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Food, general thoughts, food…


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Caramel Cheesecake

Under instruction from our youngest daughter to produce a cheesecake of some sort while she was staying with us for the week, I chose to try the easiest recipe in my folder, the Caramel Cheesecake.

Cold season is upon us and it has been a week of all of us being sick at one time or another so tempting everyone to eat at meal times hasn’t been an entirely successful venture. Cheesecake, however, can be relied on to tempt the fussiest of eaters. Making allowances for my own misery at being unwell I chose the easiest recipe ever and was pleasantly surprised by the delightful outcome.

This is truly a special cheesecake with a small collection of ingredients that are readily available in my local store. One ingredient has only been available here for the past few years, caramel in a tin. I know I can make it myself by boiling a tin of condensed milk but this takes that extra step away making this cheesecake even easier to make. If you can’t get caramel in a tin (they call it ‘Top n Fill’ here) then grab a tin of condensed milk and go here to learn how to make your own, if you don’t already know.

Caramel Cheesecake
Serves: 8

Base
250 g packet butter snap biscuits, crushed
125 g butter, melted
Filling
2 x 250 g packet cream cheese
380 g tin Nestle Top n Fill Caramel
3 tsp gelatine

Base: Combine biscuit crumbs and butter. Press into a spring form pan.
Refrigerate to set.
Filling: Mix cream cheese and caramel. Dissolve gelatine in 1 Tbls hot water and stir to dissolve.
Add gelatine to cream cheese mixture and beat to combine.
Pour into biscuit base and refrigerate to set.

I put a swirl of caramel topping on the top of the cheesecake before serving just for a bit of extra decadence.

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Strawberry Ripple Cheesecake

I was reading someone’s blog today and they were waxing lyrical about the perfectness of peoples food blogs, the perfectly manufactured pictures in carefully detailed settings, the amusing and clever anecdotes and interesting and exceptional stories that people tell and all I could think was, ‘well she’s never been to my blog’.

My blog is made by me and for me, it isn’t impressive or clever, the pictures are quick snaps taken with my phone when the fancy takes me. They are often blurry and somewhat out of focus and the content isn’t always displayed to its greatest advantage. I don’t have exceptional stories or amazing wonders to share. I am a quiet unassuming individual that writes a blog just ‘because’ and if it brings joy of any kind to other people then that is a very good thing, but just so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone then I am happy.

Please, don’t come to my blog to see amazing food pictures, or to read about interesting and amazing adventures because you won’t find it here. Just some simple and easy recipes, the odd post about my little vegetable patch, even a photo or two of my cat and some rambling about whatever crosses my mind when I sit at the computer to write a post.

I may be old, I may be boring, I may be a stick in the mud (it has been said by an unkind person with whom I no longer associate) but I am happy and you can’t ask for more than that!

Just in case happiness eludes you today, here is a recipe that is guaranteed to MAKE you happy. Who wouldn’t be happy with a cheesecake of this calibre? This is my favourite cheesecake (sorry honey, I swear I will make a lemon one next time!). Have at it!!!

Strawberry Ripple Cheesecake

1x 250 g pkt plain chocolate biscuits, crushed
125 g butter, melted
1x 250g punnet strawberries
whipped cream
strawberries
3 teaspoons gelatine
1/3 cup water
1x 250 g pkt cream cheese
200 g carton strawberry yogurt
3/4 cup caster sugar
300 ml carton cream, whipped

Grease spring form tin. (I like to line it with aluminium foil)
Combine biscuits and butter in bowl. Press over base and side of prepared tin.
Cover and refrigerate until set.
Sprinkle gelatine over water in a cup. Stand cup in pan of simmering water, stir until dissolved; cool slightly. Beat cream cheese, yogurt and sugar in a bowl until smooth.
Fold in cream and gelatine mixture. Blend strawberries until smooth.
Pour half the filling over biscuit base, cover with half the strawberry puree. Using a fork, gently swirl puree through filling.
Repeat with remaining filling and puree; swirl with a fork. Cover, refrigerate for several hours or until set.
Serve decorated with extra whipped cream and extra strawberries.

