Tuesday 28 April 2009

Little Quiches

I was wandering around the supermarket the other day and I saw these little quiche pans or tart cases or whatever you want to call them. I loved them as they were quite deep. I so hate shallow ones as it is a nuisance to fill them with a runny mixture. They also had a loose bottom. Of course I had to buy them. Then of course I had to use them. I was looking through my recipe books for ideas and I noted Delia Smith had a different way of doing her pastry. It was the usual half fat to flour but she cut the fat in with a knife. I was intrigued so I did exactly that only I used scissors. Much easier than a knife. I find good kitchen scissors indispensable. I chop herbs with them trim meat all sorts of things. Anyway I made the pastry and it was lovely. Somewhere between shortcrust and flaky and so crisp and light. Perfect. I will use this method again.


225g/8 oz plain flour
50g/2oz butter
50g/20z white fat or you can use all butter
25g/1oz grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon mustard powder
good pinch cayenne pepper
1 egg beaten with a little milk.

Cut the fat into the seived flour until it is evenly distributed
Mix in the cheese, mustard and cayenne pepper
Add the egg and milk to bind
Place in a plastic bag or wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for half an hour.

Pre heat your oven to 180.C/160.C Fan/355.F/Gas 4 and pop a baking sheet into the oven too


2 eggs
200 mls double cream
200 mls creme fraiche
1 onion chopped very finely cooked down and caramelised ( if you can't be bothered a few chopped scallions would do)
6 dried tomatoes in olive oil chopped
100gms/4 oz Goats cheese or Feta cheese chopped.
A little grated parmesan or cheddar
salt and pepper

4 x loose bottomed quiche pans 12cms/5 inches diameter well greased.


Divide the pastry into four pieces.
Roll out each piece thinly and fit into the pans. Leave it a little proud at the top to allow for shrinkage.
Place them on the baking sheet and bake for about fifteen minutes until light brown.
Allow to cool

Beat the eggs and creams together.
Scatter the onion cheese and chopped tomatoes over the bottom of the cases.
Pour the egg mix in carefully
sprinkle the grated cheese on the top and a little cayenne pepper
Bake for about 25 mins until the custard has just set and the top is golden.

Monday 27 April 2009

Daring Bakers Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Thank you to Jenny for this month's challenge. I have never made a baked cheesecake before and I was delighted to have the opportunity to try. It was gorgeous. Very simple to make. The only problem was the amount of mixture for the size of the pan. I would certainly reduce it next time and a next time there will be. This was delicious. I added rose water to the mix and drizzled with rose syrup. A few pomegranate seeds for colour. It was heaven on a plate. I can't urge you enough to try it. It's a bit like making baked egg custard, done in a ban marie in the oven. The variations in flavour are endless. All you need is this one basic recipe.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

Some variations from the recipe creator:

** Lavender-scented cheesecake w/ blueberries - heat the cup of heavy cream in the microwave or a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add 2 tbsp of lavender flowers and stir. Let lavender steep in the cream for about 10-15 minutes, then strain the flowers out. Add strained cream to cheesecake batter as normal. Top with fresh blueberries, or make a quick stovetop blueberry sauce (splash of orange juice, blueberries, a little bit of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon - cook until berries burst, then cool)

** Cafe au lait cheesecake with caramel - take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and heat it in the microwave for a short amount of time until very hot. Add 1-2 tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee; stir to dissolve. Add this to the remainder of cream and use as normal. Top cheesecake with homemade caramel sauce (I usually find one on the food network website - just make sure it has heavy cream in it. You can use store-bought in a pinch, but the flavor is just not the same since its usually just sugar and corn syrup with no dairy).

** Tropical – add about a half cup of chopped macadamias to the crust, then top the cake with a mango-raspberry-mandarin orange puree.

** Mexican Turtle - add a bar of melted dark chocolate (between 3 and 5 oz., to taste) to the batter, along with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp.). Top it with pecan halves and a homemade caramel sauce.

** Honey-cinnamon with port-pomegranate poached pears – replace 1/2 cup of the sugar with 1/2 cup of honey, add about a teaspoon or more (to taste) of cinnamon. Take 2 pears (any variety you like or whatever is in season), peeled and cored, and poach them in a boiling poaching liquid of port wine, pomegranate juice/seeds, a couple of "coins" of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, and about a 1/4 cup of sugar. Poach them until tender, then let cool. Strain the poaching liquid and simmer until reduced to a syrupy-glaze consistency, then cool. Thinly slice the cooled pears and fan them out atop the cooled cheesecake. Pour the cooled poaching syrup over the pears, then sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts and fresh pomegranate seeds.

Some variations from Jenny (from JennyBakes):

**Key lime - add zest from one lime to sugar before mixing with cream cheese. Substitute lemon juice, alcohol, and vanilla with key lime juice.

**Cheesecakelets - put in muffin tins, ramekins, or custard cups. Try baking 20-35 minutes, or until still a little jiggly, and cool as before.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Little Loaf Sandwich Cakes

I have tried many cakes over the years. Some disastrous and some good. I always end up falling back on my basic sponge/pound cake recipe. It's dependable in it's results so no waiting with baited breath to see if it sinks burns takes too long to cook or remembering a huge complex list of ingredients. Easy to add a variety of flavours and frostings to ring the changes. A large round cake is too big for the two of us so I tend to make them in loaf tins. Easier for storing and slicing. I do like a sandwich cake so I have to use two x 2lb loaf tins per cake.

