spicy poached pear

There are so many easy, great tasting desserts, giving you the opportunity to use fruits that are in season. Fruit, not only eggs and fish, are a natural choice for immersion in a simmering, warm bath. During poaching the luscious fruits are infused with amazing flavours and your home lingering with enticing, beautiful aromas.
Pears hold up really well during poaching and retain their beautiful shape. What i love about poaching pears is that they sit beautifully atop a tart or on a plate, enveloping a beautiful syrup or sabayon.
I peel the pears and leave the stems attached to their long giraffe like necks, making the visual presentation the perfect dessert temptation.
Serve these little beauties alongside homemade ice cream or freshly whipped cream or creme Chantilly with some toasted nuts for added texture.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
4 pears, peeled
3c water
150g castor sugar
1 vanilla pod, cut open lengthways
1/2c brandy
3 orange zest peels
pinch of saffron
4 cardamom pods, crushed
2 cloves
3 star anise
1 cinnamon quill

how to do it
Using a sharp knife, carefully remove the bottoms of the pears. (Cut into the flesh and remove the small black stems at the bottom)
Combine all of the ingredients except the pears in a deep pot / skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat and gently lower the pears into the poaching liquid.
Make a cartouche using baking paper. Simply cut a hole in the centre of the baking paper and place the paper on top of the pot / skillet to form a ‘lid’ of sorts. This will allow only a small amount of liquid to evaporate during poaching.
Poach the pears until soft, about 15-20 minutes depending on the pears and the size.
Remove pot / skillet from the heat, discard the cartouche and leave the pears to sit in the poaching liquid for at least 20 minutes. Carefully remove the pears and set aside.
Strain the poaching liquid into a clean pot and bring it to a gentle simmer. Cook until reduced and thickened.

When ready to serve, drizzle the pears with the lovely gold liquid.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x

white chocolate panna cotta

i love desserts and as i have mentioned before, i love making dessert! i remember the immense joy i felt when i discovered leaf gelatine. i finally realised what the hype was about and quite honestly, if you love food, dessert and cooking then it really is something to get excited about.
as a general rule, two leaves is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of powdered gelatine but always follow the packet instructions.
panna cotta is an old classic and i have made many different flavours of this tasty, decadent dessert.
similar to creme brûlée without the addition of egg yolks, making panna cotta, in my mind, a guilt free dessert.
the white chocolate panna cotta is fairly sweet so serving it with a type of berry, coulis, compote or any type of fruit works best.

ingredients | makes 6 | easy
375ml cream
125ml milk
1 vanilla pod or 1tsp vanilla essence
100g white chocolate, grated and extra for garnish
2.5 sheets leaf gelatine
40g castor sugar
mint leaves for garnish

how to
soak the leaf gelatine in cold water until soft. bring the cream, milk & vanilla to the boil. off the heat, stir in the sugar & chocolate until melted.
squeeze the water from the gelatine leaves and add the gelatine to the cream mixture. mix well until fully incorporated.
pour the mixture into the ramekins or moulds. leave to cool for about 20 minutes and then place into the refrigerator for 4 – 6 hours or overnight.
serve in the ramekins or if using moulds, turn out onto a plate and decorate with berries, strawberry compote / coulis, grated white chocolate and mint leaves.

for the strawberry compote
1 punnet strawberries
8tbs castor sugar
1tsp lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
2tbs water

place the strawberries, water, sugar, lemon juice and zest into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. reduce the heat to low and simmer until strawberries are soft and the liquid has thickened.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

banana, chocolate & walnut tarte tatin

i quite often have a sweet tooth and i love making dessert. i especially love great tasting, easy desserts that can be ready in almost no time at all. pastry desserts rank high on my favourites list and combining it with banana and chocolate is practically a no brainer.
as tarte tatins’ go, puff pastry is your best option. this flaky, rich pastry consists of layers of dough and fat, giving it a light, crispy texture upon baking. perfect for almost any tart or pie!
the kids and your guests will love this one!!

1 roll puff pastry, thawed
flour for dusting
100g brown sugar
80g butter
3-4 firm bananas
1/3c chopped walnuts, plus extra for garnish
100ml cream, whipped or vanilla ice cream

for the sauce
50g dark chocolate, chopped
100ml cream

how to do it
preheat the oven to 185 degrees C.
roll out the pastry and, using the pan to measure, cut our a circle 1cm bigger than your pan. place the pastry in the fridge.
place butter and sugar in an ovenproof pan on medium heat. once the sugar has melted, turn up the heat and allow the caramel to get a golden dark colour and thicken, while occasionally tilting the pan.
remove the caramel from the heat and cool for 5 minutes. press the banana slices into the caramel and top it with the chopped walnuts.
lay the pastry on top and gently lift and tuck the sides in using a spoon.
make a 2cm slit in the top of the pastry in the centre, to allow the steam to escape.
bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.
allow the tart to cool for a few minutes before placing a plate on top of the pan and turning the tart out.

for the chocolate sauce
heat the cream in a small saucepan. pour the cream over the chocolate, leave for 3 minutes and then stir until melted.

to assemble
garnish the tart with the remaining chopped walnuts.
serve slices of the tart topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

chocolate, cherry & nut semifreddo

although the main ingredients in a semifreddo are eggs yolks, sugar & cream, semifreddo is also a class of semi frozen desserts. in a way i think my home-made ice cream recipe fits right into this category…without the egg yolks and sugar. perhaps a slightly easier version of this beautiful, decadent Italian dessert.
this dessert is in a class of its own and so easy to make. it is the perfect make ahead dessert for any get together or party to alleviate you from standing in the kitchen while your guests entertain themselves.
a sweet dessert, i like to serve it with a berry compote. the tart with the sweet is a match made in heaven and will leave your taste buds smiling.
a beautiful valentine’s and Christmas dessert.

for the berry compote
250g strawberries
150g raspberries
8tbs castor sugar
1tsp lemon juice
zest of half a lemon
1/2tsp cornstarch

in a small pot, bring the berries, sugar, lemon juice & zest to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. in a cup, mix together cornstarch and double the amount water until smooth. add it to the berry mixture and simmer for 2 more minutes until thickened. add more water if you prefer a thinner / runnier compote. set aside to cool.

for the cookie crust
140g tennis biscuits / digestive biscuits
75g butter, melted
place the biscuits into a ziploc bag and crush using a cake roller. add the butter to the crushed biscuit and mix well.
place tin foil into a loaf tin and press into the bottom and sides, ensuring a moderate overlay. press the biscuit mixture into the bottom of the tin and less than halfway up the sides, to the desired thickness. place the loaf tin into the fridge while you prepare the ice cream.

for the ice cream
2c cream, full fat
1 can condensed milk
1.5tbs liquid glucose
1tsp vanilla paste / extract
80g toasted walnuts or almonds
60g dark chocolate, chopped
60g glace cherries, chopped

pour the condensed milk into a large mixing bowl and add to it the liquid glucose & vanilla paste / extract. mix until incorporated.
using a handheld mixer, whip the cream until soft peak stage. fold about half a cup of cream into the condensed milk mixture until combined and then gently fold the remaining cream into the condensed milk mixture. do not over mix.
gently fold the toasted nuts, chocolate and cherries into the mixture.
pour the cream mixture into the loaf tin and place into the freezer to set for at least 5 hours or overnight.
place of board or plate on top of the loaf tin and turn it around. now carefully remove the tin foil. gently turn the semifreddo around so that the biscuit mixture is at the bottom.
top with the berry compote and garnish with fresh berries and mint leaves. slice using a warm, sharp knife.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

tipsy strawberry pancakes

strawberries are in season so feature quite popularly in a number of sweet treats this summer. and what better way to serve these bright coloured fruits than with light, fluffy pancakes.
i like adding vanilla drops to my pancake batter when making sweet pancakes but it is not a set rule.
sweet, yet tart, this dish will wow your family and friends on any occasion and it is simple and quick to put together.
i used fresh, whipped cream but i almost want to say that double thick cream will be even tastier…

for the strawberries
500g strawberries, halved
1/2c sugar
juice of half lemon
zest of half lemon
45ml vodka (optional)
pinch salt
1tbs smooth strawberry jam

add the strawberries to a hot skillet and top with the sugar. cook for about 5 minutes.
add the lemon juice, zest, vodka, salt & strawberry jam. turn down the heat and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes until strawberries are soft and the juice slightly thickened.
set aside.

for the pancake batter (makes 6-8 pancakes)
125g all purpose flour
1 egg, room temperature
1tsp vanilla essence
pinch salt
1tsp oil (preferably not olive oil)
300ml milk

in a bowl, combine the flour, salt, oil, egg & essence and give it a whisk. slowly add the milk while whisking until the batter is smooth.
grease a pancake pan or non-stick pan. pour the batter into the pan (just less than a ladle) while swirling to coat the bottom of the pan. cook until you notice little bubbles. turn and cook for another minute.

roll or fold the pancakes and top with the strawberry coulis.
serve with whipped cream or double thick cream and shaved dark chocolate or toasted nuts.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x