The urge to gild the culinary lily is irresistible, isn’t it? A good pear, at the absolute perfect peak of ripeness, is pretty hard to beat, isn’t it? But perhaps you have a glut of the fruit from your orchard? Or perhaps you could not resist the bargain case lot at the farmers’ market? Or perhaps you are just constantly curious for new cooking ideas?
An article headed Some Unusual Recipes for Pears in The West Australian (Perth, WA) of 11 April 1934 caught my eye (myself falling firmly in the eternally culinarily curious category.) I was not inspired by the “Slimming Salad” which sounded rather bleak even before I read the ingredients (pear, lettuce, cottage cheese, no dressing, optional cheese biscuit on the side.) The bottled “Compote of Pears” was hardly unusual (basic syrup with cloves,) nor were the baked pears (only sugar and cloves, althought the alternative version with treacle and cloves was mildly intriguing,) and I was not particularly excited by the bottled Pear Sauce and the Pear and Honey Wine. The following idea is my winner, and I would be interested to know from any Finlanders if it has any degree of authenticity:
A Pie from Finland.
Grease a dish, put in a layer of pear slices first, then a layer of cheese sliced fairly thickly. Chop some mushrooms, onions, and carrots, mix together with flour and butter, and pile up on top. As a crust, slice more pears and place knobs of butter here and there. Bake slowly till done. This is a delicious and unusual luncheon or supper dish.
I liked this one too:
Pears with Roast Lamb.
Take required quantity of large cooking pears, peel, core, halve and cook them in a sugar and water syrup. When tender set them aside to cool. Ten minutes after removing a roast leg or shoulder of lamb from the oven, put the pears in the tin beside the meat, first sticking a whole clove in the centre of each pear. Serve the lamb with the pears arranged round the dish and hand round mint sauce as unusual.
I have no idea where the recipe came from, but friends introduced me to pears sliced in half and poached in heavy cream with a bit of sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It is absolutely delicious. Hot or cold - and 'cold' is perfect for mixing with crumbled liebkuchen.
In France in the past a pear tart seasoned with pepper has been known. I believe Anne Willan has chronicled an example.
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