Panettone trifle

Last weeks Australian Review recipes section had a great recipe. Even She who Sews could make it. And she and Felicity did.



Panettone (we used one with dried fruit in it, but any sort would be fine)

250-300 g fresh or frozen raspberries

900 mL cream

Grated rind of 1 orange

2 tablespoons caster sugar


Juice of 2 oranges

Grated rind of 1 orange

2 tablespoons caster sugar

To make the syrup, bring the juice, the rind and the sugar to boil and simmer for 1 minute, cool then add the Grand Marnier.

To make the cream, whip cream with sugar and rind until soft peaks form.

To assemble the cake, cut panettone into 3 slices, horizontally about 3 cm thick . Save the rest and toast it for breakfast the next day (Yum, don’t even think about all the butter in panettone…).

Brush or drizzle with syrup.

Layer with one third of the cream and then the raspberries.

Repeat ( yes, He who Cooks, couldn’t resist being part of this). A palette knife is great for spreading out the cream

And if you can’t bear the thought of not using all the syrup, this is what happens

It’s a better idea to put any excess into a little shot glass and drink it…

Once you have all the layers on, cover the rest of the cake with the rest of the cream and chill for up to 2 hours.

We put some silver and pick cachous in a star shape on the top of ours,

and it looked nice,

but was a bit disconcertingly crunchy when we ate it.

Ohh, and, the left over cream was delicious!


Fruit mince tarts

I was having a conversation yesterday and I said “I have just popped some fruit mince pies in the oven…they better be good …with all the ingredients I don’t think I have saved much money”. I have to say these are not much better than good quality bought ones, I guess I used a jar of pre-prepared fruit mince for the filling so what do you expect?

I have done nothing out of the ordinary here… simply followed a recipe from Jonathan at allrecipies and as I said to my good friend… “I am just good at doing what I am told.” I wasn’t even going to blog them because… well mince tarts are mince tarts and my friend was right … they look like mince pies hey… there are millions of them out there…but she was right I did feel good having made my own.

Folklore has it that eating a pie on each of the 12 days of Christmas brings wealth and prosperity for the future 12 months. Whilst I am not certain that I believe that fairy tale, I can tell you that eating one of these each day with a coffee is sure to bring a smile to your face and an extra kilo or two to your Tum!

These were a practice batch to see if I want to make them for Christmas prezzies for ‘She Sews’ staff. I have traditionally made biscuits or puddings or Christmas cake but there seems to be a growing number of special dietary requirements now so might settle for something less home-baked this year.


Almond pastry

200g plain flour

25g ground almonds

100g butter

50g icing sugar

Finely grated rind of 1 lemon

1 egg yolk (large)

60ml (3 tbsp) milk


300g fruit mince

1 egg, beaten (to brush the tops)


2. You can do this by hand but I used a food processor, put the flour, ground almonds, and sifted icing sugar, grated lemon rind and butter in the processor and whiz to crumbs. The secret (I think) is to just combine the ingredients without melting the butter… I pulse the mix and stop when there are still quite large lumps of butter showing. Turn out into mixing bowl.

3. Combine the egg yolk and milk and mix with a fork. Add to the dry ingredients and using a metal spoon or in mixer with beater, mix until the ingredients are evenly wet. (I needed to add an extra egg yolk) With floured fingers, draw the mixture together to make a rough dough in the bowl.

4. Turn out the pastry onto a lightly floured worktop and knead two or three times so that it is smooth. Allow the pastry to rest before 20 minutes before rolling.

5. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

6. Divide the dough into 2 and roll out half the dough thinly on the dusted surface and cut it out into 12 rounds with a fluted cutter to fit a muffin tin or similar.

7. Place a small tablespoon of the fruit mince in the centre of each pie – don’t overfill them or they will leak when cooking.

8. Roll out the remaining dough thinly and cut out 12 tops for the pies. You can cut round tops or cut out shapes such as stars and small Christmas trees a little smaller than the pastry rounds.

9. Brush around the edges of the pies with a little beaten egg and place the tops on. Brush the tops of the pies with a little beaten egg and sprinkle over some caster sugar.

10. Cook the pies in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden. Remove the pies from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes. Remove them from their tins and serve them hot or allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Recipe provided by: Allrecipes

Out of hibernation… into the oven

It must be spring; even the freezer got a clean out the other day.

Try as I might to keep the freezer organized…. I try to label everything that goes into deep storage and have designated shelves for different things containers with mystery contents still gradually accumulate in the freezer.

Fortunately some of the surprises are real treasures. I had poached some quince late last autumn and had frozen several batches. I was delighted to find a container full of the ruby fruit just waiting to be used in some way.

One of the things that had not survived the spell out of the freezer while it was being de-iced and cleaned was some puff pastry, the edges had defrosted and gone dry.

