Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cranachan – and a Happy New Year

As a nod to my Scottish heritage and because it is Hogmanay (Scottish for New Year’s Eve) I’m giving you Cranachan as my last dish for 2011.  Whilst it’s known as a traditional Scottish dessert, it is not something our family ever ate.  I suppose the addition of alcohol prevented it from being served as family pudding, although that didn’t stop the huge glug of sherry soaking up the sponge in grannie’s trifle.  I have noticed the recipe more as an adult – perhaps it has just increased in popularity? 

As I don’t like whisky (shameful for a Scot to admit, I must say!), I have given the recipe a bit of a twist and used Limoncello.  The one pictured was made with frozen raspberries but I have also made it with fresh raspberries.  If you were feeling in the mood to indulge or celebrate New Year, you could also eat it as a celebratory special breakfast. Yes, well…..

2011 has been the first year of my food blog (anniversary coming up in January) and I can honestly say it has been the best thing for me, giving me a creative outlet I never knew I needed.  I have encountered so many like-minded people through their inspiring, innovative and sometimes humbling blogs and websites and at the first New Zealand Food Bloggers' Conference.  To all of you, bloggers and followers, I thank you.  You have each truly given me something to take forward into 2012.

I am including this post in Sweet New Zealand created originally by Alessandra here and hosted this month by Bron Marshall here.  Go there now for the kind of creativity I am talking about.

Happy Hogmanay and every best wish for 2012.


Makes about 4 serves

This is the recipe I used after looking at many variations so feel free to adapt.

60g of medium oatmeal
2 tbsp brown sugar
150g of raspberries (if using frozen raspberries, add enough sugar to sweeten)
250mls cream
2 tablespoons of malt whisky (I used Limoncello instead of whisky)
2 tablespoons of runny honey

Heat a heavy based fry pan until hot. Add the oats and brown sugar stirring constantly until the oats have a light, nutty smell and are beginning to change colour. Keep an eye on the pan as the oats can burn quickly. Remove from pan and leave to cool. 

If you’re using frozen raspberries, heat them gently with enough sugar to sweeten to your taste (I used vanilla sugar) in a saucepan or in the microwave. Leave to cool. For fresh or frozen raspberries: Keep half the raspberries aside. With the other half, either blitz them briefly in a blender or mash them with a potato masher, not too finely. 

In a bowl whisk the cream to form firm peaks. Stir in 1 tbsp whisky (or, in my case, Limoncello) and 1 tbsp honey. 

Gently layer the components in individual serving glasses starting with the cream, followed by raspberries, then the crunchy oatmeal. Repeat with remainder and finish with a layer of thick cream and a sprinkling of oatmeal. 

Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour or two. 

To serve, drizzle over a little extra honey and whisky or Limoncello, if desired. Serve with little shortbread biscuits.

Variations to try:
  • Make a light version with Greek yogurt instead of cream.
  • Use double cream (my preference but not available in New Zealand) instead of whipped cream.
  • Add chopped nuts to the oats.
  • Substitute blueberries, strawberries or mixed berries for raspberries.
  • Use fine crumbs of crushed biscotti instead of oats.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Time to reflect.  I love going for walks in the bush (forest) and leaving work behind at the end of the day. While it may not have the incline of the road walk, it is therapeutic, full of peace and quiet except for the birds and the movement of wind and trees (and the odd tractor noise from adjoining fields, but that’s fine). 

Good food craving.  I’ve been enjoying the moments in between Christmas lunches, dinners and treats, when I return to more wholesome food.  Porridge for breakfast. I am not perfect so it is sprinkled with brown sugar, but less than normal.  And no craving at mid-morning coffee break for anything other than two chocolate covered coffee beans. I told you I wasn’t perfect.

At last, a movie. One wet Sunday after meeting my sister at Teed St Larder in Newmarket, Auckland (and bumping into the lovely Mairi from Toast), a stroll along the shops wasn’t on the cards.  Sister had to go to Smith & Caughey (department store) to purchase both a Christmas and a birthday present for me.  I used this as the perfect opportunity to escape Christmas shopping and indulge myself – so I headed off to the Rialto for Midnight in Paris. 

Not from the film, but our own night shot of Paris
Normally I avoid films with Owen Wilson but a Paris location and Woody Allen directing were the drawcards.  I’d not long finished reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, a fictional account of Ernest Hemingway’s relationship with his first wife, set in Paris.  The book and film shared some of the same characters – Hemingway (although his “Paris wife” was absent in the film), Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas, to name a few.  It was a nice segue from one form of media to another and a really pleasant way to spend a wet Sunday afternoon, although it did make me laugh that it was raining in onscreen Paris too.

December’s book club featured The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. I have not yet read this but I really want to after listening to everyone’s comments.  Julie said she wished every book she read made her feel the way she did when she closed the pages.  How lovely is that?

Book club treats this time around – mini Christmas puddings; the yummiest, softest rocky road I’ve ever had (I have failed to understand rocky road but now I do!); white dusted, crescent-shaped Christmas biscuits and muscatels draped alongside blue brie served on caraway seed bread (the sole savoury bite).  

Vistas - I’m looking at a white horse in a field in the distance, reminiscent of the White Horse whisky advert.  No cars, no people just the horse and the wind unsettling everything as it passes through.  I like having little vistas – whether it’s looking out the window and framing a scene in your mind or creating little areas in your home.  Taking pleasure in beauty.  Do you have little areas of your home or garden that you like to linger on?

Wishing you a peaceful and happy Christmas.

I have given up with Blogger - it keeps adding spaces where there are none, hmmm.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

semifreddo with strawberries and Italian Nougat

Looking for inspiration for dishes for a family Christmas in Taranaki, I came across this recipe by Ray McVinnie from a 2003 issue of Cuisine magazine.  I think it would make an easy but memorable special occasion dessert for summer.

If you, like me, have a family member who is allergic to nuts, simply prepare the mix and fold in the strawberries then set a portion aside without the nougat.  The remainder lucky people will now have more nougat in their dishes!

Semifreddo with strawberries and Italian Nougat

3 eggs
100g caster sugar
200g Italian soft nougat*
300g strawberries
350mls cream, whipped
extra strawberries to serve

* I used Torrone Siciliano Classico, (pictured below) which contains almonds, green pistachio and Sicilian honey.

Chop the nougat into small pieces.  If you can get past this stage without eating all the lovely nougat, well done!  If not, well strawberry semifreddo is the name of the dish now.  De-hull, chop and then mash the strawberries.  Don’t overmash as they get too juicy.

Using a hand beater or cake mixer with a beater attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until very pale.  The mixture should be tripled in size.

Carefully fold in the nougat and strawberries until well combined.

Pour the semifreddo mix into a plastic-wrap lined small loaf tin or silicone mould (if you want a nice shape) or into a container (I used an ice cream container) and chill for several hours.  Slice with a knife into slabs or use an ice cream scoop to serve (depending on what container you've used).

And that’s it!  Simply serve with fresh strawberries. I like mine with a little extra whipped cream!

If you make it a few hours before serving, it will be at its best.  Best made in small amounts and eaten within a couple of days.  Remove from freezer and allow it to soften before serving. 

Serves 6