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Delicious Bites: Strawberry Pavlova Recipe

Are you ready for a delicious Strawberry Pavlova recipe? You’ll want to Pin and make this one! Hi there, it’s Jillian here with this month’s Delicious Bites column. I’ve just spent 5 weeks in Europe and I was there for the start of the berry season. I just love berries and I can’t tell you how many punnets of strawberries and raspberries I consumed while I was away. So with berries on my mind I decided to make a Strawberry Pavlova. Australia claims the Pavlova but our close friends and neighbours from New Zealand also claim it as their own. Whoever invented it was pretty clever because the combination of a crisp meringue shell, fluffy marshmallow interior topped with lashings of cream and fruit is a winner. I’ve seen many pictures of desserts claiming to be Pavlova but I’m pretty hard line when it comes to the definition. A Pavlova must be tall and it must have a marshmallow interior and if not, then it’s not a Pavlova.

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Do you have one of those old fashioned common sense cookbooks on your bookshelf that you turn to time and time again? Well I have a few and one of those is Maureen’s Simpson’s Australian CuisineI can’t claim this Pavlova recipe as my own, because it comes straight from the pages of this well used book, but I’ve changed the method a little. As long as you follow the recipe, it’s actually pretty easy to make but you need to allow plenty of time to make the meringue base and time to let it cool. The base can be made well ahead of time and stored in an airtight container. Once it’s decorated, the Pavlova loses its crunch quite quickly, so don’t decorate it too far in advance.

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Don’t worry if the top cracks while it bakes– it’s amazing what a dollop of cream can disguise. Generously top with berries. You really need something tart with a Pavlova to counteract the sugar in the meringue. Raspberries, blackberries or blueberries work well or as my brother prefers, simply drizzled with passion fruit pulp. Once decorated, stand back and bask in the glory as every-one admires your creation. Here’s the recipe for you.

INGREDIENTS: 4 eggwhites / Pinch of salt / 1 heaped cup (230g) caster sugar / 1 teaspoon white vinegar / 1 20 ml tablespoon cornflour / 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  / 1¼ cups (300ml) thickened cream, whipped /1 punnet strawberries, washed and dried / Optional – icing sugar

METHOD: Preheat the oven (conventional) to 180°C/350°F. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper and using a 18cm (7 inch) cake tin as your guide, mark out a circle on the paper. Flip the paper over and use this as your template. In a large clean dry bowl, beat eggwhites with the pinch of salt until stiff. Add the caster sugar gradually, one heaped tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla extract. Pile or pipe the meringue mixture onto the baking tray, keeping within the marked circle. Smooth the top so it resembles a flat cake. It needs to be at least 5-6 cm (2-3 inches) high. Place the Pavlova in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 130°C/275°F and bake for 1¼ – 1½ hours or until the Pavlova is dry and very lightly coloured. Turn the oven off and allow the Pavlova to cool completely in the switched off oven. When cool, remove the baking paper from the Pavlova and store in an airtight container. Just before serving, top the Pavlova with the lightly whipped cream and berries and lightly dust with icing sugar if desired.

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This recipe serves six. If you’re serving a crowd you could make 2 separate Pavlovas or one really large one as this is an easy recipe to upscale. For each egg white, you need ¼ cup caster sugar, 1 teaspoon of cornflour and ¼ teaspoon each of vanilla extract and vinegar.  If you’re making a larger Pavlova, make an 8 or 9 inch template and extend the cooking time by 15 – 30 minutes. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

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See you all again next month with another Delicious Bites recipe. – Jillian

(text/styling/photography: jillian leiboff)

Posted in Delicious Bites on July 14, 2014
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Delicious Bites: Ricotta Pancakes with Passionfruit Syrup Recipe

Would you like to try some Ricotta Pancakes with Passionfruit Syrup? Hello, everyone, its Jillian with another Delicious Bites column for decor8. Normally I write from Sydney but this month I’m writing from Europe, currently Paris, where I’m on vacation. I’ve been eating a pastry a day, purely as research for Delicious Bites of course (wink).

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Do you like pancakes? Yes, of course you do! I’ve always loved pancakes yet I don’t make them that often. Blueberry pancakes are my favourite closely followed by ricotta pancakes. Ricotta cheese is one of my all time favourite ingredients. I use it all the time as a spread and in some of my favourite pasta dishes. I’ve even tried making ricotta at home just to see if I could. I mainly use ricotta in savoury dishes but this time I’m using it as the main ingredient in these light and fluffy pancakes.

