Monthly Archives: March 2012

Savoury cheesecake with red onion topping

This recipe came about because I love cheesecake bases – these crumbly and rich pastry made out of biscuits- and I wanted to create a savoury version.

Here it is! And the beauty of it is that it can be declined with plenty of different fillings: onions, spinach, pumpkin, you name it… The limit is your imagination.

Ingredients list:

For the base

  • Oat cakes 300g (I chose the Fine Cheese Co ones for their butter content)
  • Olive oil, 2 Tbsp
  • Parmesan, 10g
  • Pinch of black pepper (the Fine Chesse Co has pepper in it already but some don’t)
Crumble and mix: you can use a food processor or your hands for that but keep mixing until you get to a crumbly but holding texture. Add a drop of water if it feels too much like sand! Do get nice, “artisan” oatcakes, preferably without palm oil (do google the reasons why); I also love the Patterson oatcakes with olive oil.
For the filling
  • Red onions, 6
  • Egg,1
  • crème fraîche, 50ml
  • Olive oil, 1 Tbsp
  • Balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp
  • Mascarpone, 50g
  • Drizzle of rice syrup or agave
Slice the onions finely (I hate doing that and I’ll bribe husband or kids to do it for me- what is the point of family otherwise?…).
Let them melt on low heat with the oil until soft. Cover the pan but watch it carefully.
Towards the end, splash in the vinegar and a drizzle of rice syrup – if you do not like “sweet and sour” touches do not fret as usually the onions are sweet enough.
Pat the crumbly base into a cake tin – best to choose one with removable bottom. You just want a thick enough layer at the base, do not worry about building up sides. Too tricky… My philosophy is to keep it simple and enjoyable.
Put it in the oven at 170° for 10 minutes until slightly golden.
Mix the onion jam in a large bowl with the beaten egg, cream and mascarpone.
Take the base out of the oven and pour the filling inside the tin.
Put back in the oven for 20 min.
Serve with a big leafy salad.

PS: I also made recently a version with freshly steamed spinach that my son loved a lot better- not being such a fan of onions…

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Katharine Hepburn’s brownies

I made a batch of these rich brownies last week-end and I will be making another tomorrow: they are the perfect gooey, fudgy and moist brownies ever… I had tried several other recipes over the years but this one is definitely the best. It comes courtesy of Ms Hepburn – via The Week– and they certainly have the star quality I was looking for. They taste as good as the delicious brownies we love to order with the film at the delightfully retro Electric cinema in Portobello. We love going as a family to sprawl on the gorgeous leather sofas while watching the latest French film – The Artist was our last one. Their wonderful brownies are a large part of the attraction  and help make the outing that little bit more special.

But back to the recipe – do not be afraid (as I was) as regard to the amount of sugar because that is the reason for the fudgy texture and slightly toffee flavour…  Best not to skimp on that then.

Ingredients list:

  • Butter 120g (I used 100g)
  • Dark chocolate 50g (I put 100g)
  • Eggs 2 beaten
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vanilla essence
  • Caster sugar 200g – hold your nerves…
  • Chopped walnuts 150g
  • Flour 45g ( I used self-raising)

I took The Week version with the above changes and it was heavenly. Darker and less oily than the original. Apparently close to the Cranks Bible recipe.

Preheat the oven to 170°.

Melt the butter with the chocolate in a saucepan on low heat and remove before it is totally melted so you don’t get the chocolate too hot as it instantly looses its flavour and texture. I used a Guanaja 70% by Valrona.

Add the beaten eggs, sugar and  two drops of vanilla essence. I used light brown Demerara sugar to enhance the toffee hints.

Add a pinch of salt and the chopped walnuts – I use a pestle for a rough crumble.

Add the flour through a sieve and mix well.

Pour out in a square cake tin lined with baking paper and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your oven.

They come out a bit wrinkly and still quite soft and will set on cooling but keeping their moist and fudgy, irresistible texture. A great find!

Now enjoy and do follow Katharine Hepburn advice: “Never quit, be yourself, and don’t put too much flour in your brownies”.

Superfood granola

Granola is a relatively new comer on the food scene- I don’t recall eating anything like that when I was younger. But it is a very worthy addition to a health-conscious larder and even though there are some delicious shop-bought versions, it remains a luxury product. Given it is such an easy thing to make in big quantities, I would really recommend you try doing your own customised version from time to time.

Best homemade breakfast

I do realise that this is my second Granola on the blog but they are very different: the previous one had the smoky and rich taste of treacle and held into clumps because of the butter content ; while this new one is a finer, paler edition and has a delicate hint of citrus with the addition of grated lemon and orange zest. I also really love the coconut shavings I’ve added! Let’s say it’s a springtime version…

I have it in the morning with oat milk, for a snack directly from the jar and if coming back hungry from late night outing, I enjoy it over yogurt with a hint of honey or agave syrup. You can have it with milk, add fresh fruit to it, the combinations are endless…

Ingredients list:

  • Rapeseed oil (with dash of linseed oil) 160ml
  • Maple syrup 120ml
  • Rolled oats 200g
  • Barley or quinoa flakes 50g (optional)
  • Agave syrup 2 Tbsp
  • Mix of pecan nuts, linseeds, pumpkins seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower and linseeds
  • Coconut shavings or ground coconut
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Zest of one orange and one lemon

Mix all the dry ingredients into a large bowl, then add the oil and mix it in.

