Some ingredients are just made to go together and pears and almonds are two of the them.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with pears. When they are perfect they’re hard to beat. The only issue is that they are like granite and inedible, and then turn to mush within about 20 minutes. They are the ultimate passive aggressive fruit!
This recipe is great for using pears that are too hard to eat if you can’t be bothered with the game of chicken involved in waiting for pears to ripen.
This is a pretty rich recipe, but isn’t meant to be eaten every day and looks really impressive if you’re cooking for friends.
You can make the pastry case and the frangipane filling in advance, which means you can have more time with your guests. You could even use shop bought pastry if you don’t have time (home made is better though). This is really good on it’s own but a little fresh cream or ice cream also doesn’t hurt if you want to be properly indulgent.
For the pastry case
200 Grams Plain flour
100 Grams Butter (chilled and cut into small cubes)
1 Tbsp Caster sugar
1 Egg yolk
For the frangipane filling
115 Grams Butter (at room temperature)
115 Grams Caster sugar
115 Grams Ground almonds
1 Tsp Vanilla extract (optional)
2 Large pears
In a food processor add the flour, sugar, and butter. Whizz until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs (you can run the butter and flour in together by hand if you prefer)
Add the egg yolk and a small amount of cold water and whizz again until the mix starts to come together. Start to press the mix together to form a dough, adding a small amount of cold water if necessary. Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes
Grease a 9in x 9 in loose bottemed flan tin. When the pastry has chilled, place on a floured surface, and roll out in a circle approximately 1/2 cm thick.
Lay into you prepare flan tin making sure that it’s pressed into the edges. Place a sheet of baking paper on top and baking beans (I use old dried rice) to weigh down the pastry and blind bake in an oven pre heated to 180 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes before taking the case out if the oven, carefully lift the the baking paper by the 4 corners taking care not to spill any of the baking beans/rice onto the pastry case.
Return the pastry case to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes before removing from the oven and allowing to cool
To make the filling, add the butter and sugar to a bowl and mix with an electric whisk until light and creamy. Add the vanilla, almonds and eggs and beat in until combined
Peel, core and quarter the pears, before cutting into slices about 1cm thick
Spread the almond mixture into the pastry case. Arrange quarter of the pear so the narrow part is towards the centre of the tin and wider part is towards the outside work as quickly as you can to prevent the pear discolouring
Once you have arranged the pears, return the flan tin to 180 degree oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the centre is just starting to set (it will continue to cook as it cools). Allow to cool in the tin for another 15 minutes before attempting to cut.
It’s cold, dark, and miserable outside, I’m having a “big” birthday and there is nowhere open to go out and celebrate.
To try and stave off the impending dispair this will bring, for the mean time I’m all about the comfort food.
I’ve made blondies before and they have a similar texture to brownies but as they don’t use chocolate, they have more of a caramely flavour. This works really well with apple and cinnamon. This time of year these are the flavours I love.
These are great with a cup of tea or coffee, but they’re also fantastic with custard or ice cream as a dessert. These freeze well, and will last 2-3 days in an air tight tin.
2 Apples (peeled, cored and cut into 1cm cubes)
1/2 Tsp Baking powder
100 Grams Soft brown sugar
100 Grams Caster sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
275 Grams Plain flour
1/2 Tsp Salt
100 Grams Butter (melted)
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, and line a 8 in x 8 in baking tin
Add the eggs and sugar to a bowl and mix with an electric whisk until light and fluffy
Gradually whisk in the melted butter (allow to cool a little before adding)
Hold back 2 tablespoons of flour, but gradually add the rest of the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and fold into the sugar and eggs mix with a metal spoon
Once you have peeled and chopped the apples toss the pieces in the 2 tablespoons of flour
Fold the chunks of apple into the batter until evenly distributed
Transfer the mix to the baking tin, and bake for 50 minutes. Check . Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before cooling on a wire wrack
Whenever possible I like to eat seasonally, it’s usually cheaper, and usually better for you, and better for the planet. Autumn has some great fruit and vegetables. One of my favourites are plums. Usually inexpensive and really versatile. I love this plum cake, no only because its relatively straight forward to make, but the cinnamon and cardamon add a whole other level of flavour. The addition of sour cream adds a tenderness to the sponge. This will also live quite happily in a cake tin for 3-4 days. I love it with whipped cream, but it’s also perfect comfort food served with custard.
300 Grams Plain flour
1, 1/2 Tsps Baking powder
1 Tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Ground cardamon
1 Tsp Salt
100 Grams Butter
200 Grams Sugar
60 Grams Sour Cream
Mix the flour, salt, spices and baking powder together
In a separate bowl cream the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk (hold back 2 tablespoons of sugar to top the plums with)
Add the eggs and sour cream to the butter and sugar and whisk until light and fluffy
Gradually whisk in the flour mixture until you have thick cake batter
Grease a 9 inch spring firm cake tin, and pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees
Transfer your cake batter to the cake tin and spread evenly.
Cut the plums in half, remove the stone and cut each half into quarters
Starting in the centre of the cake, arrange the slices of plum in a circle (or any type of pattern you like) and sprinkle with remaining sugar
Bake for 35 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean when stuck in the cake
I did the thing I normally do when I go to a farmer’s market. I bought way too much random stuff because I thought it looked good. I got it home and then had to think what I was going to do with it.
This is a scrummy mix of colours and textures. Delicious Autumn vegetables in a creamy sauce, with a little bit of heat from smoked paprika, topped with crunchy, cheesy garlic bread.
Who doesn’t like garlic bread (weirdos, that’s who). You can use any combination of vegetables you like, pumpkin, butternut squash, or green beans also work well.
I tried this recipe on one of my oldest friends. I was nervous because she owns a steak restaurant and is a confirmed carnivore and got two enthusiastic thumbs up (still sorry I forgot to send you home with a doggy bag Mags, but here is the recipe as promised). Go get your comfort food on.
1 Tbsp Olive oil
250 Grams Brussels sprouts
150 Grams Cavelo Nero (or Kale)
175 Grams Mushrooms
400 Grams Cream cheese
250ml Vegetable stock
1/2 Tsp Smoked paprika
Handful of parsley
25 Grams Butter
2 Cloves of garlic
50 Grams Cheddar Cheese
Cut the bottoms of the Brussels sprouts and halve. Remove the stalks from the cavelo nero and slice. Cook the sprouts and cavelo nero in the vegetable stock for 5 minutes, until just tender
Slice the courgettes, onions, mushrooms and pepper, and fry in the olive oil in a large frying pan for about 5 minutes until soft
Add the sprouts, cavelo nero and vegetable stock to the frying pan. Sprinkle the smoked paprika over the vegetables, and add finely chopped parsley and cream cheese
Mix until thoroughly combined
Crush or mince the garlic and combine with butter
Slice the baguette into 2cm slices, and spread with the garlic butter
Put the vegetable mix into an oven proof dish and top with the slices of buttered baguette
Top with grated cheese and bake in an oven preheated to 180 degrees, for 30 minutes until golden brown