Archive for Food
The arrival of a bubba is a marvellous thing, but it does rather restrict one’s social life. And on the week I was due to pop back in February, a very good friend had her hen send off at The Gilbert Scott. As you can imagine, I was extremely large, and very sorry to miss out – cocktails were made and sampled, and some seriously stylish pre-wedding fun was pursued.
Luckily Steph is incredibly fab and thoughtful in pretty much every way, and so she bought me a printed souvenir of the evening.
I hope your eye has been drawn to the Sloe Pear Martini recipe…? It is illustrated above in case you wanted, like me, to see how it turned out.
And here is the barman mixing his magic (in a stunning cut glass stem – it’s so pretty).
For the record, the hen night was a precursor to the most sensational wedding *EVER*. I just had to include this photo of Steph’s shoes (by wondrous wedding photographer Janis Ratnieks) so you could appreciate the finer details.
And here she is walking down the aisle, oh my goodness, this is iconic…
One final tribute – please raise your (cocktail) glasses to the radiantly beautiful bride. A belated send off, Steph, but may your marriage be filled with health, happiness, and infinite joy xxx
Perhaps my sweet tooth has been indulged too much over the festive season, or maybe it’s the latter stages of pregnancy: I just can’t stop thinking about desserts, and these pear-based treats are my current culinary (and aesthetic) obsession. They promise something of a celebratory year, and I thought you might care to join me in a tour of a few favourites.
I recently discovered a new favourite foodie blog – Poires au Chocolat (who could resist such a tempting title?) – a collection of elegantly chosen and beautifully photographed recipes by Emma Gardner, a student of pâtisserie and a specialist in English Medieval literature. Clearly this lady has the ability to seek out and transform the edible eclectic into the ecstatic.
Above and below are a few of her pear recipes and photos, but there are so many more to choose from – I highly recommend a visit and a pootle through her blog (apart from anything else it is visually stunning and superbly written).
Then come the Rosé Poached Pears…
Another blog featuring deliciously tempting pear treats is Sprinkle Bakes – this time written by Heather Baird, whose aim it is to create recipes, and write about desserts, that are “joyful, colorful, interesting and special.”
Heather’s d’Anjou Poached Pear and Almond Cakes are illustrated at the top of the post, and below are her Poached Pears in Puff Pastry Bed. Both seem to me to perfectly epitomise all that is worth celebrating about the pear.
Finally, I’ve been trying to contact the author of this French recipe for Pear and Almond pots with a Praline Centre – but Alice Ridel remains something of a mystery chef on the online site for the Journal des Femmes. If you read French and enjoy a challenge (and a chocolatey reward), then these pots of joy are for you.
To sum up, here are the contact details for all of the above blogs and chefs (that I can trace for you). The photos and the recipes are all by, and copyrighted to, the named authors so please be respectful if/when you share their pear treasures.
If anyone can offer suggestions of how I could thank Alice Ridel for her creativity in the pear department, please do leave me a message below.
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Based on my own family, there’s no denying that Ikea has the marmite sheen to it: the men all loathe it and the women are enthralled. You only have to mention the word-beginning-with-I to my Dad and he comes over all funny; my toddler threw a mega tantrum yesterday when I tried to remove her from the child’s bed; and I’m prone to dreaming about Swedish meatballs and chips. With a cinnamon Danish to follow.
Anyway, one of the upsides of the whole Ikea experience, is the food shop on the way out: herring, chocolate biscuits to die for, frozen pastries… And now, in case you need a pick-me up, pear sparkles too.
I just can’t help getting over excited about Hannukah and Christmas – they’re just on the horizon really. And now that we’ve got all that pumpkin malarky out of the way, there is scope to focus on your tipple of choice when it comes to the festive meals lined up for December.
Above is the non-alcoholic version of Ikea’s pear fizz (aka aclcohol-free Kolsyrad Parondryck); and below, looking particularly sleek and attractive, is the real mccoy (4.5% semi sweet cider-like beverage, also Kolsyrad Parondryck). Both are organic, and a total snip at £0.95 and £1.10 respectively. Refreshing or what?
Then, there’s a bottle of the sparkling pear beverage, Dryck Bubbel Paron. Or in the words of Ikea’s official blurb: a fruity and non-alcoholic drink. It’s only £2 for a 750ml bottle.
In case you’re wondering, I’ve only tried the non-alcoholic version in a can, and it was delish. Plus, it looks stunning: I love the pared down, minimal Scandinavian packaging design, something that is lacking on your average tin of Strongbow.
As I was flicking through this month’s edition of Livingetc, I was delighted to spot the pear teapot pictured above. It’s not something you see very often, but as it happened, I had seen another last week, so pull up your chairs and pop on the kettle dear readers: here comes a special pears at teatime blog post.
The receptacle above is from Matalan, and you can grab yourself one instore, or online (here) for a mere £10. Total bargain. The website explains that there is a range of coordinating items available, and all the kitchenware, including the teapot, is microwave and dishwasher safe. Definitely a crucial selling point in our house.
Just for harmony’s sake, it might be pleasing to add one of the above Twinings green tea with apple and pear bags into said teapot. I haven’t sampled this flavour yet, but it is on my to-try list. If anyone has any reviews of this variety (does it actually taste of pear, for example?), then please feel free to leave a comment below.
And if you like pears, but prefer a more sleek, minimal, Italian approach to your tea set design, then perhaps the Alessi Fruit Basket Teapot above is more your cup of tea (sorry, ahem).
Speaking of cups, if you missed the blog post all about pear print mugs and cups, just click here. And if you absolutely have to run with the whole pears at teatime theme, then you’ll need a wipe clean pear print table cloth to mop up dunking disasters (unless that’s just me?). This one is from Tesco direct and it’s only £12.
Now, has the kettle boiled yet?
One of the most common searches resulting in a blog hit on owlsandpears.com is “pear tart”. Apparently over 500 people have arrived here just by googling “pear tart”. I’m stunned. So for all those pear tart lovers out there, here’s a blog post just for you.
Before we get started on the best pear tart recipe, I must first draw your attention to this noteworthy notebook from the Jamie Oliver website. Currently on sale for £8 (reduced from £10), it’s made from recycled paper and is the perfect place to store all your favourite recipes. I don’t have one myself, but the website blurb promises “handy paper pockets” for storing seeds, lists, receipts and other sundries. That in itself would be enough to tempt me, but luckily it is also covered with a very pretty pear illustration from designer Gail Bryson.
Those of you who are as addicted to Design*Sponge as I am will probably already have read the recent post all about Megan Fizell’s incredible pear tart – if not, click here for the full shebang, including the recipe and some cracking photos too.
Megan is based in Sydney and writes a blog – Feasting on Art – about recipes she has created that are inspired by her love of art and photography. It’s like nothing you’ve seen before. The pear tart with whiskey cream she devised in response to the work below by American pop artist, Tom Wesselmann (1931-2004).
Tom Wesselmann, ‘Still Life #2′, 1962
oil and collage on board
121.9 x 122.2 cm
Norton Simon Museum
To finish off, here’s a link to a recipe for a pear cake with a twist, courtesy of a good friend with a passion for good food. It’s dairy-free, easy to make and sounds absolutely delicious. Click here for a step-by-step guide to pear heaven on Ren’s recipe blog.
It’s been a few weeks since I spotted this Habitat (@HabitatUK) flan dish while idly pootling along Regent Street. Sometimes pretty things such as these come and go so quickly, but luckily this AVEN porcelain pear print flan dish is still for sale in store and online. And what a bargain – only 15 of her majesty’s finest would be enough to secure you the best flan dish on the market this side of Christmas (who knows what 2011 will bring us on the pear print flan dish front).
I really like the fresh, clean fruit design, the nicely contrasting stalks and the subtle Scandinavian style edging on the outer rim of the flan dish.