Ricotta hotcakes with passionfruit syrup

This pancake recipe was inspired by Aussie cook and restaurateur, Bill Granger. I have one of Bill’s cookbooks at home and the recipes are easy to follow and taste great. Bill is famous for his ricotta hotcakes with honey comb butter and this is my take on his classic dish. Instead of honeycomb butter, I topped the hotcakes with labne and sliced banana then drizzled over some passionfruit syrup. If passionfruit are hard to source, honey or maple syrup would work well or any other of your favourite pancake toppings. These pancakes are at their best when freshly made. They still taste great when reheated but they do lose their fluffiness. Here’s the recipe for you.

Ricotta hotcakes with passionfruit syrup

(Makes 15 hotcakes)

Ricotta hotcakes with passionfruit syrup

Ricotta Pancakes
1 cup self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
Two 20 ml tbs caster sugar
1 tsp grated lemon rind
4 eggs, separated
250 g (8 oz) ricotta cheese
1 cup milk or buttermilk

Ricotta Pancakes
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Stir in the sugar and lemon rind. Gently mix in the egg yolks, the ricotta cheese and the milk. In a large clean dry bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites through the batter. Grease a small non stick pan and place over a medium heat. When the pan is hot, spoon in a few tablespoons of the mixture just enough to cover the pan. When bubbles form on the surface and the undersurface is golden brown, it’s time to flip the hotcake over and cook the other side. I like to lightly grease the pan in between each hotcake, to prevent them sticking. Once cooked, keep the pancakes warm.

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Passionfruit Syrup
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
2 passionfruit, pulped

Passionfruit Syrup
In a small saucepan combine the sugar, water and the juice. Bring to the boil and lower the heat. Simmer the mixture for a few minutes. Gently stir in the passionfruit pulp and simmer for a further minute. Remove from the heat. Serve hot or cold. If the syrup gets too thick as it cools, just dilute it with a little hot water.

Ricotta hotcakes with passionfruit syrup

 

Ricotta hotcakes with passionfruit syrup

 

I really hope you get the chance to make these as they are just delicious. See you all again next month with another Delicious Bites post, – Jillian.

(text/images by jillian leiboff)

Posted in Delicious Bites on June 09, 2014

Delicious Bites: Zucchini Lime and Pecan Cake Recipe

Would you like to try a yummy Zucchini Lime and Pecan Cake Recipe? Hi everyone, it’s Jillian here with another Delicious Bites recipe for you this month. This time last year, I asked Holly’s readers for some recipe suggestions. A reader, Gillian, suggested a recipe for a courgette and lime sponge cake and I went to work in my kitchen.

Zucchini lime and pecan cake

I love cakes made with vegetables and nuts, so I made a zucchini, lime and pecan cake, photographed it and took it into work to be evaluated by my test audience. They loved the cake but when the time came to post the recipe, I’d mislaid it. I made my way back into the kitchen to create the recipe which I adapted from the carrot and almond cake recipe from ‘Marcella’s Kitchen’ by Marcella Hazan. I scribbled the recipe onto the back of an envelope and stuck it to my fridge for safekeeping.

The addition of the zucchini makes this a lovely moist and nutty cake. Please don’t skip drying out the grated zucchini on kitchen paper or a tea towel before adding it to the batter. I did that the first time I made the cake and the batter was very runny. There’s no fat in the actual cake recipe but I couldn’t help myself when it came to the icing.

I just love cream cheese icing/frosting and adding zingy lime to the mix only makes it better, in my opinion. In the first version of the cake I topped it with some lime glace icing, so if you’d like a lower fat version of the cake that also works really well. For decoration I added some toffee pecans which I found on this lovely Australian food blog, The Food Department. Here’s the recipe for you – Zucchini Lime and Pecan Cake – makes one 8 inch cake…

zucchini lime and pecan cake

Cake
275 g (9 oz) zucchini/courgette, grated and dried on kitchen paper
5 eggs, separated
250 g (8 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
2 limes, rind grated
250 g (8 oz) ground toasted pecans
100 g (3 1/2 oz) sponge finger crumbs or dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp baking powder
1 20 ml tbs lime juice

