Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Strawberries

cheesecake-stuffed-chocolate-strawberriesWe’ve been having the most glorious summer weather here in London – this historic city is even more beautiful when the sun is shining and you can appreciate the architecture, gardens and cafe society in the golden glow of the summer sun rather than scurrying along under an umbrella, shoulders hunched, looking at the ground to avoid puddles. There is a wonderful campaign of sorts, called “Look up London” which exhorts us to look up and admire the amazing architecture – I always travel on the top decks of  buses just so that I have a better view of the upper sections of the buildings. In fact, when Jake was just a toddler, we used to spend the bus journeys into the West End, on the upper decks, gargoyle spotting. Such fun!

Last weekend, a friend organised a picnic in a private garden square off Sloane Street in Belgravia – the posh bit of Chelsea. “Simply bring yourself!” he exclaimed, when I asked what I should bring; “I just want you to relax and enjoy yourself.” Now, I have been on his picnics before – it’s all silver cutlery, china plates, crystal glasses, linen napkins, gorgeous throws to sit on and  really beautiful food. This picnic was no different – his “prep area” was an arbour set with wooden block seating where the hampers and bottles of wine where kept cool in the shade. Adjacent to this, in the sunshine and next to a lavender edged flower bed, he had spread out one of his enormous throws, scattered with large Indian carpet cushions. Along with a couple of deck chairs, a white linen covered occasional table set with a vase of flowers, a pile of the Sunday papers and a bronze Blackamoor holding out a box of marshmallows, it was akin to  something out of the Days of the Raj – all that was missing was the punkah-wallah to keep us cool!

cheesecake-stuffed-chocolate-strawberriesAnd the food…poached salmon on watercress with an avocado sauce garnished with lemon, prawns and squid rings; a wild rice salad with orange and red peppers, cashew nuts and dried cranberries: a green bean and tomato salad and finally, a vodka marinated cucumber salad with a dill sauce – all immaculately presented, of course. We also had fabulously ripe cheeses brought along by one of the guests, macaroons, the aforementioned marshmallows and I took these Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Strawberries – because I was not going to be able to turn up empty handed! A really splendid afternoon, catching up with old friends and making some new ones, in these beautiful gardens far removed from the hoi-polloi of “barbaric” Chelsea!

These Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Strawberries are a modern, healthy and portable version of a Strawberry Cheesecake. Hollowed out strawberries are filed with a sweetened vanilla cream cheese then dipped in melted chocolate and coated with biscuit crumbs. I saw a version without the chocolate on Pinterest last year but when I made them I found that the biscuit crumbs got soggy from the strawberries as well as the cream cheese. The chocolate forms a barrier  and a really delicious one at that! Feel free to use semi-sweet or milk chocolate instead of dark if you prefer. I made two punnets for the picnic and one for this post. The strawberries for the picnic were much larger and the ones for this post were quite small – you will have to judge how much cream cheese, chocolate and crumbs you will need, depending on the size and amount of the fruit – the recipe below is what I used for the smaller berries. Remember that they don’t take much cream cheese to fill them. These are best at room temperature but do need to be kept in the fridge for the chocolate to firm up. These are perfect for picnics but they are also lovely as a sweet canapé at a summer party.

cheesecake-stuffed-chocolate-strawberries

cheesecake-stuffed-chocolate-strawberries

cheesecake-stuffed-chocolate-strawberries

cheesecake-stuffed-chocolate-strawberriesI am taking these over to Angie’s for Fiesta Friday #27 – that fabulous weekly party where you will leave completely inspired and blown away by the creativity out there. This week, Angie is ably helped by Aussie power duo,  Saucy @ Saucy Gander and Margot @ Gather and Graze who are in fancy dress – so I’ve come in flapper gear, doing the Charleston and handing out strawberries!

Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Strawberries

INGREDIENTS

  • 400 g punnet of strawberries as even in size as possible
  • 100 g cream cheese
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp sifted icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract. or paste
  • 70 g of dark or semi sweet chocolate
  • 4 – 5 digestive biscuits or graham crackers

