Baked Pears with Blue Cheese, Walnuts & Honey

This year we have our first crop of pears. A delicious way to use pears when you can’t eat any more fresh is to bake them. This savoury baked dish makes a great starter or light meal, served with a rocket salad.

3 pears (some of mine were smaller so I used 4)
2-3 tsp olive oil
50g creamy blue cheese (e.g. Gorgonzola)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
3-4 stalks fresh thyme, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1-2 Tbs honey
½ tsp Aleppo pepper (available from specialty shops)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Thyme sprigs to garnish

Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut pears in half lengthwise and remove core and seeds with a melon baller. Place in a baking dish in one layer, cut sides up. Drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then turn them over. Bake for 15 minutes.

Turn the pears over, so they are cut side up and stuff with the blue cheese, walnuts and thyme. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Drizzle with the honey and sprinkle with the Aleppo pepper. The Aleppo pepper is not essential, but it adds a bit of extra colour and flavour. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve with a lightly dressed rocket salad.

Serves 3

Roasted Pears with Goat’s Cheese, Honey, Rosemary & Pecans

This is a delicious way to serve pears as a savoury side dish or light lunch.

4-6 ripe pears
Goat’s cheese (the soft variety)
Olive oil
Honey or Maple syrup
Chopped pecan nuts
Rosemary sprigs
To serve:
Green salad leaves
Salad dressing
Maldon salt flakes

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Slice pears vertically – don’t peel or core. Arrange on baking sheet, then drizzle with a little olive oil and honey or maple syrup. Sprinkle with a few rosemary sprigs. Bake for 20-30 mins or until golden around the edges.

Serve on a bed of lightly dressed salad leaves. Top the pear slices with the goat’s cheese and nuts.

Serves 4-6



Matt Moran’s Pear Tart with Caramel Sauce

Make this tart when you have a spare couple of hours and you’re feeling creative. It’s a bit more time-consuming than most of the recipes which appear on this blog but not difficult. You may think it has a lot of sugar and it does. But there’s a lot less than the original version of the recipe, because I cut down on the amount of caramel sauce and crumble. The crumble is optional.

Matt Moran's Pear Tart with Caramel Sauce

Caramel sauce:
¾ cup caster sugar
½ cup cream
60g unsalted butter, diced
150-175g puff pastry (see note below)
100g marzipan
1 egg white
½ tsp vanilla essence
½ tsp flour
2-3 pears, peeled, quartered and cored
1 Tbs melted butter
1 Tbs caster sugar
½ cup plain flour
3 Tbs sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tsp ground ginger
To serve:
Vanilla ice cream – home-made or bought

Caramel sauce: place sugar in non-stick heavy pan and heat, swirling pan from time to time, until rich golden brown. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, then cream, until smooth, then cool. If you have a large piece of caramel which refuses to dissolve, put the sauce back on the heat for a minute or two and stir until it dissolves.

Tart: Pre-heat oven to 200ºC. Line a biscuit tray with baking paper and lay the pastry rectangle on top. It should be about 5mm thick and measure about 14-15 cm by 25-26cm. Place marzipan, egg white, vanilla and the ½ tsp flour in food processor and mix till smooth. Spread this evenly over the pastry, then cover with the thinly sliced pears. You may prefer to select only the best and larger slices of pear and eat the rest.

Brush with the 1 Tbs melted butter and sprinkle with the 1 Tbs caster sugar. Bake 15 mins. Remove from oven and drizzle with some of the caramel sauce (see below). Place a piece of baking paper on top, then another biscuit tin and flip the tart, so the pears are on the bottom. Put back in the oven with pears on the bottom for another 15 mins or until pears are nicely caramelised. Remove to a cutting board. If making ahead, leave tart on the paper-lined tray so you can put it back in the oven for a few minutes and serve it warm.

Crumble: While tart is cooking place all ingredients for crumble in food processor and mix until combined and starting to stick together. Tip onto a biscuit tin lined with baking paper and spread out. Bake for about 15 mins or until golden brown. Once or twice during cooking time break up the larger lumps and mix the crumble so it browns evenly.

To serve: Place a zig-zag drizzle of caramel sauce to one side on six serving plates. With a very sharp knife, cut tart vertically into two, then cut each half into three, so you have six slices each measuring about 14 by 4.5cm. Arrange a slice of tart on top of the caramel sauce. On the other side of the plate arrange a heaped tablespoonful of crumble and top with a quenelle of vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6

Notes: Carême is the best brand of puff pastry in Australia. More expensive but worth it. Available from some IGA supermarkets. Each packet contains 375g of ready rolled pastry. I cut it in half and used one half – stuck the rest back in the freezer for another time. I ended up with a rectangle about 14x26cm.

Variation: use apples instead of pears. If you don’t like marzipan just omit that layer.

Chocolate Puddings with Ginger Pears

This decadent recipe appeared in the latest issue of Gourmet Traveller. I’ve increased the quantities to serve six, left the sugar out of the the chocolate puddings because I think they’re sweet enough without and made a couple of other slight adjustments. The recipe said to serve the puddings at room temperature, but we preferred them chilled.

Chocolate Puddings with Ginger Pears

6 ripe but not over-ripe pears
1 cup Stone’s Green Ginger Wine (see note below)
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
250g dark (70%) chocolate, broken into squares
180g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 eggs
2/3 cup cream
2 Tbs crystallised ginger, finely chopped
To serve:
Whipped cream, pouring cream or crème fraîche (see note below)

Place ginger wine, water and sugar in a medium-sized frying pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Peel and halve pears, leaving stems on one half and removing cores with a melon-baller. Place pears in frying pan, cover with a lid and simmer for about an hour, turning them over from time to time. Drain pears and refrigerate, covered until serving time. Keep the poaching liquid.

Preheat oven to 170°C. Place butter and chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Zap in the microwave for 1-2 mins or until melted, stopping to stir halfway. With a balloon whisk, thoroughly mix in the eggs and then the cream. Lastly mix in the ginger. Divide mixture between six 1 cup ramekins and bake for 6-8 minutes. Cool and refrigerate for up to 36 hours, covered.

Drain pears and dry on paper towels. Place cut side down in a medium sized non-stick frying pan. Turn on the heat and cook until pears are slightly glazed just on the one side, then remove carefully from pan. Add any accumulated juices from pears to the poaching liquid. It should have cooled to quite a thick caramel sauce, but if it’s still a bit thin pour it into the pan after removing the pears and cook until reduced and thickened a bit. Cool to room temperature.

Top each chocolate pudding with two pear halves, glazed side up, drizzle with a little caramel sauce and serve with whipped cream, pouring cream or crème fraîche.

Serves 6

Notes: If you can’t find ginger wine, heat 1 cup of white wine with 2 Tbs finely chopped fresh ginger in a saucepan. Simmer for 5 mins then strain.

Make your own crème fraîche by mixing half thick Greek yoghurt with half thickened cream. If liked mix in a teaspoon of icing sugar and a few drops of vanilla essence.