Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Dad’s friend had given them a huge bottle of fresh cream – mum gave it to me, and I decided to try again to make custard.

I’ve never made good custard – it usually refuses to set… or separates. But, I figured… free cream… why not?

Custard-based desserts are often the only option on a restaurant menu that are suitable for those of us with ‘gluten issues’. I don’t usually  make it to the dessert course, but I am partial to panna cotta – that lovely Italian ‘cooked cream’… and I love the English version – the posset (don’t you love that word? – sounds all medieval to me)


200g good quality dark chocolate – chopped
2 cups (500ml) cream
4 free-range egg yolks
1/3 cup caster sugar – plus extra to sprinkle
1 – 2 tbsp Cognac, Armagnac or Cointreau – optional (oh please!)
Pre-heat the oven to 120c
Put chocolate and cream in a large heat-proof bowl over simmering water
Stir occasionally until melted and combined, then remove from heat
Put egg yolks and sugar in a large clean bowl and beat until thick and pale
Slowly whisk in the warm chocolate mixture, a pinch of salt and the alcohol if using.
Strain the mixture into a jug, then divide among 6 200ml ramekins
Put the ramekins into a deep roasting pan, then pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins
Cook 25 – 30 minutes until the custards are just set with a slight wobble.
Carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath and allow to cool
Chill the ramekins in the fridge for at least 2 hours
When ready to serve, sprinkle with a thin layer of extra sugar and caramelise  with a blowtorch or place under a hot grill for 2 – 3 minutes.
Serve immediately

Well! They set beautifully – I was a little worried they were too set, but they were crunchy on top and silky smooth underneath, so I think I might have broken the custard hood00.

They were however, sweet enough to make my eyebrows hurt – I would make them in smaller dishes next time – and cook them for a shorter time…

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Emma started it… she made this:


and I thought…. mmmmm 🙂

then Becca did this:


and I thought…. mmmmmmm 🙂

THEN… I remembered Bev had done this:


can you guess where I’m going with this?


Make your posset, let it set and then blob on some Italian meringue…

…more meringue… Mile High Lemon Meringue Posset…



If you have a blowtorch … brown the meringue a little. I don’t, so I used the grill – and this much brown sent our fire alarm into a spin (!)

Try not to make little grunty noises as you eat… it isn’t good manners… apparently…

PS  These are sweet enough to make your eyebrows sweat… make them small!


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When I was first diagnosed with coeliac disease I went and bought all kinds of prepared foods with ‘gluten free’ on the label… bread, cookies, cakes, pasta etc.

Almost without exception, they were nasty… which led me to the Paleo way of eating.

But, I fall of the wagon every now and then…  Some time ago I bought this…

It is a blend of stevia plant extract and non-GMO corn erythritol (whatever the hell THAT is [which, I guess, should have given me a clue…]);  it is supposed to be healthier than ‘real’ sugar – not raise your blood glucose or insulin levels… You use it just as you would ‘real’ sugar…

So, in the interest of science (pphhfftt!) I made the little 18second cakes again – using Betta Sweet instead of sugar…

They looked the same… they were still light and spongy… but the Betta Sweet didn’t dissolve properly – so the cakes were gritty, which wasn’t so pleasant. They also tasted… slightly … metallic…. and sat in my tummy like a lead balloon… BUT, the worst? They left me with a powerful thirst – I felt I simply couldn’t drink enough cold water…

So, if (when) I make these little treats again… I will use real sugar. I know sugar is terribly  bad for us, and I hardly have any anymore – but this substitute just reminded me of all the nasty things that pretend to be food and really aren’t.

This is what happens to a little one after she plays and plays and plays and plays…. I think I can hear her snoring 🙂

Tomorrow she goes back to the vet to be spayed and micro-chipped – they will have to shave off all her sweet little tummy-feathers to check she has not already been fixed (they can only tell by the scars).  It will be a very quiet day here without her, but I will get lots of chores done – if only because keeping busy is a good way to make time pass while you’re worrying…

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Spiced, poached Quince

Last year, our neighbour Nettie gave us a huge bag of Quince. I don’t know if you’ve ever had Quince? You can’t eat them raw – they will rip the inside of your mouth out with sourness. They look a bit like apples – big, yellow, lumpy apples – and they smell sweet and almost clove-y as they ripen.

