Thursday, 7 June 2012

Jubilee Cheesecake and Red, White and Blue Salad (Apple, Watercress, Walnut and Blue Cheese)

And we're back. Flags have been waved, flotillas have been cheered, Queens have been sighted (we were at traffic lights, her car zoomed past on the other side of the road - and she waved right at us!). Union Jacked plates/glasses/party hats/napkins/socks/cufflinks/hankies/headbands have all been displayed, enjoyed, then quietly put away or discarded. We made and hung bunting, then hastily ripped it down when the rain drenched it and the colours ran all down our house. It was epic. I'm a bit Jubileed out now, to be honest.

Before signing off for the weekend I promised some patriotic recipes and a mere matter of days a week later, here they are. Admittedly, far too late for anyone to use them for the Jubilee but there are still the Olympics ahead. The Union Jack is for life, you know, not just for Jubilees. That sounds a bit BNP, doesn't it? Let's move swiftly on.

Exhibit a) is yet another shameless rehash - and, just like the cupcakes, the Jubilee theme all came down to the decoration. I reprised the clementine cheesecake from earlier this year, reducing the citrus element to just the juice of half a lemon, and adding a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste. But this time, I made it in a square tin and arranged raspberries and blueberries in a Union Jack on top. Jubilee genius! Also easy, do-ahead and delicious. There's just something about a fridge cheesecake which is so lusciously creamy, so rich but light, that I find it totally irresistible. Sod the flag, any fruit will make this a winner all summer. 

Exhibit b) was a bit more of a wild card. Tasked with bringing a salad to a party, I tried desperately to stick on-theme - and found it almost impossible. There's just not enough blue food in the world, that's the problem. So I started flicking through the most overtly British cookbook we have - Jamie Oliver's Great Britain - and bingo, there it was. A salad of red and white apple, blue cheese, oh-so-English watercress and a few walnuts for good measure. I patted myself on the back with a sigh of satisfaction and thought no more about it.

And the results? Well, I'll be completely honest. When I decided to make it, the theme was far more important to me than the flavour - but I LOVED it. The dressing is pretty strong (although obviously this depends on the cheese) but it all just worked perfectly with the peppery watercress, fresh, sweet apple and intermittent nuggets of nut and cheese. I couldn't stop going back for more - and I even scoffed the leftovers the next day when the watercress was really the worse for wear (top tip, only dress it just before you want to eat). I haven't even got proper pictures because I didn't think it would be worth a blogpost, but I was wrong. Make it, try it. Even when there isn't a jubilee.

What about you? Did you have a good time? Wasn't it a shame about the weather? Weren't the Queen's outfits perfect - ditto Kate's and even Beatrice and Eugenie? And oh, for the love of god, why Cliff Richard? Why did he smack his bum? I'm still scarred.  
Red, White and Blue Salad (aka Apple and Watercress Salad)
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Great Britain
For the dressing
- 50g blue cheese
- 3 tablespoons of cider vinegar
3 tablespoons of plain yoghurt
- olive oil
- pinch of ground black pepper
(- I didn't have a spring onion, but he says to chuck one in)
For the salad
- a bag of watercress
- a couple of eating apples, finely sliced in the food processor or on a mandoline (or with a knife if you're a glutton for punishment)
- handful of walnut bits
- more blue cheese
To make the dressing, just whiz up all the ingredients in a food process or blender (or a bowl with a fork). To make the salad, just scatter all the bits on a platter or in a bowl. Then pour the dressing over just before you want to eat it - I only used about half the amount of dressing, which was plenty. Toss, serve, yum.

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