lemon curd crumble cheesecake

28 Jul 2014

A few years ago I made some lemon poppyseed cheesecake tartlets using an Ottolenghi recipe I found on the Guardian website. Individual tartlets are fiddly so I decided to combine all the features of the tartlets into a single cheesecake. With a farewell morning tea on the horizon, I put this together and kept my fingers crossed that all the different elements would work together.

Last weekend was a particularly cold weekend in Sydney and I had all sorts of trouble. I made the poppyseed base forgetting to add the sugar and then when I did, the base refused to come together. Then my foolproof lemon curd recipe turned out to not to be quite so foolproof and it required a bit of rescuing.

As there is lemon rind in the base and it's topped with lemon curd, I decided to flavour the cheesecake purely with vanilla. I baked the cheesecake for an hour and it was a vision - a perfectly even cheesecake with nary a crack. One hour later it had developed a bit of a crevasse. These days I refuse to worry about such matters because I knew I'd be covering the cheesecake with the lemon curd.

Here's the recipe for you. I used my little 16 cm tin and the cake will feed 8 but if you want to make a 23 cm cake, just double all the quantities and bake for the same time. You can use shop bought lemon curd, but if you'd like to make your own I've included my (normally) foolproof recipe. The lemon curd recipe makes more than enough curd to top the cake so you'll have some leftovers.

Lemon Curd Cheesecake
1 cup Plain Flour
¼ cup Caster Sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
100 grams unsalted butter
3 teaspoons poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 180⁰C.

Place the flour, sugar and lemon rind into a food processor and whiz to combine. Add the butter and pulse until a soft dough forms. Remove the dough from the processor and gently knead the poppy seeds into the mixture.

Grease and line a 16 cm spring-form tin with baking paper. Press about half the mixture into the base of the spring-form tin. Bake the shortbread base in the preheated 180⁰C oven for 10 - 15 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden. Set to one side and allow the base to cool.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with baking paper. Roughly crumble the remaining shortbread mixture over the prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden. You can do this at the same time the cheesecake base is cooking. Allow the crumble topping to cool on a tray. When cool place in an airtight container until serving time.

1 x 250 gram packet of cream cheese, softened
50 grams ricotta cheese
¼ cup caster sugar
2 tsp plain flour
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 tablespoons yoghurt or cream
1 egg white
Additional 1 tbs caster sugar

Lower the oven temperature to 160⁰C. Put the cream cheese, the ricotta cheese, the ¼ cup caster sugar and the 2 tsp plain flour in the food processor and whiz until smooth. Add the egg, the yolk, the vanilla and the cream and blend until smooth. Pour the cheese filling into a medium sized bowl.

Place the egg white into a clean dry bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Beat in the remaining sugar until a meringue forms. Gently fold the egg white through the cheesecake batter. Pour the filling over the cooked base and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour until the filling is almost set.

Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the turned off oven for an hour. When cool the cheesecake can be stored in the fridge.

Lemon curd
2 egg yolks
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
60 ml lemon juice
1/3 cup caster sugar
60 gram unsalted butter

Place the egg yolks, the lemon rind, juice and sugar into a small bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture until smooth. Keep whisking for 10 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and incorporate the butter in small batches until incorporated. Set aside to cool. The mixture will continue to thicken once it cools. When cool, spoon the curd into a sterilised jar, seal and store in the fridge. The lemon curd will keep for a week or so in the fridge.

To serve
Lemon curd
Crumble topping
Icing sugar

Bring the cheesecake to room temperature. Spread the lemon curd over the top of the cooled cheesecake leaving a 1-2 cm rim. Sprinkle the icing sugar over the edges of the cheesecake. Lavishly sprinkle the crumble topping over the lemon curd and sift icing sugar over the top.

I took the cheesecake into work and it disappeared quickly, which is always a good sign. I ate my piece of cheesecake on Saturday and the recipe is a winner. The crumble is crunchy; the lemon curd is nice and tangy, while the cheesecake is velvety smooth. I'll add more grated lemon rind to the base, next time, maybe a whole lemon rather than a teaspoonful.

It's time for me to go and clean up the mess in my kitchen.

See you all again next week,


coq au vin pie

21 Jul 2014

Winter has arrived in Sydney. As I'm typing this there is a lamb, rosemary and white bean casserole in the oven and a pot of rice pudding on the stove.Today though it's pie day and a coq au vin pie to be exact.

