Lemon & Berry Tiramisu

Lemon & Berry Tiramisu
Tiramisu, Italy’s version of English Trifle, is usually flavoured with coffee and chocolate however I have taken a fruity approach to create a summery dessert to suit our Southern Hemisphere climate. I made a Lemon & Raspberry version however the Lemon & Mixed Berry version is more suitable if you have a berry patch out the back like I do.  I have all sorts of berries ripening but usually just a handful or two of each – not 2 1/2 cups worth (yet – maybe next year).  I have used blueberries, strawberries, boysenberries, raspberries (red, ebony (black) and ivory (white)), as well as all the different hybrid berries we are growing (loganberries, tayberries, berry delight, ranui berries and aurora berries).  The larger berries I have cut in half or smaller so they don’t poke up out of the sabayon too much.
Home-grown Berries
I have also made this tiramisu with both stale trifle sponge and the Savoiardi.  I prefer the sponge finger biscuits as they hold their shape a little better for longer.  I haven’t yet attempted to make my own sponge finger biscuits but only because I was a little pushed for time.  Having made 6 tiramisu in the last couple of weeks, I would like to try making my own sponge finger biscuits so I don’t have to keep traipsing down to the store to buy yet another packet of sponge finger biscuits.  To use a trifle sponge – leave it out set on a cake rack so it dries out.  This will help it disintegrating into a pile of Limoncello flavoured mush.
Sponge Finger Biscuits (Saviordi)
Use any remaining Limoncello tea syrup to make a delicious punch or add some gelatine and set it into a shallow dish.  I added an extra teaspoon of gelatine so it is a firm set then cut the jelly into squares and store it in the fridge – Mr L likes to have one or two squares with his morning tea snack.

As this dessert has fresh berries, it is best eaten on the day it is prepared and any leftovers cleaned up the following day.
Lemon & Berry Tiramisu

Lemon & Berry Tiramisu

Ingredients

  • 125 ml (½ cup) water
  • Juice and zest of 1 medium sized lemon (results in about 1 T lemon zest and ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 55 g (¼ cup) white sugar
  • 1 lemon-flavoured black tea bag
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) Limoncello
  • 6 medium egg yolks
  • 85 g (6 T) vanilla sugar
  • 90 ml (6 T) Limoncello
  • 250 ml (1 cup) cream
  • 200 g mascarpone
  • 200 g Savoiardi biscuits
  • 3-4 cups of mixed fresh berries
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup grated white chocolate

Instructions

  • Heat the water, lemon zest, juice and white sugar together over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, boil for five minutes then remove from the heat. Add the tea bag and set aside to cool. Remove the tea bag and stir in the first measure of Limoncello. Set aside until required. Makes about 1 cup.
  • Whisk egg yolks in a heat-proof bowl. Set over a bain-marie or double boiler. While whisking (with an electric hand mixer) add sugar and Limoncello gradually, beating all the while making sure the water is on a very low heat (a bare simmer). Beat until the mixture is thick, foamy and a pale lemon colour (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and place in a cold-water bath and continue beating until the mixture is cool. Whip the cream until soft peaks form in a clean bowl. Gently fold the cream and the mascarpone into the egg mixture. Once all incorporated, cover and chill until required.
  • Soak the Savoiardi or stale sponge pieces in the Limoncello tea syrup for a couple of seconds then place in a single layer in a 20 x 15 cm serving dish, trimming biscuits if needed. Add 1 ½ cups of fresh berries. Spoon over half the custard (about 2 ½ cups). Place another layer of soaked Savoiardi then repeat with another 1 ½ cups berries and custard. Cover and chill until ready to serve. To serve, garnish with crumbled remaining Savoiardi biscuits, extra fresh berries, sliced almonds and finely grated white chocolate.
  • Serves 6-8
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Note: in attempt to reduce the dairy content of the Tiramisu, I also made a version that used whipped egg whites instead of the whipped cream.  To do this, reduce the amount of sugar whisked into the egg yolks by 1/4 and set it aside.  Once the egg yolks and sugar are whisked together and cooled, whisk in the drained yoghurt (see below).  In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then whisk in the sugar set aside when making the egg yolk mixture.  Fold the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, gently incorporating the two mixtures until combined.  Cover and store in the fridge until required.  Occasionally, the sabayon may separate a little – just fold together gently again before layering up the dessert.

