Skip to content

Archive for

Cranberry and pear compote take 2: with orange and cinnamon pancakes

Orange and cinnamon pancakes, with pear and cranberry compote

So this is what became of the compote – dolloped generously on top of a quick stack of breakfast pancakes, with some added Christmas magic by way of orange zest and cinnamon. The rest of the jar was greedily eaten by the spoonful straight from the fridge, on stealthy midnight missions or before dashing out of the door.

A cranberry and pear compote. One compote, endless possibilities

Pear and cranberry compote

I had one of those frivolous trips to the supermarket last weekend, stuffing my basket with as many festive things I could find, I’m such a sucker for all that stuff. Sprouts, salmon, pate, marzipan, cranberries….. Christmas needs cranberries right?

However, too many Christmas get-togethers has resulted in not much home cooking of late and hence the bag of cranberries was still loitering unloved a week later. But what to do with them? I needed something with versatility, to be on standby in the fridge, ready and waiting for impromptu puddings or breakfasts on the go.  So one more thing for an overstuffed fridge, but I think this earns its place on the shelf.

Start by tipping 300g cranberries into a saucepan with 2/3 cup of caster sugar, the juice of a clementine and a splash of water. Place over a medium heat and bring up to a simmer, The cranberries will start to burst and release their juices. Meanwhile core and chop 2 just ripe pears. For once a pack of ripe-and-ready-to-eat pears were in fact verging on ripeness, perfect for this. I didn’t bother to peel the pears. Stir into the cranberries. The pears will only need about 5mins or so in the hot cranberry mixture to soften, so do keep an eye on them and stop cooking before they turn to mush. You may need to add another couple of splashes of water as you go along too, to stop the mixture becoming too jammy. Finally stir in a good pinch of cinnamon and leave to cool.

Endless possibilities await. Decisions, decisions. Maybe I’ll swirl it through some yogurt and shower it in muesli for breakfast….  Or maybe it will get rolled up in some filo pastry for a quick festive strudel… Perhaps it’d be best hot, like molten lava over some ice cream…. I’ll let you know.

Cranberry, orange and almond mince pies – two ways

Cranberry, orange and almond mince piesI’ve never made my own mincemeat. Whilst apparently super straight forward, it always feels like one step too far when you have a million and one other things to do in December. Yet that doesn’t stop me tinkering a little bit with the shop-bought stuff, which in my book makes it pretty much as good as home made. The combination of cranberry and orange flavours enhances any jar of mincemeat beautifully and I must say I feel pretty pleased with myself about this little invention.

I made two types of pie as I was feeling indecisive. The pies were for a work bake-off and couldn’t decide whether to go for a sweet, moist almond frangipane topping or an orange crumble topping, so in the end I made both. This recipe therefore makes 24 pies, but is easily halved. Read more

The ultimate tv dinner?

Vacherin and little roast potatoes
Cheese isn’t a food that I really think of as being particularly seasonal. While so many ingredients ebb and flow from my kitchen with the seasons, cheese remains a constant, a reliable friend in the fridge.  So maybe its the fact you can only get it for a few months each year  that makes Vacherin a special treat. Not to mention its fabulous oozing texture and deep, almost nutty taste. One to snap up while you can and savour before it disappears again for the summer.
Such a wonder ingredient wants for very little. No playing around, just let the cheese be the star. For a simple, yet extravagant feeling supper, I part boiled for 5-10mins some mini potatoes, whole with their skins on. The sort of size you’d want to spear with a fork and dunk into some cheese. Then drizzle over some olive oil and roast in the oven on about 180C for 30mins until crisp and brown. Sprinkle with sea salt and a little crushed garlic then pop back into the oven with the cheese in its box for another 10-15mins. After this time the cheese will have warmed through and become even runnier, ready to voluptuously smother the potatoes.
Serve with a nice glass of port, a roaring fire and a good film.