Tag Archives: recipe

Whisky and honey cheesecake with a raspberry sauce

Well, now we have got Christmas and New Year out of the way, I thought I would share a recipe that would be very good for Burns’ Night.  Burns Night is a Scottish celebration on January 25th to mark the contribution of Robert Burns to Scottish culture.

We are not Scottish, we don’t live anywhere near Scotland, but any excuse for a party. My parents are having a Burns’ Night bash on the Saturday after the 25th and I came up with this cheesecake for that night. Obviously, I had to have a test-run first.

It is a celebration of Scottish food. The Scots are famed for their whisky, their honey and their raspberries. I have also used Scottish oatcakes in the base, as a Scot needs their oats.

It’s a lovely combination, and obviously at this time of year you will need to use frozen raspberries if you are in the same hemisphere as me, but I am going to try it in the summer with a layer of fresh raspberries in the place of the raspberry sauce.  Even if you aren’t celebrating Burns’ Night, I urge you to give this a go. But, it is perfect after your haggis and tatties and neeps.

For the biscuit base:
150g Scottish Oatcakes
100g digestives
150g unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp runny honey (local or Scottish)

For the cheesecake filling:
250g mascarpone (at room temperature)
250g cream cheese (at room temperature)
300ml double cream
3tsp runny honey
5-7 tbsp Scottish whisky (amount needed will depend on your taste)

For the raspberry sauce:
250g raspberries (frozen at this time of year)
3 tsp runny honey
2 tsp raspberry vinegar (optional)
½ tsp arrowroot powder mixed with 1 tsp cold water

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or gas mark 4

To make the base, place the oatcakes and digestives into a food bag and bash with a rolling pin until they are fine crumbs (or you could use a food processor).  Place into a bowl and add the honey and the melted butter and mix well.  Press into a 23cm springform cake tin using a metal spoon until firmly levelled.  Place in the oven for 6 minutes until golden. Leave to cool thoroughly.

To make the cheesecake filling, place the mascarpone, cream cheese and honey into a large bowl and mix well together.  Softly whip the cream in another bowl.  Then carefully fold the cream into the cheese mixture.  Add the whisky to your taste. To do this begin by  adding four tablespoons of whisky and taste, then add a tablespoon at a time until it tastes right to you. Spoon the mixture onto the cool base and level the top with a metal spoon.  Place in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Make the sauce by placing the frozen raspberries into a saucepan over a medium heat.  Add the honey and the raspberry vinegar (if you are using it) and cook the raspberries until they have become pulpy (about five minutes of cooking).  Sieve over a large bowl, pressing the raspberries through with a spoon so that you only have seeds left in the sieve and a seedless sauce in the bowl. Pour the sauce back into the pan and add the arrowroot and water mixture.  Bring to the boil and cook until slightly thickened. Pour into a jug and cool completely.  Place in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Just before serving, remove the sides of the cake tin and place the cheesecake onto a serving plate.  Pour the sauce over the top of the cheesecake, spreading evenly.  Serve in thick slices with extra cream.

 

Baked pumpkin

baked pumpkin

Further to my post about our bumper pumpkin harvest I have been thinking about how we can use some of our pumpkins.  So tonight I thought that pumpkin goes well with sage and that perhaps adding cream and wine and roasting the pumpkin might be good. I was going to cut it into chunks but when I cut it in half it occurred to me that if I scooped the seeds out the pumpkin itself would be the perfect receptacle for a sauce, so I simply added the cream, wine and sage leaves and cooked until tender and I have to say that this is a really nice way to have pumpkin. It went really well with the roast chicken that we had with it. It’s hard to be precise about quantities of cream and wine as it will depend on the size of your pumpkin, you need to use an equal amount of each to fill the cavity.

A small to medium pumpkin
white wine
double cream
4-5 sage leaves
salt and pepper
olive oil

Method
Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds.  Place the pumpkin into a foil lined baking tray.  Season the pumpkin with salt and pepper.  Add equal quantities of cream and white wine into the cavity, add the sage leaves and season generously.  Sprinkle the pumpkin shell with good olive oil.   Bring the foil over the pumpkin and wrap well. Bake in a hot oven (200°c, 400°f, gas mark 6) until tender.  The medium sized one I cooked took 40 minutes. Unwrap the foil and place back in the oven for five more minutes until the cream mixture is bubbling.

