ONE of the most depressing things that I heard recently on the news was that sales at Dominos Pizza are up since the recession kicked in because more people are staying in with a take-away and a DVD instead of going out. Well, I would say keep the DVD but ditch but the take-away. Why would you want to pay £10 (or whatever the price is) for two greasy pizzas when you could buy some nice ingredients and a bottle of wine and cook your own meal. Set the table with candles and your best crockery and serve up a restaurant style meal for a credit crunching price.
Will and I did exactly that for New Year’s Eve. We had looked around at various set menus in nice restaurants that looked delicious but cost a fortune, and we started to wonder; is it really worth it? I could easily cook us a delicious meal at home for half the price of a meal out, leaving plenty of money left over for a few bottles of wine.
I let Will choose the menu, which invariably meant he chose a steak. I also correctly predicted that he would ask for a baked cheesecake because he has been begging me to make one for ages, although I would never has guessed he would choose the retro starter prawn cocktail. What a wonderful throw back and actually a delicious throw back when made with fresh juicy prawns, crisp lettuce and some added avocado chunks hidden in the salad for texture. I couldn’t resist the triangles of brown bread and the dusting of paprika!
Then for mains we decided that since we were saving so much money by eating in, we would splurge on the steak and buy two fillets, which were melt in the mouth good. I served the steak with homemade chunky chips, creamed spinach and a slice of butter flavoured with Worcestershire sauce and parsley.
Now here is where it gets good. The vanilla baked cheesecake. This recipe came from Tamasin’s Kitchen Bible by Tamasin Day-Lewis. It was light, but rich and creamy, very smooth and also easy to make. Below I will give you the original recipe and in brackets the changes I made, which were mainly done because I couldn’t get hold of the ingredients listed.
1 packet of Doves organic digestives (I used McVities)
55g unsalted butter
450g fresh cream cheese, full fat (I used Philadelphia Light and it worked well)
2 Large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
55g vanilla sugar (caster sugar that has had a vanilla pod sitting in it)
170ml organic double cream
1 split vanilla pod
Zest of 2 lemons (I used just one and felt it was enough but I imagine two would be lovely and zingy)
150ml sour cream (I used a 140l pot that they sell in supermarkets)
1 dsrt spoon vanilla sugar (I used 1 tbsp)
Preheat oven to 190 degrees. Whiz the biscuits into crumbs (or put in a bag and bash with a rolling pin). Tip them into a large, loose-bottomed cake tin and pour over the butter. Stir to amalgamate and press down firmly. Bake for 10 minutes then remove from the oven.
Put the cream cheese, eggs, yolk, cream, sugar, vanilla seeds and lemon zest in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk until very smooth and creamy. Pour on top of the biscuit base and bake for 25 minutes.
Cool in the oven with the door ajar. When cool remove from the tin and chill in the fridge. For the topping stir the vanilla sugar into the sour cream and spread all over the top, decorate with some more lemon zest.
Beautiful served just as it is or whiz up some raspberries with a little icing sugar to make a coulis and serve on the side.