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Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Passion for Pears

My guest had an unusual request.
“I’d like to check out the different types of pears in your market-- see which ones are used for eating and for cooking and perhaps try making something for you,” he enthused.
I knew he was a foodie but had no idea he had a passion for pears.
The Sunday market seemed a good place to start.
 We were lucky – the stallholders allowed us to chat, taste and shared their enthusiasm.
We learnt that France is the third largest producer of pears in Europe, the most common being the Poire William available from August to October. 
These are two categories of pears depending on the season.
  Poires d’été (summer pears)
  Poires d’automne- hiver (autumn and winter pears)
We discovered
Le Beurré hardy: available from September—November, the fruit is olive green, has a thick  skin, very fine flesh, and is sweet and juicy.
Le Conference: October – April, this is a juicy pear. The one we tasted was slightly elongated  and  exceptionally sweet and juicy. This is everyone’s choice for desserts, tartes and jams. This is ideal also for cooking whole in wine.
Le Comice: October -- February. This pear is slightly yellow in colour with a very fine white flesh, and seemed a little more fragile than the other varieties.
We settled for six Conference pears and I was treated to a most delicious tarte aux poires. This is  a simple recipe -- easy to make and no crust.

Tarte aux Poires

6 Conference pears
1 lemon
175 gms of butter
200 gms of flour
3 eggs
175 gms sugar
I/2 sachet of baking powder (one teaspoon)
150 gms of chocolate
2 tablespoons of cream
--Peel, remove the seeds and cut the pears into quarters. Mix with the juice of the lemon.
-  Grease a small tarte tin with a little butter and flour.
Turn on the oven to 180° C.
In a large bowl beat eggs and sugar until creamy, then gently add flour and baking powder using a wooden spatula. Pour in the melted butter and mix again, very gently and allow to cool.  Pour the mixture into the tin then place the pears on top. Bake for about thirty minutes making sure the pears don’t burn. Cool. Just before serving melt the chocolate and crème.
Cut and serve the tarte with warm chocolate sauce on top.
I served my special eau de vie Poire William that evening after dinner --  the perfect digestif.
Now, that's a recipe I'd like to get my hands on.

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