Candied Pumpkin Jam and Labneh Cheesecake
Photographed by Sarka Babicka
It’s a pretty exciting time over here. I’m in London at my friend and colleague Sarka‘s house and we’re getting ready for the cookbook shoot which finally kicks off tomorrow. Sarka is officially going to be photographing my cookbook, and we’re both incredibly thrilled. We had such an exciting morning, jumping, hugging, screeching- or in other words acting mad- as the props were being delivered. I asked the delivery man if we were the most excited bunch he’d come across and his reply was: “almost, Jimmy Carr was as excited when he got his delivery yesterday.”
Over the next week, I will be posting some Thanksgiving recipes with a slight Middle Eastern twist. Look out for turkey, green bean casserole and more.
And, lastly, looks like flights for the Taste Lebanon giveaway are going to happen just waiting to iron out some final details before officially announcing. We’ve also opened entry for anyone who has a Twitter account, so participating is now even easier.
Oh, and we’ve also announced the FBC5 dates and launched registration to the World’s leading food blogging conference, based in London. If you’re interested in attending, head on over and grab your early bird tickets here.
Candied Pumpkin Jam and Labneh Cheesecake
This recipe is partly inspired by the Turkish Kabak Tatlisi, partly inspired by the cheesecake and of course, partly inspired by Thanksgiving’s pumpkin pie. I do prefer this to the traditional pumpkin pie, as it’s far less sickly. The pumpkin really gets to shine and it also melds well with the zesty labneh and the subtle hint of anise. It’s also refreshingly light without trying too hard. This is not a cheesecake per se though, since it is strained yogurt. Therefore, it’s true that this cheesecake is a bit of a misnomer. When working with phyllo, ensure it is always covered with a moist towel as you butter each layer; otherwise it tends to dry up quickly. Also, if you prefer a stronger hint of anise, you can grate in another star anise to taste.
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus 1 hour for straining.
Cooking time: 40 minutes
- 500g/1 lb 2 oz/1 tub of Fage Total full fat Greek yogurt
- 60ml/4 tbsp double cream
- 1 star anise, ground
- 700g/1lb 9 oz butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled
- 250g/9 oz caster sugar
- Pinch of nutmeg
- A knob of unsoftened butter
- 60g/2 1/4 oz butter, melted
- 8 sheets of phyllo, thawed
- 50g/1 3/4 oz walnuts, roughly chopped
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/4G. To a mixing bowl, add the yogurt, cream and star anise and mix well to combine. Secure a colander over a mixing bowl, line the colander with a doubled muslin cloth and pour over the yogurt. Bring together the edges of the muslin cloth to cover the yogurt and set it all aside in the fridge to strain for about 1 hour as you continue with the preparations.
2. Slice the butternut squash into 3/4 inch/2 cm cubes, trying to get them as even as possible. Transfer the butternut squash to a mixing bowl, sprinkle over the sugar and nutmeg and toss to combine. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and then add the tossed butternut squash mixture with any sugar remaining in the bowl and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until soft. Turn grill on to high and grill for 2 minutes, till the edges are golden and caramelised. Set aside and leave to cool. Keep the oven on.
3. Meanwhile, line a baking tin or about 8 1/2 in/22cm in diameter and 2 inch/5 cm deep (I used a pyrex tart pan) with parchment paper by adding a small knob of butter to the center of the tart pan and then use this to stick the parchment paper in place. Next, use a pastry brush to lightly butter the parchment paper. Add a layer of the phyllo, brush with a little more butter and repeat for the remaining sheets, switching the overlying edges to create a balance. Cut off excess phyllo around the edges and then turn under the edges of phyllo dough up the height of the baking tin to form an even edge. Brush all the edges around generously. Blind bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges are a light golden brown. Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.
4. Once the butternut squash jam has cooled, scrape it around from the edges saving as much of the caramelisation as possible. Remove the yogurt from the fridge and discard the liquid or whey from the mixing bowl in which the yogurt has been straining. Transfer the yogurt from the muslin cloth into this bowl and then add in half of the butternut squash jam. Mix well to combine and then fill the cavity of the phyllo pie, gently spreading it to an even surface. Crumble over the walnuts and place a spoonful dollop in the center. Serve immediately with extra jam on the side. The jam will also keep well sealed in the fridge for a month and is incredible with buttered toast for breakfast.