Poached Saffron and Citrus Pears with Vanilla Mascarpone

Poached Saffron and Citrus Pears with Vanilla Mascarpone | Selma's TableIt’s Part 2 of the Fiesta Friday Anniversary Block Party Celebrations which I am thrilled to be co-hosting with the talented Nancy of Feasting with Friends. If you are a long time reader, you will know that the lovely Angie of The Novice Gardener hosts a virtual party every Friday where bloggers swap recipes and stories. It’s been a whole year since Angie grew the amazing community that is Fiesta Friday so it was only fitting to celebrate with a 2 week long party!  Last week was all about cocktails, canapés and appetisers – and there certainly was no dearth of creative and delicious recipes made specially to celebrate Angie’s fabulous party by the appreciative Fiesta Friday crowd. In fact the submissions were just so fabulous that Angie is going to write a post specifically to highlight the best ones.

This week, Fiesta Friday is about special occasion main courses and desserts and I can’t wait to see what everyone brings to the party. You are most welcome if this is your first time visiting  Fiesta Friday – here are a few guidelines to get you started. To join the party, all you have to do is click on the purple “Fiesta Friday” badge just before the printable recipe, below. Please don’t be shy and drop and dash – we would love to get you know you, so mix and mingle by visiting the other blogs and leaving some likes and comments!

Poached Saffron and Citrus Pears with Vanilla Mascarpone | Selma's TableTo mark this special event, this week I wanted to make something that would look elegant, taste spectacular but also not be too heavy. After cocktails, canapés, appetisers and a main course there may not be much room for a heavy dessert. And, not that I am greedy or anything, but I will want a few slivers of cheese to round off this special meal! So the ingredients had to be light but luxurious and to fit in with busy lifestyles, the dessert should be able to be made a day earlier. Pears have been calling my name for a few months now – I have a real thing for them in the winter and I love poached pears. So I decided to poach the in a orange and lemon juice mixture, warmed up by bay leaves, cardamoms and the haunting flavour of saffron. A little honey took the edge off the sauce. The mascarpone tastes just like vanilla ice-cream when a little vanilla paste is beaten into it, and the crunchy pistachio nuts add a much need crunchy texture to each blissful mouthful.

Poached Saffron and Citrus Pears with Vanilla Mascarpone | Selma's TableThese Poached Pears with Saffron Mascarpone are an elegant sweet course that can be served warm or cold depending on the weather and your time constraints. Either way, they can be prepared the day before and plated just before serving. Gently heat through the pears in the poaching syrup if you are serving this warm and then plate them up. To make this an even more healthy option, substitute greek yoghurt for the mascarpone. If you don’t want to fan slice the pears, then you could just cut the in quarters too. They are very easy to make and to eat! Angie has opened the party so let’s the festivities begin!

Poached Saffron and Citrus Pears with Vanilla Mascarpone | Selma's Table

Please click on the Fiesta Friday badge below, to either take a look at all the other submissions or to enter your specially created main course or dessert recipe post to the party.

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Poached Saffron and Citrus Pears with Vanilla Mascarpone

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 x oranges
  • 4 x lemons
  • 400 ml sweet dessert wine
  • 3 bruised cardamom pods –
  • 4 bay leaves
  • pinch of saffron strands
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 4 ripe Conference pears
  • 200 g mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or the seeds from one pod
  • 2 Tbsp chopped pistachio nuts

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Juice the oranges and lemons – the juices should come to about 700ml and pour into a large shallow pan together with the sweet wine, cardamom, bay leaves and the saffron. Heat gently for 20 minutes or so – don’t let it boil as the froth spoils the appearance of the sauce. Stir in the honey and taste – the honey should soften the sharp citrus notes. Let this heat for another 10 minutes or until the mixture is nice and syrupy but not too thick.
  2. In the mean time, peel the pears and slice in half. Remove the cores with a teaspoon. Lay each half, face down and slice 4 or 5 times without going all the way to the top.
  3. Beat the mascarpone with the vanilla paste until it is smooth and set aside.
  4. Add the pears to the pan and poach for 5-10 minutes; spooning the syrup over them from time to time. The poaching time will depend on how ripe the pears are.
  5. Remove the pears once they are soft and set aside.
  6. The poaching liquid should be thick and syrupy. If it’s not, keep heating it until it reduces but don’t let the liquid boil. Fish out the bay leaves and the cardamom pods.
  7. Spoon some of the sauce onto 4 plates, Top with a good spoonful of the vanilla mascarpone. Drape two pear halves on top of the vanilla mascarpone on each plate and scatter over the chopped pistachios.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hot Cross Saffron Scones

hot_cross_saffron_sconesA twist on the traditional buns, these scones make a nice change and come together very quickly unlike their yeasted cousins. I mis-read the original recipe and used a larger cutter to stamp the rounds out with – therefore, these are not very thick but I rather liked the way they turned out.

hot_cross_saffron_scones

Start by steeping the saffron – you don’t need a lot of this gorgeous spice to get a huge amount of flavour, heady perfume and colour. Also get the crosses ready – having the scone dough waiting while you do this later will not be doing it any favours! I have detailed the order of play in the instructions below.

hot_cross_saffron_scones

Rub the butter into the flour – it should be a bit lumpy. You could do this step in a food processor but as it is the only time you will need to use it for this recipe, I think it is a bit of a waste of time. By the time you have got it out and set up, you can have the step done by hand. Then mix in the sugar, fruit and spices. Whisk the liquids and add to the flour mix.hot_cross_saffron_scones

Gently bring the dough together in the mixing bowl. lightly flour your surface and roll out the dough.

hot_cross_saffron_scones

Stamp out the rounds and place on the prepared tray

hot_cross_saffron_scones

Brush with milk, place the crosses and brush with milk again.

hot_cross_saffron_scones

Glaze with the sugar syrup while they are still hot!

hot_cross_saffron_sconesEat buttered and warm.

