Smoked Rum and Ginger Cheesecake for the Domestic Sluttery Pudding Club

This month’s Domestic Sluttery Pudding Club is all about cheesecake (last month was chocolate and I made Sex Pots), my favourite pudding of all! This cheesecake takes a bit of prep in as much as you will need to get things infusing for few days before you make them but that takes pretty much zero effort and once done you can knock this together in minutes, PLUS you get the most incredible smoked rum to use in cocktails ūüôā

This recipe uses a fresh unpasturised sheep‚Äôs curd made by Homewood Cheese, it’s wonderfully fresh and creamy and therefore perfect for this recipe.¬† If you can‚Äôt get hold of ewe‚Äôs curd however you could use ricotta instead.

 To make the smoked tea rum: (5 days before dessert required)

  • 250ml golden rum
  • 12 strands good quality Lapsang Souchong tea

Simply pop the strands into the rum and leave to infuse for a minimum of 2 days. I‚Äôve said use 250ml rum as it keeps forever and just gets better with time so it’s there for the next time, it’s also amazing in cocktails!

Ingredients:

  • ¬†100ml Smoked Tea Rum
  • 50g sultanas (go for the jumbo ones)
  • 100g stem ginger biscuits
  • 30g unsalted butter (melted)
  • 150ml whipping cream
  • 150g fresh sheep‚Äôs curd
  • 1 jar stem ginger in syrup
  • 1 big sprig fresh rosemary

Crystallised rosemary (optional)

  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 egg white
  • fine white caster sugar

 3 days before you need you dessert:

  1.  Place your sultanas in a cup and pour over the smoked tea rum making sure all the sultanas are covered.  Cover the cup with cling film and leave to infuse for 3 days.  This may seem a long time but after 3 days the sultanas will be so plump that they pop when you bite into them releasing a burst of flavour.
  2. Take a clean sprig of rosemary and push it into the centre of your jar of stem ginger and syrup in order to infuse.

The day before:

  1. Dip the remaining sprigs of rosemary into the egg white, then using a small sieve (a tea strainer is perfect) gently dust the rosemary with the caster sugar, coating evenly but lightly. Lay the sprigs gently on a baking sheet and leave overnight in an airing cupboard in order for it to crystallise.

On the day:

  1.  Crush the stem ginger biscuits and add the melted butter.  Stir to combine then divide the mixture between 4 glasses and push down gently to even off using the back of a spoon. Pop into the fridge to set whilst you make the next layer.
  2. Whip your cream until it will happily stay stuck to a spoon when held upside down. Stir in in the sheep’s curd and make sure it is evenly mixed then stir in the sultanas and rum. Take your glasses out of the fridge and divide the mixture between them carefully pushing the cream down onto the biscuit base to avoid air gaps and leaving room at the top for a layer of rosemary ginger syrup.
  3. Pour over the syrup then top each dessert with a small sprig of rosemary.  The beauty of making these in glasses is that as your spoon travels through the layers you pick up all the flavours, and its a lot less faff than using dessert rings!
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Sweet and Smoky Ribs (but without a BBQ)

For me the whole charm of ribs is the sheer filthiness of them. ¬†Sticky, sweet, meaty morsels conveniently wrapped around a flavour packed bone to gnaw away at. ¬†All hopes of daintiness and decorum are thrown out of the window, pretty eating this ain’t ¬†– ribs are dirty and I love them.

But lets not stop there, ribs are cheap too, these 2 sets cost just £3 from my local Farmers Market.  Yep ribs are cheap and dirty food my friends which is all kinds of right in my book.

The intention had been to BBQ these bad boys, but once confronted with the BBQ still full of rainwater and coals leftover from 2011 this quickly became an indoor operation. ¬†I still wanted a smokiness though so decided to throw some Lapsang Souchong tea leaves into the coffee grinder for a few seconds to blitz them up (big strands of tea aren’t necessarily nice on a rib). ¬†I had some homemade tomato sauce leftover from making the whey pizzas to use as a base so in the smoky tea powder went.

Now for the Southern spices. ¬†I’ve blogged about Laissez Chef before and if you haven’t sought him and his amazing New Orleans Spice Blend out yet then fear not, you can still do it now and buy through his website. ¬†It tastes like nothing else you will find around on the market and is so good you can literally just dip your finger into the beautifully presented box of spices and eat it! For added sweetness and stickiness out came the treacle, oh how I love treacle!

