i like to bake. cakes and pies and biscuits and bread. sometimes i make lemon curd and sticky jam and put it in pretty little jars. i sell it all at markets. and then i write about it here.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

chocolate and salted peanut cheesecake

A few people have asked me about the recipe for the cheesecake I made for my dinner party. So here it is. I have a friend who has celiac disease so I used gluten-free digestive biscuits for the base. But bog-standard McVities work just as well.
chocolate and salted peanut cheesecake
for the base
200g digestives
75g salted peanuts
50g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
for the filling
150g dark chocolate
200ml double cream
2 eggs
100g caster sugar
500g full-fat cream cheese
150g crunchy peanut butter

Heat the oven to 150C
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and then whizz it together with the digestives, peanuts and golden syrup in a food processor.
2. Press this mixture into the base of a 20cm springform tin, lined with greaseproof paper, and place in the fridge.
3. Put the chocolate and cream into a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and leave it to melt.
4. Whisk the eggs and the sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the cream cheese and peanut butter, then fold in the chocolate and cream mixture. 
5. Spoon this mixture onto the biscuit base and smooth flat with the back of a spoon.
6. Place a roasting tin half-filled with boiling water in the bottom of the oven. This may seem like a bit of a faff but it stops the top of the cheesecake from cracking. Bake on the middle shelf for 1 hour 15 mins. It should be just set but slightly wobbly in the middle.
7. Cool in the fridge immediately and decorate with chocolate curls and crushed peanuts. 

sunday roast

With it being a Sunday I thought I would dedicate this post to the Great British Sunday Roast. Indulging in this traditional feast is one of my all-time favourite pastimes. Wake up late on a Sunday (if my body clock will allow), make a pot of tea, pop out for a Sunday paper and stroll down the road for a roast. It's good to avoid driving anywhere if possible - the walk back does wonders for the post-roast bloat.

So a couple of Sundays ago I was relishing the day ahead, having arranged to meet up with some friends at The Social, a new-ish bar on Gloucester Road. Having spent the night before there trying out their drinks menu we decided to give the food menu a try too. Now it's always a risk trying out somewhere new. I am usually a stickler for sticking to what you know or, better still, cooking one yourself. But every now and then its good to branch out, with the aim of widening the available 'good roast' options on a Sunday. So let’s cut to the chase. This was possibly THE worst roast I have ever had the displeasure to eat. We arrived, we ordered (chicken for me, beef for most of the others), we sat down and we waited with anticipation and hunger. Our food arrived not long after and it was plain to see that this was not going to be the gourmet treat we had been hoping for. We stayed positive and tried hard to praise the plate of food that lay in front of us. But it didn’t take long before the criticisms were flying. I think a simple list is the best way of relaying to you how terrible this food really was:

1. There was very little of everything. Which actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
2. The (unidentifiable) vegetables were boiled to within an inch of their lives and seemed to blend into one another, much like baby food.
3. The roast potatoes were undercooked and the skins were, well, just boring. I want crispy, crunchy bits on my potatoes please. 
4. The Yorkshire pudding was solid and kind of crumbled as you cut into it.
5. The chicken was tasteless, limp and pale. The beef looked anaemic. The vegetarian of the group described her nut roast as 'sandy'. Delightful.
6. I have saved the worst until last. The gravy. It was like no gravy I have ever seen. In fact it resembled less gravy, more the water that is left in the greasy pan after you have soaked it overnight, boiled up nice and hot. And that was poured all over our plates. We had (before seeing any of our food I hasten to add) requested more gravy, and here is what that extra portion looked like. I think the photo says it all.

Yes, those are globules of grease floating on the top. Needless to say we left hugely dissatisfied and still hungry. To the point where I went home and made myself spaghetti hoops and cheese on toast, which was tastier and didn’t cost me the best part of a tenner.

But the interesting thing is what happened when the waitress came over to clear our plates and ask if everything was ok. We all sat there, grinning through gritted teeth and nodding. There were definite mumbles of “it was great, thanks.” We talked about complaining, we certainly knew we should complain. Not in an aggressive, I-demand-my-money-back-or-else kind of way, but in a 'constructive', please-don't-ever-inflict-that-gravy-on-any-other-customer-ever-again kind of way. But was anybody 'brave' enough to say anything? Nope. Actually, I tell a lie, one of us did finally pluck up the courage to (politely) tell the chef what we really though of our meal. But the rest of us made sure that we were out of the door and halfway up the street before she did it. The Sunday Roast is one of Britain’s greatest traditions. Our inability to complain is not.