Baked Ricotta and Sour Cream Cheesecake

Baked Ricotta and Sour Cream Cheesecake

Early January is not the greatest time to have a birthday. By new year, everyone’s had enough of revelling, pigging out and parties and so the Capricorn must seek humbler means to celebrate. This year, mum bought a home-made feast to my house. … Continue reading 

The Gateway Cheese and Beautiful Boards

In the lead up to Christmas, I get the opportunity to try new products and sample foods being launched for the festive season. It is a rare occasion that I’ll turn down the chance to try cheese or chocolate and happily I had the good fortune to take delivery of both recently. Paxton and Whitfield are one of the country’s oldest and most respected cheese mongers and so I’m always so pleased to try whatever they send. This year I tried the Trio of Contemporaries selection which proved to be a finely selected group of fresh and imaginative cheeses to liven up your typical cheese plate.

UK Food blog

The advice from the experts this year is to buy less cheese but in bigger pieces. The reason for this is that larger pieces of cheese store better. If you keep them in the waxed paper they arrive in, you’ll also give them a longer life in the fridge as they’ll be allowed to breath while being kept moist. And if you store your cheese well, it can mean only one thing – more leftovers to enjoy!

Beauvale is a pasteurised cows’ milk cheese that’s relatively new to the artisan British cheese fold. Four years in the making, it was developed by Robin Skailes of Cropwell Bishop Creamery to provide a handmade British substitute for all the soft blue cheeses that are imported from the continent. The hand-ladling of the Beauvale helps to make it so soft. Creamy and richly flavoured but not overwhelming, this cheese is absolutely delectable.

Bosworth Ash Log is an unpasteurised goats’ milk cheese made by Stella Bennett and her son Joe at Innes Cheese, Highfields Farm, Staffordshire. For this cheese, the process starts while the milk is still warm to take advantage of the natural anti-bacterial enzymes present in the freshly-drawn milk. This also helps to retain a fuller flavour creating a cheese with a soft and fragile taste and texture. Bosworth has an unusually light and fresh citrus flavour with an unctuous texture, the perfect foil to the richness of other cheeses.

Hubaner is an unpasteurised  cows’ milk cheese. This Alpine-style, aged hard cheese is made by a modern Austrian co-operative creamery near to the Swiss and German borders. Hubaner has quite a creamy texture for a hard cheese and a lovely mild and nutty flavour. I really liked this one.

My recommendations for anyone looking to develop an appreciation of blue cheese but find it too overwhelming, is to start with a creamy, softer-flavoured cheese like the Beauvale. I call these ‘gateway’ cheeses. Accompany your creamy blue cheese and crackers with some dates and you’ll be amazed at how delightful the marriage of sweet and savoury can truly be. In no time you’ll be scoffing stilton with the most hardened cheese-lovers.

Rowton Wood Board

I also wanted to share a discovery made earlier in the year; Rowton Wood chopping boards. There are lots of chopping boards on the market these days, and sure they’re nice, but these boards, hand-made by David White up in the Midlands, are really beautifully made. From the lovingly selected pieces of timber with all their naturals swirls and character, to the rustic shaping and even the detail of the branding in the corner, these boards are beautiful and would be perfect for serving up your cheese in the festive season or would make someone who loves cooking, a thoughtful and unique gift for Christmas. Now would be the time to place an order if you’re thinking of giving one of these as a Christmas gift.

Local Food Hero: Gordon Stores Maidenhead

It’s October and in our family that means pumpkin carving, autumn trees and turning on the heating. We carved out pumpkins last night and draped some cobwebs and spiders around the place. Just a bit of fun for Halloween which is one of my favourite festivities. People say Halloween is an American cultural quirk and one that’s being steadily adopted here in the UK. But before you start hum-bugging this spooky celebration, just remember it all started here in Britain – well according to some scholars anyway. The Celts were celebrating Samhain long before the Christian festival of All Hallows and folk were carving out turnips to ward off the spirits on this night before the pumpkin trend took hold.

Maidenhead food blog

Feeding Time Blog

I made pumpkin pie for the occasion, a recipe with a hazelnut crust from a Canadian friend that I try to make at least once a year. And I also made fried chicken with scones and bacon gravy – some proper American culture right there. But I’m not afraid to embrace the food and fun of other cultures. Growing up in Sydney, I was steeped in the wildly varied immigrant culture of the new world and I am always enthusiastic about trying new flavours and this what brings me to my latest Food Hero; the Gordon Stores on Gordon Street Maidenhead. This place is a haven for those looking for groceries and produce that cannot find in the big name shops; for those who might be looking for that taste of home; or those who have realised that there is so much more to Asian cuisine than Blue Dragon sauces.

