So last weekend was the day we've all been waiting for this summer - the yearly WTF BBQ held at the Tuffney Manor in the green suburbs of South West London.

The first time I went for Dave's yearly BBQ my jaw dropped over the beauty of his house and garden. You walk into a pretty terraced house and end up in what you imagine a French cottage set amidst a vineyard in Provence with the air of a shabby chique boutique hotel should look like. I am amazed at all the carefully chosen trinkets and oddities that so clearly have been collected over a lifetime of travelling and searching through markets and antiques shops and that not only reflect Dave's and Jane's personalities but also make their home truly special. While I was surprised to find an old VW beetle in his garden last year, this year it was a set of tube doors and a few vintage underground signs here and there. To put it short - it's all pretty cool!

In true WTF fashion we had a blast to say the least. There were Halloween animal masks and a piglet to go round (courtesy of Supamike) and plenty of inappropriate jokes to last a lifetime. I guess you get the picture looking at all the evidence above.

The Tuffneys, like every year, went all out, with vast amounts of the most delicious meats and salads and a bar of spirits, beers and Pimms to quench the thirst of a whole army. You can get some of the amazing ingredients they used here.

So the whole WTF team brought their little contribution to the party. The two Owls widened our culinary spectrum with a selection of yummy zebra, ostrich and kangaroo burgers straight from Borough Market. Anthony made smokey chipotle and honey chicken wangs - finger-lickingly good is all I say (I see a guest blogpost in the making, recipe and all) and then there was the challenge for Mat and I to make a dessert to impress.

I got a little stressed, as I do, and even set up a cake/dessert Pinterest page of afters that not only tasted and looked good but would also withstand the long and hot train journey from Saaaf East to the other end of London.

Eventually I settled on a good old New York Cheesecake - which I had never made before, got Mat to make the filling for, because I was too scared I'd muck it up and ended up sitting in front of the oven staring at it hoping it wouldn't crack, or brown or collapse or anything else it wasn't meant to do.

Rest assured it ended up pretty damn good. We replaced the digestives with ginger nuts for extra flavour and added a little lemons zest. Boom - this cake was a winner!!!

Make it, you won't regret it!!!

And on a last note I would like to send a big massive thank you to Dave, Jane and the Tuffney kids for the hospitality and generosity and for making the WTF BBQ a wonderful and unforgettable event.

Etta xo 

PS We also made little polenta upside down cakes which sort of got lost in the whole hype over the cheesecake. They were yum nonetheless and you'll find the recipe on here soon.

Above images by Mikey

MAKES One 23-24cm cake
BAKES 45mins (+ 1-2 hours chilling time)

  • 150g ginger nuts or digestive biscuits
  • 75g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 900g full-fat cream cheese
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200ml soured cream
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 3 free-range eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • zest of 1 lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease and line the base of a 23-24cm spring form cake tin.
  2. Place the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin to fine crumbs. (If you have a food processor, use that)
  3. Melt the butter and add the biscuit crumbs, stir to combine. Place in the base of the cake tin and spread in an even layer, then flatten using a potato masher or your fingers.
  4. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden. Remove and leave to cool while you prepare the filling.
  5. Reduce the oven to 160˚C.
  6. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth then add the sour cream and flour and beat again. Gradually add the eggs, vanilla essence and lemon zest beating well between each addition (beat in rather than whisk as you don’t want to incorporate too much air as this will affect the smooth surface of the cheesecake).
  7. Pour the cream cheese mix on to the biscuit base then bake in the oven for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should be just set with a slight wobble and should still be cream on top with just a slight golden hint around the edges. (I had to turn the cake half way through as my oven gets hotter at the back than at the front.)
  8. Once the cheesecake is cooked, turn off the oven and prop open the door so that it is slightly ajar and leave the cheesecake to cool in the oven – this prevents the top from cracking.
  9. Once the oven is cool you can remove the cheesecake to cool completely before removing from the tin.
  10. Leave to completely cool at room temperature, remove from the tin and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

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