Tag Archives: cheesecake

A Raw Cake spread for Mothers Day with Poetry Stores

11 May

A “raw” cake spread for Mothers Day, featuring recipes from the book Raw Cake. Photography by Tasha Seccombe. All homeware, linen, teas and honey available from Poetry Stores. (Vintage round wooden plate is photographer’s own.)

You’re never too old to learn something new. I am turning 40 years young this year, and it is one of my goals to try as many new ingredients and food types as I possibly can. Earlier in 2017 I became a fan of tofu after being a skeptic for way too many years. It’s never a good idea to judge a book by its cover…

For this Mothers Day feature, I had the opportunity to cook three recipes for a special tea table spread from Daisy Kristiansen and Leah Garwood-Gowers’ new book Raw Cake, available from Poetry Stores. They are the duo behind The Hardihood in London – raw, handcrafted, superfood confectioners. Products by The Hardihood are plant-based and free from gluten, refined sugar, dairy and soy. Conveniently vegan and often raw, they use organic, sustainable ingredients to craft “clean candy”.

Being a self-confessed French pastry addict, it was hard for me to imagine a world of cakes without butter or sugar (or flour or eggs, for that matter). So I chose two recipes that really reminded me of the “good stuff” like rocky road and berry swirl cheesecake, as well as a recipe that tickled my fancy for the strange combination of ingredients like avo, mango & lime tart.

It was an absolute revelation to make these recipes. For one, there were many ingredients that I’ve never heard of, like maca powder and rice malt syrup. The dairy-free “cheesecake” was made by blending desiccated coconut with soaked raw cashews, rice malt syrup, lemon juice, fresh berries and coconut oil (you need a pretty powerful blender to achieve the right consistency). The rocky road consisted mainly of superfoods like goji berries, dried apricots, pitted dates, organic cacao powder, coconut oil and lots of raw nuts. And the avo mousse tart with mango & lime had the most incredible texture that you can imagine.

Unfortunately, most of these ingredients are not mainstream yet, but you’ll find them in good quality health stores with a relatively high price tag. The more familiar ingredients are easy to find, yet also expensive. If you don’t have serious budget constraints and want to reap the benefits of super healthy, raw food in the tastiest ways imaginable, this book is for you!

Here’s to all the mothers out there aiming to feed their families the best. Happy Mothers Day!

Tip: Shop your nuts at a weigh-and-pay shop – this way you only buy what you need, especially when a recipe calls for only 40 g of walnuts, etc.

“Raw” rocky road – a treat that you can eat and not feel guilty at all! Photography by Tasha Seccombe. (Vintage spatula is photographer’s own.)

Rocky Road (makes 9-12 pieces)

155 g ( 1 cup) dried apricots (sulphur free)
40 g (1/2 cup) walnuts
60 g (1/2 cup) hazelnuts
80 g mixed currants or raisins
55 g (1/2 cup) goji berries

For the chocolate mix:
150 g (3/4 cup) coconut oil, melted
60 g (3/4 cup) cacao powder
30 g (1/4 cup) coconut sugar
170 g (1/2 cup) rice malt syrup
60 g (1/2 cup) pitted dates, soaked for 30 min
Line a 15 cm square baking tin with baking paper. Place all the dry mix ingredients in a high-powered food processor and pulse on high until just broken up and mixed together but still chunky. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and clean out the bowl of the food processor.
Next, make the chocolate mix. Add the coconut oil, cacao, coconut sugar and syrup to the clean food processor and blend on high, then add the dates and blend until smooth and combined. Make sure you don’t over-mix the chocolate or it can separate. If this happens and there is a lot of extra oil, add in some more cacao powder and malt syrup until it becomes smooth.
Pour the chocolate mix over the dry mix and stir together with a large spoon until well combined. Scoop into the baking tin, pressing the mixture down to ensure it is compact. Place in the fridge for 3-4 hours or the freezer for 1 hour until it has completely set, then cut into 9-12 pieces. They will keep well in the fridge for up to 7 days.

My notes: My food processor wasn’t powerful enough to pulse the dried apricots, so I opted to cut them by hand instead. Also, I used a 20 x 13 cm baking dish and got 18 medium size squares – remember to really put pressure on the mixture when you compact it, otherwise it will be very crumbly.

