Breakfast, Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw

Thanksgiving: Star Anise Poached Pears

christmas healthy recipes


Happy Thanksgiving my little health fiends!

Poached pears look so impossibly gorgeous perked up on their plate, dribbling with boozy sweetness (like your favourite batty aunt by 4pm every Thanksgiving). These ones have star anise which helps with digestion and feel achingly good after a big meal.

Do them 1-3 days in advance so that you can sit back and enjoy everybody else’s chaos. Devastatingly tasty with thick Greek yoghurt, soya cream (pictured) or home made coconut yoghurt.


pears star anise poached

Red wine poached pears with star anise
Serves 4-8

450ml dry red wine
3 tablespoons maple syrup, date syrup or brown rice syrup
1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1 star anise
4 firm, ripe conference pears

Bring the red wine, your chosen syrup and the juice of 1 orange to a rolling boil. Add the spices, letting it simmer for 5 minutes while you peel the pears. I like leaving the stem intact and slicing the butt off the pears to create a flat base. Gently place the peeled pears in your poaching liquid, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes. It’s useful to turn the pears every so often to ensure even colour.

Remove the saucepan from its flame, uncover and cool with the pears still upright. Once cool, cover and chill in refrigerator until dessert time. Remove the pears delicately from their liquid and leave at room temperature. Meanwhile, reduce the poaching liquid over a medium-high flame for 25 minutes, until the liquid is more viscous and slightly syrupy.

Serve the pears on individual plates, and mmmmmizzle with the licky-sticky poaching liquid, a dollop of yoghurt or cream, and some mortifying Christmas photos.




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Until then! xxx




Tarting up …


When the winner is announced at a televised black tie ball on November 25th, I am greatly looking forward to tucking the tablecloth into my skirt and storming out of the room.

In the meantime, I’d be tickled if you could cast your vote for your favourite cookbook of 2015. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!

Me (Highpriest of Tarts), Rachel Allen, Donal Skehan, Diana Henry and Trish Deseine – all shortlisted for Avonmore’s Irish Cookbook of the Year.

You can click here to vote, which only takes 30 seconds. If you do vote, I promise to reward you by pelting gnocchi at celebrity presenters (and anyone who looks better than me. Except for Roisin Ingle. And Maeve Higgins. Oh and Louise O’Neill. Not forgetting Oliver Jeffers. Or Eoin Colfer. But that’s it).


Love and Peas,










Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw, Videos, x For Freezer x

Cookery Demo on RTE1 – the video

celebratory cake susan jane white

You can watch me make this badass cake on RTE playback’s archive here… just click on November 1 2015.

The demo is at the beginning of the episode (at 1:20 minutes) and the assembly of the cake’s layers is much later in the programme after Mary McAleese (at 39:50). It looks like a giant halo, and in some ways I guess it is.

Celebratory Cake (for a wedding, 40th birthday party, or your belly)

It’s hard to suppress the memory of my making this cake at a demo last year. And receiving a standing ovation. It was one of the most mortifying and confusing moments of my life. I must have missed a beat, but suddenly I was parading around the room holding it like the cup of Christ. I think they call this Jerusalem Syndrome. Anyway, no one was harmed.

For the biscuit base:

  • 3 & ½ cups walnuts
  • 10 pitted medjools dates, or pre-soaked regular dates
  • 1/2 teaspoon unrefined salt

For the filling:

  • 4 & ¼ cups raw unsalted cashews, soaked overnight
  • 250-300ml raw honey or light agave syrup
  • 190ml melted coconut oil
  • Flesh of 3 very ripe mangos (optional)
  • juice of 2-3 lemons
  • 4-5 tablespoons freshly juiced or minced ginger
  • 4 teaspoons dried turmeric
  • Edible flowers or rose petals, to decorate

You’ll need to oil 3 springform tins, of ascending sizes like in the photograph. These are a special type of baking tin usually used to make cheesecakes and fancy tortes. You’ll find them on Amazon. I use mine every single week.

To make the base for all 3 tins, briefly pulse the listed ingredients together using a food processor. A blender will puree the ingredients, so it’s really essential to use a processor here. You might need a tiny splash of water to bring it all together. Stop the motor when the dough starts to clump together. Spread the nutty dough over the bottom of each of your 3 springform tins.

Place in the freezer to chill.

For the filling, drain the cashew nuts and discard the soaking liquid. Cream the softened cashews with the remaining filling ingredients until smooth and glossy. This should take 2 minutes in a blender or food processor. Taste, and see whether you’d prefer more mango or ginger. It will taste much milder once set, so keep that in mind. Pour this creamy luminous filling over your 3 bases and return to the freezer until set.

Allow the cakes to thaw for 5 minutes before removing from their tins, and stacking on top of one another. Parachute some edible flowers (actually, any flowers will do because no one ever eats them). With a bit of luck, you’ll only suffer from Stendahl’s syndrome.

With thanks to Google HQ for the very groovy suite of photos during their staff demo last September. xxx