Watermelon, feta and blackberry skewers

This is wonderfully simple and delicious with the sweet and salty combined and very pretty on the plate. From the food blog, “A healthy life for me”

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Serves: 24

1 small seedless ripe watermelon, cut into 1″cubes
6 ounces of Greek Feta cheese, cut into 1” cubes
Fresh ripe firm blackberries
Small wooden skewers

Skewer watermelon chunks, feta and blackberry.
Place on serving platter and store in refrigerator until ready to serve. How easy it that!

Easy meringue gelato cake with chocolate sauce

This must be one of the easiest recipes I have seen for something that looks so elegant and complicated. Thanks to Nigella Lawson for this gem.
You don’t spend long making it, can do it it ahead of time and everyone thinks you’re a genius! I’ll take it!

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For the meringue gelato cake
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
1 oz bittersweet chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
1 tbsp coffee liqueur (and/or rum)
4 oz shop-bought meringue cookies
8 oz raspberries (to serve, optional)

For the chocolate sauce
1 cup heavy cream
⅔ cup bittersweet chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
2 tbsp coffee liqueur (and/or rum)

For the Meringue Gelato Cake:
Line a 450g / 1lb loaf tin with clingfilm, making sure you have enough overhang to cover the top later.
Whip the cream until thick but still soft.
Chop the chocolate very finely so that you have a pile of dark splinters, and fold them into the cream, along with the liqueur.
Now, using brute force, crumble the meringue cookies and fold these in, too.
Pack this mixture into the prepared loaf tin, pressing it down with a spatula as you go, and bring the clingfilm up and over to seal the top, then get out more clingfilm to wrap around the whole tin. Freeze until solid, which should take around 8 hours, or overnight.

To serve, unwrap the outer layer of plastic wrap, then unpeel the top and use these bits of long overhanging wrap to lift out the ice-cream brick. Unwrap and unmould it onto a board and cut the frozen meringue cake into slabs to serve. I like to zig-zag a little chocolate sauce over each slice, and sprinkle a few raspberries alongside on each plate.

For the Chocolate Sauce:
Pour the cream into a saucepan and add the tiny bits of chocolate.
Put over a gentle heat and whisk as the chocolate melts, taking the pan off the heat once the chocolate is almost all melted. If the mixture gets too hot, the chocolate will seize, whereas it will happily continue melting in the warm cream off the heat.
Add the liqueur, still off the heat, and whisk again to amalgamate the sauce completely. Pour into a jug, whisking every now and again until it cools to just subtly warm.

Summer berry terrine

This is the prettiest, lightest, most low calorie dessert I can possibly think of. It is a real stunner to look at and dead simple to make. I bet it will be a firm favorite for your outdoor or indoor dinners.

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15 fluid ounces sparkling rose wine
2 oz superfine sugar (caster sugar)
2 x (1/4 oz) sachets of gelatine
1 tbsp fresh lime juice

For the fruit

12 oz sweet strawberries (not too large)
8 oz raspberries
12 oz blackcurrants, blueberries or red currants (or a mixture of them)
Fresh mint leaves

In addition to the ingredients, you will also need two 2 lb loaf tins, 7½ x 4¾ inches x 3½ inches deep, preferably non-stick but anyway with a good surface.

First, prepare the fruit: remove the stalks and halve the strawberries if they are any larger than a quail’s egg. Then mix the fruits together in a large bowl, being very gentle to avoid bruising them.

In a small saucepan heat half the rosé wine until it begins to simmer, then whisk the sugar and gelatine into it. Make sure that everything has dissolved completely before adding the remaining wine and the lime juice. Then pour the liquid into a pitcher and allow it to cool.

While that is happening, lay the mixed fruit in one of the loaf tins – it is worth arranging the bottom layer with the smallest, prettiest-shaped fruit as this will be on top when the terrine is turned out.

Next, pour all but 5 fl oz of the liquid over the fruit. Now lay a sheet of clingfilm over the tin, place the other tin directly on top, then put two unopened tins of tomatoes or something similar to act as weights into the top tin and put the whole lot into the fridge for about 1 hour, or until it has set.

Then warm up the remaining 5 fl oz wine mixture and pour it over the surface of the terrine. Re-cover with clingfilm and return to the fridge overnight to set firm.

When you are ready to serve, turn out the terrine by dipping the tin very briefly in hot water and inverting it on to a plate. Use a very sharp knife (also dipped first into hot water) to cut it into slices. Decorate with the fresh mint sprigs and serve with red berry coulis, chilled pouring cream, crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt.

