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Award winning (!) Kiwi, Lime and Ginger Cheesecake

28 Jul

The cheesecake (minus the kiwis!!)

This recipe (save for some tweaking) appeared on my blog when it started, just over 3 months ago.

When I saw the Ocado World Recipe Challenge (to celebrate the world cup) I just had to enter this recipe which is a delicious and easy crowd pleaser. And I am pleased to say, that with the help of some friends, my lovely blog readers, and the enduring love affair that most of us have with cheesecake, the recipe ‘won’ the challenge, and was the most popular recipe out of the finalists. If, like me you are an Ocado shopper, then click the link here to the recipe, and in one easy click, you can add the ingredients to your shopping basket.

My reward, apart from bringing the secret of a quick and easy dessert to the time-pressed, is £200 to spend on a Virgin Experience Day.  I am currently debating between a chocolate making workshop, a case of wine or a day at a spa. Decisions decisions.!

In case you missed the recipe the first time around, I have published it again here. If you do give it a try, and I would love your comments letting me know how you got on.

For this recipe you will need

A round 23cm springform tin, greased and lined

250g ginger nut biscuits or 100g digestives or shortbread biscuits and 150g ginger nuts

100g melted butter

1 tin condensed milk (yes really – condensed milk. Just trust me on this one)

2 x 250g tubs mascarpone cheese

5 unwaxed limes


Make biscuits into crumbs either in the processor, or by placing them in a large (strong) clean plastic food bag and pulverizing them mercilessly with a heavy implement, like a rolling-pin. This can be quite satisfying. Mix with the melted butter. Press into base of tin, then put in fridge to set for at least half an hour, or if you are running late, try 10 minutes in the freezer.

While that is chilling, zest 2 of the limes (I use the microplane) and then extract the juice from them all. Limes can be awkward little devils, and reluctant to give up their juice. When they are warm, you get more juice out, so I often pop them in the microwave to warm them up.5 or 10 seconds per lime. I would probably put them all in and zap for 30 seconds altogether.

Empty mascarpone into a large bowl. Add condensed milk and lime juice and zest. Mix until combined and smooth (do not overmix or it becomes a little thin). You can do this by hand or with the electric beaters (about half a minute works for me).

Empty mixture into the tin, over the biscuit base. Cover with clingfilm, then place in fridge for at least 4 hours. Remove from tin once set and place on serving plate (I often leave it on the tin base, rather than risking a collapse).


Stand back and wait for the compliments. They will come. I promise..


If you don’t like limes you can make this the traditional way, using lemon juice and lemon zest (juice of 2 lemons, zest of 1), and plain digestives.

The gingernut biscuits are quite hard and make the subsequent base quite hard. As a result I tend to combine them with digestives or shortbread biscuits to alter the texture but retain the ginger taste, which contrasts well with the lime.

If like me, you make the mistake of only buying one tub of mascarpone, I have used half cream cheese. The result is a bit less firm, but still delicious.

Taste the mixture before you place it in on to the base. If you prefer a bit more zing, add the juice of another lemon or lime.

Go on, treat yourself. You deserve it


Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins. An essential component of your five-a-day?!

5 Jul

You know you want me!!

Today’s mouth-watering and seasonal recipe is provided by one of my new blogging friends, Sian, who is helping me out while I am wondering how we are going to get packed up by this time next week! Over to you Sian.

Hi Mummy in a Hurry readers, I’m Sian from Pumpkin and Piglet. Firstly I would like to thank Natalie for having me here. I’ve been reading Natalie’s blog for a while now and love her tips and quick, easy but yummy recipes so it’s a real pleasure to be here!

One of my passions is baking. For me, there is nothing more comforting than a big slice of cake, a fluffy, moist muffin or a lovely cupcake with a sweet swirl of frosting. Sometimes though, time is limited and spending too long in the kitchen is not an option.

For those days, muffins are a good answer. No faffing about making sure everything is combined just so, quick to bake and scrumptious. If time is seriously tight then you can weigh out the ingredients the day before, dry in one bowl and the wet in a jug covered in the fridge, ready to mixed together and taken out of the oven within half an hour.

There as many flavours of muffins as you can think of but I would like to share a recipe with you for Raspberry and White Chocolate muffins. This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins


  • 60g butter, melted
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Approx 120ml milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 150g raspberries
  • 100g white chocolate chunks


Preheat oven to 200oC and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

In a largish bowl combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, salt and zest.

In a measuring jug pour in the lemon juice and then enough milk to come up to the 200 mil level (it will curdle, this is fine), then beat in the egg and butter.

Pour into the dry ingredients and stir briefly. The batter should scarcely be combined and should appear lumpy. Don’t worry if there are still streaks of flour.

Fold in the raspberries and chocolate, dollop into the muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes.

Once baked, leave in the tray for 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

There you go, 12 muffins! They are best eaten the same day but will keep for another day in an air tight tin.

Fruit Cake Anyone?

8 Jun

Before you start to gag, and think of musty, dry, traditional christmas cake, just check out the picture! 

Fruit cake, Watermelon, Raspberries, Blueberries and Grapes


This is not my work, but the genius idea of one of my yummy mummy friends Marcy. She created this healthy alternative to chocolate cake for her daughters 2nd birthday. And I think it looks so fabulous, that I am going to have to steal the idea and use it next time we host a summer party.

Worlds Best Chocolate Cake?

28 May


Worlds Best Chocolate Cake?

Donna Hay




And very good she is at it too. As soon as I saw the picture of this cake (less than a week ago) I knew I had to make it. As we are about to enter June (which is birthday season in this house), I felt compelled to conduct a product test, just to see if this one was up to the job.

It soooo is.

Clearly, modesty is not one of Donna’s strong points, as the title above is her own (bar the question mark), but having tasted the cake, I think I can overlook the trumpet blowing on this occasion.

I made this with my friend Hadia, her daughter, and my 2 little munchkins.  The making of the cake batter is so easy, and a great one for the kids to join in with as no special equipment required. It was ready to go in the oven in less than ten minutes.

As this is Donna’s recipe, not mine, I have included a link to the  recipe, and video!

The cake is delicious. Dense and *dare I say it* moist, without being heavy. And the cream cheese in the frosting stops it being too sickly.

Frosting in the making


The chocolate cake batter before cooking

  • The batter for the cake is very loose, so if you are using tins that have a loose bottom, I would really recommend pre-cut cake liners. I get mine from Lakeland.
  • I found the cake took almost 55 minutes to cook (I checked it every 5 minutes from 40 minutes) not the 40-45 that Donna recommends.
  • If it is a hot day, the frosting will melt causing the layers to slide around when you cut to serve.  Chilling in the fridge for a while should eliminate this problem, but it will taste better if served at room temperature and not fridge cold.
  • It is delicious if you heat it up for 20 seconds or so in the microwave

This was sooo good, after being woken at 4-30 this morning, I could not resist its siren call, so at 6am, I had to sneak downstairs and have a slice before breakfast!!

If like me, you are a complete chocoholic, you may want to make the frosting with melted dark chocolate instead (I shall work on that and get back to you), but on the whole, this is a fantastic, and easy cake, that looks impressive. Go on, treat yourself!

Too late!

Poached Salmon and Soba Noodles with a Ginger Broth (Day 2 of The spendthrift’s challenge)

19 May

Pea and Mint Soup


Pea and Mint Soup

My plans for soup from the freezer had to be shelved when I discovered a bag of peas defrosted in the fridge. I have no idea if I put them there in a tired moment (which isn’t inconceivable given that I have found shower gel in the freezer and deodorant in the fridge in the past month!), or if my children helpfully made the transfer for me.

I have been using frozen peas to make a quick soup for many years. The preparation is minimal and the result is a fresh and light soup with a light green colour (as long as you do not overcook it – in which case you will be faced with a tasty but unattractive, muddy looking, olive-green coloured soup). Even though the result is bright green, my vegetable averse children love it.


Peas and shallots in the pan

  • 1 Dessert spoon Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallots (from freezer)
  • 340g peas
  • 500ml Vegetable stock (I use Vegetable bouillon powder to make this . If you have yet to try it, do so now. You will never again have your head swayed by a stock cube)
  • 2 large serving spoons full of home-made mash (I had some left over from last night) or 2 large baking potatoes cooked (zap them in the microwave if you have none cooked)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried mint
  1. Put pan on a low heat.

    Add some mash. Really!

  2. Add oil and shallots for a minute or two.
  3. Boil kettle and make stock
  4. Add peas to pan
  5. Add stock
  6. Add potatoes
  7. Cook for 5 minutes
  8. Add dried mint
  9. Blend in liquidiser
  10. TA DA! Lunch is ready!


Poached Salmon and Soba Noodles with a Ginger Broth

Dinner is served

Today I sought inspiration from the queen of fast and fabulous, Donna Hay. I have had a packet of Soba Noodles lingering in the back of my cupboard for about a year. I think I bought them when we returned from our foodie heaven holiday to Australia and in a fit of cooking optimism, I bought a wide selection of food that I don’t usually cook with. There is still quite a bit of it in the cupboard.

I tapped in ‘Soba Noodles’ in to the search facility on Donnas site and Poached Salmon and Soba Noodles with a Ginger Broth was the result. Perfect, as I had some Salmon fillets in the freezer. I was lacking the fresh and pickled ginger. So I spent a princely 52p on a large chunk of ginger and decided we could do without the pickled variety. As this is Donnas recipe, not mine, I have recited the ingredients below, and have included a link back to her site for full recipe and instructions.

Uncooked Soba Noodles

  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, chopped
  • 45g ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 270g soba noodles
  • 2 x 200g salmon fillets, skin removed, sliced
  • 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed and sliced
  • pickled ginger and coriander

This was simple to cook and used only one pan. The resulting dish was flavourful and light, and satisfying without feeling ‘heavy’.  I will be definite trying this out again especially once we have moved and are dishwasher-less. As I wasnt sure if the children would try the noodles, I gave them mash instead. A sure fire way to get them to try something is to make them think its special. Annabel flatly rejected her mash, and demanded some of mummy’s spaghetti!


Poached Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream

Poached Pear with Vanilla Ice Cream

I am down to my last bar of chocolate, which has me a bit concerned given the current budgetary constraints. I did however notice that I still had 12 VERY HARD pears in the fruit bowl. I am skilfully adept at missing the moment of perfect ripeness when the juice surges out from the fruit as you take your first bite. Instead I am gifted at selecting the type of pear that changes overnight from rock hard to slightly shrivelled, woolly and tasteless!

To keep the children happy with the promise of dessert I decided to poach some of the pears. In theory this should be a thrifty dish. Save for the fact that almost every recipe that you come across for poached pears suggests that you use a bottle of wine, or some vanilla pods or both. All very well, but it tends to increase the cost of the dish by at least £5. So, for a thrifty midweek dessert, I find a light syrup, flavoured with some lemon and vanilla extract will leave you feeling both satisfied, and solvent. The only truly laborious part of this exercise was the peeling of the pears. If you have a good grips peeler, it will take all of 5 minutes. And after leaving the mixture to quietly simmer on the stove top for 45 minutes, infusing the air with the homely scent of pears and vanilla, you will have dessert for today, and if you are not too greedy, some for tomorrow too.

  • 6 dessert pears, peeled
  • 150g sugar
  • 1 litre water
  • peel and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Mix water, sugar, lemon juice and peel and vanilla extract, in a medium-sized pan. Add pears. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes (if the pears are ripe, maybe 10 minutes less). If you are not sure if they are cooked try one with a knife. You are looking for texture that is firm, but will yield with a little pressure from a knife.

Serve warm, with a little of the juice, and some ice-cream. Or mascarpone. Or some dark chocolate, melted then drizzled over the pear….

Day 2 Summary

Total spend for the week so far £16.60. Remaining budget, £18.40. 5 days to go and counting.

Chicken Pie and Chocolate-dipped Strawberries

6 May

'Dinosaur' Chicken Pie


As it has been quite a while since my children stopped eating mush, I am loath to make separate meals for them. Although there are some spicy dishes we like that are probably a bit too old for them at the moment, often I try to cook just one dish that the whole family will eat. Chicken Pie is a winner every time, and if you are using leftovers, and shop-bought pastry, it’s almost too easy. 

This dish is a favourite of mine and provides a great opportunity to feel thrifty and virtuous as slightly jaded looking herbs and vegetables from the back of the fridge are brought back to life. A cursory review of our fridge today revealed some spinach about to hit its sell by date (well actually its 3 days over but it looks just about okay), a small tub of crème fraîche, and half a small bunch of tarragon that had long ago given up hope of a rescue. And of course I still had some roasted chicken left over from the weekend’s food fest. 

I keep a supply of ready rolled puff pastry in the freezer.It is a bit more expensive than the stuff that you roll yourself, but there is less mess to clear up, and there is no need to defrost it for hours. With the ready rolled pastry I take it out of the freezer an hour or so before using it (just leaving it out on the side) and hey presto, you are ready to go. 

Mr Mummyinahurry's Pie


I make this pie in 2 ways. In the oven in a big dish if it is just for adults. But if I am making it for the children I choose the stove top method. When I first started making these, I would oven cook these small individual pies for the children which they love. However, the big drawback of that method is that the pots stay so hot, you have to wait for ages before it it safe for them to eat. So I switched to this much quicker alternative method of making it on the stove top, and cooking the pastry separately. That way, they can have a serving in their own dish, but it wont burn them. And if Mr Mummyinahurry is working late, I can just set aside a serving for him in a small lasagna type dish, and just put the pastry on and pop it in the oven when he gets home. 


INGREDIENTS (for 2 under 5s and 2 adults) 

300G cooked chicken 

200ml crème fraîche 

200ml vegetable stock 

1 dessertspoonful chopped tarragon 

1 tsp ready chopped (frozen) garlic 

1 sheet all butter puff pastry (230g) 


Remove the pastry from the freezer about 1 hour before you need it and turn oven on to 200 degrees (or 180 for a fan oven) about 15 minutes before you want to start. 

Sometimes I cut out shapes for the children using biscuit cutters, or I just leave it in one large oblong as it comes. It cooks very well on a pizza stone. Cook for about 15 minutes. 

While the pastry is cooking. Boil the kettle and make up about 200ml vegetable stock or chicken stock. Put the torn or chopped chicken into a pan on a low heat. Add tarragon (chopped) and crème fraîche, and the stock. Blanch spinach under boiling water, then squeeze out all the excess juice (I use a clean tea towel). Chop spinach finely then add to the mixture. Make sure the chicken it is warmed thoroughly. I found the same amount of time the pastry was in oven (15 minutes) was enough. 

The recipe above gives a delicious, light but thin sauce. For a thicker sauce, I would suggest mixing a teaspoon of corn flour with a dash of milk until it is smooth, then adding it to the mixture at the beginning. Bring the mixture to a simmer for about 5 minutes and check to ensure that you cannot still taste the flour. 

If you have vegetable hating children you may wonder why I would even try to serve a dish containing such an obvious green vegetable. My eldest, David,  is very vegetable averse at the moment. However, he loves broccoli with boursin, so I hoped that a creamy sauce would work. It didn’t. Until I tempted him with the promise of dessert. Chocolate dipped strawberries. Needless to say he cleaned the plate! 


I have made this with leeks/mushrooms/carrots/frozen mixed veg or whatever needs using up. If I am short on the quantities of chicken, I add cooked pancetta or bacon. If you are making one large pie, you will probably need to allow about half an hour in the oven. Keep an eye on the pastry to make sure it doesnt burn. 


These were an instant hit in our house. I have heard that this portion of strawberries gives roughly one days RDA of vitamin C. A bonus.  I use dark chocolate which is full of the good stuff and not so much fat or sugar. And if you use greek yoghurt, then this dessert is practically a health food! 

INGREDIENTS (per person) 

Childrens strawberries with chocolate dip


6 or 7 small strawberries 

20g dark chocolate (70%) 

1 dessert spoon crème fraîche (cream or greek yoghurt would also work) 


Place chocolate in small ramekins. Melt in microwave. I zap it for 20 seconds at a time until melted. About 80 seconds in total did it. Mix in crème fraîche (do this quickly or the cool of the crème fraîche   may set the chocolate). The result is a thick ganache type cream. 

Rinse strawberries then dry (leave green stalky hull to grip) 

Serve (with wet wipes on hand for chocolate faces and fingers) 

The 'grown-up' version


My preference is to skip the creme fraiche and to have the dark chocolate in its pure, molten, unadulterated form…. 


These ramekins are fab for serving up bits and pieces for the children. The children love to feel all grown up with proper china.  And I don’t mind too much if they get damaged as they were free with  M&S Creme Brulee.

Fast Feast

4 May

This is not, as the title might imply, a recommendation that you eat quickly. This is my combination of a few recipe ideas, that represent a template for a simple yet sumptuous buffet that will comfortably feed a crowd, without sending you into a stressed host(ess) meltdown.

These tried and tested recipes can be prepared ahead, and require only minimal supervision in the kitchen, allowing you to join the party and share a drink and nibbles with your guests while the main course is cooking.

This particular menu was borne out of my usual knack of over scheduling our weekend. We had planned to meet friends for brunch, on the same day that I had offered to host my brother’s 30th birthday get together for the entire family later in the day (8 adults and 6 children ranging in age from 11 to 4 months old). As I was short on time, I decided to provide only one main course that would be suitable for all.

As we were going to be out for a good part of the day, nearly all of this was prepared ahead. In total (aside from cooking times) the preparation took about 1 hour.






The amount of food that I prepared here, was far too much. I do however, follow Nigella’s mantra of ‘never knowingly undercatered’. And there is a distinct upside to over catering. The leftovers will provide a couple of meals that can be assembled in moments for a couple of days after the party, freeing you from the shackles of the seemingly endless meal preparation production line.


I have for the past few weeks, been making focaccia at home. I used to go to the farmers market and buy a fairly small oblong loaf, studded with rosemary, or tomatoes, or onions, paying £4.50 a time. Obviously if you are feeding a crowd, this can be a pricey addition to the menu if you need 3 or 4. After discovering how easy it is to make, I have not looked back. This takes less time to make that it would for you to find your credit card, coat and keys and leave for the supermarket. The recipe I follow is not my own, but provided by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, provided in his book River Cottage Everyday. For obvious copyright reasons, I have not re-produced it here, but if you want to make your own, there are numerous versions available on the net. You simply measure out the flour, dried yeast, water etc, leave it in the mixer with a dough hook for a few minutes, then leave it to rise. If, like me you are going out and wish to make this ahead of time then you can put it in the fridge for a few hours where it will rise slowly. When it is ready to go in the oven, stud the top with whatever you have to hand (I did cherry tomatoes and rosemary on one, and red onion chutney and goats cheese on the second), then a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt. 15 minutes in a hot oven later and it is ready.  You may have neither the time or the inclination for this step, in which case most of the supermarkets offer this bread in one form or another.


This is dish that both Jamie Oliver and Bill Granger offer a recipe for. I was a bit pushed for time and therefore didn’t have time to look up a recipe, but here is a link to Bill’s version if you want something more specific to follow.


3 free range/organic chickens, spatchcocked. (you do this by cutting out the backbone, the squashing it flat. If you are a bit squeamish about this part, then buy from a butcher and get them to do it for you)

2 x 250g tubs ricotta

2 tbsps chopped chives

2 tbsps chopped parsley

1 tbsp thyme leaves

zest of half a lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Mix herbs, salt and pepper with ricotta. Using your fingers (or a wooden spoon if you have sharp nails) loosen the skin over the breast and thighs. Push ricotta mixture under skin over breast and thighs. Drizzle chicken with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. I cooked this hot and fast. The cooking times are much more reliable if you cook from room temperature. You can make this ahead but I would advise taking it out of the fridge about an hour before you cook it. I started it off with about half an hour on 210 degrees then turned it down to 180 degrees for the last 15 minutes. If the chicken looks like it is browning too much, then cover with foil.

The first time I tried this method I was hooked, so I would urge you to try it at least once. The result is tender juicy moist chicken, complemented by the light, delicate taste of the ricotta and herbs. I left this to rest under foil for 15 minutes once out of the oven, then served on platters, with carving knife and forks for guests to help themselves.

The new potatoes were steamed then dotted with a little butter and salt and pepper.

The green bean salad, is another recipe from Bill Granger. You can, as I did, make this ahead then leave in the fridge, then dress it at the last minute.


Dessert I prepared the evening before. I made Sarah’s Lime and Ginger cheesecake, and a double batch of my five-minute brownies.

To serve I arranged the brownies on 3 glass cake stands, placed one on top of the other like a tiered wedding cake, then added a few candles.

The best part of this meal for me, was the fact that I had the chance to relax and join in. And, the children all loved the chicken and cleared their plates.

And, you may have guessed that I used banqueting roll to cover the table, so when the party was over, the table was cleared in moments, and the dishwasher (and Mr Mummyinahurry) did the washing up, giving me a chance to put my feet up and read this month’s copy of delicious magazine.

Home made focaccia bread

Three tiered brownie 'cake'