#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 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)

caramel-sauce

  • 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.

#Recipe Chilli Chocolate Panna Cotta with Sriracha Cinder Toffee, Fenugreek Clusters & Raspberries

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This is pretty much my most ambitious recipe yet with a number of components to make and finally assemble into the completed dish. It came about as a result of a number of hankerings of mine:

The use of fruit vinegar in a dessert. I’d tasted Wormersley fruit vinegars at a food show and was utterly blown away by them. Fruity, tart and utterly delicious these vinegars are well deserved of their awards and of a place in anyone’s pantry. I’d always envisioned using them in some kind of brownie dish with the cheek-puckeringly beauty of the vinegar serving to foil the richness of the brownie. But on developing this recipe I knew the panna cotta would provide a great canvas on which to highlight the vinegar’s pudding pimping properties.

The use of a smoking gun. My latest kitchen toy that I was itching to be use and this was more than a convenient excuse. I had never used one before and was intrigued as to how well actual smoke would work with a sweet dish. Suffice to say I was not disappointed.  Whilst it’s not necessary to the overall dish it does lend an extra “Wow factor” and an interesting talking point. A word to the wise though. It only needs a short space of time for smoking (2-3 mins) and if you do decide to use it make sure you turn your smoke alarm off! I learned this the hard way – #RookieFail. As small as the amount of smoking chips used are, they still produce a heck of a LOT of smoke from the gun. Use it sparingly and near an open window is my advice.

The use of Sriracha hot sauce. Yes the very same condiment that seems to set Buzzfeed alight had been my carving for a long time. I’d just about used it in every savory application from dim sum to fries, to cold cuts and bacon- the one thing that had alluded me had been a sweet use. To be perfectly I can’t explain why but in my head the pairing of sweet cinder toffee (otherwise known as honeycomb or hokey pokey) and tongue-tingling heat of the sauce made sense. By now you probably know there’s nothing I like better than taking two extreme, opposite flavours and “smashing” them together to see what results from the gustatory debris. Here is another perfect example.

Whilst it may take some time to make and finally assemble, the completed dish is definitely a show-stopper and one that I’m indeed very proud of. There’s a wonderful array of textures and flavours at play in this dish- sweet, sharp, smooth and crispy. It’s wonderful example of just how much I like flavour experimenation in the kitchen and for me takes my “Falvour Maths” to the next level.

Makes 5

Panna Cotta

Sunflower or Corn oil for greasing

200g Green and Blacks dark chocolate

2 leaves of gelatine

190ml fl oz whole milk

250ml oz double cream

100g caster sugar

1 tablespoon Nielsen Massey vanilla extract

1 large dried Ancho chilli 

Sriracha Cinder Toffee

200g caster sugar

4 tablespoon golden syrup

1 tablespoon sriracha sauce

2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Fenugreek Oat Clusters

200g Jumbo rolled oats

250g quick oats

375g chopped roasted nuts

3 tablespoon fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

175g dark brown sugar

8 tablespoon honey

125g butter

8 tablespoon maple syrup

100ml water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To finish

Fresh Raspberries

Womersely Raspberry Vinegar

5 teaspoons bee pollen

Smoking gun with wood-chips (optional)

Equipment of Note

5 ramekin dishes (150ml apx capacity)

20cm square Silicone baking tray

Lipped baking tray

Food Smoking Gun (optional)

To make the panna cotta

  • Lightly oil five ramekin dishes (appx 150ml capacity) with the sunflower or corn oil.
  • Roughly chop the chocolate, and place in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, don’t let the base of the bowel touch the water.
  • Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and set aside until needed.
  • Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes.
  • Place the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla extract and Ancho chilli in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and leave to infuse.
  • After 5 minutes pass the liquid through a sieve and squeeze the soaked chilli on to the melted chocolate. Stir well to combine.
  • Squeeze the gelatine to remove the excess water and add to the mixture, stirring as you do so. Make sure all the gelatin has been dissolved.
  • Pour into the oiled ramekins and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

To make the cinder toffee

  • Mix the caster sugar, syrup and sriracha sauce deep saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has melted. Don’t let the mixture bubble until the sugar grains have disappeared.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat a little and simmer until you have a deep amber coloured caramel.
  • Turn of the hat and tip in the bicarbonate and beat in with a wooden spoon until it has all disappeared and the mixture is foaming.
  • Scrape into the silicone immediately but be careful as the mixture will be very hot and may still be bubbling.
  • Leave the mixture in a safe place to rest about 1 hr- 1 hr 30mins, by which time the cinder toffee will be hard and ready to break into pieces.
  • (This recipe makes more than need for this dish but the finished cinder toffee can be kept in an airtight container and used for dessert/ cake decoration or even as a treat!

To make the fenugreek clusters

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, combine the jumbo oats, quick oats, nuts, cinnamon and fenugreek seeds.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, honey, butter, maple syrup and water and heat until the mixture starts to bubble. Stir in the salt and vanilla extract.
  • Leave to stand for 15 minutes.
  • Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet oiled with sunflower oil and press it down.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven, let cool, then using a spoon or spatula break up the oat mixture into clumps. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let it cool completely on the tray then break it up into clusters.
  • (Again this recipe  makes more than needed for this recipe but the finished clusters can be stored in an airtight container and used as a granola substitute.)

To assemble and complete the dish

  • To serve, place the ramekins into warm water )just up to the top) for 1 minute then quickly remove and invert out on to chilled plates. If the panna cotta doesn’t come out return to the warm water for a few seconds and repeat.
  • Top the each panna cotta with fresh raspberries and sprinkle a teaspoon of bee pollen over each.
  • Drizzle around each panna cotta with raspberry vinegar, and sprinkle around with a mixture of cinder toffee pieces and fenugreek clusters.
  • Serve and enjoy!
  • Optional: For a final touch before just before serving, place the complete dish underneath a bell cloche and insert the hose of a smoke gun. Ignite the smoke gun and inject flavoured smoke to fill the chamber, leave for 2-3 mins, remove dish and serve. (PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT USE IN AREAS WITH A SMOKE ALARM!)

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