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Saturday, 10 December 2016

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

It's about this time of year that I start planning the menu for Christmas. We have Christmas Day at home and it's my job to create a tasty Christmas dinner for 6, one being a vegan and another a vegetarian. Then on Boxing Day we have dinner with my parents - my mum cooking the main meal but me providing the dessert.

Last weekend I tried out a recipe for a nut roast as the possible vegetarian/vegan option on the big day. Glad I did as it didn't go down well and it would have been a shame if that had happened on Christmas Day. This week I have started trialing ideas for the Boxing Day dessert. There are definitely less complaints about this type of practicing. My chocolate orange cheesecake went down particularly well and is a possible contender so I thought I would share it.

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake (makes 12 slim portions)

For the base
150g plain digestive biscuits
1 tablespoon good quality cocoa powder
75g butter, melted

For the cake
200g dark chocolate
Zest and juice of 1 orange
30g butter
250g cream cheese
90ml whipping cream
25g icing sugar

For the drizzle
Juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1 heaped teaspoon cornflour

Plus 13 Terry's Chocolate Orange Minis pieces

Grease a 20 cm circular tin or dish. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until reduced to crumbs. Stir in the cocoa and melted butter then press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the tin. Put in the fridge to chill. Next, melt the dark chocolate and butter in a small bowl over a pan of hot water. Stir in the orange zest and juice then set aside to cool a little. In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, whipping cream and icing sugar until completely smooth. Add the chocolate mixture and stir thoroughly until well mixed. Dollop this mixture on top of the biscuit base and even out to fill the dish. Place in the fridge to chill. Put the orange juice, icing sugar and cornflour into a small saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Heat gently, stirring all the time until it begins to bubble. It should now thicken and turn translucent. Remove from the heat. Whilst still warm, drizzle the orange mixture over the top of the cheesecake in whatever pattern you like. Return to the fridge to chill for a few hours to set. When ready to serve, mark out the 12 portions and place a Chocolate Orange Mini on each portion.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Vegetarian alternative to Pulled Pork

In the continuing adventures of feeding my emerging vegetarian vegetable dishes that she wants to eat, I decided to buy some taco shells. This was a half thought out plan, knowing that she enjoyed a taco meal a few months back but not really knowing what vegetarian alternative she might like to fill her taco with these days. Not that vegetarian tacos haven't been invented, of course! The problems are 1) we don't particularly like spicy Mexican food, and 2) she doesn't like any form of beans. So definitely not time for a chilli bean filling.

Realising I had a problem and no obvious solution, I turned to my vegetarian friends on Facebook for suggestions. Roasted vegetables and cheese both sounded like good ideas. Then Aida from The Good Times Cafe sent me a link to a recipe that was both Mexican spicy and contained beans. She did suggest I could leave out the beans so I went and had a look and was inspired. Carrots, sweet potato and potatoes are things my daughter will eat and I could see a dish emerging in my head.  The last time we had tacos we enjoyed them with pulled pork and salad and this recipe looked like it could be made into a vegetarian pulled pork substitute. What's more, my friend Turan from Coldsmoking Cookery School had given me a pack of "Pulled Pork Seasoning" a few weeks ago so I merely had to sprinkle this on for authentic flavours.

There isn't a precise recipe for this as I was making it up as I went along and didn't weigh anything but it went something like this: a small carrot grated, a small potato grated, a chunk of sweet potato grated, one spring onion, chopped into fine lengths. Fry the grated vegetables in a little oil for 15 or so minutes until it is golden, adding the spring onion about 5 minutes before the end so not to overcook it. Season with salt and pepper and a good sprinkling of Pulled Pork Seasoning (or it's component spices). Serve as is or mix in some hoi sin sauce too for a sticky texture.

I have found over the years that fussy eaters eat more when the food is presented buffet style with lots of different dishes on the table they can help themselves too. There is something about choosing to put something onto your plate that makes you much more likely to eat it than having a complete plate of food put in front of you. As such, this meal consisted of bowls of salad vegetables, grilled halloumi cheese, a dish of roasted vegetables, a mushroom/onion combo, pulled pork made from actual pork (leftovers courtesy of my mate Mr Fitz) and veggie pulled pork. I dished the potato wedges straight onto the plate to stop them going soggy and to prevent arguments about who had most.

Eventually my daughter stopped eating, declaring herself full, having eaten 3 tacos loaded with her veggie pulled pork, halloumi and salad as well as some of her wedges. Chalking up another small victory, I was happy enough to eat up the few leftovers for my lunch the next day. It was an odd combination of wedges, pulled pork and the veggie pulled pork, which made a tasty accompaniment in my view and altogether a very tasty lunch, and side by side the two types of "pulled pork" looked fairly convincing.