Pigs in blankets cheesecake-using Christmas leftovers.

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I’m always looking for ways to use up any leftovers in an inventive way and no time is more challenging for me than at Christmas!

Don’t get me wrong, I do love my husbands bubble and squeak breakfast very much indeed, but sometimes its good to try something completely different to suprise my family.

We tend to have an abundance of pigs in blankets left over at Christmas, which is odd as they are delicious! so I have based my savoury cheesecake around these and the other leftovers that are common in my house.

In the summer I made a lot of jars of chilli jam from all the tomatoes we grew so I am elevating my dish using this spicy jam on the top but you can equally use any spicy jam or a chutney or leave it without.

Ingredients:

Base:

100g oats, toasted

200g unsalted butter melted

100g plain flour

1 tbsp fresh basil or 1tsp dried

80g mature cheddar cheese

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

a pinch of salt and pepper to taste

Filling:

left over stuffing (optional)

cooked pigs in blankets, sliced (I used 10)

chopped cooked chestnuts (I used 10)

sliced, cooked brussels sprouts-if using frozen sprouts, defrost, slice and squeeze out as much water as you can by wrapping in a clean tea towel and squeezing (I used 10 button sprouts)

200g cream cheese

50ml double cream

3 large eggs

200g grated mozzarella cheese

4 spring onions

1 tbsp chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp dried

a pinch of salt and pepper to taste

Topping (optional):

2 tbsp chilli jam or a chutney of your choice

cooked pigs in blankets

Method:

Preheat the oven 350 degrees F/Gas 4

Grease an 8″ loose based cake tin.

Add the melted butter to the toasted oats and mix well. Cool.

Place the remaining base ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Add the cooled oat mixture and mix well until it just starts to hold together. Add a little water if necessary.

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Press down well into the base of the greased tin and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes until firm.

Cook in the middle of the preheated oven for 10-20 minutes or until just starting to brown.

Meanwhile place the cream cheese and cream into a bowl and beat together gently until smooth.

Add the eggs a little at a time and beat slowly until they are all mixed in.

Gently mix in the grated cheese, spring onion, sage and salt and pepper (if using).

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Carefully fold in the sliced pigs in blankets so that the bacon remains attached as much as possible. Add the brussels sprouts, chestnuts and any other leftovers you are using.

Place the stuffing (if using) thinly on top of the cooked base.

Pour the filling mixture on top of the base and bake on the middle to lower shelf for 25-45 minutes until set.

Remove from the oven and place the tin on a cake rake to cool.

Refrigerate once cold. It is now ready to serve or can be kept in the refrigerator until the next day.

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If you want to elevate it to another level, spread the top thinly with a layer of chilli jam or a chutney and top with more pigs in blankets. I used my home made chilli jam.

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I served mine with a simple jacket potato and an indulgent broccoli and cauliflower cheese.

This savoury cheesecake would be lovely for a Boxing day buffet.

Please let me know if you give it a try.

 

A superb Valentine’s Day meal-Midsummer House.

So, as if he hasn’t done enough by saving my life, Darren treated me to a Valentines Day meal at Midsummer House!

 

IMG-4106Midsummer House is a beautiful Victorian villa. It looked so inviting as we approached and I felt so excited!

Our hotel was walking distance so we had a really lovely walk on Midsummer Common along the banks of the River Cam . We felt very safe, but it did get a little dark in places, as you can see from this photograph.

We are used to fine dining, and have been lucky enough to have had our photograph taken with a few celebrity chefs, so we were slightly disappointed to find that Daniel Clifford was not at the restaurant. We didn’t really expect him to be there but it would have been nice to add him to our collection lol. My favourite photo has to be of me with the legendary Ken Hom!! but we have also had our photograph taken at Le Gavroch with Michel Roux Jr (what a lovely guy!) and taken a cooking class with Cyrus Todiwala (what a wealth of knowledge that guy has!) and also with Ching He Huang (a beautiful person inside and out).

Anyway, I’m diverting!

The house was so warm and cosy. Lovely after a chilly walk. The tables looked great with lovely white, crisp, linen tablecloths.

There are 2 Tasting Menus (one being Vegetarian), which I think is a great idea. I usually have difficulty knowing what to choose if I’m left to my own devices. The menus are changed regularly.

Before our menu started, some delicious food started appearing at our table. It set the scene to what was to become a wonderful evening.

 

With our menu came a journey into the world of wines. We chose a flight to give us variety to accompany our food. A flight is a smaller glass of wine, 100ml in this case, and we enjoyed hearing the history surrounding each glass that we had. We were transported back in time, hearing about how the grapes were grown and chosen, and by whom.

