Easy Peasy Pudding: Rhubarb Swirl Cheesecake: Fiesta Friday 30!

The second crop of Rhubarb is well under way in the garden.  Strong pink stems, fading to gentle green and topped with ridiculously huge umbrella-like leaves again surround the pond area.  I love it.

And it’s Friday, so that means Fiesta time with The Novice Gardener…

The perfect excuse for a rhubarb recipe trial – hence this quick little gem  🙂

For Fiesta Friday ± 30

Easy Peasy Rhubarb Cheesecake.

Easy Peasy Rhubarb Cheesecake.

This tasty dessert can change with the seasons – featuring whatever fruit you have to hand.

It’s an almost instant pudding that will look as though you’ve given put in far more effort than was actually the case, but nobody will know…

I’d admired Moira Stewart’s Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake recipe online recently – original post here:     http://www.marthastewart.com/340227/raspberry-swirl-cheesecake  What follows is an adaption of that recipe – much simpler.  Quick and effective.  Not the best cheesecake ever, but it was received very well, required very few ingredients, and took less than 20 minutes to prepare, so what’s not to like?

Easy Peasy Rhubab Cheesecake.

Serves 6, depending on how much everybody eats (!)

Make in a round cake tin, approx 18cm, which has been pre-lined with baking paper.  Pre-heat oven, 180 degrees.

Rhubarb garden crop

Home grown rhubarb

I used rhubarb that I’d previously baked.  See post here:

https://emmasouthlondon.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/spring-baked-rhubarb/

Try to this dessert rest for at least 6 hours before eating – up to 2 days is fine.

If kept in the fridge, it should ideally be removed and left at room temperature for 20 minutes or so before eating, or the flavours will be slightly dulled.

Base:   

1.5 Cup finely ground Digestive Biscuits

               2 Tablespoons butter

Cheesecake Mix:   

1 x 200g pack cream cheese

                                        1 x 200g pack low-fat cream cheese

                                        Half a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

                                        1 cup sugar

                                        2 x eggs

Simple, quick pudding

Easy Peasy rhubarb Cheesecake.

Melt butter and mix in biscuits, then press over the base of the prepared cake tin.  Cool whilst making the filling.

Mix cheese and sugar.  Add vanilla essence and slowly add eggs, continuing to mix.

Turn cheese topping onto base, adding some drained pieces of baked rhubarb.

Smooth top, then scoop up some rhubarb juice with a small deep spoon and blog onto the top – swirl with the tip of a knife to make a pretty pattern.

Bake in a preheated oven for around one hour.

Turn the oven off, leave door open a bit and let the cheesecake cool in the oven.

Cool thoroughly before removing from tin – this will help it to firm up first!

Enjoy – we had ours with home-made ice cream 🙂

 Now I’m off to the Novice Gardener, to see what everyone else has brought to the party –

http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com

or click on the purple FF link in the sidebar; happy Fiesta Friday!

Easy Peasy Supper: Parsi Chicken with Apricots.

Fiesta Friday *3

Time to entertain, but not to slave over an extensive shopping list and hot stove?

Easy Peasy Suppers fit the bill when interesting but non demanding recipes are called for, using ingredients that you don’t need to trawl the back streets to find  🙂

See more quick and easy ideas by searching ‘Easy Peasy’ in the right hand side bar.

Parsi Chicken with Apricots.

Parsi Chicken with Apricots: A delicately spiced ‘Easy Peasy Supper’.

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Easy, I love this dish.

Spiced but not shouting and wonderfully adaptable

(Madhur says her friend ‘puts in a healthy glug of Maderia towards the end of cooking!’)

it’s a delicate, no fuss supper which works well with plain rice or potatoes.

Potato mint and egg salad

New Potato, fresh mint and soft-boiled, freshly laid egg salad.

‘Parsi’ means Persian.

India’s Parsi community were driven out of Persia by muslims around the 8th Century and settled on India’s West Coast.

At first there were concerns from locals that their country was already over populated.

According to tradition, the Parsi’s leader asked for a bowl of milk filled to the brim and a spoonful of sugar.

He carefully blended the sugar into the milk, without spilling a drop.

“We are like the sugar,” he explained, “We will only sweeten your country.”

http://www.parsi.com/parsihistory.html

Parsi spiced Chicken with Apricots.

Parsi Chicken with Apricots: A delicately spiced ‘Easy Peasy Supper’.

This dish is a little sweet, but delicious with it.

I’d recommend a fairly bland accompaniment to complement and not overpower the sweet – sour tones.

I had some new potatoes and mint that needed trimming, so made a quick salad with soft-boiled, freshly laid eggs… perfect!

Serves 4.  

Recipe adapted slightly from Madhur Jeffrey’s Curry Easy.

1.25 Kg Chicken pieces (or use a whole chicken, portioned, as I did)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 dried apricots

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Cinnamon Sticks

1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

2 medium onions, sliced

1 Tablespoon tomato puree

3 teaspoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 Tbs granulated sugar (I used quince jelly)

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mint - growing apace in the spring rain!

Mint – growing apace in the spring rain!

This is my contribution to Angie’s Fiesta Friday over at The Novice Gardiner

http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/

I’ve learnt so much from the other Fiesta-goers,

and am so grateful for the tips and advice I’ve been given.

I’m off to join you all now.

Follow the link above, or on the right hand side bar –

hope you enjoy this dish, and I’m looking forward to trying some of yours!

Easy Peasy Supper: Chicken Cacciatora.

Fiesta Friday *2

Delicious, quick and healthy.  I’m presuming that this is the dish Italian ladies had waiting for their hard-working husbands when they came home from a day working in the forest… made with equal love, it’s my healthy contribution to Fiesta Friday this week!

Easy Peasy Supper recipes are perfect for mid-week dinners, or entertaining at the weekend, when you’ve got something more entertaining than cooking to do all day!

Italian Forester's Chicken

Italian Forester’s Chicken

I based the recipe for this dish on Jamie Oliver’s, from Jamie’s Italy.

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chicken-recipes/hunter-s-chicken-stew-pollo-alla-cacciatora

I omitted anchovies, and cut right down on wine, adding stock and extra tomato juice instead, in line with the tastes of the friend I made it for.  Really delicious – I love recipes that easily adapt to suit availability or taste.

2014-05-08 20.00.08

Serves around 6 people

2 Kg chicken, jointed, or 2 Kg of chicken pieces
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 bay leaves, slightly crushed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, peeled (1 crushed, 2 sliced)
½ bottle Chianti
flour, for dusting
extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
1 handful green or black olives, stoned
2 x 400 g tinned plum tomatoes

Season the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper and put them into a bowl with the bay leaves, rosemary sprigs, crushed clove of garlic and wine. Marinate overnight in the fridge, or for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.

Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade, and pat dry with kitchen paper. Dust the chicken pieces with flour and shake off any excess. Heat an ovenproof pan, add a splash of olive oil, fry the chicken pieces until browned lightly all over and put to one side.

Fry off the sliced garlic gently until golden brown, then add the anchovies, olives, tomatoes (broken up with a wooden spoon) and the chicken pieces with their reserved marinade.

Return to the boil, cover with a lid or foil and bake in the preheated oven for around 1½ hours.

Skim off any oil that’s collected on top of the sauce, then stir, taste and add a little salt and pepper if necessary.

Remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs, and serve with a salad.

Foresters Chicken - Dairy Free & Deicious.

Foresters Chicken – Dairy Free & Deicious.

– It’s a shame the pictures have all come out so horribly ‘RED’!! Maybe because I took them when the chicken was still hot?

I’d appreciate any advice on the photography front if anyone can help – Thanks ex.

Meantime, I’m off to see other inspiring dishes – with far better photos, no doubt – over at Fiesta Friday – click the link in the right side bar to join in with Angie, the Novice Gardener and her crew  🙂

Easy Peasy Supper Chicken & Cardamom Curry.

‘Easy Peasy Supper’ posts are just what it says on the tin –

simple recipes that can be easily made after a long day from mainly store cupboard ingredients

(depending on the content of your ‘store cupboard’!)

Chicken, Cardamon and Tomato Curry.
P1000377

 

This week, I needed to make supper for a friend who, like me, doesn’t like strong spices… intact, he is probably the least adventurous person I know as far as taste is concerned  🙂

But I wanted to make something a bit different.  Something that would look as though I’d make an effort, despite the fact that I didn’t have time to go trawling shops for specific ingredients.   Or to cook (!)

This delicious recipe fitted the bill perfectly.

Although called a ‘curry’, the gentle spices perfume and enhance the flavour of the chicken, rather than being the main feature of the dish & overpowering it.

It’s an interesting mix of spices – I thought it sounded rather odd – but am glad I gave it a go!

Quick Chicken, Cardamom and Tomato Curry.

Quick Chicken, Cardamom and Tomato Curry.

The original recipe is based on one from Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Curry Easy’ (and it was!)

5 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 x 2″ sticks of Cinnamon

8 x cardamom Pods

1 x 1.6 kg Chicken, cut into pieces – or Chicken thighs (that’s what I used as I think they have more flavour)

2 medium Onions, peeled and chopped

2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped (I omitted this on this occasion)

2 Tablespoons ground coriander

1 Tablespoon ground Cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (I omitted this as it makes such horrid stains if it’s dropped on the tablecloth!!)

1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper – or more or less to taste – I used slightly less

Tomatoes from a tin (don’t use all the juice), chopped

1 Litre / 32 fl oz Chicken Stock

***

Brown chicken pieces in oil over a high heat, in a wide sauté pan – don’t overfill the pan.

When hot, add cinnamon and cardamom.

Transfer browned chicken pieces to a bowl.  When all pieces are browned, add onions to the pan with the cardamom and cinnamon. Reduce heat to medium and saute until the onion starts to brown lightly.

Add the garlic and stir a few times.  Then add the coriander, cumin, turmeric (if you dare to use it!) and cayenne pepper.  Stir again, then add tomatoes, stirring.

Return the browned chicken and juices to the pan, along with the chicken stock.  Bring to the boil, cover and cook rapidly over a medium heat for 15 minutes.

Remove cover and turn the heat up.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.

***

I served with Basmati rice – I added a few leaves from my lime tree to infuse the cooking water, and stirred in some peas at the last minute… simple and delicious!

***

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
J. R. R. Tolkien

***

What is your current favourite Easy Peasy Supper recipe?

***

A versatile take on Hummus.

Chickpea, Roasted Lemon, Tomato, Parsley & Black Olive Smash:

A zippy, more adaptable take on hummus…

Equally delicious, even more healthy, and, well, see what you think…

Coarser & less oily than the original, roasted lemons and tomato combine zestily with the smashed chickpeas, toasted cumin seeds and black olives.  Bursting with goodness and full of natural, unadulterated Middle-Eastern flavour.  Although made at the end of February, I was able to use fresh parsley that had overwintered happily in the garden  🙂

Spring Parsley!

Spring Parsley!

Great to have sitting in the fridge as a ready snack, especially for those of us who are wheat free so need an alternative to bread or biscuits ready to grab, to combat the 5pm slump… Or whenever a burst of energy is needed!

If using as a dip / starter, crush chickpeas up a bit more – but not as pulverised as you would for hummus.  Serve piled onto baby Romanie Lettuce leaves, or crisp crackers.

chickpea, roasted lemon & tomato smash

1 – 2 cans of chickpeas, gently heated for around 5 minutes to make them easier to crush.  Drained.

A couple of large handfuls Baby plum or cherry tomatoes, halved

1 Tbs Olive oil

Pinch of salt

1/2 Lemon, sliced into half moons

1Tbs Lemon juice

2Tbs Olive oil

Handful of fresh parley, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

3/4 tsp Cumin seeds

 –   Preheat the oven to 180C/350F
 –   Mix the tomatoes with the teaspoon of olive oil and the salt.
 –   Place tomatoes on a lined baking tray, cut-side up. Roast for 10 minutes then add lemon slices & cook for 20 minutes
      more. Remove from oven and set aside.
 –   Toast cumin seeds in a small non stick pan for 1 minute until fragrant.  Then lightly crush in a pestle & mortar or with the
      side of a knife.
 –   While the chickpeas are still warm, drain then add to a bowl along with the olive oil and lemon juice Gently crush with a
      potato masher. You want to keep plenty of texture.
 –   Stir through the roasted lemon slices and tomatoes, fresh chopped parsley and cumin seeds. Season to taste.
 –   Serve at room temperature with crackers, lettuce or crusty bread.
Chickpea, Roasted Lemon, Roasted Tomato, Black Olive & fresh parsley Smash.   V,  W/f,  D/f.

Chickpea, Roasted Lemon, Roasted Tomato, Black Olive & fresh parsley Smash. V, W/f, D/f.

Recipe originally from the Waitrose magazine – altered slightly, to suit.
What’s your stand-by ‘pick me up’ snack?

Home Grown Exotica!

Despite the cold and frosts of winter, some of my favourite, most beautiful & versatile vegetables have survived in the garden… And have proudly grown to gigantic proportions.   Less tender than when young, but still packed with flavour and nutrients.  We wanted to find a recipe that would let us indulge and enjoy, while  waiting for this year’s newly planted seeds to spring into life.

I’ve just planted seeds out for this year’s batch of Rainbow Chard (we always grow a variety called ‘Bright Lights’ ).

