Recipe archive

I cook the vast majority of my meals from scratch, and have a reputation as being an excellent cook (I do tend to get my friends drunk first, though). Sometimes I create something so spectacular that I document it here...

Recipe: Gluten Free Lemon Mousse Cheesecake

A recent(ish) meeting with some of my BFFs necessitated the creation of a cake, and there’s no cake like a cheesecake, but I could not for the life of me find a cheesecake recipe I liked the look of. I wanted a baked cheesecake for flavour, but something super tangy to offset a sweet lemon mousse I envisaged to go on top. Unable to find that perfect recipe, I concocted my own – with a gluten free buttery biscuit base to boot!

Ingredients

Biscuity Base
1 pack gluten free digestives (I used a 160g pack but in hindsight ~200g would be better)
100g butter

gluten free cheesecake ingredientsCheesecake
min. 400g marscapone (I used 500g but it was huuuge)
360g cream cheese
150g caster sugar
4 large eggs
2 lemons

Lemon mousse
2 lemons
300ml double cream
2 large egg whites
60g caster sugar

Method

Making the buttery biscuit base

  1. Melt the butter gently in a pan.
  2. While that’s melting, put the digestives into a freezer bag, then bash the shit out of them til they’re crumbly.
  3. Mix the butter and biscuit crumbs together and press into 9 inch cheesecake pan.
  4. Refrigerate.
  5. Ask on twitter why ‘fridge’ has the letter D in it.

Making the cheesecake

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (or approx 170 if it’s a fan oven)
  2. Separate the eggs, keeping both yolk and white.
  3. Whisk the whites & caster sugar together until soft peaks form.
  4. Mix together the soft cheese, marscapone, and egg yolks.
  5. Zest the lemons and juice them into the cheese/egg mix. If you want a really lemony flavour, fish the lemon seeds out of the juicer and then tip in any pulpy lemony bits too.
  6. Fold the egg white mixture into yolky cheese mixture, aiming for a nice even mix without beating the air out of the eggs.
  7. Tip the mixture into your cheesecake pan on top of the biscuit base then place in the oven.
  8. Cook for 40 minutes then turn off oven, but leave the cheesecake in there (this means it cool down slowly, which helps prevent cracks and stops it from sinking – but my first one did anyway and it was still gorgeous).
  9. After approx 1hr remove cheesecake and refrigerate.

Making the lemon mousse
I used the lemon mousse recipe from Penny’s Recipes for this bit – it was so simple and exactly what I needed, so I didn’t see the point in re-inventing the wheel.

Don’t start this bit until the cheesecake is completely cool!

  1. Grate the zest from the lemons into a bowl and then whisk together with the cream and sugar until thick but still soft.
  2. Stir in the juice from the lemons.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff.
  4. Fold the egg white into the cream mixture.
  5. Spoon the mousse mix onto the cheese cake, level out and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours.

And tada! It’s ready…

gluten free lemon mousse cheesecake

This is a very decadent cheesecake, perfect to share with friends. Or eat it out of the tin with your fingers, I’m not going to judge.

Recipe: Chocolate Orange Cake

A blogger I follow on twitter recently tweeted a link to her frugal chocolate orange cake made with a jar of value marmalade (amongst other things).

I didn’t have time to read through the recipe when I first saw it, but it came to mind when I was stood in my kitchen earlier this week desperate for some comfort food. With a full jar of ‘reject’ marmalade in the cupboard (Oliver asked for it, and then decided it was too tangy) I was inspired to experiment. And tada, I came up with my own (not frugal) chocolate orange cake recipe…

chocolate orange cake slice

Ingredients

For the cake
250g butter (room temp)
150g caster sugar
4 large eggs
200g self-raising flour
80g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb. soda
370g jar of marmalade
3 tablespoons milk (optional)

For the filling/icing
2 tablespoons shredless marmalade
250g butter (room temp)
500g icing sugar
2 tablespoons orange extract (I used this one from Tesco)
orange gel food colouring (optional)
dark chocolate chips (optional)

Method

BAKE IT
Turn the oven on to preheat – 160 degrees C (150 fan oven).

