Friday, November 23, 2012

Easy chicken and baby marrow saute

This recipe is for those days when work has got the better of you, the kids are hungry, you’re exhausted and just thinking of the dreaded three words, ‘whats for dinner’ is enough to bring you to your knees. It’s quick, it’s tasty and it’s healthy and that’s all you really need to know isn’t it? Swop the courgettes for aubergines, butternut, peppers or ready-to-roast veggies (no chopping is an added bonus) and dinner is a mere 30 minutes away. And if there are any leftovers? Toss through cooked pasta with a spoonful of pesto or softened cream cheese and you have lunch (or dinner) version 2.0.

(serves 4)

700g courgettes or baby marrows, chopped into chunks
1 chilli, deseeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
juice from 1 lemon
olive oil

Yoghurt sauce
250g unflavoured yoghurt
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1T chopped mint

400g chicken mince
salt & pepper, to taste
1 egg
handful basil, chopped
handful Italian parsley, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
½ - 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Combine all the ingredients for the courgette and bake at 180˚C for 20-30 minutes. Mix the ingredients for the yoghurt sauce and leave to infuse. Mix all the ingredients for the chicken balls together and form into golfball size rounds. Fry in hot oil until brown and cooked. Serve the courgette topped with the chicken balls with a drizzling of yogurt sauce.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My famous baked white chocolate cheesecake

I’m not one to hold on to so-called ‘secret’ recipes but this one, I keep close. In fact I’ve been prolonging the day I’d share this recipe with anyone because it is just that good. How good? Well, good enough to help in winning over a boyfriend or two. After all, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and anyone who contests that, hasn’t tasted my cheesecake. But speaking of ‘secret’ recipes, I’m reminded of a story my grandmother used to tell of a dear old friend of hers who was known for her outstanding bakes at the church bazaar. To everyone’s amazement, she would willingly hand out her ‘secret’ recipes with a smile to any avid baker who asked for them. However, her ‘secret’ recipes never seemed to emerge from other’s oven’s quite as perfectly as it did from hers. You can only imagine the scandal and sordidness of it all when it was discovered that she would leave out an ingredient or two when passing on the recipe. With that in mind though, rest assured that my precious, velvety, rich white chocolate and cardamom-laced cheesecake recipe below, features in all it’s original glory. No recipes were harmed in the posting of this blog. Enjoy!

Cardamom and white chocolate cheesecake
(serves 10-12)

400g coconut biscuits
100g butter or margarine, melted
800g cream cheese, room temperature
300g crème fraîche, room temperature
180g castor sugar
40g cake flour
4 eggs
200g white chocolate, melted
1/4t ground cardamom (optional)
zest of 2 lemons

Combine the biscuits and butter in a food processor and press into a 20cm lined cake tin.

TIP: If using a springform tin, cover the outside of the tin in one large sheet of foil to prevent the water from the bain marie entering the cake tin.
Mix the cheese, crème fraîche, sugar, flour, eggs, white chocolate, cardamom and zest together until smooth and pour into the crust.

TIP: Don’t beat or whip the mixture – filling should be creamy and smooth not aerated.
Bake in a bain-marie at 100°C until just set with a slight wobble in the middle.

TIP: Don’t over bake the cheesecake or it will become crumbly instead of smooth and velvety.
Allow to cool at room temperature then refrigerate until set.


Mix 120ml sour cream and 2T castor sugar with a pinch of saffron that has been steeped in 1t hot water for 10 minutes. Just before the cheesecake is ready, remove from the oven and carefully spread the saffron mixture over the cheesecake and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Combine all the ingredients except the white chocolate and divide into two. Add 100g white chocolate to the one batch and 100g dark chocolate to the remaining batch. Pour the white chocolate mix into the crust and drizzle with the dark chocolate mix. Swirl with a skewer to create a marble effect before baking.

Add a handful of raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries or any other fruit into the cheesecake mix once it has been poured into the base, before baking.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Eggs Benedict

Who would say no to poached eggs on crispy toasted ciabatta and dredged with a creamy hollandaise sauce? No one, that’s who. It’s such a classic weekend breakfast dish but is a treat that most people will only indulge in at restaurants because, let’s face it, it has a rather intimidating cheffy name. In actual fact, making your own is pretty simple and the brownie points you’ll earn for surprising your husband or wife with this on a Saturday morning will be worth it. It will also save you on an expensive breakfast which is quite affordable when made at home. If you’re brave enough, the French insist on making proper hollandaise with your wrist and a whisk but if you’re anything like me and simply want to get down to the eating part, a blender is the way to go.

For the hollandaise:

2 egg yolks
1 1/2T good-quality white vinegar
250g unsalted butter, melted and warm
white pepper, to taste
lemon juice, to taste

Place the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl and whisk in the vinegar.
Cover the bottom of the bowl with a dish cloth and set it over a pan of gently simmering water (the bottom of the bowl shouldn’t touch the water) and whisk in the butter a little at a time until all the butter has been added and the sauce is thick. The bowl should never be too hot to touch.
For the quick way: place the egg yolks and vinegar in a blender and blend until combined. Gradually add the hot butter in a steady stream with the motor running until thick and glossy.
Season with salt, white pepper and lemon juice to taste.

TIPS If the sauce is a little thick, simply thin it with a little warm water. If not serving immediately, cover the surface of the sauce with cling wrap and place in a warm place or over a bowl of warm water for not more than an hour or two.

For the benedict:

4 fresh eggs, poached
4 slices ciabatta, toasted
4 slices of smoked salmon, trout, ham
marinated artichokes or steamed spinach

Place the warm eggs on the toasted ciabatta along with the salmon and artichokes or spinach.
Season well before spooning the hollandaise sauce over. If you like, you can even place it under a hot grill for a few seconds for the hollandaise to caramelize.