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November 06, 2012

Cryfield 3 Pudding Competition: 4th November 2009

Follow-up to Cryfield 3: the start of the pudding competition from Courgettes and Limes: Recipes and Rhymes has moved! Find me at www.courgettesandlimes.com

6 November 2012

Haha! Here's a blast from the past: I was editing the tags on this blog entry when I hit save for later button by accident, thereby changing the publish date on this entry!

Many people ask me what it is that I do, in my residential life role. I normally end up telling them a selection of the good, the bad and the ugly. Some stories of when you know that what you've said or done had really helped a student, some horrid grief that a student has given you and then the vomit... It doesn't really do the residential tutor role any justice but it gives them a flavour of it. There is rather a lot more that goes on in the general humdrum of residential life. We go around the blocks to try and get to know the students and in doing so end up answering questions on topics such as heating, fridges and personal tutors. Then there are the nights when you don't get any sleep, for one reason and another. And of course, we run events for students. In my first year as a resident tutor, I ran a pudding competition in my block with 84 students. Pretty much all of them took part. In those early days of blissful ignorance of a disease called 'apathy' so commonly caught by students, I did not realise what a monumental achievement it was to have the whole block take part.

I found these photos lurking in my photo archives. I can't claim any credit for them. One of my students took them and then passed them onto me to publish online, which I never got round to. It's a hazy memory now, but I remember being pretty sleep-deprived by then and losing the will to write any blog entries regularly. So here are some photos of what the students got up to. Finally! And all because I accidentally hit the 'save for later' button. (photos courtesey of my Cryfield 3 kitchen 5 2009 students)

spotted dickbakewell tart
1. spotted dick; 2. bakewell tart (the winner)
bread and butter puddingsticky toffee pudding
3. Bread and Butter Pudding and Chocolate Rice pudding in the foreground; 4. Sticky Toffee Pudding
triflehungry students
5. Trifle; 6. Students lining up

The Cryfield Pudding Competition is on Wednesday 4th November. We've decided to stick to english puddings this time round and if it's a success, then we could have an international spin on things... tiramisu, cheesecake all spring to mind.

We're hoping that, as competitors, you have fun with each other in the block, have enough puddings to taste and discover all the hidden talents that you have.

The rules are relatively simple:

  1. The competition will happen on the evening of Wednesday 4th November.
  2. Entry costs £1 per person (this covers cost of food and the rest will be donated to a charity).
  3. At a 8pm the puddings are to be brought down to the common room where the judging will take place.
  4. There are seven kitchens so there will be seven types of puddings. Each kitchen makes a pudding - or several of the same version.
  5. The puddings will be judged on the following: flavour, originality and presentation.
  6. Students must produce the recipe that they followed plus photographs or a video that show who took part in the making of the puddings and how it was made.
  7. Each kitchen must make enough of their pudding so that they can feed their kitchen.
  8. There are extra points available: Extra 3 points if all the students in your kitchen take part, 2 points if 2 students don't take part, 1 point if 3 students don't take part.

And here's the bit that you've been waiting for allocations of kitchens and puddings:

Kitchen 1 - Trifle
Kitchen 2 - Bakewell Pudding
Kitchen 3 - Spotted Dick
Kitchen 4 - Crumble
Kitchen 5 - Sticky Toffee Pudding
Kitchen 6 - Bread and Butter Pudding
Kitchen 7 - Rice Pudding

The judges are Cryfield Resident Tutors and we'll provide bowls, spoons, cream and custard. Looking forward to it!

ps. please use the comments facility, if you would like to suggest a charity that we can donate the proceeds to. If not, David and I will pick one and let you know.


July 30, 2011

Baked Oreo Cheesecake

oreo_cheesecake

This is the first ever cheesecake that I made solo.

I'd never made a cheesecake before until I was sous-chef for my friend Meagan when she made this dessert. Since she isn't into baking yet made it look so easy, I thought that I'd have a go. Two years later, I finally got round to it and by then I'd forgotten the recipe and so had Meagan. Told you she isn't much into baking. I made it again the other night to remind myself of what recipe I'd chosen.

Funny moment related to this, the first time I made this, I bought so many oreos and cartons of cream cheese that the lady in the checkout told me off. She said that to watch out because I'd get fat! She's right, you know. If I ate it all tonight then I'm sure I'd have to be rolled out of bed in the morning because I'd have grown 3 spare tires, given the amount of cream and sugar in this.

So, this Oreo Cheesecake... It tastes pretty special. If you like oreos and you like baked cheesecake, then I can guarantee that you'll like this dessert. I've adapted the recipe from the Krafts website.