Cream together the butter and sugar until completely combined. Next, add the 4 large eggs and gently mix.

Add the jar of marmalade and stir in, slowly adding sifted self-raising flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder as you go until all of the dry ingredients are mixed in with the creamy sugary eggy goo.

At this point you may find the mixture is quite thick/stiff – I added a splash of milk at this point to loosen it up (approx 3 tablespoons) but it would be fine without.

Pour the mix into lined, buttered 9″ sandwich pans and pop into the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes depending on how good your oven is. Test by inserting a skewer (or a piece of dry spaghetti) into the centre of the cake: if it comes out clean, it’s ready.

Leave to cool completely before turning out of the pans.

DECORATE IT
Make your delicious orangey buttercream icing by mixing the butter, icing sugar, orange extract and food colouring. I suggest adding the icing sugar slowly or your kitchen will look like an explosion in a cocaine factory. If you don’t have food colouring, or want to avoid the E numbers, the icing will be fine (just paler).

Once the cake is completely cool, spread the shredless marmalade on top of one of the cake layers. Spoon roughly a third of the icing onto the shredless marmalade, spreading carefully so as not to cause the orangey marmalade goo to ooze down the side of your delicious chocolate orange cake.

Place the second cake layer on top and refrigerate for about half an hour (it’s easier to ice a cool cake).

After your half an hour is up, spread a very thin layer of icing around the outside of the cake and on top, cleaning off the knife/spreading implement between each go. Don’t worry too much about crumbs – this thin layer will catch the crumbs making it easier to add the rest of the icing. Refrigerate again for 10-15 minutes.

Spread the rest of the icing evenly around the sides and top of the cake. Finish off with a handful of chocolate chips. Tada! One chocolate orange cake.

chocolate orange cake

Recipe: Eton Mess Cake

Yesterday was Gaz‘s birthday and in true birthday tradition (AKA any excuse for cake) I decided to bake, with the “help” of the kids. Normally for this sort of occasion I would find a recipe weeks in advance and fail attempt to make something spectacular. However, with work and kids to contend with, time was not on my side, so I thought I’d modify my basic victoria sponge and turn it into Eton Mess in cake form. Here goes…

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 200g butter
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the filling / decoration

  • 1 tub of mini meringues
  • 300ml (ish) double cream
  • 3 tbps icing sugar
  • 300g (ish) strawberries
  • A tablespoon or two of seedless strawberry jam or some nice strawberry coulis

Equipment

  • Two 8″ or 9″ round cake tins (I can’t find my tape measure)
  • Bowl and spoon or your nan’s Kenwood Chef
  • Greaseproof/baking paper OR butter for greasing

Top tip!
You can make a fantastic, rich & tasty sponge for the majority of occasions by using equal parts butter, flour and sugar with 1 medium egg for each 50g. Don’t be afraid to experiment: e.g. make a chocolate cake by replacing 50g flour with 50g of cocoa powder.


Method

Is it just me that thinks ‘method’ makes it sound like a science experiment?

  1. Stick your oven on to pre-heat at around 150-170C.
  2. Either by hand or with a magic mixing machine, combine the butter and the sugar in a bowl until it turns into a creamy soft sugary goo. Fish your childrens hands out of the bowl and remind them that nobody wants to eat cake that’s had fingers poked in it.
  3. When combined, slowly add the egg, mixing gently as you go. Remove the chunks of broken shell from the mixture. When the egg and buttery mix is combined, add the vanilla extract.
  4. Sieve in the flour and baking powder.

baking-eton-mess-cake

  1. Gently stir the flour into the mix until smooth and delicious looking. Fish your childrens hands out of the bowl and remind them that nobody wants to eat cake that’s had fingers poked in it.
  2. Line your baking tins or grease with butter. If I’m making a cake with butter as the ‘fat’, I just grease and don’t usually have any problems getting the cake out of the tin.
  3. Divide the mixture between the two tins roughly equally and using the back of your spoon, level it out as best you can. Give the spoon and bowl to the children for “cleaning” duties.

cake-mix-in-tin

  1. Pop the cakes in the middle of your pre-heated oven with the kid’s fish fingers that they’re having for tea, and cook for around 20-30 minutes. To test if the cake is done, stick a skewer / cocktail stick / piece of dry spaghetti into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean it’s cooked. If it’s black, you’ve burnt it.
  2. Let the cooked cakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Answer the question “is it cool yet?” 500 times a minute with the word “no”.
  3. Remove the cakes from the tin and allow to cool on a rack. I cheat at this point and stick the rack in the fridge because the cakes cool quicker, and cold cakes are much easier to trim…
  4. When completely cool, remove any bumps and lumps from the top of the cakes as best you can (it doesn’t have to be perfect, nobody is going to see it under the cream anyway) using a sharp knife or cake trimmer thingy (posh git).

cooked-cake

  1. Whisk the shit out of your double cream. As it begins to firm up, whisk in the 3 tablespoons of sieved icing sugar until the cream is fairly stiff and leaves a hole when you stick your finger in it (for “testing purposes”). Don’t tell the people eating your cake it’s had 3 pairs of hands in it.
  2. Slather your jam or strawberry sauce on the top of one of the trimmed sponges and then chuck a few dollops of cream on top. Spread it around using the back of your (now washed) spoon — or a palette knife if you’ve got one. If you’re really fancy, you could also pipe the cream on to the cake at this point. Snob.
  3. Break 2 of the merginues over the cake, sending lovely crunchy meringue bits everywhere.
  4. Chop up a handful of strawberries into quarters and chuck them on top of the cream meringue layer, resisting the urge to dip spare strawberries into the cream as you’ll need that later.

strawberry-layer

  1. Stick the other sponge on top, pressing it down slightly to make sure it’s not going to slide around (but not so hard that your middle cream layer spurts out the sides)
  2. Dollop lots more cream on the top, vaguely attempting to spread it round. Decorate with several mini meringues and whole strawberries. If you were able to buy strawberry coulis you might consider drizzling it over the top cream layer. I did not think it’d work quite as well with blobs of jam…

finished-eton-mess-cake

Tada!

Easy Peasy Frugal Fish Pie

This has been sat in drafts for so long, I figured I’d get it fixed up and posted otherwise it’ll never see the light of day! This is my easy “pea”sy fish pie recipe (it’s a pun, I’ll get to that shortly ;))

For the record, I make my recipes up as I go along so the amounts are never entirely accurate. Don’t be afraid to add bits in / take bits out to suit your taste, it’s what I do! This fish pie happens to be really simple and tasty, but if you want to make it more complex by adding different fishes, that’s totally your prerogative.

Ingredients

3 x defrosted pollock steaks (from ‘Sainsbury’s MSC Pollock Steaks 520g’) It says you’re not supposed to defrost them but as long as they’re cooked properly I don’t see the big deal.
1 x Sainsbury’s Smoked Salmon Trimmings, Basics 120g (in other words, lots of flavour but really cheap!)
1.5 tablespoons butter
1.5 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 pint milk
Handful of frozen peas (preference – petit pois)
1 Knorr fish stock cube (optional but adds flavour)
Half teaspoon of paprika
3 x Medium-large potatoes
Handful of grated cheese

Method

Peel the potatoes and chop into roughly equal sized pieces – size up to you but obviously the smaller you chop, the quicker they cook. Put in pan, cover with water, add a pinch or two of salt and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down to simmer for 15-20 minutes (dependent on size!)

Meanwhile, make a roux in a small pan. Start by melting the butter. When melted, add flour and turn off the heat while you whisk the two up into a paste. Turn the heat back on (low) and add the milk bit by bit stirring all the time. With your imaginary 2nd pair of hands (or neglect the roux shortly, whichever) make a v. small amount of stock up using the cube and a bit of boiling water. Add to roux and keep stirring. When the sauce is ready, stir in your paprika and turn off the heat.

Chop up your fish (or pull into rough squares) and chuck in a heatproof dish – pyrex dish or similar – add your peas (hence the pun, arf arf) too then cover with the sauce.

Once your spuds are cooked, mash them as you normally would and gently plonk onto the fish sauce mix. Spread out a bit with a fork and chuck your cheese on top. Bung in the oven and cook for 20 minutes-ish at about 175-200 degrees or until it looks burnt (just kidding).

My cheaty leftover-lamb curry

I will start this post by warning you that I make my curries by throwing lots of stuff into a pan until it tastes vaguely like a curry. You could quite easily add/take away from this without it having a massive effect (e.g. I add mushrooms to my curry where most people wouldn’t) but this is what worked for me.

Also, I’ve called this a ‘cheaty’ curry because I’ve not properly prepared any spices or anything; I couldn’t even be bothered to chop up garlic. This is because after a crap day at work, the last thing I want/need to be doing is arsing about in the kitchen for hours. Anyway, on with it…

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • big handful of mushrooms
  • 2 big handfuls leftover lamb roughly chopped into chunks
  • 2 tsps curry powder (I use mild because I’m a wimp.. adjust to suit)
  • glug of Linghams Garlic Chilli sauce
  • 1/3 of a tube of garlic pureé
  • small tin of Heinz curry ‘beanz’
  • 1/2 cup lamb gravy (t’was a bit of experiment adding leftover ‘proper’ gravy, but it boosted the flavour wonderfully; if you don’t have any you might want to use a stock cube + extra water?)
  • cup of water
  • big glug of olive oil for frying + optional butter

Instructions
Put a big saucepan over a medium heat on the hob and and add your big glug of olive oil (I also add a small knob of butter when I’m using mushrooms as they fry better, but this is optional). Chop your onion and mushroom and add it to the pan, frying gently til lightly golden then add the meat chunks.

After a minute or so of gentle frying, turn the heat down low and add the curry powder, Garlic Chilli sauces and garlic pureé and mix well. Leave to fry for a little longer, stirring regularly so nothing sticks.

When everything looks all curry coloured and all the flavours are intermingled etc, add the leftover gravy and water (or just water if you’re minus gravy… in fact, a nice alternative to both would be a tin of chopped tomatoes, which would add another veg portion I reckon). Add the tin of ‘beanz’ (another portion of veg plus fills it out a bit) and then leave to simmer for as long as you can be bothered to wait. I left mine for 20 mins on a medium heat which got rid of some of the excess fluid, but I’d generally leave a curry for at least 30 mins.

Serve on a clean plate with some microwave rice (ha!). Should serve 3-4 but it depends how much of a fat piggy you are.

WFLW: Tuna Pasta Salad

A cheap and cheerful classic that’s really quick to make. Today’s leftovers from last night contain pre-cooked cold pasta, tinned tuna, tinned sweetcorn (Green Giant Niblets are awesome straight from the tin), and some chopped steamed asparagus and courgette that needed using up.

Eaten with a yoghurt and an apple, I’m satisfying various daily requirements for fruit n veg, dairy and carbs all in one go.

WFLW: Cheapo Beef Chilli

A few years ago I blogged asking you guys for lunch ideas and you duly supplied. I’ve decided to return the favour by doing a new blog series: “what’s for lunch Wednesdays”. Each Wednesday (or, when I remember) I’ll tell you what I’ve got for lunch. If you want to do the same thing, link back to this post and I’ll approve the pingbacks for a bit of link love.

Today’s Lunch

Today I have leftovers from Monday night: cheapo chilli beef. Like chilli con carne, only without the kidney beans (which I dislike).

In a large pan with a glug of olive oil and a small knob of butter, I fried up 2 onions, a handful of mushrooms and 4 cloves of garlic. To this I added some jarred sweet chilli sauce that was on offer (I’m not a big chilli lover so don’t buy fresh) and a 500g portion of minced beef. When the beef had browned all over I added a small tin of baked beans, a tin of chopped tomatoes, and a quarter of a tube of tomato puree.

Bish bash bosh, serve with rice boiled with peas and sweetcorn for an extra veggie hit.

Making Toad in the Hole

Melly was talking earlier this week about Toad in the Hole, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it all week. I love the stuff. Normally, I buy the ready-made zap in oven stuff by Aunt Bessie’s, but I’ve gone off it in recent years (I can only assume they tweaked the recipe or something.)

