Mum’s Pear and Chocolate Crumble

I thought I’d share this recipe on here as a few people asked me about it after I commented on a Twitter thread about people’s favourite foods. This is a dessert that will immediately transport me into our old house, in the winter, sat at a small dining table under the stairs, holding the bowl to warm my hands.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m the queen of cooking without measuring ingredients, but I’ve tried to explain my process as best I could. The recipe my mother used was originally this one by Waitrose (click the link here if you’d like to see the original), but I’ve made some adaptations that I think improve the dish, while also making it more cost effective. Winner, right? Serve with vanilla ice cream or custard and you have a winner all winter long- or in my case, all year round…


 

  • Preparation time:20 minutes
  • Cooking time:30 minutes
  • Total time: 50 minutes 

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 8 pears, peeled, cored and cubed
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 100g your favourite chocolate
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon

For the crumble

  • 175g butter, chilled and diced
  • 200g plain flour
  • 50g Roasted Hazelnuts
  • 50g Porridge Oats
  • 125g Demerara sugar
  • 2 Tsp Cinnamon, 1/2 Tsp nutmeg

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4.
  2. Chop your Pears into cubes, sizing of your preference, but remember, the bigger you chop them the longer they will need in the pan.
  3. Place the pears, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and 100ml of Ginger Beer in a large pan and heat gently for 10 minutes or so until the pears are tender.
  4. Meanwhile, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  5. Stir through the hazelnuts, oats, spices, and sugar. If you want to chop and speed this process up again, I like to pop mine in a blender and pulse it until I have the desired consistency.
  6. Spoon the pear with a little juice into an ovenproof dish. (not too much, else it will bubble over, which isn’t terrible, but for special events it looks unsightly). Scatter over the chocolate, then the crumble mixture, making sure it is relatively flat and evenly distributed.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden.

Frankii’s tips

More often than not, I frankly don’t have the time or patience to make my own crumble topping. Yes, for special occasions it adds a little something extra, but if you want to cut down on time don’t feel guilty for grabbing a bag of Aunt Bessie’s. Makro also do huge bags- sometimes Grandma will get a large one and we will split it and keep it in Kilner jar’s for freshness.

Brie and Cranberry Puff Pastry Snowflake

My next recipe I wanted to share with you lovely lot is one that I created myself during a phase where I was obsessed with puff pastry and its versatility, and concocted some experiments with the left over cranberry sauce I had from last Thanksgiving- (I made too much and I hate wasting delicious food). I loved it so much, and it’s so festive and easy to make that that this year I made it as an an appetiser… and my friends loved it. One so much that she actually asked for this recipe so that she could recreate it- so Ellie, this one’s for you kid! If you do decide to recreate this, or any variation of it, do make sure you show me your pictures, you can find me on basically any social media @quitefranklii!

Ingredients

  • 1 wheel of brie of camembert if you prefer
  • 2 pre rolled sheets puff pastry
  • about a cup of cranberry sauce
  • 1 sachet of bacon lardons
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • Approx 1 tbsp fresh rosemary + one whole sprig
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 egg whisked
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (The pastry I use comes rolled in its own)
  2. Pop your cheese wheel In the centre, (I like to put mine in a ramekin so that it doesn’t ooze out all over). Break up the sprig of rosemary into a few bits and stab it through the cheese. Push the garlic cloves in in a similar manner- you don’t have to be neat with this!
  3. In a pan, on a medium to high heat, pop in a bit of olive oil, about one clove of garlic, and remaining herbs to fry off your bacon lardons. If you want your bacon crispier, make sure to add your garlic and herbs later so that it doesn’t burn.
  4. When this is done, add in the cranberry sauce, and turn the heat down to low. Stir for a minute or so while it cools just to combine the flavours
  5. Cut each sheet of pastry into about six even, vertical strips.
  6. With a spoon, spoon on the cranberry mix, and with the back of the spoon try to evenly distribute the mixture across all twelve of your strips. (But don’t overload them, as this can make the pastry soggy.)
  7. Simply twist your strips, then bend them in half so they form little triangles. Arrange them around the cheese as per my image so that it creates a kind of “snowflake”
  8. Brush pastry with egg wash. Make slits in the cheese and then drizzle cheese with olive oil and season both cheese and pastry with salt and pepper. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Pull it out when the pastry is risen and golden, but sometimes the cheese needs a little longer to get the gooey, dipping consistency that is desired for this meal- so (with your oven gloves on!) feel free to grab it in the ramekin and pop it back in for 10 more minutes.
  9. Tear off your strips, dip, and enjoy!!

 

Super Easy Christmas Stuffing Recipe

Hey guys, I know I promised some festive recipes that I love a while back, so here’s one of my staples that I also use throughout the year when I do big roast dinners, I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.

