Poached pears are a lovely light dessert for spring and summer – red wine results in a glorious colour and they taste delicious – nothing like the canned variety you buy – and it’s so easy. The only real work involved is peeling the pears. I made poached pears for a friend’s recent party and the guests recalled memories of childhood when their granny used to do this. I realised that in our modern world we are depriving the next generation of many of the simple food pleasures of life. So here it is – a simple version of pears in red wine that you can introduce and share with your family and friends. This keeps in the fridge for a a few days. If you want to get a little more specialised you can add a vanilla bean and whole aniseed stars.
12 firm pears – its best if they are not yet ripe
2 cinnamon sticks
lemon zest strips from half a lemon or orange
1.5 cups sugar
3 cups red wine (one bottle)
1 cup water
2 vanilla beans, optional
3 aniseed stars, optional
- Peel pears with a potato peeler, leaving them whole with the stalk attached. Remove the eye at the bottom.
- Put all ingredients except pears into a pot with a 27cm (11inch) diameter. Heat gently until sugar is dissolved and syrup boils. Boil for 1 minute.
- Add peeled pears, trying to submerge them in the syrup as much as possible. I lie them on their side. Bring back to the boil and poach gently for about 20minutes. Turn pears over so that other side is submerged in the syrup and poach a further 20 minutes.
- I then leave the pears in the syrup overnight turning after a few hours so that they can absorb the deep red colour of the wine. This is of course optional but it does look good.
- Remove pears and place in a wide white bowl. Boil syrup rapidly till it thickens to a coating consistency. Pour syrup over pears. Cool.
- Serve cold with creme fraiche, yoghurt or whipped cream.
My cousin, Debra, is my Uncle Wim’s only daughter. She lives in Port Elizabeth and has three beautiful daughters. Here she writes …. “my daughter, Diane’s friend, Jenny van Heerden, gave this recipe to her when they were in primary school. During my three daughters’ teenage years they snagged many a boyfriend with this Buttermilk Brownies recipe!!”
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup water
½ cup butter
½ cup sunflower oil
¼ cup cocoa
2 eggs,beaten till frothy
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ cup buttermilk
- Place sugar and flour in a large bowl and stir with wooden spoon.
- Place water, butter, sunflower oil and cocoa in pot and stir over moderate heat until butter melts.
- Add the wet ingredients from the pot to the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix until smooth.
- Beat eggs with vanilla essence, bicarb and buttermilk and add to mixture. Mix well.
- Pour into a greased large (fairly deep) baking tray.
- Bake at 180 degrees C for approximately 20 minutes or until top springs back when touched.
¼ cup butter
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 ½ tablespoons buttermilk
¼ teaspoon vanilla essence
250g of sifted icing sugar.
- Place butter and cocoa in a small pot and stir at moderate heat, until butter melts and mixture is smooth.
- Add remaining ingredients. Stir until icing is smooth and shiny.
- Pour over warm brownies.
- Once cool cut into squares.
mmmm – delicious with vanilla ice cream.
No one does fruit pies and tarts as well as the United States especially in the country towns. I scoured the country trying to find the secret of the luscious gooey apple pies and as you can see from this recipe it’s all in the syrup made from apple ‘juice’ and butter. What more fitting way to celebrate 4th of July than with this Apple Pie. Serve with ice cream – ‘a la mode’ – as the Americans would say.
1.2 kg (2.5lb) granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1 cm thick slices
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark treacle sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon maizena/cornflour
Flaky pastry to fill a 9 inch (23cm) pie dish – ensure it is deep enough as this is a typical American high pie.
- Line deep pie dish with flaky pastry.
- Mix apples and all the ingredients excluding the butter, maizena and pastry in a large bowl.
- Macerate for at least 30minutes. Drain in a colander collecting all the “juice”. You need about 1/2 cup of “juice”.
- Boil this “juice” together with the butter in a small saucepan until thick and the liquid has halved.
- In the mean time add the maizena to the apples and and mix till dry.
- Now add syrup to apples and stir through. Place in pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 60 minutes to maintain flakiness of the pastry.
- Remove plastic wrap. Bake in preheated oven at 425F/210C for around 40 minutes in bottom shelf of oven.
- Cool for 4 hours before serving.
This is a lovely tart with crunchy oats base, a tart creamy subtle middle layer, and a fruit topping. It is simple and quick to make but tastes elaborate. You can use in season fruit for the topping – in summer try strawberries, raspberries, or stone fruit. In winter banana is delicious or you can even use a quality apricot or black cherry jam.
