Posts Tagged dessert

Winter Spiced, Poached Pears

Poached Pears

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 length-ways and seeds scraped out
  • 300 g sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, each broken in two pieces
  • 6 cloves


  1. Add the wine and water to a large pan along with the vanilla pod and seeds, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Make a circle of grease proof paper to cover your pears while poaching.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

, , , ,


Apple Crumble for #FBS4S

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.

Apple Crumble

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
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C, 350, F, Gas 4
  2. 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.
  3. To make the crumble rub together the flour, sugar and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  4. Put the apples into an oven proof dish and sprinkle the crumble over the top of them until all the apples are covered.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is brown and crisp.
  6. 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.

, ,


Apple and Plum Brown Butter Hand Tarts #Baketogether

While summer was a little shy here this year, Autumn has been more than happy to put in a punctual appearance so using apples and plums were the perfect seasonal choice for me when taking part in this months  #Baketogether, the monthly blog event organised by Abby Dodge, inviting us to take one of her recipes and put our own spin on it.

This months #Baketogether recipe was for Brown Butter Apple Hand tarts. I’ve heard a lot about brown butter but only made it once before and wasn’t convinced that I’d done it correctly so this month I didn’t want to change the recipe too much as it sounded perfect as it was! The only changes I made was to make apple plum filling, I also halved the recipe as the original recipe is for 18 hand tarts which was far too many for 2 of us!

I loved these pies! The brown butter crust was so good I admit to trying some of it raw! It’s the brown butter! It’s so good and the smell is amazing! The aroma of the brown butter mixed with the apple, plums and cinnamon in the filling was wonderful, I’m surprised Yankee Candle didn’t come knocking on my door for a new Autumn fragrance! I was really happy with my filling and only wish I hadn’t halved the recipe as the pies disappeared far too quickly!

As I am not a regular pastry maker I thought these pies would be more difficult to make but as usual Abby’s instructions are easy to follow and give great results, therefore I have linked to her page for the making of the dough and the putting together of the pies.

Apple and Plum Brown Butter Hand Tarts ( makes 8 hand tarts)

For the brown butter pie dough

  • 4 0z unsalted butter
  • 3.5 oz (1/2 cup) sugar, I used unrefined
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 7  1/4 oz ( 1.5 cups) plain flour

For the Pie filling (more than enough for the pies with some left over to enjoy as a compote)

  • 8 oz apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped.
  • 8 oz plums, stoned and sliced
  • 1 tbsp sugar, I used unrefined
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

To Finish off

  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp water
  • demerara sugar for sprinkling
  1. To make the dough for these tarts follow Abby’s expert instructions here
  2. To make the filling, place the apples, plums, sugar and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently until the apples are soft but not mushy.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow to completely cool.
  4. Preheat oven to 190 c, 375 f, gas 5.
  5. To assemble the pies follow Abby’s instructions here





, , , , ,


Pina Colada Ice Cream

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

, , , , ,

1 Comment

Cherry Blueberry Mini Pies #Baketogether

Unbelievably July 4th is almost upon us.  I often have a family barbecue to celebrate, I love having it, I put up my “stars and stripes” decorations and I just love planning my menu. This year for one reason or another I’m not having my barbecue, a decision I regret but the year has gone by so fast I just wasn’t organised enough. Another decision I regretted was not taking part in this months baketogether, this months recipe is Very Berry Mini Pies and it marks the one year anniversary of baketogether!  However as my husband is not the biggest sweet pie fan and I can’t be trusted not to eat all the pie (and it shows!) I decided not to take part.  I may seem to be jumping from one subject to another but they end up connected!

I got to thinking how it was almost July 4th and I often make a pie of some kind and the baketogether recipe is for mini pies, maybe I could make the recipe “mini”  by halving it.  That was it, the idea was planted and I had to quickly make these pies before I changed my mind and before June ended, along with the challenge!  The next decision was how to change the recipe for baketogether,  I never can decide what pie is my favourite, its between cherry, peach or blueberry.  For these mini pies I decided on using both cherries and blueberries, which are both plentiful right now. It would be kind of a red, white (the pastry) and blue pie!

The results were great! I really like the cherry blueberry combination, I used vanilla sugar and topped the pies with pastry stars as I was short on time, also stars seemed July 4th appropriate.

Cherry Blueberry Mini Pies ( adapted from Abby Dodge )

makes 6-7 muffin tin sized pies

For the dough – use Abby’s recipe here 

For the filling

  • 200 grams cherries, pitted
  • 150 grams blueberries
  • 45 grams caster sugar, vanilla sugar if you have some if not use 1/4 tsp Vanilla essence
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 190 C,  375 F, Gas 5 and lightly grease a muffin tin.
  2. Make the dough following Abbys instructions save some of the dough to roll out and cut 12-14 star shapes for the pie tops.
  3. To make the filling mix the flour, sugar and salt together in a bowl.
  4. Add half the fruit and using a fork stir into the floured sugar mix, crushing the fruit lightly as you mix.
  5. Add the remaining fruit and vanilla if using, mix well.
  6. Having lined the muffin tin with the pastry rounds spoon the filling mixture evenly into each pastry lined muffin cup.
  7. Top each mini pie with 2 stars, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry looks golden and the pie filling is bubbling hot.
  9. Remove from the oven and run a knife around each pie to loosen from tin, after 20 minutes carefully remove the pies and cool on a cooling rack.

, , , ,


Apple Cake

Apple cake

This cake was a happy accident. I had bought some apples to go in with the lunch my husband’s takes to work, too much of a healthy push from me and the poor apples sat on the counter for a couple of days, unwanted. Not wanting to waste them and with the weather so Autumnal at the moment (please note its Spring as I write this!) I thought I would make an apple cake. As this was a spur of the moment decision the butter was hard in the fridge so I used olive oil. I like using olive oil in cakes, as well as the oil been ready to use right away cakes made with olive oil seem to have a really nice bounce to the texture. I’ve made this cake in a loaf tin and in a round cake tin, it worked well both ways. Trying to keep things a little healthier I used a mix of wholemeal and white flours and also used the less refined muscodavo sugar.

Apple Cake


  • 100 g wholemeal flour
  • 50 g white flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 100 g light brown muscodavo Sugar
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 150 ml olive oil
  • 60 ml plain yogurt
  • 2 apples, peeled and grated I used Cox apples but any eating apple would be fine.


Use either a loaf tin or an 8 inch loose bottom round baking tin.

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C, 400 F, Gas mark 6
  2. Base line and grease your baking tin.
  3. Whisk together the flours, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. Mix together the sugars and oil, I used my stand mixer.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time mixing with each egg.
  6. Mix in the yogurt.
  7. Add half the flours, baking powder and cinnamon mix, mix then add the rest.
  8. Fold in the grated apple.
  9. Pour into the prepared cake tin.
  10. Bake for 45-50 minutes if using the round tin, 50-60 if using the loaf tin.
  11. Once cooked, let the cake cool in the tin for about 20 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.

apple cake

, , , , ,


Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake


I am taking part in this months Bake Together held each month by Abby Dodge, where we are invited to use a recipe from Abby and make our own changes to that recipe. The theme for the February bake together is Cheesecake!  I’m supposed to be on a diet, supposed to be watching the carbs so cheesecake making I should not be taking part in! But its cheesecake which happens to be one of my husbands favorite desserts and it’s almost Valentines day so it’s a great excuse to make an edible mens valentines bouquets, won’t that be something nice! Reading this back I can see how I’m justifying making the cheesecake! To hell with it! I just want some cheesecake! I’ve seen a few great versions of others joining in the Bake together and dreamt up a few of my own versions, so here it is my variation of Abby’s recipe.

Really, I thought Abby’s recipe sounded and looked just perfect so I found I really wanted to make 2 cheesecakes, one of the original recipe and one of my version but there I did resist! I will be making Abby’s another time!

For my version the first thing I changed was the size, as it was only my husband and I eating the cheesecake (and I’ve got that boring diet nag in the back of my head!) I halved the recipe. I have a cute little 5 inch loose bottom cake tin so I used that. The next change was the easiest as I don’t have any Graham crackers so for the base I used Lotus biscuits, also known as Speculoos. This was going to be a chocolate cheesecake , with Valentine’s in mind but then I saw some lovely big strawberries in the supermarket so I got those to use  instead. I should have known better, no matter how lovely strawberries look, out of season they are always a disappointment! Not wanting to make another shopping trip I sprinkled some sugar onto the strawberries and roasted them to bring out their flavour. I then pureed the strawberries to swirl through the vanilla mix once in the baking tin.

I was a little heavy-handed with my swirling of the puree so the cheesecake was a little more pink than I intended but that does not affect the taste, which I was very happy with! I did have alittle too much for a 5 inch pan so Ithink this would work better with a 6 inch if you have one.

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake (adapted from this recipe by Abby Dodge)

For the Strawberry Swirl:

  • 300 gram Strawberries, rinsed, hulled and cut in halves
  • 2 tsp sugar

For the crust:

  • 130 gram finely crushed lotus biscuit crumbs
  •  45 gram unsalted butter, melted
  • 25 grams granulated sugar (I use unrefined)

For the filling:

  • 360 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 130 gram granulated sugar
  • 120 ml sour cream, at room temperature
  • Seeds scraped from 2 vanilla beans or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract or paste
  • 2  large eggs, at room temperature

To make the strawberry puree

  1. Preheat oven to  300 degrees F, 150 degrees C, Gas mark 2
  2. Place the prepared strawberries in a baking tray, sprinkle with sugar and bake for around 1 and a half hours, until the strawberries have shrunk a little and given out their juices.
  3. Place in a blender and puree, you may need to add a few drops of water to get things moving if the strawberries are not that juicy.
  4. Reserve the puree for later.

To make the Cheesecake

I followed Abby’s instructions  See here until just before putting in the oven.

Then I dropped a few teaspoons of strawberry puree on the top of the cheesecake already in its tin.

With a skewer I swirled the puree into the cheesecake. The idea is to make gentle swirls but I was a little heavy-handed and over mixed so did not get the swirls I was after. A light swirling motion is all that is needed.

I then followed Abby’s instructions again for the cooking and cooling See here

, , , ,


%d bloggers like this: