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My Golden Pear

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


Six weeks since I lasted posted on my blog! - how did that happen? 
We did have a couple of weeks in France which was really lovely and very relaxing.  Lots of wine, good food, sun and sea does make for a good holiday.  It was straight back into real life once we got back with the kids back at school.  Kirsty, my youngest started 'big school' which was so exciting for her but much harder for me.  I do miss having her around the house but she is so happy at school and her brother is loving his role as big brother and all round protector.  On top of the kids being at school all day, my hubby was away on a business trip so the house was exceptionally quiet.  On the plus side, the house was also exceptionally clean, tidy and organised which is probably the first time that has happened in the last 7 years. 
To save me having to cook every night while my hubby was away, I made up a big pot of this lovely, rich French onion soup with onions and garlic all the way from France. 
 Curled up on the couch, bowl of soup in hand, pile of recipe books at the ready and just peace and quiet -
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 small bowls or 2 very generous bowls
  • 2 tblsps olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • 5 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • sprig of thyme
  • 1 litre beef stock
  • 2 tblsps balsamic vinegar
  • 250ml red wine
  • 1 French baguette
  • 250g Gruyere cheese, grated
Cooking Directions
  1. Melt the olive oil and butter together in a large pot.
  2. When hot, add the sliced onions and cook on a high heat until just starting to brown.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 25 minutes or until the bottom of the pan and the onions are nice and brown.
  4. Add the chopped garlic and thyme leaves for the last 5 minutes.
  5. Add the beef stock, vinegar and red wine, stirring well to remove all the sediment from the bottom of the pan.
  6. Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
  7. Season to taste.
  8. Just before serving: slice the baguette into 1cm slices and brush lightly with olive oil on both sides.
  9. Toast both sides under the grill.
  10. Top one side with grated cheese and place under the grill again to melt the cheese.
  11. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and place the cheesy toast on the top.
  12. Serve immediately.  

Written by : Angela Darroch

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Wednesday, 14 August 2013


Normally I do my blogging on a Thursday or Friday when I'm at home by myself.  Not so this month as both kids are at home on holiday.  They are both quite good at entertaining themselves but nevertheless it is still just a bit more hectic than usual.  I had a small window of opportunity this morning before I had to take the kids to swimming lessons and thought I would quickly rustle up these delicious little treats of avocado and chocolate truffles.  All went to plan - kids playing contentedly outside while I played with melted chocolate and dusty cocoa powder inside.  That was until the kids popped their heads indoors and spied the bowls of melted chocolate.  By this time I was taking my photographs and was quite engrossed in what I was doing and gave a few vague nods when asked if they could lick the bowls.  Kids quiet - I carried on with my photos.  Most of my photos are taken next to an open door in the dining room and what I hadn't realised was how windy it was today.  Dusty cocoa powder sprinkled over a board with a gust of wind equals dusty cocoa powder all over cream floor tiles.  By this time I'm starting to watch the clock so no time to clean up.  Another dusting of cocoa powder is added to my board and off we go.  Kids run outside - barefoot - through the cocoa powder.  Next time I looked at the clock we had exactly 10 minutes to get ready.   The kids were called in from the garden only for me to discover they were covered in chocolate and cocoa powder. A quick wipe over, toilet check and we were out the door in 10 minutes. I patted myself on the back for arriving on time, got the kids changed, another toilet check and made our way out to the pool past the wash hand basin with the mirror placed conveniently above it.  What! What did I just see?  I stepped back to take another look in the mirror and was horrified to find that I had a generous helping of cocoa powder on my face and through my hair. "Why didn't you tell me?" I shrieked at the kids.  "Well, you always look like that" was the response.  There is not much you can say to that.  I found myself a little corner and hoped nobody would notice as I sat and picked and wiped away chocolate from head to foot.  
 Reminiscent of watching a chimp in a zoo, I'm sure.

I first came across the idea of combining chocolate and avocado from one of my favourite blogs, Strands of My Life.  I have adapted Suzanne's cupcake topping slightly by adding the melted chocolate to make a lovely rich truffle mixture which is much healthier that the traditional full cream version.  The only downside to using avocado is that the mixture doesn't keep for very long - a couple of days at the most. 
Oh well - I'd better eat up.

Chocolate Avocado Truffles

Prep time: 30 minutes (includes resting time)
Cook time: n/a
Total time: 30 minutes (includes resting time)

Yield: 14 small truffles

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 60ml cocoa powder
  • 60ml honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 150g good quality dark chocolate
Cooking Directions
  1. Melt half (75g) of the chocolate in a microwave or over a pan of boiling water.
  2. Remove the flesh from the avocado and place in a small food processor.
  3. Add the melted chocolate, cocoa powder, honey and vanilla essence and blend to a smooth consistency. (**Note** make sure to taste at this stage.  You should not be able to taste the avocado and if you do you will need to adjust the amount of chocolate you are using.  It will all depend on the size and variety of avocado you use.)
  4. Place in a shallow dish and refrigerate for 20 minutes or until mixture is firm enough to handle.
  5. Just before removing the mixture from the fridge, melt the remaining chocolate as before.
  6. Using a teaspoon take enough mixture and roll between your hands to form a ball. You might find it easier to dust your hands with some additional cocoa powder to stop the mixture sticking to your hands.
  7. Dip in the melted chocolate and place on a baking tray which has been lined with baking paper,
  8. Decorate with sea salt flakes, chilli or drizzle with white chocolate.
  9. Refrigerate to set completely.

This is my entry for this month's We Should Cocoa which is run by Chocolate Log Blog and Chocolate Teapot.  This month Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary has challenged us to make small chocolates or truffles.

Written by: Angela Darroch

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Friday, 19 July 2013


This month's Feel Good Food challenge is Maple syrup.  Now I have to admit to being slightly disappointed when I heard what the ingredient was. I have always found Maple syrup to be overpriced and I just can't get used to the consistency.  I guess it is just what you are used to.  However, in the spirit of the challenge I bought myself some middle of the range Canadian syrup and was shocked to read that my little bottle required 13 litres of tree sap .  No wonder it is so expensive! 
So, now to find something healthy to cook with my new acquisition.  This has proved harder than I thought.  There are plenty of recipes for sweet, sticky ribs, flapjacks, biscuits, cakes but nothing that I would term healthy.  The best that I have been able to come up with is this very traditional South African way of cooking butternut.  South Africans like their vegetables cooked with butter and brown sugar so I thought I would make it 'slightly' healthier by using Maple syrup instead of the brown sugar.  Victoria of A Kick At The Pantry Door has assured us that Maple syrup is a healthier option. I haven't cooked butternut like this for many years as my husband likes his vegetable au naturale.  When I dished these up on his plate his first reaction was one of pleasure but he was quick to ask how I had done them.  Needless to say, as nice as this dish is I don't think we will be eating it every week. 
One to bring out for that special occasion I think.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
  • 500g butternut, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tblsps maple syrup
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • Smoked paprika
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Place the butternut in a roasting tin with the cinnamon stick.
  3. Melt the butter and syrup together and pour over the butternut.
  4. Lightly dust with smoked paprika.
  5. Baked, covered with foil for 45 to 60 minutes.
  6. For the last 10 minutes, remove the foil to let the liquid evaporate.
Written by : Angela Darroch


Friday, 25 January 2013


I can hardly contain my excitement whilst writing this post. Why? you may ask. It looks like just any other muffin topped with the usual artery clogging butter and sugar frosting. Well guess what - there is no butter, no refined sugar and it is grain free. I have most definitely not turned over a new leaf and gone super-duper healthy but I have been following the progress of a lady over in New Zealand who is trying to alleviate some of her health issues by changing her diet. Suzanne's blog is over at Strands of My Life and is full of interesting information about using alternative products to change the way we eat. Suzanne is adamant that going gluten, dairy and refined sugar free should not mean that she cannot have her sweet treats and this gorgeous treat below and many others are as a result of her hard work to achieve this.

