march: lisa’s double lemon cheesecake

The inspiration for my dish this month came from something I saw on My Kitchen Rules (Australia). Yes, I am the type of person that follows all these cooking shows on TV religiously. I would even go so far as to say that one of the main reasons why I got Foxtel installed was so that I could have the Food channel available 24/7! Well, that’s a story for another day.

So, as I was saying, one night on MKR, I saw one pair of contestants make a double chocolate cheesecake that looked mighty fine and very tasty. I thought, what if I took that idea of a double cheesecake, and give it a citrus twist.

What resulted was my double lemon cheesecake.

This was only the second time I’ve attempted a cheesecake. I’m not ashamed to say that my first attempt failed. Miserably! I didn’t give the base enough time to set, and my cheese mixture was way too runny to be successful. Luckily this attempt was a thousand times better.

I think this is a fairly easy recipe. There are three components. You should make the base first (obviously), and make sure that you pack it down tightly. I find the thin end of a pestle is perfect for this. Then while the base is setting in the fridge, you can make the cheese mixture.

Once that’s done, you can make the lemon curd. The prepared curd can be stored in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Your cheesecakes can be completed ahead of time, so all you have to do is plate up. I have no doubt your guests will be impressed.

My guests described the cheese layer like a refreshing lemon sorbet, only creamier. It’s the perfect end to a lazy Sunday lunch or summer dinner party.

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march: jasmine’s blueberry scones with lemon curd

Earlier this month I went to high tea with some friends and enjoyed the best scones I ever had! I vowed to try to find the recipe and have since spent some time searching on the internet for various scone recipes. The scones I had were raisin scones. They were slightly sweet, the outside was slightly crisp, but when I bit into the scone, the center was soft and sort of melted in my mouth.

I know that scones do not technically fit into the citrus-y theme for the month (even if the recipe calls for lemon zest), but it was my inspiration for trying out a blueberry scone recipe paired with lemon curd. The combination was really delicious and the tangy-ness of the curd went really well with the sweet blueberries and slight sweetness of the scones.

My only audience for this month’s baking session was my husband, who really enjoyed them with a cup of Mariage Freres’ Marco Polo tea (thanks Kerri – for introducing K and I to this tea)!!

I thought I should explain my odd choice of recipe for the month…..I normally am a sweets person, however, being 16 weeks pregnant, I still have not gotten over my aversion to sweets and chocolate! Hopefully, I will be back to my normal self for next month.

march: anna’s rosemary shortbread with blood orange jam

I came across the idea for this recipe by accident. The other day, Wholefoods was giving away samples of quinoa cookies. I tried one and it was actually really tasty. I thought I might make some (under the premise that they might be better for you than regular cookies) and thought that I could probably find a recipe on Tartelette, which is a beautiful food and photography blog focused on gluten-free cooking.

I found this recipe for rosemary shortbread with apricot jam. It sounded really interesting and I’ve been wanting to make shortbread ever since I had the olive oil and rosemary shortbread at Blue Bottle Coffee, which is absolutely delicious. I had the idea that instead of apricot jam, I could use the left over blood orange puree and caramel from my puddings to make jam (which would have gone into the bin otherwise)!

I ended up using this recipe for the shortbread – the recipe on Tartelette had cornmeal in it, and I don’t usually like the texture of cornmeal (I’m sure it still would have been delicious, but it’s just a personal preference).

So what started out as a quest for healthier, quinoa cookies ended up as buttery, sweet and savoury rosemary shortbread cookies filled with blood orange jam. I thought the combination worked together perfectly! I gave them to some friends who came over on the weekend, and will be taking the rest to share at work tomorrow!

march: anna’s sticky blood orange puddings with mascarpone sorbet

This dessert was inspired by the grapefruit toffee pudding I ate recently at The Dutch in SoHo. The dessert was comp-ed, which made it even better (our waitress stuffed something up, so she gave us free dessert to make up for it)! It was the second delicious pudding I’ve had in the last few months (the other was the malva pudding at Xai Xai in Hell’s Kitchen), so I thought it was appropriate to make one myself!

I searched for a recipe online and came across this one which is based on a traditional sticky toffee pudding, but uses blood orange puree instead of dates.

There are a few different components to the dish, but each was fairly straight forward to make. I would change a couple of things if I made it again, and I’ve noted these changes in the recipe.

top: Blood oranges cooking in simple syrup. The syrup turned a beautiful deep orange colour.
bottom: Puddings cooling on a rack

The puddings are served warm – I would have liked to make them to order, but since it was the first time making them, I didn’t want to risk it. It was just as well I made them in advance, because after taking them out of the oven, the puddings were very soft and initially stuck to the tin. But luckily, they came out easily after cooling down for a bit longer.

To reheat, I placed them on a baking tray, dolloped some blood orange caramel on top of each one, covered the tray with foil and baked at a low temperature for 5 – 10 minutes.

I served the puddings with mascarpone sorbet, which I’ve made a couple of times before. The recipe is from Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry cookbook, and must be one of the easiest (and tastiest) ice-creams around. There are only 4 ingredients in it, and unlike most ice cream recipes, you don’t need to make a custard base.

blood orange pudding2

Here is the finished product! Clearly, I need to learn how to quenelle properly! I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t take better photos for my first blog post, but I was in a hurry to serve them before the puddings cooled down and the ice cream melted! I was really happy with the way it turned out. One person came back for seconds and I think I inspired a few people to buy an ice-cream machine!

march: kerri’s citrus tasting plate

I was excited when Anna announced her theme for march was citrus. I’ve not experimented much with citrus over the years, so I was excited for the challenge of finding new recipes and adapting them for my own.

I was having a bunch of friends over for dinner last Friday night so decided to do my march challenge then. I started searching and couldn’t pick just one. So I decided on a tasting plate of smaller portions so I could do them all… greedy as I am. And of course, I had to include some chocolate into the mix. Just because I love it so much.

I thought I’d stick with the norms (orange, lemon, lime, mandarin) since they were all new recipes and I didn’t have time to test them out first. Plus I was trying these fruits with different textures / combinations to what I had before, so thought they’d be interesting enough. I would have loved to try something with blood orange or pink grapefruit but I couldn’t find any while shopping, tho they must sell them here somewhere…

So here it is, the finished plate.

From bottom right, clockwise: chocolate & lemon tart, caramelised lime pudding, mandarin custard, finishing off with a dark chocolate & orange truffle.

And a few more pics:

dark chocolate & lemon tarts

chocolate & lemon tarts: chocolate pastry cases filled with chocolate ganache and lemon curd, topped with chocolate ganache and lemon zest to serve.

mandarin custards: baked in egg cups, topped with mandarin slices to serve.

my ‘in-the-making’ photos of these weren’t too pretty so here they are again, finished – the dark chocolate & orange truffle (top) and the caramelised lime pudding.

Yum. My guests all said they really enjoyed their dessert plates (tho people always say that, don’t they?) but my lovely B gave the thumbs up so I’m happy. He loves his desserts too so he will benefit much. My favourite was the mandarin custard. It was fresh, light and creamy. I wasn’t too sure how it would taste but yum, it was good. Too bad I only made enough for that night. I also really liked the caramelised lime pudding, which was originally lemon but I had to change it since I’d already used lemon in the tart. The pudding was extremely light, with the slight self saucing on top giving it a simple decadence. And the caramelisation of the limes gave an extra dimension to the flavour. Yum.

Oh, and of course I loved the chocolate ones too. But I don’t really need to say that, do I?

k.

march: citrus

 Citrus!

These refreshing, healthy vitamin C boosters are our theme for this month, picked by Anna!

Who has chosen what citrus fruit/s for their creations?

Scroll down to see!