December 15, 2014


tomato, ham and goat's cheese tart

It was time to think about using up some of the leftovers in the fridge.  It was lunchtime and with a rummage around I found a pack of puff pastry, a bit of smoked ham, some goat’s cheese and plenty of tomatoes.

I remembered the easy tarts I made quite often a couple of years ago and wondered why I had given up making them, favouring beans on toast or scrambled eggs.  It’s strange how a favourite recipe can slip from memory, almost as if it has gone out of fashion.  My previous post about it is here. 

tomato, ham and goat's cheese tart2

For this tart I used two tablespoons of onion marmalade mixed with two of double cream for the base.  The sweetness of the onion makes a difference I think.

tomato, ham and goat's cheese tart3

This kind of tart is so quick and easy to rustle up.  It takes hardly any time at all to put together and is done just as soon as you would be able to cook a ready made pizza or warm a tin of soup – well, maybe a little longer than that, but it’s well worth it.  It’s a great way to use up leftovers too.  Peppers, chicken, sausage, mushrooms, virtually any kind of cheese – the combinations are endless.

We had ours with some green salad.


1 pack of ready made, ready rolled puff pastry

a lump of St Maure goat’s cheese or any cheese of your choice

1 large or 2 small spring onions

1 large or 2 medium tomatoes

1 or 2 slices of ham, cut into strips

2 tblsp double cream

2 tblsp sweet caramelised onion marmalade or chutney


If you can, remember to take the pastry out of the fridge 20 minutes before you start, so that it won’t split when you unroll it.

Preheat the oven to 220°C / 200° fan.

Unroll the pastry and trim it if necessary to fit a baking tray or sheet.  Place the pastry on the sheet on top of the baking paper it was wrapped in (or on fresh paper).  Make a cut in the pastry about 2 cm from the outside edge, all the way round, to make a margin, trying if possible not to cut all the way through.

Mix together the cream and chutney and spread over the pasty with the back of a spoon within the margin.

Arrange the slices of tomato, cheese, ham and onion on top and bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry is browned and the cheese bubbling.

Serves 2-4, depending what you serve with it.  Salad makes two servings from it.  Add chips or potato salad and bread to make it serve four.

December 6, 2014

INDIAN CHEESECAKE (or a tale of two tins, part two)

Indian cheesecake2

The other tin that I bought on our visit to Ikea for shelves or lighting (I still can’t remember which) was this tin of biscuits.

There was an enormous mountain of them by the checkouts and I carefully selected a tin that wasn’t dented – a good proportion of them were.  Unfortunately as we loaded our things from the conveyor back into the trolley (why do we never remember to take a bag into Ikea?) it somehow fell onto the floor so I ended up with a dented tin full of broken biscuits! C’est la vie!

Indian cheesecake

Luckily some of the biscuits were still in big enough pieces for dunking but there were a lot of crumbs so I thought it was the perfect excuse to make a cheesecake.  I rarely make cheesecake on the grounds that they are simply too moreish and not at all good for you, but we were having visitors so I decided to go for it.

I chose a recipe from Annie Bell’s Baking Bible for something called “Indian cheesecake”.  I spotted it a few weeks ago when I was searching through the index pages of my recipe book collection for something to bake that began with the letter “I” for an Alphabakes challenge.  It appealed to me but I never got round to making it at the time.

Indian cheesecake3

I’m not entirely sure why it’s called an “Indian” cheesecake.  In the recipe the base is made from a sort of crumble mix of polenta and flour but of course I already had a load of ginger biscuit crumbs so I obviously used those.  Maybe the Indian label comes from the spices in the mixture, ginger and cinnamon, but they to me they are more reminiscent of a English tea room than an Indian restaurant.

In any case, it was truly delicious.  And I really mean truly.  Nick pronounced it the best pudding I have ever made and it was demolished by our guests in double quick time and with second helpings.  Hence the reason for there only being one slice left by the time I took its picture!

