Easy Pear and Blackberry Sauce

Pear and blackberry sauce is layered with white skyr and granola to make a colourful parfait.

I’m always overbuying fresh fruit. I know, I know (I know) – buy produce as needed and err on the side of less not more in order to prevent food waste. But sometimes fruit just looks so beautiful sitting on display at the grocery store that I’m able to convince myself that yes, I can eat three pomegranates and an entire box of clementines by myself in one week (my husband likes to eat apples and that’s about the entire extent of his fruit repertoire). What inevitably ends up happening is one of two things: I freeze what can be frozen or I make a fruit sauce such as this super easy pear and blackberry Sauce.

If you’ve ever had the privilege of eating fresh applesauce you know how vastly superior it is to the jarred stuff. Pear sauce is made the exact same way as applesauce and offers plenty of not-too-sweet flavour that pairs well with foods that are sweet, tart, and even savoury. Blackberries give the sauce a gorgeous rose colour and a layer of deep jamminess reminiscent of a particularly fruity Beaujolais (and in fact, you could skip the clementine juice and use red wine in its place).

A white and blue china dish holds bright pink pear and blackberry sauce, a pear and blackberry parfait made with skyr and granola sits next to the dish in a clear glass. Both dishes sit on a purple background with colourful paper tassels.

Making Easy Pear and Blackberry Sauce

  • This easy fruit sauce recipe is a great way to use up pears that are veering into very mushy territory. This is something which I find particularly useful as I find that pears always seem to go from hard-as-a-rock to unappetizing and way, way too soft within the stretch of a single day.
  • Likewise, you can use that carton of blackberries that’s been languishing in the back of your fridge for the past week. Wash the berries just before using with a very gentle stream of cold water, removing any moldy or berries that are too far gone. Incidentally, strawberries and raspberries are also delicious in this fruit sauce.
  • Frozen blackberries can absolutely be used in this recipe and can be added while still frozen.
  • For fruit sauces (and rice pudding) I like to use a flavoured tea bag in place of the traditional cinnamon and nutmeg. I’ve been doing this for a while and it always adds a lovely warmth without being overwhelming (I like to use Celestial Seasonings Cinnamon Apple Spice).
  • You can use a food mill, food processor, or immersion blender to get a wonderfully smooth texture. If you like your fruit sauce extra smooth you can push it through a sieve with a spatula after it’s been blitzed.
  • This pear and blackberry fruit sauce will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it in an ice cube tray and add the frozen fruit sauce to smoothies.
A white and blue china dish holds bright pink pear and blackberry sauce, a pear and blackberry parfait made with skyr and granola sits next to the dish in a clear glass. Both dishes sit on a purple background with colourful paper tassels.

Easy Pear and Blackberry Sauce

Yields:

4 servings (or more, depending on how the sauce is being used)

Ingredients:

2-3 very ripe pears, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup blackberries

Juice of 2 clementines or 1 orange

1 Tbsp. honey

1 apple cinnamon teabag

Special Equipment:

Sharp chef’s knife

Cutting board

Small lidded saucepan

Food processor, food mill, or immersion blender

Method:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a small lidded saucepan.
  2. Over medium-low heat and with the lid on, allow the fruit to cook down until completely softened (this takes anywhere from 8-15 minutes depending on how ripe the pears are).
  3. Bring the cooked fruit to room temperature and refrigerate for a few hours or ideally, overnight (with the teabag still in).
  4. When you’re ready to blend the fruit and any residual juices remove the tea bag and blitz until smooth.
  5. Serve the pear and blackberry sauce cold or hot.

Ideas for Serving Easy Pear and Blackberry Sauce

  • In a parfait layered with skyr or Greek yogurt and your favourite granola or muesli.
  • Drizzled onto French toast (maple syrup is optional but it is fantastic).
  • With pork chops or pork tenderloin.
  • Add a tablespoon or two of chia seeds and let sit overnight for a super satisfying but not too heavy breakfast.
  • Stirred into regular or overnight oats.
  • Add a teaspoon of pear and blackberry sauce to a glass of sparkling wine and give it a gentle stir before serving.
  • Freeze and add to smoothies.
Pear and blackberry sauce is layered with white skyr and granola to make a colourful parfait.

