Pear Tarte Tatin

I had time to cook, and think about cooking, this past weekend for the first time in about eight weeks. Life has been just a bit busy with family, work and university.

I have grand illusions when it comes to cooking Tarte Tatin. However, I made an apple tarte tatin earlier this year and it was a bit of a disaster. Never one to give up,on Sunday I made Pear Tarte Tatin from the July 2012 issue of NZ Cuisine. It was really good!

I cooked the pears a couple of hours before I needed them and left them in the pan. This meant there wasn’t much to do before putting the pan in the oven. Instead of serving the tart with zabaglione, I served vanilla bean custard. The recipe says it serves 6 but it serves 8 quite easily. I will definitely make this again – it was delicious.


Pear Tarte Tatin

from NZ Cuisine Issue 153

300g butter puff pastry

5-6 pears, peeled quartered and cored

juice of 2 lemons

50g honey

25g butter

Preheat the oven to 200C. Roll out the pastry to a 27cm-diameter circle, 5mm thick (or to a size that is big enough to overlap your frying pan). Refrigerate until required.

Toss the pear quarters together with the lemon juice.

Melt the honey and butter in a 25cm oven-proof frying pan then arrange the pears in the frying pan in a single layer, peeled skin side down. Add any juices from the pears then cook until any liquid disappears and the pears begin to turn golden brown. Put the pastry circle on top of the pears, tucking the pastry around the edge of the pears inside the frying pan.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes then turn out on a serving plate.

Serves 6-8

My Aunt

My Aunt celebrates a Big Birthday today – happy birthday and many happy returns! Not only has she been a wonderful aunt, she is also a terrific cook, something she emphatically denies every time we try to praise her. I can hear her now, saying “It’s just simple, it’s easy, it’s nothing” as our eyes feast upon a table groaning with food because without a doubt, the meal she prepares is guaranteed to be very generous.  That’s my aunt.

When it comes to cookbooks and food magazines, we are kindred spirits. If I decide to buy a new cookbook and guilt descends as I approach the sales counter, I can justify the purchase by thinking (a) my aunt would think I should buy it and (b) she probably has the book already. We also share (along with my mother… so perhaps it is genetic…) a love of small tongs - they are so handy – although I only have 4 pairs whereas my aunt probably has about 20 pairs.

With the plentiful supply of pears on offer at the markets this time of year, last week for Sunday Dinner I decided to make Dietmar Sawyer’s Pear Clafoutis for dessert, from this month’s Gourmet Traveller. The recipe fed 5 of us quite easily. I thought this dessert was really delicious – I will definitely make it again.

The hazelnuts on top really made it. I didn’t use the poire Williams eau de vie and I poached the pears cut in quarters rather than whole as I was short on time. As usual, my photography does not do it justice.

Happy birthday to my wonderful Aunt!

Pear and hazelnut clafoutis

from Dietmar Sawyer, Australian Gourmet Traveller July 2012

Serves 4

50 gm hazelnuts
120 gm softened unsalted butter
120 gm caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
100 gm (2/3 cup) plain flour
40 gm hazelnut meal
1 tsp baking powder
To serve: icing sugar
To serve: vanilla bean ice-cream
Poached pears
200 gm caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
2 ripe beurre Bosc pears
60 ml poire Williams eau de vie (optional)


1 For poached pears, stir sugar, vanilla bean and seeds and 400ml water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, add pears and liqueur, weight with a plate and bring to the simmer. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce heat to low, simmer for 2 minutes, then cool pears completely in poaching liquid (1 hour). Drain pears and thinly slice.
2 Preheat oven to 180C. Spread hazelnuts on an oven tray and roast, shaking occasionally, until browned (8-10 minutes). Rub with a tea towel to remove skins, then coarsely crush with the flat of a chef’s knife and set aside.
3 Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until pale and creamy (6-8 minutes), add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add milk, beat to combine, then sieve in flour, hazelnut meal and baking powder and fold to combine.
4 Spread a 1cm-thick layer of clafoutis mixture in four buttered 200ml 12cm-diameter ovenproof dishes, arrange sliced pear on top, scatter with crushed hazelnuts and bake until golden and just cooked through (15-20 minutes). Dust with icing sugar and serve hot with vanilla bean ice-cream.


Pear and almond tart

This is a terrific recipe from Donna Hay - very versatile, as well as being quick and easy. I made it with pears this week as they are in season and are good value at the moment. In summer I make it with nectarines, peaches or apricots. I served the tart with custard as we have a few custard fiends.

Alexander was absent from Sunday Dinner again this week – last exam for university this week so he was swatting. I packed him a take away meal and Jaime delivered it to him… he is a lucky boy!

