Who else finds it almost impossible to choose just one dish for brunch? Or, more specifically, who else finds it impossible to choose either a sweet dish or a savoury dish? (I’m looking at you Ria Voros) What you need is a brunching partner that will allow you to have your choice of both savoury and sweet dishes and then halve them, with the skill and deliberation of a neurosurgeon, to provide you with the perfect, two course, mixed meal. Or you could stay at home and make your own. Which is exactly what I did last weekend.
As a belated birthday catch up I invited a few friends over for brunch and resolved to make the two courses I’d order if given the chance. First course – barbecued corn fritters with bacon, avocado, roasted tomatoes and creme fraiche (plus an incredible sweet + tart homemade plum sauce my friend brought with her. Love you, KatiePo). Second course – whiskey, caramel and prune brioche pudding, cooked in a cast iron skillet and served with custard and poached fruit.
Poaching fruit is a little fiddly but ultimately super-easy and almost foolproof. If I can do it you absolutely can. To get my poach on I had to work with the good lookin’ winter fruits available, which led me down a path of finding and tweaking recipes for poached pears and tamarillos. Just to reinforce the food in pairs / dichotomies theme – one turned out spiced and rich and crimson, the other sweet, fragrant and blonde. The Snow White and Rose Red of poached fruit. I regularly seem unable to settle on one flavour – check out these two chocolate recipes – poached fruit is clearly no exception.
Boozed Tamarillos with Brown Sugar and Spices
(Ingredients in bold)
- Boil a saucepan of water. Plunge your 6 tamarillos into the water for three minutes. Remove and peel their skins (leaving stalks) Discard water.
- Boil 1 cup of red wine, 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- Add 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 strip of orange peel.
- Add your tamarillos and poach for 15 minutes.
- Lift out fruit and simmer remaining liquid until it becomes syrupy
- Strain spices and add the syrup mixture to the tamarillos
- Store in fridge for up to one week, the flavour will intensify with time
Sweet and Innocent Pears with Cinnamon and Orange
(Ingredients in bold)
- Peel 6 – 8 pears (I used a mixture of Anjou and Williams / Bartletts) and core while attempting to leave the pears whole, with stalk intact. If impossible simply half and remove core.
- Cut approximately ten strips of skin from 2 lemons and 2 oranges, then juice the fruit into a saucepan.
- Add 1 stick of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- Pour in 1 litre of water and 300 grams of sugar and boil
- Once the sugar is dissolved reduce to a simmer and add pears
- Cook till the pears are tender (insert knife to test)
- Store in the fridge for up to one week
You don’t need a brioche pudding to accompany your poached fruit, though any kind of pudding would marry really well. You could serve them plain, with yoghurt or ice cream or cream or crumble or cake. I had some leftover boozed tamarillos for breakfast with muesli, making a morning of school + kindy drop-offs a good deal more enjoyable. You could tweak the recipe to accommodate your personal favourite spices – cardamon, nutmeg, cacao – or switch out the pears and tamarillos for fruit that’s in season in your neck of the woods. What I will promise is that fruit you poach yourself tastes a thousand times better than anything you can find in a can and will probably win you friends, if not indecent lovers.