Merry Christmas 2012 – wreaths to suit every home

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Christmas Mixed Gum Wreath

Christmas Leucospernum Wreath copy resizeHaving gathered like crazy, we’re now ready for our annual Christmas Floral Workshops.

Basket willow for bases, gum foliage and berries, leucospermum from Rachel’s garden, succulents that can be replanted once the festive season is over.  Oyster and paua shells from Purau for those that like a beachy feel.

Thanks everyone for your wonderfully enthusiastic support.  We’ve put on some extra classes now so that no-one misses out!

Festive Arrangement in Tomato Tinsketches xmas wreaths decRachel outside workshop copy blog

Glorious fresh cherry cheesecake

Cherry CheesecakePhotographer Peter Bay

One of the reasons I love cooking seasonally is you get to really appreciate the unavailability of certain ingredients during the calendar year and eagerly await their arrival.  Knowing that I’m going to have to wait another year for the next crop of asparagus for example, (or peonies for that matter), makes them so much more precious than if abundantly available all year round.

Coming from London where supermarkets have most fruits and vegetables flown in from all around the world all year-round, means that you can never really tell what season you’re in and ingredients tend not to be treasured in the same way. And the weather doesn’t give you any clues either!

Fresh cherries are a perfect example of this.  Available only for a short time in the lead up to Christmas.  What perfect timing for such a glorious festive-looking fruit!  For us southern hemisphere folk anyway!

Here’s a German Cheesecake recipe that I’ve altered slightly from Nigel Slater, truly one of my all time favourite chef and food writers.  His descriptive writing brings cooking and food alive and his books have that timeless, classical look to them.  Working with his photographer Jonathan Lovekin, dishes are styled and photographed exquisitely.  I am thinking in particular of his ‘Tender’ series which I refer to all the time.

350g biscuits (ginger, shortbread or digestive)  100g butter 500g ricotta cheese 200g mascarpone cheese 150ml double cream 150g caster sugar 2 lemons (finely grated zest & juice) 4 eggs 1 egg yolk 1tblsp cornflour handfuls of fresh cherries (pitted & halved)

Preheat oven to 180°C.  Grease a 23cm round spring form tin.  Make the base:  Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin in a plastic bag.  Melt butter in pan and mix in the biscuit crumbs.  Put crumbs onto base of tin, patting down with your hands.  Chill base whilst you’re making the topping.

Put the ricotta, mascarpone, cream and sugar into a bowl and beat together a little.  Add zest and juice of the lemons, then the eggs and additional egg yolk.  Mix together.  Add the cornflour to the mixture and stir through.

Pour the topping onto the chilled base and put into the oven.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, making sure the top doesn’t go too brown – use piece of foil if you need to cover it at the end.  Turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake in to completely cool.

Just before serving, scatter the cherries over the top.  Delicious.

Girl with Cheesecake Illustration