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

Thursday, 4 July 2013

My Current Favourite Afternoon Snack!

I currently work between 6.45am and 3.15pm, and have developed a bit of a ritual once I arrive home from work in the afternoon. Most days I make myself a sandwich or salad to have during my workday, normally around noon. So once home I tend to feel ready for a snack to tide me over until dinner.


I recently wrote about the lovely day I spent at the Foodies Festival on Clapham Common and my purchase of some passion fruit curd from The Bay Tree (see here). Three weeks on and I've almost finished the jar, it's so delicious! This is because each afternoon, when I get home from work and am ready to put my feet up for a little while, I tuck into a scone spread with this tasty curd...


I like to enjoy it with a mug of peppermint tea, which I've been enjoying as an alternative to breakfast tea or green tea. I know that drinking green tea is known to have multiple health benefits, but as hard as I tried I have never been able to develop the taste for it! 

Instead, I find drinking peppermint tea refreshing after a long day, and it's known for being beneficial for the digestive system. I just feel that a mug of peppermint tea relaxes me after a long day... and I personally think it tastes so much better than green tea! 

My current favourites to drink are Pukka's Three Mint tea, Teapig's Liquorice & Peppermint tea, and a lovely blend of Moroccan Rose & Mint from Wilkins and Edwards that I bought at Greenwich Market. More on those another time....

Lisa x

Monday, 1 July 2013

Another Quick Herb Update - My Parsley is Finally Growing!

I wrote recently about how well my sweet basil seeds were growing, but my disappointment with the lack of parsley activity. Well my parsley seeds finally sprouted last week... 



Obviously both herbs still have a long way to go until I can actually use them, but I'm very happy with their progress... I haven't killed them off yet through overwatering/underwatering which is a pleasant surprise. Maybe I will develop green fingers after all!

Lisa x

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Homemade Passion Fruit & Orange Cordial


I found this recipe in an old Easy Living Magazine I was flicking through last week - it was featured as an idea for homemade gormet picnic foods. Whilst I have no upcoming picnic plans I was inspired to give this recipe a go - I'm not a massive fan of fizzy soft drinks so I mostly drink water, cordials/squash and tea whilst at home. My family gets through numerous bottles of Robinson's orange squash and Bottlegreen's elderflower cordial! So trying to make my own cordial really appealed to me for a bit of a change.

I'd never made a homemade cordial before, and didn't realise how easy it is to do. The cordial tasted delicious and my family loved it - it wasn't long before it was all gone! I really liked the passion fruit flavour too - when I looked in my local Sainsbury's store there weren't any similar flavours to this, so it was definately more of an exotic flavour to the standard orange squash I normally drink!


Recipe - Passion Fruit & Orange Cordial
Makes about 750ml

Ingredients:

375g sugar (I used white caster)
6 oranges
3 passion fruit

Method:

1. Add the sugar and 375ml of water to a saucepan. Add the zest of one of the oranges to the pan and bring the mixture to the boil - simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring every so often to dissolve the sugar.

2. Squeeze the juice from all the oranges and scoop out the pulp from the 3 passion fruit. Add this to the saucepan and allow the mixture to cool. 


 

3. Once cool, strain the mixture and put it into a bottle. I didn't have anything of a suitable size, so used a couple of empty gin bottles that my mum normally uses for making sloe gin for christmas!

You can dilute the cordial with either still or sparkling water - it will keep for up to 5 days in a sealed bottle in the fridge. Make sure you give the bottle a bit of a shake before each serving, then dilute to your preferred strength.


Lisa x

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Curried Potato Salad with Cauliflower

Last week I posted a recipe taken from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'Take Three Good Things' that used potatoes, asparagus and halloumi (find the recipe here). 

This week I have tried another delicious recipe from this cookbook (available on Amazon) using potatoes, cauliflower and curry as the three key ingredients. I made this for my lunch today and it took me no more than 15 minutes to prepare.


Recipe - Curried Potato Salad with Cauliflower
Serves 4

Ingredients:

400g new potatoes, cut into approx. 2cm chucks
Half a medium cauliflower, trimmed & cut into small florets
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper (to season)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons plain natural yoghurt
1 tsp of curry paste (I actually used a teaspoon of mild curry powder as a substitute, but this still worked well)

Method:

1. Bring a large pan of water (with a pinch of salt) to the boil. Add the potatoes and simmer for about 3 minutes. Then add the cauliflower and cook for another 3 minutes until both are just tender. Drain and leave to cool.

2. Make the curried mayonnaise whilst the veggies are cooling - combine the mayo, yoghurt and curry paste/powder in a bowl.

3. Once the potatoes and cauliflower are cool mix them with the curried mayo. Season with some salt and pepper, and add the squeeze of lemon juice.

