Sunday, 22 January 2012

Delicious New York-style white chocolate cheesecake!

So it’s Sunday afternoon when I’m writing this post and I am once again a football widow. It’s miserable outside, raining on and off and the wind is blowing over the bins and garden furniture. All in all it’s pretty grim.

And after several glasses of wine last night during tapas out with friends, I’ve been feeling a little hazy today. I’ve been craving comfort food and sweet things and my mind starting wandering as I thought about how I was going to spend my time alone. There was only one thing for it – a baking session.

One of my favourite desserts, well probably one of everyone’s favourites, but something I don’t often eat, is cheesecake. And I mean the stodgy New York-style cheesecake that is baked and slightly browed in top.

I found this recipe in a magazine a few months ago and put it away for safe keeping for an afternoon just like this. I can’t remember where it was from and who devised the recipe, but it’s one I’ll play with to try different flavours.

I have made a couple of no-bake cheesecakes in the past. A friend of mine, Paul Banks, gave me his recipe for a gorgeous white chocolate and Bailey’s cheesecake which I made for my parents once. Unfortunately it was a hot day and the cake totally flopped when I removed it from the tin. Because I’m such a perfectionist I was devastated but it still tasted good.

Anyway, the baked one has more structure. I wanted to do a raspberry coulis but I forgot to get the raspberries in the supermarket because I was distracted by all the other lovely looking things, but I will tell you how to make it anyway.

200g dark chocolate digestive biscuits
65g unsalted butter, melted
300g white chocolate
400g full-fat cream cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract or essence
150ml soured cream

For the raspberry coulis:
200g raspberries
90g icing sugar

1. Turn your oven on to 160 degrees and line a round cake tin (approx 20cm)
2. Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin or in a food processor until like breadcrumbs.
3. Mix in the melted butter and press into the bottom of the tin, evening out the top. Chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
4. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
5. Whisk the cheese and eggs together in a bowl using a hand mixer if you have one. Then add the vanilla, soured cream and melted chocolate.
6. Pour the mixture onto the base and bake in the oven for a round 45 minutes until slightly brown in the edges. Leave to cool then chill in the fridge for several hours.
7. To make the coulis, put the raspberries and sugar in a blender and blend. Sieve then put in the fridge until you need it.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Beef wellington with goats' cheese and red wine gravy

You asked for it, so I made it… beef wellington with red wine gravy. A proper manly dish with oomph!!
I decided to ask people on Twitter and Facebook what dishes they wanted me to try and then blog about, and beef wellington came top of the list.

To be honest I’ve wanted to give this a go for ages. I’ve seen Simon Rimmer on Something for The Weekend and James Martin on Saturday Kitchen do it as I’ve drooled over my bowl of muesli, but I always thought it looked too difficult. Plus, I wasn’t a massive red meat lover... that was until I tried my beef wellington and turned into a carnivore over night.

I know I always say this, but it was really easy to make. The only difficulty is knowing when the beef is cooked just right as it’s wrapped in a huge blanket of pastry that browns really quickly.

The recipe says 20 minutes but I put it in for longer as I was using the old broken oven that had to be gaffer-taped shut (which has now been replaced with a shiny new one thanks to engagement money!!).

I did however leave it in a minute too long so it wasn’t as pink as some would like it, although for me it was just right because the meat was still really tender. In fact it wasn’t just tender, it was juicy and gorgeous and we ate the whole thing, drenched in red wine gravy.

This isn’t a traditional beef wellington because it uses goats’ cheese instead of paté but I like to try new things. I thought the paté would be too rich and after all the rich food and booze over Christmas I’m still feeling like I could develop gout at any moment.

Serve with broccoli (for colour and so you feel like you’re doing something healthy) and a glass of the red wine used in the gravy and this is a winner.
Ladies, I would suggest this is a great dish for your man on Valentine’s Day! (Unless he’s a veggie of course).

Next on the list of things you asked for is lemon meringue pie!
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @SarahLPoole

300g beef fillet
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g ready-rolled puff pastry
100g firm goats' cheese, sliced
1 beaten free-range egg

For the red wine sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
half a small red onion, finely sliced
pinch of sugar
150ml red wine
75ml hot beef stock
½ tsp cornflour

1. Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas 8.
2. Rub the beef fillet with olive oil and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3. Heat a frying pan until smoking hot and cook the beef until golden brown on both sides but not cooked through. Set aside and leave to rest for ten minutes.
4. Place the puff pastry onto a floured work surface and place the beef on top with a layer of goats' cheese slices. Wrap the pastry over the beef to make a parcel and brush all over with beaten egg.
5. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden-brown and the beef is cooked to your liking.
6. Meanwhile, for the red wine sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and cook gently until softened.
7. Add the sugar and red wine and bring to the boil. Boil until the liquid has reduced by half. Add the stock and simmer for five minutes.
8. Mix the cornflour with a bit of cold water to make a paste, then whisk into the sauce. Cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened slightly.
9. To serve, cut the beef Wellington into slices and place onto serving plates. Pour over the red wine sauce and serve with vegetables of your choice.