Ricotta and cherry cheesecake

 This cheesecake is perfect on a summer evening with a large scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream on the side. It’s delicious and light, not to mention very easy to make. You can add different types of berries if you can’t get cherries and it will be just as delicious. It’s also great for entertaining as it can be made well in advance.

Ingredients

200g good quality ricotta

200g sour cream

200g fresh cherries, deseeded & roughly chopped plus extra to garnish

175g caster sugar

3 large eggs

Zest of 1 lemon

1 vanilla pod

150g digestive biscuits

70g butter

1 tbsp, icing sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degreesC. Place all the digestives into a sandwich/freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin until you have fine crumbs. In a pan, melt the butter and add the biscuits ( if too dry add more butter ) then press into a 9 inch cake tin to form the base. In a food processor mix together all the ingredients apart from the cherries until smooth. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and then add the cherries. Place in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes until golden and very slightly wobbly. Place tin foil over the cheesecake and leave to cool. Remove from tin, place on a serving plate and garnish with cherries and a sprinkle of icing sugar. Enjoy!

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Courgette, chilli and gorgonzola arancini.

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How to use up left over risotto..make arancini. Arancini are balls of risotto stuffed with cheese or sometimes ragù, originally from Sicily. The name derives from their shape and color, which is reminiscent of an orange (the Italian word for orange is arancia, and arancina means “little orange”). They are then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried, so delicious. Every time we make risotto we always make enough to make these the next day. They’re perfect for a picnic or as a snack. Just as delicious hot and crispy as they are cold.

Makes 8 Arancini

640g Courgette, chilli and ricotta risotto (this is how much we had left over)
1 egg, beaten in a bowl
80g fine breadcrumbs
60g plain flour
1 litre sunflower oil
8 small cubes of gorgonzola cheese
Salt and pepper, to season
Brown paper or kitchen roll, to drain

Place the oil into a deep pot and place under a low-medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to your breadcrumbs on one plate and place your flour on another. Using a normal sized cutlery table spoon shape the risotto into balls, one and a half spoons make a decent sized ball. Then using your finger poke a hole in the middle of the ball. Add a cube of gorgonzola or mozzarella if you prefer and then close the hole back up again by rolling the ball.
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Do this to all 8 balls then roll each one in flour. After the flour, dip them in the beaten egg and then roll them in breadcrumbs making sure they are completely covered. Check your oil is ready by placing a small piece of bread in the oil, if it floats and turns a nice golden colour, it’s ready. Fry your arancini in the oil in batches, 3 or 4 at a time until they turn a lovely golden colour. This only takes a couple minutes. Drain on brown paper or kitchen roll and serve straight away or when cooled, keep them in the fridge for up to 1 day and eat cold, lovely.

Sun dried tomato pesto with ricotta.

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These little lovelies are brilliant for a quick snack, lunch or as an aperitivo when you have guests. So delicious as all pestos are and the ricotta adds a lovely creaminess although not heavy, just nice and light. The sun dried tomatoes I use have little capers and oregano in the jar too which gives the tomatoes a lovely taste so if you can find these ones, get them. The capers mean I do not need any salt so if there isn’t any capers in your tomatoes, taste the pesto to see if you need salt or not. Remember parmesan is salty too.

What you’ll need:
280g jar sun dried tomatoes in oil ( undrained weight )
2 large handfuls of grated parmesan
1/2 garlic clove
Squeeze of lemon
Pepper, to season
Crusty bread cut into slices, toasted
A couple basil leaves, to garnish
Ricotta, to dollop on top

How to make the pesto:
Ok so get a bowl and spoon in the sun dried tomatoes, do not add all the oil just as much as comes out when transferring them into a bowl. Then add the garlic, parmesan, squeeze of lemon and pepper. All you need to do now is blitz it all together. I use a little hand blender but use whatever you have. It shouldn’t be too thick and no way what so ever like a sauce so be careful not to add to much oil to begin with and if it’s too thick add a little more oil from the sun dried tomato jar. Spread this on to the toasted bread and add a dollop of ricotta. Top with a sprinkling of pepper a couple basil leaves and dash of olive oil. Enjoy.

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