What I’m listening to

It’s a nasty afternoon out there in Vancouver today. I’m talking sideways rain, high winds (forget about using an umbrella, I already tried it), and thick grey rainclouds that are completely blocking the mountains from view. In other words: perfect weather for drinking tea and listening to Billie Holiday. I love the Pacific Northwest and I love the rain in particular and now that I’m home from running errands in the blustery weather I can sit at home and wrap myself up in her music like a comforting blanket. So if you’re reading this and it’s raining may I suggest you do yourself a favour and make some easy pear and blackberry sauce while listening to some Billie Holiday?

Billie Holiday – Don’t Explain

Easiest Ever Overnight Steel Cut Oats

A shallow bowl full of steel cut oats, nuts, seeds, and brown sugar beside a bowl of orange sections and apple slices.

I love eating steel cut oats for breakfast, especially on cold rainy mornings when I feel as though  I need something warm and solid to carry me through the day. I would confidently and decisively place steel cut oats in the “rib sticking” category of morning meals, especially when combined with toppings rich in complementary flavours and nutrients. The only real drawback (and I say this only because I don’t give myself enough time to make these oats the morning of) is that they need a good half an hour to forty five minutes to cook and there isn’t much you can do to rush this step. I had relegated steel cut oatmeal to a weekend-only type of meal and resigned myself to smoothies for weekdays until I read about making steel cut oats the night before. I’m so happy I discovered this cooking method, because now I can have steel cut oats whenever I feel like it. It’s difficult to cook a very small batch so rather than attempt this I embraced it. This recipe makes enough for about 5 portions, depending on how much you like to eat first thing in the morning (I prefer smaller servings early in the day). Either keep the cooked oats in your fridge in it’s original cooking pot to dish out portions as needed, or experience the thrill of neatly packed individual jars lined up perfectly in your fridge. Of course, choosing potential toppings is the fun part and the variations are endless. My favourites include trail mix and maple syrup (as pictured above), raspberries and grated coconut, blueberries and brown sugar, or sliced banana with honey. I know that generally oats recipes call for water only, but I grew up on a half water/half milk combination and so that’s how I prefer them as an adult and I always pour over some warmed milk, cream, or coconut milk to stir in before eating.

easiest ever overnight steel cut oats:

1 cup of steel cut oats

2 cups of milk

2 cups of water

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Extra milk or cream

Oatmeal toppings of your choice

  1. Bring the oats, milk, water, and salt to a low boil in a lidded pot. Turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes before removing from heat. Store in the fridge overnight.
  2. In the morning, heat up a serving of oats in a saucepan with with some extra milk to get a wonderfully creamy texture. Finish with the toppings of your choice and a final drizzle of milk or cream.

Shallow plate of fruit containing pineapple, oranges, and kiwi.

This pretty song is such a nice way to usher in the light on still navy mornings.

Royksopp – So Easy

 

Avocado Toast with Pomegranates and Chillies

Toast on an orange plate topped with avocado, pomegranate seeds, and red chillies.

This particular version of avocado toast is such a bright and happy way to start your day. Outside was a solitary sheet of grey today, it was raining so hard that large pools were flooding at intersections all of the leaves that were left in the trees are now firmly littered all over the street. I try to keep my writing space and general home environment sunny and I’m a huge fan of big pops of vivid colour to bring a certain radiant ambience to an otherwise neutral room. Meals like these are an extension of that design principle, they serve to bring light into a dark day. The chillies are what really make these flavours all come together, its addition was inspired by one of my favourite fancy cheese condiments (the Pomegranate Hot Pepper Jelly from Artisan Edibles). Don’t skimp out on the salt either, you need it to complete the holy trifecta of sweet, salty, and spicy!

avocado toast with pomegranate and chillies:

Really simple: mash one avocado and spread it over two pieces of toast (I like whole wheat because it’s nutty and sweet on its own). Scatter a generous amount of pomegranate seeds over the avocado and finish with dried red chillies and kosher or sea salt (Maldon salt is particularly nice to have for this one). Press down lightly so that the pomegranates don’t roll off as you’re trying to eat it. Enjoy right away while the toast is still warm.

Stack of colourful crochet blankets.