The muffin itself is made with coconut oil, coconut flour, honey, carrots, raisins, shredded coconut, eggs, bicarb and cinnamon. I found the first two products at Holland & Barrett and they are not cheap. £14.00 for the two products is a lot to pay but if you are plagued with food intolerances then you may have these items already. I was just curious and wanted to try them out for myself. The baked muffin is quite heavy and dense but not unpleasant. It is sweet and tasty and very moist. But the piece de resistance is the fabulous chocolate frosting. This is made from avocado, cocoa and honey. It is unbelievably thick and creamy and has absolutely no taste of avocado. Suzanne explains about the benefits of avocados so I will not repeat it here. If like me, you have children then you will know that it is usually the frosting on a cupcake that they go for, leaving the cupcake for someone else to finish off (me). Every time I watch my children devour all this butter and sugar I feel guilty but this would be so different. Yes, avocados contain fat but it is good fat and honey is so much better for you than all that refined sugar that makes up icing sugar.

I have just returned from picking my 6 y/o up from school and couldn't wait for him to try one of these muffins. I had placed the muffin so that he would see it as soon as he came into the kitchen and of course he begged to have it there and then. I was trying to act as normal as possible so as not to alert him to the fact that is was different. He took his first lick of icing, looked at me and said "did you make this?" Oh here we go, he's sussed me out, I thought. "Yes," I said, "why?" He walked over to me and gave me a big hug and said "this is so yummy, thanks." He didn't eat the muffin but that is not unusual.

The next time I make chocolate cupcakes for the kids I will definitely use this frosting.  It is just so much healthier than the buttercream frosting I normally use.

For this fabulous recipe and more information on going grain, dairy and refined sugar free pop over to

Because these muffins are sugar free I am going to submit them to the We Should Cocoa challenge which is hosted by
and to the Calendar Cakes challenge which is hosted by
Written by : Angela Darroch

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Monday, 21 January 2013


On Sunday nights my children get to choose what we eat for dinner and yesterday we had a unanimous show of hands for this sausage, leek and pasta bake. For some reason neither of them will eat onions, managing to find the smallest piece in any dish and leaving them dotted round the edge of their plates.  Leeks on the other hand do not seem to bother them.  Of course leeks have a much milder flavour than onions and tend to be a bit softer if cooked well.  Leeks are also a good source of Vitamins A, C and K so I am more than happy that they eat them.  I like to have a nice crisp, green salad with this meal to lighten it a bit but haven't yet managed to get the kids to agree to that one. 

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 - 6
  • 250 g Penne pasta tubes
  • 50 g butter
  • 50 g flour
  • 600 ml milk
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • 400g Cumberland sausages
  • 1 leek washed and sliced thinly
  • 0.5 tsp smoked paprika
  • 60 g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 25 g fresh breadcrumbs
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 160 deg C.
  2. Boil pasta in plenty of salted water according to manufacturers instructions.
  3. Drain and toss with a little oil. Set to one side.
  4. To make the sauce - Melt the butter and stir in the flour.
  5. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk.
  6. Return to the heat and stir continuously until thickened. Whisk in the mustard and season to taste.
  7. For the meat and leek mixture - Heat the olive oil and lightly fry the sliced leeks until soft.
  8. Remove the skins from the sausages and break up each sausage into small chunks.
  9. Add to the leeks and fry until cooked with some nice colour.
  10. Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine or water.
  11. Add the sausage mixture to the pasta and mix well.
  12. Place into a baking dish.
  13. Pour the white sauce over the pasta and sausage mixture, mixing well.
  14. Mix breadcrumbs,  grated cheese and paprika together and sprinkle over the top of the pasta.
  15. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
Written by : Angela Darroch       

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Friday, 18 January 2013


Today's post is not so much about a recipe but more about one of my favourite food products, the Peppadew pepper.