Blueberry Lemon Swirl Cheesecake – not containing and cheese or dairy or gluten! Make your cake look extra pretty with a selection of edible flowers. Catch the interesting ingredient list below. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Blueberry Lemon Swirl Cheesecake (serves 8-12)

For the base:
130 g (1 cup) cashews
50 g (1/2 cup) pecans
60 g (1/2 cup) pitted soft dates
2 tablespoons rice malt syrup or alternative liquid natural sweetener
1 tablespoon maca powder (optional)
pinch of Himalayan salt

For the filling and topping:
60 g (3/4 cup) desiccated coconut
390 g (3 cups) cashews, soaked in warm water for 2 hours then drained
340 g (1 cup) coconut oil, melted
125 ml (1/2 cup) lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon, plus extra to decorate
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
200 g ( 2 cups) fresh or frozen blueberries (I used a mixture of blackberries and blueberries)
edible flowers and coconut flakes, to decorate
Line a 20 cm round springform cake tin with baking paper. For the base, place the nuts in a high-powered food processor and blend on high until coarsely ground, then combine with the remaining ingredients until well mixed. Press into the cake tin.
For the filling, place the coconut in a high-powered blender and blend on high until fine, then add the cashews, syrup and coconut oil and blend again until the mixture is as smooth as possible, scraping down the sides to incorporate all the mixture. Transfer half the mixture to a bowl and set aside. Add the lemon juice, zest and turmeric to the mixture left in the blender and blend until smooth. Taste, and add more lemon juice if it needs more flavour, and more sweetener if it’s too tart. Pour into a second bowl, setting aside a few tablespoons of this lemon cream in a piping bag to chill for later. Add the other half of the mixture to the blender with the blueberries. Blend until combined and add more sweetener if needed. Pour it back into the bowl so that you now have two bowls with two colours mixture.

Spoon equal sized dollops of the purple mixture and the yellow mixture at random onto the cake base, alternating between colours, until you have used it all up. Wiggle the tin from side to side to settle the mixture, and swirl through the mix using a knife or a chopstick, to create a pattern. Transfer to the fridge overnight or the freezer for 3-4 hours until firm. Remove from the tin and decorate with the lemon cream, edible flowers, coconut flakes and lemon zest. Chill until ready to serve.

My notes: Use a very powerful food processor / blender to achieve a smooth texture for the cheesecake mixture. Use the turmeric powder with caution, as it can tint the mixture very bright yellow.

Mango, lime and avocado mousse tart. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Mango, Lime & Avocado Mousse Tart (serves 8-12)

For the crust:
130 g (1 cup) macadamias
100 g (1 cup) pecans
95 g (3/4 cup) pitted dates, soaked for 30 minutes or until soft
1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder
pinch of salt

For the filling:
3 small avocados, stoned
zest and juice of 1 lime
100 g (1/2 cup) coconut oil
1 large mango, peeled and destoned
170 g (1/2 cup) rice malt syrup or coconut syrup
pinch of Himalayan salt

Line a 20 cm round pie tin with baking paper.
First make the crust. Place the nuts in a high powered food processor and blend on high until broken up. Add the remaining ingredients and blend again until well combined and the mixture sticks together. Press into the pie tin, and clean out the bowl of the food processor.
For the filling, blend the avocados in the clean food processor until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until everything has been broken down and the mixture is silky smooth. Pour over the base and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours to set.

My notes: I used a fluted pie tin which is very difficult to line with baking paper. I used a non-stick baking spray instead.

This post was written in collaboration with Poetry Stores. All homeware, linen and the cookbook available online and in store at Poetry Stores.

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Raspberry Swirl Frozen Cheesecake

4 Nov

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

You might have noticed some brand changes going on with Simonsberg cheese: they’re becoming Président. You’d be happy to know that it’s still the same fantastic products with the same taste inside the packaging.

I recently had the privilege of dreaming up a new recipe with one of the cheeses in the President range. I chose their iconic plain cream cheese (preservative free), because I just love the texture and taste – wonderful in desserts, especially. Dishing up beautiful, creamy, swirly frozen desserts for the upcoming festive season is always a crowd pleaser. Without the trouble of making real ice cream or working with expensive churners, this velvety frozen cheesecake with raspberry jam swirls is easy to whip up, delicious to eat and delivers big on the wow factor.

