Poached pears

W is also for…Wine poached pears with honey and thyme

This is a very simple dessert, that looks “posh” i.e. looks like it took a lot more effort than it really did. You could serve this at a dinner party or perhaps even for Valentines day (or any other cosy night in for that matter).

I’ve used a sweet Moscato rosé wine from Barefoot Wines, which is perfect for this kind of fruit dessert. I served mine with vanilla ice-cream, which I think is best with pears, but if you’ve got your own flavour combination (e.g. crème fraîche, chocolate ice cream) don’t let me stand in the way.

The recipe is for 2 people, but can easily be multiplied up for more.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 semi-ripe pears;
  • 2 tbsp honey;
  • 4 sprigs of thyme;
  • 250ml rosé wine;
  • 1 large knob of butter

Poached pears

Recipe:

  1. Peel the pears, then half and core.
  2. Put a frying/skillet pan over a medium heat and melt the butter. Once it starts foaming add the thyme sprigs and the pear halves cut-side down. Fry for about 3-4 minutes until the cut-side has taken a bit of colour.
  3. Remove the pears from the frying pan and put on a plate whilst you make the poaching liquid.
  4. Add the wine and honey to the pan and turn the heat up high, all the while giving a good stir to bring up any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan (as they have the most flavour). Cook down until the liquid  has halved in volume.
  5. Take the ice cream out of the freezer at this point so it has time to soften before serving.
  6. Turn the temperature down to a low-medium heat then add the pears (cut-side up this time) to the pan. Spoon a bit of the liquid over the pears then put a lid over the pan and leave to simmer/poach for 10-12 minutes until the pears have softened. The majority of the liquid would have cooked away/been absorbed.
  7. Serve two pear halves with a drizzle of the poaching juices, a fresh sprig of thyme and vanilla ice cream.

Poached pears

O is for Orange and Fig Muffins

I wanted to make something sweet this weekend, and then conveniently stumbled across this recipe for orange and fig muffins. As a huge fan of fig-based food (except fig rolls – who eats those?) I had to give this recipe a go.

Having cooked dinner for a friend last week including figs with greek yogurt and honey for dessert, I learnt that being a fig fan is more of a minority than a majority (given the amount of left overs). So apologies if you aren’t a massive fig fan; however these muffins are deliciously light, fruity and sweet so please try at least once.

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Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 – 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 175g butter, softened
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 200g fresh figs, stalks discarded, chopped into 1cm pieces, plus 1 whole fig for decoration
  • 2 tbsp clear honey

Recipe:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. If you have muffin cases, line 8 holes of a deep muffin tin or 12 holes of normal sized muffin tin. If you don’t have any muffin cases, grease the muffin tin holes well with butter and dust lightly with flour.
  2. Place the softened butter in a large bowl with the sugar and beat together until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the beaten eggs and sifted flour a bit at a time (I did it in three turns) and fold in. The idea is that the flour doesn’t go everywhere and you’re not beating all the air our the mixture.
  4. Finally fold in the orange zest and chopped figs and ensure evenly distributed.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases – if not using muffin cases fill to near the top of the brim of the muffin tin hole. Place a final slice of fig on the top of each muffin. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until risen and golden brown on top. You can check the muffins are cooked by piercing with a knife and checking it comes out clean.
  6. Whilst the muffins are cooking, heat the honey and orange juice in a small pan over a gently heat until slightly reduced – it takes about 5 minutes.
  7. Once the muffins are out the oven, drizzle over a little of the orange syrup over each muffin (which will seep through the muffin infusing flavour). Leave for about 20 minutes to cool down before turning out and gorging.

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