 


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White Chocolate Cheesecake

Just in case other people in the household needed a chocolate fix over the Easter break I made a White Chocolate Cheesecake. My husband still tells me each time I make an ‘exotic’ cheesecake that he prefers my lemon cheesecake to all others on the planet. It’s nice to hear and I make sure to make him one now and then but I love to try new recipes, this is just the latest. Fortunately this one met with his approval, not a cheesecake (in his opinion) but a really nice dessert.

White Chocolate Cheesecake
Serves 8

120 g plain chocolate biscuits, crushed
60 g butter
250 g cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup  Sweetened Condensed Milk
200 g White Chocolate, melted
300 ml cream
3 tsp gelatine
2 Tbsp water
100 g Milk Chocolate, melted

Combine biscuit crumbs and butter, press into base of 20cm springform pan, refrigerate until firm. Beat cream cheese and  Sweetened Condensed Milk until smooth.  Beat in cooled  White Chocolate and cream, until thick.
Sprinkle gelatine in hot water, stir until dissolved, cool (see instructions on pack). Beat gelatine into cheese cake mixture, spoon over crumb crust.
Swirl cooled Milk Chocolate through cheesecake.
Refrigerate until firm.

 


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Little lemon biscuits

I fancied a change from all of the chocolate and caramel in my life this weekend. Trust me to go off chocolate over Easter. Anyway I settled on some lemony iced biscuits to give myself a sweet treat with the freshness that I had been craving.

Cream Cheese Meltaways
36 cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
60g block-style cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 190C. To prepare cookies, combine flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
Combine 1 cup powdered sugar, butter, cheese, and vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Add flour mixture; stir until just combined (dough will be dry and crumbly). Shape dough into 36, 2.5cm, balls.
When shaping, do not try to form perfectly smooth balls.
If the dough is handled too much, the cookies will become heavy and dense.
Place balls 5cm apart on baking sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes or until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned. (they barely brown on the top but brow quicker on the bottoms, remove them before you think they are ready)
Cool 5 minutes on pans on wire racks. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

To prepare glaze, combine 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar and lemon juice, stirring with a whisk until smooth.
Dip tops of cookies in glaze; place on wire racks.
Let cookies stand for 30 minutes or until glaze is set.

The icing was intensely lemony when they were made, which was wonderful, this eased off after a couple of days but they were still delicious. The biscuit is very soft, a bit like a melting moment.


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Tim Tam Cheesecake

Tim Tams, Australia’s great iconic biscuit favourite. Dare I admit that I don’t actually like them very much? I am not a great fan. Of course as a dyed in the wool chocolate fan, I wouldn’t knock one back if offered but it isn’t something I’d normally buy or hoard in a secret stash to be enjoyed as a guilty pleasure.

That said I purchased 2 packets recently because I found a Tim Tam cheese cake recipe and you have to try these things. Later in the week I went and bought another packet as my grazing family got to the Tim Tams before I had a chance to use them. After reinstating the ‘don’t touch anything in my baking basket’ rule I managed to buy a few more days grace (only with constant reinforcement) before I made the cheesecake over the weekend.

Needless to say a creamy, sweet, chunky chocolate cheesecake was a success. Very rich though, you only want a small slice at a time. If you are a Tim Tam fan you will enjoy this one, if you are not then it won’t thrill you to the core but is a perfectly pleasant experience all the same.

Click here to go to the original recipe.

Tim Tam Cheesecake
Serves: 12

350 g Tim Tam biscuits
80 g butter, melted
375 g cream cheese, cubed and softened
½ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup thickened cream
3 teaspoons powdered gelatine, dissolved in ¼ cup boiling water
200 g white chocolate, melted, cooled

Place 250 g of the Tim Tams in a blender and process into fine crumbs.
Add the butter and process to combine. Press the mixture into spring-form baking pan and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth, then beat in the cream. Stir in the gelatine mixture and white chocolate.
Chop the remaining biscuits and stir into the cream cheese mixture then pour over the Tim Tam base.
Cover and refrigerate until set.


