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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Summer Refresher

The weather this summer is very thirsty work, and with Wimbledon and the World Cup looming, we all need a thirst quencher to slake our thirst before we start the celebrations.

Whenever friends and family are around, I make this big Jug of Summer from the herbs outside the back door. I make it a few hours beforehand, or leave it overnight in the fridge, so the taste of the lemon balm and mint really does come through.

Put a large sprig of lemon balm and mint in a jug. (You could also use lemon grass.)

Fill two thirds with water.

Add 6-10 thin slices of cucumber, half a lemon (thinly sliced) and squeeze in the rest of the juice.

If you like a little sweetness add a dash of elderflower cordial.

Leave to steep for a few hours.

Top up with ice before serving.

And if you haven’t heard about the magical effects of cucumber water, may I present Macka B: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVfNrNcvlto

Vegan Stuffing Balls – a cool yule canapé!

Got vegan guests coming and don’t know what to serve as a snack? Try these stuffing balls – no one will be complaining, even the carnivores! My recipe is inspired by Green Goddess Mel Wells’ stuffing, and I have cooked it for the past few years for my boyfriend’s nieces, one of whom is veggie and the other has serious allergies to gluten, eggs and dairy.
Ingredients:sous-vide-quiona-finishing-steps-image-0
750ml good quality vegetable stock
3 sticks of celery, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, puréed
1 large white onion, diced
1 red onion, diced
fresh herbs – oregano, thyme, sage
good quality sea salt
225g chopped mushrooms
About half a loaf of gluten-free bread, crumbed
1 cup Quinoa
Some nuts or seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries or prunes
2 finely chopped apples
NOTE – for a lower-carb option you could replace some of the breadcrumbs with oat bran.
Method:
Rinse the quinoa and cook it to the instructions on the packet. This usually takes about 15-20 mins.
Whilst the quinoa is cooking, using a large frying pan, gently fry the onions and celery in a little oil until they are soft and starting to colour, but don’t let them catch in the pan. Once they have softened, add the garlic for a few minutes and then the mushrooms and herbs, and continue to cook all the veggies for another 10 minutes on a low heat.
Once all the veg has softened, take a big mixing bowl and mix together the veg, quinoa, breadcrumbs, and the rest of the ingredients, adding the stock a little at a time. It should form a thick, sticky mixture that you can roll into bite-sized balls. Don’t worry if the mix is a bit loose – as long as they will form a roundish shape, it’s totally fine.
Place the stuffing balls onto a baking sheet and cook in a hot oven (around 200*c) for 10-12 mins. You don’t want them to be too dry, but slightly crips on the outside. The other option is to pop into a ceramic baking dish and then slice it up after its baked.

DSC_0060They can be served hot with mushroom gravy (for the vegan guests) or go against the grain (sorry – couldn’t help myself!) and wrap them in bacon and serve with a meaty gravy. They’re also really tasty with a cranberry jelly dip 🙂

 Merry Christmas – Love Hayley x

Hannah’s low carb biscuit bars

These very low carb/high protein snack bars are fantastic for that moment when you would reach for cake/biscuit/chocolate – something with your hot drink to keep you going until lunch or dinner time.
Cinnamon is amazing – it contains compounds that promote insulin function, improve blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity, so it’s very helpful when you’re feeling hungry. It also slows down the speed at which food is digested so it lowers the ‘glycaemic load’ of your food. You might want to play with the amount, to suit your taste.

 

In a bowl, mix:

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100g oat bran

15g goji berries

25g chopped nuts

25g flaked almonds

15g ground almonds

A tsp cinnamon

 

Whisk together:

1 egg (or 50ml chick pea water)

1tbsp water

1 tbsp Xylitol (e.g. Natural Sweet)

Half a tsp of vanilla essence

Combine the ingredients and press into a 7” square cake tine, lined with parchment. Score into 9 squares. You could use a small, round sandwich tin and score into triangles. Bake in a fairly hot over for 15 minutes. Turn out, peel off the paper and gently separate the pieces before you allow to cool. Keeps well in an airtight container.