Sunday, 28 July 2013

Cheats No Bake Lemon Cheesecake Recipe


Not strictly a genuine cheesecake due to the lack of cream cheese, but this 'cheats' version comes close. My housemate first taught me this recipe about 7 years ago when I was at university as an undergraduate, and it was so easy we used to make it all the time. If you enjoy cheesecakes but don't have the energy to make a proper baked cheesecake, this is a great substitute and can easily feed a group of friends. This zesty dessert is beautifully smooth and creamy.

I've seen that there are a few similar recipes online for 'cheats' lemon cheesecakes, most of which use either more double cream, or a 2nd tin of condensed milk - I guess this would make for a thicker cheesecake. But today I'm sharing the original recipe my friend showed me, as this is how I've always enjoyed it.

Recipe - No Bake Lemon Cheesecake

Ingredients

150g digestive biscuits
80g unsalted butter
300ml double cream
1 x 400g can of condensed milk
2 large lemons (zest and juice)

Method

1. To make the base: Make the digestives into crumbs. I do this by popping them into a big plastic freezer bag and bashing them with a rolling pin, but you could alternatively blitz them in a food processor. Melt the butter in a pan and mix in the biscuit crumbs until combined. Pour the crumb mixture into a round loose-bottomed tin (mine measured 8" across), pressing it down with the back of a metal spoon. Put the tin in the fridge for an hour to allow the base to harden.

2. To make the filling: Mix together the double cream and condensed milk. Add the juice and zest of the 2 lemons and mix till combined. Pour the mixture on top of of the biscuit crumb base and then put the cheesecake tin back in the fridge. Leave in the fridge to set for at least 5 hours, or ideally overnight.

And it's that simple!


Lisa x

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Brunch at Bill's

This morning I headed to Bill's in Richmond to meet some girl friends for brunch - how Sex and the City of me! I've been to various Bill's restaurants many times before, but only for dinner - never for brunch. I love their halloumi & hummus burger, as well as the warm mini doughnuts with strawberries and chocolate sauce for dessert. Just the thought of those are making me hungry! In all, my experience at Bill's has always been pleasurable, and I was excited when they opened a new restaurant in my hometown of Richmond last year. 

Unfortunately though, I had a mixed experience when I headed in for brunch this morning. I ordered the eggs florentine and it really was tasty, but my order didn't arrive as described on the menu - they had forgotten to add the pumpkin seeds. Not the end of the world I guess, but unfortunately the service was pretty shocking too. We ordered some hot drinks, which didn't arrive for at least 20 minutes. Then I discovered they had weirdly given me a jug of soya milk (which I hadn't ordered) to go with my tea - maybe they were out of normal milk?! To top it all off our waitress came across as pretty grumpy and was rude when we (quite rightly) questioned an incorrect amount on the bill. 

Enough of the negatives though, I don't like to moan too much! I really enjoyed my food. Here was my eggs florentine, which they described as free ranged poached eggs on toasted English muffins with spinach, hollandaise and pumpkin seeds (which mine sadly lacked). Sorry the photo quality isn't that marvellous.


Reasonable for £7.35 in my opinion - it was really tasty and the perfect portion size for me. In total I paid £12 which included my eggs, a generous pot of tea, a cloudy apple juice and my share of the tip. Not bad for brunch in a pretty expensive town like Richmond!

I do really love the food at Bill's, and I have always had good service there in the past (I especially love the Islington restaurant - the staff were so friendly and attentive when I was last there one busy Friday evening in May). My slightly unfortunate experience won't put me off from going back there again because I do think Bill's is a great chain, I was just a little disappointed today.

If you've never eaten there before I would urge you to try it. They seem to be expanding all the time which is a sign of how popular they are - I've just noticed they've opened a new restaurant in Putney. No doubt I'll be trying that one out next!

Lisa x

Saturday, 20 July 2013

My Herbs

Just a quick post to show you how well my homegrown herbs are doing...


The leaves actually resemble parsley and basil now! Can't wait till I can start using them in my cooking, not that I have an abundance of either of them yet.

I feel guilty for my lack of posts recently, I've had the most stressful week working 11 hour days and the heat has left me completely exhausted. I hope to resume writing more consistently in the coming week. Hope you're enjoying the sunshine!

Lisa x

Monday, 15 July 2013

My Favourite Mint Teas, plus Homemade Peppermint Tea

I recently mentioned my preference for drinking mint tea instead of standard breakfast tea and green tea (I just cannot acquire the taste for that). I also briefly mentioned some of my favourite mint tea makes and today I decided I'd write a little more about them....