They make the most beautiful garnet-coloured jelly (which we have with lamb), and I did just that, but there were a lot of them, so I poached them and put them in the freezer – and promptly forgot about them. Then yesterday my new blogging friend Celia who is a New Zealander married to an American now living on a wee farm not far from Chicago – blogged about making a classic Kiwi favourite pudding called apple crumble. It sounded so good – you can read about her version here – and her blog is wonderful too: http://thekitchensgarden.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/undressed-apple-crumble-in-a-jar/. She reminded me, not only of the pud itself, but that I had apple in the freezer that needed to be eaten – and in looking for the apple, I found the quince too…

So I made this:

I didn’t use Celia’s recipe – it seems each family has their own – and I needed to make it gluten-free anyway… so, I just used a gluten-free flour mix for the crumble part:

4 parts flour, 2 parts sugar (I used brown sugar), 2 parts butter and a goodly amount of ground cinnamon and ground cloves. You rub the butter into the other ingredients until it gets a bit like breadcrumbs… gluten-free flour feels very squeaky when you do this – a sensation I did not like (a bit like finger-nails down a blackboard!) The crumble didn’t get golden – gluten-free flours don’t, but I could have used ground almonds instead of flour (then you have to watch it closely because almonds burn quickly)

The star of this pud is the poached quince:

2 1/2 cups red wine
50g sugar
6 whole cloves
3 long strips lemon zest (or orange)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon (or use cinnamon sticks)
1kg quince – peeled, halved, cored and cut into 1/2 inch slices

Bring the wine, sugar, cloves, zest and cinnamon to the boil in a medium saucepan and simmer until reduced to 2 cups of syrup. Add the quince slices, cover and cook over a medium heat until tender [this will take about 2 hours, quinces are tough old things], don’t stir it – you don’t want the quinces to break up – just push the slices under the syrup from time to time.

Carefully strain the quince – discard the peel and spices, but keep the syrup. Return the syrup to a pan and boil it to reduce by at least a half. Pour the reduced syrup over the quince slices.

I promise you, this is worth the phaffing round you do in the peeling/slicing stages – not only does your kitchen smell like heaven while you are poaching them – it smells gorgeous again once you turn it into something else…. pie, crumble – it would be wonderful naked, with custard… the QUINCE naked – NOT YOU!

We had it warm with a drizzle of cream last night… there is no ice-cream in this house at the moment. I had some cold this morning for breakfast – still good 🙂 Thanks Celia – I was right – Rick loves you XO

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Sticky Date Pudding

We’ve had a funny old week. Rick has hurt his back and though he has had two visits to the physio, he is barely able to walk. And, being a man, he is not at his best when he is not feeling well. He has refused to take anything for the pain, and he has refused to have time off work to try and get the healing done faster. I suggest a heat pad… or a cold pack… I suggest yoga – the physio suggested yoga type exercises… will he do them? Na!


At least we managed to totter to the local school to cast our votes this morning, though it took us half an hour to get there! I’m so glad the politicking is over for now.


Sticky Date Pudding

People go quiet when they try this pudding – it’s that good. A friend asked for the recipe, which I gave her and she phoned to ask why I had left the amount of chocolate out of the recipe…. there is no chocolate in it, but it tastes as if there ought to be. This is so easy to make ahead – I usually pour the sauce carefully over the pudding ahead of time and then re-heat the whole thing as we’re eating the main course. Serve it with a blob of softly whipped cream oozing over the top.


Pre-heat the oven to 190c
Line a tin with baking paper.

185g stoned dates – the ones with no stones in the middle – NOT the ones that have been smoking something illegal…
250ml water – cook gently together until they reach a jam-like consistency (add a little more water if you need to)
Beat in the remaining ingredients and mix well:
60g butter – chopped
2 eggs
185g sugar
185g self-raising flour – or use the same measure of gluten-free flour (THEN – here’s the magic… take out one tablespoon of the flour, and put in one tablespoon of dessicated coconut – it makes for a gluten-free cake that doesn’t crumble, and a regular cake that is lovely and moist)
1/4 tsp vanilla

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake on the centre shelf for about 25 minutes or until cooked.
You can serve the following sauce separately.

150g brown sugar
150ml cream
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Put all the ingredients into a pan and boil for 5 minutes.

Serve the sauce over the pudding.
This was the first time I had made this using gluten-free flour. Rick said he couldn’t taste any difference – so I guess that is a great result! 🙂

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I’m always on the lookout for lemon dessert recipes.

I saw this on the Food Network, and since I still have heaps of lemons from my sister Sue’s tree, I thought I’d have a go.

