Archive for category dessert
Poached pears, that’s not something that usually rolls off of my tongue! Its a dessert that I would usually shun in favour of something more indulgent! However I’ve discovered how wrong I was to assume a poached pear would be an unsatisfactory choice! I had reason to make poached pears recently and I was surprised at how much I liked them!
I had the good fortune of coming across a very knowledgeable greengrocer when I went to buy my pears. Not only did he choose perfectly ripe pears for me, he gave me a step by step guide to poaching them, including talking me through making a cartouche from grease proof paper to keep the pears submerged in their poaching liquid (a cartouche is just a circle of grease proof paper). It turns out the greengrocer also has a restaurant and poached pears is one of their regular desserts so it was lucky for me that I chose to get my pears from him!
I was surprised that there are a few things in all the recipes I saw that weren’t mentioned so for the beginners out there I thought I would share my poached pear experience here!
- You will get burnt fingers, beware!
- Do get a pear or 2 extra just in case of an accident, they are more delicate than you would think.
- I would recommend you use a spoon to lift the stalk up out of the poaching liquid, grab the stalk then place the spoon under the bottom of the pear. As it’s so hot the tendency would be to lift the pear out of the liquid by the stalk, if you do you risk the stalk breaking off, leaving you with a damaged pear. Let the spoon support the pear’s weight but be careful not to pierce the pear with the spoon, gently does it!
- For even cooking and colouring the pears need to be under the liquid throughout the cooking. Be prepared to make extra poaching liquid if you have larger pears, the recipe I was using had nowhere near enough liquid, my pears were only half covered so I had to make more in a hurry!
- The pears should be covered but if you have added more liquid and they still aren’t covered or you don’t want to buy more wine just make sure you turn the pears around often to get even cooking.
These poached pears make a great dessert for the festive season, their ruby colour is so pretty! The pears make a nice light dessert and would make a nice change from all the heavier holiday foods. The poaching liquid is essentially a mulled wine so the house will be filled with the scent of Christmas as you make these.
Winter Spiced Poached Pears (adapted from this recipe)
- 6 pears, peeled but left whole with the stalk left on
- 1 bottle red wine (may need up to half of a 2nd bottle of wine if pears are particularly rotund)
- 750 ml water (may need another 250 ml if adding more wine for larger pears)
- 1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways and seeds scraped out
- 300 g sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks, each broken in two pieces
- 6 cloves
- Add the wine and water to a large pan along with the vanilla pod and seeds, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a simmer.
- Make a circle of grease proof paper to cover your pears while poaching.
- Lower the pears into the liquid adding more until the pears are covered. Place the cartouche (circle of grease proof paper) over the pears to keep them under the liquid. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the pears are tender all the way through (test using a cocktail stick).
- When tender remove the pears carefully from the liquid. When cooled the pears can be stored like this in a Tupperware in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- Bring the poaching liquid to a boil for around 10 minutes or until its reduced and syrupy. When cooled the syrup can also be stored in the fridge up to 2 days.
- When ready, serve the pears and syrup at room temperature. Simply place a pear on each plate and drizzle with some of the syrup. Serve with cream or creme fraiche.
This year I’m not cooking for Thanksgiving as we are dining at a pub called the Mayflower. Apparently the Mayflower is the pub from where the original pilgrims set off on their journey to America! I only found out about it this year, even though it’s not far from me! The pub celebrates Thanksgiving so I’m looking forward to having a traditional Thanksgiving meal there this year.
I also wont be cooking at Christmas this year as we will be in the snowy mountains of Vermont! It seemed a shame to let all these lovely recipes go by so I thought I would round-up some of my favourites to save for myself for future celebratory meals and also to share, maybe inspire with some ideas for your Thanksgiving (or Christmas) cooking.