1/2 cup sticky brown sugar is plenty
2 cups quick porridge oats
180g(6 oz) butter
3/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
1.5 cups plain yoghurt, Greek style
1 Tablespoons caster sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
Fruit of your choice: 3-4 Bananas/1 punnet strawberries/etc
1/2 cup jam to glaze – use apricot for bananas or redcurrant for strawberries
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
- Gently melt brown sugar and butter in a saucepan – do NOT let it boil. Remove from heat and stir in the oats. Spread evenly into a greased 24cm(9-10inch) diameter flan dish.
- Bake in the top half of the oven 20 minutes. Cool slightly.
- In a bowl stir yoghurt, sour cream, sugar and lemon zest for the middle layer together. Pour on top of the oat base. Put dish back in the oven for 8 minutes. Cool. The yoghurt topping will be smooth and slightly firm.
- A couple of hours before serving slice the bananas (or halve the strawberries if using) and layer on top of the yoghurt base. Melt the jam for glazing in a small saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave. Brush onto the fruit with a pastry brush.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the crispy base and serve as is or with cream or ice cream.
Auntie Betty, one of my family’s stand out cooks, was born in 1912 – the only daughter of my Grandparents, Donald and Ivy Bourke. Her brother and my father, Donald, was born in 1913. At one point in Sydney’s social history Donald and Ivy were ‘The People to Know’ as they rubbed shoulders with the likes of the Packers, Smiths, Archibolds, Norman Lindsay and others. They often went to the races and afterwards met at someone’s house where the families competed to produce the most wondrous meal. Ivy’s upbringing in country hotels where she often helped out in the kitchen meant she frequently claimed the prize.
So Betty, who never married, grew up in this environment through two world wars, a severe financial depression and was able to put together an amazing budget meal that presented beautifully. She spent most of her post war years in London and Europe and sent home “foreign” recipes for mum to try. In retrospect they were what locals in those foreign lands would have been using for generations. Here is her Crème Caramel.
Note: It is best to make this a day ahead of time as it is a little messy and fiddly … and the caramel infuses the custard for longer so it tastes better too.
Serves 8-10. Fewer people are likely to demolish the lot too !!!
1½ cups white sugar
2 cups water
- Place sugar and water in a saucepan. Stir over low heat till sugar dissolves.
Stop stirring. Increase heat and bring to boil. Boil till mixture turns to deep golden brown. This last bit happens quite quickly so watch it carefully.
- Pour caramel evenly into moulded 22-23cm diameter cake tin. Note: You need a moulded rather than spring tin where the bottom of the tin can be removed so the custard does not leak.
4 cups milk
2x300ml cartons cream, (2½ cups)
1 cup castor sugar
Vanilla Extract to taste or use a Vanilla Bean
3 egg yolks, extra
punnet strawberries or mixed berries to serve
- Place eggs, extra yolks, vanilla and sugar in bowl. Beat lightly to combine.
- Pour milk and cream into a saucepan. Bring to scalding point. Cool slightly and pour into egg mixture stirring quickly all the time.
- Strain combined mixture into a large jug to remove egg bits.
- Put caramel lined pan into a baking dish containing about 2 cms warm water. Pour mixture into pan. Hopefully the custard mixture reaches the top lip of the pan.
- Bake in moderate oven( 170°C to 180°C) for approx 35 mins or until custard is firm.
- Cool and refrigerate.
- Dip pan with custard into very warm water to melt a little of the toffee/caramel on the sides. Then place serving plate over the top and flip. This has to be done quickly to catch the runny bits of toffee/caramel. It should pop out easily at that point.
- Tidy up the plate. Place strawberries in the centre of the creme caramel. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with cream.
It looks sensational and I guarantee everyone will have two helpings!!!
Ok, it takes a while to peel and slice the apples. To get the best results you do need to do this by hand as a food processor does not get the thickness quite right… but the tart is to die for. The tang and freshness of the apples topped with just the thinnest of ground almond toppings works so well. I have no idea if the tart keeps well as it is always eaten so fast – definitely a way to win friends. My painter, Ted, painted my outdoor walls in return for a slice!!! Omit ice cream or cream. Serve at room temperature – not warm. This tart needs no embellishment – perfect just as it is.
750 g cooking apples (about 6 medium-sized Granny Smith variety)
¼ cup honey
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon brandy
- Peel, quarter and core the apples. Slice each quarter lengthways into 4.
- Make a syrup by boiling the honey, butter, cinnamon, lemon peel, and juice and brandy together in a large frying pan.
- Add the apple wedges and simmer for 10 minutes. Marinade overnight.
- Spoon into a 25 cm (10 inch) pie dish.
125g(5 ounces) butter
125g(5 ounces) castor sugar
2 eggs, beaten
125g(5 ounces) ground almonds
- Cream the butter and sugar in a Kenwood mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs and beat well.
- Fold in the almonds.
