September, 2011

Sep 11

Cheesecake – the bake divide

Do puddings get more comforting than a cheesecake? Crumble perhaps plays a close second to this decadent, comforting dessert that feels like a warm, sweet hug and tastes like a little slice of creamy heaven.

It sits firmly in the camp of luxurious puddings with crème brulee, panna cotta and ice cream – a real treat but also one which works incredibly well with a spot of sharp fruit involved. Think of crème brulee spiked with the aromatic tang of passionfruit, panna cotta served with a spoonful of stewed, tart blackcurrants providing a beautiful, stark colour contrast too – deepest night-purple against purest white, or vanilla ice cream with raspberry sauce.

I love both varieties of cheesecake – a NY one studded with that all-American favourite, the blueberry, cooked to a gentle wobble and then left to set overnight; or a no-cook number, a classic digestive base coupled with mascarpone or some other cream cheese and double cream and plenty of red fruit swirled through it. You’ll notice this recipe is low on the sugar front – because it’s so rich I find the filling must be relatively unsweetened – with the base providing a sweet, crunchy finish to the dish. Feel free to add ground or smashed nuts to the base – hazelnuts or pistachios would make a delicious addition. You could easily use frozen fruit here too – just defrost before use.

Click here to read my recipe for raspberry smash cheesecake

Sep 11

Slaw season

American food has become the now-food – burgers are popping up on every other menu, pulled pork, slow braised beef ribs, fries and onion rings are the norm. Slaw or coleslaw might seem as American as apple pie – but it actually has its roots in Europe – the word itself coming from the Dutch koolsla, an abbreviation of koolsalade ie cabbage salad.

A good coleslaw though is a world apart – a versatile, quick accompaniment to a meal. I’ve veered further and further from the traditional mayo treatment, preferring a lighter, fresher version made with buttermilk, cider vinegar and just a dollop or so of mayonnaise. Another delicious variant is a yogurt based dressing with olive oil, mustard and again a splash of vinegar or citrus.
It’s a simple way to use whatever veggies you’ve got left in the fridge – and don’t view it as solely a Summer treat – our hardy root vegetables are ideal for coleslaw – parsnips and celeriac making fantastic additions. We usually have a coleslaw to accompany lunch on Boxing day – with a few beautiful dried cranberries or sour cherries thrown in for good measure. Fresh herbs lend a welcome lift and a perfumed note. Ideal with cold cuts…and a million miles from the shop bought variety.

And what are your slaw secrets?

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