Cream Puff Pic under Nav Bar

Cream Puff Pic under Nav Bar

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Using Evette's Pears

     My friend Evette, gave me some beautiful pears from the tree in her front yard. I had often passed her yard and seen the pear tree, and wished I could have some of them. As Autumn is near, my thoughts had turned to pears, the things that can be done with them, and the problem of finding some worth the price I would pay for them. It is rare these days, to find fruit in the stores which is not at best disappointing. Pears are one of the fruits which can be quite good, even from the supermarket - but to get some gorgeous pears right from the tree is a religious experience. A pear is for me a symbol of sensuous pleasure, and for a pastry cook, if you start with perfect, delicious pears, the work is already done. What remains is getting out of their way.
     I used Evette's pears as follows:
     First and foremost I ate a couple of them as is, and with cheese and some pecan-raisin bread that I made.
     I made some quick puff-paste and made a Tart Tatin. Tart Tatin, made famous by the Tatin sisters in their hotel-restaurant in Lamotte-Beauvron at the turn of the twentieth century, is the finest fate which can befall an apple or a ripe pear. The fruit is cooked in butter and sugar with a lid of pastry on top and then turned upside down when served. Vanilla ice cream or some sort of clotted cream are the best accompaniments. I made some vanilla bean ice cream laced with orange, ( which fooled Evette into thinking it was pear ice cream. )
     I made some of the pastry cream we use to stuff our cream puffs, and prepared a hazelnut crust from the great restaurant Chez Panisse, mounded the cream inside and laid slices of pear on top, which I coated with apricot glaze.
     The pears I did not use right away I poached in wine, honey, sugar and herbs. I used galanga ( a root similar to ginger which Thai and Vietnamese people use ) ginger root, fresh laurel leaf, orange peel and juice, peppercorns, fresh thyme and sage from my garden, and some soaking liquid from raisins I had left over from making the bread.
     The pears can now be used at leisure, whenever we feel like having some. They make an unforgettabe gift which never fails to give people the idea that you have real class, and they keep forever. I am going use them for the dessert course at the end of the month for a bouillabaise party I am doing for a friend of mine.
     The poaching liquid is very useful in the kitchen. It can be reduced to make dessert syrup, ( straight or mixed with cream ) to make plated dessert presentations, or used on ice cream. It can also be turned into ice cream, mooses and sorbets, and injects a mysterious savory something to roasts, gravies and sauces, sweet potatoes or turnips, pumpkin pies,( whatever ). I used the syrup I made to go with a French Toast party I did at a friend's house for her, her husband and children. ( which saved face for showing up with Krasdale C-Town maple syrup. )
     The peels, trimmings and over-ripe pears I cooked at the same time as the pears ( with exactly the same seasonings and moistened with the poaching liquid, to be turned into out of sight pear sauce ( like apple sauce ), and also pear jam.


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