Tag Archives: dessert

Zingy Spring Dessert

Simple Coconut Lime Panna Cotta


This year has been a great season for citrus, and we currently have more limes than we can eat (or drink, for that matter – thinking of the weekend looming and Margaritas on the horizon). We do grate the zest and freeze the juice in cubes for later, but it’s great to actually use these limes while they’re fresh.

With this in mind, I sourced a Panna Cotta recipe online and have adapted it to incorporate this zingy fruit. And for those who need to know, the dessert is Vegan and Gluten-free and it’s a very acceptable 170 calories per serving. Not bad for a dessert!

What you’ll need…


  • 400 ml can of coconut cream
  • 1 x sachet of Queen Jel-it-in
  • 3 tablespoons of genuine maple syrup (or your sweetener of choice)
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime zest and 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime’s worth)
  • 1 bay leaf (I love the flavour of bay in a creamy dessert)


  • Heavy-bottom saucepan
  • Rubber or silicone spatula
  • Measuring spoons,
  • Fine grater
  • 4 small ramekins or jelly moulds (if you wish to turn the panna cottas out, grease them lightly with a plain-tasting oil, e.g., sunflower).

How to make them…

Pour the coconut cream into a saucepan and sprinkle the Jel-it-in on top. Stir until the powder is completely dissolved, then add the bay leaf, the maple syrup, and the lime (zest and juice). Gently bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Allow it to boil for a minute or two, then remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.


Remove the bay leaf. Pour into the four ramekins and let them cool a little more, then cover and refrigerate. I tend to leave them out of the fridge until they are quite cold, so that when I cover them, they don’t steam up inside and cause condensation on the top of the desserts, but it’s no biggie, either way.


You can serve the Panna Cotta garnished with a slice of lime – very tangy! or with whatever you like, really – chopped nuts, sliced fruit, whatever is around.

Original recipe sourced from: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/coconut-panna-cotta/

Pear and Avocado Smoothie

Ready to eat.  Yum Yum!
Ready to eat. Yum Yum!

At this time of year when there are lots of avocados and pears around, this recipe is just perfect.

I came across it in the book, ‘Good Housekeeping Easy to Make Smoothies & Juices (2009), Collins and Brown’, and the result is an incredibly yummy smoothie-dessert.

The texture is velvety, the colour is sublime and the flavour!  Well, let’s just say that although the combination of pear and avocado may sound unusual to some, it’s definitely worth trying.


  • 1 small lemon
  • 2 ripe dessert pears
  • 1 small, ripe avocado
  • Juice of 1 lime


  • Peel and core the pears.
  • Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone, and separate the flesh from the skin.
  • Peel the lemon, removing as much of the white pith as possible, cut into segments and remove any pips.
  • Put the pears, avocado and lemon  into a blender, along with the lime juice.  Blend until smooth.

If you’d like to add a ‘zing’ to your smoothie, a dash of something hot would enhance it.  Add a dash of ‘Kaitaia Fire‘ or Tabasco sauce, or a tiny piece of habanero chilli to the blend.

Pears are falling daily from the old pear tree.
Lovely fresh, ripe pears.

Ode to a Prickly Gherkin and other tales

Rain was forecast for this morning, but it bypassed South Head altogether. I had decided to water the flower garden at dusk last night, which proved a sensible choice. There are clouds scooting across the sky as I write, and out the window I can see the neighbour across the road riding his farm bike across the paddock. There were black and white cows there last night, but they’ve moved on today.


We had an unwelcome visitor this morning, in the form of a wild rabbit. Not that a pet rabbit would be any more welcome. I’ve seen him a few times lately and hope that he doesn’t make a habit of visiting us, or of bringing his extended family with him!

Outside I can hear ‘kihikihi-wawā’ cicadas (Amphipsalta zealandica), named for their loud chorus in the summer months. And there is a new tui hanging around – I’ll call her a ‘she’ although she could just as well be a male. She sings with just the one repetitive call – a sort of sharp ‘qweel’ sound with the first note dropping off to a lower note, not unlike the sound of a squeaking gate. She started calling this morning at around 5.30 am, right outside the bedroom window. I wonder if she’s looking for a mate as she is usually alone, which is uncommon for the tuis around here. She looks too fat to be a juvenile bird.


On my garden ’rounds’ this afternoon, I spotted a couple of monarch butterflies, coupling on the grass. Then they actually flew away (not sure how), soaring upwards and disappearing over the top of the trees. High on love, I guess.

When I got to the pumpkin patch I was distraught to discover that the hens had scratched up some of our freshly-sprouted melon seedlings. The baby plants had been fenced-in with sturdy sticks, but these had been knocked down, and all that remains is a dusty hollow amongst the wood-chips. The hens are such little monkeys! I had to physically remove Lottie three times or she’d have destroyed several runners on the gherkin vine.

Just the one gherkin ready today, but many more on the way. I know that once they really start ripening I’ll be busy pickling every other day.


The best remaining plums are either on the other side of the southern fence or at the top of the tree, so we walked around to the back paddock with a ladder to collect a bowl full. Ben will make a plum cake this evening for dessert.

I searched on the internet last night to see if I could find a stockist in New Zealand of electric water bath preservers, but without success. This seems to me the perfect appliance, with all our fruit and vegetables and just the two of us here.

I can smell the plum cake cooking. Yum!

And here come’s my mojito! Time to finish. 🙂



Ode to a Prickly Gherkin (Hei kīnaki mō te kōrero ki runga)

It lay in wait,
Under lush and scratchy leaves,
Growing from stretching vines,
The curling tips of which reach in all directions,
Towards the sunlight and up and over the old tree stump.
In and out of lush soil and wood-chips,
The tendrils strong enough to forge ahead
Through any obstacle.

It lay in wait,
A fat spiky chrysalis,
Hanging from a woven flax thread,
The flowering tip long dried up,
The skin striped sage and mint green,
Not moving,
Fattening beneath the shelter
Of its mother leaves.

Until I picked it.



Simple Plum Cake

(Serves 12)

150 grams castor sugar
115 grams softened butter
140 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 fresh free-range eggs
1 pinch salt
12 freshly-picked plums, pitted and halved
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons caster sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180 C

Beat sugar and butter until fluffy. Mix baking powder with flour and sift into creamed mixture. Beat in eggs and salt. Mix everything well.

Pour mixture into a large greased baking dish and smooth out with a palette knife. The mixture should be about 2-2.5 cm deep. Top with the 24 plum halves, alternate with cut side up. Then sprinkle with the sugar/cinnamon mixture.


Bake in a pre-heated oven on the lowest shelf for about 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool to room temperature or serve warm.


This recipe has been adapted from the Easy Plum Cake recipe at: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/17476/easy-plum-cake.aspx

It is simple and really delicious. It works just as well with frozen plums, which is why we’ve been freezing so many plum halves over the past few days.