Chard makes a striking, fun edging to flowerbed boarders if you haven’t got the space or inclination for a veg patch.

It can be eaten in a similar way to spinach, and has similar nutritional benefits – just more colourful, hence the name.

I found Ottolenghi’s Iranian Vegetable Stew with Lime to be the perfect recipe –

We adjusted the ingredients using fragrant, freshly picked leaves from our lime tree, lemon slices in place of the fresh limes and chard leaves from the garden in place of the spinach.

It has an exotic depth and complexity of flavours – a wonderful main course with rice or pitta, or as an exciting side dish; I promise it will hold its own & not be out-staged by the main act  🙂

Ottolenghi's Iranian Vegetable Stew with Lime. Can be made Vegetarian, Wheat / Dairy Free.

Ottolenghi’s Iranian Vegetable Stew with Lime. Can be made Vegetarian, Wheat / Dairy Free.

http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/recipes/cooked-vegetables/iranian-vegetable-stew-with-dried-lime-shop

'Bright Lights' - even in the winter; on a good day, anyway.

‘Bright Lights’ – even in the winter; on a good day, anyway.

What is your favourite recipe using home-grown produce?

 

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Experiments with Polenta –

Half term has just finished 😦

Making the most of ‘time’, I’ve been doing some seasonal Spring Cleaning… therapeutic.

Going through the cupboards, I found that we had rather a glut of polenta.

So to correct the balance of ‘store cupboard essentials’, we had a polenta evening, trying lots of different polenta dishes.  Here are the top two: Orange polenta cake steeped in fruit syrup, & Mushroom herb polenta – more tricky to make, but an education in polenta cooking if like us you’re not familiar with it.  I have to say, I  always just thought of polenta as something which lacked good looks and taste, even when served in the smartest restaurants, and never really ‘got‘ it..!

Mushroom, Herb & Polenta 'Pizza'.

Ottolenghi’s Mushroom, Herb & Polenta ‘Pizza’.

Orange Polenta Cake with orange syrup.

Orange Polenta Cake with orange syrup.

Mushroom Herb Polenta; like a homemade pizza.  Bubbling with mushroom juices, grilled cheese & fragrant herbs.  Orange Polenta cake; lovely for desert with a dollop of creme fraiche; equally good for tea the next day.

* * *

Ottolenghi’s Mushroom & Herb Polenta.  Vegetarian.

We found it best to let the prepared polenta rest a little before use, allowing it to settle.

I’d love to hear what other people do with polenta – do let me know (I’ve still got quite a stash in the cupboard!)  We used thyme and sage in this recipe, as they both needed trimming ready for their spring growth!

http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/mushroom-and-herb-polenta-shop

* * *

Orange Polenta cake with Orange Syrup.  Vegetarian.

Light, textured and aromatic – a grown up cake to serve with rich ice cream, creme fraiche and / or dark berry compote.  It’s plain, not a stunner – but simple is sometimes good…

250g softened butter

250g sugar (I used unbleached cane sugar)

4 large eggs

140g polenta

200g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

Grated zest and juice of 2 large oranges.  Grate gently or the zest will be bitter.  Save 100ml juice for syrup.

Orange Syrup – 100ml orange juice and 100g sugar.

Line a round 23cm cake tin with baking paper.  I used a smaller tin with only 2/3 of the mixture and it was perfect, so adjust carefully to suit your needs.

Heat oven to 160 / 140 / gas 3.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Gradually add eggs, beating well.  Feel the burn in those arms!

Reserve 100ml juice for syrup in a small saucepan.  Add the rest, with zest and dry ingredients to the creamed butter & sugar, sifting in flour and polenta.

Gently plop into the tin and smooth the top.  Bake in the oven for around 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre.

Make the syrup by gently dissolving sugar in remaining orange juice over a low heat, stirring occasionally.  Once dissolved, bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes to reduce & thicken slightly.

Slowly pour the syrup over the cake, allowing it to seep in.  I did this before taking the cake out of the baking paper, to stop the syrup from running off.

Allow to cool on a wire rack.  Enjoy – some people won’t like the texture of the polenta, but I think it’s quite sophisticated… I’m going to try this again in late summer, with lavender flowers in the syrup to give it a more floral aroma.

Recipe from the fab BBC good food website.  What’s your favourite recipe website?

Kitchen cupboard - a bit more sorted, but will never be 'tidy'!

So for the moment, my kitchen cupboard is sorted, but it’ll never be ‘tidy‘!