I’m a much better chef than I am a baker, because I’m never one to really measure my flavourings. I’m one of those people who can never create a recipe twice! But it’s been suggested to me by my friends a few times that I should try and write down some basic guides, so I’ve really tried to record some.

Ingredients 
Serves: 10 

  • About 200-250g of cubed bread, as rough as you like. Sometimes I just tear mine. I usually do about a 2:3 ratio of White to Wholemeal, but thats my preference.
  • One tube of sausage meat, or a few sausages with the skin removed. (if you are vegetarian, at the first blender stage I would add a couple of slices of bread and an egg. This makes a sticky breadcrumb mix that tastes great and will hold its shape in a similar way.)
  • 1 medium onion
  • a generous helping (about 3 Teaspoons or more depending on preference) of dried sage
  • a generous helping of dried rosemary
  • a generous helping of dried thyme
  • a generous helping of parsley, fresh is best but dry is fine too!
  • 1 apple, cored and sliced
  • a handful of dried cranberries, I’ve also used a Cranberry jelly before when in a pinch.
  • Lazy Garlic, 1 teaspoon.
  • 1 Stock cube
  • 50g (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted

 

 

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4.
  2. What I like to do next may be a little naughty, but there’s always room to cheat at this stressful time of year! What I do, is simply bung the apple. the onion, the herbs, a stock cube, and the cranberry’s into my Nutribullet (any blender/processor would work). That wicked little device isn’t just for smoothies you know! I only really pulse it until it is a rough paste, but if you prefer finer flavours then go ahead and let it go a little longer.
  3. Pop in a little bit of water, perhaps about a cup- to activate your stock cube, along with a teaspoon of lazy garlic and your melted butter (I do this in the microwave) and pulse it again until you have a peculiar slurry.
  4. Lightly toast your bread cubes, this can be done by popping them on a baking tray for 5 or so minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, mix in your paste/slurry mix with the sausage meat and bread cubes, (Disclaimer: some people like to cook their sausage meat before hand, however I’ve never found that I needed to, I’ll leave this down to you. If you choose to do so, I would imagine you could knock off a significant amount of cooking time. Say, 30 or so minutes. I prefer to leave mine to cook inside the bird or a baking tray so that it comes out at a similar time.)
  6. Spoon into turkey to loosely fill and cook along with your bird. (if you pack it too tightly, it may cause your turkey and stuffing to cook slightly unevenly, as it will prevent air from circulating.) Or of course, if you prefer or have left overs, pop it into a greased baking tray or pyrex dish for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

My thanksgiving to-do list!

Hey Guys!
Believe it or not I am one of the few bloggers out there with the worst organisation skills ever. Therefore, as promised this morning, I thought I would share with you the to-do list I created to assist me with the lead up to Thanksgiving! Let me know in the comments if I’ve forgotten anything or if you’d like to see any recipes from my menu! I really hope you enjoy!! 

My To-Do List Includes:

3-4 Weeks Before:

Write a guest list

Invite family and friends you are genuinely thankful for. In my case this involves missing out toxic individuals, or those who I know or suspect would disrespect the house and the beautiful environment I’m working hard to put together (especially if there is alcohol involved). After all, this is my home.
Don’t feel pressured to invite people who you or other guests may not feel comfortable around. Drama free evening please!! (I divided my thanksgiving in two, not to prevent drama, but because my family isn’t very social, and I don’t want to force them into an uncomfortable situation with strangers- a.k.a. my potentially very drunk friends.)

Purchase an outfit

If you’re planning on wearing something a bit special, like a new dress or possibly something a bit Autumnal, think about ordering this a few weeks in advance in order to avoid heartbreak and paying next-day delivery.

Read magazines/browse for inspiration

Find recipes and decor ideas either online or in magazines. Even in the UK magazines this is possible, because most places will already have released Christmas magazines that probably contain a lot of recipes that can translate for Thanksgiving as well. This year I loved reading the Tesco 2017 Christmas mag because it had some amazing recipes and visual stimuli. As usual, for decor, I was obsessed with Pintrest. I spend way too much of my life on Pintrest.

Order decor/other

Order or craft any decor you’ve seen on Pintrest that you just ‘need’. Also, consider whether you need extra cutlery or plastic cups. For example, I ordered an ash-tray to put outside, and a drinks dispenser for the punch.  

