Pears are wonderful eaten on their own. Either choose from traditional pear varieties such as Williams, Packham, Beurre Bosc or Corella, all of which you eat when ripe. Or just go out and try the wonderful, crisp, juicy Nashi pear anytime, which is eaten crisp, like an apple.
Cheese platter tips
Pears, grapes, cheese and crackers make an easy and delicious finale for those who don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Just choose a modest selection of cheeses from a good deli (two or three different cheeses would be plenty). Think about different textures – for example, present a mild soft blue cheese plus a crumbly old cheddar; or a gooey camembert plus a Swiss cheese full of holes. Plain crackers go best with the varying cheese flavours. But don’t forget the fruit! Just one bunch of grapes will do, and if you slice just one pear very finely, that’s all that you’ll need to present a truly gourmet cheese platter every time.
Pears in salads
Sliced pears can add a lot of interest to salads. Classic combos to try include pear, rocket and blue cheese. Another one is a mixed leaf salad to which you add pears and chopped walnuts, then toss the lot in a bit of balsamic vinegar. Avocado slices, orange segments and sliced Nashi pears are also worth a try.
Tracy Rutherford’s cinnamon poached pears with chocolate fudge sauce
Tracy’s delicious dessert is from the April 2008 issue of ‘Burke’s Backyard magazine.
2 litres water
2 cups (220g) caster sugar
4 firm, ripe pears
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup (125mL) thickened cream
125g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Combine the water and sugar in a large saucepan, stirring over low heat until dissolved. Peel the pears and place into the pan as you do each one, to prevent browning.
2. Add the cinnamon stick and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until tender when pierced with the tip of a small, sharp knife. Lift out and drain.
3. Meanwhile, combine the cream, chocolate and vanilla in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sauce is smooth. Serve with the poached pears.
Tracy Rutherford’s yummy pear and pecan cake
Tracy created this recipe for our April 2005 issue of ‘Burke’s Backyard’ magazine
185g butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 cup (125g) ground pecans
2 1/4 cups (340g) self-raising flour
3/4 cup (185 ml) milk
2 ripe pears
3 tablespoons apricot jam, warmed
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush a 23cm spring-form cake tin lightly with oil, and line the base with non-stick baking paper.
2. In a bowl, use electric beaters to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla essence until the mixture is light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
3. Gently fold in the pecan nuts, flour and milk, using a spatula or large metal spoon. Transfer to the prepared cake tin and smooth down the surface.
4. Peel the pears and quarter lengthways. Cut out the core, and cut each piece in half again. Arrange the pear slices over the top of the cake, pushing them down slightly into the mixture, then brush with the apricot jam.
5. Bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. Let stand in the tin for 5 minutes, then release the spring and take off the side. Serve warm as a pudding, or let it cool and serve as a cake.
Poached Nashi pears with yoghurt
4 Nashi pears, peeled
1 vanilla bean
1 cinnamon stick
grated zest of 1 lime
150g caster sugar
1 cup water
250mL Greek-style thick natural yoghurt
1-2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
1. Put the vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, lime zest, sugar and water into a saucepan then heat the water to simmering, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
2. Add the Nashi pears to the water. If the liquid doesn’t fully cover the pears, top up the water with boiling water from a kettle.
3. Let the pears simmer for about 20 minutes, or until tender (test the largest one with a thin metal skewer, for doneness). When done, remove the pears and set aside.
4. Turn up the heat high under the saucepan, and let the liquid bubble away and reduce until it’s a thick syrup (this could take 10 or so minutes, depending on how much water you start with). Once it’s reduced, take it off the heat, let it cool for a few minutes, then pour it over the pears and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve them.
5. Just before serving, combine the yoghurt with some honey, and serve the pears with a generous dollop of yoghurt on the side.
Pear tree specialist grower
Woodbridge Fruit Trees, phone (03) 6267 4430, www.woodbridgefruittrees.com.au