Recently I found myself with the task of cooking dessert for a family party. The numbers were uncertain, but at least a minimum of 12. Cooking for a crowd is not always as easy as finding a recipe and tripling or quadrupling it. However, we these two recipes doubling, tripling etc is only limited to the size of your pot, or serving dishes and your imagination.
Pears in red wine and cassis with pomegranates
I adore pomegranates so much I named my blog after them! There are a few reasons why I love them so much, the beautiful blushing color, the sharp sour taste, the little jewel like seeds.... They also remind me of my gorgeous husband and the joys of travelling in Greece.
On my first trip to Greece with Mr K, the streets of a little village we visited in Corfu were lined with pomegranate trees that were heaving with blushing fruits. Prior to this visit, I had little to do with the pomegranate, apart from admiring it in various works of art. In the flesh, I was absolutley captivated by them. A very kind lady (with the help of Mr K's gorgeous Greek) let me help myself to a some fruits from her tree. I modestly chose a couple, but she led me by the hand and filled up a brimming basket. I had lashings of these little ruby jewels on thick, creamy Greek yoghurt with earthy dark pine forest honey, I had them with the salty tang of home cured feta, with grilled lamb....you name it, I couldn't get enough.
Given that Autumn is possibly my favourite season of the year, it was no surprise that Mr K and I chose to get married in May. The day before our wedding, I remember sitting in my father in law-to-be's garden, with the warm yellow and almost brush stroked pink of pomegranates hanging in the trees like beautiful festive ornaments. My father in law to be's parting gift, as I left to prepare for our big day, was a branch of pomegranate with three of these gorgeous fruits. Now, every April and May, when I look at the bounty of fruits in my father in laws garden, I think back fondly of this special moment and the day I married my wonderful husband.
The sweetness of this red wine and cassis syrup contrasts perfectly with the sour tang of the pomegranate seeds and juice. The little touch of thyme also brings back fond memories of enjoying these lovely pink fruits with dark pine forest and herby wild flower honey.
8 medium pears
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup caster sugar
3 cups of red wine
1 tablespoon of vanilla paste
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
10 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon of cassis, per pear
Seeds and juice of two medium sized pomegranates
1. Rinse and peel the pears. Lie the pears down in a pan that is just large enough to hold them.
2. Add all of the ingredients except the pomegranates.
3. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a low heat and simmer for 1/2 hour. Then turn the pears over (so they color evenly) and simmer for around another 1/2 hour or until tender. The syrup should be slightly reduced and a little bit thicker.
4. Place the pears and syrup in a large serving dish and squeeze all of the juice and seeds of the pomegranates over. Let them cool and stand for a few hours before serving. Serve with lots of syrup poured over the pears and dollops of thick Greek yoghurt or a good vanilla ice cream.
Some people like fruit desserts and then there is the creamy / chocolatey camp. There is something about the combination of dark chocolate, espresso and hazelnuts that is so - well, Autumnal. The sweet smokiness of the Frangelico and the crunchy, nuttiness of the Hazelnuts always makes me think of all the fantastic earthy flavours of autumn....fungi, truffles....etc
Tiramisu is so fantastically retro. I've always had a bit of a mindest against it, but it's rare to find someone that is not a fan. I think the secret to making a tiramisu special (and the little elements that overcame my mindset) is the use of really good flavorful espresso coffee (no nasty instant stuff), good dark chocolate (hello valrhona) and a very generous pour of (my favourite) Frangelico liqueur. The espresso and Frangelico is a match made in Italian heaven. I can remember having my caffe corretto, espresso with a good big slug of Frangelico on a very cool Autumn day in Milan. If the mingling of espresso and Hazelnut flavours is time honored Italian practice - I am more than happy to follow this little suit of genius!!
Given that you need to let these lovlies chill for a while, I am a fan of making them in their own little sealable fridge friendly pots. You can also very easily make a nice big generous tray (or for a crowd, both!).
Ingredients1 cup espresso coffee
1 cup Frangelico hazlenut liqueur, plus more for the filling
30 Savoiardi biscuits (lady fingers)
1/3 cup superfine sugar
2 cups mascarpone
1 cup pouring cream
1 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts
3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Dark chocolate for grating
1. Combine the coffee and 1 cup Frangelico in a shallow bowl, allow to cool if the coffee is hot.
2. Whisk the cream to soft peaks with the sugar, gradually adding about 1/4 cup Frangelico. Fold in the mascarpone.
3. Dip the Savoiardi cookies into the coffee and Frangelico mix and make a layer lining your tiramisu dish (or pots) with the soaked Savoiardi cookies; they should be well coated but not falling apart. Pour any leftover liquid over the layer you have made.
4. Put the mascarpone mixture on top of the soaked cookies and spread to make an even layer. Cover the dish (or dishes) with plastic wrap and leave overnight, or for at least a few hours, in the refrigerator.
5. When you are ready to serve, take the tiramisu out of the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap. Mix the chopped roasted hazelnuts with 2 teaspoons of cocoa and sprinkle over the top layer of mascarpone. Then dust a final sprinkle of very finely grated dark chocolate.