Archive for category: dessert


Whenever I’m in charity shops or second-hand bookstores, I always take a look at the cooking section. The usual selection goes something like this: The Low GI Cookbook, The South Beach Diet, 101 Ways with Mince, Microwave Chinese Cooking. It’s these appliance-specific cookbooks that I find really entertaining. Ever wanted to try roasting a suckling pig in the microwave? Me neither. Read more →


Pavlova is my secret weapon. No, honestly. For anyone who has never made it, it might look really difficult. In actual fact, it’s about seven minutes of prep, into the oven, and then two minutes slapping on whipped cream and fruit before it’s served. Pavlova can make a pretty average dinner look like you’ve ‘really tried’.

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Rhubarb blether

My guilty evening treat in early summer isn’t cake or ice-cream or biscuits. It’s a bowl of home-poached forced rhubarb, kept on the top shelf of the fridge. Poached rhubarb is completely different to stewed rhubarb. Stewed rhubarb is perfectly good in its place – which is in winter and covered in crumble. Poached rhubarb is soft, yet keeps its shape, and produces a delicate pink syrup that promises summer (or at least some sophisticated summer cocktails).

Most recipe books and food blogs (like this) make poaching rhubarb unnecessarily complicated. You don’t need to do it in batches or time the poaching exactly.


Instead, bring to boil 150 grams of sugar and 180 millilitres of water to make a simple sugar syrup. Turn off the heat and straight-away pop in 2-3 stems of raw rhubarb, cut to about 1 inch lengths.  Pop the lid back on the saucepan and leave to cool. I don’t like vanilla with poached fruit, although I know many would add an old scraped out vanilla pod to the syrup.

If you’re lucky, like me, you’ll be the only one in your house with a palate for this amazing vegetable. And because it’s a vegetable, you can even pretend that your evening treat isn’t guilty at all.


Inspired by our recent visit to Northern Italy, we decided to go Italian for a dinner with friends last weekend. It wasn’t a dinner party for two reasons. Firstly, there were five of us and we only have two dinning chairs at the moment. Secondly, desert came out in a rather inelegant glass baking dish. Despite the awkward serving, it tasted great.

I take my recipe from a wonderful book by Anna del Conte: The Concise Gastronomy of Italy. As usual, I don’t quite follow her recipe because she recommends including small chunks of chocolate inside the tiramisu which are a little hard and lumpy for me. Also, her quantities of brandy and coffee aren’t quite right: the last time I tried it I had to make up her coffee-mix three times for all the ladyfingers, which meant that I managed to get a rather greedy friend slightly drunk.

300 ml strong coffee I use plunger or run down to the local cafe for espresso
7 teaspoons brandy
80 grams dark chocolate (75%)
3 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs yolks (or 4 small ones)
4 tablespoons caster sugar
250 grams mascarpone
2 large egg whites (or 3 small ones)
1 packet of Savoiardi or Lady-finger biscuits (bizarrely there were 19 in my pack)

Mix the coffee and brandy. Grate the chocolate.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar into pale and soft peaks. Mix the mascarpone in a little at a time, then beat until smooth. Whisk the egg whites to stiff and carefully fold into the egg mixture.
Dip the biscuits into the coffee mixture and turn them over once only (otherwise they become too soggy). Lay the about 7 biscuits on the bottom of an oval dish. Spread over about 1/3 of the mascarpone egg mixture. Cover this layer in 1/3 of of grated chocolate. Layer with another 6 or 7 biscuits and another 1/3 of the mascarpone egg mixture and another 1/3 of the grated chocolate. Layer with the remaining biscuits and top with the remaining mascarpone egg cream. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least five hours.
Before serving, cover with the remaining grated chocolate. Mix the cinnamon and cocoa together and sift lightly over the top of the chocolate.
Peckhams stocks Savoiardi biscuts if you can’t find them at the market.