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Chicken and Cheese Empanadas

A while back I posted about wrapping things in pastry. This is one of those recipes that I was looking for to include. I was unable to find it at the time but as I have just stumbled upon it I thought I would quickly post it up here today, before I lose it again. Of course there are no pictures to go along with this, if I am honest I will tell you that I didn’t make cute little mouthful, bite sized empanadas (as described below) when I made them, I just stuffed the lot into triangle cut pastry sheets. We ate them as a meal and I think everyone devoured 2 of them each anyway. Maybe one day I will make and eat them properly, delicately, like a lady… but that isn’t likely to be today.

Chicken & Cheese Empanadas

3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
225g pkg shredded cheese (whatever tasty cheese you have)
110g cream cheese, softened
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 or 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped (I left these out, the taco spice was spicy enough for the kids)
1 Tbsp taco seasoning blend
425g package short pastry sheets
Water
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 190C. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, shredded cheese, cream cheese, red pepper, jalapeno, and taco seasoning. Remove 1 pastry sheet from plastic wrap & place on a lightly floured surface; cut out rounds, using a 8cm cookie cutter.
Re-roll dough as needed. Repeat procedure with remaining pastry, making 12 to 15 circles total. Arrange 1 round on a clean, flat surface.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the edges of crust with water. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of chicken mixture in the center of the round. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges with a fork to seal.
Repeat with the remaining rounds and chicken mixture. Place empanadas on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush tops with beaten egg. Bake at 190C for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.


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Bloomer Bread

I tried this recipe thanks to Home Made With Mess (click the link to go straight to original)

I read this recipe and just had to try it, of course with all the twists and changes that occur when you are rummaging through your refrigerator and need to make something ‘right now’ without all the proper ingredients.

Here is the original recipe with my notes alongside.

Brie, Bacon and Red Onion Bloomer Bread (mine ended up as provolone cheese, sun dried tomato and roasted capsicum bread)

500ml strong white bread flour
10g salt
7g fast action yeast
40ml olive oil
320ml cold water
2 red onions – sliced (couple of Tbls sun dried tomatoes)
4 rashes bacon – chopped (2 roasted capsicums/peppers diced)
1 tbsp olive oil
200g brie – skin removed and chopped (I used provolone cheese)

Place the flour in a bowl and put the salt in one side and the yeast in the other
Pour the oil into the centre of the flour, along with 240ml of the water
Bring the dough together with your fingertips – you may need to add more water as you go along.
You want to bring the dough together so that it is sticky but not really wet.
Once your have brought all the dough together and cleaned the sides of flour then tip the dough onto
an oiled worktop and start to knead.
Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic
Lightly oil a clean bowl, put the dough in it, cover and leave somewhere warm to rise. You want it to
triple in size so will take at least an hour and a half
While the dough is rising you can make your filling

Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onions for 5 minutes to soften
Add the bacon and fry off until cooked and slightly crispy
Grease and line a 20cm taken tin or high sided roasting tin
Ones the dough has risen, remove from the bowl and knock back to get the air out of it.
Knead again for a few minutes to get it back to the smooth elastic consistency you had initially
Divide the dough into three and stretch out so that it will fit the bottom of your prepared tin
Place one of the dough sheets on the bottom and top with half the bacon and half the cheese chunks
Lay another sheet of dough on top and then top with the remaining bacon mix and the brie
Top with the final layer of bread and tuck the sides in
Dust with flour and then place in a large clean plastic bag and leave to rise for an hour
Preheat the oven to 220’C and bake the bread for half an hour
Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin and setting to cool
completely on a wire rack.
Slice up and enjoy with a thick spread of butter or cream cheese

We ate this hot with no spread straight from the oven. What was left over I had cold slathered in cream cheese over the next few days.
I will certainly do this again and change up the stuffing’s time and time again I am sure.