Normally I would just marinade the raw ribs for a couple of hours then put them in a roasting tin, cover with tin foil and slow roast but I found that I had rather inconveniently ran out of tin foil (I will never learn) so used this method instead.

Ingredients:

  • Pork ribs
  • Poaching liquor (same as the fried chicken wings)
  • homemade tomato pizza sauce (you could use ketchup jazzed up with some tomato puree, garlic and onion powders and celery salt though for a shortcut)
  • 2 tsp blitzed Lapsang Souchong (must be a good quality really smoky one)
  • 1 tblsp Laissez Chef spice blend
  • 1 big heaped tblsp treacle

Throw your ribs into a pot of simmering liquor until just cooked through then remove, pat dry then coat in your marinade and leave for a couple of hours (you could cook them straight away but its nicer if they have had time to soak up all the lovely marinade).

Ribs marinading away

When you are ready just put them in a roasting tin, pour over any excess marinade and roast on high for about 20 minutes or until they are nice and caramelised on the outside.

sweet, smoky pork ribs

They turned out to be my favourite homemade ribs to date. They kicked serious meat filth ass and they will be without a doubt making many more appearances over the summer, and if I get my ass into gear and clean out the BBQ then I reckon they will be even better!

All kinds of filthy goodness

24 hour slow roast wild boar and flatbreads

Every Sunday I head to the market across the road to pick up my meat and veg for the week. ¬†I never know exactly what meat my man is going to have that day, it all depends what has been shot, slaughtered or finished hanging that week. All his meat is free range and fantastic. ¬†Guinea fowl, roosters, rabbits, muntjac and wild boar are often available, his wild boar bacon is really good and his mutton is always hung for 3 weeks so it’s tender enough to cook pink. ¬†Last November we were chatting away about his Southdown mutton that he had coming up when his mother mentioned that he should show me what he had in the chiller. ¬†“Its a bit hairy”, he said as we went out back, “people are funny about the hair so I can’t sell it like this and I haven’t had time to prep it.” ¬†I still wasn’t sure what I was about to be shown as he opened up the chiller box and for a split second as he opened the lid I thought he was trying to sell me half a dead dog! ¬†Luckily it was a 2 year old wild boar. ¬†Having told me a bit about her, yes her (not so important for the front end but apparently the males tend to wee all over their stomachs which over their 2 year life time affects the belly meat) I was instantly sold on the hunk of meat, handed over my tenner and went off in search of a heat gun to de-hair her.

The wild boar as I bought her and after I had removed the tough hair

Once I got home I immediately set about prepping the wild boar removing the tough bristly hair with a heat gun and a stiff brush.  It took a good half hour to do in the garden and it smelt really good! I was really happy with my huge hunk of meat and popped the above photos on my Facebook page.

*skip to next paragraph to avoid a bit of a brief rant

There were a great deal of people who instantly wanted an invite for dinner but I was really surprised that a couple of people found it really offensive, so much to the point that they complained to Facebook and had the pictures removed. ¬†I still don’t know who this was and I really hope they have not only “unfriended” themselves but that they also spend every spare minute of their time covering butcher’s windows with paint and covering up all the supermarket meat shelves with white sheets if the sight off meat offends them so greatly. But they probably eat meat and just don’t like to associate the meat they stuff in their faces with animals. Yes I know, I’m ranting. Rant over.

Anyway, once fully prepped it went into the freezer ready to make a grand future appearance.

24 hour roast wild boar

Once the boar was thoroughly defrosted I made a marinade:

Good couple of pinches of smoked tea to get that deep smoky flavour

2 heaped dessert spoons Spice Ways Heavenly Herbs (wonderful blend of of herbs and spices including coriander and rose petals that I discovered whilst in Bath)

glug of oil to mix.

The marinade ingredients were all mixed and rubbed into the flesh and skin of the boar.  Wild boar skin is very tough and is not eaten but I wanted all the flavours of the smoky tea, herbs and spices to infuse the meat and then the juices reduced at the end for an intense sauce.  The meat was put into a large roasting tin, covered in tin foil and placed in an oven set to 130C for 20hours.  During this time the meat was gently turned and basted a few times.  For the last 4 hours the foil was removed and a huge amount of juices and marinade poured off into a jug.  The skin was now able to crisp up a bit like a protective coat.  Once the juices had separated the very top layer of fat was removed and the remaining liquid reduced gently in a pan until it reached a thick sauce consistency and it packed a real punch in the flavour department. This was the most amazing sauce!