I've never managed to successfully make puff pastry so if I need it, I always buy it. When I've tried to make it in the past, it's been a bit of a disaster with butter leaking from the pastry and ending up all over the kitchen bench. Thankfully this recipe for coq au vin pie from Delicious magazine uses sour cream shortcrust pastry and that I do know how to make.

The sour cream pastry recipe I use is adapted from a Maggie Beer recipe. It's put together really quickly and takes much less time to make than it would have taken me to walk up to the shops at Bondi Junction to buy a packet. I put a third of the pastry aside and I decided to make a few book folds in it in an effort to get an even flakier top crust. As it's been so cold here in Sydney I didn't have a problem with the butter leaking everywhere. It stayed exactly where it was supposed to stay, right inside the pastry.

The recipe calls for a 20 cm springform pan, which I don't possess so I decided to make 2 small pies instead. I had a little bit of the chicken mixture leftover, enough to make a single serve pot pie.

Here's the recipe from July 2014 Delicious Magazine with my sour cream shortcrust pastry recipe, in case you'd like to make your own. The pie serves 4-6 people.

Coq au Vin Pie
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
6 chicken thigh fillets, cut into pieces
2½ tbs plain flour
2 bacon rashers, chopped
1 each carrot, onion and celery stalk, roughly chopped
150g button mushrooms, halved
6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
⅔ cup (165ml) chicken stock
1½ cups (375ml) red wine
445g shortcrust pastry (Careme Sour Cream Shortcrust Pastry or use the pastry recipe below)
1 egg, lightly beaten

Sour Cream Pastry
250g plain flour
Pinch of salt
175 g cold unsalted butter, diced
125 ml lite sour cream

Sift the flour with the salt. Place in a food processor. Add the diced butter and process until the butter is pea sized. Add the sour cream and process for about 30 seconds to a minute. The mixture won’t have come together. Remove the mixture from the food processor and gently work a few times on a floured surface until it just comes together to form a ball. Wrap the pastry in plastic and rest in the fridge until needed.

Grease and line the base of a 20cm springform pan.

Heat 1 tbs oil in a deep frypan over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken and cook, turning, for 3-4 minutes until golden, then transfer to a plate. Repeat with another 1 tbs oil and remaining chicken. Toss the chicken in the flour.

Wipe the pan clean, then heat remaining 1 tbs oil. Add bacon and cook for 2 minutes or until slightly crisp. Add the carrot, the onion, celery, mushroom and thyme, then cook for a further 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Add the stock and wine and then return the chicken to the pan with any remaining flour. Season and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes or until thickened. Set filling aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Roll out the pastry to 4 mm thick. Use two-thirds of the pastry to line the base and sides of the pan, then add filling. Top with remaining pastry, seal edge with a fork and remove and discard excess pastry. Brush the top with egg and cut a small cross in the centre to allow steam to escape during cooking. Place on a baking tray and bake for 50 minutes or until golden. Cool for 10 minutes, and then serve.

The pie is very tasty. I did make a few changes to the recipe though. I marinated the chicken thigh pieces overnight in the red wine and as I don't eat bacon I left that out. I added a bay leaf but next time I'd add some garlic to the chicken filling as well just to bump up the flavour a little more. I froze one of the pies so I still have one to look forward to in the coming weeks.

I hope you enjoyed your weekend. I spent mine quietly at home still reeling from the news of the downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight with the loss of all on board. 

Last week was not a good week,


little rhubarb and ginger puddings with caramel sauce

14 Jul 2014

Hi Every-one,

well it took a while but the cold weather has finally made it's way to Sydney. My cooking style changes when the temperature drops. No more stir fries for me, it's all about comfort food like casseroles, pies, soups and puddings.

I've been dying to try out this recipe for a while and last weekend, the time came. It's just my upside down pear and hazelnut cake recipe tweaked a little and baked in ramekins served with some caramel sauce. The sauce is a Belinda Jeffery recipe which I found here.

Do you like the little copper saucepan? I bought it at a flea market in Brussels and it came home in my backpack carefully wrapped in a towel. It needed a fair amount of cleaning before it was food safe but it was worth it in the end.

Here's the recipe for you.

Little Rhubarb and Ginger cake with Caramel Sauce (makes four 200ml ramekins or six 150 ml ramekins)
1¼ cups diced chopped rhubarb stalks
1 (20 ml) tablespoon orange juice
1 cup plain flour
¼ cup almond meal
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
100 g (3½ oz) melted, unsalted butter
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
35 g (2 tbs) finely chopped glace or crystallised ginger
¼ cup milk or orange juice

Caramel Sauce
150g brown sugar 
120ml cream 
140g butter 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and flour four 200 ml or six 150 ml ramekins.

Combine the rhubarb and the orange juice in a small bowl. Set to one side for 20 minutes.

Sift the flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a small bowl. Stir the almond meal through the flour and set to one side. In a medium size bowl combine the melted butter, the sugars and vanilla. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Add the flour and gently fold in the diced rhubarb and juice and the finely chopped ginger. This should make a soft batter. If not then add the additional milk or orange juice.

Spoon the batter carefully into the prepared moulds and smooth the tops. Place the ramekins onto a baking sheet and place on the middle shelf in the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 180°C/350°F or until the cake are cooked when tested with a skewer. If the cakes are browning too quickly you may have to cover the top with a piece of greaseproof paper.

While the cakes are baking, make the caramel sauce. Put all sauce ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stir until smooth and then boil for three minutes. Keep warm.

Place the ramekins on a wire rack and allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the moulds and carefully invert the cakes. If the cakes are peaked, you may need to trim the tops so they'll sit flat on the plate.

Serve topped with caramel sauce, a dollop of cream and if you like, some poached rhubarb. 

The caramel sauce just makes everything taste wonderful so the puddings were delicious!

See you all again next week,


P.S The latest Delicious Bites post, Strawberry Pavlova recipe, is now up on the decor8 blog if you're in the mood for something for summer.


7 Jul 2014

It was a chilly weekend in Sydney so instead of racing around like a rabbit I spent Sunday at home working on my tax. It's not a fun way to spend a Sunday but a necessary evil. In between hunting down receipts and doing lots of addition and subtraction I put together some images from my time in Zurich.

Zurich was the last stop on my holiday and was going through a bit of a heat wave. I was in town to catch up with friends both old and new and the day I arrived I went for a wander around town.

During my wander I passed through the Lindenhof where I found these young men engrossed in a chess battle.

 I've been to Zurich before but I'd not been inside St. Peter Church, the church with the massive clock face.

It was very simple but beautiful inside.

I found these beautiful roses in the church courtyard.

I found a few touches of blue.

Including these pots of hydrangeas also known as hortensia.

Even though it was hot there were lots of cooling fountains dotted around the town. The next day I was up bright and early because it was a special day.

I went out early with my camera to escape the heat of the day.

I'd not been to the Grossmunster before.

I went for a walk around the lake before we took a trip to the mountains.

We went to Flumserberg for lunch and a walk accompanied by the gentle sound of cowbells.

I know it's the wrong country but I had to sing a few bars of "The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music" when I saw the view.

We went up to Flumserberg in the gondola but came down on the Floomzer. I'm not sure it was such a great idea just after lunch but we made it down in one piece.

As it was such a hot day we stopped for ice cream at Walansee and yes it does look exactly like this. 

On my second day in Zurich, I visited the Kunsthaus and was impressed by it's art collection.

The lovely Cafe Schober where I met my blog friend Juliana for a citron 
pressé before returning to Sydney. I'll share some more black and white images with you in the next week or two.

I hope you all had lovely weekends. 

See you next week,


a few black and white images

3 Jul 2014

Hi Every-one,

this post is going to be short and sweet. Between work and home, this past week has been very busy and I've just realised I'll be working a 5 day week for the first time in close to 2 months. I shall be tired by tomorrow night. So before I take myself off to bed, I thought I'd share a few black and white film images with you.

My new sofa was delivered last Friday and while I was waiting for the furniture removalists to arrive, I edited the rolls of film which had just returned from the lab. Black and white film images don't come back from the lab ready to share. Dust and scratches need to be removed; contrast and exposure need to be tweaked; some areas need to be lightened whilst other areas need to be darkened. This used to be done during the printing stage in a wet lab, but these days I don't print at home so I edit the film digitally. It's still time consuming but without all the nasty chemical fumes. 

I only took 2 rolls of film with me and often the day I spied something to photograph in black and white, would be the day I'd left the film camera at home. I made sure to save plenty of film for Paris though, which is a dream to photograph in black and white.

I choose my subjects carefully when shooting in black and white. I tend to look for sculptural forms and interesting lines and angles.

I finished off the last roll in Zurich. Zurich was going through a hot spell so I wandered around the Old Town very early one morning and photographed this fountain. You'll see the fountain again soon in all it's pastel glory.

And the final image for you from Paris, taken from the rooftop of the Printemps department store.

I hope you like this little black and white teaser.

See you all again next week.

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