#Recipe Sweet ‘n’ Salty Upside Down #Cheesecake

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I recently ran a poll on my Twit-stream in connection with #NationalPopcornDay asking for votes for which recipe people would like to see from a selection of three. Each of the recipes used popcorn in an alternative way. Not that there’s anything wrong with just munching on a bag in front of a good movie! But you know me and how I like to mix it up a bit!

Think of this, if you will, as a “deconstructed” cheesecake. Literally flipping everything your familiar with about cheesecake on it’s head. “Salty taste in a cheesecake?”, you say, “That’s a bit unusual”. “The crumb layer is ON TOP!?!…well that’s just crazy!” Welcome to my world.

 

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Sweet ‘n’ Salty Upside Down Cheesecake

Cheesecake

200g Feta Cheesecake

300g Cream Cheese

130ml whipped cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Caramel sauce

210g of sugar

85g butter

120ml double cream

 

Crumb topping

14g Sweet and Salty popcorn, crushed

90g digestive biscuit crumb

50g unsalted butter

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

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To make the cheesecake:

  • In a stand mixer bowl, beat the feta cheese until smooth.
  • Add in the cream cheese, half of the whipped cream and the salt, and mix until combined.
  • Add in the remainder of the whipped cream and mix again until fully combined.

 

To make the caramel sauce:

  • In a large saucepan, heat the sugar over a moderate heat. Continue to heat until the sugar turns a deep amber color. DO NOT STIR! If needed you can swirl the pan.
  • When the deep amber color has been reached add in the butter and stir until melted.
  • Once the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream. Take extra care here as adding the cream will cause the mixture to foam up and steam. Continue to whisk until the foaming subsides and the sauce is smooth.
  • Leave to cool fully before proceeding.

 

To make the crumb topping:

  • Over a medium heat melt the unsalted butter in a frying pan.
  • Add in the biscuit crumb and crushed popcorn. Toss to coat in the melted butter.
  • Mix in the brown sugar and stir to evenly coat.
  • Continue to stir until the crumb mixture gently browns and caramelises.
  • Remove the crumb mixture from the pan and allow to cool on a plate or bowl until needed.

 

To assemble:

  • In an oblong pie dish, spoon the cheesecake mixture and smooth.
  • Pour over the caramel sauce and spread to smooth.
  • Liberally sprinkle over the crumb mixture and lightly press down.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Serve and enjoy!

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#Recipe Candycane Brownies

 

 

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And now January has set in. Tinsel and lights have been packed away. Christmas tree carcasses litter the sidewalks- emaciated reminders of festivities past. On the whole January would appear to be a pretty “grey”- The Month of M’eh. Each mouthful of chocolate or candy is now succeeded by a guilty pang of remorse. “December was pretty indulgent, I really shouldn’t be eating this”…said no one in my kitchen. Ever!

“Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”

Erma Bombeck

There’s usually a surplus of sweet treats of some variety in my house after the festive season. This year is was candy canes. Having fulfilled their duty of adorning the christmas trees for the best past of a month (and surviving the voracious eyes of my children!) it’s now time to put them to an alternative, and somewhat tastier, use.

For something so small and simple candy cane have an assortment of end uses in the kitchen. Aside from having a good ol’ fashioned chomp on them, there are recipes available for flavoured vodkas, cupcakes, and hot chocolate. I opted for using them in one of my favourite flavour combinations- mint and chocolate. My Candy cane Brownies are rich, indulgent treats laced with peppermint and studded with chewy, mini nuggets of stripped cane and chocolate chumks. Just for good measure there’s an extra sprinkling of smashed candy canes topping each brownies with extra festive whimsy.

Having arrived in our new home of Canada just ahead of the festive blitz I had little time for baking and experimenting with the new array of ingredients that have since become available to me. New brands, varieties and flavours lined shelfs, all there for the taking in my greedy mitts. The cocoa powder I used here, Fry’s (which is a Dutch processed cocoa), resulted in a much darker and richer chocolate flavour compared to those I’ve used in the UK. I’d highly recommend trying to get your hands on some if you can! So this recipe provided the perfect excuse for not only using up the excess candy canes but also as a trial for using unfamiliar ingredients. I hope you like them. And yes I know it’s strictly speaking a christmas recipe and the festive season is done and dusted, but just them of them as a legitimate excuse for resurrecting it for a brief few minutes. Enjoy!