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the biscuits in a sandwich bag and crush to fine crumbs with a rolling pin or the bottom of a glass. Place  the crumbs in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Blend the cream cheese with 1 tablespoon of the sifted icing sugar and the vanilla – taste and add more sugar if it’s not sweet enough. Taste your strawberries too – you don’t want an overly sweet stuffing if the berries are very sweet.
  3. Fit a large holed nozzle onto a piping bag and fill the bag with the cream cheese mixture. Or fill a sandwich bag with the cream cheese – you can snip off a small bit of the corner when you are ready to stuff the strawberries. Place the bag in the fridge while you get on with the strawberries.
  4. Rinse the strawberries and set aside any that have mushy spots. You can trim those and save them for smoothies, fruit salads etc.
  5. Using a small paring knife, slice off the strawberry hull or calyx – the leaves.
  6. Then, using the tip of the paring knife, hollow out from the base by twisting the knife around in a conical circle.
  7. Place the strawberries on a paper towel lined tray to drain.
  8. Once they are all hulled and hollowed out, pat the tops of the fruit with another paper towel to dry the surfaces.
  9. Fill the strawberries with the cream cheese, using the piping or sandwich bag to fill the fruit neatly.
  10. Either melt the chocolate (in a small bowl) on a low setting in the microwave for 30 second intervals or in a double boiler set-up (a pan of simmering water with the bowl of chocolate set on top but not touching the water). The chocolate should be just melted.
  11. Using a pickle fork or a toothpick or even your fingers if the strawberries are large enough to hold, dip the ends in the chocolate and then in the crumbs.
  12. Set on a tray and pop into the fridge for the chocolate to firm up.
  13. These are best enjoyed at room temperature so take them out at least half an hour before serving. If transporting for picnic then place in a suitable container, packing an icepack underneath the container.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Black Summer Truffle Pesto Roast Chicken

black-summer-truffle-pesto-roast-chickenA few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend Taste of London’s fabulous food and restaurant event in Regent’s Park. The weather was glorious and the event was well attended but didn’t feel crowded at all. Amongst all the Michelin starred chefs demonstrating on live stages and 5* restaurants selling taster sized portions of  their most loved dishes, were lots of producers, artisans and brands selling their wares. IMK July 2014I blogged about the event in this post  with lots of photos – https://selmastable.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/in-my-kitchen-july-2014/  and promised to post a recipe using the new Black Summer Truffle Pesto which I bought from Sacla who had a stand at the event.

black-summer-truffle-pesto-roast-chickenThe pesto is amazing (if you like truffle) and I urge you to seek it out while it’s available as it may be a limited edition. Simply spread on toasted sourdough and topped with a poached egg, breakfast the next day was a little bit of  food heaven on a plate…

black-summer-truffle-pesto-roast-chickenI love to spatchcock chicken. Spatchcock is the term used to refer to cutting out the backbone which opens out and flattens the bird – it’s so easy to do, really cuts down on cooking time and makes carving very easy too. It also makes it very easy to separate the skin from the flesh so that seasoning,herbs, pastes or lemon slices can be stuffed under the skin, as the skin is no longer stretched taut over the flesh. My poultry shears have seen better days so I normally use my the heel and point of my sharp chef’s knife to cut out  the backbone. Skewering it is great if you are barbecuing and need to flip the chicken over a few times but when roasting in the oven, it is unnecessary. This is a brilliant video showing how to spatchcock a chicken, presented by the lovely Sarah Cook who also ran the Food Styling course I took at Leith’s a few years ago – http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/technique/how-spatchcock-chicken

Do save the backbone by popping it in a bag and into the freezer – it does make a great stock when you add to the other chicken bones you have been saving. You don’t have to get fancy with a simple basic chicken stock for risottos, pastas or casseroles. I always strip any meat from a roast chicken carcass to save for quick suppers, salads and sandwiches. Then, I snap the leg bones and the carcass so that they will fit in a pot later  and put these in a freezer bag together with any roasted carrots, herbs and sticky bits (but not lemons as these make the stock bitter)  and in the freezer if not making stock straight away. Place (frozen) in a large saucepan with a lid, cover with water, bring to a gentle boil and immediately turn down the heat to as low as you can and simmer for 2 hours – one hour if you are pushed for time. Strain and use straightaway or let it cool and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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This is wonderful with some parboiled, crushed and roast new potatoes and a pile of green beans finishing with and a mustardy green salad to mop up the juices on the plate. I apologise for the quality and lack of more photos but it was getting late so the light was low and tummies were rumbling!

Black Summer Truffle Pesto Roast Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Adapted from the Sacla website

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 x 1.5 kg chicken – free-range or organic preferably especially if you are going to make a stock with the bones.
  • ½ jar of Sacla’s Black Summer Truffle Pesto (or whizz together some parmesan cheese, pine nuts and truffle oil into a paste)
  • unpeeled cloves from ½ a garlic bulb
  • Lots of sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 x lemon, cut in half and one half cut into 4 wedges
  • Salt and pepper
  • wine glass full of dry white wine
  • 50 g of finely grated parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Get your roasting tin out. and place a good handful of thyme sprigs on it as a bed for the chicken.
  3. Remove ½ of the pesto from the jar and place it in a small bowl or plate – this will stop any contamination – something that I am a little obsessive about. Divide the paste into quarters to make it easy to use once you get going.
  4. Get a good pinch of sea salt onto a small plate and a good grinding of black pepper too – see note 2 about contamination!
  5. Spatchcock the chicken. Remove from packaging, undo the trussing or string and discard. Turn the chicken over onto it’s breast and cut along either side of the backbone, starting at the Parson’s nose (tail). Flip it over, open it out and with the heel of your hand, press onto the breasts, while you lean into it to give it some weight – this will help to flatten it out.
  6. Flip it onto it’s breast again and using your fingers, spread with ¼ of the truffle pesto. Season with a little salt and pepper and place onto the roasting dish.
  7. Starting at the neck/breast end of the chicken, using your fingers and hands, gently, being careful not to tear the skin, separate and ease the skin away from the flesh  – go all the way to the top of the legs. You will have to get your hands right under the skin – not great if you are squeamish!  Place half the truffle pesto on the flesh, under the skin and spread it as evenly as you can, as far as the  tops of  the legs. I find it easier to do one side of the chicken at a time. Pull and adjust the skin so that it is in place and covering the very top of  chicken  and wipe off any excess paste that is clinging onto your hands onto the chicken skin. Squeeze over the juice from half the lemon. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper.
  8. Now go and thoroughly wash your hands. With hot water and soap and get someone to turn the taps on for you – did I mention I was obsessive about contamination?
  9. Scatter the unpeeled garlic cloves around the chicken. Dribble the cloves and the chicken with a little olive oil. Pour in the wine around the edge of the tin. and place in the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 180C/350F and continue roasting for another 20 minutes.
  10. Remove tin from the oven and turn up the heat to 200C/400F. Using a spatula, spread the remaining truffle pesto onto the skin and sprinkle over the parmesan cheese. Place back in the oven for 10 more minutes. Check to make sure that it is cooked through – no blood running in the section between the leg and the body and remove chicken and garlic to a serving plate, loosely covering with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  11. In the meantime, drain off any oil in the roasting tin leaving behind all the lovely juices. Place tin on the hob/stove top. Bring to a boil then simmer, scraping down the sticky bits from around the sides and bottom of the tin with a wooden spoon. Let this reduce until you have a enough for a little jus or gravy. If you are making green beans, get them on now.
  12. Serve with lemon wedges, parboiled and crushed roasted new potatoes, green beans and a salad. The caramelised garlic just pops out of their skins and is wonderful spread on the potatoes or bits of chicken as you eat.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Lime Ice Cream in a Ginger Snap Crust

 

Lime Ice Cream in a Ginger Snap Crust | Selma's Table

Lime Ice-Cream in a Ginger Snap Crust

Lime Ice-Cream in a Ginger Snap Crust

We’ve been having a scorcher of a summer. Long, hot, sunny days and still, sticky nights punctuated by the odd thunderstorm; made bearable by the reassuring whirr of the electric fan. Not that I am complaining after the utterly miserable summers we have suffered in recent years but I have been making a LOT of ice-cream. Separating eggs, making custards, freezing egg-whites, planning on making meringues… But precisely because it has been so hot, I have been reluctant to switch on the oven and to be perfectly honest, mine is really playing up, which makes me even more reluctant to bake in it. And then I discovered that there is an ingredient which makes a rich tasting ice-cream, which yields easily under a greedy spoon; which does not involve custards, more freezing of egg whites or even churning. This magic ingredient is sweetened condensed milk – that stalwart of the banoffee pie. It is quite incredible and not a little dangerous because with a pot of double cream, a tin of condensed milk and some flavourings, you are only a couple of hours away from a gorgeous frozen nirvana.

Condensed milk (it is usually always sweetened) is essentially milk which has had water removed and sugar added to it. With an incredibly long shelf life, it and was ordered in great quantities as rations for American soldiers fighting the Civil War in the 1860’s. They spread the word on their return home which is when this ingredient was adopted into the mainstream. Now, of course, it is known everywhere; used for making sweet treats as well as for adding to coffee, tea and even stout.

Indeed, my first foray in the kitchen was as a toddler and involved my granny slicing up stale white bread into fingers and laying out separate bowls of condensed milk and coconut flakes in which to dip and roll the slices. Oh! It was sweet, sticky heaven for a child! These, I would place haphazardly on the baking tray and watch with growing anticipation as they turned a toasty brown in the oven, filling the air with the sweet comforting aroma of baking. I was only ever allowed to have two and now find myself wondering what happened to the rest.

Lime Ice-Cream in a Ginger Snap Crust

Lime Ice-Cream in a Ginger Snap Crust

I have tweaked the original recipe quite a lot. I don’t see the point of using 3/4’s of a cup of condensed milk, leaving behind a less than a quarter cup in the tin. What is to be done with such a small amount, since my son is no longer a toddler and would not have the slightest interest in dipping and rolling stale bread. Ditto the double cream. I stand firmly in the camp of Nigella Lawson on this point, who rather sensibly advocates using up ingredients in the measures in which they come – in as much as it is possible of course. We don’t really do graham crackers in the UK – I always use digestives instead but I quite liked the idea of a ginger biscuit base with lime. If I was making this for a dinner party, I would consider the addition of a layer of dark chocolate between the base and the cream, a delicious must.

I have been working on my photo taking skills – hope you can see an improvement! After a little research I have started using the Snapseed App to gussy up the shots! Let me know what you think.

Lime Ice-Cream in a Ginger Snap Crust

Blitzing the biscuits to a fine crumb

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Looking like damp sand after the addition of butter

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Ginger crust ready for the oven

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Grated lime zest

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Lime juice

When buying limes, give them a little squeeze – you want limes which yield a little, not rock hard balls which will have little juice.

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Thickened cream and lime juice mixture

This really is chemistry at work in the kitchen – the addition of lime juice to the condensed milk magically thickening the cream with no need to whip at all.

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Baked ginger crust (burnt edges trimmed)

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Ready for the freezer

Lime Ice-Cream in a Ginger Snap Crust

Lime Ice-Cream in a Ginger Snap Crust

With temperatures set to rise again you may find find yourself very glad to happen upon this the freezer. It is sweet, tart and creamy with a pleasing warmth from the ginger snap biscuit base. I find that the addition of raspberries goes very nicely with a slice.

I am adding this recipe  to the Family Foodies challenge which is “Chill Out” for July hosted by Vanesther @ Bangers and Mash and Lou @ Eat Your Veg.

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I’m also taking this over to Love in the Kitchen Tasty Tuesday for their Summer Ice-cream Social

Lime Ice Cream in a Ginger Snap Crust

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Serious Eats

INGREDIENTS

  • 20 ginger biscuits
  • 4 digestive biscuits or graham crackers
  • 75g butter at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp lime zest which was the zest from 3 limes which were very well washed first.
  • 1/2 cup lime juice – in this case it was the juice of 3 juicy limes
  • 1 can (397g) of sweetened condensed milk
  • 300ml tub of double cream
  • A few raspberries to serve – optional

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 190C/375F
  2. Prepare your tin (a loose bottomed or springform one is best and if it isn’t non-stick then butter and flour it) I use a 9″/23cm loose bottomed non-stick one and like to put a circle of parchement paper on the base to make it really easy to slide onto a serving plate.
  3. Tip the biscuits into a food processor and blitz – you don’t want it to be powdery but neither should it be lumpy. Toss in the softened butter and blitz for a few moments until the mix resembles damp clumpy sand.
  4. Scrape out into the tin and pat the mix gently and evenly up the sides and on the base. Tamp it down gently with the bottom of a glass if you need to but don’t compact it too much. Pop it into the fridge for 15 mins then bake on the middle shelf for 15 minutes. Please check after 10 minutes – there is a lot of sugar in ginger biscuits which burns rather quickly. I found that the edges of the crust had caught but rescued the situation with a little judicious trimming once the shell had cooled. Place in the freezer while you get the filling ready.
  5. Zest the limes. Then put them on your work surface, lean on them a little and roll them back and forth a few times. This really helps to release the juice. Cut in half and juice them. I use a lovely olive wood reamer that I have had for years and no longer remember where I got it from. Pour the condensed milk and the double cream into a mixing bowl and hand whisk to mix the two together. Add the zest and the lime juice and continue mixing – it magically thickens in a couple of minutes.
  6. Dollop it into the cold shell, spreading it out with a spatula.
  7. Freeze for a couple of hours or longer, removing from freezer for 20 mins to 1/2 an hour before you want to eat.
  8. Dip your knife in hot water and slice, serving with raspberries or just as it is.

NOTES

If alcohol is added to the mixture, it lowers the freezing point making for a real soft serve ice-cream. If you don’t want to taste the alcohol, use a tablespoon or two of vodka otherwise use tequila. It will only require 10 minutes or so to soften out of the freezer if alcohol is added.

If you want to change the flavour of the biscuit base, lay the whole biscuits of your choice in a layer on the bottom of a tin and then add 2 or 3 more (depending on how big they are) to allow for the sides, before blitzing.

As a variation, try espresso powder and Tia Maria or cocoa powder and Creme de Cacao (instead of the lime zest and juice) and freeze in an appropriate 500ml container. I have made both and they are absolutely delicious. Either would be nice on a chocolate biscuit base or in a cone. Because of the alcohol this will only need 10 minutes or so, out of the freezer, to soften.

Warning -do not buy more than 2 tins of condensed milk at a time as this is just temptation at its very worst!

Copyright – © Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.