Thursday, April 22, 2021

No-Bake Nutella Cheesecake


I am a massive fan of Nigella Lawson. She creates luscious recipes and writings. Not only am I attracted to her recipes, but I also love her no-excuses approach to food. I’ve watched most of her cooking shows. My favorite scenes were her pajama-clad, late-night trips to the refrigerator for a recipe leftover as a snack to end the program.  

FYI: Nigella’s new book called Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes, and Stories was released on April 20th. She wrote it this past year while spending a lot of time alone during the Covid lockdown in the United Kingdom. 

I already have a recipe picked out to try! I can’t wait to dig deeper into the book. 

This No-Bake Nutella Cheesecake is from her book Nigellissima. It was our dessert for Easter dinner. Then I enjoyed a piece almost every day in the following week. I love Nutella. It’s such a good spread on a graham cracker, and I use it to make an easy hazelnut latte. In this recipe, the cream cheese provides a tang to balance out the sweetness. 

I made one change: Nigella’s original recipe calls for a crust made with digestive biscuits. Since I didn’t have any, I used graham crackers instead. This substitution worked, but it made for a very thick crust. Next time, I’ll give the digestives a try to see if there’s a difference. Don’t get me wrong. The cheesecake tasted great even with a thick crust. 

Since I can make this dessert without turning on the oven, this will be my go-to recipe for something sweet this summer. 

Yield: 8 to 12
Author: Linda Ditch
No-Bake Nutella Cheesecake

No-Bake Nutella Cheesecake

Adapted from a recipe found in Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson. This simple recipe comes together quickly without the aid of an oven.


  • 100 grams hazelnuts, toasted (see note)
  • 250 grams (about 8 to 9 ounces) graham crackers
  • 75 grams (5 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon) soft unsalted butter
  • 400 grams Nutella
  • 500 grams (2 8-ounce packages) room temperature cream cheese
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) confectioners’ sugar


  1. Place the toasted hazelnuts into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely chopped. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Break up the graham crackers into smaller pieces and place them into the same food processor bowl you used for the nuts (no need to clean). Add in the butter and a rounded tablespoon of the Nutella. Whiz the mixture together until it starts to look like damp sand. Add 3 tablespoons of the chopped hazelnuts, and pulse 3 or so times to mix.
  3. Pour the graham cracker mixture into a 9-inch springform pan. Press the crumbs into the base and slightly up the sides to create a firm, even crust. (I used the back of a small measuring cup to do this.) Put the pan into the refrigerator to chill while you make the filling.
  4. In the bowl of a mixer, add the rest of the Nutella and the cream cheese. Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the top. Beat until the mixture is smooth. Remove the crust from the fridge and pour the filling over the top, spreading into an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining chopped hazelnuts over the top.
  5. Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours. Be sure to serve it straight from the fridge for easier cutting and put any leftovers back into the fridge.
  6. Note: To toast the hazelnuts, pour the nuts into a dry skillet and place over medium-low heat. Toss occasionally and toast until golden. I used nuts with the skins already removed, but you can wrap up the hot, toasted skin-on nuts in a clean kitchen towel to steam for 10 minutes and then rub off as much skin as possible.
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Friday, April 16, 2021

Kansas Farm to School


I am a huge fan of Kansas farmers and the hard work they put in to feed this state and the world. Today I got an interesting press release from the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). It tells a fascinating story of how the pandemic inspired the connection between farmers and ranchers to first consumers and then to schools to provide produce straight from the farm to the dinner table and school lunchrooms. So I wanted to share parts of it with you.

Maybe my Kansas friends are already familiar with Shop Kansas Farms. The story began about a year ago after Rick McNary and his wife, Christine, were eating “a great meal of beef” that they had purchased from a farmer in Anthony, Kansas.

“As we settled in to watch a Hallmark movie, my wife commented that the meat counter was empty at the grocery store that day,” McNary wrote on the Shop Kansas Farms website. “I grabbed my laptop and created the Facebook group, Shop Kansas Farms, for the sole purpose of connecting you to the wonderful farm and ranch families of Kansas so that you can buy your meat, veggies, dairy, and fruit directly from them! Little did I know that I was like a little kid that pulled a plug on a dam and unleashed a flood!”

