Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cheesecakes Revisted.....

For someone who very much likes to be organised sometimes the details do tend to fall by the way side.

Like for example, it's Mr B's birthday in 5 days time so I spent today making a start on the cake and in my head I was thinking right I'll make breakfast in bed, give him some presents, we might go to the movies, maybe have a picnic, come home, more presents, cake, dinner outside if the weather is nice......totally sorted yes?


It struck me today that whilst I may have it all 'planned' I actually don't because I have no idea what I'm making for breakfast or what's on at the movies, if the weather will be nice enough for a picnic or even what we will eat and you can bet I don't know what we're having for dinner.....

All minor details of course.

So excuse me whilst I spend the next 4 days in a panic trying to figure it out.

I have the same issue with recipes some times.

For example, I use the same standard recipe for my cheesecake fillings and just add fresh fruit, Baileys or some crushed up Oreo's to create the variations. The only problem is that when I wrote out the original posts for these recipes I thought I was doing you (and me) a favour by removing some of the steps I thought were 'unnecessary.'

My original recipe said 'beat the cream cheese and sugar, then add the gelatin, cream and baileys / strawberries / oreos.....'

In theory there is nothing wrong with that recipe, I mean you still end up with a good cheesecake.....

....But in reality you want a great cheesecake and in order to do that, you need to pay attention to the details.

You need to whip the cream and fold it into the mixture after you have mixed through the gelatin and your choice of flavours, and personally I'm thinking the Baileys, strawberries and Oreo's is worth a try!! It might seem like a minor detail but it makes ALL the difference and the end result is a light as air mousse like cheesecake.

In light of this I have updated the recipes for my Cookies and Cream Cheesecake and my Irish Cream Cheesecake and today I'm going to give you the recipe for a Strawberry Cheesecake.

The cheesecake in the photo below is an Irish Cream Cheesecake that we made recently and looking back at the original post it's easy to see how far my food presentation and photography skills have come since starting this blog 3 years ago. I'm also slowly gaining an understanding of how different ingredients work together and their impact on the final product.

Strawberry Cheesecake
1 x 250g pkt of plain sweet biscuits
75g butter, melted
500g cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar, plus 1/4 cup extra
3 tspn gelatin, dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
200g punnet of strawberries, hulled and halved.
1 cup thickened cream

Place biscuits in a food processor and process until they are down to fine crumbs.

Combine the strawberries and extra sugar in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 8-10 mins or until strawberries have broken down slightly. You still want some chunks in there though! Set aside to cool completely. 

Whip the cream and set aside. 

Using an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the strawberries and gelatin and beat until combined. Gently fold through the whipped cream.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until set.

Add the melted butter and mix well. Press the mixture into the base of a lined 24cm springform pan and place in the fridge.


Mrs B xx

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Tart

A few weeks ago Mum and I were sitting down going through some recipe mags when we discovered a whole section on beetroot.

I absolutely love beetroot, but in saying that I only really use it in salad sandwiches and salads and have never eaten or cooked with fresh beetroot.

After pouring over all the recipes in this magazine for dishes like Beetroot and Gruyere Gratin and Moroccan Beetroot and Cous Cous Salad, I was sold. The only problem was that Mum and I have a habit of reading these magazines together and then the following week when we go to their house for dinner, she has cooked the EXACT dish I was going to cook next time they came to our house for dinner......

In an effort to stay one step ahead of the game, I scoured the internet for beetroot recipes and when I found this one that also involved fetta and horseradish cream I knew I was onto a winner.

The tart itself was really lovely. The pastry was buttery, crumbly and beautifully flavoured by the thyme and the sweetness of the beetroot paired with the acidity of the vinegar and the saltiness of the fetta was just the perfect combination. To top it all off the whole thing was balanced out beautifully by the horseradish sauce which was so good it really deserves its own post and will be making a regular appearance on burgers and steaks in our house from now on.

The recipe might sound like it has lots of steps but it's really not that complicated and is much easier if you cook the beetroot and make the pastry the night before.

Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Tart - Serves 4 -6 

1 1/3 cups plain flour
100g chilled butter, chopped
1 tspn thyme leaves

1 bunch (roughly 400g) beetroot, trimmed
30g butter
1 tbspn olive oil
2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tspn thyme leaves, plus extra
1 tbspn caster sugar
150g goat's cheese (I used goat's cheese fetta)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
150ml thickened cream
1/2 tspn nutmeg
250ml light sour cream
1 tbspn horseradish
1 tbspn lemon juice

Place the beetroot in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 1 hour, topping with water as necessary. Drain the water and then place the beetroot in a bowl of cold water and allow to cool completely. Peel and grate the beetroot and set aside.

Whilst the beetroot is cooking, it's a great time to make your pastry and both of these steps can be done the night before to save you some time. Place the flour, butter and thyme into the food processor. Process until the mixture resuebles breadcrumbs. Add 1/4 cup of cold water and process until the mixture comes together in a ball. Place in some plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.

Lightly grease a 30cm loose-bottomed tart pan. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to 5mm thick and line the tart pan with it. Place back in the fridge for 15 mins whilst you preheat the oven to 180C.

Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 10 mins. Remove the paper and the weights and bake for a further 5 minutes. The pastry should be dry and pale golden. I found that my tart base shrunk a little bit during baking, but not enough to make a huge difference.

Heat the butter and oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Add the onions and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until softened.

Add the beetroot, vinegar, thyme and sugar. Cook for 5-7 mins or until thickened. Spread the beetroot mixture over the tart base and top with crumbled goat's cheese.

Whisk the eggs, cream and nutmeg to combine. Pour into the tart case and scatter with extra thyme. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 35 minutes or until set.

Combine the sour cream, horseradish and lemon juice. Season with salt. Place in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Once the tart is cooked, allow it to cool slightly as it should be served warm or cold. Serve with horseradish cream and salad.


Mrs B xx

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Grilled Camembert with Roasted Garlic

It has been a beautiful sunny day here and for the first time in a long time Mr B and I didn't have to work, or be anywhere or do anything, so we were eager to make the most of it and jumped on the bikes! It's been ages since I have ridden my bike and I was slightly concerned I would have forgotten it all, but it was actually one of the best ride's I've had in a long time. 

We rode up to Mr B's brothers house to see his new baby goats and just generally enjoyed being out on the road. 

By the time we got home it was nearly 3pm and our grumbling bellies told us that in all the excitement we had somehow forgotten to have breakfast AND lunch.....

.....believe me that is something that does not happen very often. 

We have been hearing great things about a new burger place that has opened up called The Burger Haus so we headed there and had what was without a doubt the best burger, fries and milkshakes of our entire lives. 

The burger was called Summer Lovin and involved a beef pattie, bacon, caramlised pineapple, tomato relish, aioli, lettuce, red onion, avocado, onion rings, beetroot, cheese and tomato. It was ridiculously huge but so so good. And it came with its own little mini fryer basket of fries - not only were they golden and crunchy, but they were cute too! 

Mr B couldn't go past the Mixed Berry and Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake with Vanilla Galiano and after trying this one, we cannot wait to go back and try the Cookies and Cream Milkshake with Baileys or the Ferrero Rocher Milkshake with Frangelico! It's amazing the difference it makes when venues actually serve their beverages in chilled glasses and go to the trouble to make things fresh instead of using artificial flavours.

Normally on a gorgeous sunny day like today we would enjoy our go to easy dinner of biscuits and cheese, but as you can imagine our bellies are beyond full right now and I think dinner is out of the question.

Last week, Mum and Dad took the humble biscuits and cheese to a gourmet level.......I'm talking grilled camembert on crispy sour dough with herb butter served with oven roasted garlic, cherry tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms and red onion and it was beyond awesome.....

Grilled Camembert
2 x 125g rounds of camembert, halved horizontally

Place cheese halves, rind side down on a lightly greased baking tray and grill for 2-3 mins or until melted and golden.

Serve on toasted sourdough with herbed butter, roasted garlic (recipe below), roasted cherry tomatoes, sautéed swiss brown and button mushrooms, red onion and spinach.

Roasted Garlic
The roasted garlic is to die for and aside from being incredible simply spread on toast, it also makes a tasty accompaniment to a nice steak or roast meal.

4 bulbs garlic, halved
Olive oil for drizzling
Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 180C.

Place garlic cut side down on a baking tray lined with baking paper and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 30-35 mins or until softened and golden.


