Tag Archives: cheese

The best cheesecake I ever had

I am not sure how to write this blog piece. Cause I think I could spend 24 hours thinking about it and still I would not be able to describe this cheesecake. Does it say enough when I tell you this cheesecake was eaten by the two of us in just one day? Although I bake regularly I mostly share it with friends and relatives, since I am not really a sweet toot myself. But this cheesecake was like kryptonite to me. This cheesecake was also the reason I bought BBC Good Food magazine for the first time ever. It cost me 11 euro’s but the cheesecake makes it the best spend 11 euro ever. Good food serves it with a nice summer berry mix… I don’t. The cake doesn’t need it. It’s a star all by itself. I honestly think it is even better without anything else on top of it! And yes I tried… I munched a part down with some strawberry sauce and I ate part just plain. Plain for the win!

 INGREDIËNTS

200 grams of shortbread cookies
50 grams melted butter
600 grams of soft cheese (I used Philadelphia)
200 grams of crème fraiche
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
175 grams of golden caster sugar
2 tablespoons of plain flour
2 eggs
 

 Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking parchment.

The recipe states that you need to tip the shortbread in a food processor. And I agree that it is the easiest way to crumble it down. But it isn’t the funnest way. I tipped my shortbread into a zip lock bag and bashed it down with a bottle. Yes I have a food processor, but bashing with a bottle is a lot more fun!

Add the melted butter and mix well. Then press the mix into the base of the loaf tin.

Beat the cheese, crème fraiche, vanilla and sugar until smooth, then mix in the flour and the eggs until smooth again.  Poor the mix into the tin and smooth the top with a knife. 
Bake the cake in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat to 120 degrees Celsius and bake for another 80 minutes. The cake is done when there is just s light wobble in the centre. Turn of the heat and let de cake cool completely in the oven.
Place it in the refrigerator to firm up.

Recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine August 2010

Cannelloni with ricotta and minced meat

The husband and I are huge fans of Italian food, So I am always happy to try out something new and exciting. Normally I use a very basic cannelloni recipe à la bolognaise. It’s a wonderful recipe and I just know I ll keep using it till I am old an grey. But sometimes I want to try new recipes and new flavours. I found the base for this recipe while looking for some stock cubes on a website. The website suggested to use the cubes in a Ricotta cannelloni and I was won over. The idea of a ricotta cannelloni without spinach sounded like something different. So I added a little bit of this and a little bit of that and I ended up with those lovely creamy cannelloni.

 INGREDIENTS
8 tubes of cannelloni
½ red onions finely chopped
125 grams ricotta cheese
1 jar of tomato sauce (I used home made sauce about 250 ml)
50 grams of grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
½ red pepper chopped in small cubes
½ green pepper chopped in small cubes
200 grams minced meat
30 grams of pine nuts
2 teaspoons of Italian herb mix
2 tablespoons of olive oil

In a large sauté pan over medium heat warm the olive oil. Add the minced meat and crumble it with a fork while it turns lightly brown and is cooked through. Now add the onion and the peppers and stir fry this for a about 10 minutes.
Now add the ricotta to the pan and mix it all together.
Season with a little bit of salt, pepper and the Italian herb mix.

Now add 25 grams of parmigiano reggiano cheese and the pine nuts to the mixture.
I had to pre-boil the cannelloni before using. Be sure to check the instructions on your package before using.
 Now fill the tubes with the meat-ricotta mixture. I did this using a small wooden spoon. Look out that the tubes don’t tear up completely.

 Place the filled tubes in a oven dish and poor over the tomato sauce. Make sure that the cannelloni is covered completely with sauce; else it will go hard an dry while baking in the oven. Now sprinkle with the remaining parmigiano reggiano cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes in an oven of 200 degrees. Uncover and bake further until the cannelloni is golden brown an bubbling, this takes approx. another 15 minutes.

Festonati with creamy ricotta lemon sauce

Pasta… if there is one thing I love in the world its pasta. I adore a plate of pasta with authentic bolognaise sauce and at night I dream about creamy sauce drizzled with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. If you ever wake me up for anything at night let it be a plate full of delicious pasta.

Unfortunately my dearly beloved husband is just not that into pasta. He barely eats a full plate of it and he complains when I put it on the table more then twice a month. It’s a problem in our marriage… maybe we need counselling…

On the other hand the pasta-hater himself makes the best tomato sauce ever and he does it with love and devotion and all that for little old me.

Sometimes he even brings home special types of pasta, just to surprise me. For valentine I got little red heart pasta one year, the other year I got pasta that looked like… well the crown jewels of a men. With Christmas he bought me little santa shaped pasta and a couple of weeks ago he brought home a bag of festonati pasta.