And if all of this pear flan dish talk is making you salivate, then get your aprons on: the fantastic peeps at USA Pears (@USApears) have sent me a recipe for fresh Anjou pear tart, which you can access here.
I’m on a roll with the apron theme. Only this time, it’s not owls but pears. And for a change, here is an example of a fantastic pear-based fabric design on a cocoa background. Just perfect if we’re talking about a cooking-related item of clothing, when mentioning chocolate somewhere in the post is de rigeur. How utterly fab would you feel if you managed to bake some of these pear and chocolate cake pots while sporting this pretty half hostess?
Becky handcrafts these aprons in Minnesota and sells them to the world from her Juniperberries Etsy shop here. They come with a large double pocket and straps long enough to tie around the front on back (depending on girth…).
Anyway, back to pears and chocolate: why not try your hand at some macaroons? These vanilla, orange and chocolate, pear and vanilla scrummies are from one of my fave foody/fashion blog reads – Brigadeiro. Alternatively, there is a recipe for chocolate, pear and ginger tart on page 141 of the Green & Black’s Chocolate Recipes book, which I would be v. tempted to try out. (By the way, I can’t wait for the new G&B recipe book to be released – I know I will probably only fawn over the recipes and illustrations rather than actually bake them, but hey ho, you never know. Maybe there’ll be a pear recipe in there too?)
Finally, my love of Lindt’s intense chocolate range is now deep-rooted, following my discovery of their sea salt dark chocolate bar (now available at Waitrose/Ocado) – this stuff is A-mazing. I know there is a pear version of the intense range in the States – I’ve seen it on google, and here it is as proof:
My question is, when can we get our hands on this flavour in the UK? If you have a strong desire to see this in stock, then log in and send Waitrose/Ocado an message here (or an email: email@example.com) and make pear chocolate a reality for everyone in Blighty.
Gawd – there’s so much rain outside I’ve been forced to cook fish pie and dig out a cardigan. I guess summer is over, and it’s time to succumb once again to dark afternoons, cold toes and muddy jeans. So by default, it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy all the pleasures a good cuppa can offer. Speaking of which, here are a few owlish teatime fancies to tide you through the autumn.
The owl gocco coasters above are de rigeur: you don’t want to scorch your table top. Thank goodness for Kerry Beary’s mid-century modern designs, printed on 100% recycled paper (which is then pounded into a sturdy chipboard bar coaster) and oozing with seventies chic. By the way, if you have fallen for these owl designs, Kerry has also created a set of limited edition, hand printed versions for you to hang on your wall.
While escaping some of the rain today, I found myself steaming in Debenhams (literally) and spotted these owl mugs. Nicely down to earth, with a light-hearted pattern and good ceramic finish, and all for a fiver. Bargain, right? They’ve a touch of the old halloween theme about them too, which is good preparation for the coming months. You can buy them online here, if you prefer to stay dry and shop while you sip…
Now a proper cup of tea normally involves a scooby snackette too, and if these owl biscuits from an earlier blog post are just too plain, how about an owl cupcake instead? These ones are baked by the Artisan Cake Company, and look just about chocolately enough to warrant a second cup. Roll on winter.
Seeing a poster advertising the delectable chocolate pear pots (as seen above) at Tesco’s Real Food outlet and website today, has encouraged me to include another foody post. Especially as the blog stats suggest that one of the most popular bits of owlsandpears.com is the post about Sophie Dahl’s toffee apple and pear crumble. The recipe for this beauty of a dessert is extremely straightforward, but so as not to infringe any copyright, I am directing you straight to the relevant Tesco page for detailed instructions on how to put the ingredients together. And may I suggest my absolute favourite cocoa powder when you’re following the recipe? It HAS to be Green & Black’s.
If you’re looking for an alternative pear dessert, check out this recipe with the rather wonderful title of ‘Baked Pear Parcels with Lemon Chamomile Sauce‘ from the USA pears website (which, incidentally, includes loadsa pear-licious ideas).