Pear tart – heaven!

This fragrant and hearty dessert makes a big hit at special or less special occasions – think picnics, dinner parties, Mondays (who said you can’t have a sweet dish on Monday night?).

The rich flavor of almond frangipane and the incredible aroma of pears soaked in anise flavored sugar syrup are simply delightful! Trust me - this recipe is wonderful!

Recipe source: ‘Coking for Friends’ by Gordon Ramsay
"pear tart"

Pear and frangipane tart (Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

Tart:

  • 1 package ready-made puff pastry (275g)
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 2 tsp water, to glaze
  • 2 large ripe pears

Sugar syrup:

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50 ml water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • juice of 1 lemon

Frangipane:

  • 75g butter, at room temperature
  • 75g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 2 tbs plain flour
  • 1 – 11/2 tsp Amaretto (I used 1tsp Veterano + 2 crushed amaretti cookies)

Instructions:

  • Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use a 20cm or 23 cm round cake tin as a guide to cut out a circle. Transfer the pastry to a baking sheet. Lightly score a 2cm edge round it. Brush the rim with the egg wash to glaze, chill while you prepare the filling.
  • Place all the ingredients for the sugar syrup in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat a bit and simmer for 10 min until thickened slightly, then leave to cool.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar for the frangipane. Slowly add the egg, mixing until fully incorporated. Add the almonds  and flour and fold through with a wooden spoon. Finally, mix in the Amaretto. Let the mixture stand for 5 min.
  • Preheat the oven to 190C.
  • Peal the pears, cut lengthways, remove the cores, cut each pear lengthways into thin slices; place in a large bowl and pour over the cooled sugar syrup. Leave them to macerate for a few minutes.
  • Spread a layer of frangipane evenly over the pastry round, leaving th eglazed rim clear.
  • Drain the pears, dab dry with kitchen paper, then arrange on top in a circle. Sift over a little icing sugar. Bake until pears are tender and the filling is golden brown and set, about 35-45 minutes.
  • Remove the tart from the oven, cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yummy!

"pear tart"

"pear tart"

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Pumpkin ravioli – fabulously delicate!

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Cooking from scratch rocks, gives a huge amount of pleasure and a great deal of satisfaction! You will fall in love with this dish: it’s amazingly creamy, velvety, smooth and mouthwatering. Pumpkin, sage, butter, parmigiano – a truly winning combination of … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Non-bake cheesecake

My first ever non-bake cheesecake – am I happy with it? Well, I would say I’m satisfied, perheps I still need to search for a perfect recipe or master the one I have. This recipe is definitely quick and relatively easy to follow. However, you really need to pay a lot of attention when you melt sugar and  butter together. I’m not sure what I did wrong but those two ingredients turned into a heavy hard ‘stone’! I had to crush it somehow and it wasn’t easy at all. Once I passed that difficulty, the rest of my preparation went smoothly. Btw, instead of the ramekins, I used juice glasses and they worked just fine presentation wise.

In overal, it’s a lovely dessert but you wouldn’t make it to really impress someone. I’m giving it 7 out of 10. As soon as I learn how to melt sugar and butter without burning them, I may give this sweet dish a well deserved 8.

Click here for the recipe.

If you have a nice non-bake cheesecake recipe or any useful suggestions on how to make this type of a dessert, I would love to hear from you!

"non bake cheesecake"

"non bake cheesecake"

Posted in dessert | Tagged | 1 Comment

Italian Meatballs – Let’s get rolling!

I’ll keep it short: those are crowd pleaser meatballs!

If you don’t mind getting your hands a bit dirty, dig in, jumble and mix the ingredients now! Have a jolly time rolling your authentic Italian Polpette! Delizioso!

