The Family Food Blog

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Category: Dessert

Champagne Poached Seckel Pears

by thefamilyfoodblog

Don’t you love when leftover ingredients just come together in a great new recipes? Lately, I’ve started trying to find such dishes by just Googling the items I have. Case in point: three days ago, I found Avocado Pesto‘s recipe for Tofu, Mushroom, and Bok Choy Stir-Fry – delicious, by the way – by searching “tofu bok choy mushroom ginger”. Not so elegant, but it worked!

Using the same strategy for leftover New Year’s Eve champagne that was quickly going flat and Seckel pears that were quickly growing soft, I came across Emeril’s recipe for Poached Pears in Vanilla and Champagne. Since these pears are already so sweet, I decided to halve the sugar-to-liquid ratio, and made a few other changes. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients (2 servings):

  • 2 Seckel pears, or one regular-sized pear
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup champagne or sparkling wine
Leftover brut and two peeled pears

Leftovers.

Instructions:

Peel the pears, keeping the stems intact if possible. Cut each pear in half and remove the seeds and core.

In a small pot, stir the sugar into the water and boil until the sugar dissolves. Use the smallest pot you have that can hold all pear pieces in a single layer – this way, it takes less champagne to cover the fruit, which leaves more to drink!

Once the sugar is dissolved (about 2 minutes), stir in the vanilla and champagne and bring to a boil. Add the pear halves, making sure they are fully covered by the poaching liquid. Let simmer on medium heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring gently every minute or two.

Pears in Poaching Liquid

You’ll see I didn’t core or de-seed the pears before poaching. This was much trickier to do afterwards.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the pears. Serve immediately.

Poached Pears with Gingerbread Cookie

Serve immediately, on their own or with other components.

These are delicious on their own, but can easily be fancied up if you’d like. I served the pears on top of gingerbread cookies, with a little of the poaching liquid drizzled on top, and the last of the champagne. Enjoy!

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Spiced Carrot Muffins

by Sanjukta Moorthy

After making a luxurious roast dinner, I had a few carrots leftover and needed to make something to take in for breakfast. I did some research and found a few carrot muffin recipes, none of which really appealed in their entirety because they either used too much sugar or too much butter. I wanted something which tasted amazing but didn’t make me feel sinful if I had a couple for breakfast.

So here’s my version, low-fat, low-sugar but amazing. Don’t be disheartened by that – believe me, I love food that actually tastes like food, and I have the same reaction you do when I hear the words ‘low fat and low sugar’. But trust me, you really can’t tell at all.

I’ve added some candied orange peel, to add another layer to the spicy, Christmassy feel of these muffins. And if you’re using more than 1/3 cup, you actually don’t need any sugar at all! But that’s upto you – enjoy!

I took them home for my family – and they couldn’t tell it was a healthier version! I thought that’s as good a taste test as I’m going to get, so here’s the recipe!

Makes 24 muffins

3 cups grated carrots (some carrots don’t need to be peeled, so I topped and tailed mine, and grated them using my amazing food processor’s grater function!)

1.5 – 2 cups roughly chopped golden sultanas (Soak these in boiling water (I prefer orange juice because it ties in with the flavours) for about 30 minutes until they’re amazingly plump)

1.5 cups plain flour

1.5-2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp sugar (completely optional, I find that the carrots get sweet as they’re baked so you could take this out completely)

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground allspice

About 10 shaves of fresh nutmeg

2 eggs

1/3 cup candied orange peel (or peel of your choice)

2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil and it works just as well)

1 cup choppped nuts of your choice – I’ve made this a few times and used almonds, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts – all of which work really well! Pick your favourite!

Combine eggs, sugar and oil in a large bowl with either an electric mixer or a whisk. I used a whisk since I hardly used any sugar or oil, and it’s pretty easy! Preheat the oven to 180C.

Sift the flour into a separate, medium bowl and add the salt, spices and baking powder.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, and incorporate using either an electric mixer or a whisk.

Fold in the carrots, nuts, orange peel and raisins. This doesn’t need to be done carefully, but it does need to be thoroughly mixed so keep going until you’re happy with how it looks.

Spoon the mix into lined muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Leave to cool completely on a wire rack and enjoy!

Girls’ Night Out Treat: Slutty Brownies

by thefamilyfoodblog

This past weekend, a friend of mine organized a girls’ night out, where all of us dressed up in little black dresses, caught up over cocktails, and then hit the town. Several of us brought appetizers, and I decided to bake up a pan of slutty brownies, inspired by this recipe from The Londoner. As she explains, “they’re called slutty brownies because they’re oh so easy, and more than a little bit filthy.” She’s right.

Ingredients

  • 1 box brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli’s dark chocolate mix), and associated ingredients
  • 1 packet cookie mix (I used Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix), and associated ingredients
  • about 20 Oreos
  • butter or oil to grease the baking pan
  • 2 handfuls chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions

Start with the cookie layer. Mix up the cookie mix as directed on the box, and then add a teaspoon or two of oil and/or water – whichever you’ve already used in the cookie mix – to make the dough extra gooey. This is because you’ll be baking it significantly longer than you would for cookies (it ends up looking a little gross but trust me on this). If you’d like, stir in an extra handful of chocolate chips. I’d imagine that nuts would work well here, too. Lightly grease your baking pan and add the cookie dough layer, pressing it down to form a flat surface.

Press down the cookie dough layer so it fills the bottom of your pan.

(Wondering about those ramekins? Full confession: I wanted to save some of the brownies for myself, and so I baked a couple of mini batches in those. I ended up using them for a little experimentation, too.)

Next up is the Oreo layer. Cover the cookie dough with Oreos. I used about 20 of them in my 11×7 pan. Be generous but don’t pack them in too close; leave some spaces for the brownie layer to seep in between the Oreos.

On top of the cookie dough layer, add a layer of Oreos, leaving small spaces between them.

Here’s where the ramekin experiment comes in: for these little batches, I tried using Girl Scout Thin Mints instead of Oreos, and they came out great! Since they lack a cream layer, though, they aren’t as soft, so if you try this, I’d recommend eating them fresh out of the oven or heating them up before eating.

Consider trying other kinds of cookies. These small brownies have my favorite Girl Scout cookie: Thin Mints.

Finally, you have the brownie layer. Make the brownie mix as directed on the box. If you’d like, add the remaining handful of chocolate chips (or nuts, or whatever) into the mix. Pour the batter over the Oreo layer, using a spoon or spatula to spread it out evenly.

For the third and final layer, use brownie mix.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Baking time depends on the vessel; the ramekin brownies were ready after about 25 minutes, and my 11×7 pan took about 35 minutes. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

All finished and ready to eat!

Pro tip: If you want to go the extra mile and use homemade cookie dough and brownie batter, try this version of the recipe by What’s Gaby Cooking. I haven’t tried it yet but the pictures look delicious.