Jamie made this into a pie, but mentioned that you could pour the left-over mixture into little cups – so I decided that was the way to go. It’s a type of custard – I’m crap at custards – they never work for me, but I figured… this is Jamie – what can go wrong??

In a large bowl, mix 2cups lemon juice, 3 cups sugar, 4 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks.

Put the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk until the mixture is light in colour and smooth.

Remove from the heat and whisk in 350g butter which has been chopped up a bit.

Whisk until the butter has melted.

Pour the mixture into a pre-cooked pie shell, or into cups.

Allow to cool and set.

You can caramelise the top by using a blow torch thing on it. Or, you can put it under the grill till lightly brown

Serve with raspberries, or toasted almonds.

At least… that’s what Jamie said to do.

It didn’t work for me. I did everything he said to do, but it just didn’t work. It has separated into layers – light and fluffy on top, runny-lemon-curdish underneath. Also, it is sweet enough to make my eyebrows vibrate. This is an oops for me.

My Nana made the most superb baked custards. She tried to teach me (she taught me to bake). Even under her guidance, my custards separated and refused to set. I think I will  have to admit to self, that there are some things I will never do…. make good custard, dance with George Clooney under a silvery moon …. sigh

I will throw it out before Rick gets home from work, because he was huffing about the waste of eggs, lemons and butter…:-(

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We’ve got winter weather again. The sky is low, grey and threatening. Rain has been falling off and on, and we’ve had one enthusiastic hail shower. Storms and high winds expected later… grand! The heater is going full blast and Percy is in danger of setting his tail feathers on fire – he couldn’t get any closer to the heat. Rick and Yoshi are in bed under the covers. Rick because he got up at 3am for the rugby this morning, Yoshi because… well, because he can – I guess.

It’s pudding weather. This recipe is gluten free, but it certainly isn’t Primal/Paleo. 🙂  It makes me feel very grateful I’m not really a cavewoman…

This recipe was published in the NZ Gardener magazine August 2011 – along with a quote from Erma Bombeck “Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart”

For the Pudding:

Beat 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups whole milk, 2/3 cup sugar and 2 tsp vanilla essence until smooth.

Stir in 2 cups cooked long grain white rice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, grated zest of 1/2 lemon and 1 cup bottled morello cherries; pour into an ovenproof dish. (I bought my cherries from New World Supermarket, they come in a jar with syrup).

Dot with 1 tbsp butter and bake at 150c till set (wobble to check). I forgot to keep track of the time…

For the Meringue Topping – this is what the recipe said…. I didn’t do it this way:

Whisk 3 egg whites to soft peaks, adding 150g caster sugar until it’s dissolved and the egg whites are shiny.

Fold in 3 tsp gluten-free cornflour and 1/2 tsp white vinegar.

NB: I used my sister’s recipe for pavlova – which is here: https://ninehundredandseventytwelverecipes.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/bugger/

Spoon the meringue on top of the cooked pudding and bake till the meringue is set and lightly browned.

Serve warm.

This baked rice pudding apparently sets like a cake slice and stores up to 5 days in the fridge, and tastes good served warm with cream or yoghurt for afternoon tea.

Sweet creamy rice, delicious tart cherries, creamy spiced rice and soft sweet meringue – what’s not to like? 🙂

OK – so, would I make it again? – No, I don’t know that I would. It was OK, but not worth the faffing around… I love the sour cherries, I love rice pudding (especially if it is made with coconut cream!!!). Next time, I’ll make the rice pudding from the Edmonds Cookbook (World Famous in NZ), except I’d use coconut cream, the spice is nice – I’d do that again… but the meringue on top? – gilding the lily in my humble opinion – and I prefer the rice cooked in the cream, rather than pre-cooked. So, an interesting experiment, but I expect the birds will get most of it…


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Shaker Lemon Pie

My sister brought me some lemons. We have a tree, but it wasn’t well last year and though it looks much better now, there is not much in the way of fruit on it. Sue’s tree is struggling to cope with all its fruit.

I love lemon desserts and I had read about Shaker Lemon Pie on Tom’s blog here : www.tallcloverfarm.com/848/shaker-lemon-pie-recipe-sweet-sour-delicious, which sounded really good and I wanted to give it a go.  I had bought this pastry some time ago. On my new Primal diet, grains are not a good thing (nor is sugar!), but as you know, I can’t bear throwing away good food …

At least, I hoped  it would be good! 🙂

I sliced the lemons thinly with my mandoline that Kyoko had bought for me in Japan, then, after I picked out all the lemon pips –  I added the sugar and salt and left the mixture overnight to soften.

