Monday, March 28, 2011

Red Wine Poached Baby Pears with Honey Orange Mascarpone

I warned you that there’d be more pears, and here they are!

As I mentioned in my last post, I bought some beautiful paradise pears (‘baby pears’) the other day, and today, being totally enthused to attend to the growing pile of uni work on my desk, I decided to poach them.


I didn’t want to go to the shops today, so I refused to look at any recipes in case I was missing something. I know myself. If I follow a recipe, I need to have everything that it asks for, unless I set out to change it. And reading recipes would only lead me to yet another run to the shops to get ingredients (I’m feeling reluctant to do this because yesterday I ran to the shops FOUR TIMES to get white chocolate because each time I put yellow food colouring in my melted white chocolate it instantly trned into a strange almost powdery, dry mess. I was convinced it was something to do with me cooking it at too high a heat or doing...something wrong, but it happened every time so eventually I gave up and decided to forgo food colouring and look up the problem on google some other day).

Anyway, after I made them, I had a look at some other recipes and they all seem to call for similar ingredients, so I’m happy that I didn’t stray too far from the norm. :P


Red Wine Poached Baby Pears with Honey Orange Mascarpone

1 kilo baby pears
1.5 cups water
2 cups robust red wine
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup sugar
2 tbs honey
2 sticks cinnamon
4 cloves
4 star anise
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Zest of ½ an orange

In a large stock pot, mix water, wine, lemon juice, sugar, honey, spices and orange.
Stir until sugar is dissolved and add baby pears.
Let simmer for half an hour, basting occasionally if any part of pears is exposed.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Honey Orange Mascarpone
200g mascarpone
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbs honey
(or any of above to taste)

Beat all ingredients together.
Store in fridge.

To serve:
Position pears on plate and ladle some of the red-wine mixture around.
Serve with a quenelle of honey orange mascarpone.


These pears are beautiful, deliciously aromatic with a heady mulled wine flavour. The mascarpone goes magnificently with both the liquid and the pears themselves.

I like this dessert because it’s relatively healthy, sophisticated and simple. The perfect dessert for a nice dinner with friends.



Friday, March 25, 2011

Talking Shop with Red Sensation Pears

I love pears. All kind of pears. Fresh, poached, baked, made into a compote...I just can't get enough. Which is why autumn is such a wonderful time for me. The local grocery store goes nuts for them, and I can have as many as I like. :D

Anyway, yesterday, I bought some beautiful ‘Red Sensation’ pears, for no other reason than to take photos of them!

They’re not particularly good for baking/poaching or anything like that, so I also bought some tiny little paradise pears to poach and some Williams pears to bake! I now regret not also getting some of the Beurre Bosc as well...but well, I think I would have started looking like the crazy pear lady so I had to pass.

Tell me what you think of these photos, eh?


Red sensation pears are available from February to the end of May.


As you can see, they’re a beautiful mix of colours. Starting off green, they turn evermore red until they’re ripe.


They’re also quite small! Thogh wou’d never guess from thee photos, the ones I bought all measured about 7cm tall!



(I love the two above photos. Even if I failed at focus in both!)


Red sensation pears have a creamy, fine textured flesh and are moderately juicy when fully ripe (It takes about 7 days for them to ripen).

Now as I said before, red sensation pears aren’t particularly good for cooking, though you could certainly use them that way if you want, but to get the most out of them, on their own or in a delicious autumn fruit salad is the way to go!

(P.s, as you can probably imagine, the next two posts will feature my other lovely pears...with recipes!)

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Hurmasice (Hor-mas-si-che) are a traditional Bosnian biscuit soaked in sugar syrup. Brought over from Turkey, they are now an important part of Bosnian culinary tradition. Or at least, my Bosnian family’s culinary tradition. And they’re delicious. And ridiculously unhealthy. I warn you; diabetics, children, the weak-hearted among weary. These little babies pack more sugar than a gallon of red cordial, and are about three times more addictive. They are also very, very easy to make. They are dangerous. You will lose your soul, (and potentially your teeth) to them.
But they are so, so very worth it.


Seriously, doesn’t that just look amazing?

