Monday, March 9, 2009

Baked Raspberry Cheesecake

Having returned from our recent trip around Bordeaux I found my kitchen trashed by an intruder who, having read his post for Lemon and Lime baked cheesecake on here, turned out to be my son Steve. During his beating he asked if I could share my recipe for Baked Raspberry cheesecake, so here it is.

• 8 Breton biscuits (or any other type you prefer, that husband or kids haven't eaten)
• 50g butter, melted
• 600g cream cheese
• 2 tbsp plain flour
• 175g caster sugar
• vanilla extract
• 3 eggs
• 142ml crème fraiche
• 300g raspberries
• icing sugar

1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Crush the biscuits in a food processor (or put in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin)

2. Mix with the melted butter and press into a greased 20cm springform tin. Cool in fridge until filling is ready

3. Beat the cream cheese with the flour, sugar, a few drops of vanilla, eggs, and crème fraiche until light and fluffy. Stir in half the raspberries and pour into the tin.

4. Bake for 40 minutes and then check, it should be set but slightly wobbly in the centre. Leave in the tin to cool.

5. Keep a few raspberries for the top and put the rest in a pan with 1 tbsp icing sugar. Heat until juicy and then squash with a fork. Push through a sieve.

6. Serve the cheesecake with the raspberry sauce and raspberries.

French Onion Soup - With Cheesy Toast Rafts

I think this delicious soup has to be one of my favourites. Living in France it would be a shame not to be able to create a satisfying and flavour packed dish from the superb quality onions grown around us.

I have labelled this French Onion Soup recipe as a starter but quite often I enjoy it as a wholesome lunch served with a few chunks of locally made, fresh baguette and a crisp white Chardonnay.

Serves: 4-6
Preparation & cooking time: About an hour

  • 1lb of medium sized onions (30-40mm diameter at the widest point)
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • 2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 sprigs of dried thyme
  • 1 bouquet garni (the tea bag type are fine)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 litres beef stock (vegetable stock can be substituted)
  • 175ml white wine (A large glass - feel free to have a secondary one yourself)
  • Salt & pepper
  • French bread baguette
  • Grated cheese (If you can get it, Cantal is ideal. Otherwise, a mature cheddar)
  • Large saucepan with lid
  • Chopping board and sharp kitchen knife
  • Wooden spoon

1. Peel the onions and slice them into very fine, whole rings. Slice them as thinly as you can manage safely.

2. Heat the olive oil in the pan, add a 'generous' knob of butter and allow it to melt. As the butter begins to bubble, add the sliced onions.

3. Toss the onions around in the pan, coating them in the oil and butter. Add the sprigs of thyme and the bouquet garni.

4. Place the pan on your smallest hob and turn the heat to the lowest setting. Cover the pan allowing the onions to gently simmer and gradually begin to caramelise. Do not be tempted to rush this stage, the slower the onions cook, the sweeter the flavour they impart to the finished soup.

5. When the onions are sufficiently caramelised (a nice golden brown colour) add a splash of the Balsamic vinegar and stir the onions until the vinegar has evaporated off. Add the stock and the white wine, re-cover the pan, then turn up the heat bringing the soup to the boil.

6. Lower the heat once again, season to taste with salt and pepper, then allow your soup to simmer for at least half an hour. The longer you simmer the soup, the more flavoursome it becomes, if you have a slow-cooker feel free to use it.

7. Cut the baguette into approx 25mm (1 inch) slices allowing two per portion and grill both sides.

8. Sprinkle each toasted baguette slice with cheese and season with a little salt and pepper if you wish.

9. When the time comes to serve the soup put the cheesy baguette slices back under the grill to melt the cheese. While the cheese is melting, you can begin to serve the soup into your bowls.

10. Add two grilled cheese floats to each bowl and serve immediately.