Teapig's Liquorice & Peppermint

Made with liquorice root and peppermint - I love that this is a little different, the mint taste isn't overpowering but leaves you refreshed, and liquorice root is supposed to detoxify and boost the immune system. On the Teapig's website they suggest drinking this tea to soothe a sore throat, something I will try next time I'm suffering!

Stockists of this tea can be found on the Teapig's website - www.teapigs.co.uk

15 of their Liqorice and Peppermint tea temples cost £4.49 on the website.




Pukka Three Mint Tea

A blend of peppermint, spearmint and fieldmint leaves are used to create a fuller flavour. Pukka state that this tea aims to support digestion and refresh the palette. 

Currently £2.30 for 20 tea bags at Sainsbury's.

 
Three Mint tea is everything a mint tea should really be - sweet yet intensely fresh with a delicately aromatic scent. Three delicious varieties of mint leaves have been used to create the fullest flavour. It will help support digestion and refresh the palate. - See more at: http://www.pukkaherbs.com/three-mint.html#sthash.G5yCKT7y.dpuf

 
Wilkins and Edwards Moroccan Rose & Mint
  
I stumbled across this one during a trip to Greenwich Market. At the market there was a stall called Greenwich Flavoured Coffee, which (unsurprisingly!) sold coffee as well as Wilkins and Edwards tea. I'd never heard of this brand and was intrigued. The Moroccan Rose and Mint loose leaf tea sounded interesting and I'm so glad I bought a bag - I love it's sweet minty flavour. And the rose petals look so pretty!

A 50g packet cost me £4, and it has lasted me a good while. I keep it in an airtight glass storage jar to keep it fresh.  

Greenwich market is open 7 days a week from 15th July (10am-5.30pm). For directions to the market see here. The tea is also available to order online - see www.greenwichflavouredcoffee.co.uk


Homemade Peppermint Tea 

To make your own mint tea all you need are some fresh peppermint leaves...


All you need to do is pick a few stalks of mint, give them a rinse and then pop them into a teapot (perhaps 4 or 5 stalks, depending on the size of your teapot). Fill the pot with boiling water, allow it to brew for about 5 minutes and then pour into your cup or mug. So easy, and so refreshing!

If you prefer your tea a little sweeter, add some honey to taste.
 
Lisa x

Friday, 12 July 2013

Spaghetti with Pea Pesto Recipe



Check out this lovely pea pesto mixed into spaghetti - just like classic pesto, only more summery!! I found this recipe in the latest edition of Waitrose Kitchen (July 2013), a really nice food magazine - it made me hungry just reading it, and I plan to try a few more of the recipes from it in the coming weeks.

I'm not the biggest pea lover, but this turned out to have a nice flavour - not too strongly pea-flavoured! The only thing I would say about this pesto is that it does have quite a strong garlic flavour - great for me as I love garlic, but if you are not so keen you could miss out one of the cloves.

According to the Waitrose Kitchen magazine, one portion is a reasonable 518 calories (if you're counting!) and of course all those peas help towards you getting your 5 a day - something I've recently been aiming to do every day.

Recipe - Pasta with Pea Pesto
Serves 4

Ingredients:

350g dried spaghetti
400g frozen garden peas
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
50g parmesan, roughly chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
The juice of 1 lemon
25g basil leaves

Method:

1) Cook the spaghetti according the packet instructions. Once cooked, drain the pasta but reserve a cupful of the cooking water.

2) Whilst the pasta cooks cook the peas in a saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

3) In a food processor (I used my Kenwood Mini Chopper – see here) blend together the garlic cloves, parmesan, 2 tbsp of the olive oil, the juice of half a lemon and a ¾ of the basil leaves to form a thick paste. Add the peas and blitz again until just combined. Season the mixture.



4) Put the spaghetti back into a saucepan with 6 tbsp of the reserved cooking water, the pea pesto mixture, the remaining oil and the juice of the other half of the lemon. Serve scattered with a few torn basil leaves and some grated parmesan. 


Lisa x

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Chocolate Tiffin (Refrigerator Cake) Recipe


Despite having just written about my new health kick, every so often I still need something sweet to satisfy my chocolate cravings. Chocolate tiffin (or refrigerator cake) is so simple and the ingredients can easily be adapted to your liking. Last week I made a small batch which made 12 squares and they didn't last long in my household!

Whilst these tiffin bars are obviously a little on the naughty side, eating them means I get a small chocolate fix whilst getting some of the benefits of dark chocolate (see here) - or so I keep telling myself haha! I also love how you can tailor the ingredients to your liking, so if you want a more guilt-free snack you can use nuts and dried fruit instead of the marshmellows and sugary crystallised ginger. Although for me personally, the crystallised ginger is my favourite thing about these tasty treats!


