Way back (like 5 years ago) when I moved to that faraway foreign land (well, not really that foreign I mean they do speak english there) to meet my one-in-a-million (err…internet) boyfriend I was scared and excited and terrified of what the year (turned into 3) abroad’s experiences would bring. I was leaving behind a strong circle of girlfriends and was more than a little nervous about how I’d fit in with hip and fashionable and confident European women. My first real experience with an Irish girl (that sounds really weird) was stinted and awkward. She was my housemate, and totally neurotic and from a tiny tiny country town in the south of Ireland. As a result, I mostly abstained from Irish girls for the next year entirely. I’m not sure where the disconnect was. I certainly was self-conscious of my “American-ness” and perhaps they found me terribly unfashionable and loud. Who knows, but as a result of studying and then working at an American college I found a fantastically wonderful American girl who became like an older sister to me and I was a happy camper.
I eventually ended up taking a job with an Irish company and found my self surrounded by real live Irish (shock!) people. It was game time. Do or die. 50% of the people employed there were likely to be women and I had to put my game face on and step up to the big scary Irish girl scenario I’d fabricated in my mind. And then one day, during my second week at that job, a sunny Irish girl sat down across the pod from me. Her name was Aoife and I was thankful I’d asked for pronunciation lessons prior to our meeting. Otherwise, things could have gone quite differently.
I’m happy to report that after much research, I’ve found that Irish girls aren’t scary at all! In fact, they are pretty awesome. I suggest you go find one. Bonus points if she’s now living in Australia! Everyone…meet my friend Aoife (pronounced:eeeeeeee-fa)! She writes an insanely delicious blog called Yumbolicious and is really a fantastic foodie. We may or may not have been know to sneak off after work to the “Italian” area of town and nom on giant plates of antipasto and chilled wine. And what’s even better is she’s an incredible cook who develops her own recipes. Like actually makes them up in her head which is kind of a big deal. Enjoy this delicious recipe she’s created especially for you all and be sure to check out her blog for more yummy-ness. Thanks a million Aoife!
Way back in January 2008, in Dublin, I had just started a big scary new job. While I was sitting at my new desk, totally trying to be all cool and professional, a bouncy head popped out from behind my computer and said HEYA in the biggest, smiliest, American accent you could imagine. The owner of said head saw through my façade in an instant (well in fairness, it wasn’t very good), and proceeded to ask me, oh about twenty million-bazillion questions. Within 10 seconds we established that we both loved Etsy, dippage, making grandiose plans, coffee and of course goat’s cheese. An instant friendship was formed. I think the goat’s cheese was the real clincher.
In case you haven’t guessed already, the head belonged to Mrs Zoom.
Since then, we’ve both moved to sunnier parts of the world; so I was delighted when Mary started writing Where’s the Zoom, as it gives a lovely window into her life in The States. It also gives the rest of the world an insight into how ideas just pour out of this woman’s head. How she manages to balance three boys (big and little), photography, cooking and blogging; and all so well, I’ll never know.
So when she asked me to write a guest post, I (understandably!) freaked out a wee bit. What would I cook? Eek! How would I ever take decent photos? Stress! What would I write? Oh holy god!
It nearly all got too much for me, I just had to sit down with a glass of wine to clear my head.
I decided on a baked cheesecake, because it’s all kinds of yumbo, and everyone likes it, right? Also, it gives you lovely folks up there in the northern hemisphere a chance to use some juicy summer berries. I’ve used raspberries – yum!
I’ve adapted a recipe from Donna Hay, who is pretty much the Martha Stewart of Australia. But Martha Stewart or not, I still had to tweak the recipe, I think it might actually be a compulsion. I love love love the nutty base of this cheesecake, it’s so much better than a base made with shop-bought biscuits, and I’ve used wholemeal flour instead of white, to give it a little extra crunch. I’ve also omitted the vanilla and seriously dialled back on the lemon juice to compensate for the juicy berries, but I feel you could really do your own thing with this. You could also decorate this with more summer berries and a dash of honey and enjoy it for a chilled, summer-time desert.
If you squint, the photos will look almost similar to Mary’s usual standard, but I assure you the cake tastes great! Aoife: thank you!!! Cannot wait to try this!
Raspberry and almond Baked Cheesecake
This is supposed to serve 10, but clearly those 10 people have much more self-control than me!
For the base:
40 g (1/4 cup) ground almonds
105 g (2/3 cup) wholemeal flour
55 g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
90 g (1/2 cup) butter, softened and chopped
For the filling:
330 g (1 1/2 cups) cream cheese, softened
500 g (2 1/4 cups) ricotta, well drained
295 g (1 1/4 cups) sugar
½ tbsp grated lemon rind
squeeze of lemon juice
1½ tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1½ tbsp water
60 g (1/3 cup) fresh or frozen raspberries and additional for serving or decorating
First off, you’ll need to make the base so stick on the oven to 150 °C (300F). In one large bowl, mix together the ground almonds, flour and sugar. Rub the softened butter into this mixture until it’s all absorbed and a dough begins to form. Grease and line with baking paper the base of a 20 cm-round (8 inch round) dish or tin (with a removable base if you prefer). Spread the almond and flour base mix evenly across the bottom of this dish and press down firmly using your fingers. Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Set aside and allow to cool.
To make the filling, place the cream cheese, ricotta, sugar, lemon juice and rind into a bowl (or a food processor) and mix together gently until smooth. Next add in the eggs, one at a time until well combined. Mix together the cornflour and water until smooth and add this to the cheese mixture (apparently this helps prevent the cake from cracking too much as it cools, nice one!). Lightly mix everything together until smooth. Add in the raspberries last of all but do not over mix, you want the lovely juices to create a marbled effect, which is quite a different thing to a pink cheesecake! Pour over the cooled base and tap the tin lightly to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 1 hour at 150 °C (300F), then turn off the oven and let the cake stand in the remaining warmth for another hour. Refrigerate until cold and serve with some more raspberries and maybe some honey, if you fancy it.