briefly puree the raspberries with a blender then combine with white chocolate, cream cheese and yoghurt mix. Spread over the base, working from the outer edges towards the centre, smooth the top and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

I’ve also made this cake with strawberries and think it could work well with blackberries too. Here’s a photo of a slice – I had to work fast here to take photos as the cake was quickly disappearing!

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Strawberry cheesecake

strawberry cheesecakeThought I’d use the last of the strawberries picked on Friday in a cheesecake for Beloved’s family get together. It went down a storm, which was nice but it was on the verge of collapsing by serving time – it was so hot yesterday, I don’t blame it. Still looks quite presentable, I only managed this one photo as was acting as ‘official photographer’ and services were needed elsewhere. It was rather good, light and not too sweet, served with quite an intense strawberry puree on the side. I scaled up a basic recipe from Good Food website and just made it a little more interesting by adding a few ingredients and not scaling up the amount of sugar used. 

Recipe and method – for a 25cm spring form tin, serving 12. For the base – 280g digestive biscuits, 50g desiccated coconut, 1tsp cinnamon, 125g unsalted butter, melted. For the cheese layer – 680g cream cheese – I used 500g ricotta and 180g mascarpone, 100g icing sugar, 1 vanilla pod, 300ml double cream. For the top – 600g strawberries, 25g icing sugar, 1tbsp water, couple of sprigs of mint to garnish.

To make the base: crush digestive biscuits by pulsing in the food processor or put in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Put into a bowl, add desiccated coconut, cinnamon and melted butter. Mix well to combine then press evenly into a 25cm spring form tin lined with parchment. Chill in the fridge for an hour to set.

For the cheese layer: sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Split the vanilla pod in half lengthwise, scrape the seeds into the bowl with the icing sugar. Add the cream cheese and mix with an electric hand held whisk until smooth. Takes seconds. Add the double cream and whisk until the mixture just starts to thicken – this will help it set and keep its shape but no need to overwhisk here. Pour on top of the base, smooth out the top, working from the edge towards the centre making sure there are no air bubbles. Chill in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours – overnight is better. 

For the top: take 300g strawberries and the icing sugar, add 1tbsp water and puree until smooth. Sieve and leave to one side. Take the cheesecake out of the fridge half an hour before serving and carefully remove the side of the tin. Arrange rest of the strawberries on top, roll up mint leaves tightly then slice thinly and sprinkle over the strawberries. Pour the puree on top or on the side as you serve. 

Perfect for a hot summer day.

 

Spelt bread

So preoccupied with writing the final essay for a course I’m doing that I hadn’t even thought about baking bread this morning. It suddenly dawned on me as I was switching the coffee machine on that it was Saturday and, yes, I’d planned to spend the whole day writing but bread would only really take a minute. I picked the Spelt bread from River Cottage Bread book as I knew the method would pretty much be the same as the last couple of breads I made from that book and here is the finished result:IMG_0579The book suggested a longer knead (8 minutes in the mixer as opposed to 6) and I ended up with a pretty elastic dough that shaped very well. Was super happy with the shape of the final loaf even if it did deflate a tad as I plonked it onto the peel and into the oven. Must be gentler next time. Here is the cut loaf,IMG_0580This also has sourdough starter as well as yeast, so it is a more robust bread that you can spread cold butter on and the crumb is very good too. Just used some for cucumber sandwiches to have with tea, kept the crusts. Very old fashioned but not particularly planned either – fridge is so empty as I’ve been spending all my time out of work either writing this stupid essay or sleeping, that cucumbers are pretty much the only vegetables I have!

Breakfast soda breads

20130512-175231.jpg These fab breakfast soda breads from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet were the only things I baked this weekend. I had thoughts and plans to make at least an ice cream or a frozen yoghurt but thought better of it and concentrated, instead on the long assignment due in a couple of weeks. This work and school-on-the-side is seriously exhausting at the moment, have spent the whole weekend getting on with it and a headache but it’ll be over soon thankfully. Anyway, the soda breads are highly recommended, very quick to make, very easy and very good. We had them warm with leftover pork belly and scrambled eggs.

Spring blooms and Hazel Maizel bread

I think it rather marvellous how a prospect of good weather for May Bank holiday weekend means that anyone who can will try to avoid work as much as possible on the Friday afternoon. We certainly witnessed quite a few people out and about yesterday afternoon as we did a little loop walk. We headed towards London Fields (full of people, a group was even barbecuing), Broadway Market (all outside eating and drinking spaces full), along Regent’s Canal (very busy indeed), up to Duke’s Brew and Que for a couple of pints and ribs then home. Four and a half miles of sunshine, glorious weather and gorgeous spring blooms:

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Today, the weather is not quite sure of itself so I spent the morning baking bread. Thought I’d try another recipe from River Cottage Bread Handbook and decided on this Hazel Maizel Bread – a wholemeal and polenta loaf with hazelnuts and honey. It also required apple juice, which I didn’t have and it was way too early in the morning for any shops to be open so I replaced juice with yoghurt. It’s a lovely, nutty bread with hints of sweetness from the honey, great crumb (I steamed the oven) and a lovely soft texture inside:

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Like the seeded loaf I did last weekend, this bread uses both yeast and sourdough starter and it benefits from a longer proving time but doesn’t take as long as sourdough bread. Since I adapted the recipe from the book somewhat, posting it here:

400g strong wholemeal flour, 100g polenta, 1tsp salt, 1.5tsp quick acting yeast, 1 ladleful sourdough starter, 20g melted butter, 1tsp honey, 150ml water, 200g greek yoghurt, handful of chopped hazelnuts

Mix all the ingredients except the hazelnuts in a bowl then knead by hand for 10 minutes or 6 minutes in the mixer with the dough hook attached. The dough should be pliable and elastic. Flatten the dough then sprinkle hazelnuts and knead briefly to incorporate. Shape the dough into a round then place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean cloth and leave for an hour. Take the dough out, deflate and shape into a round again and leave for another hour. Take the dough out, flattening and deflating it one more time, then roll it up tight, flatten again and blanket fold. Shape and leave to prove for an hour and a half in a floured basket or on a floured chopping board, covered. In the meantime, heat the oven to 250C or as high as it will go, placing an empty loaf tin on the bottom shelf and a baking stone or sheet in the centre of the oven. When the oven is hot enough, slash the dough with a serrated knife, spray with water and place on the baking stone/ sheet and pour boiled water into the loaf tin to create oven steam. Lower the temperature to 180C after ten minutes if the loaf is browning quite well or to 200C if the loaf is still looking pale and then bake for a further 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. 

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Almond, orange and honey cake

A slightly adapted cake recipe from Hugh FW’s Three Good Things, wheat-free and very good indeed:IMG_0553

Afraid I only took the photo of the whole cake, other photos so out of focus that I can’t really use them. It has equal quantities of butter and sugar (225g) beaten until light and fluffy along with a zest of an orange. Then beat in 225g ground almonds, followed by 3 large eggs (individually, incorporate well, then add the next egg), 125g polenta, large pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Bake in a lined springform tin at 170 degrees C for 45-50 minutes. Separately, mix juice of an orange with 3-4 teaspoons of honey then prick holes in the cake and pour honey and orange mix when the cake comes out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin. Serve with a spoonful (large) of creme fraiche.