I was so sad to hear about Carey Lander’s passing. I’ve always loved Camera Obscura, ever since I first heard their debut album Underachievers Please Try Harder. Her voice was so clear and luminous, like a shining projection of happiness over an underlying sadness. This remains one of my favourite songs ever; it’s so simple and hopeful, a moving tribute to the future that lies ahead.

Camera Obscura – Eighties Fan

Fresh Fig and Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

A tray full of pink fig and blueberry frozen yogurt covered with dried blueberries.It wasn’t until a few years ago that I fell in love with fresh figs, even then the path to get there was full of resistance. In truth, I can’t stand dried figs. Maybe this all stems from childhood, during the wild heyday of Fig Newtons. For some reason my mom refused to buy them and I would leverage trades with my lunch mates for the contraband Fig Newtons. The reason that I wanted one of these cookies up until that point was that I was sure it was filled with chocolate, not horribly seedy dried fig paste. You can imagine my surprise the first time I actually tasted a fresh fig, they have such a soft and delicate flavour, like bursting sweet bulbs full of sangria coloured fruit. I buy them up as I find them in mid-summer, quartering and freezing any excess figs before they become too soft. When frozen, they’re absolutely wonderful in salad dressing, smoothies, and homemade frozen yogurt, their pulpy pink interiors providing a creamy, thickening effect in your recipe. The dried blueberries are wonderfully chewy once frozen and then slightly defrosted but are not crucial to the overall success of the recipe.

case of green fresh figs

fresh fig and blueberry frozen yogurt:

1 cup frozen fresh figs, quartered

1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries

2 Tbsp. honey + more for drizzling

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 cup dried blueberries

Combine all of the ingredients except for the dried blueberries in a food processor and blitz until a cohesive creamy texture. This might take a few minutes and include several rounds of scraping the sides down with a rubber spatula. Fold in the dried blueberries and transfer to a loaf baking tin in the freezer. Freeze for at least another 1/2 hour before topping with a small or generous amount of drizzled honey.

Pikauba with Fresh Figs on a plate

Bright bowl of fruit salad with figs, plums, and nectarines

Plate of fresh Brillat-Savarin with fresh figs.

 

It feels like fall here tonight, if only fleetingly (despite a fondness for summer fruit I am most at home nestled into a pile of pillows and books on a rainy autumn Sunday afternoon). Fall means the sadness of Broadcast and the warm coat of melancholia it inspires, if only in the most nostalgic sense of the word.

Broadcast – Corporeal

 

 

 

Eggs in a Vegetable Nest

Skillet with vegetable hash, 2 eggs, salsa, and feta.This quick dinner is neither a true hash nor a true succotash, but combines elements of both depending on the ingredients available to you in the moment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relied on this simple equation on nights when I’ve been out all day long and don’t even have the energy to be extroverted enough to call for delivery. The execution is simple: take 2-3 cups of finely diced vegetables, some herbs or other seasoning to give it a flavour foundation, 1 or 2 eggs, and a few of your favourite toppings. Sauté the vegetables in a little bit of olive oil or butter until they begin to soften and are heated through. Crack the egg(s) over the vegetable mixture and put a tight fitting lid over the pan, allowing the eggs to cook until they’re done to your liking. Take off the heat and slide the mixture onto a plate, generously top with anything that looks like it would make your dinner taste wonderful.  As you can see, this recipe is open to wide interpretation which is what makes it so perfectly flexible when your fridge feels empty.

Here are some of my favourite combinations for Eggs in a Vegetable Nest:

Roasted corn, sweet peppers, banana peppers, scallions, cumin, lime juice, salsa, and Macedonian feta (as seen above)

Cubed sweet potatoes or yams, shallots, zucchini, red peppers, dried basil, Greek yogurt, Monterey Jack, and cilantro

Ripe tomatoes, cubed eggplant, shallots, garlic, dried oregano, chili flakes, fresh basil, and crumbled chèvre

Polenta and Poached Eggs

picture of a hot bowl full of polenta and 2 poached eggs

This is one of those recipes that epitomizes what comfort food really means. It’s hot, it’s filling, it’s starchy, and its taste is soothingly mellow. I know instant polenta is frowned upon, but when making this for one person it seems silly to make a whole pot of authentic polenta. Besides, instant polenta is so enticingly and even blandly perfect as a foil for the other ingredients that it holds a soft soft in my heart for this particular recipe. The addition of Greek yogurt and butter emulsifies the whole mixture into an extra creamy bowl of calming warmth and the vivid orange yolk seeping into the polenta rounds out the entire meal. I tend to use spinach as a stir-in green because I almost always have a bag of it in my fridge but fresh herbs like parsley, dill, basil, and even scant amounts of thyme and oregano are also delicious.

polenta and poached eggs:

(serves 1 hungry person)

1-2 eggs

2 tsp. white vinegar

1/4 cup instant polenta, I like to keep it in the measuring cup with a spout so I can easily pour it into the water

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup of water

2 cups of spinach

1 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt

1-2 tsp. butter

About 1 Tbsp. of grated parmesan

1. Poach your desired amount of eggs in plenty of water and the 2 teaspoons of white vinegar. As soon as the eggs are beginning to cook heat up the 1 cup of water for the polenta  over medium-high heat in a separate small saucepan.

2. Take the eggs out of the water and gently transfer them to a plate lined with a clean tea towel. Quickly make the polenta by whisking the premeasured instant polenta into the water in a steady stream. The polenta will come together very quickly, as soon as it looks and tastes done take the saucepan off of the stove and stir in the spinach, Greek yogurt, and butter (the spinach will wilt into the polenta within seconds).

3. Decant the polenta into a bowl and place the poached eggs on top, dust with a generous amount of freshly grated parmesan before eating.

I have such a soft spot for Kylie Minogue – I love her! Besides the brilliant campiness of her music she’s made several appearances on Kath & Kim, one of my favourite shows ever, as Ebo-NAE: Kim’s deluded and ridiculous future daughter. Also, this is a Michel Gondry music video and that inevitably means impressive, playful, and fun to watch.

Kylie Minogue – Come Into My World

Warm Pita Topped with Caramelized Onions and a Fried Egg

Eggs and Caramelized Onions

There’s something to be said about a meal that is inexpensive to make, elegant to look at, and exceptionally easy to eat. This all-in-one recipe is great for nights when you get home from your run after work, sopping wet from the rain and in dire need of a shower and a warm pair of pyjamas. The ingredients are ones that might be lingering in your fridge and pantry even if your grocery shopping trip is a week overdue. Pita can be substituted with store bought naan or even thickly sliced and toasted sourdough bread. Any knob of leftover cheese that’s languishing in your crisper will work in this recipe, I’ve listed a few of my favourites but truly feel free to use anything you like. Fresh basil isn’t a strict requirement, you could omit it all together or you could use fresh parsley, dill, chives, or thyme. Generally you’ll need about one medium sized onion per person so adjust accordingly, changing the number of eggs and pita bread to suit the number of people you’ll be feeding.

warm pita topped with caramelized onions and a fried egg:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. butter

2 medium sized onions, I like to use 1 red onion and 1 yellow sweet onion

5 scallions, whites and greens cut into small pieces

2 cloves of garlic, minced

A good pinch of kosher salt

150 g of cheese, grated or crumbled (my favourites include old white Cheddar, Gruyere, Asiago Pressato, or Macedonion feta)

2 pita breads

Coarsely ground black pepper to taste

About 6 basil leaves, cut in a thin chiffonade

2 extra large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a heavy skillet melt the oil and butter together over medium heat. Add all of the onions, scallions, garlic, and generous pinch of kosher salt.

2. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook the onions, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until a deep, sticky brown colour (this takes upwards of an hour, just reduce the heat further if the onions seem to be cooking too quickly). When the onions are completely cooked scrape them into a bowl and return the still greased skillet back to the heat.

3. Wrap the pita bread in aluminum foil and warm up in the oven for 10 minutes. While the pita gets soft and warm, fry the eggs in the skillet until they’re cooked just the way you like.

4. Layer the pita bread, warm caramelized onions, grated or crumbled cheese, fried egg, and finally the fresh basil and pepper. Take the civilized route and eat with a knife an fork, or fold it onto itself and eat messily as is with your hands.

Brian Eno always sounds like such a skilled escape, a soft implosion into the dreamiest dream place you could ever hope to land in. I need that in my life right now, for my inner life to act as a cushion for all of the things happening around me. Safe and floaty, that’s the name of my brain’s motto right now.

Brian Eno – Deep Blue Day