Drained Yoghurt

I also replaced the mascarpone with drained yoghurt (or yoghurt cheese as it is sometimes called).  As my dairy-intolerant daughter can tolerate yoghurt, I just used a natural unsweetened yoghurt however if all dairy is an issue – I suggest draining a non-dairy yoghurt such as coconut milk yoghurt.  To drain yoghurt, place a sieve over a bowl.  Rinse a clean cheesecloth and place it in the sieve.  Scoop the yoghurt out into the sieve, cover it with a loose cover or a second cheesecloth.  Set aside and leave to drain for about 4-5 hours (it can be placed in the refrigerator to drain also).  Once the yoghurt is thick and of a consistency similar to cream cheese or mascarpone, it is ready to use as you would either of those products.  The liquid that has drained out is whey and can be used in baking.

Block of Choc Brownie

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This brownie is very easy and quick to whip up when unexpected visitors arrive and it can be served with coffee or as a dessert.  Use one bowl and there is very little to clean up.  The finished brownie is crunchy around the edges, chewy on top and moist in the middle.  If you like chewy more than gooey, leave the brownie in the oven for an extra 3-4 minutes.  White sugar will give a crustier top than raw sugar. I usually make this brownie with 72% cocoa dark chocolate to keep it dairy-free however the 33% cocoa with toasted coconut is extremely popular.  Any of the nut chocolates work well as does white chocolate.  Chocolate with a flavoured toffee shard such as mint or hokey-pokey turn out a delicious but sticky brownie as the toffee shards melt and sink to the bottom.
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Block of Choc Brownie

Ingredients

  • 4 medium eggs
  • 200 ml lite olive oil
  • 50 ml almond milk (or other non-dairy milk alternative)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 400 g (2 ½ cups) raw sugar
  • 70 g (2/3 cup) cocoa powder
  • 75 g (1/2 cup) white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 250 g block of chocolate, roughly chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat oven 160ºC and grease and line a 33 cm x 23 cm slice tin.
  • Place eggs, oil, milk and essence into large bowl and whisk until combined. Sift in cocoa powder, flour and baking powder. Add sugar and chocolate. Stir until combined.
  • Pour brownie batter into prepared baking tin.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes for moist & gooey in the middle chocolate brownie or leave in the oven for a little longer if you like the brownie chewy all the way through.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  • Cut into pieces (between 20 – 24 pieces) and dust with icing sugar to serve.
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Variation: Toasted Coconut Brownie

Use the 33% cocoa milk chocolate block with toasted coconut, use coconut milk instead of almond milk.  Sprinkle the brownie with ½ cup toasted chocolate chips before placing in the oven.

Variation: Dark Gingerbread Brownie

Use 62% or 72% dark chocolate and add 2 teaspoons of gingerbread spice mix when adding the flour.  Sprinkle brownie with ½ cup chopped crystallized ginger before placing it in the oven.

Gingerbread Spice Mix

2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine spices in a small airtight jar.

Beets & Beans Salad

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This recipe was partly inspired by a recipe for a beetroot, carrot and bean slow cooker casserole from Sara Lewis’ Ultimate Slow Cooker cookbook. The remaining “inspiration” was more like desperation when I needed to come up with some sort of dish to take to a pot luck dinner and the fridge was fairly bare apart from plenty of beetroot and carrots.  A salad was thrown together and turned out to be one that the family voted a ‘make again’.  It has been through several tweaks and trials and each has been a success with a different member of the family.  So it can be changed according to what you have available: use brown onions instead of red and green or savoy instead of red cabbage.  The cabbage can be lightly steamed instead of raw and the green beans left out completely or swapped for another green vegetable such as broad beans or broccoli.  The amount of dressing is enough to coat the vegetables and it can be incorporated before serving. Omit the garlic aioli if desired (or use mayonnaise instead) although I like the slight tang it adds to the dressing.  The salad is filling enough to be served as a main course and any left overs are perfect for lunch the next day.
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Beets & Beans Salad

Yield: 4-6

Ingredients

  • Salad
  • 1 x large red onion
  • 6 x medium beetroot
  • 6 x medium carrots
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ of a red cabbage
  • 2 x 425 g tins mixed beans
  • 2 cups frozen green beans
  • 2 spring onions
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
  • Dressing:
  • 75 g goat feta
  • 65g natural unsweetened yoghurt
  • 100g cucumber and mint yoghurt dip
  • 2 T garlic aioli (optional)

