Port Poached Pears

Port Poached Pears

(Or how to use up half a bottle of port you are highly unlikely to drink)

Poached Pears are a dish I’ve been meaning to make for a long time now.
A rare foray into dessert making as I generally tend to pay so much attention to the main meal that I forget about dessert entirely. Either that, or after consuming a massive portion of pasta/meat/potato etc, I have neither the desire nor the physical capacity to fit anything else into my already considerably growing girth :|

So this was a bit of a novelty and happened to turn out quite nicely. I searched the web for a recipe that both sounded nice and contained most of my available ingredients, didn’t find one, and ended up once again combining a bunch of them together into something that looked about right.

So two whole pears, peeled, and with the cores removed. I left the sticks on to make it easier to move them around while they were poaching, and because they looked kinda cute like that. Now to a poaching pan (or a regular pan/pot if you are unlucky enough not to have one solely dedicated to poaching), add half a bottle (roughly 250 ml or so) of port, a vanilla bean pod, a little lemon zest, and one clove.

Get it simmering away on a mild heat (so it’s not bubbling and boiling furiously), and drop in the pears. Let them simmer away for about 10 – 15 minutes, depending how quickly they are cooking, and how soft they were to start with. Turning every now and them to make sure the port poaching liquid is persistently pervading all possible parts of the pear (beat that Peter Piper).

Pears in Port Two Pears a Poaching

Once the pears are almost done to your desired level of softness (which you can easily test by poking them with a fork), take them out… halve them, and then put them back into the poaching liquid for a minute or so to get the inside nicely coloured.

Then out of the pan and onto a plate. Turn the heat up in the pan and start reducing the port til it turns into a nice thick syrupy sauce. Serve the pears with a scoop (or two) of icecream of your choice, perhaps a few slivered almonds, and the port reduction drizzled haphazardly (in my case) over the top.

Port Poached Pears

There you go… instant class with little to no effort at all.

#Foodography 7 – Wine & Bottle

Prunotto Dolcetto D'Alba 2003

Just a quick post. I recently entered one of my photos into the Foodography group on Flickr, which is run by Sam of Becks & Posh, and Andrew of Spittoon, and Andrew was kind enough to link to my photo on Slashfood. The theme this month was Wine and Bottle. So basically take a photo of a glass/vessel/mouthful(?) of wine, along with the bottle it came in. I played around for a little while and was super happy when this one came out so nicely.

Oh yeh…and the wine was great. It’s a 2003 Dolcetto D’Alba, by Prunotto. Lovely drinking, and went sublimely well with my humble spaghetti and meatballs… which I shall post up soon.

Ok, thats all…carry on :)

Rack of Lamb with Honey & Balsamic Sauce

Lamb Rack with Sweet Potato Mash and Honey Balsamic Reduction

There’s something about a nice rack of lamb that makes it hard for me to pass by, when idlely drifting through butchers shops, purveying their cuts. Lamb is one of my favourite dishes full stop, but to be able to combine it with a ready made handle AND have it look classy on a plate at the same time, is just genious.

So this was a pretty simple dish I made up on the spur of the moment (read: spent all day thinking about and scouring the web for ideas), which I think turned out just dandy.

Lamb Rack

  • Rack of Lamb (or two)
  • Olive oil (a given really, just buy a few gallons of good quality olive oil and you will be doing yourself a big favour)
  • Rosemary (Is it possible to do a lamb dish without rosemary ?… I think not)
  • Salt (do yourself another favour and go and get some Maldon Salt… beautiful texture and flavour for cooking)
  • Cracked Pepper (do yourself a huge favour and buy a pepper mill, and load it up with peppercorns)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Honey
  • Red Wine (nothing specific, but preferably something drinkable)

To Serve With

  • Sweet Potatos
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Rosemary
  • Fennel

How I made it

So firstly, cut down into your lamb rack a little and stuff every concievable orifice you can find with fresh rosemary, salt, black pepper, and libations of olive oil. Score the fat on the back of the rack, and rub that down with salt and pepper too. Now crank your stove up to high and sear your lamb rack in a healthy dose of olive oil in a hot pan. Make sure you give it a good covering so that the tricky parts all receive a fair amount of heat, and then when it’s looking charred to perfection, drop the heat, and put it into the oven to continue cooking through til done. Keep the pan juices as we’ll use those for the sauce.

Once the lamb is away in the oven, peel and slice your sweet potato and fennel. Get the sweet potato boiling in a pot of salted water, and braise the fennel in a little white wine and butter over a low/medium heat so it softens up. Once the sweet potato is cooked, but not mushy, drain the water and mash with extra rosemary, butter, cream, salt, pepper, and a little grated parmesan.

Next the sauce… Pretty simple really… Into the pan juices goes a good few dashes of balsamic vinegar and a good squeeze of honey (I’d give you measurements, but i really didn’t use any… I generally cook to taste and measure things by eye). Give this a taste and you have a lovely sweet balsamic flavour coming through… which I then pulled back to savoury land with the help of a splash of shiraz and dash of beef stock. Reduce the sauce down, and keep stirring to make sure the honey doesn’t seperate, and perhaps thicken with some corn flour and water… and you’re done.

