Mary’s Pear and Quince Tart with Star Anise


One pate brisee recipe, pre-baked in a tart pan

2 large Quince (mele di cotogne) peeled, cored and quartered

5 San Martin pears, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2 inch slices
2 Star anise
1 stick cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, split with seeds removed
1 cup sugar
3 cups water
2 tbsp apricot jam

Place the quince in a large saucepan with the star anise, cinnamon, vanilla bean and seeds, sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the quince soften enough for a fork to pierce easily but not enough that they fall apart. Remove quince from the poaching liquid. When cool, slice into 1/2 slices

Reduce the poaching liquid over medium heat until about 1 cup remains. It should be a deep ruby red. Remove the spices and set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, spread the apricot jam on the tart shell in a very thin layer, just enough to seal the crust. Arrange the pear and quince in a pleasing alternating pattern in the center of the tart. Brush the fruit lightly with the reduced poaching liquid. Serve with remaining poaching liquid.

Giselle’s Chocolate & Pear Tart

Ok, I make this and one or two other desserts – and no more – desserts aren’t my ‘thang’. However, Mark will beg to differ! It’s just sleight of hand! He thinks I can cook anything! Give me something savoury and I’ll agree with him! Desserts are another animal entirely…. This is messy, but easy! (messy as in it uses just about every bowl you have in the kitchen!) The beauty of this recipe is that you don’t have to be precise for it to work! You want more chocolate? You just go ahead!

Chocolate Pastry

55g (2oz) unsalted butter
115g (4oz) plain or ’00′ flour
25g (1oz) cocoa powder
55g (2oz) caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
3 tbsp (ish) orange marmalade (homemade the best, obviously!)
1 smallish chunk fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 ripe pears
115g (4oz) dark chocolate with around 70% cocoa solids
55g (2oz) unsalted butter
2 large eggs, separated
115g (4oz) caster sugar

1. To make the pastry, rub the butter into the flour until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Sift in the cocoa powder then add the sugar and enough of the beaten egg to bind the mixture together. Knead lightly, wrap in greaseproof paper and chill in the fridge for 20 mins.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry and use to line a 20cm (8 inch) fluted flan tin. Cover the bottom of the pastry case with the marmalade. (The pastry can be quite ‘wet’ so if you have to make a jigsaw with the pastry, that’s fine – just gently smooth the pastry pieces into the main pastry case. Evenly drizzle the grated ginger over the marmalade.
3. Peel the pears, cut into quarters and remove the cores. Arrange them in the flan case.
4. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Set aside to cool.
5. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
6. Beat together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold in the chocolate mixture. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the mix.
7. Pour the mix over the pears as evenly as poss – use a spatula to very gently spread it about. You don’t want smooth, just mix to the edges at least!.
8. Bake for about 30 mins, until firm to the touch. Serve hot or cold.
Enjoy with some Sagrantino Passito!

Giselle’s Sausage and squash pie


3 Italian sausages, skinned and broken up.
1 large white onion chopped
2 large mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
about 2 cups of cubed butternut squash (or pumpkin would work.)
Chopped fresh parsley and sage leaves to taste (about a handful)
1 tin of condensed mushroom soup (the little tins that make double) no added water!
Little salt and lot of fresh ground black pepper.

Shortcrust pastry – I don’t need to write this, do I? I do half fat to flour with a little water or milk to bind – or sometimes beaten egg if I want it richer. For this recipe I had 8 oz flour to 4 oz of 50% butter and 50% lard and a pinch of salt.

1 beaten egg
Rock salt

Preheat your oven to 180°c or equivalent. 
Make your pastry, cover it and put in the fridge to rest.
In a big bowl put all the ingredients in and mix well. (All raw)
Butter & line your pie dish with pastry.
Dump all the filling into the pie dish and make sure there are few gaps (corners, edges …)
Beat some egg and brush the pastry edge with the egg.
Place you pastry lid on top and gently push down around the edges to seal.
With a sharp knife, cut the excess pastry off and then, using a fork, press down all the way around to really seal the pie.
Prick the top of the pie with the fork to allow the steam to escape.
Brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle with some rock salt.

Pop in oven for around 45 – 60 minutes ( I forgot to look!) Check and if the pastry is looking a little too brown, cover lightly with tin foil..

The photo was just before we ate it, so no time for making it look fancy, but we can both vouch that it was YUMMY!



