Thursday, 11 February 2010

Boss Cheesecake

For a longggg time, my colleagues and I had been hinting at our boss to bring in his reknowned cheesecake. We forgot about it for a while and then today, to our surprise, he brought it in! We have all been working our butts off of late, so it was nice and well-deserved treat.

The above picture taken on a mobile really doesn't do it justice - it was really good (and I'm not just saying that because my boss made it!). It was slightly lemony and very creamy. Here is the recipe to this easy, no-bake, classic cheesecake by the boss...

1 packet of granita biscuits
½ stick of butter (125 g)
1 can condensed milk
2 packets of cream cheese (Philadelphia)
Juice of 2 lemons
A little orange juice for more flavour (optional)

1. Crumble the biscuits.
2. Melt butter and add to crumbs. At this point add lemon zest if you wish.
3. Mix and press into a greased springform tin to form the base. Refrigerate until base becomes solid
4. Add condensed milk and cream cheese to a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly until all the lumps are gone.
5. Add lemon juice and keep mixing until mixture starts to set.
6. Add mixture to cake tin, smooth over and refrigerate overnight.

  • To make a large cheesecake – just double the ingredients (except for the base).
  • To make this cheesecake more lemony, you could perhaps add up to 1 lemon's zest (finely chopped) to the recipe - half in the base, and half in the mixture.

So readers, has your boss ever cooked you anything? If yes, what was it? And did you like it?

Ladybird x

Monday, 8 February 2010

Polenta rounds with wilted spinach and roast mushrooms

Over the weekend  I discovered a new diet. I came to the realisation that the easiest way to curb your appetite and lose weight is to watch the television series Man vs. Wild. In each episode, a British guy called Bear is stranded in a region of the world and shows you how to survive and find your way back to civilsation. As fascinating as it all is, it's pretty gross, especially when it comes to what he eats.... Let's just say there are usually live animals involved - frogs, snakes, fish.. You name it, he eats it, cooked or uncooked. And it doesn't do much for my appetite.. in fact, it pretty much kills it.

Alas, Mr Ladybird is a diehard fan of the show, so somehow I still end up still watching it, albeit often peering through hands and screaming "Ewwww...!". So with Man vs. Wild a regular part of evenings in the Ladybird household at the moment, the size of our dinners on those evenings miraculously decreases, at least for me anyway. On such an evening, I decided I wanted to make something small with polenta. Polenta is one of those ingredients I really love but don't use enough, so I wanted to change that.

I decided to make polenta rounds topped with wilted spinach and delicious roast mushrooms. So here is a 'kinda-sort-of' recipe to this dish...

This part of the dish can be made ahead of time, even 1 or 2 days ahead and stored in the fridge. This recipe will make a medium size slab of polenta which you can use for this dish, as well as others of your own creation. For example, polenta rounds topped with a fresh pesto and a slow roasted balsamic tomato, or you could even have some grilled polenta alongside some eggs, etc for a hearty savoury brunch.

500 ml water
500 ml milk
30 g parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsb butter
175 g polenta
salt and white pepper

1. In a heavy-based saucepan, bring milk and water to boil and then whisk in the polenta until thoroughly mixed.
2. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer for 40 mins, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking.
3. Remove from heat, season, and mix through parmesan and butter.
4. Pour into a greased tray to set, smoothing to make it as flat as possible. It should be about a 2 cm thickness (I used a brownie tray and this worked well).
5. Allow to cool, then cut out two rounds with a food stack ring or egg ring.
6. Fry in a small amount of olive oil in a pan, turning once. Alternatively, brush with a little olive oil and cook on a griddle/chargrill pan unti lovely grill marks appear.

I made the mushrooms by quartering button mushrooms and tossing them in a dish along with 2 crushed cloves of garlic, fresh thyme, olive oil, a small knob of butter and salt and pepper. I roasted them for 20 mins at 200 degrees celcius, and then crumbled a little dodoni fetta over the top and mixed through. The fetta lended a nice salty flavour to the mushrooms, and the creaminess of the fetta formed a light sauce when mixed with the pan juices.

Wilting spinach is really quick and easy, and a good way to pack lots of healthy spinach into a meal with minimum fuss. In a large pan heat a drizzle of good olive oil and throw in a generous couple of handfuls of washed baby spinach leaves. Season and toss until the spinach is wilted, then remove from heat and use immediately.

To assemble the dish, carefully top cooked polenta pieces with wilted spinach and then mushrooms and a sprig of fresh thyme. Using a food stack ring may help. These are available from kitchen supply stores. Bon appetit!

Hope you all have a wonderful week :)

Ladybird x

Sunday, 7 February 2010


Sometimes when the weather is a little dreary and you've had a busy week, the best thing to do is to imagine you're holidaying somewhere tropical, with a cooling cocktail on hand. A mijoto is my holiday cocktail of choice, and here's how to make it!

