Wednesday, July 30, 2014

No-Bake Berry Cheesecake #NationalCheesecakeDay

Despite the richness of the ingredients, this no-bake cheesecake tastes light and fresh, especially with sweet summer berries on top and the crunchy oat-y crust underneath. 

Happy Cheesecake Day! Today I am celebrating with a fabulous group of food blogger friends and we have cheesecakes and cheesecake related recipes galore for you! Make sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to see all the links.

I don’t have a problem turning the oven on when it is summertime and temperatures are soaring. If I want to bake, I’m going to bake. (I offer into evidence, this week’s vibrant pink beet cornbread muffins. That said, when it’s not necessary to heat up the kitchen, I am grateful. This week I’m on Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands and we are having brilliant summer weather. Some edibles are produced on the island, notably Jersey Royal potatoes and fresh super creamy dairy products from the famous Jersey cows, but much of it is imported from either France or the United Kingdom by ferry. A couple of weeks ago, one of the boats ran aground so supermarkets are struggling to fill their shelves with the now limited incoming stock. Such are the vagaries of island life but the shortage meant that I couldn’t find enough raspberries to cover my cheesecake. Feel free to increase the amount of berries and completely cover yours.

For the crust:
11 Hobnobs or other crunchy cookie or biscuit (6 oz or 170g by weight)
1/3 cup or 75g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch salt

For the filling:
1/2 cup or 120ml heavy cream
8 oz or 225g cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup or 60g confectioners' or icing sugar
1/2 cup or 125g Greek yogurt (full-fat)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt

For topping:
1 cup fresh berries (or more to cover the cheesecake)
Optional garnish: one sprig of mint

Put your Hobnobs or similar cookies in a plastic bag and use the side of meat tenderizing mallet or a rolling pin to crush them into fine crumbs.

Put them in a small mixing bowl and add 4 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar and a healthy pinch of salt. Pour in the melted butter and mix thoroughly.

Cut a piece of waxed paper or parchment to fit your nine-inch or 23cm square springform pan.

Press the buttery crumbs evenly onto the bottom and up the sides.

Using the whisk attachment of your stand mixer or electric beaters, whip your cream until stiff peaks form.

Check out the color of my Jersey cream! It is so full of fat that it whips extremely quickly and is pale yellow, almost like butter.

If you are using a stand mixer, transfer the whipped cream to another bowl because you will need that one again for the next step. If you are using electric beaters, proceed accordingly.

Beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, yogurt, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until smooth.

With a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.

Pour the mixture into the crust.

Spread it around evenly, making sure to get it right into the corners.

Cover and refrigerate until firm. Mine took just a couple of hours.

Top with fresh berries of your choice and perhaps a sprig of mint for contrast.

Carefully remove the sides of your springform and pour some Champagne for the celebration.

Cut into slices, making sure each person gets some side crust. Try not to fight over the crunchy corner pieces.


Are you a lover of cheesecake? This is your day! Start celebrating!

Baked Cheesecakes: No Bake Cheesecakes: Cheesecake Beverages: Cheesecake Cookies and Bars: Cheesecake Desserts and Treats: Frozen Cheesecakes and Treats:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Beet Cornbread Muffins for #MuffinMonday

Beets give these muffins their distinctive bright color but the corn and cornmeal mellow the beety flavor making these muffins light and delicious. 

When I starting dating my husband more than 30 years ago, he would not eat three things: olives, beets and asparagus. He’s overcome his dislike of olives and asparagus, and actually really likes them both, but I am still working on getting him to eat beets. When I saw this recipe in the free supermarket (Waitrose) recipe booklet, it seemed worth a try. Let me just admit right now that he wasn’t crazy about these muffins. But my friend Glenys and I, beet lovers both, really liked them. I'll just keep on trying.

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons or 200g fine cornmeal or polenta
Generous pinch dried chili flakes or crushed red peppers
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 heaped cup or 195g canned corn, drained
8 2/3 oz or 245g cooked beets (I bought these in a vacuum pack in the supermarket – four small to medium-sized beets)
1/4 cup or 50g butter, melted and cooled
Scant 2/3 cup or 150g thick, Greek-style yogurt
2 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by lining it with paper muffin cups or greasing it.

In a large mixing bowl, combine your cornmeal with dried red pepper, baking powder and salt.

Puree your corn and beets together in a food processor or with a hand blender until relatively smooth. A few corn kernels left here and there are fine.

Add in the eggs, yogurt and melted butter and process or blend again.

Pour the wet ingredients into dry mixture and stir until well combined.

Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

These make a great addition to any brunch or luncheon menu.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kashata Squares #CreativeCookieExchange

A cross between candy and cookie, kashata is a popular snack in East Africa. Kashata is usually made with peanuts or grated coconut, or both, and is cooked on a stove or over a fire so no oven is needed. 

A few months ago when I was preparing for my trip to Uganda, I started researching Ugandan food. I was looking for local ingredients to use in muffins, for one thing. I wanted to bake my Monday Muffins ahead of time since I knew I wouldn’t have an oven in the hut that I was staying. My second objective was finding a sweet treat I could make for the students, without an oven. I came across kashata on several websites with varying amounts of the basic ingredients and copied and pasted a little from here and a little from there to come up with a mixture that sounded delicious. But I never ended up making them. After a long dusty day teaching the children, it was all we could do to make ourselves some dinner and fall into an exhausted sleep. When the theme for this month’s no bake cookies was announced, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. Maybe next time I go to Uganda, I’ll manage to make them for the children.