Ingredients

  • 38 (or 3 packets of) Oreo biscuits, 1 packet roughly broken to add into the cream cheese mixture.
  • 900g soft cheese
  • 60g melted butter
  • 180g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 150ml sour cream (original recipe said 100ml, but as sour cream is sold in 150ml cartons in the UK, I added in the remaining 50ml as I didn't have anything better to do with it.)

Method

1. You'll need to preheat the oven to 325F/160C/Gas Mark 3. The first time I made it, I used two 20cm deep loose-bottomed cake tins and then I experimented with a 23cm stoneware square baker. The stone works brilliantly, but I'm pretty biased with stoneware. This time, I used the traditional 23cm springform cake tin and made 6 mini cheesecakes as tasters, naturally, as well. They all work well.

2. In a bowl, set aside the packet of Oreos that you've roughly broken by hand.

3. Take 22 biscuits (2 packets minus 6) for the biscuit base. Finely crush the biscuits in a food processor. Or if you prefer it a bit rough, then do what I did and bash them in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. Make sure that all the air is let out first, otherwise there'll be a mini oreo explosion.

4. Add in the melted butter and mix well before emptying the crushed biscuits into the springform cake tin. Spread the biscuits out somewhat evenly, then press the biscuits down firmly to the bottom. I found that the end of the lid stopper of my food processor doubled up conveniently for the task. For the mini cheesecakes then my mini tart shaper works beautifully.

5. In a BIG mixing bowl, as there is rather a lot of cream cheese involved, beat the cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer. Add in the vanilla extract and the sour cream. Make sure that it is well combined and the mixture doesn't have any lumps. The first time I did this, I didn't have an electric mixer so I remember using a pampered chef mix 'n' scraper. What doesn't work, and I share this from experience, is a whisk. I don't know what possessed me to try that one out...

6. Add the eggs in one by one. Gently beating them into the mixture until they are just about combined before adding the next one...

Top Tip: I read somewhere that in order to stop the top from cracking, you have to treat the mixture much more gently once you start adding in the eggs. Something about coagulating and air bubbles.

ps. It didn't stop mine from cracking. Then again, I could have done a number of things wrong to make that happen.

7. Add the oreos that you set aside in 1. into the cream cheese mixture and stir gently.

oreos in cheesecake mixture

8. Pour the mixture into the biscuit base. Crush the remaining oreo biscuits and scatter them on top. I had a thought, too late, that I could have arrange oreo biscuits so that it looked prettier. It doesn't matter really.

9. Pop it in the oven for about 45 minutes with an oven proof bowl of water. The bowlful of water helps to keep the cheesecake moist whilst baking. I chose to do that, rather than double wrap the cake tin with foil and pop it in a deep baking dish filled with water, for the sake of ease really. I think that it is also supposed to help the top from not cracking too. Given that my last one did, maybe I should have used a water bath.

10. You'll know it's done when the top wibbles a bit when you touch it. It'll set more whilst cooling. Run a knife round the edges to immediately so that the edges don't cling to the sides whilst cooling. It also makes getting the cheesecake out of the cake tin much cleaner later on. Leave it to cool completely in the oven, with the oven door ajar.

11. Then wrapped in clingfilm or foil, refridgerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours. This is really important for allowing the flavours to mature. Serve it up and enjoy.

The verdict? A smashing dessert and as it is a cheesecake, perhaps a good one for the summer. The eggs give it a slightly yellowy appearance and I might experiment with using one less egg in future. It's not as elegant as the lemon and ginger cheesecake, but it's not meant to be. Who minds if it has a few cracks on the top; my tasters certainly didn't.


December 31, 2010

My Favourite Chocolate Brownies: Chocolate Brownie Hunt

ChocolateBrownie1

I really like this Chocolate Brownie recipe.  The end result is densely chocolate, moist and good.  The ingredients and the method is ever so simple and you can't go wrong with it¹.  I've even forgotten to add eggs to it once and it was just extra gooey and went wonderfully well with icecream.  I found the recipe in my Usborne First Cookbook, which I bought when I was in primary school.   Now, when I think about it, it is my first ever cookbook.  So, the newer editions (which Amazon tells me there's a few) may not have this recipe.  Anyhow, my mistake was not making them until I was about twenty.  By this point, I had passed from a nine-year old who disliked brownies (in the '80s British brownies were more like a boring chocolate cake) to a twenty-year old who had spent a year in the US and wanted to recreate that dense chocolate experience.  The brownies were an instant hit and I gained a reputation as a Chocolate Brownie Queen.  This is the recipe that I go back to all the time, even though I'm on an Ultimate Chocolate Brownie Recipe Hunt.