Done!
A great quick lunch idea. I actually think it would also be nice served warm - just mix the potatoes and cauliflower with the mayo mixture before they have cooled. I think I'll try it this way next time.

Lisa x

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Jamaican Ginger Cake Recipe


This ginger cake is definately not the prettiest of cakes, but it's certainly full of flavour. 
I personally like to eat it as a dessert with some warm custard, or alternatively you could enjoy a slice with a cup of tea for an afternoon treat!

Recipe - Jamaican Ginger Cake
Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

75g butter
150g flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
¾ tsp ground ginger
A pinch of ground nutmeg
2 tbsp milk 
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g black treacle
75g golden syrup
75g dark soft brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.

2) In a large bowl sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separate bowl mix together the milk and bicarbonate of soda.

3) Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the treacle, syrup, sugar and 75ml of water - kept it on a gentle heat so the mixture does not boil. Add this to the bowl of flour & spices and then add the milk mixture. Stir in the beaten egg.

4) Stir the mixture well and pour into the loaf tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for about an hour and 15 minutes - or until a metal skewer comes out clean. The cake will be dark in colour, but if it looks as if the top is starting to brown too much during cooking then cover the cake with some foil halfway.

5) Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack. 


Lisa x

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Baked Eggs with Spinach & Leek - Sunday Brunch Inspiration

During the week I normally have a quick bowl of porridge or cereal for my breakfast before heading out to work. Not very exciting! So at the weekend I always fancy taking my time to make something a little more special and delicious. A few months ago I found a recipe for baked spinach eggs in Easy Living magazine, and I've sucessfully made this recipe several times since. It's a great idea for a weekend breakfast or brunch, and it only takes about 15-20 minutes to prepare and another 12-15 minutes to cook.

Recipe - Baked Eggs with Spinach and Leek
Makes4

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
20g butter
2 leek, trimmed & sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
300g baby spinach leaves
4 eggs
80ml single cream
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Salt & Pepper for seasoning
Bread, to serve

Method:

1) Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

2) Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and cook for around 5 minutes until soft. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.


3) Blend the spinach and leek mixture in a food processor with 2 tablespoons of the cream. Season the mixture and add the nutmeg.


4) Divide the spinach and leek mixture between 4 ramekin dishes. Crack an egg into each one and then divide the rest of the cream into each dish and season with salt & pepper.


5) Place the ramekins into a baking dish and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Serve with some toasted ciabatta or sourdough bread.


So yummy!!

Lisa x

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A Quick Herb Update!

I mentioned last weekend that I had planted some parsley and basil seeds (see here) - and thought I'd show how my basil is progressing...


It's started growing!

Wish I could say the same for the parsley, but nothing has sprouted from my Seedpod yet :( I've been told this is to be expected though - basil apparently grows faster than parsley. Will continue to keep you posted!

Lisa x

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Take 3 Good Things - Potatoes, Asparagus & Halloumi (Recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)


Last week my mum bought Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's cookbook 'Hugh's Three Good Things on a Plate', and whilst flicking through it his recipe using potatoes, asparagus and halloumi caught my eye. So yesterday I decided to make myself this dish for my lunch, using a fresh bunch of homegrown asparagus before the British Asparagus Season ends in mid-June. Here's how it turned out...


It tasted so good, after I'd finished my big plateful I wish I'd made enough to have seconds! Unfortunately I was only cooking for myself, so had adjusted the recipe quantities to make only 1 portion :( This dish makes a great lunch, or Hugh suggests serving it with sourdough bread to make a more filling meal of it.

Recipe - Hugh's Take Three Good Things - Potatoes, Asparagus & Halloumi
Serves 4

Ingredients:

600 - 700g new potatoes
4-5 cloves garlic (unpeeled), bashed
2 tbsp olive oil
400g asparagus
225g halloumi
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to season
A tbsp chopped parsley (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190C. Cut the potatoes into small chunks. Pour the olive oil into a roasting tray and then add the garlic and potatoes with some salt & pepper to season.

2. Whilst the potatoes are roasting, trim the ends of the asparagus and chop the spears into 3-4cm lengths. Cut the halloumi into small cubes (approx. 2cm)

3. Add the asparagus and halloumi to the potatoes once the 30 minutes have passed. Toss the ingredients to combine. Return the roasting tray to the oven and cook for 15 minutes.

4. Remove from the oven and discard the garlic cloves. Add a generous squeeze of lemon juice and toss all the ingredients together. Before serving you can scatter over some parsley if desired. 

After this success I'm keen to try out more of the recipes from Hugh's cookbook, although there are so many tasty looking things I can't quite decide which to try next! The cookbook is currently available on Amazon for a very reasonable £9.99 (see here).

Lisa x