Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Honey, Manchego bread parcels

These babies started with a visit to Sheridans Cheesemongers  on South Anne Street in Dublin. Firstly I was hit by the smell, almost damp and papery, but not unpleasant. It's a tiny space, crammed to the rafters with different cheeses all set out on display, where you can nibble on wafery slices that the staff will shave off the huge mounds. I had a look at the different jam accompaniments, saw the huge amount of work that seemed to be going on in a room tucked away behind the till, and went for a young Manchego. (It was six months old, the older one was eighteen months I think). It was mild, fruity, slightly grainy but delicious and perfect with the sweetness of honey.

I wasn't sure what to do with it at first, and my wedge had become the size of a waxy coin by others repeated trips to the fridge. While baking bread, I decided to use it for just that. These are great little mobile snacks, you could bring them on a picnic, lunch, on the bus, whatever. They're mildly sweet, with the tang of the cheese thrown in.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Weekend treat: Three chocolate and Baileys cheesecake

 This past while, I've garnered a whole new respect for pastry chefs, confectioners, chocolatiers, generally sweet makers all round. They are true masters in the kitchen and I've learnt this through my culinary failures lately and so a little gap in the blog. I've still been cooking away, but the grand ideas that I've had in my head, haven't been so easy to put into practice. 

I've tried several versions of vegetarian marshmallows, so no gelatine, instead various incarnations of carageenan. While they all tasted beautifully sweet and delicious, no matter what I did, I couldn't get them to set. Any tips greatly appreciated! Instead I froze the mixture and got a tasty, if kind of chewy, ice cream. Then for Easter, I tried to make a chocolate egg, bought a thermometer and tried to temper the hell out of that chocolate. Did it work? Not for me!

I was about to give up on anything sweet, when I hit upon a cheesecake idea for my mother's birthday. We all went around to her house and cooked a three course meal and this was the dessert. Of course, I didn't give it long enough to set, so didn't get to try it, but reports were that it was delicious the next day. So I made another mini one to try and here it is. Although, I think I may stay away from sweet things for a while. 

This is lucious, creamy, light and refreshing all at the same time. You'll want to go back for spoonful after spoonful, so it's a little dangerous! Keep for a little treat or a weekend pick me up and you'll be fine!



400g bourbon biscuits
270g butter
500g ricotta
 300ml creme fraiche
2 tsps caster sugar
150g good quality white chocolate, broken into small pieces
100g milk chocolate
4 tbsps Baileys cream liqeur

Start by lightly greasing a 12 inch spring form cake tin. Crush the bourbon biscuits either in a food processor or the old fashioned way - plastic bag tightly sealed and a rolling pin or other heavy object and have at it!. Melt the butter over a low heat and combine with the biscuits. Mix well to make sure the bourbons are well coated. Line the base of the cake tin with the biscuit mixture, pressing down with the back of a spoon. Try to cover every part, leaving no holes in the base of the cake. Pop in the fridge to chill for 30 minsutes to 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, whisk the creme fraiche until light and fluffy and gradually add in the ricotta, whisking all the time. Melt the white chocolate, I find the microwave is easiest when dealing with white chocolate. Adjust the power setting to about 60% for 1 1/2 minutes, take out and stir to make sure it is completely melted. Let it cool a little and then beat in with the caster sugar.

Roughly chop the milk chocolate, reserving a little for shaving to top the cheesecake. Fold in the milk chocolate gently. When the base has set, remove from the fridge and pour the cheese mixture into the tin. Spread it evenly around the tin. Chill in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight. Next day you've got yourself a crunchy, creamy, kicking cheesecake. 



Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Orzo, coriander pesto and grana "brulee" with blood orange and fennel seeds

Today, I had a few blood oranges left in a dwindling fruit bowl and a bunch of coriander screaming to be used up. Wondering what to do with these beauties, I saw the cheeky glimmer of the packet of orzo hidden in the cupboard, and hey presto, here is the result. Inspired by the classic creme brulee, this is a savory take on it.

This is actually really quick to make, so perfect for the days when you're craving something a litttle different but don't want to spend hours in the kitchen. Also I'm trying, but not necessarily succeeding, to eat more lightly. With Spring having timidly slipped in, like a kid in the back of the class that's always late. It's arrived but not too sure of itself. I also haven't been too sure about what to eat, Some days it has been quite warm, then today, hailstones! So this is a good compromise, warming and refreshing.

Blogger Wordpress Gadgets