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Caramel Apple Cheese Cake tart

Thursday, 25th May 2017


Caramelised apples make a very impressive topping to a regular cheese cake.  Cooking the base ensures the biscuits don’t go soggy and there is a distinct separate layer between the two mixtures.    Choose a medium fat cheese for a good flavour and texture.  The low fat varieties often make the cake watery.


Preparation Time:  40 minutes 
Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes  -  Plus 8 – 12 hours chilling time.
Serves: 8- 10





200g finely ground gingersnap biscuit crumbs

75g finely chopped toasted pecans

50g butter, melted

Vegetable cooking spray



900g cream cheese

100g light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon mixed spice or cinnamon



800g Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 2 cm thick wedges

50g light brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons apricot jam  



  1. Prepare base: Preheat oven to 200 C/ 400 F/ gas mark 6.
  2. Stir together gingersnap biscuit crumbs and butter in a medium bowl until moist.
  3. Press crumb mixture on base and up sides of a lightly greased (with cooking spray) 22 cm loose based cake tin.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove and set aside.
  5. Prepare Filling: Whisk cream cheese, sugar, egg and mixed spice with an electric mixer until smooth.
  6. Pour cream cheese mixture into prepared base and spread evenly.
  7. Bake at 170 C for 20 to 35 minutes or until centre is almost set.
  8. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 40 minutes). Chill 8 to 12 hours.
  9. Prepare Topping: Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add apples and sugar and cook, stirring often, 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove saucepan from heat, and cool apples completely (about 30 minutes).
  10. Arrange apples on top of chilled cheesecake in a decorative fashion. (To achieve a rosette look, start by arranging apples in an overlapping circular pattern about 2 cm from the edge of the crust. Make a second small circular pattern inside the first. Thinly slice some of the cooked apples, curl them, and place in the centre of the tart.)
  11. Microwave apricot jam in a small microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 20 to 30 seconds or until melted and smooth.
  12. Brush apples with half of the apricot jam.
  13. Preheat grill with oven rack 15 cm from heat/ middle shelf.
  14. Grill tart 3- 5 minutes or just until apples begin to brown.
  15. Remove from oven, and brush apples with remaining apricot jam mixture. Chill 1 hour before serving.

Check the latest cookery classes and events for singles.

Denise Phillips - Professional Chef and Cookery Writer
           T : 01923 836 456                 
E : [email protected]
W :

Salted Pretzels

Thursday, 18th May 2017


The story of pretzels, according to legend began in AD 610 when some Italian monks presented their students with a twisted shaped dough in the design of crossed arms as a treat for saying their prayers correctly.  The custom spread and now became known as a gesture for good luck, long life and prosperity and its 3 holes represented the Holy Trinity – father, son and Holy Spirit. Later on during the 17th century pretzels became popular during Lent when meat, dairy and eggs were prohibited.


The first pretzel were baked as soft similar to those of today.  Some say that they were originally called ‘ bracellae’ meaning ‘little arms’ in Latin. From here we get the German corruption to Bretzel. In time they spread through Europe and were often distributed to the poor as a way of providing them with both spiritual and actual nourishment.


In 1614 in Switzerland royal couples used a pretzel as part of their marriage ceremony to seal the bond of matrimony; which is perhaps where we get the phrase ‘tying the knot’!   During the 17th century children wore pretzel necklaces at New Year as a good luck omen.

The Jewish connection stems from the German migration from Eastern Europe to America.  There are numerous stories of vendors selling pretzels during the Great Depression on the streets of Lower East Side of New York, very similar to the bagel. They are also cooked alike, first in boiling water followed by a hot oven.


I have used a different type of salt, which is a 100% natural salt alternative that is made using an original secret recipe. It contains 0.2% sodium and has all the flavour of regular table salt and sea salt.


Preparation Time: 30 minutes plus proving   
Cooking Time: 50 minutes                   
Makes 15 -18