Italian Meatballs (Serves 4-5)

Ingredients:

  • tomato sauce (see bellow)
  • 60 g white soft bread (crust removed)
  • milk for soaking
  • 500 g good quality minced beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • small bunch parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 2 eggs
  • 30g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • large pinch of nutmeg
  • salt + pepper
  • flour for coating
  • olive oil for frying

Instructions:

  • Prepare the tomato sauce (see bellow).
  • Break or cut the bread into pieces, place it in a bowl, barely cover with milk and leave for 10 minutes until softened, then squeeze to remove the liquid.
  • Place the meat in a large bowl, add the bread, garlic, parsley and lemon rind and mix it all well.
  • In another bowl, beat the eggs, cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly together with the meat mixture.
  • With well-floured hands, shape the mixture into small balls then roll on a floured surface and flatten slightly with a knife. The meatballs should remain light.
  • Heat enough oil in a large frying pan to give a depth of 5 mm. Fry the meatballs, for about 5 -7 minutes on each side (fry them rather gently, moderate heat) then drain on a kitchen paper towels.
  • While the meatballs are frying, reheat the tomato sauce, diluting it with a bit of water to give a fairly thin consistency.
  • Put the meatballs into the tomato sauce and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes.
  • Serve with or without spaghetti. Sprinkle some chopped parsley on top.

Homemade tomato sauce

You will need:

  • 750 g tomatoes
  • roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 2 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt + pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • fresh basil or parsley, chopped

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan (apart from fresh herbs), simmer for 20-30 minutes until the tomatoes have reduced to a puree. Press through the sieve. Check the seasoning and stir in some herbs.

Recipe adapted from The Love of Italian Cooking by M. Reynolds.
b&w photo taken by P.S.


Posted in meat | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

A quick fresh snack

Side salads, light salads, big salads, warm salads, fruit salads, quick salads, simple salads … I love them all! And I love those delicious combinations of ingredients, textures and flavors. It’s always so much fun to play with them.

Here, a quick recipe for a ‘snack salad’ – nothing really special … but a great way to avoid or cut down on those rather ‘unhealthy’ (though sometimes very yummy) bites. Enjoy!

Small Snack Salad (1)

Ingredients:

  • a small handful of watercress
  • 1/2 kiwi, diced
  • 3 cherry tomatoes
  • 5 cappers
  • 3 slices of orange or red sweet pepper
  • 2 small slices of grapefruit, cut into pieces
  • 1 sun dried tomato, diced
  • 1 tsp grated parmesan
  • chives, to garnish
  • olive oil, balsamico, salt + pepper (for a quick dressing)

Instructions:

Arrange all the ingredients (besides the parmesan, chives and dressing ingredients) on a plate or in a small salad bowl. Sprinkle with the cheese and chives. In a small glass mix 1 or 2 tsp of olive oil and 1/2 tsp balsamico, adjust the taste with salt and pepper, pour over the salad. Bon Appetit!

Posted in salads | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Morning Muffin Treat

Simple, quick and perfect for a late Saturday breakfast: almond & red currant muffins. You will love their delicate texture and fresh flavors. They taste great with a bit of icing sugar dusted on top. Serve with a hot cup of tea, camomile infussion or a good morning espresso.

Almond & Red Currant Muffins(Makes 12)

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 150 ml creme fraiche
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 50 g ground almonds
  • 175 g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teasp baking powder
  • 125 g fresh or frozen red currants
  • 15 g almond flakes
  • a few drops of vanilla or almond essence (optional)

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Combine the eggs, creme fraiche and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and vanilla essence and mix together. Add the red currants and stir gently.
  • Spoon the mixture into 12 muffin paper cases arranged in a muffin tin or in silicone moulds. Sprinkle with the almond flakes.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes till golden or until the toothpick inserted in the centre of each muffin comes out clean. Dust the tops with little sifted icing sugar and eat once slightly cooled. Enjoy!











Recipe adapted from '200 cakes and bakes' (hamlyn).
Posted in breakfast | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hello!

Welcome to my food blog. This is so very exciting!

I’ll be sharing my favorite recipes and all those indulgent food moments that happen in my kitchen and in the dining area of my living room. I hope you will enjoy them together with me, because one thing you should really know about me, is that I am utterly passionate about food photography and tend to document nearly everything I cook at home for my dearest husband and friends.

I also wish this blog turns into an inspiring, fun and handy online cook book or a virtual diary of my kitchen adventures … who knows maybe you will end up talking about them during one of your bench conversations.

Thanks for coming to my blog!

I’d like to har from you!  thebenchconversations[at]gmail[dot]com




 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment