Friday, 28 October 2011

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Everyone loves chocolate, oranges and cheesecakes, so when someone mentioned combining them together I jumped at the chance.
 

Ingredients:

  • 250g Hobnob biscuits
  • 170g butter, at room temperature
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 100ml orange juice
  • 500g cream cheese
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 50ml double cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 segments from a chocolate orange
  • 25g dark chocolate, finely grated
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees.
  2. Use a blender to combine the biscuits and butter together until they form into a ball of dough.
  3. Press the biscuit and butter mixture into a pre-greased flan dish or springform tin. The larger the better, I used a 23cm one. If you use a larger one then adjust the cooking time down by 15 minutes or so.
  4. Put a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and add the 200g of dark chocolate and orange juice to the bowl. Keep a gentle heat under the saucepan to keep the water hot.
  5. Leave the chocolate to melt into the orange juice and don't get tempted to stir it until it's all melted, otherwise the chocolate can separate.
  6. In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese and sugar with a spoon until it's well mixed.
  7. Add the double cream to the mixture and mix well.
  8. Next stir in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each one.
  9. The chocolate should have melted by now, so mix it well in the bowl over the pan of water until it's smooth.
  10. Add the melted chocolate to the cheese mixture and stir well.
  11. Pour over the biscuit mixture and put in the oven.
  12. Add a dish or roasting tin of boiling water to the oven to keep the air nice and moist.
  13. Bake for an hour or until the center of the cheesecake has just gone soft.
  14. Leave to cool for a couple of hours and then place in the fridge for another few hours.
  15. Garnish with the chocolate orange segments and the grated chocolate.
 
Serves 8 to 10.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Carrot and Cabbage Stew

This is a warming recipe which is ideal for cold autumn nights.
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 cabbages, core removed and shredded
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 2 stock cubes
  • 1 tbsp marmite
  • 3.5 litre boiling water
  • 750g carrots, peeled and chopped into 1cm pieces
  • 1kg potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2cm pieces
  • 150g french beans, cut into 2cm lengths
  • 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
 

Method:

  1. Use a large pan (at least 6.5 litres) to fry the onion in the sunflower oil over a medium heat until it starts to soften.
  2. Add the cabbage and stir well. Add a couple of drops of water to keep it moist and place a lid on the pan.
  3. Cook the cabbage with the onion for five minutes and then stir it well.
  4. Leave the cabbage cooking for a further five minutes.
  5. In a cup mix up the cornflour with a bit of water to make a paste.
  6. Add the cornflour, stock cubes, marmite and boiling water to the pan and bring to a simmer. I normally turn the heat to high while trying to bring it to a simmer, but be careful it doesn't burn on the bottom if you do this.
  7. Reduce the heat so that the simmer is just kept.
  8. Add the carrots and potatoes and place the lid back on the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Add the french beans and parsley and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  10. Check that the potatoes and cooked all the way through and then serve.
 
Serves 8.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Vegetarian Toad in the Hole

This is a vegetarian version of the classic autumn dish of toad in the hole. As vegetarian sausages have far less fat than their meat based relatives it's necessary to add a bit of oil to make sure it doesn't stick.
 

Ingredients:

  • 3 or 4 vegetarian sausages
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 80g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 135ml milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.
  2. Place the sausages and oil in a large ovenproof dish, pyrex or thick ceramic works best.
  3. Place in oven and roast for 15 minutes.
  4. While they are roasting in the oven, mix the flour, egg and half the milk in a bowl or jug. Whisk with a fork until it's a smooth paste.
  5. Add the remaining milk to the mixture, season with salt and pepper and mix until a smooth batter is formed. It's best to add the milk in two lots to prevent lumps from forming. You can do it all in one go, but you'll end up whisking it far more to get rid of the lumps.
  6. Remove the sausages from the oven and pour the batter over them.
  7. Return to the oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. Try to not open the oven door as the batter will crisp best if it's kept very hot.
  8. Once the batter has risen and gone a wonderful brown, remove from the oven and serve. I recommend with gravy and peas.
 
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Baked Squash and Couscous

Having had couscous as a topping for various dishes in restaurants, I decided to give it a go as a topping for a butternut squash. The couscous crisps up very nicely in the oven, gaining a stronger flavour as it does.
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, cut in half, seeds scooped out with a teaspoon
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 120g cous cous
  • 1 stock cube, crumbled
  • 300ml boiling water
  • 30g grated cheese, I used spicy cheddar but you can use your personal favourite
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Place the squash halves into a large ovenproof dish and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, turning over halfway through.
  3. Fry the leek in the olive oil over a medium heat until it has softened.
  4. Add the tomatoes, cous cous, stock cube and boiling water to the leeks and stir well.
  5. Turn the heat down low and bring the cous cous and vegetable mixture to a simmer.
  6. Stir the cous cous frequently until it has absorbed all the water.
  7. Add the cheese to the cous cous and stir it in.
  8. Remove the squashes from the oven and top with the cous cous. You'll probably end up having some cous cous in the sides of the dish as well.
  9. Cover the dish with foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
  10. Remove the foil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cous cous is nice and toasty on the top.
  11. Cut into pieces with a sharp knife and serve. It's ok, and recommended, to eat the skin of the butternut squash; the slow roasting will have made it very soft.
 