Add the maple syrup and rub it all in.

This time I used some toasted coconut shavings that I had found at Wholefoods and they were a great addition! But if I don’t have them I’ll try something else!

I love experimenting with new flavours and the hint of citrus brought in by the zest makes my morning every day at the moment! Aromatherapy tells us that lemon and orange essential oils are both uplifting and energising so I feel this is therapy as well as a meal.

Spread the mix into a shallow dish and place in the middle shelf of your oven for no more than 40 min at 150°. Slowly baking is best. It is ready when toasted and golden. A low oven is important because the seeds burn easily.

Ebly risotto with kale and sorrel leaves

Kale seems to be plentiful in the spring and even in winter my local supermarket shelves are awash with their green leaves so I am always trying to find new ways to accommodate this super food.

Fresh offering!

I cooked this creamy risotto with my daughter recently and we decided that was one of our best Family recipes! Because it ticks all three criteria: it is quick, contains no more than 4/5 main ingredients and is a very balanced and healthy food.

Ingredients list

  • Drop of olive oil
  • Shallots, 2
  • Ebly (or barley grains) 200g
  • Water 400ml
  • White miso, 50g or two tablespoons
  • Blanched kale, two big handful- hard stalks removed
  • Fresh sorrel, 1 small bunch
  • Soya cream and olive oil to finish off
  • Black pepper and salt to season after cooking
Ebly is a wheat grain and makes a lovely change from rice. I find mine at Tesco. It keeps a crunch when cooked and has a nutty taste.
Fry the sliced shallots in a little bit of oil, then add the grain and water.
Leave to simmer while you do what follows:
Steam or quickly blanch the chopped kale (discarding the tough stems) and add those in with the freshly washed sorrel – or dandelion or rocket if you prefer: any peppery and flavoured greens will do! Not much is needed. Sorrel gives a nice citrussy taste.
Cook on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until most of the water has been soaked up, not unlike a risotto. Add the miso paste towards the end
Season with salt (if you have used miso you won’t need it) and pepper ; then serve with a dash of soya cream or olive oil.

Nutrition notes: Ebly is a complex carb and rich in fibre; Kale is rich in antioxidants and vitamins (K, A and C). Together they make a super energising and cleansing food, ideal for a macrobiotic or vegetarian option. The white miso paste is a staple of the macrobiotic diet and allows good bacteria to grow in your guts and to provide good digestion.

My wild oats and funky seeds flapjacks

To get some healthy snack ready for school pick up is sometimes tricky and the offer of biscuits not always what I want to give my children… These flapjacks make a delicious alternative and they are quick to rustle up – plus they keep very well in a metal box.Ingredients list

  • Rapeseed oil 100ml
  • 50g butter
  • Treacle 1 tbsp
  • Porridge oats 200g
  •  Agave syrup 2 tbsp
  • Muscovado sugar 50g
  • Mix of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts and sesame seeds 150g or there about
  • Handful of dried raisins, apricots or cranberries
  • Golden linseeds, a one tbsp

Sadly, there is still a bit of butter in this new recipe, but only little and without it it seems the flopjacks do not hold and you get crumbs instead of bars in the lunch box…

Melt the butter and oil in a medium pan.

Put all the dry ingredients together 
in a big bowl, then pour in the melted butter and mix while adding the 
agave syrup and the treacle. Use a warm spoon to spoon out the treacle easily: just dip the spoon in boiling water a few seconds and use immediately!
Spread into an oiled tray so that you get 
a depth of about 1 cm. Put in a hot oven at 180〫for about 20min. The edges 
must look brown and crispy before you take it out. Let it cool down 
then cut big squares with the tip of a knife. Enjoy with a cup of tea … 
Blissful!

Nutrition notes:
Oats are very good at lowering your cholesterol and are a superfood, especially for active children. The agave syrup is a healthy option because its low glycemic load means that your glucose
levels won’t shoot up too quickly, so no hunger pangs straight after
and more long term energy. You can replace the seeds with fruit and nuts but some linseeds will be very kind to your colon and help your overall digestion. And it is a good way to get your chicks to eat their seeds! The butter is a bit of a trade-off but children need its vitamin A and fatty acics- in limited quantity…

If you want to know more about healthy eating for children and are looking for an Easter holiday activity for under 14, do contact me. I am soon launching The Healthy Cooking Club for children! Do join in for funky and healthy cooking classes.

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