Pomegranate #3 – Delicate White Chocolate Cheesecake

I am a lover of cheesecake – any kind – fluffy, light, a bit of crunch, lovely to look at….

This one does not disappoint, with the ricotta and white chocolate combination being spot on – the addition of the pomegranate creates a really beautiful asset to any table top!

Adapted from a BBC Good Food Recipe

White Chocolate and Ricotta Cheesecake

75g melted butter
75g amaretti biscuits
200g digestive biscuits
 
200g white chocolate – melted
5 leaves gelatine
6tbsp milk
500g ricotta
300ml double cream
50g icing sugar
2 large eggs – separated
 
Handful pomegranate seeds
White chocolate stars
 
  • Heat oven to 200C
  • Melt the butter
  • Crush both types of biscuit finely (bag and rolling pin!) and stir into the butter
  • Press the combination firmly into a greased tin – mine was 25cm in diametre
  • Place in oven and bake blind for 6 minutes – let cool on wire rack
  • Soak gelatine in a few tbsp cold water
  • Melt chocolate and milk over a pot of simmering water – stir together
  • Squeeze gelatine and add to chocolate mixture – stir to combine
  • In a large bowl, beat egg yolks, ricotta, cream and sugar together
  • In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff
  • Combine the chocolate with the ricotta mixture – then gently fold in the egg whites
  • Pour this batter onto the cooled biscuit base in the tin
  • Cover with cling film and leave cold – overnight if you can
  • When ready to serve, remove gently from tin and scatter generously with chocolate stars and pomegranate seeds

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Rye #3 – Quinoa, rye and seed quiche pastry

This third rye recipe I have used for years and come back to again and again. It is really easy, looks beautiful, tastes great, is healthy and can be used for many different occasions – buffet lunch, breakfast, brunch or an easy dinner when served with a side salad.

Prepare the pastry the night before and leave in a cold oven with a tea towel over it until needed. This will make it stay crisp as well as reduce stress levels if you are making them for a special occasion. Simply pop the filling in 45 minutes before you want to eat and stick it in the oven.

Everyone in our house has their own favourite filling so I often make two or three. They taste great cold the next day and you can also pop it into the lunch box if you fancy.

Filled with rye (read benefits here) and seeds as well as, depending on your choice of filling,  fresh vegetables, cheese, eggs or bacon, it is hard not to ENJOY!

Quiche Pastry – makes 1 quiche

110g plain flour
55g rye flour
Handful of quinoa
1 tbsp of both sunflower and pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
Cold water to combine pastry
 
  • Preheat oven to 200C and grease and line pastry tin.
  • In a bowl combine flour, seeds, salt and quinoa. Slowly add olive oil and water and knead by hand until all ingredients form a dough ball that is not sticky.
  • Lightly flour your working surface and roll out dough with rolling pin. Transfer into pastry tin, it does not matter if this happens in smaller pieces that you mold together in the tin, ensuring that the dough not only covers the base but also goes half way up the sides – this to ensure your filling does not overspill. Save a small piece of the pastry for “mending” holes – see below!
  • Prick with a fork and pre-bake (empty) for 15 minutes (should be light brown).

  • When out of the oven you may notice that the pastry has contracted slightly in places – mend the holes with a bit of the raw pastry if this is the case – to ensure no holes.

Egg/cream topping mixture

This mixture goes on top of the various types of quiches – depending on filling. If you do not eat eggs, or want to avoid the calories from eggs and cream – I suggest making the spinach quiche as you can omit the topping for this one and simply sprinkle with some cheese. The spinach is moist enough on its own.

4 eggs and 200ml double cream (for egg/bacon, leek/bacon and tomato/onion quiche)
2 eggs and 4 tbsp double cream (for spinach quiche)
Grated cheddar cheese
 
  • Simply beat the eggs and cream together with a fork in a bowl

Filling Ingredients

Egg and Bacon quiche – great for breakfast or brunch

200g pack bacon lardons
200ml creme fraiche
Pinch ground nutmeg
 
  • Pre-heat oven to 200C
  • Fry bacon in a pan until brown
  • Put on paper towel to dry off excess oil
  • Add bacon and creme fraiche to egg/ double creme mixture (as above)
  • Season with nutmeg
  • Pour the filling into the pastry in the tin and sprinkle cheese on top
  • Bake in pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes

Egg and Bacon

Simply egg is also good 

Spinach, feta and sun dried tomatoes quiche – great lunch or dinner

500 g of chopped, frozen spinach
20 sun dried tomatoes – or more if you like
Feta cheese to taste
Salt, nutmeg
 
  • Thaw spinach in a bowl
  • When defrosted add chopped sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese broken into pieces (quantity depends on your personal preference)
  • Season with salt and nutmeg
  • Put filling into the pastry in the tin
  • Pour over egg/cream filling and sprinkle cheese on top – or simply sprinkle with cheese and avoid the egg and cream all together.
  • Bake for 35 minutes if you added the egg/cream but only for 20 if you did not.

You can omit sun dried tomatoes and add pine nuts as I did here 

Onion and tomato quiche – brunch, lunch or dinner

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 onions – sliced thinly
3-4 ripe tomatoes
 
  • Gently fry sliced onion in a little olive oil until soft
  • Spread onto pre-baked pastry base
  • Pour over egg/cream filling
  • Slice tomatoes thinly and layer on top of the egg/cream mixture
  • Sprinkle cheese on top
  • Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes

Leek and bacon quiche – lunch or dinner

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 leeks – sliced
200g pack of bacon lardons
 
  • Cut the leek length wise, not all the way through – enough to open it slightly. Rinse it under cold water to ensure you get any dirt out. Leek is often full of soil!
  • Slice the leek thinly and gently fry it in a little olive oil until soft but not brown
  • Spread onto pre-baked pastry base
  • Fry bacon in a pan until brown
  • Put on paper towel to dry off excess oil
  • Sprinkle the bacon lardons over the leek
  • Pour over egg/cream filling
  • Sprinkle cheese on top
  • Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes

This one was eaten too fast to get a picture!! The leek goes ever so soft and slightly sweet…beautiful!

Bites of Gold

Every now and again something so tasty comes along that it stays with you – it creates memories and tradition! This recipe is one of those “somethings”.

Imagine this – it is the 24th of December and the snow is a thick, white blanket outside. Candles are lit, the house is warm and the smell of turkey roasting is making its way to your nostrils. Having just returned from Church, it is dark outside, and excitement is building. A glass of champagne is served while your nutty aunt does her crazy laugh in the background, the salmon toast goes round the room…And then – out come the little Christmas Tree trays with THE bites of gold on them…. The tastiest little cheese bites you will ever have, I promise! And you know it is Christmas Eve.

They are home-made by Oldefar – great-grandfather – who at 86 still makes them like no one else can. We all fight (politely of course!) to ensure we get our share – the children are learning fast and even my 1-year-old was at them last year! They partner Champagne perfectly, they are light, they crunch, they melt…little puffs of magic! Christmas would not be right without them…tradition is tradition!

Emmenthal Bites

200g flour
200g grated emmenthal
200g butter – softened
1 egg yolk – the egg white is saved for brushing the biscuits prior to baking them
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
 
  • Combine all the ingredients
  • Leave in the fridge for an hour
  • Roll out rather thinly – they puff up in the oven
  • Cut to your desired shape – small is great as it makes them really delicate
  • Lay on baking sheet and brush with egg white
  • Bake in oven for 10 minutes at 175C
  • Let cool completely on wire rack before storing air tightly – will keep for a week (probably more but mine never lasted that long!)

Some layers with your, blue?!, cake…

This kind of cake is what you get when it is your birthday in Denmark (except for the colour which is what you get when you have a slightly mad 4 year old boy)! There is rarely a shop bought cake in sight, no fondant icing, no silly shapes and figurines…just good, old cake! Lots of layers, lots of whipped or vanilla cream and usually lots of fruit. It is very simple but I can tell you; it takes your breath away (mine at least). I will never get too old for this kind of cake and my husband, a die-hard chocolate cake fan, has even been converted! There are lots of reasons why – it is light, sweet, fresh, soft…just gorgeous!

The recipe, passed on to me by my sister-in-law (who, by the way, makes it to perfection!) is used to create the three layers for the cake. Once the basic dough is made and cooked you can fill and decorate as you wish – as you can see from the pictures my children often pick the colour of their icing as well as what fruit goes into it!

Make the layers and cake the day before you want to serve/eat it and refrigerate, but do not ice/chocolate coat it. This allows the flavours to develop and more importantly the sponge layers to get the moisture from the fruit and cream. On the day of serving, ice or chocolate coat it.

5 eggs – separated
210g caster sugar
150g flour – sieved
1 tsp baking powder
 
  • Preheat your oven to 180C
  • Separate your egg whites and egg yolks

  • Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff – turn bowl upside down to make sure they are ready!!!! The best test…really. Promise.

  • Add the sugar to the stiff egg whites, a little at a time. Watch the white colour change from matt to silky smooth – so beautiful. Wish I could jump into it….velvet!

  • Once completely mixed, add the egg yolks to the white mix – another beautiful change of colour as you slowly add the yellow…

  • Put flour and baking powder in a separate bowl and combine well. Sieve this mixture into the egg batter and carefully fold into the mix with a spatula.
  • You should now have a creamy, thick (and incredibly tasty!) dough.
  • Pour the dough into a lined round cake tin.

  • Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes – it will be light brown in colour and spongy to the touch. With this I mean that if you gently press the top of the cake, your finger should feel a spring back rather than a sinking in feeling….Hope that makes sense!
  • Once cooked, let cool in the tin on a wire rack.

  • When completely cold, with a sharp and long knife, cut three layers. This can be a bit tricky but if you do it slowly you should be OK. It is fine if there is a small hole here or there – believe me, once filled, no one will know (or care)!

Now for the filling! You can, literally, combine any fruit, jam, whipped cream and berry you like…It just works…Here are my favourites:

  • Whip whipping cream with vanilla essence and a tbsp sugar until creamy. Add raspberries (or strawberries) and whip a bit more to make pink cream! Like you would lasagne, place a layer of cake on the bottom, then a layer of raspberry cream, then another layer of cake, then the raspberry cream and then, on top, melted dark chocolate… (place pieces of chocolate in heatproof bowl with a few tbsp of whipped cream, over simmering water, slowly stir till melted. Scoop onto cake’s top layer and gently spread to cover…let ooze over the sides! Let chocolate set and then refrigerate until ready to serve (I have decorated with candied lemon peel here).

  • Spread strawberry jam onto the bottom layer and top with crushed macaroons. Put whipped cream (whipped with vanilla essence and a tbsp sugar until creamy) on top and place a second cake layer onto this. Add whipped cream and fresh strawberries onto this layer and place final cake on top. Thinly coat the top with the whipped cream and cover in fresh berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries…you name it! Beautiful and so tasty! (Don’t forget to lick the spoons!)

  • A very delicate version is to add a bit of instant coffee powder to the whipped cream mixture and spread this onto every layer. For the topping, add instant coffee powder to icing sugar and a little water and make a thin coffee paste that you then spread on the surface. Absolutely divine!
  • A layer of pineapple and whipped cream followed by a layer of strawberries and whipped cream – with the topping being icing sugar, water and food colouring of your choice! Banana also works well as a layer.

If you are not a whipped cream fan you can make this gorgeous vanilla cream – also often used in Denmark – and use instead. Simply layer it with the fruit as above.

Vanilla Cream

1 egg
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp flour
200 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla sugar (can be bought in Waitrose or make your own by adding the inside of a vanilla pod to some caster sugar)
 
  • Whip egg and sugar until fluffy and light
  • Pour into a sauce pan and whisk in the flour
  • Add the milk to the saucepan and heat it all slowly. Stir constantly while it is heating – and low heat – we don’t want scrambled eggs!
  • Bring it to the boil and once boiling add the vanilla sugar
  • It is now ready! Let it cool and use as mentioned above. It is also very tasty to put a combination of this cream and whipped cream into the layers.

Pumpkin Carving

My absolute favourite part of Halloween! The orangy/yellow light that flickers through the pumpkin is magical and I adore seeing them lit up in front of houses and in windows.

Fresh pumpkin
Sharp knife
Good black pen
Metal spoon
  • Pick a good pumpkin! Consider where you are placing it – if in a window then maybe smaller is better!
  • With the pen, draw the shape you will cut out on top of the pumpkin – this will act as your lid. With the sharp knife, cut out this shape –  grown ups should probably do the carving bit….
  • With the metal spoon, scoop out all the flesh and seeds – keep these in a bowl for use in other recipes! This is a great one for little fingers! Ensure you leave a few centimetres of “wall” inside the pumpkin.
  • With the pen, draw your design on the “face” of the pumpkin! Scary? Sweet? You can either let your children use their imagination or buy a stencil.
  • Once satisfied with the drawing, get the knife out and carve the shape.
  • When you are finished, clean any remaining pen markings off with a bit of household spirit.
  • Place a tea light in the bottom, replace lid and wait for darkness so you can really show off your hard work!
  • On Halloween night only light your pumpkin if you are happy for trick or treaters to come and knock on your door…the lit pumpkin is often used to signal “welcome”…

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Decadent, moist and surprisingly light as it is flourless….Great with raspberries or strawberries and a cup of coffee! I recently found this recipe scribbled down on a piece of paper in the back of my recipe book and do not even remember where I got it from. Well, after making and eating it, it will never be at the back of the book again!!

200g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa content or more)
200g sugar
200g butter
7 eggs
  • Pre-heat oven to 160C – grease tin with butter and dust with sugar
  • Place the chocolate (in pieces), the butter and half the sugar in a heatproof bowl and melt over simmering water.
  • While the chocolate is melting, divide the eggs into yolks and whites. Be careful not to get any yolk into the egg white bowl as this will make it impossible for the whites to become stiff.
  • Once melted, give the chocolate mixture a good stir and leave it to one side to cool. You want it luke warm.
  • Whisk the egg white with the remaining sugar until so stiff that you can turn the bowl upside down without it all falling down! Take your time….it’s a mess to clean up if you turn too early!
  • Transfer your luke warm chocolate to a bigger bowl and whisk in the egg yolks.  You will see and feel the chocolate becoming more set.
  • A third at a time, gently fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate. Take care not to over stir as you will lose the fluffiness.
  • Put 2/3 of the dough into the tin, place the rest in the fridge. Bake the cake for 20-30 minutes. When ready it will be a lovely brown colour and the middle will be soft but spongy to the touch.

  • Cool the cake right down – this can be done in the fridge or outdoors in the winter!  Once cool, place the remaining chocolate mousse dough on top of the cake and spread out gently so it covers it all.
  • Place the cake back in the fridge for about 20 minutes and serve cold!

Salmon with Lemon, Honey and Soya Sauce

A great lunch or light evening meal – wrap these up in baking parchment and serve as a little parcel!

A couple of slices of salmon fillets
5-6 thin slices of lemon
Drizzle of honey
Drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of soya
Sprinkle of grated lemon zest
  • Preheat oven to 200C
  • Place the salmon fillets on a large piece of baking parchment
  • Lay the thinly sliced lemons on top
  • Drizzle the sauces over the top
  • Sprinkle with the lemon zest
  • Close the parcel like you would a present – making sure it is shut properly
  • Place on baking tray and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes
  • Serve with a green salad, cous cous, sticky rice or oven roasted vegetables tossed in lemon juice and olive oil.
  • Beautiful, simple – the children love it – husband loves it – what more could you ask for in a recipe?!