Feeding time blog

A friend told me about Gordon Stores when I was looking for a certain ingredient and if she hadn’t told me I never would have found it because it looks so unsuspecting. But once you step inside the doors of Gordon Stores you’ll find a treasure trove of ingredients, snacks and produce to rival any London speciality store. You’ll find absolutely every kind of Indian ingredient there and they have an impressive Asian/Chinese range that is growing to meet the demand for authentic Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese ingredients, they even have halal meats and a really wonderful range of fresh, well-priced and unusual produce.

Another factor that makes the Gordon Stores so good is the customer service. If you catch the owner, he can point you in the direction of what you’re looking for and he is also interested in finding out about good products and authentic brands to stock. I went in looking for Mae Ploy red curry paste last week, and while they didn’t have it yet, I was told that they’ve just found a supplier and will be bringing in new lines of Thai ingredients soon. I also encouraged them to consider stocking Lee Kum Kee Panda oyster sauce because you cannot get it anywhere in Maidenhead and it is far superior than any quasi-Asian brand that you’ll see on the supermarket shelves.

Don’t take my word for it, support this incredible local business and visit Gordon Stores today. They don’t have a website but you’ll find them at 15 Gordon Rd, Maidenhead, West Berkshire SL6 6BS. Give them a call 01628 621171.

Local Food Hero: Quintessential Meats

Local Food Hero: Quintessential Meats

At AT’s work, there are a handful serious BBQ guys…guys who know about meat, guys who build smoke pits, South Africans…you know the type. When asked where they buy their meat – the answer was unanimous: Quintessential Meats in Warfield. … Continue reading 

Double Chocolate Muffins

Double Chocolate Muffins

Well…we can’t be good all the time. Here are the rules. Think of it like Fight Club but instead of fighting to escape spiritual somnambulance we’re fighting to escape the disappointment of below-average chocolate muffins. We’re fighting to make a chocolate muffin … Continue reading 

Rocky Road

Rocky Road

I was chatting to another mum in the school yard the other day and we were talking about how hard it is to choose those incidental gifts; the ones you give to your neighbour, your hairdresser, teachers and workmates. It can … Continue reading 

Lemon Myrtle Yoghurt and Macadamia Shortbread

A friend from home sent me an Australian bush food recipe book for Christmas, along with a couple of packets of wattle seed and a chilli, wild lime and lemon myrtle seasoning blend. What a thoughtful gift and it truly got me thinking about the good friends I have left behind. It also got me thinking about this really nice yoghurt I used to try-not-to-buy because it was loaded with calories. It was a lemon myrtle yoghurt. Lemon scented myrtle or Backhousia citriodora was named after the British botanist James Backhouse, and shortened to lemon myrtle to market the dried leaf for culinary use. It has an unusual strong lemon scent that is somehow more fragrant and sharply floral than actual lemon.

LemonMyrtle-Web

I love this seasoning in sweet dishes. I can imagine it would go very nicely in a cheesecake, but today I’ve made my own dessert creation in honour of the lemon myrtle yoghurt I left behind. To turn this yoghurt into an exotic Australian ‘bush food’ dessert that will shock and amaze your friends and family, serve it up with macadamia nut shortbread. Sliced into fingers, you dip the pieces of shortbread into the yoghurt.

To get your hands on some lemon myrtle, and most likely any other strange and exotic spice, visit Seasoned Pioneers online. The gang at Season Pioneers specialise in authentic herbs and spices, and they kindly sent me a package of lemon myrtle so that I could create this fragrant yoghurt recipe to share with my readers. When it comes to the macadamia nuts, you’ll find them at Waitrose and any decent health food shop. They’re kind of pricey, so if you can’t find them or don’t want to spend too much, you could replace them with Brazil nuts and get a similar texture and flavour.

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Lemon Myrtle Yoghurt Recipe

Ingredients:
1 cup of FAGE Greek yoghurt
1 tsp honey
1 tsp of lemon myrtle, ground finely as possible.
1 tbs lemon juice

Method:
Combine all the ingredients, and leave overnight for the flavours to develop.
Taste it, to adjust the flavours to your preference which might be sweeter, stronger or more tangy than these ratios.

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Macadamia Shortbread Recipe

Ingredients:
225g softened butter
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour (reduce the flour by half a cup for a softer, more cakey shortbread)
1/2 cup chopped, unsalted, raw macadamia nuts

Oven 180C

Method:
Mix the ingredients together with a wooden spoon in a bowl, as opposed to in a mixer.
Press into a lined slice pan (approx. 20cm x 30cm).
Bake until golden, and then slice into fingers.
Serve with lemon myrtle yoghurt.