Instructions

  • Peel the red onion and cut in half width-wise, then cut each half into 8 wedges. Peel or scrub the beetroot and cut into bite sized pieces. Peel or scrub the carrots and cut into bite sized pieces (the cut vegetables should all roughly be the same size). There should be about 3 cups of beetroot and 3 cups of carrot.
  • Place the prepared vegetables into a large roasting dish – to keep the beetroot from colouring all the carrots, place the beetroot at one end, the carrots at the other and the red onion in between. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then drizzle over the olive oil. Give the pan a shake to settle the vegetables into an even layer then roast at 200C for 30 minutes. Stir (adding a little more oil if required), then roast again for a further 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are cooked.
  • While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the remaining ingredients. Finely slice the cabbage, as if cutting for coleslaw (there should be about 3 cups). Rinse the tinned beans and drain well. Lightly steam the green beans until just cooked. Slice the spring onions and mint leaves finely.
  • To make the dressing: mash the feta with a fork. Scrape it into a bowl, add the yoghurt and whip the ingredients together with a fork. Add the dip and aioli (if using) and stir to mix the ingredients together well.
  • Pile the cabbage and beans onto a large serving platter. Add the roasted vegetables and lightly toss the ingredients together. Sprinkle with the spring onions and mint leaves. Serve the dressing alongside.
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Potato Raclette Bake

This dish is inspired by a delicious meal of Raclette cheese with boiled potatoes and crispy bacon that we enjoyed in Switzerland and an equally delicious Tartiflette I ordered in Versaille thinking I was ordering some sort of tart but was instead a potato bake.

As Raclette Grills are uncommon here in New Zealand, I have borrowed the idea from the Tartiflette and used the oven to melt the cheese.  The cheese is the star of this dish so use the greater quantity if desired.  Substitute a different sort of melty cheese (try Gruyere or Emmental) or use camembert or brie which heads more in the Tartiflette direction.  Waxy salad or boiling potatoes such as Nadine, Draga or New Season Perlas work best but an all-purpose potato (Moonlight, Vivaldi Gold) will also work ok.
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Potato Raclette Bake

Yield: 4-5

Ingredients

  • 1.2 kg small waxy potatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 150 g chunk of Pancetta or Bacon
  • 200 g small mushrooms
  • ½ red capsicum
  • ½ green capsicum
  • 3-4 shallots
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 150-250 g Raclette cheese
  • Cornichons, optional
  • Pickled onions, optional

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven on to 175ºC on grill (top heat only).
  • Scrub or peel potatoes. Boil in salted water until just tender. Drain and set aside.
  • Crush the garlic. Cut the piece of Pancetta into slices about 5 mm thick, then into batons (lardons). Clean the mushrooms and cut in half. Half and deseed the capsicum then slice thinly. Peel and quarter the shallots.
  • Melt the butter a large skillet or frying pan. Add garlic, Pancetta, mushrooms, capsicums and shallots.
  • Cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and transfer to an oven-proof dish if required. Nestle the potatoes into mixture, making sure the dish is large enough to hold the ingredients in a single layer.
  • Thinly slice the Raclette and place evenly over the top.
  • Place in the oven in the top third of the oven. Grill at 175ºC for about 7-10 minutes, keeping an eye on the cheese. Once it is melted and bubbly it is ready.
  • Serve immediately with baby gherkins (cornichons) and pickled onions alongside.
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Cookbook Review: Little Bird Goodness

Little Bird Goodness by Megan May, Penguin Random House New Zealand

Little Bird Goodness
For many people, food intolerance is a huge interruption to everyday life.  Product availability has improved with gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, or egg-free items now being available in many mainstream grocery stores.  Larger cities also have the luxury of vegetarian, vegan or raw food café’s such as Megan May’s award-winning Unbakery Café’s.

With the release of her first cookbook The Unbakery, raw food became more accessible to people living outside of the main centres or without access to café’s catering to specialist eating programs.  Little Bird Goodness, Megan’s second cookbook, is aimed at a larger group of people, not just those already eating raw food.  These recipes are all plant-based but some include a cooked portion to help newbies ease into this type of eating.

Thankfully, only one of our family members suffers from a food allergy/intolerance, but the vitality and enthusiasm of Megan for eating a plant-based diet encourages me to try to incorporate more raw components into our diet.  Simple ideas such as Watermelon dipped in citrus spice mix, chocolate-dipped dried fruit or green superfoods popcorn all look delicious, fresh and healthy snack choices.  The spiced pumpkin salad with caramelised shallot dressing would also fit into our diet without too much trouble ie ordering in a raft of new exciting ingredients.

At the back of the book, the Basics section covers sprouting, (sprouts are fundamental to a raw food diet), as well as fermented foods such as kefir, yoghurt, kimchi and sauerkraut all of which are easy and very satisfying to make.

Each recipe includes an equipment needed list which is useful to know before beginning a recipe, particularly as some equipment specified is not what an everyday regular kitchen would have, such as a cold brew coffee maker or a cold-press juice extractor.

