Monday, 19 July 2010

Barley, tomato and garlic risotto

This isn't actually risotto at all - it is orzotto, made with barley instead of rice. The recipe appeared in Yotam Ottolenghi's Guardian column a couple of weeks ago, and is every bit as delicious as one normally expects his recipes to be. The use of pearl barley gives the dish a very different texture from risotto - whereas rice slowly breaks up during cooking, releasing its starch and creating a creamy texture, the barley maintains its integrity and is al dente even after an hour of cooking. The long cooking time also results in a rich, concentrate tomato flavour, while the garlic (two whole heads of garlic!) mellows during cooking and creates even greater depth of flavour.


3 tbsp olive oil, plus an extra trickle at the end
2 whole heads garlic, cloves separated, peeled and quartered
750g fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
200g passata
½ tsp smoky paprika
⅛ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp picked thyme
4 strips fresh lemon zest
1½ tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
270g pearl barley, well rinsed in cold water and drained
Roughly 200ml water
20g chopped coriander leaves, plus extra to garnish
Black pepper
200g feta, crumbled roughly

Fry the garlic for a couple of minutes. Bung everything else in the pan, apart from the feta and coriander. Simmer for an hour or so with the lid off, stirring occasionally. Add a bit of extra water if it dries out. At the end, stir in most of the feta and coriander. Serve and then sprinkle the remaining feta and coriander over as a garnish.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

New York cheesecake

This recipe for New York cheesecake is adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. It’s not something to make if you are impatient (you need to make it 24 hours in advance), but it is absolutely delicious in its simplicity. We ate it with strawberries and raspberry coulis, but in retrospect, I think it would have been better just on its own.


140g plain flour
50g butter
50g soft brown sugar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 egg yolk


900g cream cheese
190g caster sugar
4 eggs
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 vanilla pod

Start by making the base. You need to do this a couple of hours ahead to give it time to cool. Place all the dry ingredients in a food processor or in a bowl with an electric hand whisk. Beat in the butter until it is completely incorporated. Then add the egg yolk and combine until you have an even sandy consistency. Butter and line the base of 23cm springform cake tin and press the mixture down evenly across the base of the tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 150C or until golden. Remove and allow to cool.

Once the base is cool, butter the sides of the tin and then double wrap the tin with aluminium foil. You need the wrapping to be completely waterproof, so make sure there are no holes or tears in the foil, and make sure the wrapping comes completely up the sides of the tin.

Place the cream cheese in a bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk on a low setting until smooth. Add the sugar, lemon zest and seeds from the vanilla pod and beat until they are evenly incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, beating slowly to ensure the mixture doesn’t split. Before adding each egg, scrape the cheese mixture off the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure it is evenly mixed. Once the eggs are all incorporated, beat on a higher setting for a short time and then pour the cheese mixture into the cake tin.

Using a spatula, scrape the cream cheese mixture into the cake tin. Place the foil wrapped cake tin into a roasting tray and then fill the tray with boiling water until it comes three quarters of the way up the sides of the cake tin. Bake the cheesecake at 150C for one hour and then switch off the heat. Remove from the oven after half an hour, but leave the cheesecake in the water filled roasting tray for another half hour. Then remove it from the tray and allow to cool. Refrigerate the cheesecake overnight before serving.


6 unwaxed lemons
Half a cup of sugar
Quarter of a cup of water
1.25 litres of chilled water, still or sparkling

Using a zester, grater or sharp knife, remove the zest from the lemons. If using a knife, make sure it is finely shredded. Place in a small saucepan with the sugar and water. Heat gently until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has just reached boiling point and then turn off the heat. Juice the lemons and then add the juice to the pan. Stir and then strain into a container to remove the zest. Refrigerate the mixture. When ready to drink, place the mixture in a large pitcher and then add the chilled water. Serve with ice and slices of lemon.