The skin is simply peeled back to reveal the most incredibly moist meat that just melts in your mouth.  Easiest way to serve is simply to stick 2 forks on the table and let everyone dig in.  I made flatbreads and smoky turtle beans to go with it and served it with homemade cucumber, onion and mustard pickle, coleslaw and some very hot pickled red chillies.

Flatbreads

This recipe was just made up on the spot and worked really well.  The sourdough starter is used a a seasoning as I love the flavour.

500g white flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp Halen M√īn salt flakes

2 dessert spoons sourdough starter

2 dessert spoons oil

About a mug of warm water

2 good pinches each of black onion seeds, white sesame seeds and fennel seeds

Just combine all into a dough and knead for about 5-10mins until nice and smooth and elastic. Leave for 5 mins whilst you heat a flat bottomed large griddle or frying pan until really hot.  Divide your dough into about 8 pieces then using a rolling pin (or I just use my hands to stretch and shape)  roll each one out flat until nice and thin whilst making sure it will fit happily into your pan.  One by one cook the breads, they will bubble up and colour very quickly, so keep an eye on them and turn only once.

Smoky Turtle Beans

This is a great recipe and always proves to be a winner.

1 pack dried turtle beans that have been soaked overnight and rinsed.

2 large onions thinly sliced

1 tin tomatoes

1 dessert spoon New Orleans Spice Blend from Laissez-Fare (hunt this out its really fantastic!)

2 tsp brown sugar

few grinds black pepper

1cup vegetable stock (or more to cover the beans if required)

2 tsp smoked tea.

glug of oil

Very gently fry the onion in a glug of oil until it starts to caramelise then add the New Orleans Spice Blend and brown sugar and stir gently for a few minutes.  Then tip the onion mix into a slow cooker and deglaze the pan with the chicken stock and pour this into the slow cooker too.  Add your turtle beans, tinned tomatoes, black pepper and smoked tea, make sure the beans are all covered by liquid, top up with more stock if needed and then cook on high for about 6 hours or until the beans are soft.  I usually thicken the mix slightly by removing the slow cooker lid and letting it cook uncovered for the last 30mins. Taste and add salt and pepper if required.

This is the basic veggie recipe, I also do a meaty one by adding sliced chorizo and using chicken stock and sometimes add carrot, celery, cocoa, cumin and paprika depending on my mood. ¬†It’s really versatile and like everything I make it’s pretty hard to screw it up.

To serve I just placed the boar on a large serving platter, pulled back the skin and let people dig in and add whatever dips and condiments they wanted in order to make the most amazing wild boar kebabs ever!

Pulled boar kebabs, amazing!

Whats in store for 2012?

So its that time again when we are bombarded with food trend predictions for the coming year – so here are mine. Some predictions, some wishful thinking but ones that are relevant to my life.

1 Cupcake Fatigue

I don’t know about you but I am sick to death of seeing cupcakes everywhere. What Bridget Jones did for Chardonnay a decade ago the onslaught of TV baking programmes have done for the cupcake. ¬†Even the lovely Edd Kimber the 2010 Great British Bake Off winner who dislikes cupcakes “reluctantly” included 2 recipes for them in his book The Boy who Bakes. ¬†At this years Leicester Winter Food and Drink Festival there were stall after stall of women making cupcakes that looked pretty much exactly like the next, and the next, and the next. ¬†While I love the fact that people are taking the bowl by the horns and setting up food businesses from home, it did make me feel sad that they were all basically cookie cutter copies of each other: Bunting: check. Cutesy name: check. Vintage looking tableware bought from Argos: check. Disappointment that everyone else has also made that Lemon & Poppyseed cupcake: check. And like the ABC backlash (Anything But Chardonnay) that soon followed the Bridget Jones booze boom, I am keeping my fingers crossed for Anything But Cupcakes.

2: Own a Pig Schemes

Where last year was definitely the year of the home chicken keeper I think this coming year will see a rise in more people opting for this method of meat purchase. ¬†If you haven’t heard of these schemes the basic gist is you pay a pig farmer for a piglet that the farmer then takes complete care of. ¬†The pig will be a traditional, slow growing breed that you can go and visit and feed and then when it is ready (about 6-7 months) the pig is slaughtered and butchered to however you fancy and you know that you are eating meat that has lived a happy life and will taste all the better for it. Neighbours can club together for one, pubs, community groups or you can just keep all the meat for yourselves! Personally I think if you are planning on getting married this summer and want a hog roast then this is definitely the way to go!