The center of several sheets however was still fine, so I cut two circles in each one about a centimeter apart then laid the poached quince on top.

Then 15 mins. or so in the oven and they were done. Finally I reduced the poaching liquid down to a thick syrup and drizzled it over the tarts. Too easy, a little sour cream and desert was done.

Cooking at the Vanderbilts Estate

One of the surprise activities of the scientific meeting I attended was a cook-some-of-your-own dinner at Lioncrest, one of the restaurants on Biltmore Estate.

And what a lot of fun  we had!

The appetizer: Butter poached shrimp, dill spaetzle, bacon capers, wilted arugula. IMO, the highlight of the meal ( and not just because I was involved in its execution!).

Here’s part of the team I worked with to make the appetizer.

Here’s the expert with the small amount of butter needed for poaching. Heart attack anyone?

The spaetzle making kit was just a little bit bigger than what we had used recently in Adelaide with Russell to make dumpling for Hungarian goulash, but the same concept. [Why haven’t we done a blog about this?? anyway, some of the photos are here].It was sort of cool to find myself in a restaurant kitchen half way round the world doing the same sort of thing just a few weeks after having being introduced to making dumplings (spaetzle) this way in my own kitchen!

Another team made the salad (Bibb lettuce salad with local tomatoes, Roquefort cheese, spicy candied walnuts, fresh thyme vinaigrette, sourdough croutons)

Here’s one of the team getting instructions from the expert about how to crumble the Roquefort.

And some tomato corralling

The Entrée (main): Pan roasted beef flank steak stuffed with lobster and saffron risotto, served with rhubarb and red wine butter sauce.

Stuffing and rolling:

The final product before browning

And the dessert: Chocolate mousse torte (here with a Nomacorc couli rather than the normal squiggle!)

During production:

A fun evening with a smile right to the end!

Thanks to Edina, Katherine, Jamie and Andrew for sharing photos.

Salted caramel chocolate tart with burnt oranges

We have two ladies (gospel preachers) staying with us this week, one of whom is a ‘foodie’. Together the ‘foodie’ and I were flicking through an assortment of back issues of food magazines looking for inspiration, planning the coming day’s meals. The everyday meals were a little dictated by ease and speed of preparation and budget constraints, but we wanted something a bit special for Saturday night. We had already decided we would have duck for the main course, we would source the duck from a visit to the Central market (we had breakfast there on Saturday morning) and had decided to use an old tried and true recipe (from Gourmet traveler June 1995). So with that settled we were looking for dessert. I was thumbing through a Cuisine when the page fell open to a photograph by Steve Brown of Celia Harvey’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart. The picture is glorious the colours are warm and rich, you can almost smell the pastry, unconsciously your tongue wets your top lip, your eyes glaze, you reach out dreaming you could actually take the slice of tart, all thoughts of diets gone…you wicked people at Cuisine! surely it is against the law to publish pictures like that!

Sensibility kicked in, “we don’t need a dessert like that, too rich too many calories”, I said, quickly turning the page, my friends face fell, but I steamed on… did I say steamed? ah yes we could have a steamed pudding…. Sadly we both knew… she had to make that tart…simply had to!

Saturdays being what they are time began to run out, no way could we go back now, and sorry Celia, but we cheated a bit… I purchased some Carême dark chocolate shortcrust pastry, so we could skip the pastry making part of the process. My foodie friend arrived home, and the cooking started, quickly the tart shells were rolled and blind baked.

Then the first batch of caramel begins to bubble…

Then the chocolate topping…

Spread the caramel over the tart base. Spoon the chocolate mixture over evenly

Make the second lot of caramel.

Then pour the caramel over the orange slices.

Finally we had our desert!

Was it worth the time, effort and calories??? mmmmm you betcha!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart with Burnt Oranges

Celia Harvey, Cuisine Issue 123

If you have the time make your own, if like us you are pressed for time use Carême dark chocolate shortcrust pastry.


For the pastry
200g plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa, sifted
2 tablespoons caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 egg yolks

For the caramel filling

250g caster sugar
125g salted butter
100ml cream
pinch flaky sea salt

For the chocolate topping
100g good-quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces ( we used Lindt 75%cocoa)
75g unsalted butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons caster sugar

Burnt Caramel Oranges
4 oranges, peeled with a sharp knife and pith completely removed
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and the dark seed paste scraped out
1 measure (30ml) Cointreau (we used Grand marnier instead)


For the pastry
Mix the flour, cocoa and sugar in a food processor or by hand. Add the butter and process or rub until the mixture has the texture of fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and work to a pliable pastry (but do not overwork). Refrigerate for 30 minutes then roll out on a lightly floured surface and line a 20cm springform tart tin. Chill again for 30 minutes.

Prick the base with a fork and blind bake with baking paper and rice for 12 minutes at 180°C. The pastry should appear dry and cooked.

For the caramel filling

Dissolve the sugar in 5 tablespoons of water in a large, heavy-based pan. Stir in the butter and increase the heat until it starts to bubble and turn a light caramel. This may take up to 20 minutes. Swirl the pan gently over the heat to ensure even colouring.

Lower the heat and carefully stir in half of the cream. When the bubbles slow add the rest of the cream. Add a good pinch of salt and leave to cool.

For the chocolate topping
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Melt the chocolate with the butter over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the egg, egg yolk and sugar together until thick, glossy and pale.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the eggs and mix until smooth and shiny.

Spread the caramel over the tart base. Spoon the chocolate mixture over evenly. Bake the tart for 12 minutes and serve cooled with the oranges (recipe follows). Serves 8-10.

Burnt Caramel Oranges
Slice the oranges into 0.5cm perfect discs and place in a non-stick or Pyrex dish. Dissolve the sugar with the water and vanilla seeds in the same method as for the caramel filling. Swirl the pan until the caramel reaches a mahogany colour. Keep it bubbling until the colour darkens to rich red and is almost smoking. Carefully but quickly add the measure of Cointreau.

Pour the caramel over the orange slices. They in turn should bubble and soften. Leave on the bench to cool. Do not attempt to move or refrigerate them. Spoon on to the tart when serving. The oranges release their juice when caramelised so they won’t set, and the juice forms a wonderful sauce to spoon over.

Poached pears

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice,
And all that’s nice;
That’s what little girls are made of.

If little girls are made of sugar and spice, do they grow up to be poached pears? I think they do! Close your eyes and imagine… an elegant young lady, quietly standing, tall and shapely, glowing with sweetness, a swirl of pale yellow flowing over her svelte shape and pooling around her feet, (ever thought about custard that way?) or are you thinking of the slightly naughty french Poire belle Hélène ? … with a rich chocolate coat draped over her shoulders? A poached pear makes a beautiful dinner companion, providing warmth and softness to offset the rich, dark and handsome nutmeg cake sitting beside her….getting carried away? you bet!!! but that said pears are a wonderful desert and soooo easy what could be better? The famous Poire belle Hélène was created around1870 by Auguste Escoffier and is a real classic.

Usually I try to use Beurre Bosc pears for this recipe, they have good shape, the stems stay intact, and they hold their shape after long slow cooking. Beurre Bosc pears are available during the cooler months from April to October.


  1. Make up your poaching liquid (see below)
  2. Peel each pear from stem down. Work quickly placing the peeled pears into the liquid immediately you have finished, or sprinkle each pear with lemon juice to avoid browning while peeling the remaining pears.
  3. Allow the pears to simmer, covered with a square of baking paper, in the liquid for 15-20 minutes or until tender (longer time is required for different varieties and ripeness) Turn occasionally to ensure even cooking.
  4. Carefully remove each pair from the liquid and leave to drain.
  5. Serve pear warm or cooled with a little poaching liquid.

My poaching liquid began as a simple light sugar syrup from The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander  . The original syrup is now a combination of several batches with
different flavours added. I have found that the syrup can be successfully stored in the freezer for several months and reused. (warning) Although it has a high sugar content, which makes it resistant to spoilage, it doesn’t last forever! You can try some of the suggestions below or make your own specialty….so long as your share the recipes with me 🙂

Poaching Liquid: Place 2 cups sugar and 4 cups water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar has dissolved.

  • The simplest addition is vanilla bean or a teaspoon of Queen Vanilla Bean Paste, which they claim is vanilla extract with real vanilla bean seeds in natural syrup.
  • For cinnamon poached pears, add two cinnamon sticks.
  • For red wine poached pears, omit vanilla bean and replace 1 cup of water with 1 cup red wine. Increase sugar to 2 1/2 cups.
  • For dessert wine (Sauternes) poached pears, replace vanilla bean with four thinly sliced pieces of orange rind. Replace 1 cup water with 1 cup dessert wine.

Pistachio, Yogurt and Cardamom Cake.

My little sister has a heart of gold, she made me a really delicious cake and brought it over for morning tea, (yes well it was for my birthday, but I am in denial about that, so was being evasive) I think conversation is much better enjoyed over coffee and cake don’t you?, maybe that deserves some research….. hmmm wonder if I could get away with… I am not putting on weight, I am having more in depth discussions!.. huh fat chance of that one getting the nod!… Oh excuse the pun.


  • 1 cup unsalted pistachio Nuts
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon
  • 150g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 11/2 cups SR flour
  • 3/4 cup of caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 lime
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar extra
  • 100ml water


Pre. heat oven to 180. Grease 20cm round cake tin and line

Place the Pistachios and cardamom in food procedure and process until just chopped. Add the butter, flour and caster sugar and process for 20 sec, or until mixture is crumbly. Add the combined eggs and yogurt and process for another10 sec. or until everything is combined.

