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P is for Pavlova


Here is a recipe for a very traditional New Zealand dessert. Pavlova is especially popular at Christmas time and our family celebrations always include a pavlova for dessert. Picture a huge meringue that has a soft marshmallow like texture in the center and a crisp outer shell, covered with whipped cream and garnished with fresh berries then you’re in the right ball park.


© Colin Stitt | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Karen’s Mum’s Pavlova

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 dessertspoon cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 1 dessertspoon vinegar (malt)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 cups sugar (fine grained caster is best/super fine sugar)
  • 4 tablespoon boiling water.

Place all in a bowl and beat for 10 minutes or until folding in peaks. Line the oven tray with non-stick baking paper. Pile mixture onto baking paper shaping mixture into a round shape. Make the centre slightly hollow. Heat oven to 220c (425F) and when pavlova goes into the oven turn down to 120c. (220F) Cook for 1 hour. Allow pavlova to cool. Fill dip in centre with whipped cream. Cover with grated chocolate or fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries or kiwifruit are yummy) and serve.

Comments: This recipe came from my sister-in-law, Sheryl, who is the family expert when it comes to pavlovas. She whips them up for most family gatherings, and there’s not usually any left over by the time we’re finished. My favorite topping is either passion fruit pulp or berries but the one in the photo is decorated with dried fruits and marshmallows. Your imagination is the only limit when it comes to topping a pavlova.

Note from my sister-in-law – I have been making this one for quite a while now. It is a bit easier than the one I used to make. – Just put everything in together!!

Note from Shelley – The pavlova is said to be named after the ballerina, Anna Pavlova. There’s much debate between Australian and New Zealanders as to which country invented the pavlova. Latest New Zealand research says it’s New Zealand so I’m sticking with that theory!

What is your favorite family dessert?

Ginger and Pepper Biscuits

I found this recipe when I was flicking through a cook book by Allyson Gofton, a chef who used to be a familiar face on New Zealand television. The combination of ginger and pepper sounded interesting, and I decided to give them a try. The result was a crisp and moreish biscuit (that’s cookie to you Americans) that goes perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee. I’ll definitely be making this recipe again.

Ginger Pepper Biscuits

Ginger and Pepper Biscuits

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

4 teaspoons ground ginger

3/4 teaspoons mixed spice

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

250 grams (8 ounces/1/2 pound) butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup of golden syrup or treacle

2 Tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon vinegar (I only had spiced vinegar in the cupboard so that’s what I used)

extra sugar for sprinkling


1. Heat the oven to 180C (350F)

2. Line two baking trays with baking paper

3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and creamy then add the egg, golden syrup, fresh ginger and vinegar.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, mixed spice and cayenne pepper into the mixture, combine and chill the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes.

5. Place the additional sugar in a small bowl.

6. Roll biscuits into teaspoonful size balls and roll in the sugar bowl. Flatten a fraction and finish the flattening with a fork.

7. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

8. Cool before storing in an airtight tin.

Shelley’s notes:

1. Ms. Gofton also suggests coating half the cooked biscuits with dark chocolate or pressing a piece of crystallized ginger or a hazelnut in the top of each biscuit before you cook them. You could also sandwich them together with frosting if you wanted to.

2. The biscuits are very gingery and have a slight “bite”. Hubby liked them as much as me.

Super Easy Scone Recipe

I’ve posted several scone recipes during the last six months. My favorite recipes – Blueberry scones and Date and Orange Scones are easy to make. The fat content is the cream and it’s poured into the dry ingredients. Traditional scones require the rubbing of butter into the flour and I’m always too impatient to do it properly.

Then I found the following recipe on Baking Makes Things Better and it simplifies the entire process. I like a simple process.

Easy Scones

Easy Scones

50 grams (1  3/4 oz) butter

3/4 cup of milk

2 cups self-raising flour

1 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat the oven to 210C (410F)

2. Melt the button and add the milk.

3. Place the flour and salt in a bowl and stir.

4. Wait until your oven reaches the required temperature then add the milk and butter mix. If you want to make savory scones add grated cheese or cubes of ham or fresh chopped herbs at this stage. Combine. The mix will be slightly wet.

5. Knead to shape and roll out but don’t handle dough too much.

6. Cut into shapes. I used a round cutter.

7. Line a tray with baking paper and place on your scones.

8. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes until golden..

Shelley’s Notes:

1. I added cheese to mine. You could also add dates or sultanas or herbs or just leave them plain.

2. They’re best eaten straight from the oven or when still warm.

3. I served mine with jam and thick greek yoghurt since I didn’t have cream. Whipped cream would be delicious.

Recipe: Delicious and Fluffy Raspberry Souffle

Hubby and I are trying to eat healthily at the moment and I grabbed a copy of 100 Great Low-Fat Recipes by Rosemary Conley from the library. We’ve tried a few recipes from this book, and they’ve been very successful. Last night Mr Munro made a raspberry soufflé. It was quick and easy and best of all, it tasted great!