Here is the recipe with the ingredients I used for my tiffin, followed by some suggestions of other 'fillings' you could use...

Recipe: Chocolate Tiffin Bars (or Refrigerator cake)

Ingredients:

200g dark chocolate, broken into small chunks
100g unsalted butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
8 digestive biscuits, chopped into small chunks
60g crystallised ginger pieces
2 tbsp dried cranberries
3 tbsp mini marshmellow pieces

Method:

1. Line a small baking tin with parchment - my tin measured 15cm x  15cm.

2. Melt the chocolate, butter and syrup - put them into a heatproof bowl and stand over a pan of simmering water. Don't let the water get too hot and don't fill the pan with too much water so it is touching the base of the bowl - the chocolate may burn. Stir occasionally until the ingredients are smooth.
 
3. Tip in the biscuit chunks, ginger pieces, cranberries, marshmellows or any of the alternatives of your choice. Mix it all together thoroughly, and pour the mixture into the baking tin.

4. Leave the mixture to cool, and then refrigerate for a few hours until the chocolate has completely set. The cake can then be lifted from the tin and cut into pieces using a sharp knife. Store the tiffin bars in the fridge until needed.

Alternative 'fillings' could include:

Chopped nuts - hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts etc.
Instead of digestives you could try ginger nuts or shortbread
Other dried fruit - raisins, apricots, sultanas
Candied peel (if you're not a fan of the ginger)

These treats are so straightforward, even the most novice baker would have no trouble making them. And they are great for picnics or lunchboxes (just keep them out of the sun) or to snack on with friends whilst having a cup of tea and a chat (my personal favourite!).


Lisa x

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Raspberry Eton Mess with Vanilla Cream



Just a quick post to share with you this tasty raspberry Eton mess I made today, which I enjoyed whilst watching the Wimbledon tennis final. A big congrats to Andy Murray for his win today - well deserved! 

I currently have an abundance of raspberries that I’ve been picking from the raspberry bush in our garden. I normally just snack on them plain, or use them in my homemade smoothies - but today I decided that I’d use some of them to make a summery dessert. And what’s more appropriate to enjoy whilst watching Wimbledon than an Eton mess?!

I found a recipe on the BBC website for an Eton mess with vanilla cream and mint (check out the link here) – it sounded lovely, exactly what I was looking for. However I did end up making a few adaptations from the original recipe. 

Firstly, the recipe calls for mixing whipped double cream, caster sugar, vanilla essence and broken meringue nest pieces. However I decided to make the vanilla cream first, and then mix it with the meringue. I also used icing sugar in place of caster sugar. So to make the vanilla cream I added the vanilla essence and icing sugar to the double cream, and whipped it all together with a hand whisk until it formed soft peaks. I then mixed the meringue pieces into the vanilla cream.

Additionally, once I’d made the raspberry coulis I decided that I wouldn’t bother straining it, as I don’t mind eating raspberry seeds. But this was personal preference - the coulis could be strained if desired.  I also added a little torn fresh mint into the coulis, just because I LOVE mint! But again, it’s personal preference.

I finished the dessert off with a few whole raspberries and some small mint leaves. And look at this tasty dessert… 


Tucking in...



This is definitely my idea of the perfect summer dessert.

Lisa x

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Homemade Strawberry & Banana Smoothie

I'm currently on a bit of a health kick. I recently realised that ever since starting my new job about a month ago I haven't been doing a very good job of getting my five a day. I've actually been a bit lazy with my cooking in general. But now I'm settled into work and finding it less tiring than I did to begin with (having to get up at 5.30am came as a huge shock to the system at first!), I'm trying to take more time to prepare myself healthy meals and ensure I reach my goal of eating 5 portions of fruit & veg a day. 

I've also been starting my days with nice fruity smoothies to help me along with my fruit intake. My favourite? A simple but delicious strawberry and banana smoothie, great for boosting my energy before heading off to work.


Obviously people will want to alter the ingredients and amounts used to their liking. However, for my homemade strawberry and banana smoothie I use:

1 medium sized banana, cut into chunks
3 or 4 big strawberries (about 80g)
The juice of 2 oranges (about 150ml - 200ml)

I make my smoothies with my Kenwood's Smoothie Maker, but of course they can easily be made in a blender. 


These fruit quantities make enough to fill a generous sized glass (or 2 of the glasses shown in the first photo above) and gives me a couple of my daily portions of fruit right at the start of my day. And it tastes lovely! I know making smoothies isn't rocket science, but I just wanted to share my recipe to inspire any others like me who need some encouragement to up their daily fruit intake. Hope you enjoy!

Lisa x