For the dough

500g strong white flour

5g ‘saltneys’ salt

1 tablespoon sugar

7g dried fast-action yeast

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

300ml warm water


Oil, for greasing

20g bicarbonate of soda


To finish

20g ‘Saltneys’ salt

50g sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, poppy seeds,





  1. Mix 100ml water with the yeast.  Mix together and leave for 3 minutes until you can see bubbles come to the surface.
  2. Add the flour, salt, sugar and oil to a bowl. Using a mixer ideally with a dough hook, add the yeast mixture and remaining 200ml water and mix until a dough is formed.  
  3. The dough should be stiff but not sticky. Continue to mix until the dough is smooth and glossy.
  4. Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and leave to prove in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
  5. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ Gas mark 4.
  6. Once proved, turn the dough out and divide into pieces about 65g each.
  7. Using your hands, take each piece, and roll the dough into a long sausage shape, tapering the ends, and creating a slight bulge in the middle. Each piece should be about 40cm long. As you roll out the ropes you should apply some pressure to the dough, working from the middle outwards, pushing out any air bubbles that may have formed in the dough.
  8. The traditional and quickest way to shape a pretzel is to take hold of each end of the strand and lift it into the air to create a U-shape. Then, without letting go of the ends, and in one swift movement, flip the centre of the U, propelling it to form a double twist.
  9. Lay it back down on the work top and lightly press the tapered ends onto the opposite sides of the pretzel, attaching them to each side of the central bulge.  A classic pretzel shape has three equally spaced sections. Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment paper.
  10. Add the bicarbonate of soda to 7 litres of boiling water, and gently drop each pretzel into the boiling water for approximately 20 seconds. Gently remove and place on the baking tray. While the dough is still wet from the water, glaze with egg yolk and then sprinkle over the salt and sesame seeds.
  11. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until they are a deep brown colour and crispy.
  12. Place the baked pretzels on a wire cooling rack.

  1. Check the latest cookery classes and events for singles.

    Denise Phillips - Professional Chef and Cookery Writer
               T : 01923 836 456                 
    E : [email protected]
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Mujaddara ~ Lebanese rice and lentils

Friday, 12th May 2017


This is a tasty winter warming vegetarian dish; the topping of crispy onions is my favourite!  The spice mix gives the rice an amazing aromatic taste that will enhance whatever other dish you serve with it.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes             
Cooking Time:  50 minutes          
Serves: 8



300ml sunflower oil – for frying

6 onions – peeled and sliced in rings

4 tablespoons plain flour –seasoned


300g green lentils

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons cumin seeds

4 tablespoons coriander seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

500g basmati rice

1 teaspoon sugar

1 litre vegetable stock


Garnish: Sprigs of coriander leaves



  1. Heat the sunflower oil in a deep heavy based frying pan until the oil starts to sizzle.
  2. Coat the onions in the seasoned flour, dust off any excess and fry in for 3-4 minutes until golden and crisp.   Drain on a rack and set aside.
  3. Cook the lentils according to the packet instructions with stock or in the steam oven for 20 minutes on 100% steam.  Drain and set aside.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pan.  Add the cumin and coriander seeds. Cook for about 2 minutes or until they become fragrant.  Add the turmeric and cinnamon.  Cook for another minute.
  5. Add the rice, sugar, lentils and vegetable stock. Season well. Bring to the boil and simmer covered for about 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave for a final 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in half of the fried onions.
  7. Transfer to a serving dish.


Garnish with the remaining fried onions and sprigs of fresh coriander.

Check the latest cookery classes and events for singles.

Denise Phillips - Professional Chef and Cookery Writer
           T : 01923 836 456                 
E : [email protected]
W :

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Friday, 5th May 2017


You can’t beat this all-time Chinese family favourite.  My recipe brings your restaurant flavours to the table!  The Chinese New Year is 19th February this year and the Chinese are celebrating the Year of the Sheep. Celebrations are in style with major activities in Chinatown as well as in local restaurants.


Preparation Time: 30 minutes      
Cooking Time: 10 minutes                      
Serve: 4 people



For the Sauce

1 x 425g tin pineapple chunks

2 tablespoons corn flour

2 tablespoons dark soya sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons soft light brown sugar

1 tablespoon tomato puree

½ red chilli – finely chopped


3 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 chicken breasts – skinless and boneless

1 red onion- peeled and sliced

4 spring onions – trimmed and sliced

2 red peppers – deseeded and cut into chunks

2 yellow peppers

4 cloves garlic – peeled and finely chopped

30g fresh ginger – peeled and finely grated

Freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the sauce, drain the pineapple in a sieve over a bowl and keep all the juice – you should have about 150ml.
  2. Put the cornflour in a large bowl and stir in three tablespoons of the pineapple juice to make a smooth paste. Add the remaining juice and 150ml water, then stir in the soya sauce, vinegar, sugar, tomato puree and chilli until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
  3. Cut each chicken breast into eight or nine even strips.
  4. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok and stir-fry the onion and peppers for two minutes over a high heat.
  5. Add the remaining oil and the chicken to the pan and stir-fry for two minutes until coloured on all sides.
  6. Add the garlic, ginger and pineapple chunks and and stir-fry for 30–60 seconds.
  7. Give the cornflour and pineapple mixture a good stir and add it to the pan with the chicken and vegetables.
  8. Stir well, season with some ground black pepper and bring to a simmer.
  9. Cook for 5 minutes until the sauce is thickened and glossy and the chicken is tender and cooked throughout, turning the chicken and vegetables a few times.

Check the latest cookery classes and events for singles.

Denise Phillips - Professional Chef and Cookery Writer
           T : 01923 836 456                 
E : [email protected]
W :

Wild Garlic and Turnip Soup

Friday, 28th April 2017


Wild garlic grows abundantly in woodlands and is particularly plentiful all over Hampstead Heath! It does not look like the white bulbs you see in the supermarket; it looks more like spear-tip-shaped grass blades with small many-petalled white flowers. I am using the leaves for this recipe, but the flowers are edible too! The growing season is from late February to May so they are definitely available over Pesach.  However if you can’t find or purchase it, substitute fresh spinach leaves instead.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes 
Cooking Time: 40 minutes      
Serves: 4-6 people


1 bulb garlic – separated but unpeeled


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions – peeled and roughly chopped

3 turnips – about 650g peeled and roughly chopped

225g potatoes – peeled and roughly chopped

1 litre vegetable stock

200g wild garlic leaves – substitute spinach if not available

Sea salt and freshly black pepper


Garnish:   2 leaves of fresh garlic – finely chopped



  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F/ GM 6.
  2. Roast the unpeeled garlic for 20 minutes or until soft.  Leave to cool before removing the skins.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan. Add the onions, turnip and potatoes. Season well and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.   Add the peeled garlic and wild garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Liquidise in a blender until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning. Reheat just before serving.


To serve the stylish way:   Sprinkle over chopped wild garlic leaves and dust with a sprinkling of black pepper.


Check the latest cookery classes and events for singles.

Denise Phillips - Professional Chef and Cookery Writer
           T : 01923 836 456                 
E : [email protected]
W :

Sweet Potato and corn Salad

Friday, 21st April 2017


This makes a fantastic light lunch or serve as a great side salad when you are having friends over. It’s perfect with anything! 

Preparation Time:  25 minutes    
Cooking Time: 30 minutes  
Serves: 4 people                


2 whole sweet corn cobs – husks removed


1 small red onion – thinly sliced into rings

3 limes – zest and juice

600g small sweet potatoes –scrubbed and quartered lengthways

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


100ml coconut milk/ cream

3 tablespoons fresh coriander

1-2 red chilies – deseeded and finely chopped – optional

1 baby gem lettuce – cut into large pieces



  1. Cook the corn in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain.
  2. Preheat the grill / griddle pan on medium heat and cook the corn until it is slightly golden.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Remove kernels from the cob.
  4. Combine the onion and 2 tablespoons lime juice in a bowl. Set aside to slightly pickle.  This turns the onion into a beautiful vibrant pink colour!
  5. Either steam the sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons lime juice on 100* for 5 minutes or cook on the hob for 5 minutes with 100ml water.  Sweet potatoes need to be just soft.
  6. Transfer to an oven tray, drizzle with oil and grill for about 5 minutes or until slightly charred.
  7. Place the coconut cream/ milk, lime zest and remaining juice in a bowl. Season well and stir to combine.
  8. Combine the potato, corn, baby gem pieces and drained onion onto plates.  Drizzle with coconut dressing.


Garnish: Sprinkle with chilli – if using. 


Check the latest cookery classes and events for singles.

Denise Phillips - Professional Chef and Cookery Writer
           T : 01923 836 456                 
E : [email protected]
W :

Passover Blueberry Muffins

Thursday, 6th April 2017



Love these blueberry muffins, breakfast on the run, lunch box snack or treat when needed! 

They freeze too so make them in advance.


Preparation Time:  15 minutes           
Cooking Time: 30 minutes       
Makes 16.          



150g cake meal

100g ground almonds

 2 teaspoons Passover baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

110g butter

200g caster sugar

1 teaspoons vanilla essence

2 eggs

100ml milk

225g fresh or frozen blueberries ( If using frozen defrost and drain any excess liquid before cooking)




  1. Preheat oven to 160 C / Gas 3.
  2. Line muffin tin with paper cases.
  3. Mix cake meal, grounds almonds, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
  4. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs and beat well. Add milk and cake meal mixture. Beat until combined. Stir in blueberries.
  6. Fill muffin cases so that they are 2/3 full.
  7. Bake at 160 C / Gas 3 for 25 to 30 minutes or until just golden.



Check the latest cookery classes and events for singles.

Denise Phillips - Professional Chef and Cookery Writer
           T : 01923 836 456                 
E : [email protected]
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Seder Brisket with Pomegranate and Lemon Gremolata

Thursday, 30th March 2017


A new recipe that is tried and tested ‘amazing’ is just what one needs for Seder night!  This succulent piece of brisket just melts in the mouth.  Make it in advance, slice and keep warm.  What could be easier…….?


Preparation Time:  25 minutes plus 2 hours refrigeration

Cooking Time: 2 hours 40 minutes         

Serves:  6- 8 people




4 garlic cloves - peeled and finely chopped

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1 piece beef brisket 1.8kg – 2kg

2 tablespoons olive oil


2 lemons – zest and juice

2 tablespoons beef powder with 300ml hot water- to make beef stock

150ml red wine/ Kiddush wine


Pomegranate Gremolata/ Herb Topping

3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

100g split almonds

1 lemon – zest only  

2 garlic cloves – peeled and finely chopped

Flaked sea salt

1 pomegranate – remove seeds



  1. Prepare the brisket by mashing garlic and a pinch of salt using a mortar and pestle/ rolling pin or the side of a knife until a paste forms.
  2. Smear brisket with the paste and transfer to a baking dish.
  3. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 160C/ 325 F/ Gas mark 3.
  5. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  6. Sear brisket until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes and then transfer to an ovenware dish.
  7. Pour lemon juice, stock and wine over brisket and cook covered for 2 hours. Uncover for a final 15 minutes.
  8. To make the gremolata/ herb, combine the parsley, chives, split almonds, lemon zest, and garlic. Season with sea salt.  Add pomegranate seeds.
  9. Slice brisket. Serve with pan juices and pomegranate gremolata.

Check the latest cookery classes and events for singles.

Denise Phillips - Professional Chef and Cookery Writer
           T : 01923 836 456                 
E : [email protected]
W :

Aubergine & Pomegranate Salad

Thursday, 23rd March 2017


I love this combination of fresh pomegranates and smoky aubergine.  This salad is so useful ~ enjoy on its own, as part of a buffet or with fish or meat and definitely perfect for Shabbat lunch.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes            
Cooking Time:   30 minutes         
Serves: 6


6 large aubergines

3 large red peppers

2 tablespoons fresh parsley – finely chopped

2 cloves garlic – peeled and finely chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

Pinch ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses or date syrup

Juice of 1 lemon.

100g pomegranate seeds

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Garnish: 2 tablespoons parsley



  1. Blister and char the skins of the aubergine and peppers either on a BBQ, under the grill or on the hob until they are crisp and completely charred.  This will take about 20 minutes under a hot grill.
  2. Place the peppers in a bowl covered with cling film and put the aubergines in a sieve. Remove the skins when completely cool. When the skin of the red pepper has been removed, discard the seeds and stalk and roughly chop the flesh.
  3. Using a large metal spoon, scoop out the flesh of the aubergine, discarding any charred skin. Chop into smallish chunks, put the pepper in the bowl and mix together.
  4. Add the parsley, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt and pepper.  Mix well.
  5. Transfer to a flat platter to serve.
  6. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses, scatter with parsley and pomegranate seeds.

Check the latest cookery classes and events for singles.

Denise Phillips - Professional Chef and Cookery Writer
           T : 01923 836 456                 
E : [email protected]
W :

Mixed Mushroom Panzanella

Thursday, 16th March 2017


Panzanella is the traditional Italian tomato and bread salad. It is a peasant dish born out of necessity to use up stale bread.  Although there are numerous variations of the recipe, they all conform to using the country style dry Tuscan bread.  Don’t waste your time using fresh bread as it will disintegrate. Other optional ingredients include roasted peppers, olives and anchovies.

In this version I have used a selection of wild mushrooms with basil. It makes a tasty starter and just omit the mozzarella for a parev or vegan option!

Preparation Time: 15 minutes  
Cooking Time: 20 minutes    
Serves: 4 people


3 tablespoons olive oil

200g Italian bread eg ciabatta – cut into cubes

2 cloves garlic – peeled and finely chopped

1 red onion – peeled and finely chopped

650g mixed mushrooms – sliced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

100g heirloom / baby plum tomatoes- cut in half

125g buffalo mozzarella

4 tablespoons fresh basil – roughly chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper



  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F? Gas mark 6.
  2. Drizzle the bread with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in the oven for 8 minutes or until golden. Remove and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in the pan and sauté the garlic and onion for 5 minutes or until soft. Remove and set aside.
  4. Then sauté the mushrooms until golden. Cook until nearly all the juices have been absorbed.  Add the cooked onion, garlic , lemon juice and season.  Remove and set aside.
  5. Tear the mozzarella into pieces and add the tomatoes.
  6. Combine all the ingredients together and serve.

Garnish: Basil leaves and a dusting of freshly ground black pepper

Check the latest cookery classes and events for singles.

Denise Phillips - Professional Chef and Cookery Writer
           T : 01923 836 456                 
E : [email protected]
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