Saturday 25 July 2020

New York Cheesecake

Effectively, sugarless - since this can be made using either sugar or sucralose, and the end result is identical. Light, creamy, and delicious, with a glorious vanilla flavour, and the option of having as many (more) slices as you feel like...

For a 9 inch cheesecake.

Ingredients: 800g cream cheese; 3/4 cup sugar (or sucralose); one and a half cups of digestive biscuits (graham crackers); 4 tbs butter; 3 medium eggs; 2 tsp vanilla essence; 2 tbs cornflour; 1 cup sour cream. Berries, for garnish (optional)


1. Heat the oven to 190 degrees C. Grease a 9 inch springform pan and line the base with greaseproof paper. 

2. Melt the butter, and then blitz it in the food processor along with the biscuits. Press the mixture into the base of the prepared pan, and bake for ten minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 200 degrees C.

3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar (or sucralose) until properly mixed,then add the eggs, vanilla and cornflour and beat just to incorporate. Add to this the sour cream, and stir it in, using a spatula.

4. Pile the mixture onto the biscuit base, and bake for 45 minutes. At the end of this time, turn off the oven, prop the door open with a wooden spoon, and leave to rest for three hours as the oven cools.

5. Serve garnished (or not) with berries of your choice. I used blackberries from the garden, which had been macerated in almond syrup.

Friday 24 July 2020

Classic French Apple Tart

The apple harvest will soon be upon us, and already the trees are heavy with fruit. Arguably, one of the best ways of dealing with it, this recipe is for a dense puree of apples,with butter,lemon, cinnamon, and a dash of hooch, topped with thin slices of fruit, all in a crisp shortcrust pastry shell.

For two individual tarts.

Ingredients: 2 shortcrust pastry shells, approx 10 cm (4 inches) diameter; 4 medium apples (Gala, or Pink Lady, or Reinette, by preference, but really anything will do,as long as it isn't Bramleys or Golden Delicious); 1/4 cup sugar, + 1 tbs sugar; 2 tbs butter; grated zest and juice of half a lemon; 1 tsp ground cinnamon; 3 tbs apricot jam; 1 tbs brandy. 


1. Heat oven to 180 degrees C.

2. Peel core and dice 3 of the apples; cook slowly in a small covered pan for about twenty minutes, until the fruit has more or less collapsed. Add all the remaining ingredients apart from the last apple, the tbs sugar, and 1 tbs of jam; raise the heat and cook, stirring, until you have a dense puree - this might take a further ten minutes; have a care, as the mixture can easily catch and burn!

3. Divide the puree between the pastry shells. Peel and core the remaining apple, and slice very thinly. Arrange the slices in a circle on top of each tart, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar before placing the tarts in the oven. Bake for about fifteen minutes, just until the edges of the slices start to colour. 

4. Once cooled, use the remaining apricot jam to make a glaze, and carefully glaze the surface of each tart.

Serve, along with Mascarpone which has been whipped with a slug of marsala.

Thursday 23 July 2020

Ravioli Gnudi...

This is a dish I could happily eat every day! Nutmeg, spinach, and ricotta, all held together in a light ricotta ball, and poached just until they will hold together on the plate.

For two servings: 100g chopped, cooked spinach; 2 tbs chopped parsley; 1 generous pinch nutmeg; 1 garlic clove; 70g ricotta; 45g plain flour; 1 egg; 50g grated parmesan (plus extra, to serve); seasoning, to aste.


1. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients.

2. With wet hands, form the mixture into walnut-sized balls - some people at this stage flour the outside; I find this makes the gnudi heavier than I like. Place the balls, separated, on a large plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Bring a large shallow pan ( a large saute pan works well) of water to the boil, and into it drop the gnudi. The temperature of the water will anyway drop, but stop it from coming back to the boil, as this risks damaging the gnudi. After a minute, the gnudi will rise to the surface; cook for a minute longer and then remove from the water with the use of a slotted spoon.

4. Serve, sprinkled with more grated parmesan.

Monday 20 July 2020

Bouché a la Reine

Mushrooms and chicken in a delicious sauce, piled into a deep phyllo-and-almond pastry shell, and garnished with parsley. 

For two servings.

Ingredients: 1 sheet phyllo; 3 tbs butter; 1tbs slivered almonds; 1 shallot, finely diced; 1 cup sliced mushrooms; 1 cup diced cooked chicken (leftovers, normally, in this house); 1.5 tbs flour; chicken stock, approx 2 cups; seasoning; parsley, to garnish.


1. Heat oven to 180 degrees C. 

2. Melt 1 tbs butter, and use it to brush the phyllo. Divide the phyllo into 4, and use two each of the parts to line 2 deep ramekins, sprinkling the slivered almonds between the two layers of phyllo. Bake for five minutes or so until a golden brown. Set aside.

3. In the remaining butter, in a double boiler, soften the shallot, and then add to it the mushrooms. After ten minutes, sprinkle with flour and mix in, and then add the chicken and sufficient stock just to cover. Leave to cook gently, stirring from time to time, until the mixture has visibly thickened. Taste and season as needed.

4. Place each pastry shell on a serving plate and spoon into them the mushroom-chicken mixture. Garnish and serve.