Mrs B xx

Friday, November 15, 2013

Marbled Chocolate Crunch Cake

It's Friday night and somehow Mr B has ended up working night shift which will see him home around 5am tomorrow morning. He was very apologetic about leaving me home on my own on a Friday night and I did my best to look a little bit disappointed.

In reality I might have been planning how I would spend my night before he had even finished his sentence.

Currently I'm perched on the couch, in my pyjamas, with the music so loud I'm sure the neighbours can hear it, singing my heart out, eating leftovers and surrounded by my recipe folders and magazines....did I mention there's a batch of Raspberry, Coconut and Nutella Brownies cooling on the kitchen bench?

And the excitement doesn't stop there - later on I plan on painting my nails and crawling into the middle of a warm bed (possibly with one of the aforementioned brownies....) where I will read a book until I fall asleep......

My idea of the perfect solo evening....

Whilst the bed warms up and I contemplate what colour to paint my toenails, I NEED to tell you about this amazing cake my Mum and Dad made this week......

This cake was incredible and would make a delightful treat to have with your afternoon cup of tea or a decadent dessert with a generous dollop of cream.  I would definitely recommend serving it warm so that the dark chocolate chunks are beautiful and melty.

Marbled Chocolate Crunch Cake - Serves 12

2.25 cups plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup brown sugar
275g butter
2 tbspns water
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
2 tspns vanilla extract
2 tspns baking powder
100g dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.

Make the chocolate crumble by sifting 3/4 cup of the flour and 1/2 cup cocoa into a large bowl. Stir in the brown sugar and 100g of butter. Use your fingers to rub the butter in until you have a crumbly mixture. Add the water and mix gently. Set aside.

Place the remaining butter and caster sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Stir through vanilla. Sift remaining flour and baking powder over the top of the mixture and gently mix until smooth.

Dollop 3/4 of the batter into your prepared tin. Sift the remaining cocoa into the remaining batter and stir to combine, then fold in the chopped dark chocolate. Dollop the chocolate batter amongst the vanilla batter and smooth the surface. Top with the chocolate crumble mixture and bake for 40 mins. Cool in tin for 10 mins and serve warm with whipped cream.


Mrs B xx

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Moroccan Lamb and Apricot Tagine

It is a well known fact in my family that the majority of our meal times are held up due to my need to take pretty pictures for the blog.

Absolutely no one is allowed to touch their meal until I've decided which one looks best and occasionally I might even take your plate and leave the room with it in search of the best light.....

Mr B may also open his lunch box sometimes to find that his cupcakes have been sliced in half in order to get a photo of their insides.....

I'm lucky to have an understanding family who don't think I'm losing my marbles.

However, sometimes when you're tired and hungry and just want to eat there is no time for pretty pictures.

Plus some dishes like stews and tagines are generally not that photogenic anyway so please excuse the shocking photo of this dish and accept my word that it was amazing.

Moroccan Lamb and Apricot Tagine - Serves 4

500g diced lamb
1 onion, diced
1 tbspn crushed garlic
500g pumpkin, diced
100g baby spinach
1 cup of chickpeas
3/4 cup dried apricots
400g tin of diced tomatoes
1 tbspn Moroccan spices
1 pkt of Sunrice 90 second brown rice and quinoa

Heat 1 tbspn of oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until soft.

Add the garlic and lamb and cook for a further 3 minutes or until lamb is browned.

Add Moroccan spices and stir for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Add the pumpkin, tomatoes, chickpeas and apricots. Pour over 2/3 cup boiling water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to simmer and leave, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until lamb and pumpkin are tender.

Meanwhile, cook brown rice and quinoa as per packet directions.

Stir spinach through the lamb mixture until it wilts. Divide brown rice and quinoa between 4 bowls and top with tagine.


Mrs B xx

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Roast Vegetable Mac n Cheese with Cauliflower Sauce

I have been eyeing off this recipe for Cauliflower Alfredo sauce on Pinterest for awhile now.

Which basically means I pinned it many months ago and then never got around to making it plus I was a bit of a non-believer....tasty alfredo sauce.....using cauliflower? Yeah right.....

But as luck would have it I also pinned a recipe for a Roasted Vegetable Spicy Mac n Cheese and the only reason I had avoided making it was the cheese sauce.