Spoon into tin, bake for 45-50 min. Leave the cake in tin for 5 min before turning out onto rack cool completely.

To make the syrup peel skin off the lime with a vegetable peeler make sure the white pith is removed. Place the extra caster sugar and water in a saucepan and stir it over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and add the lime peel, and cook for 5 min. Stain and cool slightly. Pierce the cake several times with a skewer then pour the syrup over.   yummy

I’m not sure why you don’t put the syrup on while it is the cake is warm and in the tin. That what I did that day and the other syrup cake instructions were to do that.

Confession… the cake was so yummy it was all eaten before I could get a picture… the photo is not mine and comes from

Sicilian ricotta cheesecake

The Tusmore household all love cheesecake and there is often passionate discussion about which sort is the best, some like unbaked creamy sweet versions and others prefer cheesy baked recipes. The downside to cheesecake is their fat content so when I saw a recipe in an old Good taste for a cheesecake using ricotta cheese I had to try it out.

Ricotta cheese is generally recognized as having been invented in Sicily, it is made from leftover hot whey of milk used for cheese making. When the whey is reheated (re-cooked) the solid milk parts are skimmed off to drain, and this is called ricotta cheese. The curd is literally cooked twice hence the name “ricotta,” re-cooked. Ricotta is the ideal cheese for people watching their weight — it’s fat content of around 10% is quite low compared to the 30% or more of other cream cheeses.

All this is good but the cheesecake is contained in a lovely fattening pastry case and has sour cream added so the end result is delicious but definitely not diet food!



75gms Hazelnuts (toasted and skins removed)

480gm low fat ricotta

100gms caster sugar

200 g sugar

125 gms sour cream

100 gms chocolate

95gms mixed peel

2 tbs brandy


150g plain flour

55gms almond meal

60g icing sugar mixture

125gms butter chopped

1 egg yolk


  1. To make the pastry, place the flour, almond meal, icing sugar and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and process until the dough just starts to come together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Shape into a disc and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
  2. Preheat oven to 200°C. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm-thick disc. Line a round 20cm (base measurement) fluted tart tin, with removable base, with pastry and trim any excess. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to rest.
  3. Meanwhile, spread the hazelnuts over a baking tray and bake in oven for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Place the hazelnuts on a clean tea towel and rub to remove the skins. Coarsely chop.
  4. Combine the hazelnuts, ricotta, sugar, sour cream, egg, chocolate, mixed peel and brandy in a large bowl.
  5. Cover the pastry base with baking paper and fill with pastry weights, rice or dried beans. Place on a baking tray and bake in oven for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and weights, rice or dried beans and bake for a further 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 180°C.
  6. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the pastry base and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface. Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until filling is just set. Turn oven off. Leave the cheesecake in the oven, with the door ajar, for 1 hour or until cool (this will prevent the cake from cracking). Remove from oven and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 2 hours to chill. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

from Good Taste – June 2006, Page 80
Recipe by Sarah Hobbs

Dessert in a hurry

I guess we all have  those days when plans are changed and suddenly there are more guests than you first thought or your  children remember as you pop them into bed that they are supposed to bring cake to school tomorrow or friends pop in and you need a recipe for dessert in a hurry. This week  happily we have had guests for dinner Monday and Tuesday night that I had not originally planned and on these occasions I try to avoid experiments and fall back on something tried and true.

A  quick what can I make for dessert’ standby is cheesecake. Almost everyone likes it it needs nothing to  accompany it, save a little cream or ice cream if you want.

I like my cheesecake to be cheesy and have a little bite so I substitute sour cream for normal cream and prefer all cream cheese rather than a mix of cream cheese and riccotta. I like the slight tang of the lemon zest and have made this without the poppy seeds, but they do give extra flavour and interest.

The secret to stopping the cheesecake from cracking is to cool it slowly, Leave the cake in the oven when it is done, turn the oven off and leave the door slightly open until the cake has cooled.


Lemon and poppy seed cheesecake


125 g Nice biscuits (or similar)

45 g butter, melted

750 g (3 packs) cream cheese, softened

200 g sugar

15 g plain flour

10 ml vanilla extract

5 eggs, lightly beaten

120 ml cream

60 ml lemon juice

6 g grated lemon peel

45 g poppy seeds


1.      In a food processor, combine the biscuit and butter. Press onto the bottom of a greased 23cm. spring form pan. Set aside

2.      In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla until smooth. Add the eggs, cream, lemon juice, peel and poppy seeds. Beat on low speed just until combined. Pour into prepared crust

3.      Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 180 degrees C for 55-60 minutes or until centre is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.