Top with fresh raspberries and chopped nuts for a show-stopping dessert.

Top with fresh raspberries and chopped nuts for a show-stopping dessert (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Make it in a regular loaf tin brushed with vegetable oil and lined with plastic wrap. A layer of wafer biscuits complete the “ice cream cake” feel and keeps the cake from melting too quickly when you turn it out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (strained)
  • 2 x 230 g tubs Président cream cheese, plain
  • 250 ml Parmalat fresh cream
  • 1/2 cup good quality raspberry jam
  • about 8 wafer biscuits
  • fresh raspberries and chopped nuts, to serve

Method:

  1. Prepare a medium size loaf tin: brush the insides with vegetable oil and line with plastic wrap.
  2. Pour the condensed milk and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Mix with electric beaters until thick and smooth.
  3. Add the cream cheese and mix until smooth.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the cream until just stiff (don’t overmix). Fold the cream into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. Stir the jam well to make it a little runny. Swirl a few teaspoons full of jam on the bottom of the prepared tin, then top with one third of the cheesecake mixture. Repeat with more jam, more mixture, more jam and the last of the mixture.
  6. Arrange the wafer biscuits on top in a neat layer. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
  7. To turn out, remove the top plastic wrap layer, then open up the plastic on the sides. Turn over on a serving plate/board, then tug gently on the plastic to release the cake from the tin. Remove the tin and the plastic and serve in slices with fresh berries and chopped nuts of your choice.

Note: I prefer serving this frozen cheesecake after leaving it on the counter for about 15 minutes to soften slightly.

Président cheese products

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

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Roasted plum tart

2 Apr

Roasted plums on a creamy zesty filling inside a baked pastry shell (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Roasted plums on a creamy zesty filling inside a baked pastry shell (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

There is nothing more beautiful than a perfectly ripe plum, its silky matt skin dark and red and tender. Inside, the flesh reveals a golden, juicy, tart, fibrous treasure. I could stare at plums for hours – such astonishingly pretty fruit.

This simple tart is easy to make and – with its rustic charm – a dream to look at. The roasted fruit needs some time to cool, so don’t be rushed.

Note: This tart also looks beautiful when assembled in smaller jars. Just substitute the baked pastry for buttery cookie crumbs (200g digestive or tennis biscuits mixed with 80 g melted butter). Just spoon the crumbs into individual 250 ml capacity jars without compressing it. Top with the creamy filling & roasted plums, then refrigerate. Mobile desserts fit for a royal picnic.

For the pastry:

  • 1 ½ cups (250g) cake flour
  • 125g cold butter, chopped in cubes
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon iced water

For the roasted plums:

  • 1 kg ripe, firm plums (halved, pits removed)
  • ¼ cup soft brown sugar
  • juice of 1 orange

For the filling:

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 250 g plain cream cheese

To make the pastry: Place the flour, butter & sugar in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the yolk and pulse again. Now add the iced water and process until it starts to come together in a ball. As soon as it does, remove from the processor, then knead briefly to form a smooth ball. Shape into a disc, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface (about 0,5 cm thick). Transfer to a greased tart tin (about 20-23 cm diameter), then press gently into the corners and trim the top. Line with baking paper, then fill with dry beans or rice. Pre-heat oven to 200 C, then bake for 15 minutes. Remove paper and beans, then bake for another 5-10 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and leave to cool.

To make the roasted plums: Place halved plums on a baking tray (alternate cut-side up and down), then sprinkle with sugar & drizzle with orange juice. Bake at 200 C for 15-20 minutes, then remove and leave to cool. Note: you want the plums to be tender, but not too soft – they must still be in tact.

To make the filling: Using electric beaters, beat the condensed milk with the lemon juice until smooth. Add the cream cheese, then beat until well mixed. Pour into the prepared cooled pastry case, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. When ready to serve, top with cooled roasted plums, then slice and serve.

Note: This assembled tart can be refrigerated and enjoyed within 2 days. The pastry will however be best served on the first day.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog.