In just a few hours, more than 400 people had joined the Facebook group. Within 24 hours, there were 5,000 members, and within months, the group had grown to more than 147,000 members – primarily consumers. The McNarys formed Shop Kansas Farms LLC and created a website to meet consumer requests to have a searchable directory and map of farms in Kansas. Shop Kansas Farms was awarded the Agricultural Hero Award by the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the Friend of Agriculture Award by the Kansas Farm Bureau and Butler County Farm Bureau.

Before long, the group caught the eye of Barb Depew, the Farm to Plate project director for the KSDE.  She went to the group as a consumer to find locally sourced items. Then she and McNary began to work on ideas to create a partnership between KSDE and Shop Kansas Farms that would make it easier for schools to connect with producers to get more locally produced food on students’ plates.

“It will help that the kids know where their food comes from,” Depew said.

Thanks to the partnership, the Shop Kansas Farms’ website,, now has a Farm to School link, which provides website guidance about selling local foods to schools. The link also has a list of schools that are currently providing local foods in meals and snacks and a list of farmers who now sell to child nutrition programs or are interested in providing this service.

The Farm to School program started in 2008 when the Farm Bill amended the Richard B. Russell School Lunch Act to direct the secretary of agriculture to encourage institutions operating child nutrition programs to purchase unprocessed, locally grown, and locally raised agricultural products. The initiative is an effort to connect K-12 schools with regional or local farms to serve healthy meals using local foods.

The first producer placed on the Shop Kansas Farms’ interactive map with the Farm to School program was Mark Jirak, owner of Jirak Family Produce near Cummings. He has been working with school districts for about 12 years. The farm provides a variety of items from mid-August through mid-October, including watermelon, cucumbers, jalapenos, slicing tomatoes, sweet corn, grape tomatoes, bell peppers, snacking peppers, green beans, cantaloupe, squash, and pumpkins. He recently put in an acre of high-density trellised apple and peach trees and hopes to offer apples to districts in the near future.

Jirak noted there are occasions when buying local can be more expensive. However, districts spend less money because they have less waste, which offsets a higher price. Students tend to eat more of the locally grown items because they are healthier and taste better, and schools can order precisely what they need, which also reduces waste.

“Schools are committed to providing a high-quality, nutritious eating experience,” Jirak said. “They care about the kids. It’s a good program.”

Depew and McNary are excited about the opportunities that the partnership has created.
“The connection is key to rural prosperity,” McNary said. “It’s a win-win for rural progress.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Go-To Veggie Salad


Sometimes my body cries out for vegetables. When this happens, I have three go-to recipes to satisfy the craving. In the winter, it’s a simple veggie soup. Other times, I cut up both a regular and sweet potato and toss the pieces in olive old with some large chunks of red onion, green pepper, and zucchini, and then roast it all in the air fryer. 

When warmer weather arrives, salad is the logical solution to a veggie craving. However, I’m not a big fan of lettuce salads. I like them on occasion, but typically I’ll just munch on sugar snap peas, radishes, and baby carrots, along with sliced-up cucumber, green pepper, and celery. No dip necessary, but sometimes enjoyed.

Recently, I saw an Instagram post from The View from Great Island for a chopped asparagus salad. I was inspired! What a great jumping-off point for a veggie salad sans lettuce flexible enough to fit whatever produce is in season. 

This recipe is the one I made for Easter dinner and then enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the following week. Other than the asparagus, I typically have most of the ingredients on hand. 

I can see a version of this salad showing up on my dinner table many times in the next few months.

What is your go-to veggie dish? 

Yield: 6 to 8
Author: Linda Ditch
Go-To Veggie Salad

Go-To Veggie Salad

A veggie salad sans lettuce flexible enough to fit whatever produce is in season


  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bag frozen shelled edamame, thawed
  • 1 English-styled cucumber, diced
  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, cut into 1/2 to 1-inch pieces and blanched
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • Crumbled feta cheese, to taste
  • Kalamata olives, to taste
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Place beans and veggies into a large salad bowl. Add feta cheese and olives to fit your taste.
  2. To make the dressing: In a small bowl or a jar, add the remaining ingredients. Whisk/shake well to combine. Pour the dressing over the top of the veggies, and then toss to combine. (You may not need all of the dressing.)
Created using The Recipes Generator