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Icing
45 g (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
90 g (3 oz) cream cheese
1 tsp grated lime rind
1 1/2 cups sifted icing (confectioners) sugar
1- 2 tsp lime juice

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Toffee Pecans
1/2 cup sugar
30 mls (2 tbs) water
12-18 toasted pecans

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Cake
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F (conventional oven). Line the base and sides of an 8 inch round tin with baking paper. In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks, sugar and rind until light and fluffy and trebled in volume. Mix the ground pecans, the sponge finger crumbs and baking powder together in a bowl. Gently fold into the egg yolk mixture along with the lime juice and the grated zucchini. In a clean dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites through the zucchini mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 50 – 60 minutes in the centre of the oven or until the cake is well risen and tests cooked when tested with a skewer. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool completely before icing. The cake will sink a little as it cools.

Icing
Cream together the unsalted butter, cream cheese and grated rind until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and sufficient lime juice to form a soft icing. Beat for about 3 minutes.
This makes sufficient icing to ice the top of an 8 inch cake.

Toffee Pecans
In a small saucepan combine the sugar and water and bring the mixture to the boil. Boil steadily until the toffee turns a golden brown. Take the toffee off the heat and using a skewer coat each pecan with the toffee. Allow to cool on baking paper. Coarsely chop the pecans and use to decorate the cake with a little extra grated lime rind.

Zucchini lime and pecan cake

Zucchini lime and pecan cake

I hope you like the recipe. I’ll be back again next month with another Delicious Bites post. Bye for now, Jillian

(text/images: jillian leiboff)

Posted in Delicious Bites on May 06, 2014

Delicious Bites: Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies Recipe

Ready for a delicious recipes for brownies? Why not, right? Hi everyone, it’s Jillian here with this month’s Delicious Bites post. With Easter just around the corner, my initial thought was to do something chocolately, then my thoughts turned to cheesecake, as they often do. I try to keep my chocolate consumption down to a bare minimum but sometimes nothing else but chocolate will do. Do you feel the same way? With both chocolate and cheesecake on my mind I decided to put the two together and came up with this, a recipe for chocolate cheesecake brownies. These little squares are an absolute favourite with my workmates and when I take them into work for morning tea they disappear in a flash.

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There’s something about the combination of cheesecake with just set chocolate brownie that’s irresistible. The secret ingredient is the potato flour (starch) which helps keep the brownie mixture moist and squidgy while the cheesecake part is cooking. The swirl is important but you do need to do it gently to keep the 2 mixtures separate. I used the closest thing I had at hand to do this, which in this case was a chop stick.

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The brownies are very rich so I normally cut them into squares but if you’re brave, then cut them into bars.

Here’s the recipe for you and trust me, you’ll be glad you made them.

Brownie Ingredients:
125g (4 oz) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
185g (6 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup potato flour (starch)
1 1/2 (20 ml) tbs cocoa

Cheesecake Ingredients:
250g (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease and line the base and sides of a 8 inch (20cm) square pan with baking paper or aluminum foil, making sure the paper goes up all four sides. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (conventional). Sift the flours together with the cocoa into a small bowl. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl placed over a medium saucepan filled with simmering water, stirring until smooth. You could also do this in the microwave. Remove the bowl from heat and mix in the 2/3 cup sugar, then the eggs. Mix in the flour and cocoa mixture and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the batter becomes smooth and glossy. Spread half the brownie mixture evenly in the prepared pan. In a separate bowl, beat together the cream cheese, the egg, 1/4 cup of sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. You could also do this step in a food processor. Dollop the cream cheese alternately with the remaining brownie mixture over the batter in the pan, then take a knife or spatula (or even a chopstick) and gently swirl the cream cheese mixture with the chocolate batter.

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Bake in the preheated 180°C/350°F oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the batter in the centre of the pan is just set. Leave the brownie in the switched off oven with the door slightly ajar for a further 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, then lift the brownie out of the tin and peel away the foil. Cut the brownies into squares or bars. These will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days. They also freeze well.

 

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Wishing all of you a vert Happy Easter and Passover! I’ll see you all again next month with some more Delicious Bites for you, Bye for now – Jillian

(images/text: jillian lieboff)

Posted in Delicious Bites on April 02, 2014

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