Text & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

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Crustless ricotta cheesecake

26 Mar

Baked ricotta cheesecake topped with freshly whipped cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Baked ricotta cheesecake topped with freshly whipped cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Many years ago, long before I started writing my food blog, I saved a few pages from a Pick ‘n Pay Fresh Ideas booklet before it became Fresh Living Magazine (not sure the exact date, it wasn’t included in my cut-out). Strangely, I never got around to making their recipe for an Italian baked ricotta cheesecake – although the picture had astounded me each time I saw it.

I recently paged through my saved cut-outs again and decided to finally give it a go. I love a good cheesecake any day and I’m always keen to try out new variations. This one is great because it doesn’t have any crust at all (a little less effort and more than a little less kilojoules) and it is made from ricotta cheese, not cream cheese or cottage cheese. The cake is slightly firmer than most other cream-cheese-based cheesecakes, with a delicate almost-crumbly texture. The smoothness of the texture completely depends on the smoothness of the ricotta that you are using, so look for a creamy and smooth ricotta product. The flavour is surprisingly light and not too sweet – a welcome alternative to heavier cream-based versions.

This Italian-style cheesecake is really easy to make, low in carbs and delicious topped with a layer of unsweetened softly whipped cream. It is best kept refrigerated. Dust with a little icing sugar if necessary.

Crustless ricotta cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Crustless ricotta cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients: (makes 1 x 20cm cake)

  • 1 kg ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 6 XL eggs
  • 1.2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
  • juice (about 1/4 cup) and finely grated peel of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • a pinch of salt
  • for serving: 250 ml cream, whipped

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 150 C. Set oven rack in the middle of the oven. Grease and flour a 20 cm springform cake tin.
  2. Place all ingredients (except cream) in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pour batter into the prepared tin.
  3. Bake for 1 1/2 hours (90 minutes) until filling is pale gold and centre is firm. Remove from oven and cool in tin.
  4. Remove from tin when completely cool, then top with whipped cream. Slice and serve.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Recipe: Pick ‘n Pay Fresh Ideas booklet

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography: Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe

Styling: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

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An Easter garden tea party with Poetry stores

7 Apr

An Easter garden tea party fit for a king (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

An Easter garden tea party fit for a king (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Next weekend many of us will be celebrating the Easter holidays – a time for utter indulgence in terms of festive family foods and sweet treats. The friendly team from Poetry stores asked me to once again put together a feast for this special occasion, and I decided to create a tea party spread with recipes from one of the books from their shelves: Tea Time by Jackie Brooks.

A tea party is such a great way to celebrate special occasions with family and friends. While the kids are hunting Easter eggs in the garden, you and your friends can gather around in a shady spot to enjoy the most delicious and decadent Easter treats with a cup of steaming tea. While Tasha (my good friend and also the photographer of this spread) and I worked to make the food look pretty, we asked our daughters to hold some of the dishes for a few individual recipe shots. They made such beautiful “hand models” that we had to pay them in Easter eggs!

My favourite recipe from this whole spread is the pecan cheesecake – it is utterly decadent and so very delicious. But the raspberry tarts take the prize for their wow factor – how pretty are those?

Jackie’s little recipe book is conveniently small (it will certainly fit into most handbags) and packed with so many easy recipes – sweet and savoury – for any tea time occasion. At only R150 is also makes a very affordable gift for a friend or loved one this Easter. Get it from your nearest Poetry store or online.

Butterfly cupcakes with pink cream filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Butterfly cupcakes with pink cream filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Butterfly cupcakes – makes 24: (all recipes from Tea Time by Jackie Brooks)

  • 125g butter
  • 5ml vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • filling: 250 ml cream, 2,5ml vanilla extract, 15 ml icing sugar, a drop of pink food colouring

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.
  2. Beat butter, vanilla and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Sift flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir until mixture is smooth and all ingredients are well combined.
  4. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of mixture into paper cases. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. To make the filling, beat cream, vanilla and icing sugar together until thick.
  6. When the cupcakes are cool, cut a slice from the top of each cake and pipe on a small amount of filling. Cut the removed cake slices in half and arrange on top of cream to make butterfly wings. Dust with a little icing sugar.
Chocolate hazelnut cake with vintage doily sieve pattern (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chocolate hazelnut cake with vintage doily sieve pattern (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chocolate hazelnut cake – serves 8:

  • 250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 325g hazelnuts, toasted and roughtly chopped
  • 15ml rum
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 190C.
  2. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and keep stirring until the chocolate melts. Remove from pan and cool slightly.
  3. Place egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until thick and pale. Fold the melted chocolate, hazelnuts and rum into the egg mixture.
  4. Place egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Pour mixture into a greased and lined 23cm spring-form cake tin and bake for 50 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool cake in tin.
  5. Just prior to serving, dust cake with icing sugar (I used one of Tasha’s antique lace doilies to create a beautiful pattern).
Meltingly soft ginger kisses (photograhy by Tasha Seccombe)

Meltingly soft ginger kisses (photograhy by Tasha Seccombe)

Ginger kisses – makes 24:

  • 250g soft butter
  • 115g icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 15ml ground ginger
  • 225g plain/cake flour
  • 150g cornflour (Maizena)
  • Filling: 250g mascarpone, 50g stem ginger or preserved ginger, 15ml stem ginger syrup or maple syrup, 50g demerara sugar, 2,5ml vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
  2. In a large bowl beat the butter until pale and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar, beating well until the mixutre is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until well combined. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of the flour.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the ginger, flour and cornflour. Sift the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Roll teaspoon-sized amount into balls and press down with a fork (use floured hands).
  4. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until firm and lightly golden in colour (not brown). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. While the biscuits and cooling, prepare the filling. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside. When the biscuits are cool enough, spread the filling on half the biscuits then place the remaining biscuits on top.
Baked pecan cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Baked pecan cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Pecan cheesecake – serves 12:

Base:

  • 180-200g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
  • 45ml sugar (optional)
  • 50g butter

Filling:

  • 1,25kg plain cream cheese (5 x 250g tubs), at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 40g butter, melted
  • 5 eggs
  • 5ml vanilla essence
  • 1 cup pecan nuts, chopped

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C.
  2. To make base, combine biscuits, sugar and butter, mixing well. Press into bottom of a greased 25cm spring-form tin, then chill in the fridge.
  3. For the filling: beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add brown sugar and butter, mixing well. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Spoon filling into tin and bake for 1 hour.
  4. Turn oven off and allow cheesecake to cool in oven with closed door for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, then cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate for 8 hours. Remove sides of spring-form tin, then decorate with extra pecans.
Fresh raspberry tarts with cream cheese filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Fresh raspberry tarts with cream cheese filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Raspberry & hazelnut tarts – makes 6:

Base:

  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 30 ml icing sugar
  • 30g ground hazelnuts
  • 80g butter, chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Cream filling:

  • 375g creamcheese430ml caster sugar
  • 60ml double cream

Raspberry topping:

  • 350g fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 cup smooth raspberry jam (warmed and sieved)

Method:

  1. To make pastry base, place flour, icing sugar, and hazelnuts in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and pulse until it just comes together as a soft dough. Remove from bowl and wrap in cling wrap, then refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 200C. Knead pastry lightly, then roll out to 3mm thick. Line 6 greased 75mm flan tins with the rolled-out pastry dough. Line with baking paper and add beans or rice to weigh it down. Bake for 10 minute, then remove paper and beans and bake for another 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. To make filling, place cream cheese and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth. Beat cream in a separate bowl, then fold into cream cheese mixture.
  4. To assemble, spoon or pipe the filling into cooled pastry cases. Arrange raspberries on top, then brush warm jam over and refrigerate to set. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Credits:

This post was especially written for Poetry stores as part of their Easter 2014 celebration campaign.

All recipes from Tea Time by Jackie Brooks. Available from Poetry stores for R150.

All homeware, Wonkiware, jugs, mini wooden boards, tea cups & saucers, nougat bars, toffee bars, glass tea pot and wooden boxed exotic teas available from Poetry stores (except for white cake stand, animated vintage mug, bunny cookie cutters, and Easter eggs).