A must for me, after many years of experimenting I’ve settled on dry brining my turkey. I think it really does produce the most tasty, succulent turkey meat. The method I use for the dry brine is called the “Judy Bird” and is so simple but does require you to be organised as the recommended brining time is 3 days. I admit I usually only brine for 2 days and it turns out fabulously.
Vegetarian main course option
When I came across this Butternut Asparagus Crespelle it sounded so good it had to be included in my dream Thanksgiving recipe round-up, it sounds fabulous!
The last gravy I made for Thanksgiving was this make ahead gravy and I would definitely recommend it. Making the gravy ahead of time is the perfect solution to that last-minute stress when everything is ready at the same time but you have to stir the gravy!
I love stuffing but so often I’m left stuffingless after discovering the stuffing contains sausage. As someone who doesn’t eat much meat it’s so disappointing to look forward to the stuffing only to discover meat hidden in it. I like to have 2 different stuffings if feeding a crowd and think its nice to offer a meat free stuffing. I love cornbread stuffing like this one from Love and Lemons.
I recently heard the term “stufffins” and just love with the idea! Its stuffing cooked in a muffin tin for individual portions, or stuffing muffins, what a fabulous idea! These will definitely be featuring on my next Thanksgiving table, although I don’t think I will be able to wait and will have to try them much sooner than that!
These are possibly my favourite dishes at Thanksgiving, I can get carried away and end up choosing too many! Some side dish recipes to catch my eye this year are as follows.
I love the look of these lovely Green Beans with Crisp Shallots from Mark Bittman they look delicious but also seem quick to make which is exactly what you want when it comes to the vegetable dishes for Thanksgiving.
I have spent many years tweaking my Cranberry Sauce recipe and its the one I always use, for Thanksgiving, Christmas and to give away.
Sweet potatoes are one of my favourite things about a Thanksgiving meal, these Rosemary and Garlic Mashed Sweet potatoes with kale sound amazing!
What about these Kale Stuffing Butternut Squash Stacks from Food to Glow?
Of course, my favourite part of a meal! The usual pumpkin pie doesn’t go down so well here but I like to keep the pumpkin theme and have had my eye on these Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifles for some time! This Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie is a fabulous alternative for the pumpkin haters!
And there you have it, my dream Thanksgiving spread! Wherever you are and whatever you do I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving!
I saw these on Pinterest last year, pumpkin time had passed for me so I kept the idea stored and now that “pumpkin time” has returned these were, of course, the first thing I wanted to make!
Please do make these! They are good, seriously good! The recipe was by the Blue eyed bakers and they say you will need “comfy pants”, indeed this is true! These cute little donuts are sweet and spicy with a hint of pumpkin pie, just perfect for kicking off autumn and pumpkin time!
Making baked donuts was a first for me, I wonder why have I never tried baked donuts before? I guess I’m not usually not a great donut fan as I find half way through you begin to taste the oil and the whole thing is reminiscent of fries! However with baked donuts they are more cakey and not oily. With mini baked donuts they are cute and the small size means less guilt (kinda, sorta!)
The recipe was in cups so for all those here in the UK I made the recipe and weighed all the ingredients in grams so you too can share in the delight that is the mini baked donut!
These donuts, as delicious and cute as they are do not store well, in fact not at all. You have a couple of hours at the most to enjoy these little treats, after that the sugar begins to melt! You can make the donuts ahead of time but don’t coat with the sugar until just before serving.
I pretty much followed the Blue Eyed Bakers recipe so have linked to that and just included the measurements in grams below. The only change I made was to leave out the cloves (husband is a hater) and I coated half of my donuts in plain sugar as cinnamon is not as popular here! I love cinnamon everything (does anyone remember those cinnamon toothpicks years ago?) but I am aware that as strange as it may be to me not everyone likes cinnamon as I do and actually the donuts themselves are quite cinnamon-y so the plain sugar-coating was equally good, these mini donuts really are my new favourite thing!
