Sunday, 10 June 2012

Baked Rhubarb and Ginger Cheesecake.

This is the third and final post from the meal I cooked my Mum for her birthday the other week. This is the dessert element. Mum had a vast amount of rhubarb growing in the jungle that is her veggie patch so we wanted to use that up. 

Coincidentally my mum is also completely obsessed with ginger (seriously, she must spend an absolute fortune on the ginger cordial she is hooked on) therefore I thought a rubarby-gingery dessert would be just the ticket and a perfect marriage of flavors. 

I decided on a cheesecake, having made a few over the last few months for various events, I’m a bit of a baked cheesecake wiz currently and therefore thought considering how much food prep I had to do that day it would be a safe bet.

I used the recipe I found here -

It was really refreshing to use the mascarpone instead of cream cheese as a change. I found it really gave a lightness and fluffyness to the cake.  I also chose to reduce the syrup created through poaching the rhubarb down much further than the recipe suggests to. This created a very intense, sticky syrup that I drizzled over the cake before serving it which really gave a zingy-spicy tang to cut through the creamy rich cake. 

It was all around just awesome if I say so myself, and potentially one of the most grown up deserts I’ve made in a long time. Definitely recommended.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Mum's Birthday Meal (Part 2)

So I re-read what I posted yesterday in preparation for writing up the rest of the meal and was struck by something. I referred to myself as a student, which, effectively, I'm not anymore.

Obviously after hyperventilating and having a mild panic attack regarding my rapidly oncoming middle-aged-ness (I mean I have a job interview next week, like for a real grown up person J-O-B, Lordy.) i’ve got back to this post but felt that I should point out my mistake.

Aanyway, this is the dip/condiment post of the meal.

First up, the spiced aubergine. This is how I would envision an Italian Caponata would end up if it had a roll around in your spice cupboard. Essentially it is a spiced auberigine stew, but cooked and reduced down so its more of a condiment to pile on crusty bread, I’m pretty sure you could also reduce it even further than I did and chutney-afy it. Might actually try that sometime soon. Good Idea.

Serves 10 (as a tbsp sized dollop)

2 tbsp olive oil
25mm cube fresh ginger, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
800g aubergines, roughly chunked
1 can chopped tomatoes
1tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1tbsp ground corriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/4 tsp salt 

1. Toss the aubergines in half the oil and put under a hot grill turning periodically until brown on all sides.

2. Sweat the garlic and ginger until fragrant, then add the spices, cook for another minute then add the browned aubergines and tomatoes with an extra can of water and the salt and some pepper. 

3. Simmer until reduced and aubergines are soft. Can be served hot or at room temperature. 

 Next we have the sweet potato dip. This recipie, as are many that I feature on this blog are from the cookbook I received when I carried out a professional cookery training at The Grange Cookery School in Frome. From the entire month of cooking and eating, this is one of the dishes I made and ate which I really remember falling head over tastebuds in love with.  Like most dips it takes some palate intelligence, tasting and adjusting to your liking but its dream worthy when made well.

Serves 10 (again as a tbsp sized dollop)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 kg Sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 small bunch mint, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp tahini
juice of a lemon
1/2 tsp cinamon
2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
salt and pepper

1. In an oven pre-heated to 220 degrees roast the potato tossed in the oil until soft.
2. When roasted blitz all the ingredients apart from the pine nuts in a food processor.
3. Taste and adjust with more lemon/salt/pepper if necessary and serve with the pine nuts stirred in and drizzled with some olive oil. 

And finally we have some good old tzatziki. My little sister was appointed tzatziki lady for the day as she seems to have serious preferences when it comes to the dip. The cucumber has to be diced (rather than traditionally grated) and it can’t be too garlic-y in her book. Personally I’m more down with a slightly more traditional version but in all honesty there was SO much garlic knocking around this meal perhaps it was good that the tzatziki wasn’t of my usual garlic-bomb variety. Abbie didn’t really follow a recipe for this but this one I’m sure would suffice if anyone is looking to recreate this meal -

I’ll post the dessert recipe element of this blogging-meal-extravaganza tomorrow. 

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Mum's Birthday Meal (Part 1)

It was my mum’s birthday on Thursday and she was having a crowd of friends over for dinner. Being the thrifty (and admittedly broke) student that I am I offered to cook the dinner so she could just relax and have a nice evening with a friends and I could give her a gift which I didn’t have to pay for.

I opted for a Greek vibed meal, well, ‘feast’ might be the more accurate term. We were hosting a vegetarian so there had to be enough of a veggie option meaning that the meat I did cook was more token than a centerpiece but nonetheless it all went down a storm. I’m gonna split the recipes between a couple of posts since otherwise the size of this could get a little out of hand.

The token piece of meat present for the carnivores was a small, slow roasted leg of lamb. The recipe can be found here:

The combination of the slow cooking with the spice rub created a really sumptuous piece of meat which was really worth the time and effort of cooking and basting it for so long. I got overexcited with eating/serving it so forgot to take a picture of the carved meat but trust. It was goood.

Next on the agenda were two salads, firstly a green bean mint and garlic salad. For this I simply lightly steamed the beans, and fried off some slithers of garlic in a tbsp of olive oil then added some more oil and balsamic vinegar to taste and then lots of chopped mint. I tossed the beans in this and scattered the dish with some toasted pine nuts. Simple but again, good. 

Secondly I made Nigella Lawson’s Ultimate Greek Salad: 

If you have never made this before. I implore you, do it. It has completely changed my perception of the world of Greek salads. The marinating of the red onions creating the chemical-reaction-type thing is inspired and it could almost be a meal in its self with some nice bread. Seriously. It’s the business. Big style. I'd even go so far as to say it might be my favorite salad ever. Yes, I went there. 

Right, that’s all for today, I’m feeling a condiment post tomorrow with the tzatziki, sweet potato and aubergine dips. So watch this space.