1 egg
150-200g unsalted butter
150 g caster (granulated) sugar
200g all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda

400mls water
1 vanilla bean
200g caster sugar

To make Biscuit:
1. Preheat oven to 180˚C.
2. Cream the sugar and butter, then add egg and mix well.
3. In another bowl, sift flour and baking soda.
4. Add to butter mixture and mix thoroughly.
5. Using a spoon to ensure even size, scoop out batter into your hand and roll into a ball.
6. Flatten slightly into an ellipse, and place on baking-paper lined tray.
7. Leave space between each biscuit, and continue until all the batter is gone.
8. Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
9. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cool, transfer to a baking tray with high sides, a Tupperware container, or any sealable container with high sides.

To make Syrup:
1. Mix sugar and water in saucepan. Add vanilla bean.
2. Bring to boil and then let simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Take off heat and cool to luke warm.
4. Pour over the biscuits and allow the syrup to soak completely.

Once everything has reached room temperature, cover and refrigerate as they’re best when they’re cold.

See? Easy. Dangerously so.

A tip though; make sure you leave quite a bit of room between them as they spread. I underestimated just how much room I’d need and mine spread into one another (also, I accidentally added extra butter and forgot to add extra everything else, so my mixture was a bit too soft and spread-likely anyway.


This is how far apart I had them, and they still spread into one another! But my problem was a little more extreme than yours will be, given that I failed to follow my own recipe. >.>


Ok, so I admit, they’re not quite as good as my mum’s, but hot dang, are these bad boys gooooooood.

Even S, my boyfriend liked them. Or, at least that’s what I gathered from his initial statement of; ‘I don’t like biscuits because they’re so dry.’ To which my only reply was to look at him in confusion. His response? ‘This is a biscuit, right?’


‘And it’s not dry! It’s really, really good!’ Ensue much dignified wolfing down of ‘soggy biscuit’. Not being able to say/remember Hurmasice, ‘soggy biscuit’ is what I’m now calling it. Doesn’t sound half as tempting though.


Whilst wolfing, S also started talking about Tulumba, another Bosnian dessert that he enjoys, and another one of my family’s culinary traditions (possibly the best one, let’s be honest), so it looks like that’s what’s next on my list. Or should be what’s next, but I rather fancy croissants, or maybe zucchini loaf. What do you think?


(P.s this was totally not me procrastibaking, as strangely enough, I am keeping up with Uni so far! This is, however, an example of me procrastiposting as right now I ought to be reading something rather dry about the Australian Constitution. But I don’t really like dry things. Hence my soggy biscuits. :) )

Until next time!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Date and Pecan Slice

A healthy slice.

Oh yes, you heard me. Healthy. I understand your concern. Healthy = not very tasty.


But not this little baby.


Dates, cinnamon, pecans, honey...what more could you want? Nothing! But. There are a few things you might not want. How about refined sugar, butter and bleached white flour? This little baby’s in the clear. (Ok, it has a *tiny* bit of white self-raising flour, but only because I couldn’t find where I had put my whole wheat stuff!) Honey is used to sweeten rather than sugar, canola oil instead of butter, and spelt flour replaces regular wheat. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Wait til you taste it.

It’s delicious, and tastes a whole lot more decadent than it actually is!


Date and Pecan Slice
600g pitted dried dates, chopped
500ml water
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
125g oil (the recipe called for butter, so you could substitute the same amount for butter or margarine or...cream cheese, whatever, really!)
155g honey (again, the recipe called for something different. Brown sugar. But again, substitution is a healthy gal’s friend)
2 eggs
126 spelt (or all purpose or anything else you want) flour
60g self-raising flour
½ tsp cinnamon or to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Lightly grease a 23cm shallow tin and line the base with baking paper.
2. Put the dates in a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and stir in the bicarbonate soda. Leave to cool at room temperature.
3. With electric beaters, beat together the oil and honey (butter and sugar). Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition (I didn’t bother with the beating as obviously, I just whisked).
4. Sift the flours and cinnamon into a bowl, then fold in the honey and oil mixture alternately with the date mixture.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for around an hour (mine was done at about 55 minutes), or until a skewer inserted into the centre come out clean.
6. Remove and leave to cool for five minutes, before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely.
7. Cut into 36 pieces, or as many as you want. If you want, you can sprinkle with a mix of icing sugar and cinnamon before serving, or perhaps drizzle it in honey...


They taste amazing straight out of the fridge or warmed up. Really, they’re almost too versatile.

Edit: Just so we're clear. The hairy looking stuff in the slice is fibres from the dates. I'm not shedding all over the food!