Saturday, August 27, 2005

Pears....can you ever get enough?

When i think of pears, the first variety that comes to my mind is always the Nashi or the Packham's Triumph (common green skinned pear from Australia). The Nashi is wonderful due to its superb juicy character and the Packham is a totally different texture which i will go in further detail later.

My foodie buddy, Deetour chick and i decided to get together on Saturday afternoon to experiment on some recipes again. She was making a Lemon Layer Cake for a friend's birthday party and i had difficulty deciding on something from so many desirable recipes i have in my possession (not just my cookbooks, my stock-pile of gourmet magazines as well)!

The it struck me, since she is making a Lemon Layer cake, how about i go along with a fruit theme as well? I embarked on a search for a recipe that involved a fruit and i found more than what i was looking for. I realised that there were many many recipes that repeatedly involved 2 fruits; apples and pears. I chose the latter, purely because i love the shape of pears and i have never tried cooking with pears and thought to myself, this should be good fun and slightly challenging for me too.

I found at least 10 different recipes that used pears. Being the typical female here, i could not make a decision on what to try because they all looked so delicious! Then i went with what my palate would take well to; desserts that were not heavy (a few of them were on big pies and puff pastries which im not too fond of), something that is also rather refreshing with different preparation methods as well (for me to get some experience in cooking fruits in 3 different styles). Also being inspired by several blogs who are theming their culinary adventures to a single ingredient with a variety of preparation method, I embarked on my maiden journey with Pears.

Vanilla Poached Pear and Burnt Orange cardamom Custard
(Serves 6)

1.5kg castor sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 beurre bosc pears (i raided all supermarkets at Holland Village, they were out of stock, i used Packham instead.)

Pic: Packham Triumph and Buerre Bosc Pears
For custard
2 oranges
2 cups pouring cream (Emborg UHT Whipping Cream is good)
300ml milk
8 cardamom pods, crushed
180g castor sugar
10 egg yolks

Equipment needed (as this involves many steps esp custard)
sharp vegetable peeler to ensure pears are neatly peeled with no bumps or holes
3 saucepans
6 Ramekins/150ml individual baking dishes
1 large bowl for whisking
roasting pan at least 2-3inches height


To prepare Pears
Boil 1.5litres of water, sugar, scraped seeds from vanilla bean and bean in a large heavy-based saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, peel pears and trim based to sit flat. Place pears in syrup and bring to just below the boil.
Cover with a round of baking paper and plate to keep the pears submerged in syrup, then simmer gently for 20min or till tender when pierced with a fork.
Remove from heat, cool pears in syrup then cover and refrigerate for several hours or until chilled. Can be done day before.

To prepare custard
Use a vegetable/potato peeler, peel thin strips of rind from oranges and remove any pith (white bits). Juice oranges (to make 200ml) then set aside.
Place orange rind, cream, milk, cardamom and 60g sugar in a saucepan and stir continuously over low heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to almost to the boil, remove from heat and stand for 20min to infuse.
Meanwhile, place egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk till well combined. Set aside.
Place remaining 120g sugar and 200ml orange juice in a another small saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15min or until golden caramel.
Immediately pour orange juice caramel into cream mixture prepared earlier and whisk until smooth.
Gradually pour combined cream mixture over combined egg yolks, whisking continuously while you pour.
Pour whisked mixture through a sieve and divide among 6 ramekins or small 150ml baking dishes.
Place damp cloth in a roasting pan, place ramekins in pan and pour in enough boiling water to come 3/4 up the sides of ramekins, then cover roasting pan with double layer al-foil and pierce foil to allow steam to escape.
Bake at 120C for 55min or until centers of custard wobble slightly when gently shaken. Remove ramekins from water bath and cool to room temperature then refrigerate for several hours or overnight until set.
Serve with custard on plate with a drizzle of vanilla syrup (previously used to cook pears).

- Recipe compliments of Chef Jaclyn Nichols; Bistro Moncur-Sydney-

Caramelised Pears in Port & Orange Sauce
(Serves 4)

1/3 cup greek-style yoghurt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1tbsp brown sugar (for yoghurt mixture)
20g butter
3 tbsp brown sugar (for browning pears)
3 pears (i would also suggest either Packham or Beurre Bosc; peeled and quartered)
1/4 cup port
1/2 cup orange juice


Place yoghurt, cinnamon and 1tbsp sugar in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add butter and 3 tbsp sugar and heat till sugar starts to caramelise.
Add pears in and cook till it is golden. Add the port and orange juice and cook for about 5-8min.
Serve with port & orange sauce and cinnamon yoghurt.

- Recipe adapted from Donna Hay-

Pear & Rosemary Chutney
(Makes about 2 cups)

4 Packham or Buerre Bosc pears; peeled, cored & chopped into 1.5cm pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic; chopped
1 onion; finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp rosemary leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp grated giner
1/2 tsp all-spice powder
150g brown sugar
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2tbsp currants


Heat olive oil in saucepan. Add chopped garlic, onion, sea salt, rosemary, mustard seeds, ginger and all spice powder and cook over medium heat for about 8min.
Add sugar, white wine vinegar, currants and simmer for 10min.
Add chopped pears and cook over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally for 50min or until thick.
Spoon into sterilised jars, seal and refrigerate for up to a month.
Great with cheeses, cold meats, charcuterie (sausages, hams, pates etc) and roast lamb or pork.

- Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller-


Blogger Mona said...

Hey, found your blog from a string of comments. Love your profile pic. Hilarious...
I couldn't think of that many pear recipes if you paid me..very impressive!
I have a question, how did you get pictures in your sidebar?
Your site looks great!

3:18 AM  
Blogger Skrat said...

Hi mona li, thanks for the kind compliments! It actually took me 2 over hours to pull out all pear recipes and decide on the 3! I included the pictures on my sidebar through html. I added another header in and included a html link. Could you email me? I shall email you the html and you can customise it to your desire. :)

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Barbara said...

We have a bosc pear tree on our new property and I am looking for ways to use them. Your blog is wonderful and I can't wait to cook the basket full of boscs - especially with the custard. Thanks.

5:12 AM  
Blogger Skrat said...

Hi Barbara,
thanks for dropping by! Im a big fan of pears and you are indeed lucky to have a bosc pear tree on your property! The vanilla poached pear is actually my favourite, the custard just makes it all the more delectable! Enjoy!

12:07 AM  

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