225 grams (8 oz) frozen berries e.g. blackberries, raspberries

25 grams (1 oz) caster sugar

3 egg whites

150 grams (5 oz) caster sugar

fresh fruit to decorate


1. Cook the berries and 25 grams of caster sugar in a small saucepan. Gently simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until the fruit reduces to a thick paste. Pour into a mixing bowl and cool.

2. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F)

3. In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites along with a pinch of your caster sugar. When the egg whites start to peak, gradually add the rest of the sugar 1 dessertspoon at a time. Allow about 10 seconds between each addition of sugar. Continue until you’ve added all the sugar.

4. Place a dessertspoon of fruit mixture into four greased ramekins. Gently fold the egg whites into the remaining fruit mixture. Smooth the top.

5. Place in the oven and bake for 5 – 6 minutes.

6. Serve the soufflés straight away since they’ll collapse once they come out of the oven.

Shelley’s notes:

1. While I really liked these I found them a little sweet. When we make them again we’ll fiddle with the amount of sugar.

2. Our ramekins were a little big. The mixture should rise a little above the top of the ramekin.

3. We used only raspberries, but I think they’d be nice with a mixture of berries.

4. We cooked ours for six minutes in a fan-bake oven and felt this was perfect.

5. Each soufflé is 187 calories and this recipe serves four.

Have you made a soufflé before?

Oaty Ginger Crunch

When I was a child my father used to receive a gift of crystalized ginger, dried fruit and nuts every Christmas. I hated, and still dislike, the dried figs component, and I wasn’t very keen on the ginger either. That has changed over time, and as I’ve grown older I’ve come to enjoy crystalized ginger.

When my mind turns to baking, ginger has become my favorite. This recipe is a twist on Ginger Crunch. I like the addition of porridge oats (oatmeal) and coconut to the traditional recipe. The oats make it feel healthier somehow, Smile

Ginger Crunch 


15o grams/5 oz butter

2 Tablespoons golden syrup

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup coconut

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (oatmeal)

1 cup white flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 cup of finely chopped crystalized ginger


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line your slice tin (20 cm x 30 cm)

2. Melt the butter, golden syrup and brown sugar in a saucepan, stirring the mixture occasionally. Remove from heat once the butter is all melted.

3. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and make a well in the center.

4. Add the melted butter mix to the flour and mix until combined.

5. Press the mix into your lined tin and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.



150 grams/5 oz butter

2 – 2 1/2 cups of icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger

1. Combine butter, golden syrup, ginger and 2 cups of the icing sugar in a saucepan and heat until the butter melts. Stir constantly. If the frosting is too running gradually add the other 1/2 a cup of icing sugar until it is a workable consistency.

2. Pour frosting over the cooled baked slice.

3. If you’re a ginger fan, sprinkle more chopped crystallized ginger and some pistachio nuts on top for decoration.

Shelley’s notes:

This is a delicious slice, and I find it very moreish.

Are you a fan of ginger?

Blueberry Scones

Blueberry Scones

Since I had a bottle of cream in the fridge, I decided to make scones today. I also had some fresh blueberries. Yes, I thought. A marriage made in heaven.

These scones are incredibly easy and quick – a no-fail recipe.

Blueberry Scones

4 cups self-raising flour

pinch of salt

300 ml/ 10 fluid ounces cream

300 ml/ 10 fluid ounces lemonade or soda water

Generous handful of fresh blueberries


1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center.

3. Add the cream and lemonade or soda water. Toss in the blueberries. Mix together carefully until you have a soft dough. Do not handle the dough too much.

4. Turn the dough onto a well floured board and roll (gently) into a rectangle. Cut into around 12 pieces and place on your baking tray.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

6. Remove from oven, place on a clean tea towel to keep until ready to serve.

7. Serve with whipped cream and jam or plain butter if you prefer.

Shelley’s Notes:

1. If you don’t like blueberries, replace with 1/2 cup of raisins, dates or dried cranberries. You could also add grated cheese or leave the scones plain and sprinkle the top with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.

2. Americans – use a can of Sprite for the lemonade or you could use fizzy mineral water.

Eat and enjoy!

Recipe: Tasty Pumpkin and Cranberry Tagine

This recipe is the tastiest dish I’ve had in ages and is my new favorite way to cook pumpkin. Even though this is a vegetarian dish, I dare meat-eaters to say they don’t enjoy this pumpkin and cranberry tagine.

Pumpkin and Cranberry Tagine


  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 red onions, thickly sliced
  • 3cm piece fresh root ginger, grated
  • 500g/1lb 2oz pumpkin or squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon,
  • 1 teaspoon each of coriander, cumin and harissa paste
  • 1 tablespoon clear honey
  • 700g/24 ounces bottle tomato passata
  • 50g/2 ounces dried cranberries
  • 400g/14 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained


1. Heat the oil in a tagine or just use an ordinary pot.

2. Add the onions and lightly fry.

3. Add the cinnamon, coriander, cumin, harissa paste and ginger plus the pumpkin.

4. Add the honey, passata and cranberries.

5. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender.

6. Add the chickpeas about 15 minutes into the cooking.

7. If the dish is too thick add a little water.

8. Garnish with parsley or fresh coriander and serve with couscous or rice.

Shelley’s Notes:

1. Passata is like a liquid tomato puree. When I don’t have any to hand I use two cans of chopped tomatoes and this works just as well.

2. The recipe doesn’t use salt or pepper and you don’t need it. This dish is full of tasty flavor.

3. The recipe calls for dried cranberries but next time I make this I might try some frozen cranberries instead.

4. The photo doesn’t do the dish justice. I took it quite late at night and my photos weren’t as good as I’d hoped.

5. Recipe comes from Good Food magazine, January 2010.

What are your favorite dishes featuring pumpkin or cranberries?

Recipe: Delicious Limocello

When we visited Italy last year, we took the opportunity to taste lots of limocello. We also brought some home with us. Limocello is actually very easy to make, so if you have a surplus of lemons, give this recipe a try.

This recipe is from From Simple Pleasures by Annabel Langbein.



2 ½ cups vodka

Peel of 8 lemons

Juice of three lemons, strained

¾ cup sugar

3 whole cloves


1. Combine vodka and lemon peel, cover and leave for 48 hours in a cool, dark place. i.e. pantry.

2. Strain the liquid.

3. Boil lemon juice, sugar and cloves with one cup of water until syrupy.

4. Cool, remove cloves and mix into lemon vodka.

5. Serve chilled in short glasses or with ice and soda.

Note: My photo is of Limocello cream, so when you make the above recipe, it won’t look quite as creamy. The final product will taste delicious though! It’s perfect during summer or any time of the year.

What is your favorite summer drink?

Nadia Lim’s No Knead Seed Bread

No Knead Seed Bread

This is a really delicious bread!


1 tablespoon golden syrup

2 cups boiling water

2 cups milk

1 tablespoon dry granulated yeast

450 grams/16 oz high-grade flour

450 grams/16 oz wholemeal flour

1 ½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons wheatgerm

½ cup sunflower seeds

½ cup pumpkin seeds

Extra seeds to garnish


1. Mix syrup, water and milk together. Sprinkle yeast over and stand for five minutes until frothy.

2. Combine dry ingredients and make a well in the center. Pour in the yeast mixture and mix together well. The mixture will have a sticky consistency.

3. Divide the dough into two well-oiled tins and sprinkle with pumpkin and sunflower seeds on top.

4. Put loaf tins in a cold oven, and turn the temperature to 50 C/120 F. Leave for half an hour for the bread to rise. Remove the bread and increase the oven temp to 200 C/390 F then bake for approx half an hour until top is golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped.

5. Turn onto wire rack to cool. Bread will keep fresh for three to four days. It can also be pre-sliced and frozen in a plastic bag to use as needed.

Recipe from Nadia’s Kitchen by Nadia Lim.

Shelley’s Notes:

1. In my oven 33 minutes is the sweet spot for cooking this loaf.

2. This makes great toast.

3. I make one loaf and use a muffin tin to make twelve bread rolls.

4. This has become my go-to recipe for bread. It’s easy and tastes great!!

5. My cut loaf looks a bit ragged in the photo. My fault – I was impatient to cut and sample the bread and didn’t let it cool. Open-mouthed smile

Choc Orange Slice

The combo of orange and chocolate is delicious and one that I enjoy very much. The following slice recipe is a winner since it hits both notes. This recipe comes from the book Robyn Martin Bakes.

Choc Orange Slice


150 grams/5 ounces butter

1 tablespoon golden syrup

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons grated orange rind

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup crushed Weetbix (4 Weetbix)

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons cocoa

Choc Orange Frosting:

1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 cup icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon cocoa

1 tablespoon orange juice


1. Melt the butter, golden syrup and brown sugar in a saucepan. To save time and dishes use a large pot.

2. Take off the heat and mix in the walnuts, orange rind and weetbix. Add the flour, cocoa and baking powder and combine well.

3. Line the base of a shallow tin with baking paper and press the mixture into the tin.

4. Bake at 180C/350F for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Frost with the Choc Orange frosting.

Method for Frosting:

1. Mix the condensed milk, icing sugar, cocoa and orange juice until smooth. Spread over base and leave to set.

Shelley’s Notes:

1. The frosting is quite runny but it does set. Cut the slice once the frosting has set.

2. Eat and enjoy! The slice goes great with a cup of tea.