Thursday, March 22, 2012

Key Lime Cheesecake - A mother's day present and her review

Mother's day gift's are a difficult decision for anyone. My mum has lots of interests to choose from but the question is always whether to go with a significant present that is specific to her or something more cliche like chocolates or flowers. It seems like an obvious choice - go for something thoughtful for her but then there is something nice about flowers at the start of spring and cliche are cliches for a reason right?! This year we decided to go for a combo flowers and something she might specifically enjoy. I couldn't actually go to my parents house for dinner that day but as a part of the present I decided to provide desert. I love the concept of Key-Lime pie but in fact I have never ever eaten it so I can't be 100% sure that this tastes similar enough but I am hoping. I really focused on the citrus zing and contrasting that with sweetness. I tried to make the most of the zest oils in this recipe. My mum was delighted with the present and the cheesecake and when she rang me yesterday her review was 'It's delicious, maybe a little too delicious, it tastes very naughty!'

Key - Lime Cheesecake

250g Reduced fat Digestive Biscuit crumbs
75g   Melted Butter
Zest of one lemon

Cheese Layer
600g Cream Cheese
3 egg whites & 2 egg yolks beaten together
90 g Stevia/ Sugar
Zest and Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp Green Food colouring (optional)

Preheat your oven to 190/375/Gas mark 5. Mix the biscuit crumbs and lemon zest for 2-3 minutes. (the idea is to distribute the zest and the oils as much as possible through the base). Add the melted butter and mix thoroughly. Line the base of a spring-form cake tin and press the biscuit mixture down firmly. Let it rest in the fridge while you mix the cheese layer.

In a stand mixer or using a beater whip up the cream cheese. Add the zest, juice and colouring then beat thoroughly. Add the eggs and sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture on top of the base and place the cake tin inside a larger baking tin and bake for 50 minutes or until the outside is firm with only a little movement in the center. Remove from the over and leave in the larger cake tin until cool. Once cool place in a fridge until fully cold. Place some lime slices on the top for decoration and serve.

I also made individual heart-shaped cheese cakes for some other people's mothers.

The fluffy yet creamy cheesecake that is almost 'too delicious'

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Misfits Review after a personal encounter with Nathan

If you know me at all, you know that last night I met Robert Sheehan in the shops. How do you know this? Well possible because I texted or rang everyone I could think of that likes misfits, then updated my facebook status and would have tweeted if I could remember my password in work. Inspired by this my Wednesday post is a review of the show Misfits.

Misfits is a British science fiction drama comedy produced by E4. It follows the antics of 5 juvenile ex-cons doing community service together when they get hit by lightning. This lightning occurs during an unusual storm and the lightning gives the whole group and their probation officer super-powers that are very specific to their personality types (e.g. Nathan Stewart-Jarrett plays an ex-running star who lost out on his dreams when he is caught using drugs but after the storm he has the power to turn back time). The fun begins straight away as it appears that the probation worker was turned into some evil monster and thus starts a running joke of killing probation officers, which to someone in my industry is not funny, but in this context it is so outrageous that it is.

The main characters are Simon (Iwan Rheon), Kelly (Lauren Socha), Alisha (Antonia Thomas), Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) and Nathan (Robert Sheehan). These five are joined in seasons 2 and 3 by  Nikki (Ruth Negga), Seth (Mathew McNulty) and Rudy (Joseph Gilgun). Well one of the five is replaced and unfortunately it is not an all. The acting is very strong and considering some of the other shows produced by E4 (not naming names but I may have reviewed a certain season of a certain show very negatively before). No spoilers but there is one point in season 2 where the same actor plays two different versions of himself and I was blown away. I genuinely thought that one version had a better body than the other, entirely based on his depiction of confidence levels.

Overall Misfits is one of the most interest exploration of the phrase 'With great power comes great responsibility.' Here we are presented with complex characters with a variety of histories and problems who are now faced with powers greater than they could have previously dreamed of. The classic image of a superhero frequently entails someone who has faced hard-times but who perseveres with a unyielding set of morals that guides their treatment of this power, an underlying passion to conquer evil and fight for the greater good. Now we are presented with a set of characters who are inherently capable of bad choices and have all done things that have landed them in trouble.

I'm not saying that all superhero stories are completely two dimensional or that this show presents only multidimensional villains that challenge our notions of right and wrong. The lines are drawn throughout the show and the basic decider of who's good and who's evil appears to be based on the underlying reasons for people's decisions. This creates an interesting universe where the lines of good and evil aren't always straight and our heroes aren't always understood for what they are but eventually good can prevail and it frequently does.

Needless to say I would recommend this show to anyone and I am counting the days til season 4.
Although I don't like the idea of more new cast members but that's life ;)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sick days and Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard Review

Today I'm posting later than planned. I had intended to give a delicious batch of health banana walnut muffins but they will have to wait as I have been out sick from life, so instead of making muffins yesterday I just slept. Today I spent the day on the couch catching up on tv shows on 4od. In particular I watched every episode (so far) of Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard. The only difficult question was whether or not to review it.
It would seem like an obvious choice to review a show about baking on a blog about baking, but what if you offended someone. Obviously the likelihood of anyone involved with the show seeing this is slim to non but it's important to remember that what you post online stays there indefinitely. Having said that I measured my thoughts and decided that I felt my comments were fair and not intended to insult but merely challenge.
The series follows the life of professional pastry chef Eric Lanlard as he bakes, makes displays of pastries for a variety of clients and works with amatuer bakers to teach themhow to improve their baking.
Firstly it goes without saying that Eric Lanlard is an unbelievably talented patissier. He also appears to a genuinely lovely guy. His approach to teaching and judging other people's work appears to be serious but at a reachable level for everyday bakers. I have to say that even though he was baking complicated recipes I felt that just watching it I could apply his techniques at home and I definitely learned a few little tricks that I will apply in other recipes. I thoroughly enjoy the typically french way that he brings elegance to all his recipes and adds flare to even the simplest cupcake or tart. There is no question that his recipes are decadent but he makes delicious looking healthy muffins as well.

However as a television show I feel that Baking Mad lacks focus. One might say that the hint is there in the title but I feel that the editors over in chanel 4 have a lot to answer for. These are experienced television producers we are talking about but the programme feels like something designed for the ADHD generation. There is far too much going on, in one show alone he will make two different recipes at different times then be talking about making cakes for an art exhibition and we're meeting three budding bakers from Kent and learning their life-stories and then we're back to the art show-house and then we're watching the budding bakers getting shown how to make pastry and all in all it just lacks focus.  In the second series they changed the format even further and have Eric judging some kind of one episode great british bake off kinda thing. It's just too muddled.
I have said before that I am a big fan of the food network and as such I could easily see Eric Lanlard host several different shows; one where we follow the projects and day to day dealings in his bakeries, one traditional baking show and another where he judges contestants and teaches them in a masterclass set up. This has been done with many a chef on the food network and has worked well in my humble opinion. Baking Mad, however, is trying to mash all these shows together and the result is like eating in an overly modern sophisticated restaurant when you are hungry; you're getting a teaspoon of each section when you could easily have a plateful and it leaves you feeling thoroughly unsatisfied.
Having said this I did watch every episode and I enjoyed them for the baking, not the format. So I would recommend that anyone have a look at this show (it's free on 4od) and if by any chance the producers happen to come upon this little blog please re-think the way the show is put together. On a happier not look what Eric Lanlard's inspiration did for my Ooey Gooey Stick Chewy.

Ooey Gooey Sticky Chewy (or Rocky Road Bars to everyone else)

Honeymoon first Stops: Boston and Las Vegas

We left London on A Saturday afternoon and flew to Boston, arriving in at 7.30pm Boston time. We somewhat regretted flying from London when ...