Eton mess ice cream

Loaded with crushed meringues and macerated strawberries!

eton mess ice cream

It’s too hot to bake. I have a list as long as your arm of projects I had intended to tackle over my summer vacation, but with temperatures hovering around 38°C (100°F), there is no way I am turning the oven on! We have eaten salad every night for a week and will continue to do so for the… well, the foreseeable future is the 10 day forecast on the weather app.

But to balance all that healthy salad, my freezer holds a veritable mountain of ice cream ;)

There is a lovely range of textures to this dessert treat – ever-so-creamy ice cream, bites of chewy meringue and frozen chunks of sweet strawberry. And it’s another no-churn jobbie.

Makes about 2.5 litres (5 pints)
Active: 10 minutes
Resting: 1 hour
Freezing: 6 hours or overnight


500g (about 1 pound) strawberries
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
500ml (2 cups) whole cream
1 x 397g (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large or 8 small meringues – about 2 cups when crumbled


Wash, hull and dice the strawberries into pieces about 1cm (2/5″), place in a glass or ceramic bowl and sprinkle with the sugar. Stir briefly then cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to macerate for at least an hour.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream on medium-high speed until thick and fluffy, but not to the texture of whipped cream, 3 – 4 minutes on medium. Be careful not to overbeat.

Add the condensed milk and vanilla and beat just until very soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted – it should have a thick, mousse-like consistency.

Crumble the meringues roughly.

Stir the strawberries (and the juice in the bowl) and the meringue pieces into the cream mixture.

Pour mixture into a container, seal tightly and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Posted in dessert, ice cream, snack, sweet | 2 Comments

Nectarine gelato with raspberry ripple

A cool and creamy way to enjoy delicious summer fruits.

Nectarine gelato with raspberry ripple

No ice cream maker is required for this, just a bit of fruit preparation, then a few minutes with the hand mixer. It would, of course, work just find in a machine as well, if you’d prefer to use one.

You can use any combination of summer fruits for this gelato – for example, peaches, plums or apricots for the ice cream; strawberries, cherries or blackberries for the ripple, or vice versa. The fruit can be prepared up to a couple of days ahead and stored in the fridge until you’re ready to whip up your gelato.

Makes about 1.5 litres (3 pints)
Preparation: 30 minutes (including prep of fruit)
Cooling/chilling: 2 – 3 hours
Freezing: 6 hours or overnight


500ml (2 cups or 16 fl oz) whole cream
1 x 397g (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 ripe nectarines
250g (about 1/2 pound) raspberries
50g (4 Tbsp) granulated sugar


Stir together raspberries and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until raspberries break down completely and mixture comes to a simmer, about 5 minutes.

Strain through a mesh strainer, squashing any remaining pulp to get the liquid out, and set syrup aside to cool to room temperature. You should have about half a cup of syrup. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Peel the nectarines and remove the stones, dice the flesh then place in a small, heavy-based saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook gently just until starting to break down, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat and puree in a food processor, with a stick blender or just mash with a fork if soft enough. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate until ready to use.

Beat the cream on medium-high speed until thick and fluffy, but not to the texture of whipped cream, 3 – 4 minutes. Be careful not to overbeat.

Add the condensed milk and vanilla and beat just until very soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted – it should have a thick, mousse-like consistency.

Add the nectarine pulp and beat very briefly to combine.

Pour mixture into a container, then slowly pour in raspberry syrup as you swirl it through with the flat of a butter knife.

Seal the container tightly and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Posted in dessert, ice cream, snack, sweet | Leave a comment

Peach muffins

Soft, moist muffins bursting with fresh fruit.

Peach muffins

After a long, grey winter of apples, apples, a quick flurry of clementines over the holidays, then back to apples, apples and more apples, it is mind-blowingly fun to go to the grocer’s now! Plums, peaches, apricots, cherries, berries… all those gloriously sweet, juicy fruits that make me hungry just looking at them.

But it turns out you can fill the fruit basket only so many times before the novelty wears off for the kids and they are asking me to do something with nature’s bounty.

Bake it, to be precise. Into cake.