So anyway, I acquired some yorkshire pudding batter measurements from Louby, and bought some nice tasty pork sausages from the local shop (too late to get the proper thing from the butcher.) It took me about 5 minutes to get the whole thing prepared and ready, and is dead simple… which makes it the perfect recipe to share. (This makes enough for two good size portions; increase measurements as required.)

Pre-heat the oven as hot as you can get it. Grease your tray or dish with butter to prevent sticking (I used tin foil but it’s really not ideal.) Sieve 100g plain white flour in to a bowl, and make a well in the centre. Gradually mix in 400ml milk to form a milky substance, not dissimilar to vanilla milkshake in appearance and texture (although I wouldn’t recommend drinking it). Whisk in a small egg.

batter mix

When the oven is super hot — smoking, even — add your sausages to the dish and pour the batter mix in.

ready for oven

Cook until a nice even brown all over, and serve with mashed potatoes, veg and gravy. Hopefully yours will rise a little better than mine did (although it was delicious all the same).

toad in the hole

Quite coincidentally, I’ve just found out it’s British Yorkshire Pudding Day! How apt.

Cheesy Scones

After the piss-pouring rain put a damper on my pottering about in the garden, I decided to do a spot of baking. I don’t have much in the way of ingredients so I made scones, which are about the simplest thing you can bake. I found the original recipe in the Vegetarian Student Cookbook — which is brilliant even for non-vegetarians, but that’s a topic for another post — and adapted it to suit my needs.

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour (plus some for the surface)
  • 50g butter
  • 2-3 handfuls grated cheese
  • 4 (slightly heaped) teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 200ml milk

Instructions

  • Turn oven on at 230°C (446 fahrenheit) / gas mark 8
  • Mix the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl
  • Add the butter bit by bit, working it into the flour-mixture with your fingers
  • Add the cheese to the mix
  • Create a well in the middle of the cheese/flour mix, pour in the milk
  • Stir it all up to create a dough, dust a work surface well with flour
  • Knead lightly then roll out the dough evenly until approx. 1-1.5cm thick
  • Cut into round portions, or do what I did and use the rim of a glass to create evenly sized shapes
  • Cook on a baking tray in the middle of the oven for 7-10 minutes

That’s it! You can serve with a variety of dipping sauces or my personal favourite: chopped in half and spread thick with butter. If I hadn’t run out of flour, I think I’d have tried another batch with a touch of garlic in the mixture just to make them really savoury.

Mmm Chocolate Cakey

I decided — a spur of the moment thing — to do some baking today. It’s been a while, but after raiding my Mum’s for baking tins and a reminder about ingredient quantities I set to it.

The cake itself is based on a traditional British pound cake, so named because it was originally created with a pound of flour, butter, eggs and sugar. I didn’t have scales and I certainly didn’t need several lbs of ingredients (or have a bowl to mix it in) but as long as the quantities are identical the concept is the same.

baking ingredients

I used a big spoon to measure out my ingredients (you don’t have to be precise) and for the bottom layer, I substituted half a spoon of sugar for half of drinking chocolate for chocolatey colour and taste. The top layer stayed plain. Both were cooked in round cake trays, I’d guess those are 12-13″ at 160 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, but my ‘new’ oven is fan assisted and I’ll still getting used to it.

I cooled them on a rack from inside the oven because I don’t have a proper cooling rack, and layered them with a filling of chocolatey buttercream style icing. I didn’t have icing sugar (always forget something) so I improvised based on a recipe from chowhound (jdub1371’s reply).

baking ingredients

Finished product doesn’t look too bad, although in the heat of the kitchen the filling was already starting to separate. Bottom layer is a tiny bit charred around the edges but a sharp knife should see to that. I’ll let you know how it tastes after my little geeky housewarming shindig tomorrow :9

Random Food Thought #1

Don’t ever make homemade Macaroni Cheese with Red Leicester cheese, even if the BBC Food recipe website thingy tells you too.

Do however buy a small baguette, cut it in half lengthways, drop several small knobs of butter along the squishy side (opposite of the crusty side) of the bread along with a bulb of roughly chopped garlic (per half). Wrap each half in tin foil and cook at 180 degrees (celcius/centrigrade/whatever) for about 25 minutes or until hot and garlicy. Eat before it cools. Yum. :)

Go love me.