Welcome to my Blogger page, thank you for visiting. This is where I will share my reviews of books, movies and other things I enjoy. If you would like to see my ramblings, fanfiction and other general posts, please visit my Livejournal: beren_writes. Visit my pages to learn about me and my books.
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Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Recipe - White Chocolate, Mascarpone and Puffed Wheat Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Ganache


White Chocolate, Mascarpone and Puffed Wheat Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

This is most definitely not a recipe for every day, it is delicious and very decadent! It is something of an amalgam of recipes because I went to a birthday party the other day and they had this wonderful birthday cheesecake. I asked about the recipe, as you do, but didn't get all the details, hence I used what I had gathered and looked at other recipes. I have reduced the amount of ganache in this recipe to that which I used when I made it, because there was a little too much of it.

This makes a cheesecake that will easily serve 12-15 people - it served 5 of us and we only got through a third.

Equipment


  • 1 heat proof bowl
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • grease proof paper
  • 10.5'' / 27cm spring form tin (you could use a slightly smaller one, just make sure it's a deep one)
  • 1 shallow dish
  • 1 medium saucepan
  • spatulas and spoons

Ingredients

For the cheesecake
  • 280g / 1 1/4 cup / 10oz cream cheese
  • 250g / 1 1/8 cup / 9oz mascarpone
  • 300ml / 1 1/4 cup double (heavy) cream
  • 2x150g (10.6oz) white chocolate
  • 200g / 7oz rich tea fingers (closes US equiv is probably graham crackers)
  • 50g / 1.8oz puffed wheat
  • drizzle of honey
For the ganache
  • 200ml / 1 cup double (heavy) cream
  • 200g / 7oz dark chocolate
Anything you like to decorate.

Instructions

  1. Line the base of the spring form tin with the grease proof paper.
  2. Lay the biscuit fingers flat in the base of the tin, covering as much of it as possible. (Breaking the biscuits into bits can be used to fill in large holes).
  3. Lay the puffed wheat in the base of the shallow bowl and drizzle with honey. Then stir to coat. (You can use Honey Monster Puffs that are pre-coated, but the plain ones were much cheaper, hence this work around :)).
  4. Melt the chocolate in the heat proof bowl. (I microwave it on full for 30s at a time, but you can also gently heat it above a saucepan of hot water as well). Leave to cool.
  5. Whip the cream until it is beginning to thicken.
  6. Add the cream cheese and the mascarpone and whisk again until it begins to hold its shape (not too much or you will end up with cottage cheese).
  7. Pour in the white chocolate and mix vigorously with a spatula. (It might look grainy for a few moments, but don't worry, it is supposed to become much stiffer).
  8. Add the puffed wheat and mix through.
  9. Carefully add the cheesecake mixture over the layer of rich tea biscuits, smoothing out to the sides.
  10. Add another layer of rich tea biscuits on top and refrigerate.
  11. To make the ganache, break the chocolate into a heat proof bowl.
  12. Put the 200ml of cream into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil gently for 1 min watching carefully to make sure it does not bubble over.
  13. Pour the cream over the chocolate and mix to melt it all together to make a lovely shiny fluid.
  14. Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and pour over the ganache.
  15. Decorate as required and return to the fridge until needed.
The puffed wheat give this cheesecake the most wonderful texture. It was described to me like Kinder Chocolate with cereals, but I've never had one of those so I can't compare :). All I know was it was yummy.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Recipe - Delicious & Fun Lasagna Pockets


Delicious & Fun Lasagna Pockets

This recipe is based off a Twisted recipe and they have a great video to show how the pockets go together, but I changed the underlying recipe somewhat, so this is my version. I made this yesterday and my husband ate three of them, so I'm counting them as a win. They would be great for a dinner party or a lot of fun for children because there is always something more fun about having our own individual little parcel than just a chunk of a whole.

However, do not fool yourself, these are not easier than throwing together a big lasagna, in fact they are more of a faff :D.

Bechamel White Sauce

Buying the white sauce in a jar or box is fine, but I totally forgot it, so in case you are in the same situation, here's how to make it.


Ingredients

  • 60g (1/4 cup) butter
  • 60g (1/2 cup) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 600ml (2 1/2 cups) milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)

Equipment

  • 1 sauce pan
  • 1 measuring jug/cup measures
  • 1 small whisk
  • 1 small bowl (to measure the flour into)
  • Sieve

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in the pan over a medium heat.
  2. Add the flour and whisk in to form a thick paste.
  3. Add a small amount of the milk and stir until smooth. Repeat this until all the milk is mixed in.
  4. Add the salt and pepper and bay leaf and cook gently, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens (about 7-8 mins).
  5. Sieve (I did this to get rid of the bay leaf, which had lost a few little bits into the mixture) into the measuring jug previously used for the milk and leave to cool.

Lasagna Pockets

First a word about the lasagna sheets, unfortunately not all lasagna sheets are made equal. I don't know what size your average lasagna noodle is in the US, but in the UK, most of the dried, boxed ones I've seen are simply not long enough. I used fresh lasagna sheets from Morrisons which are much bigger, and when split down the centre are perfect for one pocket.

This recipe would work fine in variations for meat eaters or vegetarians, but not vegans, sorry.

The original ingredients were supposed to make four, but with the extra I threw in, it will make at least five (I didn't have room on the baking tray so just made a small lasagna in a take away box which is now in the freezer :)).


