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Thursday, 26 April 2012

Lemony Cheesecake Heaven

Mmmmm majestic, delectable, thick, creamy & luscious, but easy peasy literally lemon squeezy ;-D

130g Biscuits (Morning coffee style)
75g Butter, softened
250ml Dbl or Whipping cream Whisked
500g tub Mascarpone cheese
200g Icing sugar or more to taste
1 Lemon zest & juice
Bash or whizz the biscuits until they are like bread crumbs. Then mix in the butter until, fully incorporated.
Press this into a spring form tin or a loose bottomed cake tin & refrigerate.
In a bowl whisk the cream till it holds its shape.
In a larger bowl mix together the Mascarpone, sugar, lemon zest & juice. taste the mixture & add more icing sugar if needed, when blended together fold in the cream.
Spread this on top of the biscuit base & leave in the fridge over night.
Remove from the tin but leave it on the base

Serve this with whipped cream or drizzle with a fruit compote if you like but it is just as good on its own with just the tangy lemon taste.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Cherry Heaven Cheesecake

Love my sour cherry tree. The first couple of years we were here the tree was bursting with the little red globes a really beautiful sight, but pop one of the gorgeous lovelies in the mouth only to spit them out in disgust!
Then my lovely neighbours showed me how to preserve them & turn them into amazing taste bud loving experience!
I highly recommend the preserving of these cherries as they can be used in so many different ways or just eaten with ice cream.
I also love non baked cheesecake so I wanted to make something different for my friends who were coming to share Easter with us. I had a sudden image of cheesecake pop into my head & that was it, decision made a creamy, sweet but tart confection of love:-) Try it you will love it!
I have substituted vegetable cream here as we can't get dairy cream, & low fat cream cheese but you can substitute full fat:-)
I have not found digestive biscuits here in Bulgaria but, if you are here, a friend has told me CBA sell them.. I used a "Morning coffee", "Rich tea" type of biscuit which gave a lovely soft cakey feel to the base, if this is not your thing then use digestive biscuits for a harder crunchy texture.

350g (2 x packs) Philadelphia low fat cream cheese
60g Icing sugar
250ml Double or Whipping cream
150g Butter softened
260g "Morning coffee" style biscuits
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Lemon juice
250ml Double cream
Cherry compote  (I make mine but you can buy it)
I don't think you can get such a delectable dessert that is any easier to make.
First if you have a processor then blitz the biscuits till they are breadcrumb like then add the butter & blitz on pulse to combine. If not then put the biscuits in a bag & smash with a rolling pin or a large serving spoon :-) & combine the butter in a bowl.

Press firmly into a spring form or loose bottom pan, 20cm or smaller. Put this into a cold fridge for an hour or two.
Whip the cream till it is thickened.
In a bowl beat together cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice & Icing sugar, then fold in the cream.
Spread over the biscuit base & place in fridge overnight.
I preserve my own sour cherries, but if you don't, then a jar of bought ones will suffice or you can buy the sauce.
1 x jar of sour/black cherries tip into a saucepan, juice too. Add 4 - 6 dessert spoons of sugar & slowly dissolve. Continue to cook till the sauce thickens, stirring frequently. During this process check the taste for sweetness & tartness. Cool the sauce.
Remove the cheesecake from the pan (leave the base) & spread over the top just before serving
Serve on its own or be very decadent & serve with creamy ice cream or whipped double cream.
Please let me know what you think :-)

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Mum's Hot Cross Buns

I have not had Hot cross buns for 4 years & I miss them every Easter. For me it sums up what happened on Good Friday (in remembrance). It's about the bread of life.  Its the same as the Easter Egg sums up new life on Easter Sunday! Here in Bulgaria we can buy Kolache or Kozunac, Easter bread, but it is really nothing like a hot cross bun :-(
I wish I had spoken up before, because my mum gave me her recipe over the phone & I made them straight away! When my husband came home from work he was well impressed :-)
So for all those who miss the taste of Easter try them, it's worth it.
3 tsp Dried yeast
600g Plain flour
75g Caster sugar
250ml Milk
1-2 tsp Mixed spice
1-2 tsp Cinnamon
1tsp Salt
80g Butter
160g Sultanas
2 tbsp Mixed peel
1 med Egg, beaten

Flour paste
35g Plain flour
2 tsp Sugar
3 tbsp Water

1tsp Caster sugar

In a bowl add together the yeast, 1 tbsp of the sugar & whisk until the yeast has dissolved. Cover the bowl & place in a warm area for 10mins or so till it is frothy.
In a clean bowl sift the flour, spices, salt& rub in the butter till you get fine breadcrumb consistency. Stir in the rest of the sugar, fruit, yeast mixture, egg & 80ml of warm water, enough to make a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured top & knead hard till it is smooth & elastic, aprox 10 mins.
Return to the bowl & cover with some oiled cling film/plastic wrap & place in a warm area for 1 hour till the dough has doubled in size.
Knead well again on a floured surface for a couple of mins.
Cut into 20 pieces & roll into balls. Flatten slightly & place in a circle, on a greased oven tray, almost touching. Cover with the cling film again & stand in a warm place for 20 mins or so until again doubled in size. Pre heated oven 220c (200c fan)

Make the flour paste by sifting the flour into a bowl add the sugar & a little of the water at a time, gradually till you get a smooth paste. Put this into a pipping bag & pipe on the crosses
Bake in the oven for 15 mins until nicely browned & when you tap the bottom they sound hollow.

