baked lemon cheesecake with an almond and hazelnut base

September 28, 2011 § 7 Comments

I think simple is best when it comes to cheesecake. Therefore, not much of an introduction needed, except to say I adapted it from here, avoided all the electrical equipment that makes me dread washing up, filled it with lemon rind and changed the base.

For the base
80 g plain biscuits (plain wafers and arnotts variations work well)
1 1/4 cups mix almonds and hazelnuts
150 g non salted butter

Toast the nuts and crush in a mortar and pestle along with the biscuits. Melt the butter and mix with the nuts and biscuits. Push into a lined and greased 22 cm base springform cake tin. Allow to chill in the fridge for half an hour and in the meantime…

… the filling
500 g cream cheese
300 g sour cream
3/4 cup castor sugar
4 smallish to medium eggs
3 tsp vanilla essence
Rind from 1 1/2 lemons

Note, pull the cream cheese and sour cream out of the fridge a couple of hours early to help it soften.

Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla essence and lemon rind and beat with a hand-mixer until smooth and creamy. Pour onto the base and bake for an hour or until set all the way through. Chill in the fridge et voilà.

Parfaite!! Well except for the little crack. But thats a sure way to tell its homemade.

I can’t help imagining what it might taste like with rosemary, or maybe lavender (not so simple after all)… does that make me strange?

edible inflorescence’

September 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

The smell of orange blossoms at our front gate meet me at the end of our street each evening, the fragrance stronger after a whole days sun, an intense and sweet welcome home.

Further down the garden path, these little friends greet me in the vegie patch… a fine way to end the day.

lilly pilly

July 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

The Lilly Pilly has become a somewhat popular garden ornamental here in Melbourne. A beautiful dense green rainforest tree native to coastal Australia with white flowers that turn into deep pink berries. It was with little surprise that a friend and I spotted a heavy laden tree on the side of the road on an afternoon walk. A convenient plastic bag stuffed in a pocket for just such an occasion made a perfect vessel to carry the fruits home once picked.

We ventured to make Lilly Pilly Jam. I have to say the end result left much to be desired. I think this is mainly because we didn’t have enough pectin and ended up boiling and boiling it to try to get it to set… as a result it ended up tasting more of sugar than anything else. Next time I think adding some apple and more lemon seeds might be a good idea to help it set. And perhaps the laborious task of de-seeding each berry might be worthwhile too.

What we did

Washed the liily pilly fruits and removed any stalks etc
Placed them in a saucepan with enough water to just cover the berries (next time I think I would add less water)
Allowed to boil for about half an hour
Strained, and returned the liquid to the saucepan, adding 1 cup sugar for every 1 cup liquid
Added juice of 1 lemon to every 4 cups liquid and tied the seeds up in a cloth and placed in the saucepan
Gently boiled until set when tested on a spoon in the fridge
Transferred into sterilised jars

spiced dried chocolate oranges

June 25, 2011 § 8 Comments

Beware, these chocolate oranges are deliciously addictive. This is the third time I have made them in the last week and finally I have had a chance to photograph them before they are gobbled up. I got the idea for dried chocolate oranges the other day when I visited a little florist in Thornbury. On a shelf in the middle of the shop, hard to miss, there were little bundles of all different dried fruit. I was admiring the apples, glistening with a drizzle of toffee, when I spied the dried orange segments each lovingly dipped in chocolate. I was just about to take a beautifully wrapped package up to the counter when I saw the price… $13! Needless to say that was enough to put the stingy student in me off, I went out and bought some green and blacks chocolate, picked some oranges off our very own tree, sliced them up, dried them in the oven, melted the chocolate, ‘lovingly dipped’ each orange segment, waited impatiently for them to set, and then sat down and nibbled and nibbled and nibbled until… I thought, I better make some more.

Recipe for spiced dried chocolate oranges
(Note, it may be a good idea to make double)

2 oranges
3 Tbsp raw organic sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch cloves
150 g very good quality dark chocolate

Pre-heat oven to 110°C/250°F. Cut the oranges in half lengthways and then slice thinly (about 3 mm thick) as bellow.

Toss the oranges in a bowl along with the sugar and spices until evenly covered. Carefully place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and pop in the pre-heated oven until the rind becomes brittle and dry. About 2 hours, however this will vary considerably depending on your oven.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over boiling water. Dip each orange segment into the chocolate. Allow to set on a tray lined with baking paper before devouring.


Labna and Whey

May 27, 2011 § 3 Comments

Traditionally eaten in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Jordan  labna is a wonderful and easy way to make your own soft white cheese. Labna is creamy and delicious and works equally well with savory or sweet things. For example, spread it on toast with honey or alternatively garlic, olive oil and tomato. Eat it with stewed fruit or next to curries and so on.

To make Labna, you need to separate the whey from yoghurt. You are then left with a beautiful soft cheese and whey.

Whey is incredibly nutritious. Sally Fallon notes in her book, Nourishing Traditions, that whey has been used to cure a variety of human ailments since the time of the ancient Greeks. It is full of minerals and one teaspoon taken in a glass of water is said to help digestion. It is also said to help keep your joints, muscles and ligaments young and movable.

So to separate your whey from your yoghurt, you will need to place your yoghurt in a muslin cloth.

And suspend over a bowl either in a sieve or hanging from a wooden spoon and leave in a cool place for 24 hours.

You should then be left with a good layer of whey in the bottom of your bowl and lovely soft white cheese. Store your whey in a glass jar in the fridge.

To store your labna you can roll it into balls and cover with olive oil (obviously not if you want to use it for something sweet).

Labna

When life hands you lemons: olive oil, lemon and cardamom muffins

May 14, 2011 § 4 Comments

A lemon tree grows outside my bedroom window bushy and tall, almost the height of the house. From my bed I can watch them ripen on the branches too high to reach. And when I can’t contain myself any longer, I head out with a ladder and pull them down. The skin is rich with its lemony oils that fill the house when they are brought inside.

How to make Olive Oil Lemon Cardamom Muffins 

1 1/2 cups castor sugar
1 1/4 cups olive oil
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
3 cups plain flour
1 dessert spoon of baking powder
Zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
1 tsp vanilla essence

Pre-heat oven to 170°C. Stir all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until just combined. Cook for 1/2 an hour or until cooked through when tested with a skewer.

chilli orange chocolate cake

April 20, 2011 § 3 Comments

I should be studying. I am trying to write an essay. But every time I attempt it, I find myself wanting to throw my computer across the room. In an effort to relax, I have been dreaming up cakes and pottering in the kitchen.

So here is the result, a cake with bite. Inspired by a traditional brownie, it comes out crusty on top and soft, dense and moist in the middle, the chilli and orange a reflection of my mood. I have only used a subtle amount of chilli but if you want more kick you can add up to 1 tsp.

Ingredients
100 g butter
250 g brown sugar
200 g good quality dark cooking chocolate
2 free  range organic eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
rind of 1 orange
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
100 g plain spelt flour (or normal flour if you would prefer)
1/2 tsp baking powder

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over boiling water. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar, eggs, vanilla, orange, chilli and cinnamon.  Sift the flour and baking powder and add to the chocolate mix, stirring until just combined. Transfer to a lined and greased 20 cm diameter cake tin. Bake for 20 -30 minutes or until crusty on top but still moist inside.

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