Strawberries with mozzarella and mint pesto drizzle

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I had this in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago and managed to figure out what was in it and work out a recipe.
It’s such a lovely idea to use sweet strawberries rather than tomatoes with the mint pesto and mozzarella, especially as strawberries go so well with balsamic vinegar dressing as well.

1 lb sweet strawberries, sliced
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup almonds, sliced
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 clove garlic
1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (1/2 tsp for each serving)

 In a bowl, combine strawberries and sugar. Cover and set aside.
For the mint pesto drizzle, in a food processor combine the olive oil, mint leaves sliced almonds, Parmesan cheese and garlic.
Divide the mozzarella and place the slices (overlapping) on each serving plate. Spoon ½ cup sugared strawberries around and on cheese.
Spoon ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the mint pesto drizzle over cheese and strawberries on each plate. Garnish with mint leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Marnier macerated strawberries in wonton cups with orange mascarpone cream

Such a lovely, light idea for a dessert. The strawberries are given extra flavor by macerating in Grand Marnier or fresh orange juice and powdered sugar, and the crispy wonton pastry contrasts with the orange flavored cream. Gorgeous!

Makes about 24

Wontons
2 cups sweet strawberries, hulled, and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
3 tbsp Grand Marnier  (OR 3 tbsp orange juice)
1 tbsp powdered sugar
cooking spray
24 wonton wrappers

Mascarpone whipped cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
3 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange

For garnish
Some fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

For the wontons
In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, Grand Marnier or orange juice and powdered sugar. Allow the strawberries to macerate for 20 minutes.
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 350 F.
Spray a 24 count mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
To create the wonton cups, make a small fold in the center of each wonton and push it into the muffin cup. Bake the cups until the edges are golden, 5 to 6 minutes.
Cool the cups while you make the whipped cream.

For the whipped cream
In a bowl using an electric mixer, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, vanilla and orange zest.
Whip the cream until it has soft peaks, about 3 minutes.

To assemble the cups
Drain the berries, reserving the macerating liquid. place a few berry slices in the bottom of each cup. Fill the cup with a tbsp of whipped cream and top with additional strawberries. Drizzle a little of the reserved macerated liquid over each wonton, sprinkle with chopped mint leaves and serve.

 

Blueberry and brioche brunch bake

Another fab Holiday brunch dish prepared the night before. This one oozing with sweet blueberries then covered in a warm blueberry sauce for good measure.

Makes 6 servings

For the breakfast casserole

4 brioche (about 14 oz in all)  or 8 x 1” thick slices of brioche or other white bread, cubed
1/4 lb cream cheese, cut into cubes
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 1/2 tbsp grated orange zest
6 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

For the blueberry sauce

3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tsp unsalted butter
3/4 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 12 x 9 x 2 (approx) baking dish

Arrange half the brioche slices or cubes in the bottom. Scatter the cream cheese cubes, 3/4 of the blueberries and the orange zest over the brioche or bread. Top with the remaining brioche or bread cubes.

In a bowl, stir the eggs, milk and maple syrup to blend. Pour this egg mixture evenly over the entire casserole. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Remove the casserole from the fridge 30 minutes before you cook it.
Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered until puffed and golden, about another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the blueberry sauce;

In a large saucepan, blend the sugar and cornstarch, then stir in the water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture boils, thickens, and becomes clear, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the blueberries. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the blueberries burst, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice and keep warm until the casserole is done.

Cut the baked casserole into 6 squares, and transfer to plates. Pour abut 1/4 cup blueberry sauce over each portion and serve hot.

 

 

Blackberry and coconut tray bake

Tray bakes are very “Commonwealth.” I was brought up with them in New Zealand and they are also very popular in Great Britain. They are usually very easy to make and so delicious. My son, Oliver made this to take to work, it was spectacular and everyone wanted more.

8 oz self-raising flour
4 oz oats
5 oz soft brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
7 oz cold butter, cut into pieces
4 oz sweetened shredded coconut
2 large eggs
14 oz fresh blackberries

Heat the oven to 350 F

Tip the flour, oats, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mixture using your fingertips until only pea sized pieces remain.

Stir through the coconut, then fill a tea cup with the mixture and set this aside.

Stir the eggs into the bowl of mixture, then spread over the bottom of a lined baking tin, (like a 9” by 13” shallow Swiss roll tin or a square tin)
Smooth the surface with the back of a spoon, then scatter over the blackberries so they cover the mixture.

Scatter over the reserved teacup mixture and bake for 1 hour  – 1 hour 20 minutes until golden and cooked through (if you poke a skewer in, it should come out with moist crumbs but no wet mixture).

Leave to cook, then remove from the tin and cut into squares.
Serve with some extra berries, if you like.

