Have I ever confided in you that I just adore Pears??? Well . . . it's true. They are my favourite of all the autumn fruits . . . ok . .. so I say that about everything. I guess I am just a glutton at heart . . . but I do LOVE pears an awful lot!
Red, green . . . yellow. Tall thin hard ones like the Conference pear . . . or short red and fat round Bartletts . . . Williams, Comice . . . d'Anjou . . . I have no preference. If it's a pear, I am well acquainted with it's finer qualities and . . . well, I love them. Ohhh . . . tiny little Seckles . . .
Pickled, canned, jammed, chutney'd or poached . . . if it's a pear . . . I'm there. (I know I am corny.)
I love to eat them raw . . . perfectly ripe and sweet . . . so ripe and so juicy that you need to hold them in a napkin to keep the juices from running down your chin and on to your sweater . . .
I love to eat them still slightly crisp . . . unpeeled and sliced into salads . . . especially nice with blue cheese crumbled over top . . . some nicely toasted walnuts sprinkled about . . . and a tangy vinaigrette dressing just to offset the sweetness of the pears, that creaminess of the cheese, the crunch of the walnuts . . . and if you include endive or chicory leaves . . . so beautiful with that bitter edge.
Tucked into cakes, pies, breads, muffins . . . I love them all.
This week I came up with a favourite new way to eat them . . . Pear Dumplings. Stuffed with mincemeat . . . wrapped in puff pastry, sprinkled with demerara sugar . . . and baked until the pastry is crisp and golden, the pear is just tender . . . and the mincemeat having spiced that beautiful pear from the inside out . . . oozingly delicious when you break your fork into that tender flesh.
A spicy little hidden surprise . . . lashings of custard are a must.
*Pear and Mincemeat Dumplings*
Makes 4 servings
This is not a dessert for the faint of heart . . . make sure you bring your appetite! Impressive and delicious!
4 firm conference pears, with stems attached
4 heaped dessertspoons of your favourite mincemeat
1 packet of ready rolled all butter puff pastry
1 free range egg, beaten
demerara sugar to sprinkle
Icing sugar to dust
warm custard to serve
Have all of your ingredients ready to go. Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Have a baking tray ready that you have lined with baking paper.
Unroll your pastry. Cut a two inch slice off of one end and cut it into 4 squares. Place each square leaving space in between them onto the lined baking sheet.
Peel your pears and cut a slice off of the bottom of each so that they will stand upright. Using the small end of a melon baller, go in through the bottom and scoop out the seeds, discarding them. Stuff this core with mincemeat. Place each stuffed pear onto one square of the puff pastry. Brush the remaining puff pastry with the beaten egg and cut into narrow, long strips, about 1/3 inch in width. Wind the pastry squares around each pear, folding the edges of the squares on the bottom up inside and covering the pears completely, leaving just the stem sticking out the top. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the heated oven until golden brown. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for several minutes. Dust with icing sugar. Lift each pear carefully into a dessert bowl. Ladle warm custard around and serve.