Plump for pears

Sweet or savoury, this autumn fruit has plenty of potential. Photographs: Harry Weir

 

VANESSA’S WAY: PEAR FRANGIPANE TART:

A classic French pear frangipane tart requires mastery of certain techniques, a challenge our culinary students at Cooks Academy enjoy. This make-in-minutes version overlapping thin layers of pear nestled atop flaky, golden puff-pastry is both elegant and rustic in its understatedness.

It is also great for quick entertaining at this busy time of year. Conference pears are commonly grown in Irish gardens, but any pear variety will work as long as they are a uniform shape.

This recipe works both with slightly less-than-ripe or just about overly-soft fresh pears. For a cheat’s accompaniment, whisk a teaspoon of cinnamon through vanilla ice-cream, refreeze and serve dainty ice-cream quenelles with the warm tart.

GARY’S WAY: GRILLED PEAR WITH SPICED WALNUT POLENTA CAKE AND TARRAGON ORANGE AIOLI:

Stealing from orchards should be a part of every kid’s repertoire. I could tell you every orchard in or around Ramelton and Lough Swilly that’s worth robbing. Some had pears and apples only. Some had cookers, strawberry stripes, pears and plums and some had nothing but wasps and guaranteed stings. We used to eat the pilfered goodies until we got sick. Some craic. We’d bring them home and divide them out between the households.

Upside down pear cakes, apple tarts and strudels were the norm. Pears would be left to ripen and soften and you’d find yourself dipping your hand into the big black bag every day for weeks. Magical times.

Here’s a lovely savoury pear recipe. I can’t condone theft from orchards any longer, but it does make the pears taste better if you had to out run a farmer when getting them.

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