I'll start by saying that I was not paid to write about these little beauties, nor do I work for the company - I just love them.  The combination of the wonderfully sweet brine which they are preserved in together with the heat from the peppers is a marriage made in heaven.  I'm not sure about you but I have succumbed to buying those stuffed peppers that they sell on the High Street on market day and I'm disappointed every time.  They generally tend to be a bit squidgy and break down into nothing when you try to pick one up.  Well, the answer is to buy  a jar of these little lovelies and fill them yourself with some cream cheese. You won't be disappointed, the crispness of the peppers together with the smooth, creaminess of the cream cheese.  Delicious.
Now I may be accused of being slightly biased towards this product because they originate from South Africa but try them for yourself. 
It will be love at first bite. 
If not, I will send you my postal address and you can send me the remainder of your jar. 

Enough said about the peppers. The meal below is my idea of comfort food. If you have left over mashed potato then make up a batch of these potato cakes . You don't need to be too precise with the ingredients. A bit of this and bit of that is normally what goes on. You can't really go wrong with hot, fried mashed potato and of course topped with the Peppadew salsa it is heaven.

Because I've used leftover mashed potato I am going to submit this to Turquoise Lemons - No Waste Food Challenge which is being hosted over at Elizabeth's Kitchen for this month.

For the printable version - click here

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Yield: 1 serving
  • 1/2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 150 g Peppadew mild piquante peppers, sliced in half
  • 1 tblsp balsamic vinegar
  • small handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup mashed potato
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tblsp flour
  • 1 tblsp red onion, finely chopped
  • small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Cooking Directions

To make the salsa
  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the sliced onions and peppers and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is softened.
  2. Add the balsamic vinegar and basil, season and warm through for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
To make the potato cakes
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the potato, cheese, flour, chopped onion and parsley.
  2. On a separate plate, have some flour ready for dredging the potato cakes.
  3. Measure out equal parts of the potato mixture and shape each one into a pattie using your hands. Dredge in the flour.
  4. Add some sunflower oil to a non stick frying pan and lightly saute each pattie for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown and crisp on the outside.
To serve
  1. Stack the potato cakes on your serving plate, spooning your warm salsa over and around them.
  2. Add some fresh basil leaves on top.   
Written by : Angela Darroch           

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Thursday, 3 January 2013


Well that's it for another year.  Christmas decorations have been packed away, the fridge cleared out and hubby sent back to work.  As much as I love Christmas, I do enjoy the process of sorting out and cleaning up afterwards.  It makes me feel calm - everything in its right place again. 
On the food side it feels good to be back to healthy eating again.  I made a big pot of this lentil soup today.  Warm, comforting with just a hint of chilli and best of all it's low fat.
It is also perfect for freezing.

For the printable version - click here
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Yield: 6
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 4 carrots, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 0.5 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tins (800g) chopped tomatoes
  • 200g red lentils
  • 2500ml vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat the oil and cook the onion, thyme & carrots for about 4 minutes until just soft.
  2. Add the garlic, chilli and mustard seeds and cook for a further couple of minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils and stock and bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Blend until smooth or leave chunky.
TIP - Store your fresh thyme in the freezer.  When you need to use it just give it a shake and the leaves will drop off the stems.
Written by : Angela Darroch

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Tuesday, 31 July 2012


I'm always on the look out for new and interesting starters so with my hubby away on business I thought I would try this one which I found in one of my old Taste magazines. There is a lot involved in making all the different components so probably not one for your average family get together but more for a flashy dinner party.  It is quite spicy and I think it needs to be in order to cut through the richness of the coconut cream sauce.  I did try one version with less curry paste but it was just too insipid.  I have also tried using Thai sticky rice instead of the sushi rice but it was far too heavy and glutinous.  I think a small portion of plain boiled rice would work just as well.