Write your menu

 Of course, this is the most important one of all! and needs to be done ahead of time so you don’t waste money on food that won’t be used, or forget to order certain items.
Consider any guests with dietary requirements or allergies; for example, my mother is what I like to call a sh*tatarian. She is technically a pescatarian, meaning that the only meat she eats is fish- but she can be very fussy with vegetarian options. I worry about her nutrition often, as she has a tendency to cook for her omni family and forget about herself. Normally with a roast we would cook a bit of salmon, but for this occasion I bought her a Linda McCartney pie, because even as a meat eater I think they are absolutely delicious. Mine includes:
***
Starters:
Frozen Hors d’oeuvres (cheating I know),
Bacon and Cranberry Puff Pastry Snowflake, with Melted Brie
Main:
Roast Turkey,
Roast Pork,
One Linda McCartney vegetarian pie,
Green Bean Casserole,
Cranberry Sauce (both smooth and whole berry),
Roast Veg with Seasonal Roots,
Asparagus Tips,
Pigs in Blankets,
Mashed Potatoes,
Carrot and Swede Mash,
Roasted Sprouts with Bacon,
Broccoli & Cauliflower,
Cauliflower Cheese,
Homemade Yorkshire Puddings (Just try serving a bunch of Brits a roast with no Yorkshires, & their faces contort in disgust!),
Stuffing (meat inside and vegetarian outside the bird),
Meat Gravy (Plus vegetarian one separate)
Dessert:
Sweet Potato Pie,
Chocolate Tart,
Pear and Chocolate Crumble with ice cream.
Drinks:
‘Apple Pie’ Punch
“Open Bar”

***


1-2 Weeks Before:

Write a shopping list & Order Non Perishables

Make a list based on your menu, then divide into 2 by frozen/non perishables, and food you need/want to order fresh. Order frozen and non perishables such as alcohol, then put your other list somewhere for safekeeping. That way, later on you can grab fresh food such as veggies + add any thing you forgot onto the new list.

Think about a punch that would be widely enjoyed– for example I held off on the Malibu as I know many people dislike/have allergies to coconuts. I love to watch Tipsy Bartender on YouTube- even though I rarely drink outside of big events/Christmas nowadays.

Think about areas where it may be possible to cheat! It doesn’t make you a bad person to cut corners in some places. For example, I realized my life would be made substantially easier if I purchased a pre-made shortcrust pastry for my sweet potato pie. No- it’s not that difficult to make- but it saves time and energy later on when I will be rushed off my feet.

Make Placeholders

This is especially useful if there are attendees who don’t get always along. In my case, Due to being extremely picky with my invites, I hope they will just serve as whimsical keepsakes.

1-2 Days Before:

Clean/tidy house

This may seem obvious, but make sure your home is guest ready. For me, I had to make  a list including chores I would normally put off- for example things such as bleaching skirting board and treating my bathroom for limescale. (Norfolk is an area that has very hard water, which causes a frequent build up). Austin and I also had a small domestic regarding whose duty it was to catch the unwanted guest in the bathroom… he is terrified of spiders! Make sure all your dishes are clean, or else you might find yourself scrambling on the day looking for something that is in the dishwasher!

Entertainment!

Bring your speakers downstairs, make a playlist. Consider games/activities for when it gets quiet. Cards against humanity is a must- but as massive nerds we actually are planning to introduce D&D to our friends for the first time. Not to mention probably some drinking games later on. My favourite is the nomination game!

Pamper yourself

 Pick an outfit, do your nails, shave, pamper yourself for the long day ahead. Speaking from the experience of last year, you won’t have much time to do this on the day- even despite the precautions you have taken. It is probable that you will still be standing in the kitchen until the very last minute!

Prepare your veg

Clean, peel, chop and vacuum pack vegetables so all you have to do is cook them the day after.
To do this, place your vegetables into a ziplock bag, and pop a straw into the outside corner. Do the zip up all the way to the edge of the straw, then use it to suck out all the excess air. Seal the bag, and pop in the fridge!

Cook the desserts

Hot ones such as crumble that can be refrigerated and then warmed up on the day. The day before Thanksgiving I’m setting some allocated time to make all three of the desserts on the menu. Luckily, the crumble is a fairly easy one, as the temperature required doesn’t necessarily matter-  so it can go in at the same time!

Put up decorations

Set and lay the table, as well as placing any center pieces and pretty bits where you would like them to go. I added an autumnal wreath, some themed balloons and candles for ambiance.


On the Big Day:

Consider roping off areas

Yes, they are guests, and you shouldn’t make the night feel too artificial by enforcing a 2 page list of rules. However, they should respect your boundaries, especially if there is alcohol and or children involved. Don’t feel bad for roping off a certain area of your house if you think it may cause issues or unwanted mess.

Cook

Obvious, I know (as though you need to be reminded). Cook the foods you have planned out in your menu. This should be much easier with your squeaky clean kitchen and ready-to-go vegetables. However, if you find yourself extremely stressed or short of time be sure not to push yourself too hard. There will almost definitely be enough food regardless of whether or not you miss out or forget one or two dishes, as it’s the custom for guests to bring something along.

Get Ready!

Lay out all the beautiful food on the table, get yourself dressed and ready and have a glass of wine while you wait for your guests to arrive! You’ve earned it!