Makes 12 standard sized muffins
Preparation about 30 minutes
Baking about 20 minutes


125g (1 cup, spooned and scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
115g (1 stick or 8 Tbsp) unsalted butter
2 medium sized, ripe but firm peaches
2 large eggs
150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 – 3 Tbsp milk, as required
powdered (confectioners’ or icing) sugar for dusting (optional)


Preheat oven to 175°C (350ºF) and set up 12 cupcake liners on a baking sheet or in a muffin pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan or the microwave, melt the butter. Set aside to cool.

Halve the peaches, remove the stones, peel and cut into small chunks. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together with a whisk until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.

Using a hand whisk, stir in half the flour. Add half the melted butter and whisk gently to combine, then repeat with the remaining flour and the remaining butter. Add milk to loosen, as required (I used 2 Tbsp).

Stir in the peaches, then distribute the batter evenly between the cupcake liners.

Bake in centre of oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar, if desired.

Posted in breakfast, cake, muffin, snack, sweet | 8 Comments

Chickpea, cous cous and beet salad

There is nothing better on a warm summer evening than a big bowl of salad.

This one is loaded with goodness, it’s full of fresh flavours and a variety of textures.

Chickpea, cous cous and beet salad

This salad goes really well with a drizzle of tangy za’atar yoghurt dressing and a hunk of whole wheat bread.

Serves 4 – 6
Takes about an hour to prepare
Plus chilling time, if serving chilled


Note: The quantities can be adjusted according to availability or preference.

1 x 400g (14oz) can chickpeas
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp za’atar
sea salt & black pepper
125g (3/4 cup) uncooked cous cous
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
300g (10oz) beets
3 cloves garlic
1 lge or 2 sml bell peppers (I used red and yellow)
2 spring onions (scallions), white and light green parts
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
150g (5oz) cherry tomatoes
100g (3 1/2oz) baby spinach leaves


Drain the chickpeas well and transfer them to a bowl. Add the lemon juice and za’atar, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper and stir well. Set aside while you prepare the other parts of the salad.

Cook the cous cous according to the packet directions and toss with one tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside.

Trim, quarter and steam the unpeeled beets until easily pierced by the tip of a sharp knife, about 15 minutes, depending on size. When cool enough to handle, rub the skins off. Set aside to cool.

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet until shimmering. Add the crushed garlic and as soon as it starts to sizzle, add the chickpeas and toss until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Cut the beets and peppers into bite-sized pieces, chop the scallions and parsley, wash and dry the tomatoes and spinach.

Add everything to a large mixing bowl and toss well.

If you chill the salad for an hour or so, the cous cous will turn a beautiful pink.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Posted in lunch, salad, side, starter, vegan | 2 Comments

Ballymaloe white yeast bread

I’m such a fickle thing… I have a new favourite yeast bread!

Ballymaloe white yeast bread

A half-day bread baked in a standard kitchen oven, this recipe manages to produce a loaf with a crunchy crust and a tight but super-soft crumb, and it tastes absolutely magnificent.

The secret is a slightly slower rise. Most recipes would call for about 15g fresh yeast for this quantity of flour, with a 1 hour proof, but the slightly smaller amount of yeast than usual in this recipe makes the world of difference.

I adapted the recipe from Darina Allen on the Guardian website, where she also has some great tips on kneading, proofing etc, and notes about the ingredients. It’s well worth a read if you’re new to bread baking.

Makes 1 x 450g (1lb) loaf
Hands-on time about 30 minutes together
Rising time about 2 and a half hours total
Baking time 30 minutes

Note if you are converting fresh to active dry or instant yeast:
for active dry yeast you should halve it by weight (5g for this loaf);
for instant yeast, you should divide it by 3 (about 3g for this loaf).


215ml (7 1/4 fl oz) lukewarm water
10g (1/3 oz) fresh yeast
350g (2 3/4 cups, spooned and scraped) strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp fine salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
15g (1 Tbsp) butter or 15ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil


Put 80ml (1/3 cup) of the water into a small bowl. Dissolve the yeast in the water and leave in a warm place for about 5 minutes.

Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter or olive oil and make a well in the centre.

Pour in the yeast mixture and the remaining lukewarm water. Mix to a loose dough, adding a little more water or flour as needed to bring it together (it will depend on the absorbency of your flour).