Pear and almond tart

from Donna Hay Seasons

Serves 6

90 g softened butter

1/2 cup (90 g) brown sugar

2 eggs

1 cup (120 g) ground almonds

1/4 cup (35 g) plain flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind

2 pears, peeled, cored and quartered

1/2 cup brown sugar, extra

raw sugar, for sprinkling

double (thick) cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 160C (320F).

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until just combined. Add the eggs, ground almonds, flour, baking powder and lemon rind and process until just combined.

Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 9.5 cm x 33 cm loose-bottomed, fluted tart tin. Place the pear and extra brown sugar in a bowl and toss to coat. Press the pear into the tart mixture and bake for 35 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Sprinkle with raw sugar and allow to cool in the tin.

Serve with cream.

Lots of limes

A manic week at work last week means that I haven’t had time to reflect on Sunday Dinner until now. The inspiration for this dessert came from my sister-in-law, Kylie. She and my brother were in town for the weekend and when we caught up for breakfast Kylie gave me a bag of limes that she’d bought the day before - she’d gone to buy a couple of limes but found that 2 bags of limes (10 limes in each bag) were the same price as 5 individual limes. When I was discussing what I would make for dessert, my brother suggested Impossible Pie, a childhood favourite that Mum used to cook regularly. The seed was thus sown for Citrus Impossible Pie.

I came across this recipe about 15 years ago. I cannot for the life of me find the original recipe – I have a feeling I found it in a Vogue Entertaining. I love citrus desserts so this recipe is definitely a favourite, especially because it is so easy to make and absolutely fail-proof. My usual guests enjoyed it and Toby walked out the door with the leftovers.

Because I had plenty of limes, the version I made for Sunday Dinner was about two thirds lime and one third orange instead of the lemon and orange combination in the recipe below. I had no slivered almonds in the pantry but lots of blanched almonds so I used those.

Thanks for the limes Kylie!

Citrus Impossible Pie

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

½ cup melted butter

100g slivered almonds

1 cup desiccated coconut

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Grated rind of 1 orange

½ cup lemon juice

½ cup orange juice

1 cup milk

½ cup plain flour, sifted

Preheat oven to 180C.

Process all ingredients in a food processor for 2 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a well greased 28cm pie dish for about an hour or until golden brown on top.

Remove from oven and allow to cool and set. Refrigerate if necessary.

Serve with thick cream and fresh berries.

Serves 8-10

Passionfruit Mascarpone Tart

The idea for this tart evolved at the markets on Saturday morning with my son’s girlfriend. We both love lemon meringue pie; my son is not a fan. He loves passionfruit pannacotta; I’ve made it enough lately. So we decided on passionfruit tart, especially since passionfruit are plentiful at the moment.

This recipe is a combination of a few recipes. The pastry is the easiest ever, a melt and mix recipe from “At Home in Provence” by Patricia Wells. I didn’t add almond essence – I hate the stuff – but feel free to add 1/8 teaspoon if you like. And I used vanilla sugar instead of vanilla extract as I generally have a jar of vanilla sugar on hand, using a recipe of Jamie Oliver’s I saw on a pilot Jamie Oliver television show I saw ages ago. All you do is blend together a split and scraped vanilla bean and about 650g of caster sugar, pour through a fine sieve and store in a jar. Voila!

The filling is based on the lemon tart recipe in Stephanie Alexander’s “The Cook’s Companion” with passionfruit juice replacing the lemon juice and mascarpone replacing the cream. Next time, and there will definitely be a next time, I’ll use more passionfruit juice, so that’s what I’ve specified in the recipe.

Passionfruit Mascarpone Tart

Serves 8


125g unsalted butter, melted

90g sugar (I used vanilla sugar)

1/8 teaspoon vanilla pure vanilla extract (unless using vanilla sugar)

Pinch fine sea salt

180 g plain flour


6 large eggs

150 ml passionfruit juice (approx 11 passionfruit, strained)

Pulp of 1 passionfruit

250 g caster sugar

180 g mascarpone

For the pastry, preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 23 cm fluted tin with removable bottom.

In a large bowl, combine the butter ad sugar and stir to blend with a wooden spoon. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to form a soft biscuit-like dough. Do not overmix or let it form a ball.

Quickly transfer the dough to the centre of the tin. Using the tips of your fingers, evenly press the pastry along the bottom and sides of the tin. The dough will be quite thin.

Place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake until the dough is slightly puffy and set, about 12-15 minutes.

Turn oven down to 160C (320F).

For the filling, whisk all ingredients together and pour into the cooked pastry shell. Put the tart on a tray and place in the oven. Bake for approximately 40-50 minutes, until almost set.

Cool in the tin for at least 30 minutes. When cool, dust with icing sugar.