25 Jul 2015

Melting Goat's Cheese Salad

Melting Goat's Cheese Salad

I've been having a great time recently, I've just returned from a holiday in beautiful Rovinj where it was amazingly hot. Only this last week I attended the 25th Anniversary of The Hyatt Birmingham where the party, food and drink can only be described as amazing, I love the Hyatt.

I'm out and about for the next three weeks and for the majority of the time I'll be away from home. Today I'm in Beckenham and tomorrow I'll be trying to avoid the rain on the southbank in London where I'm reviewing a restaurant with Paul my London based blog partner. This next week is going to be a mix of culture, food, the odd glass of fizz, visiting a few independent coffee shops and shopping.

We're then going home for a few days and moving on to The Wirral for culture, food, and so on and so on.....then we're off to the Lake District, Scotland and the Peak District.

The blog is going to be a bit erratic but both Paul and I have some fabulous posts coming up:

The limited edition luxury trout that costs £300!
Christmas in July with Waitrose
Zwilling Press Event
The Hyatt Birmingham 25th Anniversary Party
Microplane Review
Stellar Cookware Review
Restaurant Reviews
Camp Bestival

And that's just for starters!  So please bear with us whilst we battle our way through the blog posts.

After indulging over the last few weeks we needed a few lighter meals, although true to say there is cheese and pasta involved in this meal which is no bad thing.

You will need:
Bag of washed prepared mixed leaves
Vine cherry tomatoes
Sundried Tomatoes
Cucumber sliced
Red grapes
cooked crispy smoked streaky bacon
2 small rounds of goats cheese

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
Sea Salt

For the farfalle salad
110g farfalle pasta
Small handful of pine nuts
Small amount of washed spinach leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle
Freshly ground pepper
Sea Salt

1.  Arrange the salad ingredients onto a plate.
2.  Grill the goats cheese gently until starting to melt.
3.  Place the grilled goats cheese onto the salad.
4.  For the dressing:  Add the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until mixed together. Pour over the salad immediately before serving.
5.  For the farfalle salad: Fill a pan three quarters full with water, bring to the boil, add a sprinkle of salt.  Add the pasta to the pan and cook on a gentle boil for 10 minutes or until cooked.
6.  Drain the cooked pasta and rinse under cold water.
7.  Place the cooled pasta to a bowl, add the spinach leaves and toss.
8.  Place the pine nuts into a small frying pan and toast on the hob until lightly browned.  Remove from the pan and cool.
9.  Add the pine nuts to the salad.
10. Drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil.

19 Jul 2015

Mixed Berry and White Chocolate Cheesecake Slice

Mixed Berry and White Chocolate Cheesecake Slice

My strawberries were at their best when I left for my holiday a few weeks ago and now they are struggling to produce any fruit.  Next year I'm definitely not going away during strawberry season and missing one of my favourite fruits.

The raspberries are being a bit temperamental this year and the berries aren't anything to get excited about.  However, my redcurrant bushes are producing amazing crops of fruit and I'm looking forward to filling bag after bag to pop into the freezer for a rainy day.

I'm not the biggest fan of a baked cheesecake but because the cooked layer is quite thin I was more than happy with my dessert. If you have a go at making this you'll find that there is a quantity of cheesecake batter left over but you can easily make a couple of individual cheesecakes with some extra biscuits.

Cut Mixed Berry and White Chocolate Cheesecake Slice

You will need:  12.5cm x 35cm loose based tin.

250g Hobnobs
80g butter, melted
120g white chocolate
1 vanilla bean or 1tsp vanilla extract
125g cream cheese, softened
55g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
125ml whipping cream

To decorate:
60g white chocolate
250g small strawberries
125g raspberries

1. Add the Hobnobs to a food processor and whizz until fine.  Add the melted butter and process until all combined.
2. Pour the biscuit mixture into the tin and press over the base and sides of the tin.  Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
4. Break the chocolate into pieces and add to a small bowl.  Place a pan of water on the hob to a gentle simmer and place the bowl with the chocolate over the pan to melt the chocolate.  Cool.  Or if you have an induction hob the chocolate can be placed in a small saucepan and the chocolate melted on the lowest setting.
5. If using, take the vanilla bean and split it lengthways, scrape out the seeds.
6. Place the cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla seeds or vanilla extract into a mixing bowl.  Beat with an electric whisk until the mixture thickens and becomes smooth - if the mixture seems a little thin don't worry it will still be okay.  Now add the cooled chocolate and cream and whisk until the mixture thickens slightly.
7. Remove the tin from the fridge, place onto a large baking tray, and pour in the filling taking care not to overfill.
8. Bake for 30 minutes.  Leave the baked cheesecake in the oven for a couple of hours.  Remove from the oven, cool and place in the fridge for approx 2 hours to chill down.
9. Carefully remove the flan tin and place onto a suitable plate, decorate with the fruit, melt the chocolate and drizzle over the top of the berries.

11 Jul 2015

Cappuccino Cake

Cappuccino Cake

I made this cake just before my holiday, it's quick and easy to make using the never fail all-in-one method. It was hastily photographed and my photograph doesn't really do this delicious cake justice....I'm playing catchup now with the blog posts and with a safety net of only a few in draft to fall back on, I may have to resort to sharing my holiday snaps with you!

This is basically a moist coffee cake with the addition of cocoa powder, the topping is white chocolate, butter, milk and icing sugar. I gave my two cake testers a slice each without telling them what the cake was called or the ingredients I'd used and they both thought it tasted of hazelnut. Interestingly the coffee/chocolate combo appears to confuse the taste buds!

If you own an induction hob the icing ingredients can be melted gently in a pan on the hob instead of over a pan of water.

You will need:  28cm x 18cm tin fully lined to come above the edges of the tin.

225g Stork SB
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cocoa powder
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
3tbsp coffee granules,
dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water

For the icing:
115g white chocolate (I use Menier because it melts easily)
55g softened butter
3tbsp milk
175g icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, add the butter, caster sugar, eggs and coffee mix.  Whisk for 2 minutes.
3. Pour the cake batter into the lined tin.
4. Bake for 35 minutes or until cooked.
5. For the icing: Add the chocolate, butter and milk to a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stir until the chocolate has melted.
6. Remove the pan from the heat and sift in the icing sugar.  Beat until smooth. Spread over the cake quickly.
7. Dust with cocoa powder and when the icing is set cut into squares.
8. Freezes superbly.
9. Eat with a fabulous cup of coffee.