Overnight blueberry french toast

This is well worth doing and make sure you start the night before. It’s worth it!
From the blogger, “One Perfect Bite” and adapted from a Patricia Wells recipe

Serves 8 to 10

Casserole

1 (1lb) loaf day-old blueberry streusel bread, cut into1 inch cubes, or make up the Betty Crocker or Marie Callender’s blueberry muffin mix the day before.
1 8oz package cream cheese, cut into half inch cubes
1-1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, divided use
12 extra large eggs,organic preferably
2 cups light cream or half and half (cream is best!)
1/3 cup maple syrup

Sauce

1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup blueberries
1 tbsp butter

Directions

Grease a 9x13x2 inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
Cover the bottom of the baking dish with half of the cubed bread.
Dot the cubes of bread with small evenly placed pieces of the cream cheese.
Sprinkle with 1 cup of blueberries.
Cover with remaining bread cubes.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, add the half and half/cream and maple syrup and mix well.
Pour over the bread mixture.
Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the reserved 1/4 cup of blueberries.
Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.
Remove from the fridge 30 mins before baking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 30 to 50 minutes or until puffy and golden brown before baking and the center is set.

To make the syrup;

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Add water and bring to the boil over medium heat.
Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Stir in the blueberries; reduce the heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until the berries have burst.
Stir in the butter.  Serve over the French toast.

Makes 1-3/4 cups sauce

Cut casserole into desired portions. Transfer to plates for serving. Lightly drizzle each serving with about 1 tbsp of the sauce. Pass remaining sauce at the table
Enjoy!!

 

No-bake strawberry icebox cake

Serves 8 to 12

2 lbs fresh sweet strawberries, washed
3 1/4 cups whipping cream divided,
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp good vanilla essence
1/2 tsp rosewater, optional but lovely
4 sleeves, (about 19 ounces or 24 to 28 whole crackers) Graham crackers
2 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped

Take out a few of the very best looking strawberries and set aside for the topping. Hull the remainder of the strawberries and slice each berry into thin slices.

With a hand mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer,whip 3 cups of whipping cream until it just holds. (stiff peaks) Add the confectioners sugar, vanilla essence and rosewater (if using) and whip to combine.
Spread a small spoonful of whipped cream on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, or similarly-sized platter.
Lay down 6 graham crackers and lightly cover the top of the graham crackers with more whipped cream and then a single layer of strawberries.
Repeat three times until you have 4 layers of graham crackers.
Spread the last of the whipped cream over the top and swirl it lightly with a spoon.
Add a few more strawberries.
To make the ganache, heat the cream until bubbles form around the edges, then pour over the chopped chocolate.
Let it stand for a few minutes then whisk until it’s thick and glossy.
Drizzle this over the layered dessert with a spoon or transfer to a squeeze bottle and use that to drizzle.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours  or until the crackers have softened completely (I do it over night)
Garnish with additional berries.

Summer Pudding with Rum Whipped Cream

I make this a lot any time of the year and it’s gorgeous! Thanks to the Barefoot Contessa.

Serves 8.
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 half-pints fresh raspberries, divided
  • 2 half-pints fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons framboise (raspberry brandy)
  • 1 loaf brioche or egg bread (1 to 1 1/2 pounds)
Directions
Rum whipped cream recipe follows;
Combine the strawberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup of water in a large saucepan and cook uncovered over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
Add 2 cups of the raspberries and all the blueberries and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a simmer, and simmer for a minute.
Off the heat, stir in the remaining raspberries and the framboise.
Slice the bread in 1/2-inch-thick slices and remove the crusts. In the bottom of a 7 1/2-inch round by 3-inch high souffle or baking dish, ladle about 1/2 cup of the cooked berry mixture.
Arrange slices of bread in a pattern (this will become the top when it’s unmolded) and then add more berry mixture to saturate.
Continue adding bread, cutting it to fit the mold, and berries.
Finish with bread and cooked berries, using all of the fruit and syrup.
Place a sheet of plastic wrap loosely over the pudding.
Find a plate approximately the same diameter as the inside of the mold and place it on top.
Weight the mold with a heavy can and refrigerate. Remove the weight after 6 to 8 hours.
Cover the pudding with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Just before serving, run a knife around the outside of the pudding and unmold it upside down onto a serving plate. Serve in wedges with rum whipped cream.
Rum Whipped Cream:
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure really good vanilla extract (I use the Madagascar variety)
1 tablespoon dark rum
Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
When it starts to thicken, add the sugar, vanilla, and rum.
Continue to whip until it forms stiff peaks. Serve cold.