To serve, take the whole pumpkin to the table and scoop the flesh and the sauce out with a large serving spoon.

This would be good with parmesan cheese grated over before it’s cooked for the last five minutes. You could also try different herbs, a sprig of thyme would be good or rosemary.

Stewed damsons

stewed damsons

I think one of the best things to do with damsons is to keep it simple and stew them with sugar. I tend to cook them straight from frozen, they just need a little bit longer in the oven.  It’s hard to beat them when they are served with custard.  My girls love to mix the damson juice with the custard to make a vivid pink pudding.  We each save all the damson stones and then see who we are going to marry by counting them saying “Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief’ and then we count them again to see how we are going to travel to church on the wedding day “coach, carriage, wheelbarrow, muck cart”. It’s daft but it has to be done.

It’s hard to give precise measurements here because it will depend on how tart or sweet you like your damsons.  I like mine to taste tart and then be sweetened by the custard.

Serves 4

300g (10oz) frozen damsons
5 dessertspoons demerara sugar

Put the damsons and sugar into an ovenproof bowl and bake at 180°c for 20 minutes until the damsons are soft and have begun to burst out of their skins.

Serve warm with plenty of warm custard.

damsons and custard

Queen of puddings

queen of puddings

The Queen of Puddings is one of my favourite puddings, it’s a last meal choice I think. It’s the ultimate in comfort cooking and a good one for when the nights are drawing in and the weather is getting chilly.  I made the one in the picture today for after our sunday lunch and it didn’t last long.  It’s an easy pudding to do for sunday lunch because you can cook it in advance to the stage before you put the meringue on top and that last stage takes less than five minutes to prepare, with 10- 15  minutes cooking, so if you do it just before you are ready to serve the sunday lunch, pudding will still be warm when you are ready to eat it .  I made this one with damson jam because that is what I am enjoying at the moment, but you can use any jam you like.  Strawberry jam is a very good choice indeed!

Serves 6
100g (4 oz) white breadcrumbs
1 pint (570ml) whole milk
10 g (½ oz) butter
grated rind of 1 lemon
4 eggs
40g (1½ oz) caster sugar
4 tbsps of the jam of your choice
Method
Separate 3 of the eggs, putting the whites to one side to make the meringue later and add the yolks  to the remaining whole egg, beating them lightly together.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan to boiling point, remove from the heat, stir in the butter, lemon rind and breadcrumbs.  Leave for 20 minutes for the breadcrumbs to swell.

Put the jam in the bottom of a deep baking dish (one that has a three pint capacity). Add the yolks to the breadcrumb mixture,combining well, and pour this mixture over the jam. Put into the centre of a preheated oven at 180°c (350°f, gas mark 4) and bake for 20-25 mins until set. Leave to cool.

Beat the egg whites until stiff then add the sugar a teaspoonful at a time whilst still whisking.  Spread this meringue mixture over the top of the pudding. Bake in the oven at 180°c for 10-15 mins until the meringue is golden brown.  Serve whilst warm, but should you have any left, which is doubtful, then it is also lovely cold the next day.

Macaroni Cheese

mac cheese

I had a tub of creme fraiche in the fridge last night that needed using up so I did an experiment with macaroni cheese, replacing the usual white sauce with a creme fraiche base.  It was good, adding a little zing to the dish. I served it with slices of ham and it made a good meal and saved wasting that tub of creme fraiche.

200 g macaroni pasta
200 ml creme fraiche
1 tsp Dijon mustard
a pinch of cayenne pepper
50 g mature cheddar, grated

25g breadcrumbs mixed with 25g grated cheese for the crunchy topping

Method
Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add salt if you like ( I tend not to, which is probably a heinous cooking crime), add macaroni and cook for 7-8 minutes or as advised on the packet until al dente. It will cook a little more in the oven so don’t overcook at this stage. Drain well.

In a bowl mix the creme fraiche with the Dijon mustard and a pinch of cayenne. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the drained pasta and stir to combine.  Pour into a baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and cheese over the top and cook in a preheated oven at 200°c (400°f, gas mark 6) for 20-25 mins until bubbling and golden on top. Serve warm with crusty bread and a salad.

A lovely loaf of white bread – at last

cooked loaf

I have been making bread for years but it is only recently that the finished bread has been enjoyable.  Most of my bread making has resulted in a lumpen dough that my husband has very kindly eaten. I think bread making takes practice.  I have, I think, improved because my kneading technique has improved with practice and I now know that you shouldn’t let the salt and the yeast come into contact with one another before you start to mix the dough. Apparently the salt begins to de-activate the yeast. Also I now add more water than I used to, a sticky dough works better than a slightly too dry dough. I made a loaf of bread yesterday to go with the ham and pea soup I made and it worked out quite well. I am very proud of that achievement after years of lumpen dough.

The recipe I use comes from my well used copy of The River Cottage Family Cookbook (2005, Hodder & Stoughton).  I can’t recommend this book enough, everything works and is really well explained.  It is aimed at younger members of the family but it is a book I turn to again and again. I am a fan of most things coming out of River Cottage.
The picture above shows a loaf that I made out of half this quantity of dough, as I split it and made two loaves.

500g strong white flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp or a 7g sachet of fast-action bred yeast
2 tsps sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
300 ml warm water
Method
Measure the flour and place in a large bowl.  I like to warm this in a low oven (100°c, or lowest setting) for a few minutes whilst I get the rest of the ingredients ready.  I have a granite worktop which cools everything down too much otherwise.  Keep the salt and yeast away from one another until you are ready to mix.  When everything is prepared add the yeast, sugar and salt to the flour and mix to combine.  Add the olive oil and the water and work with your hands to a soft and, importantly, slightly sticky dough.  Take this out of the bowl and knead well for as long as you can bear, at least seven minutes if possible, it’s better if it’s ten minutes.  Do it until you feel your arms want to drop off.  To knead you hold the dough with one hand and then stretch some of the dough away from you with the heel of the other hand and then bring it back into a ball and repeat. It needs to be smooth and when you poke your index finger in and take it out the dough should bounce back.  Place it back into the bowl and cover with a clean damp tea towel or oiled cling film and place in a warm part of the kitchen for 1- 1½ hours until the dough has doubled in size.  Grease a loaf tin or a baking tray with a little olive oil.Give the dough a punch to knock the air out and knead for 30 seconds and shape into a ball if you are making a loaf on a baking tray or roll into a sausage shape and fold in half and place into the loaf tin.  Leave to prove for another 30 minutes, covered with a cloth or the oiled cling film, but don’t let it double in size again as it needs to continue to grow when it’s in the oven.  Bake in a preheated oven at 220° c (425°f, gas mark 7) for about 25-30 mins.  To check it’s cooked turn it out of its tin and give it a knock. If it sounds hollow it’s cooked.  If I cook it in a loaf tin, I like to put it back in the oven out of its tin for a further five minutes for the crust to get crisp. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Pickled Damsons

Pickling damsons

Pickling damsons

We have a couple of damson trees in our garden.  Last year a late frost damaged the blossom and there was not a damson to be seen. This year the trees have been loaded. We have frozen some ready for making stewed damsons this winter, I have made damson jam and damson vodka and pickled damsons.  I was introduced to the idea of pickled damsons by my husband and I must admit that I was appalled at the very thought until I tried them!  Now I am a convert, they are absolutely delicious with cold ham, sweet with a sour tang. If you haven’t tried them they are very easy to make and really worth it.  Once tried you will be making them again and again. This is a recipe from my mother-in-law from an old pamphlet collecting local people’s favourite recipes.

Sterilise 3 x 1 lb jars by washing them thoroughly, swilling with hot water and then placing in a low oven (100°c) for 20 mins

2 lbs (900g) damsons
½ pint (275ml) malt vinegar
2 lbs (900g) dark brown sugar
1 oz (25g) ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick
2 tsp ground cloves or 6 whole cloves

Method
Prick the damsons with a fork or several times with a skewer and put into a large jar or bowl.  Tie the spices into a muslin bag and place in a large saucepan with the sugar and vinegar and bring to the boil. Pour this mixture over the damsons and leave for 24 hours.  Turn all into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.  Boil for 3 mins.  Carefully spoon into the hot sterilised jars and cover when cold.  These are best stored for 6 weeks before tucking in and they last for ages and ages.  I have had jars for a year or more and still tasting delicious.