85g (3 oz) unsalted butter, diced (⅜ cup or ¾ stick)
2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
½ tsp vanilla extract, optional
For the filling
250g (8 oz) cream cheese/Philadelphia (1 packet)
85g (3 oz) caster sugar/superfine sugar (½ cup less 1 tbsp)
1 lemon, zest only
3 tbsp double cream/whipping cream
For the topping
170g (6 oz) blackberries
icing sugar/powdered sugar to dust
You will also need 6 tartlet tins.
For the rich sweet pastry (using a food processor or mixer)
Put the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor or mixer. Whiz for a couple of seconds to mix.
Add butter and whiz again for a few seconds.
Now add egg yolks and vanilla extract, if using, and whiz until the mixture starts to bind together.
Then knead lightly by hand and wrap in clingfilm/plastic wrap. Chill for 10 minutes.
Roll out the pastry thinly and then cut rounds 3.8cm (1½ in) larger than the tartlet tin, re-rolling the pastry until there are six rounds.
Line the tartlet tins, pressing the pastry gently down into the edges of the tins. Roll the rolling pin over the top of each tin to remove the excess pastry. Prick the base, using the tines of a fork, to allow air trapped underneath to escape. Now chill again while the oven is heating up.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5)
Lay the tins on a baking sheet and cover with baking parchment. Pop in the oven for 10 minutes and then remove the baking parchment and cook for a further 2 minutes to crisp up.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before carefully removing the cases from the tins to completely cool on a wire rack. They will be very delicate until completely cold.
For the filling
Using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon zest together until creamy and well blended. Add the cream and beat again until there is a light, soft mixture.
Once the pastry cases are cold they can be filled. Divide the mixture equally among the cases using a small pallet knife to spread the mixture into the edges of the pastry and then smooth the top.
Top with the blackberries, pressing them down a little into the filling.
Cover the tartlets loosely with clingfilm and chill for 1 to 2 hours.
Just before serving, dust the icing/powdered sugar over the top of the tarts using a small sieve.
This is one of my favourite fish pies which is really good to serve to guests as it looks so scrumptious and different when baked. Filo pastry keeps it light and is used in a decorative way as a topping. The herby cream cheese filling which is added to cubes of salmon and prawns/shrimp is so smooth and delicious too.
You will need a 20cm (8 in) loose-bottomed flan tin, 3.75cm (1½ inches) deep, buttered, and a baking sheet. Also a deep sided frying pan/skillet.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) gas 6.
Pop the baking sheet in the oven to heat up while preparing the pie.
Now bring some water to the boil in the frying pan/skillet. It will need to be deep enough to cover the salmon. Then add the salmon and bring back to the boil. Immediately remove from the heat, cover the pan/skillet and leave for the water to poach the salmon, about 2–3 minutes, until it is just cooked.
With a slotted spoon, remove the salmon and leave on a plate to cool completely.
Meanwhile, beat together the crème fraîche, cream cheese, eggs, herbs, and seasoning until the mixture is smooth.
Take two of the sheets of pastry, cut them in half to give four sheets. Brush one sheet with melted butter, then lay a second sheet on top, rotating it slightly so the edges don’t line up. Brush this sheet with melted butter. Now lay a third sheet on top, again rotating it slightly, and brush with butter. Lay the fourth sheet on top, slightly rotated.
Lift the pastry layers and line the flan tin, gently pressing the pastry down into the tin. The edges of the pastry should extend over the rim. Now brush the top layer of pastry with melted butter.
Brush the remaining piece of pastry with melted butter and put to one side.
Place the salmon cubes over the pastry and then add the prawns/shrimps.
Pour over the cream mixture.
Now bring the edges of the pastry up over the the filling around the edge, leaving it roughly scrunched up.
Tear the remaining piece of pastry into long strips. Scrunch these up and use them to cover the exposed filling.
Place the flan tin on the hot baking sheet and loosely cover with foil. Then bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue baking for a further 5 minutes until the pastry is crisp and turning golden in colour.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes for the filling to set.
Now carefully lift the pie from the tin but leave on the base. Let it cool for 2 minutes then gently slide off the base.
Serve cut into wedges along with a green salad.
Filo pastry dries out very quickly, so keep it covered until it is needed to be used.
As the pastry does not contain any fat it can be refrozen. Remove the packet from the freezer to thaw, keeping it covered. Then when the pastry is needed, unroll it and remove the 3 sheets. Now carefully roll the pastry back up, return it to its wrapping and place back in the freezer.
Another summer favourite. These little parcels are delightful. Raspberries are folded in a creamy blend of mascarpone and cream cheese and then chilled. They are topped with a mixed berry compote and decorated with raspberries.
You will also need 4 x 8cm (3 inch) ramekin dishes.
For the parcels
Line the four ramekin dishes with cling film/food wrap, overlapping the edges, and put to one side.
Beat together the cream cheese and mascarpone in a large bowl until smooth. (A food mixer or hand-held whisk does this easily.)
Now in a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then stir in the vanilla extract. Add to the cheeses and beat well to combine.
Reserve 12 raspberries for decoration and gently fold the rest into the cheese mixture.
Divide the mixture amongst the ramekins, tapping them a few times on the work surface to remove any air pockets. Fold excess film/wrap over the top and place in the freezer to become firm, about 45 minutes.
For the fruit compote
Meanwhile prepare the fruit compote. Place the fruit in a small pan and sprinkle over the sugar. Now cook the fruit over a medium heat until it starts bubbling. Then reduce the heat to a medium–low setting and, using a wooden spoon, break up any larger fruit pieces, mashing the fruit slightly. Gently cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Unfold the cling film/food wrap from the top of the ramekins and invert each one onto a plate. Then peel off the rest of the film/wrap.
Spoon the fruit compote over the parcels and place 3 raspberries on each to decorate.
Summer for me has always been about enjoying strawberries. I can remember when the season was very short because you could only buy locally grown ones. Memories of watching Wimbledon Tennis with a bowl of strawberries and cream – a wonderful combination where neither lasted long enough! Well perhaps the strawberry season lasted a little longer. Now newer varieties are grown in many areas which extend the season and have a longer shelf life too. Meaning they are available in the stores for many months over the summer.
In U.K. stores they are mainly U.K. grown and here in Canada most are imported from the States, but wherever we have lived the best for me are those grown locally. Because they are not picked to travel far they tend to be left to ripen just that little bit longer which means they are sweet and full of flavour with an aroma which is always more intense. The best are those you can find being sold by the roadside outside the main towns.
A strawberry cheesecake recipe is always a must and here is my classic version. I hope you will enjoy it too.
This is a classic strawberry cheesecake. It has a sweet crumb base and a creamy cheese filling then topped with heaps of sliced strawberries and a gorgeous strawberry sauce.
Prepares: 8 servings (images show 4 servings size)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Cooling time: about 15 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
For the base
170g (6 oz) Graham cracker crumbs (1¼ cups) OR
170g (6 oz) plain digestive biscuits (12)*
55g (2 oz) sugar (¼ cup)
55g (2 oz) butter, melted (¼ cup)
*In North America you can buy packaged baking crumbs ready for using in desserts like cheesecakes. In the U.K. these aren’t readily available, so use plain digestive biscuits and just put them in a large plastic food bag and crush them with a rolling pin until they are broken into very small crumbs.
For the filling
2 pkgs (250g each) cream cheese, softened
2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
140g (5 oz) caster/white sugar (¾ cup less 2 tsp)
½ tsp vanilla extract
For the topping
675g (1 lb 8 oz) strawberries (a quart container)
115g (4 oz) redcurrant jelly (2 tbsp)
You will also need a 23cm (9 inch) springform pan or loose-bottomed pan.
For the base
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) (gas 3)
Mix the crumbs and sugar together in a bowl and pour over the melted butter. Stir to coat the crumb mixture.
Press into the pan, pushing some of the crumbs up the sides to form a rim about 2cm (¾ inch) high and 1.25cm (½ in) wide.
Bake for 10 minutes then remove and leave to cool, about 20 minutes.
For the filling
Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F) gas 4.
Beat the two packets of cheese together until soft and creamy, using a food mixer or electric hand mixer. Now add the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract one at a time, beating well between each addition until smooth. Pour into the cooled crumb crust.
Bake for 35 minutes until the cheesecake is just firm around the edge and just set in the middle. There still needs to be a slight wobble as this will prevent it cracking when cooling. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. If you have time, leave to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar. This will allow it to cool down very slowly which again helps prevent cracking. Then refrigerate for 2 hours.
For the topping
Wash, pat dry and hull the strawberries.
Set aside 170g (6 oz) (about ½ pint container) and purée. Then strain through a sieve so you are left with a smooth sauce.
Melt the redcurrant jelly in a small pan over a low heat, stirring in the purée until blended together.
Remove from the heat and pour into a small serving jug. Set to one side to cool.
Slice the remaining strawberries.
No more than one hour before serving, carefully remove the cheesecake from the pan and decorate the top with the sliced strawberries.
Serve, cut into wedges and pour the strawberry sauce over the top.
Sole fillets are a delicate fish and here they are cooked with a cream cheese, parsley and lemon stuffing, which adds to the flavour of the fish without overpowering it. Cooks in just 20 minutes for a delicious meal.
The Ultimate Carrot Cake, so-called because it is full of so many goodies. Carrots, bananas, and walnuts all mixed into this delicious cake mixture. Then topped with a creamy cheese icing and sprinkled with nuts.
Sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl. Mix in the butter using your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add enough egg yolk a little at a time until the mixture starts to bind together. I find starting off using a small palette knife to bring the mixture together is helpful as it keeps the dough light. Once it is binding together, knead lightly to form a ball.
Roll out the dough to a 20cm/8 inch round, then place on a baking sheet. Prick well with a fork, decorate the edges using the tines of the fork, then, using a knife, mark the pastry lightly into 8 equal sections.
Chill, while preheating the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Bake the base for 15 minutes until just starting to brown. Re-mark the sections while it is still hot to make it easier for serving. Cool on a wire rack.
For the topping
Beat the soft cheese until it is creamy, then add the crème fraîche, icing sugar and vanilla essence. Beat until light and fluffy.
Spread on the shortbread base, leaving a narrow border so that the decorative edge shows and the marked sections are still visible.
If the strawberries are large, halve or quarter them. You want the raspberries and strawberries to be of a similar size. Cover the topping with the fruit.
Put the redcurrant jelly in a small container and stir in 2 tablespoons of water. Microwave on medium for 30–60 seconds when the jelly should have dissolved and the mixture is bubbling. Leave to cool. Alternatively, heat in a small pan.
Carefully brush the fruit with the jelly and then, just before serving, dust with icing sugar.