Serves 6 as an entrée

3 tblsp EVOO 500 g butternut squash in pieces(3.5 cups)
¾ tsp Sea salt ½ tsp cracked black pepper
1 medium onion minced 4 slices Pancetta chopped fine
3 cloves garlic minced 2 tsp fresh chopped sage leaves
750 g Kale, destemmed ¼ cup water
and chopped 7 tblsp unsalted butter, melted
8 sheets of thawed Phyllo dough ½ cup finely grated Parmignon-Reggiano
1 tsp. finely grated nutmeg

Put oven rack in middle position and pre-heat oven to 190 C/375 F.

Par boil butternut for 5 minutes, drain and set aside. Heat 2 tblsp EVOO in skillet and saute butternut with a ¼ tsp sea salt and ¼ tsp cracked black pepper. Stir and toss until butternut is brown and soft. Remove from pan and allow to cool.

To the same skillet add the remaining EVOO and reduce heat slightly. Add the pancetta, onions, garlic, sage, remaining salt and pepper and saute stirring occasionally for about 7 minutes. Add the kale and then the water, stir and cover with lid and cook until kale is just softened. Stir from time to time. When volume reduced , about 6 minutes cooking time, remove from heat and cool uncovered.

Brush spring form pan with EVOO. Unroll Phyllo dough and cover with clean damp dish towel. Work quickly by gently lifting 1 sheet at a time and gently pressing into pan with leaves hanging over the edge of pan. Brush generously with melted butter. Do this five more times rotating pan so that leaves do not align evenly.

Spread half the kale mixture on the bottom. Sprinkle over ½ of the grated nutmeg. Combine the grated cheese with the butternut and then spread over the kale. Cover with the remaining kale and sprinkle the rest of the nutmeg. Take one more sheet of Phyllo, fold in half and place on top of kale, buttering the top. Now gently fold back the leaves of the overhanging Phyllo leaves and brush with butter once more. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove and cool on wire rack for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Cut in wedges to serve.

Citrus Lovers Dessert Tart by Kim Vanzi

Citrus Lovers Dessert Tart

Really I think it should be called Citrus Lovers Dessert With Lots of Patience. I say this because it is really important to wait for it to cool down before sticking into the refrigerator.


113g  butter
57 g castor sugar
170g  0 flour

Beat the butter and sugar together and fold in the flour, Press into a tart pan.  Bake at 175oC for 15 mins (golden brown). Allow to cool.


1 can 397g Sweetened Condensed Milk
4 eggs
125g butter, chopped
3 LARGE lemon juiced and chopped zest of one
1/2 cup of blood orange juice
2 tbsp brown sugar

Slightly beat eggs add condensed milk and place bowl on water bath on stove. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water.  Stir until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, whisk in butter, then lemon rind and juice and allow to cool but not set.  Spoon filling into crust, bake for 20 minutes until slightly set will set more on cool down.  Once cool put in refrigerator overnight.  Now you can serve the next day as is with some powder sugar on top or you can do a slight crisp on top with some brown sugar.  Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top cook under the grill until the sugar is melted and golden.  Again cool completely and refrigerate if you like it cold if not you can cool completely and serve slightly warm with a dusting of powder sugar.

Adapted from:

Grand Marnier and Orange Chiffon Pie by Sarah Topps

Grand Marnier and Orange Chiffon Pie by Sarah Topps

From one of my old cook books “New Creative Cusine’
Photo from book, but hoping to take my own by the weekend as unable to shop for ingredients at the minute!

It was always a winner at wedding or birthday parties and is more creamy, delicious and light than a cheesecake. The crunchy nut crust is a slightly different variation of a plain cheesecake base too:

Grand Marnier and Orange Chiffon Pie

For the crust:
125g sweet biscuit crumbs
75g melted butter
2 tbsp runny honey
50g chopped walnuts
1 tsp finely grated orange rind

For the filling:
3 eggs, separated
1 tsp cornflour
90g castor sugar
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
125ml fresh orange juice
2 tsp powdered gelatine
5 tsp cold water
3 tbsp Grand Marnier or orange liqueur
125ml whipping cream

1. Mix all the ingredients for the crust together and warm gently in a pan on the stove for 3 minutes.
2. Press onto the base of a greased 8 to 9″ round spring-form tin.
3. Place in the fridge to chill.
4. Beat the egg yolks, cornflour, castor sugar and orange rind.
5. Soak the gelatine in cold water.
6. Cook the egg yolk mixture over a double boiler, stirring constantly until it thickens like custard.
7. Remove from the heat and add the Grand Marnier.
8. Add the softened gelatine and stir in. Leave to cool and thicken slightly.
9. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt and then fold into the orange mixture with the whipped cream.
10. Pour over the chilled base and leave to set in the fridge.
11. Once set, decorate with chopped walnuts and cream.