Sunday, 25 November 2012

Monday, 30 July 2012

White chocolate and lemon swirl cheesecake

I'll keep this snappy for two reasons, 1 - cheesecakes are easy and take no baking or real skill and 2 - the dog needs a wee.

Im not spell checking this.  This ones for Darren Caldwell by the way, a twitter pal who challenged me to out do a Tesco cheesecake.

You'll need a deepish 8 inch round tin, at least 2 inches deep so its nice and thick.

Line the bottom of your tin but you dont have to grease it.


For the base:

200g ginger nut biscuits or digestives

65g melted butter

For the filling:

250g full fat cream cheese

250g mascarpone

80g caster sugar

100mls double cream

500g white chocolate melted

Zest of 1 lemon

2tbsp of lemon curd warmed in a pan so its loose and runny


As always with a cheesecake we start with the base, smash the biscuits to a fine gravel using a food processor or in a bag with a rolling pin.  Stir the crumbs into the melted butter and press evenly into your tin.

Put the base in the fridge while you whip up the filing.

Simply add everything to the mixer and beat together except the lemon curd until smooth and thickened, this will take a couple of minutes so persevere.  It needs to be spreadable but not too loose or it might not set properly. The texture of lightly whipped cream is right.

Spoon the filling over the base and smooth out flat.

drizzle on the runny lemon curd and swirl through with a knife. 

After that not so difficult five minutes pop the cheesecake in the fridge to set for two hours.

while your waiting spin this LOUD  its my new purchase, i cant stop playing it. I cant wait to hear it out and give it a dance.

Friday, 27 July 2012

White chocolate and preserved lemon fudge

I knocked this off from a recipe i read ages ago in a book i cant remember. Luckily i changed it, my handwritten scrawl all over the original, i always like to be imspired by what i read and put my own stamp on it, probably because i stupidly always think i can make something better haha!

Right here goes, a magical mystery tour of sweet, sour and salty. Anyone who hasnt made fudge before its dead easy all you need is a saucepan, a massive bowl and a tin to put the fudge in.

100g clotted cream
600g caster sugar
250mls liquid glucose (available from all supermarkets or chemists believe it or not)
450g white chocolate
60g unsalted butter room temperature, cubed
100g of salted/preserved lemons finely chopped (if you cant find these just use zest of 2 lemons and 1tsp of maldon sea salt, its essential its sea salt, you can get this from most supermarkets. Preserved lemons really are awesome though so please try find them, they'll be on the shelves in a jar.

Put the cream, sugar and glucose in a pan, bring to the boil and boil for 4minutes stirring frequently. if you have a sugar thermometer is should be around 140oC
Transfer to a bowl and beat on low adding the finely chopped chocolate slowly so it melts in the heat of the liquid.
After this add the butter and the salted lemons (or the rind and salt)
Pour the mix into a lined tray around 8 inches square.
Pop it in the fridge to set overnight, or for at least 4 hours.
Cut into desired shapes, dip in more white chocolate if you like.

Feta baked with tomato and oregano

I love this side dish, although its substantial enough to eat on a summers night with loads of bread and butter.
I originally started this recipe with loads of fresh tomatoes baked with oregano and a little wine, i added the cheese later when i wanted a side dish for roast chicken that wasnt too "Sunday dinner like"

makes enough for 2

1x 400g of tomatoes
2 large vine tomatoes
1 block of feta cheese around 100g
1 pinch of chilli
1 garlic clove crushed
extra virgin olive oil
1tsp oregano
a little parmesan for the top (optional)

first you need to make a kind of quick tomato sauce.
heat a little veggie oil in a pan and sweat the garlic, that means cook it without colouring or burning it, so nice and gentle.
Add the chilli, oregano and tinned tomatoes, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes to get all the flavours going.
season to taste.
Now to your baking dish, i like a nice 2 person gratin dish but pyrex is also fine and also you can make little individual ones of these if you like.
Crumble the feta into the dish and pour over the tomato sauce.
top with sliced tomatoes and grated parmesan and bake on 200 (gas mark 6) for 20 minutes until golden and bubbling.
Serve with crusty bread for a great side dish for chicken or fish or a great starter on its own.

Gnocchi with squash, goats cheese and pine nuts

This is a great summer supper dish, its more substantial than you might think as gnocchi can be quite heavy, its tatties and flour after all.  I always find its best to use leftover mash which is stone cold, if you make mash especially you have to wait for it to get cold and for the protein to stabilise (sounded canny clever that didnt it) it basically means it wont be sticky and sloppy.

for the gnocchi:
250g cold mashed potato
salt and pepper
100g plain flour

for the rest of the dish:
1 butternut squash
a lick of veggie or olive oil for roasting
salt and pepper
goastcheese 1 standard log from a supermarket is fine
a handful of pine nuts gently toasted in a dry frying pan (this is vital to develop their flavour)
50g of butter melted
a handful of baby spinach

Theres two main sections you need to get cracking with the gnocchi and the squash, probably start with the gnocchi, mix all of the ingredients together with a good whack of salt and pepper to your taste.
take half the mix and roll it out into a thin sausage about the width of your finger, unless you have fingers like Madonna, then roll them a little thinner.
Cut your fingers of dough into 1.5cm pieces and press each piece with the back of a fork to make a slight indentation.  This isnt just for decoration but the grooves help tjhe sauce stick to the gnocchi.
leave your gnocchi to one side covered with a teatowel and start your squash.
Peel and chop into 2cm pieces, roughly, no ones going to measure but the smaller you chop them the quicker they will cook.
Toss them in the oil, season and roast on 200 for 30 minutes or until tender.
To cook the gnocchi get a pan of water boiling, pop some salt in and drop your gnocchi in, they will take around 2-3 minutes to cook and will float to the top once done.
As soon as they are cooked you need to work quickly, drain them and immediately toss with the cooked squash and any oil from the pan.
add the pine nuts, spinach, butter and crumbled goastcheese and toss everything together for a minute.  No need to have any heat under the pan, there will be enough residual heat from the squash and gnocchi.
There we go a nice quick supper.

Once you have the basics of this recipe down you can chop and change, gnocchi with tomatoes, chilli and rocket, or with pesto, or with mushrooms and mascarpone. spring veg, creme fraiche and lemon - loads of options.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

A Simple quick Curry

Da Vinci once said simplicity is the ultimate sophistication and I’m inclined to agree. So many people can’t make a good curry, and even more resort to jars and tins and pre made pastes.  This is a really simple quick curry recipe my nana Perveen taught me how to make when I was younger, half my family are from the middle east and my nana lived there for about 15 years when she met my granda so she knows her stuff.

This is a standard curry sauce; you can add any meat or some butternut squash, veggies or lentils for a veggie curry.  I’ll only say one thing about the meat, if your using chicken don’t just put raw chicken in unless it’s really good quality.  It won’t taste of anything; it’ll just be a texture in your mouth.  I always roast a whole chicken and pick the meat off, shredding it and adding it to the curry half way through.  It has so much flavour and is cheaper than breasts as you can pick a good quality chicken up for £6 to feed 4 people and the last I checked two breasts were pushing a fiver.

will feed 4
1 tsp mustard seeds
1tsp fenugreek
2 chilies, sliced
1tsp turmeric
1tsp coriander seeds
1tsp garam masala
2 onions
4 cloves of garlic chopped fine or grated
1x 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped fine or grated
2 chilies, chopped fine seeds in or out whatever you prefer
1 tin of 400g tin tomatoes
1 tin of 400ml tin coconut milk (it doesn’t make the curry taste of coconut don’t worry it just adds richness, if you really don’t want to add it just use 2x tomatoes)
 salt and pepper
1 bag of spinach

MEAT: 1 cooked chicken, 6 raw tiger prawns per person, leftovers from your Sunday roast beef/lamb/pork or some veggies and lentils for a veggie curry


Get a frying pan hot and add the mustard seeds. Once they start to pop which is about 10 seconds put them in a bowl and add the coriander to the pan. Toast the coriander seeds for a minute or so to release their flavors. Shake the pan to make sure they don’t burn and again set aside to allow to cool.

Finely dice the onion and add it to a large saucepan with the garlic and ginger and oil.

Sweat on a low heat for around 10 minutes.

While this is happening crush your spices which will be cool by now.

Once they are crushed and the 10 minutes have passed turn the heat up, add the crushed spices, the fenugreek, turmeric, garam masla, and chili to the pan and stir constantly over a high heat.  This is an essential stage as all spices need to be hard fried to release their potential.  Literally 20 seconds will do it, stirring all the time to coat the onions.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add the tomatoes and coconut milk to the pan immediately with about 100mls of water.

Give everything a good stir.

Simmer for 10 minutes then add your meat whatever you are using. (Unless you are using prawns as they only take minutes to cook so don’t add them until 5 minutes before the end)

Simmer for another 10 minutes.

While this is happening add your spinach to a food processor or stick blend to a puree (you might need a little water to help you along)

You should be left with a green liquid sludge.

Add this to the pan (add your raw prawns now if making a prawn curry)

Simmer for more minutes then serve with rice, naan, whatever you like.

All in all this is just over 30 minutes for an authentic and totally delicious curry.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

A Slice of the King

A request.....

As we all know cheesecakes can be made in two ways, baked, (recipe includes eggs) or chilled / fridge set.  The former is laborious, you have to bake your cheesecake in a ban marie, chill it slowly and leave it for at least 9 hours from baking to eating.  The latter, can be whipped up and eaten within a couple of hours, sometimes even an hour depending on how cold your fridge is.

So this ones the quick and dirty. Ive named it a slice of the king as its a peanut butter cheesecake.

You'll need a loose bottom tin about 8 inches, the bigger the tin the thinner the cheesecake will be BUT the quicker it will set.  You can also use a springform tin, it doesnt matter as long as your confident you can get the cheesecake out once its set.

for the base:
200g chocolate digestives
100g butter

for the cheesecake
200g cream cheese
200g mascarpone
100g smooth peanut butter
2 packs of reeces pieces or 1 snickers roughly chopped
50mls double cream
100g caster sugar
50g of chocolate and 50g smooth peanut butter (optional for the top)

Start with the base, blitz or smash the biscuits so they are small crumbs.
melt the butter and stir everything together.

Line your tin, whatever your using with clingfilm so it hangs over the sides.
press the biscuits into the base and push down so they are well packed.
chill for 10 minutes while you make the topping.

For the topping it couldnt be simpler
beat all the ingredients together except the chocolate.
add the chocolate a few seconds from the end so its despersed through the mix
the mix should be thick and billowing but NOT stiff, it should hold on a spoon and SPLAT when you jerk your wrist.

Spoon the mix over the base making sure you dont get any gaps.
Smooth the top and chill the cheesecake until its set, usually an hour but it can be upto 2.

For the topping slowly melt the chocolate and add the peanut butter, the peanut butter should melt in the heat of the chocolate.

Flick or drizzle over the cheesecake and serve!

Just dinnet have a heart attack on the toilet while eating it. Its been done..

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Origins of Northern Soul

Would be interested to hear anyones thoughts....

The phenomenon known today as 'Northern Soul' was originally a mixture of many things. It has grown out of an underground youth culture, that had prevailing conditions of full employment, so was optimistic, self reliant and rebellious. They - the Mods - had money to spend on entertainment, fashion and records.  In London the Kings Road was a gathering place for the smart Mod set. Dance halls where packed with people stamping the floor to Dave Clark's 'Bits and Pieces'

Unknowns like the young David Bowie were shown on news program's epitomising the rebellious spirit and fashion conscious youth culture. Most Mods followed 'soul' music and built a clique 'In Crowd' culture around it.

In Manchester and other Northern Cities the youth followed the influences from the London scene.
The white UK groups where copying American RnB and Blues artists. Groups such as John Mayalls Blues Breakers Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames and Alexis Korners Blues Incorporated etc. were following the great Bluesmen and The Spencer Davis group were doing covers of Brenda Holloway songs (Every Little Bit Hurts) The Beatles had made many versions of Motown songs and of course Chuck Berry's too. The Rolling Stones were constantly covering USA RnB releases.

Mods being interested and very loyal to many of these bands started to read the sleeve notes and small writing on the record labels to find the original recording artists or song writers. This lead to a new movement, especially in the Manchester area where at clubs like the Twisted Wheel, pressure on the DJ's came from requests for original artists to be played.

This coincided with Roger Eagle the DJ's love of Black American music, only the original artists, were required, and the purist soul movement began.

It should be remembered that this was an active and vibrant 'scene' everything in the soul scene was happening then; the music was being released weekly. It was current and the Manchester soul scene new it and was its uk centre.

Unlike today's Northern Soul Scene, this was the originator, it was vibrant active and new, and hardly retrospective; it was just 'soul'.

Northern soul started at the end period of the Twisted Wheel's history, when DJ's such as Les Cockall predominated, the others had left.

Taking their private record collections with them.

Northern soul looks back to the 1960's seeking out 'new' unreleased or unplayed recordings. The original scene did start off the collectors and the rare record buffs, but this was because soul music in its peak period was hard to find (most 45's had to be specifically ordered, or imported from USA deleted Auction lists).

Today the 'Northern Soul' scene for the most part, can tend to only recognise rare as good. This was not so at the time. Motown and Stax and others where originals at the time and played upon merit not because they where rare. Upon The later Northern Soul Scene the mainstream records that made the original scene are hardly ever heard, the Stax the Motown the Rnb etc. The music and artists that made it all begin are virtually ignored! Is it because these are not rare enough. It would appear that rarity for its own (or the DJ's sake) is the only criteria of this current backwards facing scene. Totally unlike the one in the sixties which of course was modern at that time, as it was intrinsically linked to the Mod movement - Mods where modern, the latest the coolest the greatest.

Its annoying when 'Johnnie come lateley's say the wrong things like:-
Russ Winstanley, who stated in an article in the Manchester Evening News (2005) That, he, being the DJ at the Wigan Casino started off Northern Soul and was teaching children in the area 'their' musical heritage.

A letter in the paper the following week from Mr P. Roman a Wheel original attendee, put the record straight when he said it all began for him at the Twisted Wheel in 1964 when Roger Eagle played In The Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett. And that Russ had it wrong the Northern Soul scene started in Manchester in the early 60's not in Wigan a decade later.

Lots of books have been coming out about  'Northern Soul' many people talking about 'then' could not have been there, or at a different time or a different 'set' within that originating 'in crowd'.
In the book Too Darn Soulful by David Nowell, someone comments that the Blue Note was only Ska and Reggae etc! It was, but in its final closing down times, after 1969, so proving that these people came on the scene long after the peak times. This book does inform about those early days and does explain the general scene and recognises Roger Eagle as the first great soul (blues) DJ but it gets lots of things wrong.

It was Roger eagle who played great tracks 1967 at the Blue Note; ie 'CHANGES' by Johnnie Taylor a 'B ' side. Other great Stax stuff, in fact the cream of soul was known to be played only at the Blue Note due to Rogers personal collection.

Other comments in the same book; like we only got USA imports in 1969 is total crap - Roger imported 45's years before! Subsequent Blue Note DJ 's followed in the same vein with 'Everybeat Of My Heart' and quite a few others.

Dave Lomas (Blue Note DJ) played 'Tainted Love' there long, long before the other soul joints had heard it.

On page 39 (Boogaloo Party) a Guy called 'Rob' supposedly found Major Lance! - when we had already found him years before (He did cut a track called I'm So lost)  but even the Manchester group Wayne Fontana and The Mind Benders, knew of him and had copied Major Lances Um Um Um Um Um) we had long before danced at the Wheel all nighters to 'Rhythm' and 'The Monkey Time', these people were simply re-discovering sounds we had danced to and played, they came into a scene that, they then re-built, cheekily, claiming originality!

Later they hyped up records to make money leading to the rise of the Wigan Casino and the rarity of newly discovered or unearthed again sixties soul recordings- a trend continuing right up to today.

The crowd at the Wheel from 63 to 68 we were the originals, those after that time started the Northern Soul Scene but it was not the same as those original days it could never have captured the feeling of spontaneous originality as it happened with weekly soul track releases.
taken from