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Candy cane Brownies

makes 12

Unsalted butter 185g, cubed

185g Bakers unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces

1 tablespoon Nielsen Massey peppermint extract

3 eggs

275g caster (superfine) sugar

85g plain flour

½ teaspoon salt

50g Fry’s cocoa powder

50g Bakers semi-sweet chocolate, cut into small chunks

50g peppermint candy cane, broken into smalls pieces

To decorate

75g peppermint candy canes, smashed into irregular pieces

  • Set your oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a deep 12″x9″ baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or bain-marie), stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thickened and fluffy, then, in a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
  • Stir the peppermint extract into the cooled chocolate mixture, and the fold into the egg mixture.
  • Sieve in the dry ingredients, and fold together.
  • Mix in the chocolate chunks and candy cane pieces. Fold again until well combined.
  • Pour your mixture into the lined tray and gently spread to level the surface. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. To test- insert a skewer into the mixture about 1 inch from the edge of the tin and it should come out clean.
  • To decorate-sprinkle the top of the brownies with the smashed candy cane pieces and gently push into the surface so the stick.
  • Leave to cool completely in the tin before cutting into squares, and serving.

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#Recipe Rum Salted Caramel Stardust

 

all-change

It seems a lifetime ago that I posted my last post bidding you all farewell before I flew off into the maple colored sunsets of Toronto. So here I am, almost 2 months to the day of that post, typing amidst the glow of christmas tree lights and festive smells of cinnamon  & maple, typing from my kitchen in Toronto. As is typical of this time of year (and no doubt like so many others amongst you) I get to reflecting on how MUCH has actually happened in 2016. It’s pretty much like we’ve well and truly stepped through the looking glass. I mean serioulsy….WTF has happened!?!?

Let’s face it folks this past year has hardly been note-worthy for the right reasons. I can’t exactly see Richard Curtis penning his next movie as an ode to this past time. But I’m not going to sit here though and drag up all the mishaps, tragedies and losses of 2016- we’re all well aware of them. Christmas as well as a time of reflection is also a time of giving, in whatever shape or form.

 

As part of last year’s festivities I decided to try out the whole “Homemade Gifts” approach to the festive season.This went from filling stockings to bundle boxes to arranging hampers all with the common theme -any of the foodie gifts enclosed were made by  my own fair hands in Mr. Mom’s Kitchen. The Christmas season has a way of side-blinding me with a hearty dose of nostalgia. One waft of pine, or shimmer of tinsel and it’s “Hey-ho, here we go down Memory Lane”, a sucker punch from the Ghost of Christmas Past indeed! Amongst the goodies made last year were my (by now) family favourite Christmas Cookies, laced with sweet heady spices and spritzed with orange water; a deeply rich and moist cake combining the flavours of festive fruit, chocolate and Port; mincemeat laced with port, rum and studded with almonds and pecans. Last, but by no means least, I also included bottles of rum-spiked salted caramel sauce, in which edible gold stars floated, winking enticingly from the sweet, velvety liquor.

All of these evoked a certain memory of the festive season for me, from childhood days to feature occasions of later years, each a sensory landmark in my Yuletide roadmap. The last of those mentioned, otherwise known as my “Rum Salted Caramel Stardust”, is an homage to a particularly potent chewy caramel sweet from the Christmas sweet boxes of  my childhood. It an absolute doddle to make, taking no time at all and the effects and beaming smiles will linger long after it’s been scoffed, licked and spooned.

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Rum Salted Caramel Stardust

200g brown sugar

2 tablespoons dark rum

50g salted butter

200ml double cream

100ml single cream

1/2 tsp- 1 tsp Maldon sea-salt (to taste)

Edible star glitter, Wilton

You’ll also need up to 6 x 250ml “retro” milk bottles (clean these in a hot cycle in your dishwasher first to ensure sterilisation)

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  • Combine the double and single creams in a jug and set aside for later.
  • In a heavybase saucepan combine the brown sugar and rum and heat until the sugar dissolves.
  • Increase the heat and allow the sugar mixture to deepen to an amber color.
  • *Excercise care in these next few steps!
  • Remove the saucepan with the melted sugar from the heat and add in the salted butter. Whisk briskly and carefully so that it melts and becomes incorporated into the sugar mixture. It may hiss and spit so please take care.
  • Next add in he combined creams and stir to fully incorporate. Again take care at this point.
  • Stir in the sea-salt, to taste.
  • Finally stir in a couple of teaspoons of edible stars. The amount is to your personal preference for the final look.
  • Pour into the individual milk bottles and seal with the caps. 
  • And that’s it! The final caramel sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator. I find it’s best if removed from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving to allow it the return to full “saucy goodness”.  Serve it over ice-cream, brownies, pecan pies…you name it!