A few Own a Pig schemes: HerePigPig, Samphire Shop, Chater Valley, Emmas Pigs, Chalk Newton. There are several dotted about the country so just google it and find one near you.

3: Chocolate

Where 2011 was the year of the salted caramel chocolate, I’m hoping 2012 will see many more experimental chocolatiers such as the wonderful Paul A Young and Boutique Aromatique appear and hopefully¬†the high street start to catch on so more people start trying new flavour combinations. ¬†People at home will start experimenting with making chocolates using flowers and herbs from their gardens and raiding their spice jars. Well, I will be anyway. If you are up for experimenting I have it on good authority that Global Harvest’s wild Fennel pollen is incredible in a chocolate truffle!

4: Kombucha

2011 was a big year for sourdough and now homes all over the country have a jar of sourdough starter (most likely named) in their fridges. ¬†Well, for me at least, my new starter is going to be a Kombucha tea. ¬†While it may look like an alien creature has been captured and preserved in formaldehyde it is actually really easy to make and keep alive once you have got your hands on a starter culture. ¬†I first came across Kombucha tea 17 years ago on the window sill of the most wonderful hippy lady and I was completely engrossed in this brown living entity inside the tea filled jar. ¬†She said I could have one of its “babies” if I wanted but seeing as at the time I was living in the woods in the Forest of Dean with lots of other hippies it seemed somewhat impractical! These days I have a cottage complete with a kitchen so theres no excuse but to give it a go.

5.¬†Sheep’s Curd Cheese

This year I discovered Homewood fresh Sheeps curd and it was a revelation. It is just the most wonderful lemony, soft, creamy cheese that has that beautiful sweet sheep’s milk taste. Perfect for deserts and the cheese board alike this is a definite winner. ¬†Soft fresh sheep’s cheese is really hard to come by in the UK as it has such a short shelf life. ¬†I picked mine up from Neston Park Farm Shop just outside of Bath but Abel and Cole also deliver it and Tim can be found at Bath’s Farmers Market. I really hope this style of cheese becomes much more popular in 2012 so that it becomes much more widely available!

6. Better Farmer’s Markets

Earlier this year I contacted the organiser of a Farmers Market about having a stall. ¬†I was met with the response: “sorry, we already have a stall selling those”. I was stunned. I receive emails from this Market that travels around our area that always ask for street performers to turn up in order to make the market more vibrant. ¬†Its the stalls themselves that should be the vibrant element! Only allowing one artisan bread stall, one organic veg, one chutneys and jams, one cake etc is why the market looks so small and depressing. ¬†Farmers markets in this country can be incredibly limited whereas if you wander around a Farmers Market in somewhere like France or Spain you find a buzzing cornucopia of stalls to excite your senses and tickle your fancy. ¬†Times are hard for our small producers and they need all the support that we can give. You may be lucky enough to have a fantastic, vibrant Farmer’s Market that offers the shopper plenty of choice but if you don’t, perhaps ask the Market Manager why.

7. Slow Cookers

Our purse strings are tighter therefore our cuts of meat are tending to be cheaper. My kitchen has always been a lovely safe haven for underrated cuts of meat to take pride of place on the plate, but thanks to TV chefs popularising these cuts they are now (rather annoyingly for those who have always loved them) becoming more expensive! The muscles that work the hardest taste the best in my book but as a result of all that hard work they tend to need a long, gentle cook. Our time, however, is becoming more heavily demanded upon and with energy prices rocketing the Slow Cooker is the perfect solution. Oxtail stews, Beef cheek casseroles, Mutton curries, Partridge tagines, poached Ox tongue, my slow cooker revels in them all!