Prep time: 40 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 1 hr 10 mins

Yield: 4


For the red curry cream:
  • 2 tblsps red curry paste
  • 125 ml coconut milk
  • 175 ml cream
  • 2 sticks lemongrass, crushed
  • 1 small knob fresh ginger, peeled & crushed

  • 16 medium tiger prawns
  • oil for frying
  • 200 g cooked sushi rice
  • Half a butternut, boiled and cubed
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 50 g peanuts, chopped finely
  • fresh baby leaves to garnish

Cooking Directions
  1. To make the red curry cream, place a saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Add the red curry paste and heat for a few seconds until fragrant.
  3. Add the coconut milk, cream, lemongrass and ginger and simmer for 15 mins until slightly reduced and full of flavour.
  4. To cook the prawns, place a pan over a high heat. Lightly toss the prawns in the oil before flash frying for 20 seconds on each side.
  5. Divide the rice and butternut between 4 plates and top with 4 prawns each.
  6. Scatter over the sesame seeds and peanuts before drizzling with the red curry cream.
  7. Top with the fresh baby leaves.
Written by : Angela Darroch       

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Tuesday, 26 June 2012


We don't often eat savoury relishes but if we do my favourite has to be red onion marmalade.  The sticky, sweet onions are particularly good with red meat and offset any of the salty cheeses beautifully.  Goats cheese and red onion marmalade - beautiful!!  If you can't find red onions then substitute with normal brown onions.  The marmalade can be bottled and will keep in the refrigerator for up to two months.
My hubby is away on a business trip tonight so I decided to treat myself to a  steak sandwich.  I found some lovely rustic bread which I heated briefly in the oven.  Whilst the bread was heating I fried my topside steak in olive oil - adding rock salt and ground pepper - 2 minutes on either side.  Once cooked I let it rest for a couple of minutes, sliced it up and added it to the warm bread with the pan juices.  I then added some warm red onion marmalade to the top and finished off with some chopped parsley.  Ten minutes in total and I had this gorgeous sandwich.  I wonder if my hubby's slap up dinner tonight was as good as this? 

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Yield: 250 ml

  • 4 red onions, peeled and sliced into rings
  • 25 ml olive oil
  • 150 ml red wine vinegar
  • 250 ml red wine
  • 200g sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • ½ a head of garlic
  • ½ a handful of fresh thyme
  • ½ a tsp Chinese five spice
  • ½ a tsp ground coriander
Cooking Directions
  1. Add the olive oil to a saucepan and fry the red onions until lightly coloured.
  2. Add the vinegar, red wine and sugar and bring to the boil.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until the wine and vinegar have evaporated and the marmalade has thickened. Approximately 1 hour.
  4. Bottle in a sterilised jar and keep refrigerated.
Written by : Angela Darroch


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Saturday, 26 May 2012


After weeks and weeks of rain, we finally have some sunshine and with that comes al fresco dining.  Friday nights are always a bit of a rush for us so this salad is perfect - the butternut can be prepared in advance and then just quickly throw everything together at the last minute.  Perfect with cold roast chicken and a honey and mustard dressing.


Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

  • Half a butternut, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tblsp honey
  • 1 bag mixed lettuce
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 250ml tinned lentils, rinsed and drained
  • Half a punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 4 baby carrots, sliced
  • Half an apple, finely chopped
  • 1 cup red, yellow & green peppers, chopped
  • 100g feta cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 190° C. 
  2. Place the butternut in a roasting dish, drizzle with olive oil and roast until cooked, about 35 minutes.
  3. Drizzle the honey over the warm butternut and toss to coat well. Set aside to cool.
  4. Arrange the lettuce and spinach on a serving platter and top with the remaining ingredients, ending with the butternut and feta cheese.
  5. Season and serve with the dressing of your choice.        

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