I don’t know about you, but I hate to admit I felt a little lost without my computer. Now, I wasn’t completely computer-less, as my lovely BIL kindly lent me one. But I’m picky and I like working with my own equipment. But now I have a new baby, and it’s good to be back to “normal.”
Which means I felt the need to celebrate, and here comes the second reason why I’m super excited: I made individual savoury cheesecakes and nailed them! Savoury cheesecakes are nothing new, but I have only ever made sweet ones so far. Also, I had never used pastry circles before and I was scared out of my wits when time came to remove them. But the cheesecakes didn’t crash and believe me, this girl was literally happy-dancing in her kitchen.
For the Parmesan shortbreads (makes 25-30 5cm/2in. shortbreads):
- 100g / 3½ oz/ ⅔ cup flour
- 75g / 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 100g / 3½ oz / ½ cup (minus 1 tbsp) cold unsalted butter
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- A pinch Cayenne pepper or smoked paprika
- 1 egg, beaten
For the cheesecake:
- 400g / 14 oz fresh goat’s cheese
- 2-3 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 2 red pepper bells
- 2 yellow pepper bells
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Optional: 4 tbsp sun-dried tomato tapenade or pesto rosso
For the shortbreads:
Place all the ingredients in a food processor. Process together for about a minute, until the mixture resemble coarse breadcrumbs, then pulse in short spurts. The dough will eventually bind. Wrap in food wrap and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F and grease or line 1 or 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
Lightly flour your work surface and gently roll out the pastry to about 5mm/0.2 in thickness. Cut out the biscuits to the size and shape you wish – anything between 3cm/1¼in and 5cm/2in. Lay them out on the baking sheets about 2cm/¾in apart.
Carefully brush the surface of each biscuit with the egg.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
Carefully lift the biscuits off the tray using a palette knife and place on a rack to cool.
Store in an air-tight container for a few days … if that’s possible!
For the cheesecake:
Preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F and line a baking sheet with aluminium foil.
Place your peppers under the grill, turning them regularly until roasted all over, about 45 minutes.
As soon as the peppers are out of the oven, place them in a Zip-top back, zip the bag and leave to cool for about 15 minutes.
Remove the peppers from the bag and, using your fingers, peel them carefully and remove the stem and seeds, then slice them thinly.
Place the peppers in a bowl with the olive oil and vinegar, toss lightly and leave to marinate for about 15 minutes.
In a bowl, combine the goat’s cheese and chopped basil. If the mixture is too dense, add a little olive oil. Season to taste.
In a bowl, or using a pestle and mortar, crush the shortbreads – you will need 4 or 5 per person.
To assemble, place a 9cm/3.5 in pastry circle on a plate and press the shortbread crumbs in.
If using tomato tapenade, add 1 tbsp and spread it evenly across the shortbread base.
Top with ¼ of the cheese mixture, then ¼ of the marinated peppers.
Carefully remove the pastry circle and repeat to make the other cheesecakes.
Decorate with basil leaves and olives (optional).