19th July 2017 by - No comments

It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts when eating a home grown tomato.” Lewis Grizzard (American writer)

I read this quote recently and completely agree. Growing your own fruits & vegetables has to be one of lifes most pleasurable things!

With Summer here and the weather heating up we are harvesting our own homegrown fruits, vegetables & herbs. Next Spring why don’t you all try to grow your own. You don’t need a garden, a balcony or even a window sill will work perfectly.

I have found the vegetables and herbs which are easiest to grow and maintain are mint, chives and tomatoes.

Mint grows very fast, all it needs is watering and some sunshine and they are off! Perfect to tear into salads, add a few leaves to boiling hot water for a refreshing fresh mint tea or add to tomato soup for an amazing taste.

Chives are perfect cut up into a fresh potato salad.

The joy of eating homegrown tomatoes is just amazing. I have found growing tomatoes to be much more successful when you plant tomato plants rather than seeds. Use tomato feed and with plenty of watering and sunshine you will have success.

Get the little ones involved and you will all have fun next Spring!

7th June 2017 by - No comments

My herb garden absolutely loved the sunshine and the mint, coriander and parsley my darling father planted not long ago has gone wild. The mint and parsley we use often in salads etc, but coriander is used less often so I wanted to utilise it before it wilted away.

Searching online for methods to harvest and store coriander leaves I opted to chop and freeze the leaves, this way it would be available to add to home cooked meals over the year ahead.

I already use frozen chopped onions and garlic regularly. Not only does in make the whole cooking process quicker, the vegetables are always fresh and ready to use.

So why not frozen herbs.

Ingredients –

  • Fresh Coriander leaves (take off thick stalks, wash thoroughly and pat dry with paper towel)
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive oil

Method –

  • Finely chop the coriander leaves in a food processor or by hand
  • Add the olive oil and continue to blend until it forms a thick paste
  • Carefully spoon the paste into an ice cube tray
  • Place in a freezer overnight
  • Once frozen remove from the ice cube tray and place in a sealable bag
  • Store in freezer and use when needed.

Ideas for using coriander in cooking –

  • Add to oven baked salmon with lime & chilli for a tasty crust
  • Add to chicken with garlic and soy sauce for a delicious marinade
3rd May 2017 by - No comments

I have been on the look out for a good cheesecake for a while now. When I lived and studied in the US, the Cheesecake Factory used to be a favourite of mine. Theyi made the most delicious cheesecakes in a multitude of different flavours. These were the ultimate cheesecakes, and anyone who has ever visited will know what I mean.

Back home I always found the shop bought or restaurant cheesecakes just didn’t match up in appearance or taste. You see for me a cheesecake has to be just that. Cheese and cake. Not covered in chocolate or swirls of caramel. I want it to have a very thin biscuit base, and a very thick creamy yet airy cheese topping.

So I decided to make one myself the other day. It was my first ever try at a baked homemade cheesecake. And you know what> It was much easier to make than I ever expected, and was a big hit with my family. My dad, who is a cheesecake connoisseur, loved it too!
Here is the easy peasy recipe which I found on BBC Good food online.

Ingredients –

– 85g butter melted, plus extra for tin

– 140g digestive biscuit, made into fine crumbs

– 1 tbsp sugar – granulated or golden caster

For the cheesecake filling

– 3 x 300g/11oz pack Philadelphia cheese, or other full-fat soft cheese

– 250g golden caster sugar

– 3 tbsp plain flour

– 1½ tsp vanilla extract

– finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tsp)

– 1½ tsp lemon juice

– 3 large eggs, plus 1 yolk

– 284ml carton soured cream

Method –

Position an oven shelf in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4. Line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin with parchment paper. For the crust, melt the butter in a medium pan. Stir in the biscuit crumbs and sugar so the mixture is evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.

For the filling, increase the oven temperature to fan 200C/conventional 240C/gas 9. In a table top mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the soft cheese at medium-low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar, then the flour and a pinch of salt, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle twice.

Swap the paddle attachment for the whisk. Continue by adding the vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Whisk in the eggs and yolk, one at a time, scraping the bowl and whisk at least twice. Stir the 284ml carton of soured cream until smooth, then measure 200ml/7fl oz (just over 3⁄4 of the carton). Continue on low speed as you add the measured soured cream (reserve the rest). Whisk to blend, but don’t over-beat. The batter should be smooth, light and somewhat airy.

Brush the sides of the springform tin with melted butter and put on a baking sheet. Pour in the filling – if there are any lumps, sink them using a knife – the top should be as smooth as possible. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to fan 90C/conventional 110C/gas 1⁄4 and bake for 25 minutes more. If you gently shake the tin, the filling should have a slight wobble. Turn off the oven and open the oven door for a cheesecake that’s creamy in the centre, or leave it closed if you prefer a drier texture. Let cool in the oven for 2 hours. The cheesecake may get a slight crack on top as it cools.

Combine the reserved soured cream with the 142ml carton, the sugar and lemon juice for the topping. Spread over the cheesecake right to the edges. Cover loosely with foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Run a round-bladed knife around the sides of the tin to loosen any stuck edges. Unlock the side, slide the cheesecake off the bottom of the tin onto a plate, then slide the parchment paper out from underneath.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, July 2004

Absolutely delicious and a perfect end to any meal! xxx