What I love about this recipe is that it is a fantastically easy basic brownie recipe and I'll often add things to suit the ocassion.  I've listed a few that I've tried below.

Ingredients for Dark Chocolate Brownies adapted from Usborne First Cookbook.

  • 4oz/100g dark chocolate
  • 4oz/100g butter
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 4oz/100g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 6oz/160g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 or 2 tbsp of milk if the mixture is too firm.

And the secret ingredient?  Well, this is when you make it your own and add in something extra. Here's a starter for 5:

  1. My favourite - a 200g packet of maltesers/revels etc.
  2. 50g of roughly chopped walnuts/pecans/brazil nuts etc.
  3. 100g celebrations
  4. 2 tbsp Baileys or any Irish Cream liquor.
  5. Zest of one orange and 1 tsp of mixed spices and 1 tsp of cinnamon.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.  Line a square baking dish with baking paper. The dish be between 20 - 25cm.

Top Tip: I've found that stoneware, pyrex or ceramic dishes produce better results that a baking tin.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl in the microwave. 

3. As the chocolate and butter is being zapped in the microwave, measure out the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into another bowl.  Sift the flour if you want to, but it's not necessary.

4. Add the vanilla extract and sugar to the chocolate melted goodness and mix well.

5. Add the beaten eggs and keep mixing to combine it all.  Don't worry - they won't scramble.

6. Gradually add in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder so that the whole mixture is well combined.

7. Let your imagination go wild and add in your extra ingredients.  In the top photo I used maltesers and hazlenuts.

8. Bake in oven for 20 mins.  The secret is to take them out when the top is firm to touch but still wobbles when you shake it.

The verdict? Yummmm.... simple and delicious.  I really like the brownie that it produces.

Happy Hogmanay 2010.

¹However, I did get it wrong.  Once.  Very badly.  I added in cointreau, orange zest and mixed spices, which lent it a lovely Christmassy feel.  It would totally have worked, except I had run out of some ingredients so I substituted:

flour with wholemeal flour
eggs with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda

As I took it out the oven, the bubbling mistake was unrecognizable as a brownie, in looks or taste.  A complete disaster in the brownie front but as I explained away the disaster and said it tasted a bit like a Christmas flapjack, it all went.  What a laugh!  But - don't repeat my disaster.  Some ingredients are irreplaceable.


July 26, 2010

Zingy Lemon and Ginger Cheesecake

lemon and ginger cheesecake 1

So, when you hold
the hemisphere
of a cut lemon
above your plate,
you spill
a universe of gold,
a yellow goblet
of miracles,

Pablo Neruda - Ode to the Lemon

I love lemons. My friends will testify to my love affair with lemons. 'A yellow goblet of miracles' beautifully describes my imaginations of what I could create with them. I particularly love that zing that lemons add when I use it in baking.

My timing of trying out this recipe was a bit silly really. It was three days before the removal men were coming. My two tubs of soft cheese in my fridge were almost at their expiry date, the sun was out and I needed an excuse to do something other than pack boxes! This lemon and ginger cheesecake seemed like the perfect summer dessert.

the inspiration for lemon and ginger cheesecake



I've since made two versions of this cheesecake. Version One lacked the lemony zing. It may appeal to the finer palette; I love robust flavours. So, I cheated the second time and added lemon curd to the mixture, which brought out the lemon and complemented the ginger perfectly.

Lemon and Ginger Cheesecake adapted from the Good Food Channel

Ingredients and Method

Ideally use a 25cm springform cake tin and double wrap the outside of it with foil. This is to protect the cheesecake when baking it in a water-bath. I didn't have a big enough cake tin at the time of baking the cheesecakes. Instead, I made a 20cm and 10 mini cheesecakes. Very cute!

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4/350F

lemon and ginger mini cheesecakes

...For the biscuit base

225g digestive biscuits (or if you really like ginger, then substitute it all or partly with ginger biscuits)
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp caster sugar
75g unsalted butter, melted

  1. Pulse the biscuits in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs, or bash them up in a bag with a rolling pin. Whichever method suits your mood.
  2. Add the ground ginger, caster sugar and the melted butter and mix it all up. I've already reduced the amount of butter from the recipe so that there is enough butter for the biscuit base to stick together.
  3. Transfer the biscuit mixture to the cake tin and press it down firmly. If you would also like to make mini ones too, then use a tablespoon of biscuit mixture per cupcake case. I discovered that my mini-tart shaper is perfect for pressing down the biscuit base.

...For the filling
570g cream cheese
100g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
4 large eggs, beaten
grated zest of 3 unwaxed lemons
380ml sour cream
2 tbsp lemon curd, beaten so that it's a little bit runny, optional but highly recommendable

  1. Beat the cream cheese and the caster sugar together until smooth in a big bowl.
  2. Mix in the cornflour.
  3. Slowly mix the eggs into the mixture, one at a time, so that they are thoroughly mixed in. Don't worry that the mixture always looks a wee bit peculiar at this stage.
  4. Pour in the sour cream and add the lemon zest. Gently mix them into the mixture.
  5. Lemony zing lovers could also add the lemon curd into the mixture at this stage. I put blobs of it on top of the mixture once I had poured the filling into the cake tin. Then I worried that the lemon curd would burn in the oven if it was left on top, so I took a metal chopstick and mixed the lemon curd into the mixture. I've since thought about putting 3/4 filling in, putting in a layer of lemon curd, then topping it with cheesecake filling. Essentially you can do whatever you like with it, and I'd really love to hear what worked for you.
  6. For the mini cheesecake fans - I used 2 teaspoons of the filling for each case.
  7. Pop it into the oven for about 45 minutes. I think that I baked the mini cheesecakes for 20 minutes. Bake until the middle of the cheesecake is just set. I test it by gently resting my finger on it and the cheesecake is ready when there is no (or barely any) mixture sticking to it.

Top Tip! Cheescakes are best when baked in a moist oven. To achieve this, you can bake the cheesecake in a water-bath by placing the cake tin in a roasting tin and filling the roasting tin with enough hot water so that it reaches about half way up the cake tin. Alternatively you can place a small oven-proof bowl full of hot water on the bottom level of the oven. I've used both methods and haven't noticed any difference to the texture of the cheesecakes. But perhaps a more experienced cheesecake baker could enlighten me?

...Meanwhile, start the topping
250ml sour cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
80g stem ginger, drained and finely chopped
grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon mixed with 1/2 tbsp of sugar

  1. Mix the sour cream and the caster sugar together.
  2. Take the cheesecake out of the oven when it's ready and pour the topping on, arrange the stem ginger on top. The mini cheesecakes appreciate a thin layer of sour cream topping.
  3. Pop it back in the oven for another 10 minutes, so that the sour cream topping can set.
  4. When it comes out, immediately run a knife round the edge of the cheesecake. This will help stop the cheesecake from cracking. Also, helpful for when taking the cheesecake out of the tin when serving it up.
  5. Let the cheesecake cool down for about an hour before popping it into the fridge overnight.
  6. Sprinkle the sugary lemon zest on top before serving.

Verdict - The combination of lemony zingyness with gingery warmth produces lots of 'Mmmmms'. It does take some effort but it is a really simple summery dessert to make that is a crowd-pleaser. I'm pleased to say that my friend's children ate some and then asked for seconds. Winner! The cheesecake is best eaten a day or two after it is made so that it stays soft. But I always seem to make too much cheesecake in one go, so I'd appreciate any tips on freezing it.


October 20, 2009

Cryfield 3: the start of the pudding competition

Perhaps it was inevitable? ... that food would be involved in my scheme for breaking down cultural cliques, sharing British culture and encouraging social integration and between UK and international students. I discussed it with Lucy, the resident tutor in Cryfield 1, last night who came up with this and the action plan. Tonight I mooted the idea of a pudding competition with several groups of residents in my block and they loved it. So folks, it is definitely ON!

The rules are relatively simple (but not yet set in stone so suggestions welcome).

  1. The competition will happen on the same evening in the next fortnight (an evening that the Cryfield resident tutors will choose).
  2. There are seven kitchens so there will be seven types of puddings. Each kitchen makes a pudding - or several of the same version.
  3. I'll give them each the name of the pudding to make and a recipe for it, which they can either choose to follow or adapt. We need to be able to recognise what pudding it is once it's finished.
  4. Each kitchen must involve all the people (who would like to take part) in the making and baking of the puddings.
  5. At a certain time the puddings are to be brought down to the common room where the judging will take place.
  6. There will be a criteria for how the puddings will be judged - to be revealed later.
  7. I'm mulling over the idea of giving extra points to kitchens if they involve 3 or more international students in the process.

Currently, I am thinking that judges will be the Cryfield Resident Tutors. I haven't discussed it with anybody else yet.

I've also given them some more suggestions to think about:

Everyone who would like to take part contributes 50p and the proceeds go towards their favourite charity (as a block) and covering the costs of the food.

Or - they could choose to cover costs of food amongst their kitchens and make it a social event.

So, I need seven suggestions of british puddings. And if you'd like to be a judge then it can be considered...


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