Tag Archives: creme fraiche

Cheesecake Bars

When I lived in Tokyo I would usually pick up breakfast on my way to uni.  If there is one thing I miss the most about Japan it is the convenience stores, or conbini, they were just brilliant!  You want a kitkat, a bottle of mikan juice and a bowl of hot macaroni cheese at 3am?  Done!  Japanese food was just amazing in all ways, even the rubbish, but I digress.  Every morning for a good few months I would stop off at a particular store on my trip to uni and I would buy myself a carton of cafe latte and a cheesecake bar.  It was just a simple stick of baked cheesecake.  No biscuit, no flavouring, just cheesecake plain and simple. 

For Christmas I got a silicone baking mould that forms 12 bars.  I had asked for a 9 hole mini loaf tray but such a creature does not exist it would seem and the closest “Mother Christmas” could come was a 12 hole bar tray from France.  The first thing I thought of when I saw this tray was, “Well that’d make funny shaped loaves.”, the second thing I thought was, “But I could make cheesecake bars!”  And so last night, when I was in serious need of some baking therapy having just watched Doctor Who, I did. 

This cheesecake recipe is the simplest thing in the world only 5 ingredients!  I think I first saw this recipe in a supermarket magazine as a project for kids but it is now one of my emergency recipes as it takes so few ingredients.  I like to make it after dinner because then you can just leave it and forget about it while it cools in the oven overnight and it’s not taking any time away from other things.  Also you get to breakfast on cheesecake and what’s better than that?

Makes 12 bars.  If you don’t have a fancy mould like mine then you could probably just use a brownie or square cake tin and cut it up. 

2 large eggs
400g soft cheese
125g caster sugar
4 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tsp vanilla extract
the seeds from half a vanilla pod

Step 1: Assemble your ingredients.

[I changed my mind about the orange half way through and decided to keep it pure with the vanilla but you can easily substitute the vanillas for the zest and 3tbsp of juice from an orange, lemon or lime.  We keep our vanilla pods in the sugar jar, as you can just see, it gives a light hint of flavour to the sugar and stores the vanilla well.]

– Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease your mould, tin or tray with melted butter. 
– In a medium sized mixing bowl beat the eggs. 
– Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth. 

It will look like this but keep beating...

...and it will look like this!

– Add the sugar, vanillas and creme fraiche and beat until well combined. 
– Pour into your chosen mould and  bake for 30 minutes. 
– Turn off the oven and leave overnight or until completely cool. 
– Turn out, and slice if necessary, and serve!

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Filed under Easy, Teatime Treats

Fajita Wraps

We eat these a fair bit in our family and now I have proved that they make a decent party food.  Not the most graceful of foods to eat I’ll admit but so long as your not too precious about it and just get stuck in it’s a great food! 

Serves 4 (I doubled it for the party)

3 chicken breasts, sliced into chunks
1 large onion, diced
1 chilli, chopped
1 tbsp ground corriander
1 tbsp fresh corriander, chopped
4 tbsp lime juice
2 bell peppers, sliced into chunks
1 pack of tortilla wraps
lettuce
creme fraiche
salsa
lime segments

– Put the chicken, onion, chilli, corriander and lime juice in a bowl and set aside to marinate for at least 1 hour, preferably longer. 
– About 15-20 minutes before you want to eat heat a little oil in a very large frying pan (I used a paella pan here.)
– Add the marinated mixture, if a lot of liquid in the bottom of the bowl leave this out. 
– Cook, stirring regularly until the chicken is cooked then add the peppers and the reserved juice. 
– Keep cooking on a relatively high heat until the chicken just starts to char.  (If using a strong chilli keep the extractor fan on as the chilli smoke can get to you!)
– Microwave your tortilla wraps as you need them for about 30 seconds (1minute for a whole pack). 
– Make up the wraps as you like.  Standard order is lettuce, fajita mix, salsa and creme fraiche then squeeze lime juice on top. 

The best way to fold them is to place the filling along the centre but only go 2/3 along.  Then fold up the remaining 1/3 over the filling and wrap the two sides over the top.  Then eat!  It makes a handy little pouch so you’re not dropping stuff all over yourself… well, if you’re careful!

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Filed under Easy, Mains

Summer in Winter

At least I think that’s what the recipe called it.  I kept the name but altered the recipe a fair bit.  The idea of it was basically summery flavours in the depths of winter but these days that’s not so odd I guess!  Who knows what you call it in the summer!  It made a delicious dinner anyway and only took about 30 minutes to make.  It even kept warm very well as dinner was delayed by another 30 minutes.  I had everything ready by 8pm then kept the pasta covered with a tea towel in a warm oven and reheated the sauce and put it together when everyone was there. 

 

Serves 4-6

4 chicken breasts either whole or in strips*
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
~200g baby plum tomatoes, halved
200g soft cheese
~400ml creme fraiche
1 tbsp grated hard cheese/parmesan
~6 fresh basil leaves, shredded
2 salad tomatoes, sliced
pasta to serve

– Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and cook the chicken until just browned. 
– Get your pasta going. 
– Push the chicken to one side and add the garlic, fry in the space for a minute then stir through the chicken. 
– Add the halved tomatoes and cook for one minute. 
– Add the soft cheese, creme fraiche, hard cheese and parmesan. 
– Stir until combined.  If it seems a little thick add a little water from the pasta. 
– Grill the tomato slices until just starting to blacken in places. 
– Serve on top of pasta garnishing with the sliced tomatoes.

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Mushroom Bruschetta

Last Christmas I bought my dad some mushroom plugs so he could grow his own mushrooms (yes, he’s the hardest man on the planet to buy for) and finally this month we saw mushrooms!  I think he’d abandonned the logs in his workshop so we were all a bit surprised to see massive oyster mushrooms sprouting from behind the hoover! 

