Red berry parfait

A coulis of strawberries, raspberries and red currants is layered with creamy no-churn vanilla ice cream which is studded with chunks of chewy meringue in this gorgeous summer dessert.

red berry parfait

As this recipe makes 2 ice cream cakes, I decorated one for the family with additional coulis and candied mint leaves, and the second for guests with chocolate sauce and fresh red currants. Yummy!!!

And now I’m going on vacation for a couple of weeks… see you on the other side!

Makes: 2 x approx.  1 litre (2 pint) ice cream cakes, each serves 8 – 12
Active: 45 minutes
Chilling coulis: at least 1 hour (can be made a couple of days ahead)
Freezing: 8 hours or overnight
Keeps: 3 months in the freezer


700g (about 1 1/2 pounds) red berries of choice
150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
500ml (2 cups) whole cream
1 x 397g (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
about 10 small meringues – about 2 cups when crumbled


Remove stalks/stems from berries and combine them along with the sugar and lemon juice in a heavy based saucepan and heat on low until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for about 10 minutes until the berries break down. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

Strain the berry mixture through a mesh strainer into a glass or ceramic bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill.

Prepare 2 medium loaf pans or 1.2 litre (2 1/2 pint) plastic containers by lining completely with plastic wrap, leaving enough overhang to cover the top.

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

Add the condensed milk and vanilla paste or extract 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 and fold the meringue pieces into the cream mixture.

Pour mixture into the lined loaf pans or containers, layering it with the red berry coulis (reserving a few tablespoons of coulis for serving, if desired), finishing with a layer of the cream mixture. Cover with the overhanging plastic and freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight.

To serve, uncover the top of the parfait, turn out onto a serving plate, remove plastic wrap and decorate as desired.

Candied mint leaves

1 sprig mint
1 egg white
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Carefully wash and dry the mint leaves. Moisten on both sides with egg white, then dip in sugar to coat. Place on a sheet of parchment to dry completely, at least 3 hours.

Chocolate sauce

75g (2 1/2 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
75g (2 1/2 oz) milk chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp powdered (confectioners’) sugar
80ml (1/3 cup) whole cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan containing a couple of centimetres (about an inch) of simmering water on low heat, or in a double boiler. Stir gently until the chocolate has completely melted and everything is well combined and smooth. Add a little additional cream if required, to make it thinner.

Allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Keeps well in the fridge and reheats easily (just add extra cream to thin it, if necessary).

Posted in cake, dessert, ice cream, sweet | 1 Comment

Grilled halloumi Greek salad

Grilled halloumi makes a nice change from the traditional feta – it’s not so salty and has a wonderfully chewy texture. This Greek salad pairs perfectly with some crusty sourdough bread and a glass of dry white wine.

Grilled halloumi Greek salad

Serves 2 as a main, 4 – 6 as an appetizer or side
Preparation: 20 minutes active
plus time for the halloumi to cool


250g (about 9oz) halloumi
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 a garden cucumber
1 large red onion
1 medium-large beef heart tomato
about a dozen pitted Kalamata olives


2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano


Slice the halloumi into slabs and drain on paper towel. Heat 2 tsp of olive oil in a grill pan, then fry halloumi until golden on both sides, a few minutes per side. Transfer to paper towel to drain and cool. Dice into bite sized pieces.

Split the cucumber lengthwise and slice into half moons.

Halve the onion and slice into half rings.

Cut the tomato into irregular chunks.

Toss together the salad ingredients, then whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Posted in appetizer, dressings&sauces, greek, lunch, middle eastern, salad | 2 Comments

Cherry pirozhki

Some luscious little cherry pirozhki – baked hand pies made with a soft and flaky sour cream pastry and filled with sweet, fresh macerated cherries – for a summer picnic treat.

Cherry pirozhki (hand pies)

June’s Daring Kitchen challenge from Sarah at Sassy Suppers was to make either fried or baked pirozhki. They are Russian pastry that have been enjoyed as a street food since Peter the Great’s time, filled with all sorts of things, classic versions being meat, mushrooms, cabbage, cheese, jam or fruit. I went for the baked version because I’m not a big fan of deep frying. The fried version uses a yeasted dough which I’ve yet to try, but this super soft and flaky sour cream pastry is a dream to work with. You can find the other pastry recipe (plus savoury filling recipes) here, if you’re keen to give it a go.

Makes: about 15
Preparation: 15 minutes
Resting: at least 1 hour
Filling: 15 minutes
Baking: 30 minutes
Note: these hand pies are not overly sweet – you can increase the sugar for macerating to half a cup if you want them sweeter


300g (about 10 oz) sweet cherries
a squeeze of lemon juice
1 Tbsp sugar

Halve and pit the cherries (quarter them if they are very big), place in a bowl, squeeze a little lemon juice over them, sprinkle with sugar, stir and allow to macerate for at least an hour. The aim is to draw a lot of the liquid out of them, so you don’t end up with soggy pirozhki.

Sour cream pastry

190g (1 1/2 cups, spooned & scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 tsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
100g (7 Tbsp) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
80g (1/3 cup) sour cream

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.

Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. You can use your fingertips, but be careful not to break up the butter too much, otherwise you won’t get flaky pastry.

Mix the egg yolk and the sour cream together and then add it to the flour mixture. Use your hands or a spatula to combine.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough together very briefly, only about 30 seconds. Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.

Filling and baking

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp milk for egg wash
2 tsp sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350ºF / Gas Mark 4. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Drain the cherries (you can reserve the liquid to add to drinks).

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a thickness of 1/3cm or 1/8″.

With a 9 – 10cm or 3 1/2 – 4″ round cutter, cut out rounds from the dough, re-rolling and re-cutting until you have used it all up.

Place a spoonful of cherries in the middle of each circle of dough. Brush the edges with water or egg wash, fold the edges and press firmly to seal. Arrange on the baking sheet.

Brush the pirozhki with the egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown, 30 – 35 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve at room temperature.

Posted in breakfast, daring kitchen, dessert, pastry, snack, sweet, tart&pie | Leave a comment

Chocolate hazelnut flourless torte

This flourless chocolate hazelnut torte is simply amazing! It’s quite like the Italian torta caprese, but it has no butter in it. Yes, you read that right. No butter. No oil, either. It is rich, soft, moist and incredibly light, especially for a nut-based cake!

Chocolate hazelnut flourless torte

I have been working on this recipe for far longer than I would care to admit. It started its life as a French Gâteau Bellevue, then the tweaking began. Swap out the flour, adjust the quantities, change the nuts, fiddle with the baking numbers… My family, naturally, have been very happy with this development process – they have consumed… I think it was 8 at last count… chocolate cakes over the course of several months. When this one came out of the oven and I did my little “I nailed it!” happy dance, there was a distinct air of disappointment from them – the chocolate cake train had come to an end. But I’m still happy dancing, because this cake is a winner!

Makes 1 x 22cm (8 – 9″) cake
Preparation: 15 minutes
Baking: 35 – 40 minutes
Cooling: about 1 hour
Note: you could substitute reduced fat cream or half-and-half, but the cake may not be as moist due to the lower fat content


125g (4 1/2 oz) good quality dark chocolate
125ml (1/2 metric cup; or 1/2 US cup + 1 tsp) fresh whole cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking (bicarb) soda
pinch salt
65g (1/2 cup) corn starch
100g (1 cup) ground hazelnuts
125g (1 cup unsifted) powdered (confectioners’ or icing) sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature

sunflower oil or baking spray for the pan
additional powdered sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 180°C / 360°F / Gas mark 4 with a rack in the middle position. Prepare a 22cm (8 – 9″) springform cake pan by greasing with sunflower oil or baking spray.

In a double boiler or bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate together with the cream, stirring gently until smooth.

Once the chocolate has melted, remove from heat and transfer to a clean bowl and allow to cool a little, about 5 minutes.

Add the vanilla extract, baking (bicarb) soda, salt, corn starch, ground hazelnuts and powdered sugar, and combine well with a spatula.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until light and foamy.

Using a spatula, fold the beaten eggs into the chocolate mixture until just combined.

Pour the batter into the pan, put in the middle of the oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove pan from oven, place on a wire rack and run a fine bladed knife or plastic spatula around the edge to loosen, then allow to cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely.

Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Keeps for several days under a cake dome at room temperature.

Posted in cake, dessert, snack, sweet | Leave a comment

Goat cheese and thyme madeleines

Moist, soft, slightly tangy savoury madeleines to nibble on with a glass of wine on a warm summer evening.

Savoury goat cheese and thyme madeleines

These goat cheese and thyme madeleines are so quick to make and bake. And you don’t need a madeleine pan – you could just as easily make them in a muffin pan, or even better still, a mini muffin pan for little bites (adjust baking time accordingly).

Makes 12
Preparation: 15 minutes
Baking: 18 – 20 minutes
Recipe adapted from here


55g (1/2 stick or 4 Tbsp) butter, melted
150g (1 cup, spooned & scraped, plus 3 Tbsp) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp fine salt
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 large eggs, room temperature
75g (2 1/2 oz) soft goat cheese, mashed with a fork
100g (2/5 cup) natural (plain) yoghurt


Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.

Generously brush the wells of a madeleine tray with melted butter, reserving the remainder for the batter.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and chopped thyme.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the goat cheese, yoghurt and remaining melted butter.

Use a spatula to stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Spoon evenly into the wells of the madeleine tray and bake in centre of oven for 18 – 20 minutes, until golden.

Unmold madeleines onto a wire rack, and serve warm or at room temperature.

They will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container.

Posted in appetizer, biscuit, bread, cookie, french, muffin, snack, starter | Leave a comment


Served warm with butter and honey, crumpets are a classic English breakfast or teatime treat.