Basic Recipe Ingredients

100gms/4oz self raising flour
100gms/4oz soft margarine
100gms.4oz caster sugar
2 eggs beaten


Cream the margarine until really creamy Add sugar and beat again until really light and fluffy. This bit is important for a nice light cake I know it's boring but it's worth it.
Add the beaten egg a little at a time and beat well. It may go curdly but don't worry it will be OK
Sift the flour in gradually and stir in gently.
Divide the mixture between two greased lined 2lb loaf tins and bake at 180.C/160'C Fan/350.F/Gas 4 for about 15-20 minutes until the cakes feel springy on top.
Allow to cool before removing from the tin.

Butter Cream Frosting

100gms/4oz butter softened
200gms/8oz icing sugar

Cream the butter and gradually add the icing sugar.
Beat until light and fluffy.

Spread a layer on one cake then place the other cake on top. Spread a layer of the butter cream on top of it.

Some Variations.

Lemon Cake
Add the grated rind of half a lemon and the juice to the cake mix.
Add grated rind and juice of half a lemon to the frosting.

Coffee cake
Add 1teaspoon of coffee essence or some very strong coffee to the cake mix.
Add 1 teaspoon coffee essence to the frosting
or make some fudge frosting which is lovely.

Fudge Frosting
50gms/20z butter
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
4 teaspoons golden syrup
200gms/8oz icing sugar

Melt the butter milk sugar and syrup in a saucepan
Beat in the icing sugar.
Pour into a bowl and allow to cool.

Chocolate cake
Substitute 1 heaped tablespoon flour with 1 heaped tablespoon of cocoa.
You can add chocolate chips too

Chocolate Frosting
Add 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and a little milk to the basic recipe

I find soft margarine makes a lighter cake than butter but it is your preference.

Tuesday 14 April 2009


My poor Blog has been sadly neglected this past while. I have taken advantage of the good weather we are having to try and catch up in my beloved garden. Here are a few blooms taken this past week.

Sunday 12 April 2009

Red Lentil Soup

A winter warmer if ever there was one. Really we are going out of season for soups in this part of the world. although the evenings are still nippy enough to warrant a bowl of this with warm crusty bread for dinner. I have always found Lentil Soup such a comfort food. So easy to make. A complete meal in a bowl it's so thick and filling. I have tried to quantify the ingredients but this to me is more of a chuck in the pot soup. I also use up slightly 'past their best veggies' in it. The smoked bacon is essential though. Wonderful flavour.


250 gms/8 oz smoked streaky bacon
1 medium sized onion chopped
1 medium potato chopped
2 or 3 carrots chopped
2 red/orange/yellow pepper chopped (The more wrinkly they are the sweeter they are)
225g/8oz red lentils
1 teaspoon of paprika
A good pinch of cayenne pepper
A 400g/14oz can of tomatoes
900mls/1 1/2 pints approx. chicken stock (Keep some more to the side in case you find the soup too thick)
Black pepper
A little oil

Add any veggies around that need using up.


Cut up the bacon and fry gently in the oil.
Add onion and spices and cook slowly until soft.
Add the carrots potatoes peppers and tomatoes then the lentils.
Give it all a good stir.
Add the stock and simmer until the lentils are nice and soft.

Using a stick blender, purée the soup.
Add more stock if you find it too thick.

It freezes well too if you are like me and incapable of making a small pot of soup.

Friday 10 April 2009

Quick Chick

I know it is Easter Friday and I should be making something elaborate but my grandchildren are away on their holidays and I decided to use the freedom to do some much needed cleaning and sorting out. If it didn't move it was cleaned and tidied away. Come dinner time I was weary and I didn't feel much like cooking but wanted something tasty. I had two chicken legs so my Quick Chick was born and very tasty it was too. perhaps there is a nod to Easter there somewhere.

Two chicken legs
8 cloves of garlic squashed
1 teasp dried oregano
A few sprigs of fresh oregano leaves
Peppadew peppers for a little kick
A lemon
Black Pepper
Olive oil
Dry Vermouth about a wine glass
A little parmesan cheese

Place the garlic in a small roasting tin or dish
Set the chicken legs on top drizzle over some oil and rub into the chicken.
Squeeze the lemon juice over, cut the skin up into three or four pieces and tuck it in beside the chicken
Pour over the vermouth
Tuck in a few of the peppadews
Sprinkle over the dried and fresh oragano
Grind plenty pepper over the top.
Pop in the oven at about 180.C/350.F/gas4 for about 40 mins.
Sprinkle over some grated parmesan and put back in the oven for ten minutes.
Serve with the juices and the now soft squashed garlic poured over.

I served it with roast smushed potatoes which are really Nigella Lawson's sticky garlic potatoes without the garlic.
Boil new skin on baby potatoes, drain and bash them up a bit.
When they are nearly cooked, heat some oil or fat of your choice in a roasting tin.
When it's good and hot tip the bashed potatoes in and cook in the oven for about half an hour or until golden and crispy. Turn them over about fifteen minutes into cooking.

I love a meal that is all done in the oven

Happy Easter

Monday 6 April 2009

Award Time

Thank you to Dawn for this lovely award. She apparently pops into my blog for inspiration. What a lovely complement.

The Premios Dardo Award
Thank you Sally from Pink Bytes for this lovely award. I so appreciate the thought. It means and I quote from Sally
1..This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.
2..The Premios Dardo is designed to recognize unique voices and visions on the Web as well as to promote fraternization amongst bloggers of all sorts.

I am afraid I am not very efficient about awards. I have received awards in the past and always thank people but then I forget to put them on my blog. I shall put some on this post with grateful thanks to those who took the time and thought to award them to me.