Serves 3 to 4.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Leek and Potato Stew

This is a warming stew which is great for autumn evenings.
 

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large leek, peeled and finely chopped
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • 3 tsp cornflour
  • 50ml double cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 medium size potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 25g grated cheese
 

Method:

  1. Fry the onions in the oil over a medium heat until soft.
  2. Add the chopped leek, mix well and cook with the lid on for 5 minutes.
  3. In a jug mix the cornflour with a couple of table spoons of the stock.
  4. When it's a smooth paste mix it with the rest of the stock and the cream.
  5. Season the stock and cream mixture with salt and pepper and then add it to the leeks and onion.
  6. Bring to a simmer and then add the potatoes.
  7. Simmer with the lid on for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
  8. Spoon into bowls, top with the grated cheese and serve.
 
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Butternut Squash in the Hole

When I came to make this toad in the hole dish I was going to use vegetarian sausages, but then decided to try using butternut squash instead. I reasoned that oven roasted squash is just as tasty as sausages and it transpires that this is a correct assumption.
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1.5cm slices with seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 80g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 135ml milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.
  2. Run a knife around the corner edges of the slices of butternut squash so as to round them off. This prevents them from burning during the cooking.
  3. Heat up the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat.
  4. Fry the slices of butternut squash for a couple of minutes on each side, just until it starts to change colour a bit.
  5. Place the butternut squash pieces and the oil from the pan into the bottom of a large ovenproof dish with high sides, such as a roasting tin.
  6. Place in oven and roast for 15 minutes.
  7. While it's roasting in the oven, mix the flour, egg and half the milk in a bowl or jug. Whisk with a fork until it's a smooth paste.
  8. Add the remaining milk to the mixture, season with salt and pepper and mix until a smooth batter is formed. It's best to add the milk in two lots to prevent lumps from forming. You can do it all in one go, but you'll end up whisking it far more to get rid of the lumps.
  9. Remove the butternut squash from the oven and pour the batter all around the dish, especially at the edges.
  10. Return to the oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. Try to not open the oven door as the batter rises best if it's kept in a hot oven.
  11. Once the batter has risen and crisped up, remove from the oven and serve with lashings of gravy. I generally go for roast onion gravy using instant gravy granules.
 
Serves 2.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Cabbage and Cauliflower Gratin

Although this isn't really a gratin (as it lacks the toasty top) I still think of anything in white sauce as being a gratin, so it's a gratin in my mind.
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cabbage, quartered, core removed and sliced into 1/2 cm slices
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into small pieces about 2 cm in length
  • 150g penne pasta
  • 560ml milk
  • 16 green olives, cut in half
 

Method:

  1. Put the cabbage, olive oil and flour in a large pan.
  2. Cook the cabbage over a low to medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to stop it sticking.
  3. While the cabbage is cooking, put on a large pan of water to boil and add the cauliflower to it.
  4. When the water is boiling, add the pasta to it and cook as per the instructions on the pasta, probably 12 to 14 minutes.
  5. When you add the pasta to the boiling water, add the milk to the cabbage pan.
  6. Stir the cabbage and milk mixture frequently as it heats up to make sure it doesn't stick.
  7. When the pasta is cooked the milk mixture should have thickened, so drain the pasta and cauliflower and add it to the milk mixture.
  8. Mix well and then stir in the green olives.
  9. Serve with grated cheese and ground black pepper to garnish.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Diced Quorn Basque

When making this recipe I used some homemade orange wine (which it turns out is only really any good for use in cooking), but a mixture of white wine and orange juice works as a suitable replacement.

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 300g Quorn pieces
  • 250g basmati rice
  • 8 sun-dried tomatos, roughly sliced
  • 1 pepper, sliced into 1/2 cm strips
  • 660ml orange wine or 330ml orange juice and 330ml dry white wine
  • 2 tsp paprika, preferably smoked
  • 14 green olives, cut in half

Method:

  1. Add the onions, oil and Quorn pieces to a large saucepan with a well fitting lid and fry on a high heat until it starts to brown.
  2. Add all the other ingredients, other than the olives, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Stir well, turn the heat down low and put the lid on the pan.
  4. Leave to cook for 15 to 20 minutes, checking a couple of times to make sure that it's not got too dry or started burning on the bottom.
  5. Add the olives when all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.
  6. Mix well and serve immediately.

Serves 3 to 4.