1/2 lime, cut into pieces
3 tsp caster sugar
10-12 mint leaves
50 ml white rum (Bacardi)
soda water
crushed ice

1. In a medium size glass muddle lime pieces and caster sugar hard. I used a rolling pin end for muddling.
2. Clap mint leaves in your hands to release their aroma. Add mint leaves to glass and muddle lightly.
3. Add bacardi and crushed ice and stir well.
4. Top with soda water and more crushed ice.

It's easy to make your own crushed ice at home without a blender. Just throw some ice cubes into a clean tea towel then roll it up and bash away with a rolling pin.

So tell me, what's your favourite holiday cocktail?

Cheers, and enjoy the rest of your weekend :)
Ladybird x

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Pizza Margarita & One Lovely Blog Award

It is said that pizza is what made Naples famous.. and it's all because of the Pizza Margherita (or Margarita as is usually said outside of Italy). It was first made in 1889 by a baker who wanted to create a pizza in honour of Queen Margherita's visit to Naples. He wanted the pizza to reflect the colours of the Italian flag - green, white and red. Hence this classic pizza was born, and is now enjoyed worldwide.

This is somewhat of a cheat's version to the Pizza Margarita.. On weekends I simply do not have the inclination to my own pizza dough, but if you are a pizza puritan at heart, go right ahead!.. At any rate, I think this is a quick, delicious and simple dish to make for a weekend lunch at home. So here goes...

1 greek pitta bread (or choose a wholemeal lebanese bread)
Few tablespoons passata
1 clove garlic, crushed
Few thin slices of tomato
1/2 large ball buffalo mozarella
Salt and pepper
Caster sugar to taste
Few basil leaves
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees celcius, and line tray with tinfoil.
2. In a bowl, combine passata and garlic then season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar. The sugar take the edge of the tomatoes' acidity. The amount you require will depend on how tart your passata is, so just remember to taste. I only used a pinch.
3. Spread tomato base over pitta bread.

4. Top with sliced tomato, and torn pieces of mozarella. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the pizza.

5. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese starts to turn golden.
6. Remove from oven, top with a few basil leaves and serve immediately :)

Now that lunch is out of the way, it's time to get down to business and hand out some awards! Hooray! Last year I was fortunate enough to be awarded a One Lovely Blog Award from Mademoiselle Delicieuse of Spoon, Fork & Chopsticks. As a recipent of this award, I get to pass the award on to eight new recipents of my selection. So over the past month or so I have been looking out for lovely blogs worthy of this award. There is no shortage of great blogs out there so it was a pleasure discovering new blogs with this award in mind.

So... in no particular order, here are the recipients of the One Lovely Blog Award. Check them out some time!
Well done guys, and keep up the fantastic blogging! According to the rules of this award, to accept it you have to post it on your blog along with the name of the person who granted the award and their blog link. As recipients you then have the opportunity to pass the award onto eight bloggers you have recently discovered. Just announce the winners on your blog and don't forget to contact the recipients to let them know the good news ;)

Ladybird x

Friday, 5 February 2010

Pistachio Yoghurt & Cardamom Cake with Lime Syrup

As some of my regular readers may have noticed,  I have somewhat of an obsession with the cardamom. I find its fragrance and flavour absolutely heavenly, so it's no sursprise that whenever I come across a recipe to use it, I make a note of it with the hope of eventually making it. I have lost count of the number of recipes I've added to my Favorites.. could be time to revisit them and cull!

This recipe comes from 'Sweet Food' by Murdoch Books and requires a food processer. I have a Breville 'Whizz' which struggled a little, and started emitting strange groans in the final stages of use.. I do hope I haven't broken it!

150 g (1 cup) shelled, unsalted pistachios
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
150 g unsalted butter, chopped
1 1/2 c self raising flour
1 1/4 c caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 c plain yoghurt
1 lime

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Butter and line a 20 cm round cake tin.
2. Place the pistachios and cardamom in a food processer and pulse until chopped.
3, Add the butter, flour and 3/4 c of caster sugar and pulse for 20 seconds or until crumbly.
4. Add combined eggs and yoghurt and pulse for 10 seconds or until just combined.
5. Spoon into the tin and smooth the surface.
6. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool.

7. To make the syrup, peel the zest off the lime with a vegetable peeler and remove any white pith from the zest.
8. Place remaining caster sugar and 100 ml water in a saucepan and stir over low heat until dissolved.
9. Bring to boil, then add lime zest and cook for 5 minutes.
10. Strain and cool slightly. Pierce cake with a few skewer holes and pour the hot syrup slowly over the cooled cake.

- This is a good morning/afternoon tea cake and would also be nice as a slab cake cut up into squares.
- I removed the cake from the tin before pouring over the syrup. Next time I think I'll cool the cake in the tin and then pour the syrup over and leave it to sit for half an hour or so before serving. I feel this method would make for a much more moist cake.

At this point, I would also like to announce that I have reached my Golden Post! :) I only realised this the other day when I added the number of posts for 2009 and 2010 together.. haha! In fact, this is technically my 51st post. At any rate, thank you for reading, and I hope to bring you many more posts that will leave you drooling on the keyboard ;)


Ladybird x
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