First up on my list of recipes to try is the Pea Guacamole and the popcorn.  Megan also shares recipes on her website and for Bite Magazine (such as this delicious-looking intriguing-sounding Winter Spice Buttercup Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting.

 

Prune & Cardamom Biscuits (Cookies)

Prune & Cardamom Biscuits (Cookies)This recipe was created to use a bag of diced prunes that were purchased (in error) instead of whole prunes.  The result were biscuits so tasty that I had to make them again – this time using whole prunes that I diced and dusted in a little flour so they didn’t clump together otherwise all the prune would end up in just a few of the biscuits.
Prune & Cardamom Biscuits (Cookies)

Left to right: Prune & Cardamom, Double Chocolate & Ginger, Apricot & Almond

Prune & Cardamom Biscuits

Yield: 18-24 depending on the size of the spoonful.

Ingredients

  • 170 g butter, melted
  • 200 g (1 cup) brown sugar
  • 125 g (½ cup) white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 300 g (2 cups) pure plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) dark chocolate drops
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) diced prunes

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 165ºC. Grease and line a baking tray.
  • Combine melted butter and sugars in a large bowl and whisk until well blended.
  • Whisk in vanilla and eggs until the mixture is light and creamy.
  • Sift in flour, baking soda and cardamom.
  • Add the chocolate drops and diced prunes.
  • Stir the mixture well so all the ingredients are combined.
  • Refrigerate the mixture for at least 15 minutes.
  • Place spoonfuls onto the prepared baking tray about 8cm apart.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  • The biscuits are still soft once baked so leave on the tray for five minutes to firm up.
  • Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container

Notes

Variation: Double Chocolate & Ginger Biscuits Reduce the flour by ½ cup and replace with ½ cup cocoa powder Replace ground cardamom with ground ginger Replace diced prunes with diced crystallized ginger

Apricot & Almond Biscuits Replace vanilla extract with almond extract. Omit the ground cardamom Replace the dark chocolate drops with slivered almonds Replace diced prunes with diced dried apricots

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The language of apples

Currently six weeks into a nine week holiday in the U.K. and Europe, it’s been interesting trying new foods in new countries.

Apple Travels

Right now I am in The Netherlands.  I don’t know much about apples here but they must grown as I know several recipes that originate here showcase apples – Dutch apple pie or tart (appeltaart) for instance.  Dutch apple pie, as I understand it, differs from regular apple pie in that it has raisins and lemon flavouring.
Apple Travels
I thought I might see quite different varieties of apples in shops and supermarkets throughout Europe but they’re essentially the same varieties we have at home: Granny Smith, Fuji, Pink Lady ….. I’d have to venture out into the villages and shop at roadside stalls to get some of the older varieties and without a car, that isn’t always possible.
Apple Travels
So I am settling for apple products ie Cider.  I have tried English, Scottish and Irish Apple Cider and they’ve all been very very good.  I attempted to ask for Cidre in France but offended the waiter so much he didn’t speak to us for the rest of the service which we found comical.  We did find Cidre in France at a different cafe so we were all good.
Apple Travels
The French do, however, make a delicious apple pastries.  I thought I might see apple ice cream, gelato or sorbet as they like to make use of fruits in their iced treats but so far (we’ve managed to have ice cream of some sort in every county) I’ve not seen any so Tasmania still reigns as the best apple ice cream producer.
Apple Travels
The other apple treat I have consumed in great quantity is apple juice, my go to favourite cold beverage.  I have had single variety apple juice, green apple juice, cloudy apple juice and they’ve all been really nice.
Apple Travels

 

Christmas Trifle with Chianti & Berry Sago

A trifle can be as time-consuming or quick as time permits.  If, as I used to be, you have all day to create, cook and enjoy time in the kitchen then make each element of this dessert yourself. I haven’t provided recipes for sponge cake, custard or meringues as mostly likely you’ll have a go-to recipe tucked away.  And if, as I am now, you work full time and try to squeeze as much in to the time before work and the time after work, then the quick option is just as good. Continue reading

Golden Raisin, White Chocolate & Madeira Cake

Christmas cake: some love it (its cake so what’s not to like?) but some people hate fruit cake of any kind.  This light cake might just change their minds about fruit cakes; it has just enough raisins to add texture and a subtle flavour.

Continue reading

Banana & Chocolate Bran Muffins

I haven’t baked in a while (like a couple of weeks) and it is shows.  I got my muffin mixture all spooned out into the muffin papers and ready for the oven when I noticed my bowl of soaked sultanas was still on the bench. Oh well, my Sultana, Banana & Chocolate Bran Muffins just morphed into Banana & Chocolate Bran Muffins. Continue reading