Some pear necessities
Crisp and crunchy, sweet and juicy, and everything in between: in-season pears are a joy to eat fresh, but don’t forget that many varieties cook well too, writes Nicola Galloway.
Ilove pear season, and enjoy trying the different varieties at the local producemarket stalls. This week, I have been cooking with a new-to-me heritage variety named twyford monarch. It has proven to be both a good cooker and eater, although that isn’t always the case.
I have included variety suggestions that will suit today’s recipes.
Sticky pear & cinnamon baklava slice
For this rich, sweet treat, I use a half nuts-half seeds combination to reduce the cost somewhat.
Be boldwhen brushing the filo sheets with butter so to create layers of crispy pastry.
Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes Makes 24 squares
For the baklava slice
2 pears (about 300g), cored and thinly sliced – beurre bosc or packham are great for cooking
1 tbsp honey or golden syrup
1 tbsp (15g) butter or olive oil
1⁄ tsp cinnamon 2
13⁄ cups (250g) combination of nuts and 4 seeds – walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds
2 tbsp honey or golden syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
Generous pinch of salt 10 sheets filo pastry (about half a
80g melted butter
For the syrup
1 tbsp honey 3 tbsp sugar 4 tbsp water 1 cinnamon quill Preheat oven to 180C (fan bake 160C).
First prepare the sticky pears. Place the honey, butter and cinnamon into a saucepan and melt together. Add the sliced pears and toss to evenly coat. Arrange in a single layer on a baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the pears are sticky and golden.
Turn down the oven to 160C (150C fan bake).
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Place the nuts and seeds into a food processor and blend until roughly ground. Add the honey, cinnamon and salt and pulse to combine.
Spread the filo sheets on the bench and cut in half down the middle – half will be used for the bottom layers and half for the top. Coverwith a lightly damp tea towel to prevent the pastry drying out.
Line a baking tin that will fit the flat pastry, about 20 x 30cm – trim if needed and save the offcuts in the freezer for topping a pie. Place a sheet of filo into the tin and brush confidentlywith butter, repeatwith half of the pastry. Scoop in the nut mixture and press evenly. Arrange the pear slices on top in an even layer. Continue layering the remaining filo, brushing each sheet with butter to create the top pastry layer. Drizzle over any remaining butter.
Use a sharp knife to cut into 24 squares (this is easier to do before it is cooked) and bake for 40-45minutes, until lightly golden.
Make the syrup just before the slice comes out of the oven. Combine the honey, sugar, water and cinnamon and bring to a gentle simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and spoon the hot syrup over the slice as soon as it is removed from the oven. Cool completely in the tin. Store the baklava slice in an airtight container and consume within 5 days.
Pear, hazelnut & blue cheese salad
This is a heavenly combination for a salad. If blue cheese is not to your taste, use a milder cheese, such as pecorino or Gouda.
The sticky cooked pears from the other recipe could also make an appearance in this salad.
Preparation time: 15 minutes Serves 4, as a side
About 2 cups (150g) mixed salad greens 1 pear, cored and thinly sliced – comice or conference are great for salads cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped 75g creamy blue cheese
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
4 tbsp olive oil
Arrange the salad greens on a large platter, top with the sliced pears and scatter with the hazelnuts. Crumble over the blue cheese.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a jug to make a dressing. Drizzle over the salad and serve.