- Spoon over the apples in the pie dish. The topping will be very thin.
- Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
- Serve at room temperature – NOT WARM.
It’s great to have a yummy dessert after a lazy Sunday dinner, especially if we didn’t have a big afternoon tea. As these puddings are quick and easy to prepare with ingredients usually in the pantry, it can also be thrown together on a week night. Another family favourite.
1 cup self raising flour
¾ cup caster sugar
½ cup dessicated coconut
½ cup natural yoghurt
1 egg, beaten
50g butter, melted
grated rind of 2 lemons
grated rind of 2 oranges
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3 oranges)
¾ cup caster sugar, extra
1½ T cornflour
½ cup boiling water
- Heat oven to 170°C (325°F).
- Grease and flour 4×1½ cup heat resistant dishes.
- Place flour, sugar, coconut, lemon and orange rind in a large bowl. Stir to combine.
- Mix yoghurt, egg and butter together. Add to flour mixture. Mix well.
- Spoon about ½ cup of mixture into each pudding bowl
- Combine extra caster sugar and cornflour and sprinkle over puddings
- Combine juices and boiling water in a jug and pour a ½ cup over each pudding
- Bake for 25 minutes or until skewer inserted halfway down comes out clean
Dust with icing sugar and serve after 10 minute. They should be warm rather than boiling. Sooooooo Good.
Makes 1½ cups.
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons golden syrup or honey
1½ Tablespoons cornflour or Maizena
¼ cup cream
- Combine butter and sugar in saucepan, stir over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves and mixture turns to thick syrup
- Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer 3 minutes
- Combine water, golden syrup and cornflour, mix until smooth
- Add to brown sugar mixture, stir until smooth
- Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer 2 minutes
- Remove from heat, stir in cream serve warm or cold
This sweet is thick, gooey and absolutely scrumptious. When Bianca was first born I used to have a ritual where I would meet my best friend, Keryn, for tea once a week. This was what we would order when we were being bad at one of our favourite coffee shops in Rosebank in Johannesburg. Something I have not seen in Australia- maybe because they don’t have Salticrax. In case you’re wondering what we had for tea when we were good it was ……. cheese muffins. Click here for the Cheese Muffins.
2 extra large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup caster sugar
16 salticrax, broken into small pieces
1 cup halved pecans
whipped cream and some extra chopped pecans to serve (Optional)
- Heat oven to 160°C (300°F)
- Beat egg whites until frothy.
- Add sugar and baking powder and beat until stiff.
- Fold in pecans and salticrax.
- Smooth into greaseproof lined pie dish.
- Bake for about 30minutes until colour changes and tart is dry.
- Just before serving, cover with whipped cream and extra pecans.
- Eat in one sitting as it will go soggy if left overnight.
Note: The closest thing I found to Salticrax in Australia was the Franklins No Frills imitation Jatz. Jazz themselves are not quite right.
This dish occupied legendary status though I was never really sure why. I guess everyone loves apple type desserts and those who tasted mine swore it was the best they ever had. I used to make these in leftover Sara Lee containers by the dozen and freeze them so that I always had one for unexpected guests or to act as a filler after a light family meal. Bianca would never have any as she didn’t like apples – maybe one day she’ll have a go and taste this.
1x454g(1lb) can pie apples
1/4cup sultanas or raisins
1/4cup chopped walnuts
zest/rind from half a lemon
2-3 Tablesppons lemon juice
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
- Heat oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Make crumble by processing flour, sugar and butter till crumbly. Add more butter if crumbs are too fine.
- Layer pie apple in a 19cm(7 inch) diameter soufflé dish.
- Sprinkle with sultanas, lemon zest and juice, nuts and cinnamon.
- Stir gently to mix.
- Sprinkle crumble mixture evenly on the top.
- Bake for about 30 minutes till brown (20 minutes if you’re going to freeze).
- Eat with vanilla ice cream, cream, greek yoghurt or just as is.
This oats based topping is a healthy alternative topping to try for crumble. It adds a crunchy but chewy texture. Pears have a wonderful flavour when baked and make a delicious alternative to apples.
4 pears, peeled (or 1x440g (1 lb) tin pears)
1 lemon, juice and rind
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup self raising flour
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
125g (4 ounces) butter
Yoghurt to serve(optional)
- Heat oven to 180°C(350°F).
- Core and slice pears and place into a lightly greased 1.5L (3 pint) casserole or 6 individual ramekins.
- Sprinkle with juice and rind of 1 lemon.
- Place oats, self-raising flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a food processor.
- With the motor running add butter cut into cubes.
- Process until butter is rubbed in.
- Sprinkle over pears and bake for 30-45 minutes until golden brown.
- Serve warm with thick yoghurt.