Ingredients

  • 500g mince [beef, turkey, soya, quorn etc]
  • 2 small or 1 large carrot
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red pepper [capsicum] (I use roasted, out of a jar because I hate pepper skin)
  • 1 small courgette (zucchini)
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced (I use squeezy garlic from a tube :))
  • pinch of salt (smoked salt gives great flavour)
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 tsp chili paste/flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 stock cube [beef or vegetable]
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) sweet sherry
  • splosh of seasoning sauce [Worcestershire or soy sauce]
  • 350ml (1 1/2 cup) passata
  • 350ml (1 1/2 cup) bechamel sauce
  • 250g (1 1/2 cup) grated mozzarella (I used a mozzarella/cheddar mix because I prefer more cheese flavour)
  • 25g (1/4 cup) grated hard Italian cheese [Parmesan or vegetarian equiv]
  • 4 large flat lasagna sheets split length ways to make 8, or 8 individual long ones
  • 2 tsp oil for frying or spray oil
  • fresh basil (optional)

Equipment

  • sharp knife
  • chopping board
  • large frying pan/skillet
  • large flat spatula
  • baking tray (lined with grease proof paper/baking parchment)
  • various bowls and spoons

Instructions

  1. Finely dice the onion, carrot and red pepper.
  2. Cut the courgette in half and slice it into thin strips lengthwise.
  3. Heat 1 tsp of oil in the frying pan and add the mince, tossing it in the oil until coated.
  4. Crumble in the stock cube and cook until the mince is browned.
  5. Remove into a bowl and drain off excess juices.
  6. Put the pan back on the heat and place the strips of courgette all across the bottom of it.
  7. Cook until tender and colouring, turning once in the middle of cooking.
  8. Place flat on a plate and leave for later.
  9. Add the other tsp of oil to the pan and place on a low heat. Add the chopped onion and sweat down until translucent.
  10. Add the garlic, diced carrots and diced pepper. Cook on low until the veggies are tender (this took 20 mins for me, but you can leave it with the lid on and do something else, just coming back every now and then to check and give it a stir).
  11. Stir in the tomato paste and cook through for about 1 min.
  12. Return the mince to the pan and stir so everything is combined.
  13. Add the pinch of salt, pepper and squeeze of chili paste and stir through.
  14. Splosh in the sherry and the seasoning sauce and cook for a minute or so until the sherry is reduced.
  15. Add the passata and bring to the edge of a boil, before turning down and simmering for about 10 mins.
  16. Allow to cool so that it solidifies up a bit - sloppy mince will make for very difficult assembly of the parcels :).
  17. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F
  18. Par-cook the lasgna sheets as instructed on the packet.
  19. If you want to see how the parcels go together - check out the video made by Twisted over at their version of the recipe. Here is my written version:
    1. Place one lasagna sheet vertically on a flat surface.
    2. Spread a thin layer of bechamel sauce in the centre of the strip.
    3. Place another sheet over the first to make a cross, using the bechamel to stick them together.
    4. Put another, slightly thicker layer of bechamel over the square where the two sheets overlap.
    5. Add a layer of the mince mixture on top of this (between 3 and 4 spoonfuls).
    6. Lay courgette strips from each corner over the mince (this will help stop things spilling out when making the parcel).
    7. Cover with grated mozzarella.
    8. Fold up the sides, top, left, bottom, right and tuck the corner of the right one under the top one to make a parcel (like closing a cardboard box).
  20. Transfer the parcels to the baking tray using a wide, flat, spatula.
  21. Cover the top of each parcel with bechamel sauce.
  22. Add grated mozzarella and some of the grated hard Italian cheese over the bechamel.
  23. Bake in the over for 20 mins until golden and bubbling.
  24. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.
These are so much fun and worth the effort just for something different. Thanks to Twisted for the original recipe - it's a brilliant idea.

Friday, 3 November 2017

A Matter of Will by Natasha Duncan-Drake #FreeFictionFriday


Free Fiction Friday


And November is here - soon it'll be Christmas and we won't know where the year went :). It's the first Friday of the month which means it's Free Fiction Friday over at Wittegen Press. This month we have a novelette for our lovely readers, with werewolves and vampires and magic.

These stories are exclusively for subscribers of our newsletter, but anyone can join and it's really easy.

It is completely free to become a member and all you need is a valid email address. Fill in the form at the bottom of this page and you’re done. Don't worry if you join after the 1st Friday, the password for the month will be included in the welcome email after you subscribe.

What we WILL DO for our subscribers:

  • Send you an email on the 1st Friday of the month to remind you about the short story and give you the password for the month as soon as the story goes live.
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  • Give you two Free eBooks just for joining.

What we WON’T DO to our subscribers:

  • Spam you with loads of random advertising.
  • Reveal your email adress to anyone else.

This Month's Short Story

A Matter of Will
by Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: paranormal, romance, vampire
Length: ~8.5K wds

Description:
Edwin and his pack have beaten the invading vampires, but they lost people doing it. One of those lost meant far more to Edwin than he would like to admit and his heart is breaking. The problem with vampires, though, is some of their kills come back.

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Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Good luck to all those doing NaNoWriMo


It's day one of NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month when thousands of writers make it their goal to write 50K or more words throughout November.

This year I am passing on NaNo and the whole starting a new novel thing. I've chosen to concentrate on short stories for various projects, and finishing the editing/formatting of my existing novels so they are ready for paperback in time for Christmas. I've written my first 2K today on one short story, so all is going well from my end so far.

But I wish all those going for the 50K lots of luck and perseverance.


Remember to:
  • Pace yourself.
  • Reward yourself.
  • Don't punish yourself if you miss a day here and there.
  • & Have fun!
May the words flow, the inspiration take you, and the pesky details line up in perfect order.