 

IMG-4117We started our tasting menu with “Mushrooms, coffee, tarragon and cep foam.”

It was absolutely delicious! It was layered and had different textures; a foam, a mousse, a gel and a cream.

I adore mushrooms!

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Next was “Salad of new season onions, pear, elderberry  and onion sorbet.”

I’ve never seen onions look so beautiful! Look how pretty this plate is! This had to be my favourite dish in terms of looks.

The onion sorbet was really unusual and lovely. I’ve only ever had fruit sorbet before.

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Midsummer House has a signature dish which has never been off their menu;

“Seared sea scallop, Granny Smith apple,celeriac & truffle puree”

Again beautifully presented and absolutely divine to eat.

 

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“Crispy suckling pig belly, glazed cheek, carrot and ginger.”

Sweet from the carrot, crispy from the pig belly and soft from the melt in the mouth cheek. This was a gorgeous plate of food in more ways than one.

 

Next was one of my favourites; IMG-4130

“Roasted monkfish, Cornish crab, cauliflower yuzu puree, preserved lemon.”

It was topped with kale which added colour to the dish.

By now I’m wondering just how many varieties of plate are in the kitchen! I would have loved to have had a tour.
IMG-4131“Anjou pigeon, Hoisin leg, salad of salt baked beetroot, walnut and blue cheese” was beautifully presented.

At home I don’t eat beetroot even though we grow it. I’m never too keen on the earthy taste but I needn’t have worried as this dish was delicious.

This dish was my favourite.

Now we were on desserts and next was a shot of “Pousse cafe.” I didn’t take a photograph of this one as we were asked if we wanted to guess what was in it. I got a little too excited with that and got right into it!! I’m not sure if I’m remembering all the ingredients but it was lovely and sweet and definitely different, consisting of  Maple syrup, Jack Daniels foam, chives, black pepper and maybe some ingredients I’m not remembering!

Next came some magic!! Who doesn’t like to watch something made at the table? This was called “Lemon posset, olive oil cake, mint, black olive tuile.” It transformed the plate we had in front of us by giving it a unique topping. All the flavours are hitting my taste buds as I type!

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This would have been a good finale to our meal but there was more! Look at the next dish! Looking at the two photographs I think I should have taken them both at the same distance but as this is my own review I guess I will learn for the future!

This dessert is “Coriander white chocolate dome, coconut and mango, Jasmine rice.” It was beautiful to look at and eat and was a great palate cleanser to finish the meal.

But it wasn’t the end!! We had doughnuts!! Now who doesn’t like doughnuts!!

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Darren had his full anaesthetic and operation the evening before our meal and I could see he was tiring and a little uncomfortable by this stage of the evening so we decided not to have a cheese course.

I’m sure the cheese board would have looked so inviting but there was a chocolate display!!! What a choice we had!!

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We had an amazing time at Midsummer House. I had booked a table for Darren’s birthday in 2015 but unfortunately had complications with my kidney disease and was hospitalised for 2 weeks. My consultant was working towards getting me out of hospital in time but it wasn’t to be. He had high hopes right up until the morning before but I was just too ill. I have a lovely (!) photo of how I was but this blog post of such prettiness isn’t the place for it. It turned out to be anaphylaxis due to a medication I was on but it wasn’t easily diagnosed as it was such an unusual thing to be allergic to!

With Darren having his operation just the evening before, we were cutting it very fine this time too!

For those who love fine dining this restaurant is definitely a place to visit and Cambridge is a great town with so many things to do.

I must add that I don’t agree with phones at the table and my phone was only whipped out for 2 seconds to take a photograph and then placed back on the stool next to me.

We had a wonderful stay and one of our best Valentine’s Days together. It’s high up there with the kidney transplant of 2017 in any case lol. I count my blessings that I am finally off a renal diet (or this meal would have been impossible) and am living life to the full again thanks to Darren giving me his kidney, Morgan.

I’ll drink to that!! Cheers!!!

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Life is ever changing…….


Do you ever say “this isn’t how I expected my life to be?” I have said that so many times! When we are children we have such an idyllic outlook on life but it isn’t that simple. Life is full of complications.

I have had so many twists and turns in my life but, most recently, it was Morgan who dramatically changed my life. He is my third kidney; the result of my kidney transplant on Valentines day 2017 (Morgan the organ….get it?). I am still getting over the effects of my transplant and will be including those in my blog.

I have decided to journal my life as it takes these unexpected changes that we all experience in this journey called life.

Coming up I will be covering most aspects of my life including; slimming, crafting, ballet, theatre, walking, food, restaurants, pets, being a Grandparent, gardening, gigs, Asperger’s syndrome and my life in general.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Wal

Photo taken by myself. The view from Symonds Yat.