It seems that every year Christmas sneaks up on me and catches me unaware. You’d think at my advanced age (if I told you just what that is, I’d have to kill you) I’d have worked it all out by now, but apparently not – as the posts I wanted to get up before the break, the rustic, home-made Christmas wreath for the front door and the selection of flavoured salts I planned on making for gifts are among some of the things that just didn’t happen. It’s way to late for the rosemary wreath (note to self – make for next Christmas) and the salts will have to go back on my “must make this” list, but I firmly believe it’s never the wrong time of the year for a cookbook review!
ABC delicious. magazine has been a part of my life since it first came out in 2001. It seemed to herald a new era in Australian food publications with it’s fresh photography and modern, exciting, but accessible recipes that didn’t require a trip to the gourmet store for every dish. Each new month I was thrilled to find at least several dishes that I couldn’t wait to make and many of my back issues are still littered with bookmarks for dishes that I particularly enjoyed or never quite got around to before the next issue was released.
Highly esteemed home economist, food writer and chef, Valli Little, has been there every step of the way too. English-born Valli came to Australia on a working holiday after studying at London’s Le Cordon Bleu and, like many English roses before her, fell in love with the sun, the lifestyle and a bloke. Her experiences as a food consultant, banqueting manager, gourmet store owner and private chef for the great and glorious back in England give her an enviable depth and breadth of insight into all aspects of food – as her name on the covers of all seven of ABC delicious. magazine bestselling cookbooks will attest.
“Home Cooking” is the most recent of these and continues the tradition of fresh, flavoursome, but not too fiddly recipes for the home cook. In this edition, Valli gives us a hint of what goes on in her own kitchen as she shares her favourite recipes to cook at home along with her tips to turn a family classic into a cover-worthy meal without too much fuss. Usefully, the content is divided into seasons as well as the different courses within each season and each recipe is as reliable, approachable and achievable as we’ve come to expect from this passionate and much-loved adoptee. The book contains everything from tropical treats with a twist like the Coconut & Mango Tarts with Chilli Syrup, to inspired, but simple tweaks like the Wasabi Pancakes with Smoked Trout or the velvety and indulgent Honey Pots de Creme – and, of course, each dish is accompanied by lavish, full-colour photgraphy.
When casting my (often vacant) mind around for an acceptable dessert to serve to one who is known for her stunning, sweet cookery (my friend Jennifer of Delicieux – see my last post) I recalled earmarking something in “Home Cooking” for a special occasion. I don’t suppose you’ll be at all surprised to know that it was a Chocolate Cheesecake with Cocoa Nib Cream. This seriously indulgent treat really ticked all the boxes for everyone and was so simple to make – another winner in a long line of them for Valli Little and ABC delicious. magazine.
- 2 x 150 gm pkts Oreo biscuits (or similar)
- 125 gm unsalted butter, melted then cooled
- 250 gm cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 cups (500 gm) mascarpone
- ⅓ cup (75 gm) caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup (50 gm) cocoa
- 100 gm dark chocolate, melted then cooled
- 1 Tbs chocolate liqueur (optional)
- 1 cup (120 gm) cocoa nibs, plus extra to serve
- 300 ml thickened cream, lightly whipped
- Grease and line 24cm springform cake pan.
- Whizz biscuits in processor to fine crumbs. Add butter, pulse to combine, then press into the base of the cake pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 170C.
- Wipe out processor (no need to wash). Place cream cheese, mascarpone and caster sugar in machine, whizz to combine. Add eggs, combine, then add cocoa, chocolate and liqueur. Process until smooth. Add half the cocoa nibs, pulse to combine, then spread filling over chilled biscuit base.
- Bake 45-50 minutes until cake is firm to the touch, but slightly wobbly. Turn off oven and cool cheesecake in oven with door ajar. Chill for 2-3 hours or overnight before serving.
- Fold remaining cocoa nibs into whipped cream. Pile on top of cheesecake and serve sprinkled with extra nibs.
Review copy of “Home Cooking” kindly supplied by Harper Collins Publishers Australia.
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