Intro text, recipe selection, food preparation & co-styling: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & co-styling: Tasha Seccombe

Green bunny prop courtesy of Lily’s Closet.

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A casual summer holiday lunch with Poetry Stores: Part 1

6 Dec

A casual Summer lunch or brunch (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

If there is one word that sums up 2013 for me, it would be “inspiration”. This year has been a great year of being surrounded by truly inspirational peers, clients and friends, and it is the theme of this 3 part festive series that I have put together in association with Poetry Stores.

We’ve reached the end of 2013, and we are all starting to get ready for a well-deserved break! I’ve teamed up with Poetry Stores to bring you fantastic ideas and inspiration for festive meals, recipes, gifts, decor and homeware. With each part of this series I have chosen a recipe book from Poetry’s collection, featuring 4 or 5 of the most scrumptious recipes from each book, along with a selection of beautifully festive homeware that you can use to decorate your table or wrap as Christmas gifts to your nearest and dearest. Remember that recipe books also make amazing Christmas gifts, and they keep on giving us fresh ideas right through the year!

For the first feature, I have chosen the theme of “A Casual Summer Holiday Lunch” with recipes from Café Food at Home by Evan Faul from Quivertree Publications (available from Poetry Stores). Evan is a master at baking, so I simply had to try his recipe for ciabatta. He also features a beautiful recipe for a sandwich in his book, made from the same ciabatta, and filled with garlic & thyme roasted chicken, red pepper pesto & mayonnaise, fresh basil leaves and finely sliced red onion, and I couldn’t resist. For dessert, I chose Evan’s recipe for a white chocolate cheesecake with a chocolate biscuit crust, topped with fresh seasonal berries – a show stopping dessert!

Evan’s book is filled with easy, scrumptious recipes of the food that I really love to eat: it is unpretentious, beautifully photographed, and lipsmackingly delicious. Café food, bistro food, inspiration for laid back holiday food. Serve with you favourite beer or some ice cold white wine.

Poetry’s range of beautiful wooden boards, Wonkiware platters and inhouse tableware will make any feast look picture perfect.  Here’s what we’ve used in the pictures:

Large round bread board:  R499

Baguette board:  Small baguette board R199

Large Wonkiware regtangular trough: R599

Wonkiware bowl: R140

Wonkiware cake plate: R350

Tumbler glass: R40

Ciabatta loaf (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ciabatta: Ingredients

For the “rustic poolish” (starter dough):

  • 400 ml cold water
  • 270 g bread flour
  • 130 g unsifted wholewheat flour
  • 3 g instant yeast (about 5 ml)

For the ciabatta loaf:

  • 375 g bread flour
  • 2 g instant yeast
  • 375 g rustic poolish (see above)
  • 10 g salt
  • 240 ml iced water

Method:

  1. For the rustig poolish, place all the ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer, then mix well for a couple of minutes with your flat beater. Transfer the mixture to a plastic container, and cover with a damp cloth. Place in the fridge overnight for use the next day.
  2. The next day, place the rest of the ingredients except the salt and water in the mixer. Mix for 3 minutes on slow speed while adding the iced water.  Mix for 4 minutes on medium speed.
  3. Keep on mixing while you add the salt. Mix for a further 6 minutes on medium speed. Transfer to a clean, lightly oiled container, cover with a damp cloth, then leave in a warm area in the kitchen to ferment for 2 hours. Fold the dough after 4o minutes, and again after 80 minutes.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a flour-dusted work surface. Dust the surface of the dough with flour, using a sieve to avoid any lumps. Gently stretch the dough into a rectangle using your hands.
  5. Carefully divide the dough into 2 portions. Roll the pieces very gently in the dusting flour so that they are evenly coated. Place the dough portions on a well floured cloth and prove for 60 minutes.
  6. Place a terracotta baking stone (if you have one) in the oven, and preheat the oven to 250 C for at least an hour before baking.
  7. Transfer the breads onto a teflon sheet. Mist the oven with water using a spray bottle, before loading the loaves on the hot stone in the oven (I don’t have a baking stone, but I preheated a normal baking tray). Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temp to 220 C for a further 10 minutes. The bread should be golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool.

