My recipe for lemon cheesecake

There are probably as many different recipes for cheesecake as there are days of the year.

The first cheesecake I ever tasted was Polish. It had a pastry base, contained curd cheese and also included sultanas and vanilla. Delicious but rather heavy, I thought.

A base using crushed biscuits rather than pastry seems to be the most popular. A straw poll among friends reveals that some prefer to use crushed ginger biscuits, others prefer digestives.

I also chanced upon a recipe which stipulated crushed shortbread biscuits and thought I would try it. It proved much too sweet for our tastes.

As for the main part of the cheesecake, the permutations seem endless. Some are cooked, some are raw. One recipe might contain ricotta cheese or curds, ready-sweetened condensed milk and gelatine, but I have seen sieved cottage cheese and lashings of double cream in others. Nutmeg and vanilla feature as popular flavourings.

I have been working on my own recipe for some time, using the minimum of ingredients and trying to reduce the fat content. I have also experimented by adding the juice and zest of a lemon, and using a topping of fresh fruit.

Lemon cheesecake

(Serves 6 to 8)


For the base

200g digestive biscuits, finely crushed

50g butter or coconut oil, melted

For the filling

350ml low-fat crème frâiche

300g low-fat cream cheese

85g unrefined caster sugar

25g plain white flour

3 large eggs, beaten

3 tbsps of lemon juice

Zest of 1 lemon


Approx 250g summer fruits or thawed frozen fruit


Finely crush the biscuits in a food processor, tip into bowl and carefully mix with the melted butter or coconut oil.

Press mixture smoothly into a lined 20cm deep sandwich tin. Or if using a shallow tin line the sides as well so that the sides are at least 4cm deep.

Mix together cream cheese, sugar and flour in a bowl before adding crème fraîche, beaten eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest.

Pour over biscuit base and bake for up to 50 minutes in lower part of oven at 180°.

It will probably still be slightly wobbly-looking when taken from the oven, and may have one or two cracks on the top. These do not matter.

Leave to cool and then put in fridge for several hours to become firm.

Before serving

Top with fresh fruit such as raspberries, sliced strawberries, blackcurrants and redcurrrants. Or at other times of the year, thaw some frozen berries. Then dust a little icing sugar on the top.

Note:  If you have any left-over slices of cheesecake they freeze well, but it is best to remove the fruit first. When thawed, add new fruit on the top, ensuring that you cover any juice marks from when it was first served, and remember to add a little icing sugar on the top.




Leftover turkey ideas

THIS is the time of year when there is leftover turkey in the fridge. What’s to be done with it? If you’ve had enough of cold slices with cold stuffing and cold bread sauce, it can be sliced and put in the freezer and used within a few weeks, or you can make a savoury white sauce and serve it as blanquette of turkey.

Alternatively, you could mince or finely chop brown and white turkey meat together and make turkey meatballs. This recipe was inspired by seeing one for beef meatballs which were cooked in tomato sauce.

Turkey balls in tomato sauce.

Turkey meatballs in tomato sauce   

Serves 4


500g minced turkey meat (cooked or raw)

2 tbsps of fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs

1 finely chopped sage leaf, or 1 tsp dried sage

Salt & black pepper

1 large egg, beaten

For tomato sauce

1 onion, chopped (approx. 200g)

1 clove of garlic, crushed

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp maple syrup


Mix turkey and seasoning together in a bowl, add breadcrumbs and beaten egg, then, on a floured surface, shape the mixture into 20 balls.

Bring the sauce ingredients to the boil, lower the heat and carefully add the turkey meatballs in the sauce.

Cover and simmer gently for about 40 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Once cooked, place meatballs in warmed serving dish and cover with the tomato sauce.

If you prefer, you can use the same ingredients to make turkey burgers. Just use a tablespoon to make eight burger shapes and gently fry them, 10 minutes on each side, in a lightly oiled frying pan. See photo below.

Turkey burgers

Date, banana and walnut cookies

So you can’t stand mince pies either?

Your alternative could be these date, banana and walnut cookies. They also happen to be sugar-, dairy- and gluten-free.

There is no hard pastry and no mincemeat or bitter orange peel anywhere near them.

You can eat them all year round too, and not just at Christmas.

 Date, banana & walnut cookies

Makes approx. 18-20


85g dried dates, finely chopped

85g walnuts, finely chopped

3 medium bananas (skin-off weight approx. 225g)

2 cups of oats (buy gluten-free oats if you wish to)

3 tbsps veg oil, such as extra-virgin olive oil mixed with linseed oil

1 tsp vanilla essence


Mix everything together really well and put tablespoons of the mixture onto an oiled or lined baking sheet.

Flatten them down a bit (they won’t spread while cooking because there is no egg/S-R flour/bicarb) and bake for about 20 mins max.

Leave to cool before storing in box in fridge.

They soften rather nicely after a day in their box.

I particularly like this recipe because, not only do the cookies taste good, but you only need to wash up one bowl and one spoon.

When Mary Berry came to town

Mary Berry pictured with her assistant, Lucy Young, in Salisbury.

WHEN this photo appeared on my computer slideshow I realised that I had taken it exactly 12 years ago.

Mary Berry and her long-serving assistant, Lucy Young, came to give a demonstration in the studio at Waitrose in Salisbury on 30 November 2005, and as far as I know that was the last time they visited this part of the county.

Since then, the legendary Mary has seen her career take off once more. Thanks to the BBC’s Great British Bake Off, her professional wisdom has been shown to a new generation of cooks and would-be cooks. A well-established television cook and writer of dozens of cook books over several decades, she had reached an age when she could have been forgiven if she’d declined the invitation to co-host the show.

So thank you, Mary, we salute you for proving that age need not be a barrier to success.

Banana and berry crumble

FRUIT crumble in autumn and winter is a great way to use berries, freshly picked or frozen.

This recipe, which uses bananas to sweeten the berries, is inspired by Tony Turnbull in his hugely useful book, “The Only Recipes You’ll Ever Need”.

It contains 250 recipes that cover just about every main ingredient you are likely to use. From chick peas to chicken, from duck to puff pastry, chocolate to salmon, it’s all there in plain language and beautifully illustrated.

His crumble recipe, however, contains slightly fewer ingredients in the crumble and a lot more sugar than mine.

Banana and berry crumble

Serves 4


500g mixed berries, fresh or frozen (blackberries, blueberries, etc)

4 medium bananas (skinned weight c. 400g), sliced into coins

100g butter

100g plain flour

1 tablespoon demerara sugar

75g jumbo oats

3 tablespoons almond flakes


Put berries and banana pieces into oven-proof dish.

Place butter and flour in food processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in sugar, oats and almond flakes.

Scatter crumble mixture over berries and bananas. Bake at 180ºC/Gas mark 4 for 40 minutes or until golden. Make sure the almond flakes don’t burn.

Serve with cream, crème fraiche, Greek yogurt, ice cream or custard.


A golden year for blackberries

IT may have been a poor summer for butterflies but it is certainly proving to be a brilliant autumn for blackberries.

They have been ripening over the past few weeks, depending on how much sun they have received. A north-facing hedgerow will produce blackberries later than one that faces south.

The Happy Moonraker quite enjoys cooking and thought you might like the following recipe that uses blackberries. Probably my favourite would be blackberry and apple cooked together but this cheesecake recipe is actually based on a classic Spanish dish. It is much simpler and has fewer calories than other kinds of cheesecake because it doesn’t require a biscuit base.

Blackberry cheesecake


200g cream cheese (organic if possible)

2 large free-range eggs

200ml organic double cream

150g unrefined caster sugar

100g blackberries

20g unrefined icing sugar


Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4. Lightly butter a 20cm (8in) cake tin. Whisk together cream cheese, eggs, cream and sugar in bowl for no more than 40 seconds. Turn mixture into prepared tin and spread the blackberries all over the top. Bake for 30 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and leave to cool. Dust with icing sugar just before serving in slices.

Full of promise: an early summer picture of blackberries waiting to ripen.

Full of promise: an early summer picture of blackberries waiting to ripen.

One evening’s blackberry harvest, ready to be frozen or put into fruit salad, smoothies, baking or eaten as they are.

One evening’s blackberry harvest, ready to be frozen or put into fruit salad, smoothies, baking or eaten as they are.

Blackberry cheesecake.

Blackberry cheesecake.

Here’s Tilly the terrier occupying herself with a little serious digging while The Happy Moonraker picks blackberries.

Here’s Tilly the terrier occupying herself with a little serious digging while The Happy Moonraker picks blackberries.