Make the glaze by Adding the water to the sugar & slowly over a low heat dissolve the sugar.
Paint over the tops of the buns while still hot, cool on a wire rack, or just smother in butter & eat while hot lol.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Mushroom Risotto, (non oily)

Well, after buying a kilo of cheap mushrooms from our local market and making a batch of soup there was still just so many left that I decided to make a local dish, but without all the oil.
Every time I visit Bulgarian friends for dinner or a party, this dish is on the table or dished up as a side.
My friend bakes hers and there is a lot of oil involved, this is not like that.
Another great cheap very fresh vegetable in the markets now is spinach. I love spinach, it always makes me think of Popeye. I grew up with Popeye and Olive Oil, his girl friend.  I always think of spinach as being really good for us, I always buy it when it is available, from the market.
Another easy dish also great for vegetarians

A bag of fresh Spinach, torn
2 Onions, chopped small, I use red.
250g Mushrooms, peeled and chopped small
175g Long grain Rice, washed
2 Carrots, peeled and chopped small
600ml Vegetable stock
Salt and Pepper
Low cal cooking spray
Spray a large pan with a low cal cooking oil or use a little sunflower oil. Cook the onion, mushroom, carrot and garlic till the onion is transparent. Add the rice to the pan, cook for a few mins, stirring frequently. Then add the stock a little at a time after each addition has soaked into the rice. Season, and cover the pan, simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked to your liking. Add the spinach, cover the pan till the spinach is wilted down. I keep an eye on it at this stage as you don't want the rice to over cook. Once the spinach starts to wilt, stir it into the rice to speed it up. Stir it through the rice and serve.
Serve as a side dish or on it's own as a lunch.

Fresh Mushroom Soup

A trip to the local market last week saw me walk away from one stall with a kilo of mushrooms costing just over 2 leva, this equated to 1 UK pound :-) Too cheap for me to ignore. It wasn't till over lunch I realised just how many mushrooms were in a kilo ;-)
I decided on keeping some for the week ahead & promptly had some in an English breakfast minus sausages, with the gorgeous fungi for dinner.
1lb or so of Mushrooms, peeled & chopped
1 Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic, crushed & chopped
1 tsp Thyme
1-2 ltr Vegetable stock
Salt & pepper to taste
Low cal cooking spray
Spray a large stock pot with cooking spray, add onions & cook till transparent. Add the garlic, thyme & mushrooms. Cook for 10 minuets or so. Stir in the stock & cook on a simmer for 10-20 minuets. Blend, season & serve.
You can add milk before you blend to make it creamy.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

Mmmmm love, love, love this soup, very similar to the pumpkin soup maybe a smoother creamier texture.
It freezes well, I make two or three batches in one. I save enough for a starter, & lunch over a couple of days & freeze the rest in individual & dinner party portions. This batch is made from Butternut's we grew last year just as we are planting for this years crop. I recommend them as a crop, they are easy to grow, rend a large crop & can be stored for months :-) At the moment other than soup I am roasting them & mashing them, yummy!!!!!
I love the fact that I can batch cook & freeze Butternut as I love them & its great to be able to enjoy them even after the fresh nut has been used up. Lovely!

2 lg Butternut squash, peeled de-seeded & chopped into bite size thick chunks
1 -2 red Onions chopped small
6 cloves Garlic crushed & chopped
2 Potatoes peeled & chopped small
2 ltr Chicken Stock
2-3 tsp Curry powder
1 tsp Home ground Chilli or powder
Cracked pepper to taste
Salt & Black pepper
Spray a large stock pot with low cal cooking spray or use 1 tblsp oil. Heat & add onion & garlic. Cook a couple of minutes. Add the potato, stir in then add pumpkin & curry powder, stir & cook for a couple of minutes. Add chilli powder & pour in stock, stir. Cook covered, on a low simmer for an hour. You can cook for less but the flavour is better if you do it for longer.

Blend the soup till smooth & taste. Adjust the cracked pepper & curry powder if needed. Blend a little after each addition. Makes a lovely thick & creamy soup
You can add Sage or Rosemary, if you wish