Monday, 16 June 2014

Lemon Cheesecake

I had a sudden, inexplicable craving for lemon cheesecake. Not just the kind where the cheese has some lemon in it, but the kind with a delicious layer of lemon curd on top. I haven't made a cheesecake in over a decade, and had a minor panic when I found out there are actually two kinds: a "no-bake" version that you simply chill, and a baked version, which when I considered I decided was the kind I had bade before, and roughly knew how to do. I googled around until I found a good recipe, and ended up following this one, from a supermarket website, no less! I used block Philadelphia though; I've found the supermarket versions here have a weird plasticky texture, which is probably so they remain unmelted even when it's 40 C outside.


  • 200g plain biscuits
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 500g Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 2 eggs

  • Zest of a lemon
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 cup Caster Sugar
  • 40g butter, cubed
  • 2 eggs
Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan. Grease a 20cm springform cake tin. Pulse biscuits in a food processor, or bash with a rolling pin until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and add the melted butter: stir until combined. Spoon biscuit mixture into prepared cake tin and press evenly on base and sides. Cool in the fridge for at least 30 min.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and lemon zest with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, until combined. Pour mixture into tin and place on a baking tray. Bake for 25-30 mins, or until just set in the centre. Turn off oven and leave cheesecake in the oven with the door ajar for a couple of hours or until oven is completely cool. Chill in the fridge for two hours.

For the lemon curd, combine lemon zest, juice, sugar, butter and eggs in a saucepan or double boiler over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5-10 mins, or until mixture thickens. If you like, strain through a fine sieve onto a dinner plate or flat tray -- I usually don't bother. Pour the curd over the cheesecake and chill until ready to serve. Scatter with a little more lemon zest if you like.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Osso Buco

Still winter, and I'm still craving those yummy sticky warming dishes. Here's one I've never made before: osso buco, a Milanese speciality of cross-cut veal shanks. I was inspired by seeing a cheap pack of ox-tail at the butcher's, and figured a cow's tail is probably pretty similar to a calf's leg. I followed this recipe from and it was pretty yummy and very rich. So much so that we only had fairly small servings -- one large piece of ox-tail per meal was more than enough. So this recipe would serve six people, or maybe four if they've been hill-walking or ice climbing!

Osso buco
  • 1kg veal shanks or ox-tail
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 medium red onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 medium carrots, thickly sliced
  • 2 sticks celery, thickly sliced
  • 410g can crushed tomatoes
  • a glass of dry white wine
  • 250ml beef stock (cube/powder is fine)
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary, mint)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
In a deep casserole dish with a lid, toss the veal shanks in flour and fry briefly to caramelise. (Or skip, if you're strapped for time). Chuck everything else in, stir well, and cook, just simmering, for about six hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone and the vegetables have disintegrated into a thick sauce. Check every so often to make sure it's not burning.

Combine the gremolata ingredients and serve on top of the osso buco, on a big pile of fluffy mash or gooey polenta.