Cooking

Lavender Cheesecake

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180g crumbled digestive biscuits
80g soft butter
300g cream cheese
200g mascarpone
100g honey
1tsp vanilla extract
3-4 drops of Lavender essential oil
1-2 drops of Lemon essential oil and 2tsp lemon juice
300ml double cream
Violet gel food colour (optional)

Mix the crumbled biscuits and melted butter together. Flip the base of an 8-inch springform tin so the ridges curve downward and press the biscuit mixture firmly into it. Place in the fridge to set.

Beat together the cream cheese, mascarpone and honey. Slowly tint the mixture with the food colouring (if using) until the desired colour is achieved. Add the vanilla extract,Lavender and Lemon essential oils, and lemon juice and mix well. In a separate bowl, add a touch more violet food colouring to the double cream then whip until thick, but not stiff. Fold it into the cheese cake mixture. Spoon onto the biscuit base and chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours.

Sylvia says: “This was really easy to make and tasted divine. It's a very smooth, creamy cheesecake and it freezes well. However, I did need to have a second helping just to make sure! As you will see from the picture, I didn’t quite get the right shade of delicate lilac I was aiming for!

Mixed Bean Salad

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Salad
1x 400g can mixed beans in water, drained
1 small apple, chopped
1 peach or nectarine, chopped
1/4 cucumber, chopped
1-2 spring onions, chopped

Dressing / Marinade
4-5 tbs olive oil
1tbs vegetable oil
1tbs Pomegranate Molasses
Handful of fresh Mint and Basil, chopped together
1-2 drops Lemon essential oil
1-2 drops Lemongrass essential oil
1-2 drops Black Pepper essential oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh Basil to garnish

Mix the ingredients for the Mixed Bean Salad together. Mix the dressing ingredients together, pour over the salad and gently stir through.

You could add tomatoes and feta, or avocado and beetroot to the salad. The dressing can also be used to marinade chicken, fish or vegetables. You could also replace the Basil with Basil oil if you like.

Sylvia says: “This salad was an absolute winner. It was quick and easy to make and definitely one I will be making again”.

Bonfire Night Soup 

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1 can chopped tomatoes
2oz butter
1 can tomato soup
8 fl oz double cream, or half single cream and half double cream
6fl oz water
1 tsp sugar
1 chicken stock cube
1 sprinkle of dried basil
2 toothpicks dips of Basil essential oil
2 toothpick dips of Black Pepper essential oil
Ground Pepper, to taste

Mix the tomatoes, water and stock cube in a saucepan and heat to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the can of tomato soup, cream (a spoonful at a time to avoid it curdling), butter, sugar, dried basil and the Basil and Black Pepper essential oils.

You can add more dried basil or ground pepper to taste, but do not add more essential oil as it quickly becomes too powerful in flavour. Cook on a low heat until the butter is melted and the soup is hot and bubbly.

Sylvia says: “I love a home-made soup (particularly if the vegetables are home grown as well) and this tomato and basil soup doesn’t disappoint. What a gem of a recipe! It's quick and easy to make and tastes delicious. I tried this out on two builders who were working in the house and their verdict was: "stunning". High praise, indeed”.

 
 

Lemon or Lime Bars

Crust

8oz/225g softened butter (not melted)

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9oz/ 250g plain flour

2oz/ 60g icing sugar

1/4 tsp salt

Filling

4 Eggs

14oz / 400g sugar

1oz / 30g Cornflour

3 tbs Lemon or Lime Juice

1 tbs Water

6 drops Lemon essential oil or Lime essential oil

Topping (after baking)

2oz/ 60g icing sugar
1 drop Lemon essential oil or Lime essential oil

Mix butter, flour, icing sugar and salt together, either by hand or in a food processor (this won’t take long) until it resembles breadcrumbs and press into a lined 9’x13’ baking tray. Bake at 180 degrees/160 degrees fan oven for 15 mins.

Whilst baking, whisk eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the lemon or lime juice, essential oil, water and cornflour and stir. Pour mixture over part baked crust and bake for a further 25-30 mins. Allow to cool slightly.

Mix icing sugar and essential oil in a small bag and sprinkle over the top, using a sieve. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

Sylvia says: “What can I say? These bars are absolutely scrummy and freeze well. Not ideal if you are trying to cut down on sugar, though! Mike (my husband) snaffled three in one go and that's a pretty good endorsement, in my book”.