Chicken lemon & thyme roast (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chicken, lemon & thyme roast:

  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 10 free-range chicken thighs and breasts on the bone (I used a mixed pack of chicken pieces)
  • 75 ml good quality olive oil
  • small bunch fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 onions, peeled

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C.
  2. Cut the head of garlic in half horizontally. Use it to rub the skin of the chicken pieces. Break up the head of garlic but do not peel the cloves.
  3. Place the chicken pieces and garlic in a bowl. Add the olive oil, thyme and seasoning. Cut the lemons in half, and cut the onions in 1/8 segments. Add the lemons and onions to the bowl, then use your hands to gently toss all the ingredients together. Tip it out onto a flat roasting tray lined with foil, then spread them out in a single layer, chicken pieces skin side up.
  4. Roast for 25 minutes until the chicken is crisp, brown and juicy. (I turned down the oven to 180 C and roasted for another 20 minutes).
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven, then use tongs to squeeze the caramelized lemon over the meat before serving.

Roasted red pepper pesto (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Roast tomato & red pepper pesto:

  • 2 large red peppers, cored seeded and cut into quarters
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 15 ml olive oil for roasting
  • 1 clove  garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 60 g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 35 g pine nuts
  • 25 g cashew nuts
  • 5 ml balsamic vinegar
  • 20 g basil leaves (optional)
  • 100 ml good quality olive oil for blending
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lemon

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C.
  2. Arrange the peppers and tomatoes skin sides down on a roasting tray. Drizzle with oil and roast for 15 minutes.
  3. Place the garlic, cheese, pine nuts, cashew nuts, and vinegar in a food processor and blend together gently. Add the roasted peppers, tomatoes and basil (if using) and blend at low speeds.
  4. With the processor running, slowly add 100 ml oil in a steady stream (depending on the thickness you require, adjust the amount of olive oil). Season to taste and finish off with a squeeze of lemon juice.
  5. Place in an airtight container or in a sterilized glass jar in the fridge – it should keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge.

Roast chicken sandwich (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Roast chicken sandwich:

  • 400 g lemon chicken & thyme roast (see above)
  • 100 g roast tomato & red pepper pesto (see above)
  • 100 g mayonnaise
  • 10 g smoked paprika
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 loaf ciabatta (see above)
  • 100 ml good quality olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • a few basil leaves
  • a few gherkins

Method:

  1. Flake the chicken from the bone, then add the pesto, mayo, paprika and seasoning. Mix well.
  2. Slice the ciabatta in half lengthways. Drizzle the cut sides with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Toast under a hot grill under golden brown.
  3. Remove bread from the oven, then rub with garlic and then with the cut side of the tomato half.
  4. Spread the bread with the chicken mayo mixture. Layer red onion and basil leaves on top and cover with the other half of the toasted bread. Slice into portions and serve with gherkins on the side.

Baked white chocolate cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Baked white chocolate cheesecake:

  • 200 g chocolate biscuits
  • 90 g butter, melted
  • 400 g best quality white chocolate
  • 750 g full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 230 g sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250 ml single cream, chilled and whipped
  • mixed seasoning berries, to serve

Method:

  1. Crush biscuits in a food processor, then mix in the melted butter. Press mixture firmly into the bottom and sides of a well-greased 23 x 8 cm springform cake tin.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 150 C.
  3. Break chocolate into chunks and place in a glass or metal bowl. Melt gently over a pot of simmering water.
  4. Beat cream cheese lightly with a hand blender. Add vanilla extract, sugar and melted chocolate and mix well.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then fold in the whipped cream. Pour onto the prepared biscuit crust, then bake for 1 hour.
  6. Switch off the oven and allow the cake to cool completely in the oven before removing from the tin.
  7. Serve with seasonal berries.

Credits:

All recipes by Evan Faul, from his book Café Food at Home.

Food preparation & text: Ilse van der Merwe of The Food Fox

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Ilse van der Merwe & Tasha Seccombe

Homeware: Poetry Stores

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Classic baked cheesecake

20 Sep

I have several recurring cravings, every week or so. They are my regular sweet must-haves, my soul-soothing treats. I don’t chase them away, I welcome them with open arms – and a cup of frothy cappuccino or steamy earl grey tea on the side.

