Cider Poached pears with spices and toasted almonds

At the July residential yoga weekend, I wanted a dessert that would be light, yet full of flavour and would round off a fairly substantial meal without leaving guests with that “heavy” feeling. This was a huge hit, and I’m delighted that this recipe will be featured in the December issue of Bee Green Magazine, but just for subscribers. In the meantime, here’s a sneaky peek:

This is such an easy recipe to make. It would be a lovely way to end a meal with friends and it doubles (or triples!) up easily too. The orchard on the farm is full of pears, plums and apples right now, and I can’t wait to make the most of the season’s bounty at our next Yoga weekend in October. There are still places left, so if a weekend of yoga and delicious food in the depths of the Dorset countryside sound good, do get in touch.

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 firm ripe pears (Conference pears work well)
500ml bottle cider (medium/dry)
50g demerara OR golden granulated/caster sugar OR Honey/Maple Syrup/Agave
1 cinnamon stick or 1tsp ground cinnamon
6 cardamom pods (swap for cloves, all spice or ground nutmeg for a more “festive” vibe)
1-2 tsp pink peppercorns
60g toasted, flaked almonds
Extra thick cream, greek yogurt or coconut yogurt, to serve.

Method
Peel the pears, leaving the stalks on and set aside. Place the cider, sugar and spices into a large saucepan with a lid, give it a good stir, then place the pears in and put the lid on. Simmer over a medium heat for around 20-30 minutes, or until a round bladed knife passes easily through the thickest part of the pear. Carefully, remove the pears from the poaching liquid using a slotted spoon, set aside and keep warm. Turn the heat up under the poaching liquid, and with the lid off, reduce until thickened and syrupy. Remove the cardamom pods and the cinnamon stick but keep the peppercorns in. Put the pears into individual serving dishes, spoon over the syrup and sprinkle with toasted almonds then serve with a dollop of cream or your favourite yogurt or dairy-free alternative on the side.

 

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Creamy Porcini Mushroom Pasta

Last week we tried out our pasta machine (purchased from a charity shop over a year ago) for the first time, and made buckwheat pasta. It was a great success, and it was much easier than I thought it would be. We used two eggs, buckwheat flour and a little bit of water, then rolled it through the pasta machine in the usual way. After this, we left it to dry for about 5 mins, then rolled again through the spaghetti cutter, and blanched in boiling salted water for maybe 5-6 minutes. Then we rinsed it in cold water and drizzled olive oil over it and set aside to be heated in the pasta sauce, which I will get onto now. You can obviously just use normal dried pasta, as you probably have better things to do, especially on a weeknight. Also shop-bought dried egg-free pasta makes the dish vegan.

I’m not vegan, but I don’t eat meat or dairy, and I can’t eat wheat. I had been eating a lot of shirataki noodles and pasta, in order to keep my carb intake down, but because they come shrink-wrapped in plastic, we have decided to stop buying them and try to also reduce our plastic consumption. This sauce idea came to me after craving a creamy-tasting risotto. I thought I would experiment with trying to create a vegan version of a rich, Italian dish.

Ingredients:

Dried Porcini Mushrooms (I got these from Lidl), soaked in hot water for 40 mins

Chestnut Mushrooms, sliced

One Onion, finely chopped

Three garlic cloves, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

Sea Salt

Olive Oil (or similar)

Splash of White Wine (optional)

The Mushroom Water (from the dried mushrooms)

200ml (ish) unsweetened Soya Milk

2 Tablespoons of Vegan Protein Powder

One Teaspoon of Gluten Free Flour (or similar)

 

Method:

Gently fry the onions until they are soft, and then add the garlic and fry for a further 3 minutes. Cook them on a medium heat and make sure you don’t let the garlic catch or burn. Once they have softened, remove them from the pan and put them to one side.

Using the same pan, fry the chestnut mushrooms in a little more oil or vegan butter, with the salt and pepper (to taste) until they have a nice golden brown colour to them. Set these aside with the onion and garlic while you prepare the rest of the sauce.

In a jug, mix together the soya milk, protein powder, flour, white wine and some of mushroom water (about 100ml but make sure it’s not hot). Beat the mixture until it’ is smooth with no lumps, then heat the mixture in the frying pan and whisk it gently as it heats. It should start to thicken into a creamy-looking sauce. Once it has started to thicken, add in the cooked mushrooms, the softened porcini mushrooms, and the onion and garlic mixture, and continue to heat the sauce. Once you are happy with the texture (it will continue to thicken the more you heat it) then you can remove it from the heat and stir in the cooked pasta. Allow the pasta to heat up in the sauce before you serve it, and be sure to check the seasoning.

Serve on warm plates, with freshly chopped basil, more black pepper and truffle oil for extra flavour and richness.

 

HDB xx

 

Hayley’s Oat Bran Bread

IMG_2873-1As a wheat-free foodie, I love this ‘bread’ and I make this probably twice a week. It’s become a big part of our diet, which is really saying something when you live the man who literally wrote the book on bread! What Daniel Stevens doesn’t know about baking isn’t worth knowing, so the fact that he’s adopted this recipe into his repertoire is a pretty big deal for me. It’s super high protein and wheat free, packed with fibre and can be topped with sweet or savoury things. It has a dense texture, similar to rye or pumpernickel bread, and also makes great crostini or bruschetta.

Ingredients:

200g Oat Bran (you can get this in most supermarkets now, in the cereal aisle, or Holland & Barrett do a fine cut one which is my favourite)

2-3 Eggs, or vegan equivalent

2 Tablespoons of Greek Yoghurt or vegan equivalent

Pinch of sea salt

Baking Powder

1 Table spoon of Olive Oil (or similar)

Seeds, nuts or dried berries (optional)

Method:

Pre-Heat your oven to about 180*C and line a tin with baking paper. I usually use a round 8 inch cake tin, and line the bottom with a circle of baking parchment.

Use two large or three medium eggs, egg replacer or aqua faba (chick pea or bean water) of an equivalent amount and beat with a fork or whisk.

Add the oat bran in table spoons, starting with about six. Keep adding until you have a thick paste.

Then add the greek yoghurt, or vegan alternative (almond or Soya milk is fine) and mix in, loosening the paste. Beat in half a teaspoon of baking powder at this stage also, and add some salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

Once you have the basic mixture, you can add seeds (I use sunflower, linseeds and pumpkin seeds), nuts or dried berries to create different flavours of bread. Goji berries would work really nicely and would add a delicious sweetness.

Once you’ve added your extras, scrape the mix into your baking tin. You can add more seeds to decorate the top before you pop it in the oven if you like.

Bake at 180*C for about 30 mins. I have yet to burn a loaf of this bread – it seems you can cook it for quite some time before it even begins to colour! You may a get a little rise from the baking powder and eggs, but not much.

Check after 20 mins and see if you want the top to colour more. Once it’s golden brown, remove it from the oven and tip the bread out onto a wire rack to cool. It doesn’t slice very well when it’s still warm, so you’ll have to be patient before you try it!

 

Top with organic grass-fed butter or avocados and tomato salsa, smoked salmon, peanut butter and homemade jam, marmalade… The list is endless!! I’ve yet to find something it doesn’t go with 😀

 

Hayley x