 

This post came about from reflection and giving and so there would seem no better way to wrap it up than with this…

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,’ returned the nephew. ‘Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

And with that I’d like to wish you all a very warm, safe, and Merry Christmas.

See you in the next cartoon…

 

First things first, in the words of one of my culinary idols, some parting advice…

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I’m still here! I just wanted to clear that up. I know it’s been quite some time since I lst posted anything here but I’ve been otherwise occupied with the other great occupation in my life- my family. To cut a long story short- we’re moving…to Canada! Toronto to be precise, in a couple of weeks.

Those of you that know me and have followed my social streams and blog will know that I have a bizarrely preternatural love for Canada. In case you missed it, or have arrived late to the party (hey! hello!..pull up a stool and grab a drink!) here’s my post about the catalytic visit to Toronto.

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So yes! After 14 years in the UK, 1 husband , two kids, an architectural career and a baking business later I’m off to the land of Mounties and Maple Syrup. It may be a while until I get to post something on here again but do keep watch on my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages for updates. In the meantime, I’d like to thank all of you for following me on this wonderfully fragrant, tasty and sometimes frenetic journey that has been Mr. Mom’s. Triumphs have lifted me, frustrations have tempered me and failures have winded me but they’ve all paved a long and winding road which now leads into the West. So long for now and see you in the next cartoon…

goodbye

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Don’t say, We have come now to the end,

White shores are calling,

You and I will meet again.

And all will turn

To silver glass.

A light on the water,

Grey ships pass

Into the West.

 

#Recipe Cajun Chicken Alfredo

Cajun Chicken Alfredo

Something a little different for you all now, and not a baked good in sight! One of the few pasta dishes I actually enjoy eating, this a perfect comfort food dish in my view. A one-pot wonder dish thats great on so many levels. No fuss no muss and easy to prepare. It’s great if you want something indulgent in front of your favourite TV program or equally as good for al fresco dining with a chilled white wine. Hope you enjoy!

Cajun Chicken Alfredo

Serves 2

Mirepoix vegetable base

1 red pepper, halved

5 sticks celery heart, roughly chopped

200g onions, roughly chopped

Main chicken dish

2 chicken breast fillets, cut in to cubes

2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, I use Barts

4 cloves garlic, crushed

150g button mushrooms, halved

50g streaky bacon, chopped and fried until crisp

1 litre Chicken stock

125ml Milk, semi-skimmed is fine

50ml Double cream

250g fettuccine pasta

Salt and Pepper, to season

To serve

Parmesan cheese, grated

Mire Poix

To make the “Mirepoix”

  • Blitz the red pepper, chopped celery and chopped onion in food processor until combined and well chopped.
  • Remove and place in a bowl. Cover until needed.*
  • Heat some oil in a large pan, or wok, and add the chicken pieces. Fry until lightly browned.
  • Sprinkle on the Cajun seasoning and fry for another 2 -3 minutes.
  • Add in 4 tablespoons of the mirepoix and the crushed garlic cloves. Saute for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and crispy bacon and fry for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour in the chicken stock, milk and double cream. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Break the fettuccine in half, add to the chicken mixture and stir so that the dried pasta is mixed well into the other ingredients.
  • Cover and simmer over a medium heat for about 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Remove cover for last 5 mins of cooking. Cook until the sauce has thickened and the pasta cooked until al dente.
  • Remove from the heat and transfer to serving bowls.
  • Sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

*This make more than enough mirepoix base. I keep mine in the fridge covered and use it whenever I need a quick season base for dishes. I don’t just use it for Cajun or Creole dishes either – it goes rather well in a Bolognese too!

Cajun Chicken Alfredo