Not only is is Good Friday but it’s also Fiesta Friday over at Angie’s blog The Novice Gardener. Time to join the party with these scrumptious scones in hand!  See ya there…

hot_cross_saffron_scones

Click on the link to be taken to Angie’s wonderful blog The Novice Gardener and join the party! Mix and mingle with the the guests – who knows who you might meet! http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/fiesta-friday-12-2/

If you blog and would like to join the party, here are the guidelines http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/

Hot Cross Saffron Scones

  • Servings: 8 - 9 scones
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Hot Cross Scones by Silvana Franco for Delicious Magazine

INGREDIENTS

For the crosses

  • 50g flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons water

For the scones

  • pinch of saffron
  • 2 teaspoons just boiled water
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 75g room temperature butter
  • 40g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 75g sultanas
  • 50g mixed peel
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons milk

For the glaze

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons just boiled water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F and line a baking sheet with paper.
  2. Crumble the saffron strands into a small glass and add 2 teaspoons of boiling water – set aside to steep.
  3. Make the crosses by stirring in the water into the flour and kneading until it comes together as a dough. Cover and set aside to rest.
  4. Place the self raising flour in a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs – you want to have some tiny lumps of butter to make the scones tender…
  5. Stir in the sugar, sultans, mixed peel, and nutmeg – make sure all is evenly distributed.
  6. Roll out the dough for the crosses and slice into enough strips to make the crosses. You should have more that you need. Put on a plate and cover.
  7. Lightly whisk the egg then add the milk and the saffron and whisk again.
  8. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the egg mix and with a light hand, bring it together to form a dough. Do not over mix or the scones will be tough.
  9. Lightly flour your work surface and tip out the dough. Lightly flour the top and pat it into an oblong shape and gently roll out – mime ended up being 2 cm thick.
  10. Stamp out 8 or 9 3 inch rounds – I got 6 then with the trimmings, I patted them together gently, divided into three and hand-formed 3 more scones.
  11. Brush the tops with a little milk and form the crosses on them and brush them with milk too.
  12. Place on a prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 – 15 minutes.
  13. In the meantime mix the sugar and water to make the glaze
  14. Once the scones are done, brush with the glaze.
  15. Eat warm and buttered!

Lemon and Saffron Semolina Cake

I don’t know about you but I can’t get used to these early evenings especially after the gorgeous summer we’ve had. As much as I love cold weather cooking I am finding myself drawn to sunny colours and citrus flavours in an effort to stretch out that summer feeling. Sunshine and light in a slice is what this Lemon and Saffron Semolina Cake is and long may it shine!

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

It is a damp, dense, sticky cake redolent with intense lemon and warm saffron flavours. Don’t be put off by the soaking-it-in-syrup stage – it is supremely easy and lends itself to all sorts of riffs (a dash of limoncello or amaretto or some thyme leaves…)  and is just utterly delicious! I tend to have a little bag of fine semolina in the cupboards for dusting when I make pasta. It is really easy to find in even the smallest of ethnic (Indian or Mediterranean) food provision shops. This could also be made with 1 large juicy orange instead of 2 lemons.

To make it gluten free, use fine polenta or cornmeal instead of semolina and a gluten free baking powder too.

It is not a difficult cake to make and because of it’s weighty ingredients is quite forgiving.

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Beat the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Soak the saffron threads in a tablespoon of kettle hot water

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Zest the unwaxed lemons finely

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Syrup soaked cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon and Saffron Semolina Cake

  • Servings: 12 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Lemon and Polenta Cake

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 200 g soft preferably unsalted butter (and a little smidgen  for greasing)
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 200 g ground almonds
  • 100 g fine semolina  polenta or cornmeal will make it gluten free)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of 2 unwaxed lemons (save lemons to juice for the syrup)
  • pinch of saffron threads dissolved in 1 Tbsp of hot water

For the syrup:

  • juice of 2 lemons (put the whole, zested lemons in a microwave for about 75-90 seconds to maximise the juice output!)
  • 125 grams icing sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/ 350°F and put the kettle on.
  2. In a little bowl/saucer (I used one one those tiny soy dipping dishes) place the saffron threads giving them a bit of a rub together as you do so. Pour over about 1 Tbsp of hot water from the kettle and leave to steep while you get on with the rest of the recipe.
  3. Line the base of a 23cm / 9inch springform cake tin with a circle of baking paper and grease its sides lightly with butter.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy – this will take about 5 minutes depending on how soft the butter is. Don’t skimp on this step as this not only helps to aerate but also serves to somewhat dissolve the sugar.
  5. Mix together the almonds, semolina and baking powder in a medium sized bowl and beat 2 heaped Tbsp of it into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg. Then alternate with ⅓ of the dry ingredients and the 2 remaining eggs, finishing with the dry ingredients. Beat well after each addition.
  6. Beat in the lemon zest and saffron water and threads.
  7. Scrape the thick batter into the prepared tin and smooth it out evenly.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, checking after 30. Mine was done at 30 minutes but I have a very hot oven. The cake is done when a cake tester  comes out quite clean and the edges of the cake have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin even if it seems a bit tender.
  9. Place onto a wire cooling rack, but leave it in its tin.
  10. Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small saucepan. When the icing sugar’s dissolved into the juice, it’s ready. Let it cool for 5 minutes or so.
  11. Prick the top of the warm cake all over with a cake tester or toothpick – don’t use anything too big like a skewer as it will punch too-large holes in the cake.
  12. Slowly pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it out of its tin.
  13. Eat as is or serve as a pudding with a spoonful of creme fraiche and a pretty dusting of icing sugar.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake