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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Smoked Salmon Dip & Bagel Chips

Salmon of almost any kind (even tinned salmon) is very high on my list of favourite things.  While tinned salmon is good and useful in lots of different ways, it is not quite on the same level as fresh salmon and smoked salmon.  If I am out to dinner, lunch or brunch; I find it hard to bypass the salmon.
Smoked Salmon Dip & Bagel Chips
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Date, Chocolate & Hazelnut Crunch

Date, Chocolate & Hazelnut Crunch
Unpacking boxes of food items to stock my newly built pantry, I came across a jar of date molasses.  Date molasses is similar to blackstrap molasses but milder in flavor (golden syrup or treacle can be used here instead).  The date molasses inspired me to create a slice similar to a very popular ginger crunch that originates in Takaka (the original recipe can be found here) but using dates (obviously) to appeal to people not overly fond of ginger. I don’t completely understand how people can not be fond of ginger but I do have a couple living in my house.  I try not to make the ginger version too often as I am likely to scoff the lot in a couple of days and that is not an action that fits into my everything in moderation philosophy.

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Roasted Pumpkin, Chickpea & Silverbeet Soup

Roasted Pumpkin, Chickpea & Silverbeet Soup
Soup is the perfect dinner for a cold wet raining winter’s night – it warms from the head to the toes and when served with fresh crusty rolls or scones, it is very filling.  This soup (which doesn’t have any apples in it) is a recipe I created for our local newspaper making use of fresh seasonal produce. Continue reading

Peppered Zucchini Sausage Scrolls

Zucchini, courgette, marrow – whatever you like to call them – are very useful vegetables to have a surplus of. It is possible to serve zucchini every night of the week without really noticing that it’s zucchinis for supper again. Cooked simply as a vegetable side – grilled, barbecued, roasted – they are a tasty addition to any meal.
Peppered Zucchini Sausage Scroll
Grate them and add to all sorts of things – quiche, meatloaf, sausage rolls as well as cakes and muffins.  I don’t bother peeling the vegetables before grating them, however if I am using a ginormous zucchini (marrow), I cut them in half and scrape out the seeds. These are donated to the compost bin.  The grated flesh is then used just as you would grated zucchini.  It is a great way to dispose of marrows.  This year I have grated and dehydrated grated zucchini in two cup portions.  The idea is to rehydrate them whenever I need to bake or cook with zucchini.  I have also frozen about 10 lots of 2 cup portions to keep us going throughout the year.  The frozen idea came first then I read about dehydrating zucchini here and away I went. Continue reading

Panforte with White Chocolate

Panforte with White Chocolate

Panforte, an Italian Christmas cake of Siena, Italy, is more confection than cake. A variety of nuts & fruit are coated in heady spiced flour then enrobed in honey-caramel.  The result is a rich chewy treat, delicious when cut into thin slivers and served with coffee.  In Italy, each village has their own variation of Panforte, and so I was inspired to make not one but two Gisborne variations.  Here is the White Chocolate version. Continue reading

Roasted Pineapple & White Chocolate Mud Cake

Roasted Pineapple & White Chocolate Mud Cake
Pineapple & chocolate are a perfect pairing and this delicious mud cake was inspired by a very Kiwi confectionery (Pineapple Lumps). White chocolate & pineapple give the cake a lovely golden-yellow colour.  Using a white chocolate that has cacao solids seems to make it easier to work with (and it tastes great).  Roasting the pineapple intensifies the tropical flavour of the fruit and with the addition of the freeze-dried powder, this cake is very fragrant and pineapple-y.  The yoghurt in the ganache lends a lovely tang to the chocolate topping, though it can be omitted, and the cream quantity doubled.  The cake keeps well but most likely won’t last long enough to need storing. Continue reading