Poached pears with ginger, chilli pepper and star anise

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I saw it on TV, I did it and I ate it… well, with a bit of help from the mobile calorie intake units. It is just the perfect dessert – it is glamorous, delicious and can be made in advance. There is not much technique to it, except, maybe, peeling the pears. And, it might be the healthiest part of dinner, even…

Poached pears with ginger, red chilli pepper and star anise (adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Home Cooking) 

Ingredients

  •  8-10 ripe conference pears, peeled but with the stem intact
  • 200g of sugar
  • 3 thumbs of ginger, cut into thick slices (about 20cm)
  • 4 star anise, crushed to fine powder with a mortar and pestle
  • 3 peperoncino (or red chillies peppers, to taste)
  • Enough cold water to cover the pears.

Method

Peel the pears with a potato peeler, taking care to leave the stems intact.

Put the water, the sugar and the ginger in a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the pears and peperoncino and poach for about half hour until their are soft and cooked through.

Set aside and leave the pears to cool in the syrup.

When you are ready to serve, just put the pears in the plate and sprinkle them with the star anise dust.

If you want, you can bubble the syrup for a a few more minutes to thicken a bit and serve with the pears. Or, you can prepare a chocolate sauce (just melt the chocolate in bain marie, with a bit of butter, being careful not to boil it. Add some cream and mix well). Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for an extra quick.


Pear and fennel salad with caraway and pecorino cheese

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From an off-season salad  to a totally in season one, courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi. It seems an odd combination of flavours, but they really go well together: the anise flavor of the fennel, sweetness of the pears, the saltiness of the cheese, the freshness of the lemon, the bitterness of the rucola…. It could well be one of the dishes of this Autumn (minus pecorino cheese, for a sensible calorie count).

Pear and fennel salad with caraway and pecorino (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut in half lengthways, then each half cut  sideways into 2mm slices
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ tsp caraway seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 10g picked dill
  • 75g rocket
  • 3 medium ripe conference pears, peeled, quartered lengthways, cored and cut into 0.5cm wedges
  • 60g pecorino, thinly shaved

 Method

Mix the lemon juice and vinegar in a large bowl. Add the fennel and leave to soften for about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Put the oil, caraway, maple syrup, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and some black pepper into a small bowl, strain in the lemon and vinegar from the fennel bowl and stir well.

Add the dill, rocket, pear and pecorino to the fennel bowl, pour on the dressing, toss lightly and serve.


Pear and almond tart, take 2

A Food&Travel dish I found on tram 11, back by popular demand.  And, again, many happy testers….

As I was in a bit of a hurry, I used  pre-made pastry.

Pear and almond tart

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 table spoons caster sugar
  • 100g cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • a pinch of salt

For the almond cream

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 2 table spoons flour
  • 3-4 ripe pears

Method

To make the pastry, put the flour, sugar, butter and salt in a food processor, and, using the pulse button, process until the butter is broken down (about 5-10 pulses). Add 3 tablespoons of cold water, and pulse just until the dough forms coarse crumbs; add one more tablespoon of water if necessary, but do not do more than 10 pulses. Transfer the pastry to a sheet of backing parchment, form into a ball and flatten to a disk. Wrap in the paper and let stand for 30-60 minutes.

Roll out the pastry to the diameter of the baking tin (a tarte tatin or other round flame proof baking dish). Turn the tin upside down and on the rolled out pastry and press down and trace around the edge with a sharp knife.

Alternatively, just use pre made pastry. It might not be so good, but it does the trick.

Preheat the oven the 200oC. Prick the pastry all over, line with baking parchment, and fill with baking weights. Bake for 15min, then remove the paper and weights (I used beans), and bake for 10-15min more, until just golden. Let the tart shell cool slightly before filling.

To make the almond cream, put the butter and sugar in a bowl and mix with the electric mixer, until fluffy and lemon coloured (it takes some time and patience. I start with melted butter). Beat in the eggs one at a time. Using a spatula, fold in the almonds and flour until well mixed.

Preheat the oven to 190oC. Spread the almond cream evenly in the tart shell. Peel and core the pears, and slice into 8-12 pieces, depending on the size of the fruit. Arrange the pear slices on top of the almond cream. Bake for about 20-30min, until puff and golden. Serve warm.