I will certainly be making it again when I feel the need for an indulgent dessert.  If you fancy making it yourself I would recommend making it the day before you need it as you are supposed to chill for many hours or preferably overnight.  Which makes it even more the perfect dessert for visitors!

I give my adaptation of the recipe using broken biscuits and the ingredients I had available.


175g ginger thins, or digestive biscuits

75g butter, melted

550g cream cheese (I used full fat, but the recipe says low fat)

150ml crème fraîche

180g caster sugar (the recipe says golden caster sugar)

3 eggs

¼tsp vanilla extract

½tsp ground ginger

½tsp ground cinnamon

1 heaped tsp black treacle


Preheat the oven to 170°C / 150° fan.  Have ready a 20cm dia, 7cm deep,  non-stick tin with a removable base.

Bash the biscuits into crumbs, mix with the melted butter and press into the bottom of the tin.

Put all the other ingredients into a food processor and blend well.  Pour through a sieve onto the crumb mixture and bake for around 50 minutes.  The centre of the cheesecake should still have a slight wobble as you take it out of the oven.

Run a knife around the sides of the cake and leave to cool in the tin.  Cover loosely with foil and chill in the fridge overnight.

When ready to serve, remove carefully from the tin.  Dust with cocoa powder before serving if you like.

Cuts into 12 slices.

December 4, 2014

ROOT VEGETABLE CAKE (or a tale of two tins, part one)

vegetable cake

Not long ago there were several recipes for leftover vegetable cakes popping up all over the place.  A link to this one on the BBC Good Food website turned up in my inbox and with friends coming round for tea I decided to have a look what was lurking in the fridge drawer.

 vegetable cake2 vegetable cake3

I was also keen to give my new cake tin a try.  I spotted it on a visit to Ikea for shelving, or lighting, I forget which, and couldn’t resist it.

The cake is described as a leftover vegetable cake but of course it doesn’t use leftover cooked veg – raw veg only.  I used two carrots, one parsnip and a chunk of swede. 

vegetable cake4 vegetable cake5

There’s a note on the recipe that the cooking time may vary due to the water content of what ever veg you use.  My mixture seemed very wet, possibly due to the swede I thought, and seemed to take forever to bake.  At one point the cake was still very runny in the middle after an extra twenty minutes and I began to think it would never be cooked.  The outer part was looking brown enough so I covered it in foil and put it back in the oven until eventually it was done.  I suspect that using a tin that was a different shape and capacity to the one stated might also have something to do with the longer cooking time.

Although it was surprising that it took so long to bake, as I hadn’t put all the mixture in the tin.  I remembered that a cake tin should not be filled by more than two thirds and this left quite a bit of mixture over, which I used to make some muffins.  They only took twenty minutes to cook and were lovely.

vegetable cake7

The cake took so long to cook that it took an equally long time to cool down.  It was still warm when my guests arrived so I never got to put the orange drizzle icing on the top.  It looked pretty enough without it and it tasted lovely too.  I dare say the orange icing might have added something – a bit of extra orange flavour!  But I will definitely make it again, with or without the icing.  And I was very pleased with my new tin.  The cake slipped out effortlessly after ten minutes of cooling in the tin.

vegetable cake6Ingredients

140g sultanas or golden raisins

2 oranges

200g butter, melted

300g self raising flour

300g soft light brown sugar

2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

4 large eggs

300g raw vegetables, such as carrot, parsnip, swede, squash, pumpkin, or a combination, peeled and grated

200g icing sugar


Put the sultanas with the zest and juice of one orange into a glass bowl and microwave on high for two minutes to plump up the sultanas.  Leave aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4.  Grease and line the base of a 30x20 cm baking tin with baking paper.

Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. 

Mix together the sultanas, melted butter and beaten eggs and pour into the flour mixture.  Mix well.  Add the grated veg and mix again.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until done.  Cool in the tin.  (Cool for ten minutes only before turning out onto a wire rack if using a bundt style of tin.)

When cool, decorate with icing made with the icing sugar, the zest of the second orange and enough of the juice to make the icing runny.

Cuts into 10-12 slices.