Mini Pumpkin Donuts
- 250 grams plain flour
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 90 mls vegetable oil
- 75 grams light muscovado sugar
- 1 egg
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 170 grams canned (or fresh, pureed) pumpkin
- 125 mls milk
for the sugar-coating (for half cinnamon sugar-coated donuts and half plain sugared donuts)
- 100 grams melted butter
- 130 grams sugar
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
For a mix of cinnamon sugared and plain sugared donuts mix 70 grams of the sugar with the cinnamon to coat one half of the donuts. Use the remaining sugar to coat the other half of the donuts.
- To see how to make these delightful donuts see here on the Blue Eyed Bakers blog
I have abstained from baking, particularly cakes for the last few weeks. Well one can only abstain for so long! It was a long weekend here last week and I wanted to make a cake! You would imagine that I would have known exactly what to bake but that was not the case, choosing which cake proved to be a hard decision. Lots of recipe perusing left me with a craving for an orange cake, lots more perusing led me to the discovery of orange and cardamom cakes! After all this perusing I was out of time and now didn’t have all the ingredients for any of the cakes I found so I improvised, using my Lemon Olive Oil cake recipe but swapping orange and cardamom for lemon and making my own buttermilk as I forgot to buy yoghurt! I could not have been more disorganised if Id tried!
Despite my disorganisation this cake was a triumph! Orange and cardamom are a match made in heaven! The smell of the fresh ground cardamom and the orange zest is amazing, if ever I get around to making my own body scrub this will be the scent I use! The cake is light and fluffy and very moist.
note : Making your own buttermilk, if you don’t have any, is really easy! Just stir 1 tbsp of lemon juice into 1 cup of milk, it will begin to thicken almost immediately, leave for 10 minutes and use instead buttermilk
Orange Cardamom Cake
- 200 grams (1 cup) caster sugar (I use unrefined)
- zest of 1 large orange (unwaxed if you can)
- 3 cardamom pods
- 2 eggs
- 220 grams (1.5 cups) self-raising flour
- 20o mls (3/4 cup) buttermilk
- 155 mls (2/3 cup) olive oil
- Pre heat your oven to 180 C, 350 F, Gas 4. Grease and base line a loaf tin.
- Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and grind until powdery using a pestle and mortar. Add to the sugar with the orange zest and using your fingers mix together well, this releases the oils in the zest and makes a wonderful fragrant mix.
- Whisk together the orange, cardamom sugar and the eggs, adding the eggs one at a time. I use my stand mixer for this.
- Mix in the buttermilk.
- Mix in the olive oil.
- Fold in the flour.
- Pour into prepared loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.
No one can fail to have seen the devastation caused by the storm called Sandy that recently hit and devastated parts of the east coast of America. Seeing the coverage on tv it was hard to hard to believe what I was seeing. Not just water damage but fires had broken out and so many people were without power. Some were able to stay in hotels while they waited for power to be restored but what happened to the others? I know it wouldn’t have been in my budget to be able to stay in a hotel at the drop of a hat. If I were one of the people whose houses were destroyed I honestly don’t know what I would do. My heart goes out to those poor people. Of course people lost more than just belongings, some also lost loved ones, such terrible sadness. From so far away all I can do is hold those people in my thoughts and wish them well.
Of course the news changes and attention moves to other stories. Those people without houses however are still living that life. Then I saw this post of Barb’s asking food bloggers to unite, show support and make a comfort dish on November 8th, something you would make for someone in need of a little help and maybe donate something to the various charities helping those affected by that terrible storm.
So that’s what I’m doing, today I’m sharing this recipe for apple crumble as part of the Food Bloggers Support for Sandy event organised by Barb from Creative Culinary and Jen Jenn Cuisine Of course it doesn’t just have to be today, the link up is open for the rest of November so join us!
Apple crumble seemed just the sort of dish that one would associate with comfort food. Of course something savoury would probably be more appropriate for someone without use of a kitchen but I figured there is always room for dessert! My version is quite generous with the crumble. I like to use unrefined muscovado sugar and cinnamon so its fragrant and sweet.
