Sunday, 21 October 2012

A nice roast and a bit of a get-together

Today marked the start of the best 
season of the year for me - the roast season!

Mr U-t-B likes to tell everyone that when we met I had never cooked a roast, and that he taught me everything I know on the subject.  It's actually true that I'd never rustled up a roast before I knew him, though I think have also learnt a few tricks of my own since then.  

As a result, we always enjoy the cooler months and the chance to get family or friends round for a good chunk of meat with lots of trimmings and some good puddings.

Today we had Mr U-t-B's two eldest, with their partners and the two babies, Sophia and Dylan, plus Dylan's Dad's Mum and her partner.

We started with champagne cocktail (a sugar cube, two dashes of Angostura Bitters and a tablespoon of brandy in each glass, topped with champagne)  to finally pop the cork of a bottle of champagne that Dylan's Nanna had brought here on the night (way back in June) when we thought we were going to wet the baby's head, but then he didn't put in an appearance till the next day! (And champagne at ten-ish in the morning didn't sound like a good idea!)

The roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings  went down very well, and then it was time for pudding.  I'd used two untried recipes - a cheesecake that claimed to be 'the best cheesecake ever' and a chocolate-y one that was to be served with poached pears.

I was a bit suspicious of that cheesecake recipe, with all that trumpet blowing, but I have to say I rather agree now. I'm not a mad fan of cheesecake in general, finding them often too rich, too sweet or too cloying, but this one was excellent.  So here is the recipe - it's adapted from Galton Blackiston's 'Return to Real Cooking'.

As good as it looks!

Prep time: 35 mins plus chilling

Cook time: I hr 40 mins
Do ahead: Needs time to cool and chill overnight. Once cold, the cooked cheesecake and topping can be stored in the fridge for up to two days.  

For the biscuit base
165g soft butter
40g icing sugar
165g self-raising flour

For the filling
2 x 300g full fat Philadelphia cream cheese
1 x 500ml tub creme fraiche
365g caster sugar
60g plain flour
6 large eggs, beaten
100ml double cream
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the topping
400g blueberries
50g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp arrowroot

You will need 
a 28cm, 6cm deep spring-form tin and a small shallow non-stick tin measuring 15cm x 25.5cm both lightly oiled

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees, fan 175 degrees, gas 5.  Make the biscuit base by creaming the butter and icing sugar together, using an electric hand whisk, till light and fluffy - this will take about five minutes.  Sift in the self-raising flour and whisk that in too.  Spread the mixture evenly in the shallow tin and bake for 10-12 mins or until lightly golden.  Leave the biscuit to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the filling.  In a bowl, using a wooden spoon (oh I do like a recipe that makes one feel like a proper old-fashioned cook - just a bowl and a wooden spoon - none of these mod cons!) beat together  the cream cheese, creme fraiche and caster sugar.  Sift in the plain flour followed by the egg, in batches, stirring well between each addition.  Stir in the cream and the vanilla.  Don't worry if there are still a few lumps.  Cover and set aside.

When the biscuit is cold, whiz it briefly in a food processor until you have crumbs.  Press the crumbs firmly into the base of the springform tin, using the back of a spoon.  Put the tin in the fridge to chill for 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees, fan 140 degrees, gas 2.  For the topping, put the blueberries, sugar, cinnamon stick and 4 tablespoons of water into a pan and heat over a low heat. By the time the sugar has dissolved, the fruit should be softened but still whole. This should take about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix the arrowroot with a small amount of water.  Stir the arrowroot into the pan and bring the liquid just to simmering point so it thickens slightly.  Pour into a bowl, cool, then chill.

Pour the cheesecake mixture over the biscuit base. Bake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 1 hour 20 minutes.  The cheesecake will have risen to the top of the tin and will be just firm on the outside and slightly wobbly in the centre.  Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.  Don't worry if a crack appears as it will be covered with the topping.  Once cold, cover the tin with clingfilm and chill in the fridge overnight.

Take the cheesecake out of the fridge an hour before you wish to serve it.  Remove from the tin, transfer to a plate and spoon over the topping (after discarding the cinnamon). Serve any leftover topping in a jug.

(NB: If you make this, DO put the finished cheesecake on a plate with upturned edges, not a flat platter like this.  The blueberry juice stains on one of my favourite linen tablecloths were somewhat alarming - though I think Oxi-Action has sorted the problem out!)


  1. Mmmmm, thank you for the recipe - it looks and sounds delicious.

    That was quite a few people you had round your table, it must have felt like Christmas!


  2. Ooh, love a good Sunday roast Alix, and yours sounds excellent! The cheesecake looks fab too ... if ever I have a tricky stain, I always sprinkle with bicarb of soda while wet, can't do any harm, I don't think, and it usually works!

    Enjoy your week,

    Claire xxx

    1. I will remember the bicarb tip! Luckily the Oxi-Action has done an excellent job and the tablecloth is now stain-free again. Just need to iron it - groan!

  3. Delicious,you have my mouth watering.xx

  4. I'd never cooked a roast til I set up home with husband. I used to roast a chicken & potatoes served with peppers, onions & tomatoes - very Med
    (well we did live in Spain ! )
    How lovely to wet the baby's head with family. Wow your cheesecake looks well worth the effort but sorry to hear about your table cloth.

  5. I love roasts!
    Cheesecake looks yum - may come to tea?
    Julie xxxxxxx