 Monster Mushrooms

Homegrown Oyster Mushrooms

The hunt was on to cook them in some way that would use them solely in their mushroomy goodness.  We had thought of simply having them on toast but none of us are breakfast people so I upgraded that idea to mushroom bruschetta.  While I was at it I also made a batch of my Tomato and Mozzerella Bruschetta

Bruschetta!

Makes 12

2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 tbsp olive oil
1 ciabatta loaf
1 clove garlic
~250g mushrooms
2 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tbsp parsley, chopped

– First infuse the garlic in the oil by lightly heating in a small pan.  Set aside to cool. 
– Slice the ciabatta into slices about 1cm thick. 
– Slice the garlic clove in half and rub over the sliced bread. 
– Brush both sides of each slice with the garlic infused oil. 
– On a health grill, very hot griddle or under a grill toast the bread until browned and stripey, turning once. 
– In the meantime heat the remaining garlic infused oil in a frying pan then add the mushrooms. 
– Cook until lightly browned then season to taste. 
– Add the creme fraiche and parsley and stir gently until it melts and coats the mushrooms. 
– Remove the bread from the grill and put a spoon of mushrooms on each slice. 
– Eat straight away.

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Filed under Easy, Starters

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

I’m in a very autumnal frame of mind at the minute.  I’m home alone this week so I’m not so keen on the howling wind and getting dark early part but I do love walking through the leaves and huddling up inside in the warm.  I find that although I’m happy to eat sandwiches for lunch throughout the summer come autumn I feel the need for soup.  The warmth you can gain from a bowl of soup and lovely buttery bread is better than the central heating sometimes!  I’ve usually been a Heinz fan but this autumn I’m really enjoying making my own soups.  The latest one is this Spicy Butternut Squash Soup.  It’s not actually what I would call spicy, the chilli comes as a lovely wash of heat over your tongue and complements the mellowness of the butternut wonderfully.  Plus I like the colour!

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 4

1 butternut squash (about 1kg)
2 onions, diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped (mine was quite hot, if yours are milder then add 2)
1 1/2 pints hot vegetable stock
4 tbsp creme fraiche

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6. 
– Peel and chop the butternut squash into chunks.  (I slice mine in half above the seeds then quarter it vertically, scoop out the seeds in that half and then chop into slices no bigget than 2 cm thick.  Then I use a vegetable peeler to take off the skin.)
– Place in a roasting tin and toss in a little olive oil. 
– Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. 
– In the meantime prep your onions, garlic and chilli then put it all in a large pan with a knob of butter and a splash of oil. 
– Keep on a very low heat for about 20 minutes until the onions are completely soft. 
– Take the squash out of the oven and tip into the pan. 
– Add the stock and creme fraiche and stir a little to start mixing it.
– Then take a hand blender and blend the soup until smooth. 
– Reheat it when you’re ready to serve.

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Filed under Easy, Starters

Chicken Baked With Spices Recipe

This is a great recipe as you can make it in advance and leave it to marinate overnight/all day or you can throw it together a scant hour before and it’s still a great tasting dinner.  You want to serve it with a mild tasting vegetable as the marinade can have a bit of a kick to it and the contrast is welcome.  A dollop of yogurt or creme fraiche works nicely too. 

Serves 4

2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp smoky paprika
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp cayenne pepper
rind and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp chopped mint (either fresh or mint sauce will work)
2 tbsp chopped coriander*
200ml yogurt/creme fraiche
4 chicken breasts

– Mix the garlic, paprika, coriander, cayenne and lemon rind and juice in a bowl. 
– Add the fresh herbs and yogurt and mix well.
– Spoon a few spoonfuls into the bottom of an oven proof dish. 
– Slash the chicken breasts a few times diagonally then place in the dish on top of the mixture.  
– Spoon the rest of the mixture over them making sure they are coated all over.  
– Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes, overnight if possible.  
– Heat the oven to Gas mark 6 and bake for 30 minutes.  
– Serve with basmati rice and vegetables**.   

* I keep a bunch of this in the freezer then just use scissors to chop off as much as I need for a recipe.  I also keep a jar of it about for emergencies. 
** Optional but delicious!  I like to serve sauteed red peppers and either butternut squash roasted with a little garlic and sea salt or courgettes and green beans sauteed in butter.

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Creamy Pasta Sauce Recipe

This ‘recipe’ has endless variations, some of which I shall try to give here.  It’s a good, quick sauce that is ready in the time it takes to boil the pasta.  Use your own judgement on how much to use dependent upon how many people you need to feed in most cases these quantities feed 4. 

Creamy Mushroom Sauce

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
8 mushrooms, sliced
300ml creme fraiche
1 tbsp herbes de provence

– Fry the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt for a few minutes in a pan then add the mushrooms.  Fry until soft and reduced. 
– Add the creme fraiche and herbes de provence and stir thoroughly.  Continue to gently heat until heated through. 
– Serve with pasta or gnocchi. 

Variation – Add slivers of cooked wafter ham/frozen peas/spinach after the creme fraiche for a more colourful version and simmer until cooked. 
This sauce is also excellent served with chicken breasts and rice or pasta. 

Creamy Chicken and Pesto Sauce

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
300ml creme fraiche
3 tbsp red pesto
2 tbsp tomato puree

– Gently fry the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt until soft. 
– Add the chicken breast and cook until browned. 
– Add the creme fraich, pesto and tomato puree, stil until thoroughly combined and heat through. 
– Serve with pasta or gnocchi. 

Variations – Add a few handfuls of baby spinach and stir through the sauce, leave to cook until wilted then serve.  And excellent addition to this sauce after cooking is mozerella.

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Filed under Easy, Mains