1/2 cup or 100g sugar
3/4 cup or 55g freshly grated coconut
1/2 cup or 75g roasted peanuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon flour
2 tablespoons water

Mix all the dry ingredients, except the sugar, together in a small mixing bowl.

Sprinkle the sugar on to a frying pan and cook it over a medium heat, stirring, until it melts and just begins to brown. Mine melted into clumpy pieces of sugar and then finally melted into syrupy stuff again.

Reduce heat and quickly add the dry ingredients, stirring well.

Continue stirring for about a minute, making sure everything is well mixed.

Add the two tablespoons of water and mix again.

Pour out on sheet pan lined with greased foil. Press into a square with a spoon.

Allow to cool for a bit and then cut into smaller squares.

Mine were really crumbly but I did manage to cut them into squares, some missing a corner or two. This didn’t affect the taste. I would have eaten these with a spoon, if necessary.


Are you looking for No Bake Cookies to Beat the Heat? I've got some great ones for you! 

The Creative Cookie Exchange theme this month is Beat the Heat with No Bake Cookies. Even if we don’t want to turn on the oven, we still want cookies! If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura via email (thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com) and she will get you added to our Facebook group where we coordinate events.

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts. You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pink Lady and Walnut Muffins #MuffinMonday #glutenfree

Walnuts and beautiful Pink Lady apple chunks bake up lovely in gluten-free muffins for the perfect breakfast or snack. 

This week I am blessed to be staying at a dear friend’s house in London. We’ve settled my younger daughter in her temporary housing for her summer internship, with a new sim card for her phone and some essential toiletries. Hard goodbyes were made easier by plans to meet again for dinner later in the week. So now it’s time to play. We are off today on the train to Brighton to visit my friend’s daughter and treat her to lunch. Since it’s Muffin Monday, we decided to make some muffins to take along for the trip.

2 eggs
1/2 cup or 120ml canola or other light oil
1 cup or 240ml buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups or 240g gluten-free flour blend (I used Dove’s Farm.)
1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup or 60g walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large Pink Lady apple
2 tablespoon brown sugar for topping, optional

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and grease your muffin tin or line it with paper liners.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, canola and vanilla extract.

Peel, core then chop the apple.

Aren't the Pink Ladies just the most beautiful apples?
Add it immediately to the egg/buttermilk mixture, stirring well to make sure all the little pieces of the apple are covered so they don’t turn brown.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, xanthum gum, sugar, baking powder, baking powder, walnuts and salt.

Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together until just mixed.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and top each with a sprinkle of brown sugar, if desired.

Bake in the preheated oven about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a rack for a few minutes and then remove the muffins to cool completely.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jacques’ Cucumber Salad (but) with Onions

Cucumber salad, made Jacques Pepin’s way, stays crunchy for several days, making it a great make-ahead contribution for your next potluck or barbecue party. You’ll want to double or even quadruple this recipe for a crowd. 

This week Sunday Supper is going to a barbecue party and bringing along everything you need from drinks to salads to ribs (You gotta have the ribs!) to make it just perfect. I love a fresh dish, but sometimes time does not allow for in-the-moment creations. That’s where Jacques Pépin and his cucumber salad come to the rescue. In the chef’s own words, “The salt, you will discover, draws the juices from the cucumbers, making them limp, and, paradoxically, very crisp at the same time. Prepared this way, the cucumbers will stay crisp for several days.” And so they do.

Many thanks to our hosts today, Jennie from The Messy Baker and Melanie from Melanie Makes! This recipe is adapted from Jacques Pépin's Complete Techniques.

4 cucumbers – weight 1 1/3 lbs or 585g
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt – I used sel gris.
1/2 small purple onion – about 2 oz or 55g
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sour cream
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil

Jacques’ ingredient list calls for three cucumbers, which he says will give you five cups sliced. I got two cups out of my four cucumbers so I don’t know where we went wrong but I reduced the rest of the ingredients proportionally to fit what I had. After all, you can’t salt two cups of cucumbers with the same salt that’s meant for five!

See? His aren't bigger than average. 

Peel your cucumbers and cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.

Cut them into slices about a 1/4 inch or 1/2cm wide.

Pop them into a colander, over a bowl to catch the juice. Sprinkle the cucumbers with salt and mix well. Allow to drain for at least an hour but preferably two, at room temperature.

Meanwhile, slice your half onion as thinly as you can manage and soak the slices in a small bowl in the lemon juice. Stir it occasionally as it sits.

When the time is up for the cucumbers, rinse them thoroughly under cold water and then press them lightly to get rid of excess water.

I laid them out briefly on some paper towels.

Mix the sour cream and the peanut oil into the lemon juice and onions, along with a good few grinds of fresh peppercorn.

Pour this mixture over the cucumbers and stir.

Jacques says more salt won’t be necessary and he is absolutely right. Because of the sour cream, refrigerate this salad if not eating immediately.


Are you looking for more barbecue party recipes? Sunday Supper’s got you covered!

Sides and Accompaniments
Main Dishes