Turn the dough onto a work surface, cover and leave to rest for about 5 minutes.

Knead by hand for 8 – 10 minutes, or in a stand mixer with a dough hook for about 5 minutes, until smooth, soft and elastic.

Put the dough into a large bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours.

When the dough has at least doubled in size, knock it back and knead it again for about 3 minutes. Cover and leave to relax for a further 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 230°C (450°F), and grease a medium loaf tin.

Shape the bread as desired, then transfer to loaf tin and cover loosely with a cloth. Leave to rise again in a warm place, until the dough has again doubled in size, 30 minutes or so, depending on ambient temperature.

Brush with water and dust with flour.

Bake in centre of oven for 30 minutes. When done, the bread should sound hollow if tapped underneath.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Posted in bread | 2 Comments

Chocolate layer cake

This delicious chocolate cake is all about textures. A crisp, cookie-like base, a layer of gooey jam, a soft, moist chocolate cake, topped with crunchy flaked almonds and granulated sugar. Served with a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it’s a dessert to write home about!

Chocolate layer cake

Believe it or not, the idea for this chocolate extravaganza actually started out with a recipe for Armenian nutmeg cake. I didn’t want to use nutmeg because the kids are a bit bored of the spice cake thing, so I thought about vanilla cake using the same recipe, then added the jam, then the cocoa and sour cream… and it went from there, with three versions made and tested before the recipe was perfect.

Chocolate layer cake

Makes 1 x 23 – 24cm (9 – 10″) cake
Preparation 20 minutes
Baking 50 – 55 minutes
Cooling 2 – 3 hours


280g (2 cups, scooped or spooned and tapped on the counter) all-purpose (plain) flour
400g (2 cups packed) dark brown sugar
55g (2/3 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
170g (3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
6 Tbsp strawberry or raspberry jam
2 large eggs
200g (4/5 cup) sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp flaked almonds
1 Tbsp granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F) and grease and line the base and sides of a 23 – 24cm (9 – 10″) spring-form cake pan.

Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. If your brown sugar is very moist, you will need to rub it into the flour to get rid of lumps.

Add the diced butter and rub it in with your fingertips until you have a soft, crumbly texture.

Tip about a third of the mixture into the pan and press it into a base using your fingers.

Spread the bottom layer with jam.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes with an electric hand mixer, then beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract.

Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a spatula until smooth.

Pour the batter over the base in the pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with flaked almonds then sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake in centre of oven for 50 – 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with just moist crumbs.

Allow to cool completely in the pan, then remove to a serving plate.

Serve with a dollop of cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Posted in cake, dessert, snack, sweet | 4 Comments

Pickled beetroot

homemade pickled beetroot

There are two types of Australians. Those that will tell you that a burger is not complete without a slice or two of pickled beetroot on it, and… the other lot. Guess which group I fall into ;)

Here is Switzerland, we can get sliced beetroot in a jar from one of the supermarket chains, but it isn’t quite right. Not to mention the fact that they seem to use the smallest beets they can get, so the little bits fall off your burger and make a mess. Time to make my own, adapted from this recipe. All natural ingredients, just the right balance of tanginess to sweetness – we’re all set for summer!

Makes 3 jars, each 500ml (about 2 cups)
You’ll want wide-mouth jars so you can keep your slices nice and big.
I sterilised my jars by boiling them for 10 minutes, then air-drying on paper towel.


3 large beetroots, about 1.5kg or 3.5lb
400ml (1 2/3 cups) apple cider vinegar
400ml (1 2/3 cups) water
240g (1 1/2 cups, lightly packed) brown sugar
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp fine salt


Preheat oven to 200ºC. Trim and peel the beetroots and wrap tightly in foil. Place on a small baking tray and roast in centre of oven for and an hour and a half, until tender when pierced with a skewer. Set aside to cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, peppercorns, cloves and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved.

Slice the beetroot and pack tightly into dry, sterilised jars.

Use a ladle to cover the beetroot with the vinegar mixture, then seal the jars.

Store in a cool, dark place for up to a month. Once opened, store in the fridge and use within a week.

Posted in burgers&patties, preserves, salad | 2 Comments