 

 

Cooper’s Coffee Marlow

Cooper’s Coffee Marlow

As London’s coffee culture moves at light speed, with the likes of Monmouth marching across the terrain like caffeinated Kiwi warriors, and hole-in-the-wall cafes springing up in unlikely places, Maidenhead seems to have been overlooked by the destination-coffee house revolution. Costa, Nero and Starbucks … Continue reading 

Healthy and Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Healthy and Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup

It gets harder to be enthusiastic about salads when the weather turns. Fresh, raw vegetables suddenly don’t seem as appetising or satisfying when there’s a chill in the air. But don’t let a craving for comfort food be an excuse … Continue reading 

Coconut and Ginger Slice

Coconut and Ginger Slice

If you ever wanted to cunningly plot the demise of an enemy with a cake-induced-heart-attack, this recipe would be your weapon of choice. It is one of the most supernaturally seductive slices I’ve ever tasted and contains a whopping one and … Continue reading 

Scrappy Supper: Toast with Garlic Mushrooms

Scrappy Supper: Toast with Garlic Mushrooms

I love scrappy dinners. I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it’s that break with routine that signals something exciting, something different. For us, Tuesdays have become our night for scrappy suppers.  With all of our activities falling on one night of … Continue reading 

Luscious Lemon Pie with Coconut crust

Luscious Lemon Pie with Coconut crust

I’ve made loads of lemon tarts… but I’ve never felt moved enough, confident enough to share a recipe. It’s all been a bit hit and miss. Sometimes grainy, sometimes too tart and often too flat. But, I made a lemon … Continue reading 

Creamy raw broccoli and roasted nut salad

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It’s salad mayhem here. This will be the last one for the season. I promise. This raw broccoli salad is the jewel in the crown. The first time I tried it was at my turkey-carving masterclass at Copas Turkeys last year. They had put on a lunch for the visitors and this was one of the salads on offer. It’s been 6 months – and finally I got my hands on Brenda Copas’ raw broccoli salad. It’s similar to a popular American recipe that features bacon and raisins and fried lardons was an option for this dish but I left it out. If something tastes great without bacon, always best to leave it out really. I know that sounds frugal but bacon is the last thing I need these days.

It might come as a surprise from someone who talks a lot about healthy eating and vegetables, but I’ve never liked raw broccoli, I only sometimes like it steamed, so this recipe was a stretch for me. But let me tell you – it is a salad miracle that broccoli tastes so good in this salad. I think the secret is in the dressing and the marinading. You can feel free to make this salad and eat it up straight away – but if Brenda says to marinade the broccoli then I’ll marinade it because whatever it is – it works.

Sweet and creamy, this amazing dressing contains a confronting amount of sugar, but it’s so delicious it’s worth every calorie. Needless to say this is more of a celebration salad than a virtuous daily meal type of recipe.

Broccoli, Cheese and Roasted Nut Salad Recipe

Ingredients:
1 x head of broccoli
1 x cup of nuts/seeds (hazelnuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds)
1 cup grated cheese
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
Dressing:
1 cup of mayonnaise
50g sugar
2 tbs cider vinegar

Method:
Roast the nuts, leave to cool.
For the dressing, mix up the mayo, vinegar and sugar.
Cut the broccoli into small florets and grate the stalk.
Toss the broccoli, cheese and onion into the dressing and leave over night.
When you’re ready to serve give it a mix, stirring in the nuts.

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Roasted broccoli, cheddar and spiced walnut salad

Roasted broccoli, cheddar and spiced walnut salad

I recently tried Applewood Cheddar for the first time and while I don’t make a habit of eating cheese unless it’s mouldy, I couldn’t resist seeking out a recipe for this much-loved British cheese. With its subtle smokey flavour and creamy … Continue reading 

Cornflakes; not just for breakfast

Cornflakes; not just for breakfast

The only time I buy cereal is when Kellogg’s have their annual Grown-ups Go Free promotion. Last year we used them to take the boys to Lego Land for the first time and I’ve got my tokens on the fridge ready … Continue reading 

Wiltshire wonders; food to seek out when you’re out west

Wiltshire wonders; food to seek out when you’re out west

It’s something I’m rather proud of that didn’t involve feeding my face, so I’ll begin by saying that I walked over 14 miles on Sunday from Salisbury to Stone Henge. If you’re curious about the route, it’s something I found … Continue reading 

On the chopping block

On the chopping block

There’s a plethora of chopping woods, blocks and sheets available today, which makes choosing the right board difficult. However, if you’re not sure about what the best kind is, consider that wooden chopping boards have natural anti-bacterial properties in the wood that … Continue reading