For the fruit filling
- 750 grams apples, about 6 large
- 30 grams unrefined muscovado sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
For the crumble
- 180 grams plain flour
- 120 grams unrefined muscovado sugar
- 100 grams unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 180 C, 350, F, Gas 4
- Peel and core the apples then slice them.Place in a bowl and mix with the sugar and cinnamon, seeing that all the apple slices are coated.
- To make the crumble rub together the flour, sugar and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Put the apples into an oven proof dish and sprinkle the crumble over the top of them until all the apples are covered.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is brown and crisp.
- Serve warm or cold with ice-cream, custard or cream.
If you feel inclined to make a donation here are some of the larger organizations that are helping the victims of Sandy.
- American Red Cross is providing food, shelter, and other forms of support to hurricane victims. You can donate directly to the Red Cross or you can also text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
- The Salvation Army is also focused on providing food, shelter, and support to victims, and takes donations for storm relief.
- Feeding America is providing food, water and supplies to those who need it as part of their disaster relief program.
If donating from the UK the above websites will not accept a UK address the British Red Cross also has a hurricane Sandy appeal.
Surely no one can disagree with the title I chose for the latest cake I made? I came across this cake a few months ago and thought it to honestly be one of the prettiest cakes I’d ever seen! There was even a tutorial on how to achieve this masterpiece. I stored all this information mentally, knowing one day I would have to make that cake.
Well that day arrived last week! It was my favourite 10-year-old girls birthday. Along with her two brothers, I have looked after this little girl since she was born. The last 12 years of my life not only have flown by but have been filled with these three wonderful children and what a blessing it has been. Sandwiched in between the two boys is Minnie, the sunshine of my life. That gorgeous birthday cake was my project for her 10th birthday cake.
Although I love baking, fancy cakes are not really my forte, I do like the cakes I make to look nice but I possess neither the patience or steady hand required to make delicate icing decorations. So this was a challenge for me!
Prior to making the cake I made up a batch of buttercream and following the tutorial video I practiced piping roses onto baking paper. I recommend doing this, if like me fancy icing is not usually your thing. On i am baker’s crusting buttercream page there are a lot of comments about changing shortening for butter. Concerns over melting and whether the butter would be able to hold its shape were worrying, but I have a problem with cakes that look nice but don’t taste nice and the thought of eating and feeding to the children raw shortening was not even a consideration so I made my roses with buttercream. It was a fairly warm day, at one point the kitchen got up to 25 c but the buttercream held its shape and even a couple of days later the last piece looked fine despite just been kept covered on the counter. So maybe if you live in a really hot climate and aren’t in an air-conditioned room butter may not be suitable but for me butter was no problem at all and definitely tastes better than shortening!
I made the sponges the day before I intended on decorating them, using Delia Smith’s basic sponge recipe. The buttercream I made on the day. I separated a little of the buttercream and mixed in some purple food colouring which I used to sandwich the two sponges together. I liked the idea of making the vertical layers seen on i am bakers blog and one day I will but for this time it really was too much for me to attempt along with the roses! So I settled on just adding a little colour to the buttercream in the middle of the cake. When the cakes were sandwiched together I gave them a thin coating of buttercream, spreading it as smoothly as possible. I then put the cake into the freezer for 30 minutes, this was an important step for me as it allowed any roses that I wasn’t happy with to be easily scraped off without damaging the crumb coat. It also allowed me time for a much needed coffee! To decorate with the roses I started on the side of the cake then did the top. This really gets easier as you go along, after the first 3 roses I knew it was all going to be ok and relaxed, getting speedier at piping the roses.
I was delighted with the results of this cake! It really wasn’t difficult to decorate, the tutorial video is brilliant, if I can do this then anyone can! This was a wonderful cake for visual impact but importantly it tasted good too, and the birthday girl? After blowing out the candles and staring at the cake for a while she turned to me and said ” I love you”.
