Tea Poached Pears


Tea Poached Pears

A pear per person

Enough scented tea (I used this blend kindly sent to me by Pia) to half cover the pears in a pan

Sugar to taste – tea should be fairly sweet

  • Peel the pears carefully.
  • Bring the tea to a simmer.  Add sugar to taste.
  • Poach the pears, turning occasionally, until warmed through and stained.


Rich Onion Gravy

(Serves 2 generously)

2 medium onions, sliced

25g butter

1 tblspn olive oil

1 glass red wine

200ml well flavoured stock

1 tspn cornflour mixed into a paste with a little stock

  • Heat the butter and oil over a medium heat.  Add the onions and cook for 20-30 minutes until the onions are richly coloured and falling apart.
  • Add the wine, increase the heat and reduce by half. 
  • Add the stock and simmer gently for 15 mins.  Season.
  • Thicken with the cornflour paste and reduce a little.   Sauce should be thick and glossy.

Serve with mashed potatoes (just a little milk and seasoning will do for this mash as the sauce is so rich), steamed/boiled white cabbage and good quality sausages.  Not a fan of veggie sausages but, I’ve got to say, they are bad with this gravy at all!

Leek and Potato Soup

I remember reading somewhere that leeks are really expensive in North America.  Is that true?  I mean, are they much more expensive than your average red onion, for example?

Hope not.  But even if they are, leek and potato soup is well worth a splurge.  I’ve not been very well over the last few days and I’m putting my swifter-than-I-though-possible recovery down to this recipe.  Thank you, Leek Growers’ Association.  🙂


A Wintery Pasta

Cheating a little tonight as I’ve posted this recipe before but using purple sprouting broccoli rather savoy cabbage.  It’s one of my favourite winter recipes though as, aside from being really tasty, the greens and herbs and brown pasta give this dish a really wholesome feeling.  Just what one needs when flus and colds and other such bugs are out in force.

 Savoy Cabbage, Anchovy and Herb Pasta

(for 1)

2 tblspn olive oil

3 anchovy fillets

1/2 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tsp chopped rosemary

1 tsp chopped parsley

6-8 black olives, chopped

1 tblspn capers

1/2 lemon

Approx. 4 large leaves of savoy cabbage, finely shredded

75g whole-wheat spaghetti

Parmesan shavings

  • In a heavy based frying pan, melt the anchovy fillets gently.
  • Once the anchovies have melted into the oil add the onion, garlic, rosemary, parsley, capers and olives and fry gently until onion is softened and the flavours have combined.
  • Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted water.  Add the cabbage to the pan 5 minutes before the spaghetti is cooked.  Save a little of the cooking water.
  • Drain the spaghetti and cabbage and add to the onion mixture.  Loosen with a little cooking water and the juice from the lemon.
  • Season very carefully (remember the anchovies and parmesan are salty) and serve with parmesan shavings.

Last Night

Yesterday evening I stopped cooking for a moment and looked out the kitchen window to see this…

I grabbed Marco and ran out to the bottom of the garden with my camera.  We spent the next ten minutes watching this…

Turn into this…

By the time darkness had fallen the sub-zero temperatures had me frozen to the bone.  Ran inside and lit some of these…

Before tucking into a big plate of this….

Not a bad night at all.  🙂

Squash – Part 2

My first souffle.  And it worked!  And it was divine!

So proud I could pop. 

Squash Souffle

(serves 5/6 as a starter)

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

Olive oil


Pinch of mace

150ml thick bechamel sauce made using SR flour rather than plain – I use this method.  Half the amounts then reduce the amount of milk again by about 50ml.

2 eggs, yolks and whites seperated

1 tblspn chopped parsley

Optional – blue cheese or goats cheese or parmesan

Finely grated Parmesan

  • Toss the squash with a little olive oil, seasoning and mace.  Roast in a 200 oC oven for 40 mins until soft and golden brown.
  • While the squash is roasting, make the bechamel sauce and set aside.
  • Mash the squash, parsley, egg yolks and cheese (if using) together.  Mix in the bechamel sauce.  Season carefully. 
  • Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff.  Use a metal spoon to fold the egg whites very carefully but thoroughly into the squash mixture.
  • Spoon mixture into lightly oiled ramekins until 2/3 full.  Sprinkle lightly with parmesan and bake in a bain marie (baking tin with 2m of water in it) for 20 minutes until risen and golden brown.

Squash – Part 1

It’s a rare autumn day that a butternut squash is not found in my kitchen.  I haven’t tried growing them (yet) but I love them.  Their smooth skins and big bums always look so appealing and they keep so very well that, even on the weeks I have no plans of using squash, I tend to surreptitiously sneak one under the floppy greens in my trolley.  It’s never a mistake.  There’s so much one can do with a squash, I think.

Like this.  This idea came from last month’s Olive magazine.  As soon as I saw the picture I had to make it.  It didn’t disappoint.

Butternut Squash Roast

(serves 2)

1 butternut squash, cut in half length ways and seeded

Olive oil

1/2 tspn chopped rosemary

1 clove of garlic

1 small courgette

1 red pepper

Small red onion

Handful of cherry tomatoes

Goats cheese

Bread crumbs



  • Preheat oven to 180 oC.  Score the flesh of the butternut squash deeply and brush with the olive oil.  Rub in the chopped garlic, rosemary and seasoning.  Roast for at least an hour until the flesh is soft and yields to a fork.
  • Meanwhile, chop the courgette, onion and pepper into small cubes and toss with a little olive oil.  Roast in the same oven as the squash for 20/30 mins until soft and slightly brown round the edges.
  • When the squash is ready, remove from the oven.  Add the roasted vegetables and halved cherry tomatoes to the cavity of the squash and pile the remainder along the neck.  Sprinkle with goats cheese then parsley then the breadcrumbs.  Season and roast in the oven for another 10 – 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are toasted and the goats cheese is all gooey.