Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Getting Ahead

We've got friends coming for dinner tomorrow night, so today while both the boys were having a nap after lunch I did some advance preparations.

I've decided to cook my Baked Spiced Chicken, which always goes down well. Most of the work is done in advance so it can marinade in the fridge overnight, then I just need to tip it into a roasting tin and put it in the oven tomorrow. The side dishes I serve with it take hardly any time, so I don't spend most of the evening in the kitchen, missing out on the gossip.

Baked Spiced Chicken

4-6 chicken leg portions
150ml olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp cumin seed
2 tbsp coriander seed
large pinch coarse sea salt ( I use

With a small sharp knife, cut two or three deep slashes in the thickest part of each chicken leg. Place the portions in a freezer bag and tip in the olive oil and lemon juice. Crush the cumin and coriander with the salt, using a pestle and mortar, then add this mixture to the bag. Knot or seal the top of the bag, excluding as much air as possible, then squish and massage the chicken through the bag to coat it completely in the marinade. Put the bag in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Bake at 200°c for 45 minutes until cooked through.

A cheesecake always goes down well for pudding and this is a really good one. It's a slightly fiddled-about with version of a chocolate cheesecake with cherry sauce that was in delicious. magazine a while back. I love their way of putting it together in a loaf tin, believe me, it looks really stylish when it's turned out. I make it with Milky Bar, which appeals to my kitsch side, but you can use posh white chocolate if you want.

White Chocolate Cheesecake

Wet the inside of a loaf tin and line it with clingfilm.

150g white chocolate
250g cream cheese
142ml tub double cream

Melt the chocolate, then stir until smooth and leave to cool a little. Whick the cream until it holds its shape. Beat the cream cheese and the melted chocolate together until smooth, then fold in the cream. Spoon it into the tin and level the top. Chill it for an hour to firm up.

230g plain chocolate digestives, crushed
1 tbsp cocoa powder
70g butter, melted

Mix the crushed biscuits and cocoa powder together, then stir in the melted butter. Spoon into the loaf tin on top of the chocolate mixture and press down lightly. Cover and chill overnight.

It's easier to turn out than some cheesecakes can be, too, so that's a real plus when it's likely that people might be watching you. All my worst disasters have happened when someone was 'hovering' nearby, watching me make a cock-up. If I have time tomorrow, I'll make some chocolate curls to go on top. There are some raspberries to go with it, too.

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