The Most Beautiful Birthday Cake (adapted from this Rose cake from i am baker)
For the cake
I used this recipe from Delia Smith but instead of using a 7 inch cake pan I used an 8 inch cake pan and put all of the cake mix into it, I then repeated this, resulting in 2 larger sponges. I decided not to double up the ingredients as I’ve heard that by doing that you may get a heavier cake. So I made one sponge and while it was baking I prepared the other one.
For the frosting
I based the frosting on this recipe from i am baker, it is sweet and there is a lot but I wanted to be sure that I had enough for any mistakes! This makes more than enough, with some left over. I tried to keep it slightly drier by adding less butter and milk than the recipe which seemed to work well for me.
- 200 gram (7 oz) butter at room temperature
- splash of vanilla extract
- 500 gram (18 oz) icing (confectioners) sugar
- 60 ml (2 fl oz) milk
- Using a mixer or food processor cream together the butter and vanilla until well softened.
- Add the icing sugar in a few stages, stopping every now and then to scrape the sides of the bowl
- Add the milk a little at a time when the mix becomes too stiff.
Follow the video tutorial to decorate the cake
I love ice cream. Seriously love it, one of the first things I want to do when I go to Vermont is to visit Ben and Jerry! As a child my Mother used to take us on her weekly food shop and it would always end with a visit to Save-on where they served Baskin Robbins ice cream and its 31 different flavours! My child self made it a mission to try those 31 flavours and as the weeks went by I worked my way through the menu, occasionally missing a new flavour in order to have Rocky Road again!
I’ve recently tried making my own ice-cream, I have yet to buy an ice-cream maker partly because I couldn’t be trusted not to have ice-cream for all 3 meals if it were readily available! Also there is that issue of too many kitchen gadgets, nothing makes it into my kitchen nowadays unless I’m certain I’m going to use it regularly! So at the moment I need recipes that do not require ice cream makers.
When I came across this recipe for Pina Colada ice-cream on page 180-181 of Nigella Lawson’s book Kitchen I had to make it as it requires no churning and it could not be more deliciously summery! Karen at Lavender and Lovage is hosting this months Forever Nigella, the challenge organized by Sarah to make a Nigella Lawson recipe within a monthly theme and blog about it. This months theme is “Fridge Raid Snacks” I could definitely be found raiding this ice-cream, although sans silky robe!
I made a few changes to the recipe. I did not include Malibu, I did not want to buy a whole bottle for the sake of a few mls and it’s probably no surprise that as such an ice-cream lover I am a big kid and therefore prefer ice cream to alcohol! I could not find coconut flavouring anywhere so used a little creamed coconut instead. Finally I did not add the coconut at the end as I wanted to share this with my husband and he is not a huge coconut fan, as it was he found this ice cream too “coconutty” for his taste so unfortunately (wink wink!) I had to eat it myself!
Whats your favourite ice cream flavour?
Pina Colada Ice Cream
- 150 mls (5 0z) pineapple juice
- 30 grams (1 oz) creamed coconut, mixed with a little boiled water to melt
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 100 gram (3.5 oz) icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
- 500 ml (16 fl oz) double cream (heavy cream)
Made using this recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen
It’s the Jubilee weekend! I have had all year to plan what to make but in typical Jayne style I left it until the last-minute! The rest of my life is fairly organised, I’m a lover of lists but for some reason when it comes to cooking I’m more relaxed and often do things at the last-minute, quickly flicking through one of my cookery books minutes before going to the supermarket looking for something new to try. If you come to dinner at my house you will most likely be served a meal that I have never made before! For the Jubilee weekend I wanted to make a cake, something traditional, something with a royal tone. I decide to make a Victoria sponge, strangely a cake that I don’t make all that often, I do like it, it’s just often overlooked while I’m trying other recipes, so many cakes so little time! The Victoria sponge is indeed named after Queen Victoria and was apparently created by her lady in waiting, the Duchess of Bedford, who is also said to have started the English afternoon tea tradition. It seemed fitting then that I celebrated the Diamond Jubilee with a cake that was originally made for a Queen!
