Monday 23 August 2010

Wasabi and White Chocolate Cheesecake; an experiment!

I absolutely love all foods with pungence (also known as piquance, spiciness, hotness or raciness). Capsaicin in chillis, piperine in peppercorns, gingerol in ginger, allicin in garlic and allyl isothiocyanates in mustard, horseradish and wasabi.

I have been dreaming about this glorious combination for quite some time. I wanted to make this an unbaked cheesecake, and as I have stated before, I deteste gelatine in cheesecakes. I eventually got around to making it and adapted a recipe that one of my friends created during her GCSE Food Technology, many years ago. This recipe uses chocolate, cream cheese, condensed milk, cream and wasabi. For the base, I decided to use digestives and they are quite plain. The wanted the main flavour of the cheesecake to come from the cheesecake body and didn't want the base to take over (unlike my Speculoos and lemon cheesecake).

Once I had mixed the chocolate, cheese, condensed milk and cream together, I added the wasabi slowly by half teaspoonfuls, because a drop I had tasted before rapidly cleared my sinuses! Many teaspoonfuls later, I realised that it needed a lot more than I had anticipated. I then started adding the wasabi by long squeezes and the mix surprisingly needed almost half a tube to achieve the heat and taste I desired!

Unfortunately (and also unsurprisingly) the cheesecakes did not set. My friend's cheesecake mixture without the wasabi did set, so my guesses are that the wasabi interfered in the setting process, I have used slightly different ingredients to her, or I whipped the cream for too long (this last guess is most likely as I added the wasabi very slowly and mixed thoroughly between each dose!).

I made these into individual cheesecakes in ramekins. I tried to cut into a cheesecake and it literally resealed within seconds. I decided the best thing to do would be to turn them into a frozen cheesecakes. So they could almost be... ice cream cakes?!

Frozen wasabi and white chocolate cheesecake dusted with matcha

After the cheesecakes had frozen, I let them soften up a little and dusted them with some matcha - to extend the Japanese theme.

The wasabi flavour somehow tasted stronger than it did when it was in the mix, yet the intensity of the heat didn't follow the strength of the flavour. This could have been due to the temperature of the cheesecake when eating it (below zero), as no volatiles would have disappeared during the cooking as it was unbaked! My mum claims she's "unsure" about cheesecake, however, she ate it all up. I agree that the wasabi flavour was particularly bitter and that there was a slight cabbagey aftertaste. I think that another flavour needs to be present in order to take the edge off the bitterness such as lime. It would be best served in miniature portions for those with an acquired taste.

This was an experiment so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I have learnt that I should follow a different recipe for an unbaked cheesecake (or just use my baked one!) and to perhaps use less wasabi next time, or make the cheesecakes bite-sized!

Monday 16 August 2010

An amazing sandwich - Pret A Manger

Bloomin' Marvellous Egg Bloomer

I absolutely love Pret A Manger. I can spend so long in the place, gazing at all their fresh and tasty choices (well, let's be honest here, I struggle to make decisions on food in most places!) but the Bloomin' Marvellous Egg Bloomer is what always stands out for me, and Bloomin' Marvellous it is! It may seem like a rather ordinary sandwich, with it's four simple fillings, but oh my, does it hit the spot! I suppose it's a slight twist on the classic "egg mayo" sandwich. Rocket in exchange for cress, soft tomato and some mature Italian cheese to give that added depth. I'm not even a sandwich person, but give this to me and it will be gone in seconds.

What a shame there's no Pret in Woking!

Friday 6 August 2010

Even MORE Speculoos!

Yes, the Honeybun has surprised me with yet more of the gorgeous spiced spreadable biscuit!

This time he has not only given me a jar of the delicious Speculoos spread, but he has also given me the new Crunchy version to try... now he is just spoiling me :)

I actually received this wonderful gift a few weeks ago and have been slacking a little on the blogging front (I actually think it's fair to say that other posts became more of a priority!)... so a fair amount of both Speculoos spreads have been eaten on toast. However, with the remainder, I hope to conjure up some mouthwatering recipes. At the moment I am hoping to make a Speculoos Millionaire's shortbread. Watch this space and see if it proves to be a success... or not!

Sunday 1 August 2010

Cheesy butternut squash with pecans

This is actually a recipe that my Mom created, but I have been given her permission to post it! We had some really smelly brie in the fridge that was desperate to be eaten, so we decided to chuck it on top of some freshly roasted butternut squash, red onions, pecans and a few sprigs of rosemary.

This recipe can be used as a side dish with many different meals, or as part of a salad. We ate it with some quiche, green leaves and a tiny drizzle of balsamic dressing.

As the cheese warms to the temperature of the freshly roasted veg and nuts, it turns into a tasty gooey sauce, glueing all the yummy ingredients together.

I'm sure that many different ingredients could be substituted in this recipe and still work. Stilton, gorgonzola or camembert would work brilliantly instead of the brie. Walnuts could easily replace the pecans, pecans are just our favourite! Thyme instead of the rosemary, sweet potato instead of the squash... the list goes on, just tailor it to your tastes. Enjoy!