We recently had relatives visiting from interstate, and although it isn’t really warm enough for outdoor barbequing at the moment (and who doesn’t love a good barbie?) it was still warm enough to cook one and bring everything in for a leisurely lunch.
As well as the obligatory snags (why is it that a sausage cooked outdoors smells and tastes so much better than one cooked inside?), chops and seasoned chicken skewers, we had a couple of salads and a yummy cheesecake. Normally I do more, but there weren’t that many of us, so I restrained myself and only made two salads and one dessert. The good news is, although there was plenty to go around, I wasn’t left with lots of leftovers to find space for in the fridge (anyone for Food Tetris?)
Curried Bean and Noodle Salad.
Curried Bean and Pasta Salad
This must be the easiest salad in the world to throw together, no cooking (unless you count steeping some noodles in boiling water for a minute as cooking, which even I don’t!). I often vary this depending on what I have in the pantry. Sometimes I put in corn niblets, sometimes baby corn spears, or water chesnuts, or champignons, but this time I didn’t have any of that, so it was very basic.
One green capsicum, diced finely;
Three to four spring onions, cut on the diagonal into pieces about 1-2 cm long;
One 420g tin of four bean mix, drained;
One 420g tin of red kidney beans, drained;
One packet of ready to serve rice noodles, cut with scissors into small lengths, steeped for a minute in boiling water, then drained.
Dressing (all approximate, vary depending on how much salad you have in the bowl):
2tbs olive oil;
2 tbs white vinegar;
1 tsp white sugar;
1 tsp curry powder;
2 tsp dried parsley flakes.
Assemble salad ingredients. Shake dressing ingredients in a shaker, pour over salad ingredients and mix to blend.
Potato salad with creamy mustardy dressing.
Potato salad with creamy mustardy dressing
Everyone has a preferred method of preparing their potatoes, some like to cook them whole, then cut them, I prefer to buy smaller potatoes that don’t need peeling, cut them into bite sized chunks then cook them until just soft enough to eat, then drain them. Whichever way you prefer, prepare about 1kg of potatoes, then stir through this dressing , preferably when potatoes have cooled a little, but are still warm to touch.
½ cup good quality (preferably gluten free) mayonnaise;
½ cup thickened cream;
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard (the type from a jar, not powder);
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives if available, 1 tbsp dry if not. (optional)
Mix together the dressing ingredients and stir through the salad.
Caramel cheesecake (serves 8-10).
This is a little fussier than my favourite recipes, but the end result is worth that little bit of extra effort.
If you can source gluten free biscuits, then the cheesecake is gluten free as the caramel is ok. I usually make the base and the filling the day before, and just top it the morning that I require it as it should be cool before the topping is put on.
Cooking time – 1 hour approximately in a 160 celcius oven.
125g melted unsalted butter.
750g cream cheese (at room temperature if you have time);
1 cup dark brown sugar;
4 free range eggs;
½ cup thickened cream;
¼ cup gluten free plain flour.
380g can caramel top’n’fill;
½ cup thickened cream;
2 tbsp golden syrup;
2 tsp gelatine;
1 tbsp hot water.
Crush biscuits by whatever method you prefer – either a food processor, in a bag with a rolling pin, or in a hand crusher. Mix with melted butter, press into the base of a 22 cm springform cake pan, I line the base of mine with baking paper as shown:
Lining the springform tin
Chill while preparing filling.
Beat cream cheese and sugar in an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat in cream and then flour, mix well. Pour over biscuit base, cook in a slow oven for around one hour, or until centre is firm to touch. Switch off the oven, and cool in the oven with the door open (if it cools too quickly it will crack). Refridgerate until cold, preferably overnight.
Place top’n’fill, cream and golden syrup in a small saucepan, whisk over a low heat until smooth. Sprinkle gelatine over water and dissolve, combine with topping mixture. Cool at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Pour over cheesecake, refrigerate until set.
To get it out of the springform without it breaking up, I first take the side off, then loosen the paper on one side. I then use a pizza slice (pictured against an egg slice for scale) and slide this between the paper and the cake. You should then be able to transfer it to your serving plate and then decorate as you wish.