Penne with Pumpkin and sage breadcrumbs

Pumpkin

So the big news is … My sister got engaged!! To Matt, the extremely lovely man she’s been dating since University. Happy doesn’t even begin to cover it really. It’s just good good news, happening to people who deserve to have their love celebrated in a Big Way. Continue reading

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Birthday Cheesecake

Birthday cheesecake illustration for baked cheesecake recipe

I suppose birthdays are the ideal time to take stock and make plans, assess progress, plan change etc. A time to get honest about what we want from life, and what we’re deluding ourselves about.

Here’s one thing I can leave in the year behind: Pinterest Fantasy. For one whole week in late August, inspired by an online tutorial, I became convinced that I should paint the insides of oyster shells with gold leaf paint and a food-safe shellac topcoat, then give them to my friends to use as salt dishes. Luckily, Liana (actor in the sketch show I’m directing) hosts a karaoke night at a bar with 1 dollar oysters, hence lots of free shells. This will be easy! I thought. This will be fun! Maybe I’ll quit my job and start an Etsy shop! And the weeks went by, and the oyster shells started to smell a bit, so I washed them with clorox in the bathtub, and ruined my black jeans. Then I put them back in the bag, and they are still in the bag.

So this is my vow: before I blow out the candles on this year’s birthday cheesecake, I will take that bag of oyster shells and throw them away.

Cheesecake

This recipe is a classic Ina Garten one and it’s perfect. She tops her cheesecake with a redcurrant raspberry sauce, which looks delicious in fairness, but doesn’t work for me. I want my cheesecake aggressively plain – well, maybe topped with a birthday candle, but that’s it.

For the base

1 ½ cups crushed graham cracker crumbs (about 10 crackers)
1 tbsp sugar
¾ stick butter (6 tbsp)
 
  • Preheat the oven to 300 F, crush the crackers and melt the butter
  • Mix with the sugar and press into a springform baking tin (about 9 inches)
  • Bake on a baking tray for 8 – 10 mins until the crust has hardened and is golden. Leave the tin on the baking tray in case of later leaks

For the filling

2 ½ lb cream cheese at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
5 large eggs at room temperature
2 large egg yolks at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1 ½ tsp good vanilla extract or seeds scraped out of 1 vanilla pod, in which case, omit the lemon)
1 tbsp lemon zest
 
  • Bump up the oven temperature to 450F
  • Cream the cheese and sugar together in a mixer for 5 mins until light and fluffy
  • Add the eggs and yolks 2 at a time, mixing in well – scrape down the sides to make sure everything in incorporated
  • Add the sour cream, lemon and vanilla then pour into the crust (which should be cool, not hot to the touch. Wait until it is.)
  • Bake for 15 mins
  • Turn the oven down to 225 and bake for 1 and a half hours. Turn off the oven and let the cake cool there for 45 mins with the door open
  • Wrap in plastic wrap and keep cool in the fridge overnight (this really helps it set)
  • Dip a knife in hot water and run around the cake to loosen. Open the spring form and let the cake come back to room temperature (about an hour) before serving

 

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Sweater Weather, Unlikely Nudists and Chicken Parmigiana Stew

Chicken

This, from Jeanmarie, who heard it from a man she met on a windy train platform on her commute into the city one early morning.

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Shred and Burn and Minestrone Soup

Kale

If you like to eat food as much as I do, then it’s probably a good idea to put trainers on every so often and run like you’re being chased. Continue reading

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Lime-Spritzed Skirt Steak for Drama Tolerance

Skirt Steak

Jon and I have been together since we were 19, and in all that time, he has been dramatic precisely 3 times, and all for good reason: moving countries, changing jobs. Continue reading

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Pina Coladas to take advantage of the joys of summer

Pina Colada for summer

So the mystery of how the mosquitoes were getting into the apartment in the first place was solved when I was taking a shower, watching one buzz purposefully up to the window screen, then continue, undeterred, straight through the mesh of the mosquito screen.

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Was there enough Summer?

Summer sundae

It’s an important question. THE important question, really. As the last few days slip by, it’s time to focus, get organized, make sure there was enough summer to keep us in happy rum-soaked sun-drenched fantasies come February.

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Chocolate Caramel Brownies

Caramel Rolo Brownie

Sometimes only chocolate will do. This is chocolate worth splurging on.

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Mum and Dad go to Williamsburg, and we all eat Lentil and Beetroot Salad

Beetroot for a lentil salad

Mum and Dad, not content with living it up all over Manhattan, spread their wings and left the Island to explore the wilds of Brooklyn beyond. They ate lentils, experienced an explosion of Mexican street art, wore sunglasses, and rode a ferry. Literally within 5 minutes of arriving in Williamsburg, they transformed into prototype hipsters, sipping on cold drip coffee and appreciating organic cheeses.

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Unsolicited Sex Tips and Cucumber Gin and Tonics

Cucumber Gin and Tonic for summer recipes

Apropos of nothing, Sophia Vergara is dishing out unsolicited relationship advice down the side of my email.

“Mess up your hair just a little,” she suggests, “it’s sexier that way.” Continue reading

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