Ginger & dark Chocolate Tiramisu

I was told a few years ago by a quite mad and quite brilliant French Human Resources Vice President that the mother of innovation is hardship.

I had these words ringing in my ears when I decided to make Mrs Jamie one of her favourite deserts – Tiramisu. On some of our previous travels, she has been spoilt eating this fabulous desert in Rome and Tuscany prepared lovingly by handsome chefs in fantastic kitchens.

Unfortunately, I had neither the good looks or fabulous kitchen or even some of the key ingredients that I have used when preparing this dish before.

Ever the optimist, I picked up some great Mascarpone cheese from a deli in Lake Taupo, New Zealand and shopped for the rest of the ingrediants at the local ‘Countdown’ supermarket.

Opening up my bags in our basic holiday house kitchen, I suddenly realised I had no Ameretto or similar alcohol to go in the pud! I did have a couple of bottles of beer, but drew the line at ruining a dessert and wasting precious Montieths ale…

So, I thought adding some grated ginger would be a way to add a different flavour that would make the absence of booze not be so grave. And this time, it worked!

The finished dessert came out fantastically and the ginger kick wove in beautifully with the strong coffee and dark chocolate. Best of all, the fluffy creaminess proved to be a welcome treat in my subsequent recovery from a nasty nip from a red back spider in the washing. I vow to shake all jumpers in future before putting them on.

6 nice size portions, or around 50 sneaky spoonfuls over a couple of days…

Ingredients

Around 200-250g Mascarpone cheese
1 pint of double (or heavy) cream
2 tsp good vanilla essence or contents of half a small vanilla pod
250-300ml of really good, strong coffee
Slab of madeira cake (make your own, or buy one to save some time here – just buy a really nice one)
4 Tbsp sugar
1 egg white
Around 50g of finely grated 70% cocoa dark chocolate
A pice of skinned root ginger size of half a small matchbox finely grated

Method

  1. Whip cream until it holds soft peaks in a bowl
  2. Beat egg white until really stiff – the more air you can get in, the better.
  3. Beat sugar, vanilla and ginger into mascarpone.
  4. Fold cream into mascarpone mix.
  5. Fold egg white into mix gently but well.
  6. Cut madeira slab into thin slices
  7. Have coffee brewed and pour into a bowl
  8. Dip madeira cake into coffee and place in a layer in small loaf tin.
  9. Sprinkle a thin layer of grated chocolate on the cake
  10. Place layer of mascarpone/cream mixture on top
  11. Repeat steps 7-10 until all ingrediants are used and make sure you finish with a creamy layer.
  12. Sprinkle the rest of the chocolate on top of the dessert
  13. Chill for at least two hours and serve sliced on large plates.

Ginger, Soy & Sesame Tuna Salad – A light lunch on a cold day…

Even though ummer is a long way off in the northern hemisphere, I am beginning to miss the flavours of warmer times.  I miss the frssh flavours and raw foods that form the majoirity of my meals in summertime – still, not long until I head for the southern hemisphere to feel the kiss of the sun once more.

I am currently in a wet and wild northern Brittany and have got a nice Breton Beef stew slow cooking for dinner tonight – my logic is it will be operfext after an afternoon braving the elements.  Before this though, we need lunch and I want something light that gives us not feeling too full and bloated and stops us leaving the house.  A fresh tuna salad seems just the ticket.  A second motive is to leave some room to pick up somr nice Breton crepes as a mid afternoon snack.

This was something quick and easy I knocked up earlier to share and turned out combining  crisp leaves, creamy avocado and tomato with flash cooked medium rare tuna, bacon lardons and some alltogether more Asian influences…

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

1 or 2 small fresh tuna steaks
100g bacon lardons or chopped smoked streaky bacon
3 spring onions
1 head of romaine lettuce
Handful of good watercress
Bunch of cherry tomatoes halved
1 avocado chopped roughly
Teaspoon of honey
3 teaspoons of soy sauce
Some pickled ginger chopped finely
Shake or two of Tabasco sauce
Juice from 1 lime
Glug of walnut oil and few teaspoons of sesame oil
Toasted sesame seeds

Method

1. Chop tomatoes and avocado and set aside. Place Salad leaves in a bowl.
2. Chop spring onions finely.
3. Fry lardons in a dry pan over a medium heat until browned then add spring onions and stir fry for a minute.
4. Set bacon and onion mixture aside and flash fry tuna in the oil left in the pan for a minute each side. If you don’t like rare tuna (you are probably mad, but there you go!) then cook for longer.
5. Remove tuna from pan and cut into nice long slices.
6. To make the dressing, put pan back on heat and chuck in soy sauce, lime juice, honey, pickled ginger, walnut & sesame oil and muddle the whole lot around in the pan for 30 seconds then take off the heat.
7. Throw the tuna, tomatoes, avocado and bacon/onion together with the salad leaves and toss around in the salad bowl.
8. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with sesame seeds