8. A fresh look at Ale

Ale is traditionally seen as the domain of men but according to Sara Barton, founder of Brewsters Brewery, brewers up until around 1600 were predominantly female and were called Brewsters. This year I discovered the deliciously floral Brewsters Pale Ale made down the road in Grantham by Brewsters founder Sara. This was another joyful taste discovery of 2011 and has become a firm favourite of mine. ¬†I like my ales golden, floral and light and this was just perfect. ¬†Also this year we made several trips to Burrough on the Hill to the Parish Brewery to stock up on Trudy’s Tipple, a beautiful Elderflower Ale brewed right next door to their pub Grants Free House. ¬†Morrisons has been experimenting this Christmas with small batch releases of more unusual ales. Their Chestnut Ale one sold out almost immediately and they are currently selling a Chocolate and Vanilla Stout which I didn’t expect to like but actually really enjoyed. ¬†There is a slight shift happening in the world of ales and more and more women are getting back into the craft including Claire Monk, head brewer at another local Brewery The Welbeck Abbey Brewery. ¬†There will always be the traditional brews out there but its fantastic to see some fresh flavours coming through for palates like mine.¬†

9. Sweet Chestnut Honey, Dukkah, Lapsang Souchong

Ok so these are just ingredients that I really hope become more popular in 2012! ¬†I am a huge fan of Sweet Chestnut Honey and use it in stews, deserts, drizzles, dressings you name it. ¬†Its a powerful flavour so use sparingly. ¬†I’m particularly fond of it on toast with a thin layer of Marmite but hey, thats just me. ¬†Dukkah is another underrated kitchen staple. ¬†Its ridiculously easy to make and roasted new potatoes or bread dipped into your favourite oil then into a crunchy Dukkah dip can’t be beaten. ¬†I love making my own and throw plenty of nuts and seeds into the grinder with the spices. If you can’t be bothered to make your own then check out Gourmet Spice Co for some ready made pots of their Pukka Dukkah. I have also been having a bit of a love affair with smoked tea. ¬†Lapsang Souchong is a Chinese black tea that has been smoke-dried over pinewood therefore giving it an intense deep smokiness that is just wonderful in cooking. ¬†A few strands make a world of difference to stews, spirits, deserts etc. ¬†It really is worth spending the money on a good quality tea with thick strands. ¬†A little goes a long way and stored in an airtight jar it lasts ages.

10 A few things I’d like to see the back of in 2012

Anything thats referred to as “deconstructed” on a menu. Keep the dish ¬†but lose the name.

Restaurants pretending to love local, seasonal food but actually sneakily buying the vast majority in from abroad (a whole separate blog post coming soon, grrr).

Cupcake craziness (also Cakepops…why?).

People making restaurant reservations and then not bothering to turn up – wishful thinking to see the back of this one but Australian restaurants are making a Twitter stand against it by naming and shaming the offenders.

Sliders. I want my burger to be roughly half the size of my face thanks.  Keep mini-food to the canapé tray please.

Restaurants putting things on the plate that you can’t eat just for decoration.

So thats my 2 pennies worth of musings for 2012. I also think Dorset and Norfolk are going to be the really important food destinations outside of London in 2012 and people are going to be getting really heavily into home charcuterie. If you fancy trying your hand at it well I can’t recommend anyone better than Marc Frederic and his book ¬†Le Charcutier Anglais. Overall I think its going to be an exciting year for food and drink. ¬†Happy New Year! x

Smoked Tea

I am currently having an all consuming love affair with Lapsang Souchong tea.  Lapsang tea is smoked over pinewood fires to give it an incredibly beautiful deep smoky flavour. The quality of tea varies massively and it really is worth spending a few quid on an excellent tea as you use it so sparingly it will last for ages. I can highly recommend St Martins Coffee in Leicester for their great tea, also Dragon Fly do a really beautiful organic tea that is worth the extra couple of quid. I have been experimenting with various smoked tea infusions for about 4 weeks now.  One of my favourite quick infusions is to pop a bit of your favourite full bodied red wine into a cup and add a few long strands of tea. Let it infuse for about 30 mins then pour about a tablespoon of the smoky infused wine into a full glass.  I like my red wines deep and full and the addition of a touch of smoke is perfect for a night in front of the fire and  its also a really nice addition to your bonfire night mulled wine.

Rum and smoked tea work really well together.  Just get a bottle of your favourite dark/golden rum and add a few strands to the bottle. I made fantastic Bonfire Night Smokey Spiced Apple Daiquiris a couple of weeks ago Рbloody lovely! If you are making a smoked fish kedgeree pop a few strands in the poaching milk, it really does add a new lift to the dish.

I’m currently working on a recipe for a Sheep’s Cheesecake. The sultanas have been swelling in the smoked tea rum for 2 days now and are so plump they pop when you bite them. ¬†Should be ready tomorrow to assemble.