So who are these regular “visitors”? Dark chocolate brownies, decadent chocolate mousse, baked crème caramel, real Italian gelato, saucy cinnabons, and of course baked cheesecake.

I’ve made quite a few cheesecakes in my life, but this recipe seems to be the one I return to. It was featured in the Sarie Kos Magazine of Autumn 2010 – a 6-page cheesecake feature, filled with various beautifully photographed versions of this delightfully creamy teatime treat. This was their classic baked cheesecake recipe: light-textured, delicate and very creamy. In my opinion, it’s the queen of cheesecakes.

PS: I sometimes serve this cheesecake with caramelized walnuts, like in the photograph, but it is completely optional.

Ingredients for base:

  • 200 g digestive biscuits
  • 50 g (60 ml) sugar
  • 100 g butter, melted

Method for base:

  1. Place biscuits and sugar in food processor, and process to crumbs.
  2. Add melted butter and mix well. Pour into base of greased spring form cake tin, and press down firmly to coat base and sides (go as far up the sides as you can). Place in fridge for about 1 hour.

Ingredients for filling:

  • 1 kg creamed cottage cheese
  • 210 g (250 ml) caster sugar
  • 45 ml flour
  • 5 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 125 ml cream
  • 15 ml grated lemon zest
  • 5 ml vanilla essence

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. Place cottage cheese, caster sugar and flour in a large bowl and beat well with an electric mixer for about 2 min. Scrape sides.
  3. Add eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. Add cream and beat for 5 minutes. Add lemon zest and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Place chilled base on a baking tray. Pour cheesecake mixture onto base, then bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn temperature down to 120 C, then bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let it cool. To prevent the top from cracking, carefully run a small sharp knife around the sides to prevent the cake from sticking to the sides of the tin. When cool, place in the fridge to cool overnight, for best results.

Tip: Remember to slice the cake with a knife that is dipped in hot water, otherwise it might crumble.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Nicola Pretorius

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Low-fat orange cheesecake

14 Jul

Low-fat no-bake guilt-free orange cheesecake

I am terribly guilty of disregarding the fat content of my food! I tend to throw caution to the wind, especially when it comes to using cream, sugar and butter in my desserts. That’s why I’ve decided to make a low-fat dessert for a change, making sure that there will be no compromise on the flavour.

I came up with this low-fat no-bake orange cheesecake, made with low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat milk, orange juice and gelatin. For those who are also watching their sugar intake, you can use Canderel Yellow (for baking) instead of regular sugar to sweeten the filling. I’ve kept the Tennis biscuit & butter base as for a regular cheesecake, but I have to say that you can leave it out completely as this filling really holds it’s shape beautifully without the need of a base.

Guilt-free cheesecake? Believe it. 🙂

Ingredients for base: (optional)

  • 200 g Tennis biscuits (coconut biscuits), processed to crumbs
  • 80 g butter, melted

Ingredients for filling:

  • (3 t) 15 ml gelatin powder
  • 100 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 50 ml lemon juice
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) Canderel Yellow or sugar
  • peeled rind of half an orange
  • 250 g low-fat smooth cottage cheese
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) low-fat milk
  • grated orange rind for decoration

Sliced orange cheesecake

Method:

  1. Mix Tennis biscuit crumbs with melted butter, then pour into a loose bottom tart tin. Press down and into the corners to smooth it out evenly. Set aside.
  2. Stir the gelatin powder with half of the orange juice (15 ml) and leave for 5 minutes to sponge.
  3. Heat the other half of the orange juice and peeled rind with the lemon juice on medium heat, adding the sugar and stirring until dissolved. When it just reaches boiling point, remove from heat and stir in sponged gelatin. Stir for a minute until dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. In a mixing bowl, add the cottage cheese and milk, then whisk for a minute until smooth. Now remove the rind from orange juice mixture, add warm liquid to the cheese mixture (it’s OK if it’s still warm) and whisk for another minute until smooth.
  5. Pour filling into base, then refrigerate for about 2 hours. Remove from fridge, decorate with grated orange rind and serve cold or at room temperature.

Note: This cheesecake holds it’s shape very well at room temperature.

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