So, this has to be my favourite dessert of all time! My mum has made it for me on countless occasions and I have her to thank for this recipe. As opposed to English cheesecakes which are often heavy and thick and made using Philadelphia or other cream cheeses, this cheesecake is whipped full of air and made using low fat quark.

IMG_7929

The final product – berries optional

Ingredients

Base

75g butter

15 digestive biscuits

Filling

5 egg yolks

140g (5oz) vanilla sugar  *make in advance* – Scrape the vanilla out of two vanilla pods into a container with 140g sugar, then mix the vanilla and sugar together, add the used vanilla pods to the sugar mix and leave to infuse.

IMG_7924 (1).jpg

Vanilla sugar

1/2 kg (1lb.) quark

1 tablespoon cornflour

5 beaten egg whites

1 tsp. vanilla essence

4-6 oz. berries of your choice to cover the cheesecake (optional)

Nutritional Information: One serving (1/8th) without icing sugar or berries = 263 calories, 33g carbs, 12.4g protein, 9.8g fat

Making the biscuit base

IMG_7893.jpg

Cake tin with removable bottom, measuring 23cm wide x 7cm high

  1. Butter up the cake tin until the whole tin is covered. It’s important that you use a cake tin with a removable bottom, so that when it comes to removing the cake from the tin there are no disasters!
  2. Crush 15 digestive biscuits in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or any other kitchen utensil that can do the job. Make sure they are crushed to a fine mixture.
  3. Melt 75g of butter in a pan, make sure it doesn’t boil or burn, then turn the heat off and add the crushed biscuits to the melted butter and mix well until completely blended together.
  4. Pour the biscuit & butter mix into the cake tin and using the bottom of a big spoon, compact the mix into a layer that should be around 1cm thick.
  5. Leave to cool in the fridge for at least an hour.

Making the filling

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade.
  2. Cut a section of greaseproof paper that is 14cm high and 74cm wide, then fold it in half length ways and cut it down the middle. This will be used to line the cake tin when the biscuit mix has cooled.
  3. Cream the egg yolks and vanilla sugar until a golden smooth mixture has been made.IMG_7897IMG_7905IMG_7906
  4. Add the quark, cornflour and vanilla essence and whisk thoroughly.
  5. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl, if you haven’t already done so, until they become so stiff they can create peaks.
    IMG_7898

    Egg white

    IMG_7908

    Whisked egg white with stiff peaks

  6. Last of all, add the beaten egg whites by folding it in to the mixture slowly, adding the egg whites bit by bit. Make sure you don’t stir or whisk the egg whites into the mixture, only fold to keep adding air to the mixture – this is what is going to give it it’s fluffy and light texture.
    IMG_7911

    Fold in the egg whites with a spatula to add air

    IMG_7910

    The finished filling

  7. Take the cooling biscuit base out of the fridge. Line the circumference of the tin with the greaseproof paper, ensuring that the waxy side is facing inwards. Place the greaseproof paper on top of the biscuit base so it is resting. Don’t push the greaseproof paper in between the biscuit base and the tin and don’t leave a gap between the greaseproof paper and the tin. Make sure your greaseproof paper pieces overlap by at least 1-2cm to ensure that the cake mixture won’t stick to the tin.IMG_7916
  8. Pour the mixture into the cake tin on top of the biscuit base, making sure that the sides don’t collapse or move.
  9. Bake at 180 degrees Centigrade for 45 minutes. IMG_7921.jpgIMG_7922
  10. Take out and leave to cool for half an hour minimum. Don’t be alarmed, it will come out absolutely huge and probably looking a little charred on the top. However, you must leave the cheesecake to cool for at least half an hour. In this time it will deflate to around half the size and the “burnt” looking topping won’t taste burnt at all.IMG_7907
  11. Add around 3 -4 handfuls of berries if you wish, we used mixed berries but you can use whatever you want. The sour berry flavours compliment the sweetness of the cheesecake, you could even be adventurous and make a raspberry coulis which would also work wonderfully as a sauce to accompany the cheesecake. IMG_7935.jpg
  12. Finally, dust over some icing sugar to finish off the cake.
    IMG_7934

    Delicious!

     

 

The celebrations may be ending but the new diets are definitely beginning. It’s the cliche “new year, new me” and guaranteed you will feel like you aren’t hearing the end of it. But in all fairness, after a month of gluttony, everyone could benefit from a bit of dry January and some “detoxing”.

IMG_7805

The Detox Kitchen on Mortimer Street

The Detox Kitchen Deli on Mortimer Street is where I kick started the new, healthy approach this weekend. It’s quite hard to spot if you don’t know where it is.  There is no grand advertising outside the restaurant on this very dormant street, yet it was packed to the brim on the inside. There is even a fitness studio on the lower ground floor. Their slogan – “where healthy meets delicious” – couldn’t be more relevant.

IMG_7792

The Detox Kitchen offers a pick and choose service where you can pick the size of your portion and then choose your salads and protein accordingly. All of their dishes are wheat free, dairy free and free of refined sugar. A medium sized container is £5.95 for three to four salads and a portion of protein will cost you an extra £3.

IMG_7788

There were around eight delicious salads to choose from, three different types of protein and three vegetarian protein options. All of the food was packed full of flavour, defying the myth that healthy food has to be boring. On top of the deli food on offer, there is also an eat in brunch menu available here.

IMG_7787

There are also a wide range of smoothies and juices to choose from if that’s all you’re after – I had “protein power,” which was heavenly, and a meal in itself! One warning I would issue is that strict dieters beware as the calories aren’t listed on the food description labels. However, if you have the “My Fitness Pal” app, you can probably work it out yourself (give or take a calorie or two).

IMG_7789

Delicious vegetarian frittata at the front and other protein in the back

I’ve got to say, the food was absolutely delicious! They really go all out on flavour here, the “roasted squash, grilled pepper and paprika dressing” salad had to be my favourite – not to mention the pesto courgetti or the cauliflower and avocado salad. They don’t do boring salads here and you really have to try the food to experience the flavours.

IMG_7796

A medium sized portion with protein

The Detox Kitchen was heaving on a Saturday afternoon. The layout of the restaurant is made up of two long tables that fit about seven people each and there are a further three separate tables that can fit four at a push, meaning that if you can’t get your own smaller table you will have to share with others who are trying to enjoy their Detox Kitchen experience too.

IMG_7793.jpg

The decor is simple and modern, yellow tulips on the table definitely added a brightness to the dining experience. A wall of live plants greets you as you come in, adding to the whole earthly, detox feel they are going for here.

IMG_7790

The wall of live plants

You’ll need to check that there is available seating when you walk in as I witnessed a couple of people buying a delicious “eat in” plate of food, without first checking there were free tables to sit at, needless to say they were left standing there for a while whilst they waited for a table to free up.

IMG_7794

The staff were all incredibly lovely and three different members came over to check that the food was okay and that we had what we needed. There was a slight delay in making my smoothie so they upgraded it from a regular to a large at no extra cost which was an unexpected surprise!

IMG_7799

Protein Power

We were also given added extras of hummus and sweet potato with our meal at no extra cost. I couldn’t actually finish my regular size portion because they were so incredibly generous with their portion sizing.

The Detox Kitchen is perfect for a healthy lunch outing, I was left feeling comfortably full and extremely satisfied by what I had eaten, it’s even left me considering a dairy free & wheat free way of life. I’m dying to go back again. There are also other Detox Kitchen outlets in London that offer services such as grab & go.

IMG_7854 copy

Enjoying a Protein Power smoothie

Lunch for two with two regular sized portions, two pieces of protein, a regular smoothie and a coffee came to just over £24.

If you want to visit: Fitzroy Place, 10 Mortimer St, London W1T 3JJ

Take a peek at the website: http://detoxkitchen.co.uk

Like many of the wonderful places I have discovered in London, I stumble upon most of them by accident.

Beaufort House was definitely a worthy discovery. After getting the wrong bus home from Soho, Beaufort House was the first place we layed our eyes upon. It’s ideal if you want to let your hair down on a Friday night, but don’t want to go the whole haul with central London or a nightclub.

11289291146_e452629fff_b (1)

Beaufort House

We absolutely couldn’t make our mind up when it came to the vast cocktail menu. I opted for a honey berry sour (£9) which was divine and looked the part too, you can tell they don’t compromise on cocktail ingredients here! Check out the drinks menu here.

The atmosphere in Beaufort was fun and flirty and everyone seemed like they were having a very good time, including the staff and it felt more like we had stumbled upon a party rather than a bar with a mixed crowd. When the bar was closing up we were taken upstairs with our freshly made cocktails by a member of staff to a louder, more lively bar which was pretty packed, so much so that we made a swift exit. We didn’t quite feel like we were meant to be there and upon more research we realised we were in the private members club area, but it seemed to be totally okay, even for a Friday night where a private party was happening.

I was so impressed by the staff and cocktails at Beaufort House that I headed back with another friend for dinner on a Saturday night and it was much quieter than the last time I’d visited, far more fitting for a quiet catch-up dinner.

IMG_6467 (2)

Jess with her halloumi salad

The menu definitely has a healthier feel to it and the mains weren’t overbearing at all – perfect if you’re starting your January diet but still want to eat out this weekend.  I had sesame seed coated salmon and it was moist and fresh with mouthwatering flavours, whilst my asparagus side was crunchy and buttery – just the way you want it. There are salads, fish dishes, and the majority of the sides are on the healthy side even though they do offer the classic sides such as chips.

Dinner for two including two mains, a side, two cocktails and two glasses of wine was £65 including service charge.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 22.12.08

Beaufort House on a quieter day

Beaufort House also do a wonderful brunch menu and afternoon tea – which I’m dying to try out!

Take a peak at the website here: http://www.beauforthousechelsea.co.uk

If you wan’t to visit: 354 Kings Road, London, SW3 5UZ

 

This is one for a special occasion.

Afternoon tea is an old age tradition in England, yet it’s often seen as more fitting for the older generation. If you’re looking for something to do for a celebration or a special occasion, and cakes and tea are your thing, why not try afternoon tea at Lang (part of the Shangri-La Hotel) followed by drinks with a view at Aqua, both located in The Shard.

thumb_IMG_3961_1024 (1)

Afternoon tea for one at Lang £30

Lang describes itself as an “artisan deli” and it’s accessible by London Bridge. Lang offers an oriental feel that fits in with the rest of the Shangri-La’s theme. It’s located on the ground floor of The Shard in the Shangri-La Hotel, as I was saving my experience of the sublime views over London for the drinks part of my afternoon. However, if you want your afternoon tea with a view then there are other restaurant’s in The Shard that offer this; Ting (£49 for one), Aqua (£42 for one) and Gong (£54 for one), making Lang the most affordable, at £30 for one.

The waiter who served us was honest enough to tell us that afternoon tea for one would definitely be enough to share between two (we had already had lunch), we were also offered a complimentary pastry or cake from the beautiful patisserie selection as you walk in.

12434410_10156311187805548_952082559_n (1)

Rich hot chocolate, not complimentary with the afternoon tea but well worth getting

We were served a tantalising mix of treats – for instance, who knew earl grey scones existed? Or that apricot jam with afternoon tea was so good?

Here is a link to the current afternoon tea menu at Lang http://www.lang-shangri-la.com/afternoon-tea/

After satisfying our cake cravings we headed up to Aqua Shard on the 31st floor, notorious for its wonderful views.

IMG_3963

The view from Aqua

IMG_3965

The view from Aqua

The photos can’t do it justice but it really was magical, accompanied by a champagne cocktail – where at £16.50, you seem to being paying for the view too. It was rather busy up here as it’s obviously an infamous tourist attraction as well as a great place for Londoners who are splashing out to head to. Therefore, be prepared that you may have to stand or wait for a table to free up. However, we stood with our cocktails overlooking the view and it didn’t thwart the experience one bit.

the-shard-816341_960_720

So, if you’re looking for something a little more special and afternoon with unforgettable views, then Lang and Aqua at The Shard should be on your list.

The Shard is located at: 32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG

Website: http://www.the-shard.com

 

It’s 10pm on a cold Autumn night and I’m walking around Soho, I’m suddenly stopped in my tracks, first of all, by the sight of a crepe maker in a shop window (heaven), followed further by a colourful array of gelato at the back of the shop. All of my Summer memories from Florence came flooding back to me in an instant! I gawped through the window only to discover churros (also heaven!), waffles and cakes too.

That was it, I had to go inside.

ice-cream-crepe-218792_960_720

I headed here after a light dinner, however it’s never the wrong time of day to go for ice cream, or the wrong season – there’s a growing trend in London for swapping dinner and drinks for puddings, and why not. For pure indulgence I had the Nutella filling with white chocolate sprinkles (£4.70). I have to say it was completely worth the calorie content. You can add a scoop of ice cream and an array of toppings.

Check out the crepe and waffle menu here.

There’s a couple of tables to sit down at but not many, so you may want to take your pudding away and go for a stroll around the West End while you munch.

If you really don’t want to leave the warmth of your bed but you are now dying to try Scoop, you can have gelato from Scoop delivered to your home by Deliveroo.

If you want to visit:

Covent Garden Branch – 40 Short’s Gardens,
WC2H 9AB London

Soho Branch – 53 Brewer Street,
W1F 9UY London

South Kensington Branch – 16 Old Brompton Road,
SW7 3DL London

Opening Times:

June to August
Mon – Sun 12:00 – 24:00

September to May
Sun – Wed 12:00 – 22:30
Thu – Sat 12:00 – 23:30

Take a peek at the website:http://www.scoopgelato.com/index.html