This recipe is the one used by my friend Pearl, she makes a wonderful Victoria sponge, her cake rises so well and is wonderfully light. Where Victoria sponge is concerned I think the recipe is pretty standard. Traditionally the filling was just jam but I wanted something a little more fancy so added cream, decadence seemed the order of the day!
- 200 grams Caster sugar
- 200 grams Unsalted butter, softened
- 4 Eggs at room temperature
- 1 tsp Vanilla essence
- 200 grams Self Raising flour
- 1.5 tsp Baking powder
- 2 tbsp Milk
For the filling
- 4 tbsp Jam, I used jumbleberry but any berry jam would be nice.
- 300 ml Double (heavy) Cream, whipped. Careful not to over whip as I did!
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, 350 F, Gas mark 4. Grease and line 2 8 inch round baking tins.
- Cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy, I use a stand mixer but a wooden spoon and elbow grease works just fine!
- Add an egg, mix to incorporate, repeat with another egg mix and repeat until all the eggs are used.
- Stir the vanilla.
- Add half of the flour, mix in gently add the rest and mix in gently, do not over stir at this point.
- Gently stir in the milk.
- Divide the mixture between the prepared cake tins.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Allow cakes to cool in their tins then carefully remove. Remove baking paper.
- Spread the jam onto one sponge half, followed by the cream. Sandwich the cakes together a sprinkle with icing sugar.
It’s a long time since I entered the Forever Nigella challenge, cooking one of Nigella Lawson’s recipes following a theme each month. This month Forever Nigella is hosted by Nelly at Nelly’s Cupcakes, the theme this month is of course the Jubilee. It took me a while to think what to make within the jubilee theme, I eventually thought of trifle, that very British of desserts that I remember all the ladies in my family making. Trifle appeared at every Christmas or family get together. I do not have a trifle loving husband so haven’t made it for years and I used to have a trifle bowl but that is a distant memory. A friend lent me her traditional crystal trifle bowl which is perfect, just the kind of bowl trifles used to be served in. The trend nowadays, indeed even Nigella prefers, is for the bowl to be clear so that the layers show better. However where the jubilee is concerned, for me its all about tradition. I have been left a little disappointed by the arty twist on a lot of the jubilee souvenirs this year.
The recipe of Nigella’s that I used is the The Boozy British trifle from her Nigella Christmas book. I have made a few changes. The trifle bowl I’m using is not very big so I halved the recipe. Another incentive to halve the recipe was that I could not bring myself to use the 1.5 liters of double (heavy) cream in the original recipe! I used whipping cream for the topping, a little less fat and calories there! I know that trifle will never be a dieters friend but the amounts of cream in the recipe were shocking! The one thing I have never liked, I know a lot of people wont share my opinion, is alcohol in trifle! As a child sherry just ruined trifle for me! My husband is even less keen on alcohol in desserts than he is on trifle so this trifle is alcohol free, making it not at all boozy as the original recipe title says. I found the custard to taste quite eggy and not very sweet so I’ve added more sugar. I also changed the topping of the trifle to make it more fitting for a jubilee!
British Jubilee Trifle
The recipe for The Boozy British Trifle can be found on page 42-44 of Nigella Christmas
The changes I made to the recipe are as follows
- I halved the recipe.
- I used my homemade vanilla sugar in the custard and increased the amount to 100 grams.
- In place of the sherry I used 225 ml of orange juice and omitted the orange zest.
- I used whipping cream for the topping and whipped it fairly stiffly to be able to hold the fruit topping.
- I used strawberries and blueberries for the topping.