If God didn't want us to eat animals... he wouldn't have them out of meat.Lamb Rack

At this point I cut all the lamb racks up into french cutlets (if thats what french cutlets are of course… ) and attempted to pile it onto a plate in some sort of attractive formation. Sadly failing… after taking some photos, I heaped the rest of the lamb on top and Sharon and I devoured them as best we could.


Catching Up on Coffee

Yes, I know… I’ve been neglecting this blog terribly. So here are a few posts to keep the faithful going. A little old school latte art action, intermingled with some fancy new photography courtesy of the new camera.

brown on black

First off, some new arrivals to my roasting efforts. A bag of Ethiopian Harrar, and a bag of Colombian Valle del Cauca Supremo (which is the photo above).

The harrar is sweet fruity bean, along the lines of the Yirgacheffe, but without as much of the winey aftertaste. The Valle del Cauca is a big full bodied coffee, and they accidently made a very tasty little espresso blend for me.

Liquidity Ethiopian Harrar

Other things to note of late is that my latte art still sucks the big one, although the photos look infinitely prettier.

Latte Art x 2 Back at it

I need to get my Silvia serviced again because I’ve gone and completely stripped the top of the screw that holds the shower screen in. It seems that its made of a pretty soft metal that expands a lot when it gets hot, and so even though I don’t screw it in tight at all, it’s near impossible to get loose after a while. Hence my mauling it with all manner of stubby screwdrivers and swear words. I will be warily treading back to the coffee machine shop I went to last time, to see if they can get the screw out, and give me a new one, without rorting me out of my life savings.

Watch this space for exciting coffee related photo’s soon.


Lie down

Dear faithful readers… It would seem I’ve become a bit distracted of late… and whilst I have a bunch of posts waiting in the wings for their run in the sun, the motivation to finish them is rapidly diminishing in the face of the overwhelming distraction provided by my latest toy.

C'est Moi !

So feel free to check out my recent photos on Flickr, which I seem to find easier to regularly update, and where you can leave equally witty comments that I will appreciate just as much, until I finally get my act together and write some real posts up.

Smooches all round.

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup

For me, soup is soul food…

There is nothing better than a big hearty bowl of piping hot soup, that fills your belly and warms you up from the inside out.
Add to that some crusty bread to dip with, and soak up every last little drip, and you’ve got yourself the perfect lazy meal.
I have fond memories of Sunday nights as a child in our family. Mum was more than likely over the idea cooking anything fancy after spending all day preparing the Sunday roast.

So soup was the meal of choice. Served most of the time, with tray after tray of fresh scones and cinnamon scrolls.

So after casually mentioning to Dee that she should perhaps brush the cobwebs off her oven and make some of it, I figured I’d better make a batch of my own.

So here goes:


  • Butternut Pumpkin (I used a big half, maybe half a kilo)
  • 2 Chillis (or less if you dont want it too spicey)
  • 2 Cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • Fennel seeds, Coriander seeds, salt, black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Tablespoon or so of fresh chopped ginger
  • 1 can coconut cream
  • A good handful of fresh coriander

How I made mine
This is a really simple recipe… You basically want to roast all your veges together in the spice mix, and then blend it all up. So i chopped up the pumpkin, onion, chillis, peeled garlic, and threw them into a roasting pan. Then over that lots of lovely extra virgin olive oil, and the spice/seasoning mixture which has been roughly crushed in a mortar and pestle.

Into a hot oven for as long as it takes to get the pumpkin soft, and we’re good to go.

Ready to blend Still Ready to Blend
Then out of the oven, into a blender. I’ve been having trouble with my blender, so after getting everything in there I realised I’d have to take it all back out and use the food processor instead, which was just as good, although probably didn’t get it as fine as the blender should have… but hey…this is soup… chunky is good.

So throw in all the veges, the coriander, the ginger, and the coconut cream and blend away until you’ve got it to the consistency you want. I’d say somewhere in between thickened cream and a slow moving porridge would be great.

Post Blending... now processing

After the blending… you can either put it into a pot and heat it back up… and play with the consistency/flavours a bit more (which is what I did), or just pour it out into bowls and serve with some nice thick pieces of bread, and perhaps some sour cream / parsley / fresh coriander / chives / whatever the hell you want… to garnish.

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup

Now curl up on the couch, sup away at your hearty bowl of soup… and pray the weekend never ends.

Home Made Hummus


Another quick post. This is my really really simply hummus recipe. Well actually… It’s not really my recipe at all, I just looked on the web and found a bunch of recipes and triangulated them into one multi-faceted conglomerate recipe that I felt best defined me as a person. Or something…

So. Hummus. Great stuff, best eaten on char grilled turkish bread with a little olive oil on top, or in countless other ways that I can’t even begin to imagine.


  • 1 can chick peas (or if you’re one of those hard core types, you could buy fresh chick peas and soak them over night)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of tahini (if you want a tahini free recipe, try this one )
  • Good olive oil… lots of
  • The juice of a couple of lemons
  • salt

Incidentally, recognised additional hummus ingredients include garlic, parsley, onions, cumin, and/or chili. So don’t say I don’t give you options here.

Then throw all those ingredients into a blender and pulse until you’ve got the consistency you want. Adding more of each one (ie: more olive oil, lemon juice, salt, tahini), until you get the flavour you want. Scoop it out into a bowl, drizzle a little extra olive oil over the top, and dip away to your hearts content.