This pasta is one of the newer pasta shapes and is similar to penne or rigatoni. I must say I like it better then a regular penne. The shape is quit special, they are pretty big and they hold on to the creamy sauce I plunged them in.

One warning though, the festonati are quit big but don’t be deceived, they are all dente much quicker then regular penne! So don’t overcook them!

INGREDIENTS

300 grams of festonati
30 grams of butter
100 grams of ricotta cheese
50 grams of grated parmesan cheese
Juice of one lemon
The zest of one lemon
20 whole basil leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper

Cook the pasta al dente. When you drain the pasta don’t forget to set aside 1 cup of the hot water you boiled the pasta in.

Now melt the butter on medium heat. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon and whisk it together with the melted butter. Turn down the heat. I know this sounds a little weird, but just believe me it will work! Now add the ricotta cheese and let it slowly melt while whisking in the parmesan cheese, the zest of the lemon and the basil leaves. The heat of your pan will make sure that the cheese melts into a creamy sauce. Using two cheeses might make the sauce a little to thick. So check the consistency and add some of the warm water you kept in a cup.

Now add the drained pasta and mingle it all together. You can top it of with some freshly grated cheese and some extra basil leaves if you like.

Good old chilli con carne according to Jamie

There are few things I don’t really like in life. One of them is wasps, another one is dirty underwear and I certainly must not forget beans. I don’t like beans. Don’t get me wrong.. I ll eat them when they are on my plate. And over the years I did eat some delicious beans, but I wont make it for myself if I don’t need to. The problem is that my dearly beloved husband has a thing for beans. One of his favourite dishes is chilli con carne.
I don’t eat chilli con carne. To many beans and to much corn, another thing I am not to found of. Sometimes my mother in law makes some extra portions for her eldest son and we freeze it, so he can have some when I am not around the house. Only problem his, the husband is not really keen on his mothers chilli con carne. So for the love of my husband I crossed my boundaries and I made chilli con carne. Not just any chilli con carne, but “good old chilli con carne” from the ministry of food cookbook from Jamie Oliver. There are few things in life I really like, one of them is Jamie. And so everybody was happy. The hubby loved the chilli and thought it was better then his moms. I got to cook a recipe from Jamie and I saw my husband happy. What else isn’t there to like?

INGREDIENTS

2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 red peppers
olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon of chilli flakes
1 heaped teaspoon of grounded cumin
1 heaped teaspoon of grounded cinnamon
sea salt and black pepper
400 grams of tinned chickpeas
400 grams of tinned red kidney beans
400 grams of chopped tomatoes
500 grams of minced meat
1 small bunch of fresh coriander
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Start of with peeling and finely chopping the onions, the garlic, the carrots and the celery. Deseed the red peppers and chop them up roughly.
Don’t forget chilli con carne is a rough dish, so no need to be very careful while chopping. Rustic pieces wont ruin the dish, it will just make it more authentic.
Add two tablespoons of olive all to a casserole and put it on a medium high heat.
When the oil is hot add all the chopped vegetables at once.
Now season it with the chilli flakes, the cumin and the cinnamon and end it with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Stir every 30 seconds for about 7 minutes until the vegetables are slightly softened and lightly coloured.
Poor in the drained chickpeas, red kidney beans and the tomatoes. Stir it all together and let it simmer for about a minute.
Then add the minced meat, breaking the larger chunks up with a wooden spoon.
Fill one of the empty tomato tins with water and poor this into the pan.
Slice the stalks of the coriander and finely slice them before adding them to the pan.
Now add the balsamic vinegar and a little bit of salt and pepper again.
Bring this all to the boil, when it starts boiling turn down the heat and let it simmer with a lid slightly askew for about an hour, stirring the stew every now and than.
When the hour has almost past, taste and season it a little extra to flavour.

The husband ate the chilli with some tortillas, sour cream and cheddar grated on top of it.

Tortilla al Horno

The day after we returned from vacation my parents in law came for diner. My head was still in the lovely Perigord; so I did not want to spend my whole day in the kitchen. Do you know that lovely rush that follows you a couple of days after you returned home. That feeling of complete inner peace. Its like walking in a cloud of good vibrations and still the holiday feeling. The husband choose to serve them paella. Quick, easy but delicious. I shared the recipe with you before and it always is a big hit when I make it. As a started I made a little buffet of Spanish tapas. Chorizo, gambas a la plancha, calamari, jamon, manchego cheese, some good olives and this tortilla al horno.
I ll just be plain honest with you guys.. I cant make a regular tortilla baked in a pan. It does not work for me. I always end up with scrambled eggs and hard potatoes. Horrible! So I fled from that challenge months ago and I go with this “It just cant go wrong recipe”. Tortilla baked in an oven. I was ashamed to tell anybody, but when I finally told my friend Maria, who happens to be Spanish and lives in Sevilla, she yelled: “What do you mean, you just recently discover that? That how I been doing that for years! And not just me, also my mom and grandma.” And to be honest, when a Spanish grandma does it, it cant be wrong, right?

INGREDIENTS

olive oil
1 large clove of garlic (pureed)
4 spring onions (cut into small rounds)
1 red bell pepper (deseeded and cut into small pieces)
175 grams potatoes partly boiled (they don’t need to be cooked through) sliced
75 grams of hot chorizo (cut into small cubes)
5 large eggs
175 grams of grated manchego cheese
Salt
Pepper
A pinch of cayenne pepper

I used my crème brulee forms to bake the tortilla in. But you can do it just aswel in a square baking form. Just cover the backing form with some baking paper and grease it with a little olive oil.
Now add the oil, the mashed garlic, the spring onions and the paprika to a large pan and let it simmer for about 10 minutes on a medium heat. Remove the garlic, onions and paprika from the pan and add the chorizo cubes. Let it bake for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Take a large bowl and add whisk the eggs together with the cheese, the salt, pepper en the cayenne pepper.
Now poor in the garlic, onions, paprika, chorizo and potatoes. Fold it together carefully. Don’t be to enthusiastic, cause you don’t want the potatoes to break into little pieces.

Now poor the egg mixture into your forms and place them in a preheated oven op 190 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the tortilla looks golden brown.
The tortilla is ready when it feels pretty firm, but still a little springy when you push it with your finger.
Let the tortilla cool on a rack before removing it from the spring. The cool down time will allow the tortilla to firm up some more. Then cut the edges with a sharp knife and turn place a serving plate on top of the form. Turn it around and remove the form. Remove the baking paper carefully.

You can serve the tortilla hot or cold.

Italian snitzel with creamy sauce

The sun keeps shining so I keep cooking Mediterranean style! I just cant help myself, when the sun shines I get in vacation mode. Even when I have to get up at 6 in the morning to go to my office, I still have the ‘whoot vacation” feeling in me. After 8 hours of hard work I search refugee in my garden, where I am surrounded by olive trees, lavender and delicious smelling herbs. Instant happiness! And yes, at night I try to keep the feeling. When I cant go to the Mediterranean, the Mediterranean has to come to me!
Yesterday the Mediterranean came to me disguised as a kip snitzel with creamy sauce and fresh basil pasta! A nice glass of fruity white wine and we felt on vacation in one instant!

INGREDIENTS FOR THE KIP SNITZEL

1 chicken filet
200 grams flour
2 eggs
300 grams of bread crumbs
150 grams of parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE

olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 can of peeled tomato cubes
1 tablespoon of rose wine (or any other wine you find in your kitchen and you feel like drinking!)
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
fresh chopped basil according to taste
fresh chopped oregano according to taste
1 tablespoon of mascarpone
1,5 teaspoon pesto rosso (Recipe will follow later)
salt and pepper

FOR THE CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE

Heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onions and the garlic. Let them simmer till the caramelize a little bit.
Now add the tomato cubes, the balsamic vinegar, the wine and the sugar and let this simmer for about 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes add the freshly chopped herbs and season with pepper and salt. Now let it again simmer for about 10 minutes.

Take the sauce of the heat and stir in the mascarpone and the pesto rosso.

FOR THE CHICKEN SNITZEL

Place 3 bowls in one line next to each other. In the first bowl you place the flour. In the second bowl you place the eggs, loosely whisked. And in the last bowl you mix the bread crumbs with the cheese and the dried herbs.

Now take the chicken filet and slice it into thin slices. I used a filet knife for this. Out of one filet I got 6 snitzels. Place the slices under some foil and bang them with a meat hammer. (If you, like me, don’t own a meat hammer you can just bash it with a bottle of wine!)
Heat some olive oil in a pan and let it warm trough. Now dredge the chicken in the flour. Make sure the chicken is totally covered in flour. Shake of any excess flour. Then dip the chicken in the beaten eggs before covering the slices with the breading.
Place the snitzels in the searing hot oil and bake them until golden and crisp. This should not take long, since the chicken is very thin. Mine only took 2 minutes to cook.

Serve this with your favourite pasta. I choose to use basil pasta, which has a lovely taste!

Daring cooks: risotto

I can hardly believe it is my third daring cook challenge that I finished and every time our wonderful hosts were able to choose an absolutely delicious dish.
They even made me travel the world and this time our travels brought me to Italy. Where Eleanor from melbournefoodgeek and Jess from Jessthebaker dared us into making our own stock and risotto.
Risotto… you might not believe it, but the first time I actually ate risotto was in that same restaurant I was talking about in my daring baker post!
At home we don’t eat it very regularly, but when we do, I make the traditional risotto with just some delicious parmesan cheese, some dry white wine and some creamy melted butter. Traditional, but sometimes that’s the best way to have it!
I never made my how stock and to be quit honest I don’t think I ll do it again. Not only did it went a little wrong and I ended up with the most flavourless stock ever. (I blame the chicken I used for that!), but I also don’t have the time to cook for 3 hours and end up with just some stock. Of course I am one of the lucky once that can buy fresh stock or broth add the butcher shop and the taste of that is exquisite! But it was fun to make it myself for once and that’s what daring cooks is all about. Trying new things, introducing new recipes and deciding what to keep for the future. I am not keeping the stock, but I am definitely keeping the risotto recipe!
I pushed my boundaries and left the classic risotto for what it was and went for a zucchini risotto. I served it with some chicken I marinated with some lavender infused oil and stuffed with sun dried tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. I reduced some dark, sweet balsamic vinegar and used it to decorated the plates. But as it turned out, my guests loved this sour sweet touch to the creaminess of the risotto. Mission accomplished once again!

INGREDIËNTS FOR THE STOCK

1 chicken (appr. 1 kilo)cut into pieces
2 medium onions roughly diced
1 leek (only the white part) roughly diced
2 stalks of celery roughly diced
2 cloves of garlic
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon of white peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
½ the peel of a lemon
¼ teaspoon all spice
I added some store-bought stock to get the flavour up.

INGREDIËNTS FOR THE RISOTTO

60 ml of olive oil
1 small onion finally chopped
400 grams of Risotto Rice
60 ml white wine
1 litre of chicken stock
1 zucchini
1 tablespoon of lavender infused white balsamic vinegar
some dried oregano
some dried thyme
50 grams unsalted butter
60 grams parmesan

Making the stock

Wash the chicken and bones and place them in a soup casserole, cover them completely with water and bring this to the boil.
Skim away any scum as it comes to the surface.
When it boils you add the vegetables and you let it come to the boil once more.
Then add the rest of the ingredients ( cinnamon, peppercorns, bay leaves, lemon peel and all spice) and let it cook, uncovered for 1,5 hours.
Carefully lift out the chicken and set it aside. (I used the boiled chicken in a vol au vent, but you can use it in a chicken soup, a noodle dish or an omelette for example!)
Now let the stock simmer gently for another whole hour.
Carefully ladle the liquid into a fine sieve, the less little bones and vegetables that are disturbed in the process the clearer your stock will be.
Now the stock is ready for use, if it is a little much you can always freeze it till later.

Making the risotto

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion. Fry it for a couple of minutes until it starts to discard his flavours. (You can throw away the onion, but I love onions so I used it in my risotto!)
Now add the risotto rice and stir so that each grain gets a coat of oil. Let it toast for a couple of minutes.

In the meanwhile I want to point out how important the use of good risotto rice is. When I made risotto for the first time at home I used Bosto Mediteranneo rice. The package said especially for risotto and paella. Well the package lied! This time I used Arborio rice from the Italian brand Ezzaluna. Wonderful rice and guess what: cheaper then that horrible stuff of Bosto! No wait… let the pictures speak for itself:

Anyway, you let the rice cook for a bake for a couple of minutes before you add the wine. Let it bubble away until the wine is evaporated!
Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width and turn the heat to medium. Stire now and then with a wooden spoon, until the stock is almost totally absorbed.
Now do this again, but make sure you leave aside about 100 ml of stock.

In the meanwhile dice the zucchini into small cubes and heat in a little pan some olive oil.
Add the zucchini and flavour it with some coarse sea salt, some thyme and oregano.

Let it bake for a while and then add the balsamic vinegar.

I love balsamic vinegar to be honest but this one is quiet something in my eyes.
It’s a white balsamic vinegar from Modena and its infused with lavender, which gives it a very interesting flavour. You have the complex sweetness and sharpness of the vinegar and then comes the bittersweetness of the lavender.

Now back to the risotto! Add the zuchinni to the rice and stir trough. Then add the last 100 ml of stock and about 50 grams of butter to the rice and stir until both are completely absorbed.
Stir trough the parmesan, stick the lid on and let it sit for a few minute.
The risotto should look smooth, creamy and oozy buy now and is ready to serve!