On a visit to England a couple of years ago, I spent a good part of a day in Nottingham going from store to store in a disappointingly fruitless search for egg/pancake/crumpet rings, such was my desire to try my hand at these scrumptious yeasted pancakes. After so many years living in a country where we couldn’t just grab a bag at the supermarket, we ate dozens of them on that vacation, and we didn’t want to have to wait until our next visit. In the end, I ordered them online once I got home… then they sat in a cupboard for two years, unused. Until now!

My Secret Recipe Club assignment for June was A Taste of Madness where Cathleen blogs about cooking and baking her way through life in Canada. I headed straight for her stunning desserts page, then it occurred to me that we had house guests coming, so breakfast would need to be served. Scrolling through dozens of amazing choices, my eyes landed on the word crumpets. It was destiny!

Makes about 20
Preparation: 10 minutes
Resting: 1 – 2 hours
Cooking: about 30 minutes, in batches


375ml (1 1/2 cups) lukewarm milk
450g (1lb OR 3 3/5 cups, spooned and scraped) all-purpose flour
5g (1 1/2 tsp) instant yeast
2 tsp granulated sugar
375ml (1 1/2 cups) warm water
1 tsp fine salt
1 tsp baking powder


Whisk together the flour, yeast and sugar.

Stir in the milk.

Add half the water and beat it into the batter, slowly adding the remaining water until the batter is smooth and thick. You can use a wooden spoon to combine the water then whisk until smooth, or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to combine the water then switch to the whisk attachment to get the batter smooth.

Cover with plastic wrap and leave for 1 – 2 hours, until doubled in volume and bubbly.

Whisk the salt and baking powder into the batter.

Heat a teaspoon of neutral oil (e.g. sunflower or canola) in a large, non-stick skillet on medium-low.

With a large spoon or an ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into egg/pancake rings, then remove the rings and flip the crumpets when bubbles are covering the surface and it has mostly set on top, about 3 minutes. Cook the tops for about 2 minutes, until golden.

Transfer to a wire rack or plate lined with paper towel.

Serve warm.

Note: They will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container in the fridge. Just pop them in the toaster to warm up before serving.


Check out what everyone else made this month

Posted in breakfast, src, sweet | 22 Comments

Chocolate hazelnut twist

Sweet yeast dough, slathered in a rich concoction of hazelnuts, dark chocolate, sugar and butter, then rolled and twisted into a swirled ring. Wickedness never tasted so good!

Chocolate hazelnut twist

I don’t participate in Daring Kitchen challenges nearly as much as I intend to… life just always seems to get in the way! I have quite a backlog of recipes to try, and with summer coming up I hope to make a dent in it, but I couldn’t resist this one straight away because I haven’t made a yeast bread in absolutely ages! Tandy from Lavender and Lime challenged us to make a twist bread and of course I had to go down the sweet path with mine. The whole family loved it and it was devoured in hours!

Makes 1 large loaf
Note: To halve the recipe to make a smaller loaf, reduce the oil by a further teaspoon to compensate for the whole egg yolk
Dough preparation time: 10 – 15 minutes
First rise: up to 1 hour
Second rise: up to 1 hour
Filling & shaping: 10 minutes
Third rise: 30 minutes
Baking: 45 minutes


680g (5 1/2 cups, spooned & scraped) strong (bread) flour
14g (2 sachets or 4 1/2 tsp) instant yeast OR 19g (6 2/3 tsp) active dry yeast (see note)
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
375ml (1 1/2 cups) water
1 large egg yolk
60ml (1/4 cup) neutral oil (e.g. canola or sunflower)
12g (2 tsp) fine salt


100g (1 cup) ground hazelnuts
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
130g (4 1/2 oz OR 1 cup packed) shaved dark chocolate
55g (1/2 stick or 1/4 cup) butter, room temperature


1 large egg white lightly beaten with 5ml (1 tsp water) for egg wash
30g (3 Tbsp) pearl sugar


Place the flour, yeast, sugar, water, egg yolk and oil into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
NOTE: If using active dry yeast, activate it in the sugar and water for 5 minutes first.

Mix together to form a dough, then add the salt and knead by hand for 8 minutes or with a dough hook for 5 minutes.

Cover and leave to rise until doubled in size, 45 minutes – 1 hour.

Punch down the dough, cover and leave to rise until doubled again, 45 minutes – 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press or roll out into a rectangle, about 35 x 50cm (14 x 20″).

Whisk together the ground hazelnuts and sugar in a medium bowl, then add the vanilla extract, shaved chocolate and softened butter and mix with your fingers.

Spread the rectangle evenly with the filling.

Roll up tightly from the long edge, and trim off the ends if they are very uneven. Use a large serrated knife to make a cut lengthwise down the middle, about halfway through the thickness, then slightly pull open the two sides.

Twist the log several times, shape into a circle and tuck the ends together.

Place onto a parchment lined or sprayed baking tray, brush with egg wash and sprinkle liberally with the pearl sugar.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5.

Bake in centre of oven for 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 175°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4, and bake for a further 35 minutes, until deep golden.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the tray for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely before cutting.

Keeps in an airtight container for several days.

Posted in bread, breakfast, cake, daring kitchen, snack, sweet | 4 Comments