Don't get me wrong I love a good cheese sauce, but generally they are not the healthiest option.

At some point I had a light bulb moment, mind you it was a very delayed reaction, and thought why not try the mac n cheese recipe.....with the cauliflower alfredo?!

Possibly one of the best thoughts of my entire life.

Anyway, we made the sauce, it was easy and incredible and smooth and silky and I could pretty much eat the entire batch straight from the blender.

Then we made the mac n cheese and it was easy and incredible and tasty and the panko were beautiful and crispy and did I mention it is like a zillion times healthier then normal mac n cheese?

This sauce can be used in place of Alfredo or even Bechamel in just about any recipe - to alter the consistency just add more or less stock during the blending process.

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

500g fresh or frozen cauliflower, diced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 - 2 tbspns crushed garlic (depending on preference)
1 tbspn butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Salt and Pepper

Place cauliflower and stock in a pot over medium high heat and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5-10 mins or until tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the stock.

In a fry pan over medium heat, add the butter and garlic. Cook for 3-5 mins or until butter is melted and garlic is tender.

Place the cauliflower, garlic, butter, milk, cheddar and parmesan in a blender. Season with salt and pepper. Add 3/4 of the stock for a thicker sauce or all of it for a slightly thinner sauce. Blend for several minutes or until silky smooth.

You can use this straight away but I usually make it the night before and leave it in the fridge.

Roast Vegetable Mac n' Cheese - Serves 4

1 x head of broccoli, finely diced
1 x zucchini, finely diced
1 x capsicum, finely diced
2 x carrot, finely diced
2 x celery stalks, finely diced
200g macaroni pasta, cooked as per packet directions
Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce (recipe below)
1 tspn Mexican Chilli Powder, plus extra
1/2 cup grated cheese
2 tbspns panko

Pre-heat oven to 200C.

Place broccoli, zucchini, capsicum, carrot and celery in a large baking dish and toss together with 2 tbspns olive oil. Roast for 20 mins.

In a large baking dish, combine the vegetables, macaroni, cauliflower sauce and chilli powder. Top with the grated cheese and panko. Spinkle with some extra chilli powder and season with salt and pepper.

Place under the grill for 3-4 mins or until golden brown.


Mrs B xx

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Death by Oreo Cupcakes

It's been far too long since we've talked cupcakes around here.

And I don't mean you're average chocolate or vanilla cupcakes, I mean serious cupcakes.

When I asked Mr B what flavour he would like I was actually so surprised when he said Cookies and Cream that I didn't bother giving him a chance to change his mind.

I had so many ideas and I decided to run with all of them!

I was thinking a full on Cookies and Cream extravaganza.

A whole oreo for the base.....

Topped with a light vanilla cupcake.....

Piled high with fluffy cookies and cream frosting......

And an oreo truffle filling......

Forever to be known as the.....

Death by Oreo Cupcake!

Death by Oreo Cupcakes - Makes 12

For the cupcakes
1 x 150g pkt of Oreo's (about 12 biscuits)
90g butter, softened
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup self raising flour
2 tbspn milk

Pre-heat oven to 180C / 160C fan forced. Line a 12 hole muffin pan with cases.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, vanilla and sugar until pale and creamy.

Add the eggs, flour and milk and beat until just combined.

Place a whole Oreo into the base of each case. Top with 1 tbspn of batter.

Roll 1 tbspn of the cooled oreo truffle mixture into a ball and place in the batter.

Top with another 2 tbspns of batter to cover the truffle. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back when touched.

For the truffle filling
1 x 150g pkt of Oreo's
180g cream cheese, softened

Using a food processor, process the oreos until they are fine crumbs.

Combine the oreos and cream cheese and place in the fridge.

For the cookies and cream frosting
1 x 150g pkt of Oreo's
125g butter, softened
1.5 cups icing sugar
2 tbpsn milk
1/2 tspn vanilla extract

Process the Oreos using a food processor until you have fine crumbs.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar, milk and vanilla and beat until nice and fluffy. Add the oreo crumbs, reserving 2 tbspns for decorating.

Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and then sprinkle with some of the reserved oreo crumbs.

Now I know there are a few steps involved in these, but none of them are overly complicated and the end result is definitely worth it.....did I mention that frosting is good enough to eat straight from the bowl?!


Mrs B xx


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