Because I was using gluten-free pastry and I wasn’t sure how long it would take to cook, I blitzed the lemons with my hand-held blender, then added the eggs, butter and flour (I used cornflour).

I rolled the pastry out – or rather I tried to roll the pastry out. It didn’t really want to roll, so I ended up pressing it out with my fingers… I filled the pastry shell with the lemon mix and splodged bits of flattened pastry on top.

I had too much lemon filling, so put it into a dish and cooked it as it was…

The smell as it cooked was amazing!

And it tasted WONDERFUL! 🙂

The pastry is not like a flakey pastry with gluten in it. It isn’t even close. But I’ve been doing this long enough now to know better. As something to put a pie-filling in – it’s pretty good really! It cooks up crispy rather than flaky, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing 🙂

However, the real star is the filling. Thank you Tom! I’m sure I will make this again, but next time I don’t think I will bother with the pastry. The custard cooked up beautifully ‘naked’ – if you know what I mean. I didn’t grease the dish I put it in – I would do that next time. Tom describes it as sweet-sour-delicious, and he is quite right! The most difficult part of this recipe is picking the pips out of the lemon slices 🙂

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>Aila was my Mother-in-Law.
She was a bloody-minded, determined, stroppy old bag.
She was also an entertainer, a raconteur – with a huge fund of naughty stories. She preferred the company of men to that of women.
She called herself a good, plain cook and she made the best roast dinners ever.
She smoked like a chimney, drank whiskey and knew more rude words than I do – and she would use them at the most inappropriate times.
She was funny and often very kind. We got on very well because very early on in our relationship I decided I would never fight with an old lady. Also, because I always did exactly as I was told.
I miss her still.

Aila’s Shortcake

125g butter – softened
125g sugar – I used sugar which had vanilla beans buried in it.
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
225g flour – I am using a blend of flours recommended by Karina at http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2008/12/baking-cooking-substitutions-for-gluten.html
I used a combination of sorghum flour, buckwheat flour and tapioca starch. Karina uses xanthan gum in her blend. I don’t have any (and I think they sound a bit yucky – a technical term which means… ick)
so I didn’t put any in my flours mix.

Cream the butter and sugar.
Add the egg – beat
Tip in the flour and baking powder and beat again – this is a very soft dough which can easily be made with a hand-held electric beater – which is good, because I don’t have a stand mixer.
Tear off four even-sized pieces of baking paper – big enough to line a pie dish.
Carefully measure three-quarters of the mixture onto one piece of baking paper….. na, just kidding! There is no ‘carefully’ in this recipe – just roughly 3/4.
Put another piece of the baking paper on top of the dough, then press the dough till it fits the base and sides of your pie dish. Put the paper covered dough in the fridge for 10 minutes to harden up a little.
Do the same process again, pressing the dough out to cover the top of your pie, and refrigerate that too.
Don’t be too precious about getting the measurements right.
This dough is very forgiving – gaps smoodge together beautifully.
Take the dough from the fridge.
Put the base circle into your pie dish and quickly remove the top layer of baking paper.
Fill the pie with whatever you want – I used a mixture of peaches and sliced apple.

Take one piece of paper off your top piece of dough and plop it dough-side down on top of the filling.
Peel the last piece of paper off… I’m thinking as I write this, that I really don’t need to be so pedantic about instructions because, frankly if you can’t figure this out for yourself, you really need to be reading someone else’s blog…
Skrunkle the edges over to fit the top, and don’t worry about any holes that you rip in the pastry.

Sprinkle with sugar – I used sugar that I have stored in this lovely little container that we bought at a market in Vietnam. It’s made of cinnamon bark and scents the sugar (the same way the vanilla beans

Bake the pie at about180c or until it is golden.

Serve to a happy husband for his birthday.
This is good hot, warm or at room temperature.
Aila would often make it with jam in the middle.

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>Ice Cream

>6 egg whites
250g sugar
225ml cream

Whisk egg whites to soft peak stage
Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water – don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.
As you beat, add the sugar in a steady stream. Continue to beat until thick and glossy (about 10 minutes).
Remove from heat and beat until cool. Chill in the refrigerator until quite cold.
Whisk cream to soft peaks and fold into meringue. (At this point you can also crumble in your meringues – if you are making Eton Mess)
Freeze till set.

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