Pear of kings
Savoury or sweet, the often overlooked fruit is a delicious addition to a variety of dishes
Text Susan Jung / Photography Jonathan Wong / Styling Nellie Ming Lee
Most people think of using pears only in the winter, when the fruits we associate with sum-mer - brightly coloured berries, cherries and melons - aren't available. But pears are available year-round. For the first recipe, choose a firmer variety of the fruit; for the second - a classic, simple and deli-cious salad - use pears that are ripe, buttery and sweet.
Chestnut-flour crepes with sautéed pears and chestnut honey (pictured)
The idea for this - and the chestnut-flour crepes recipe - is from Pierre Hermé's book Pastries. The original dish is made with pear sorbet, marrons glaces ice cream and braised chestnuts, but this version is much easier.
Chestnut honey has an unusual bittersweet flavour; if you can't find it, substitute another type. Chestnut flour, which is sold at shops specialising in Italian products, is highly perishable and should be stored in the freezer.
For the chestnut-flour crepes:
35 grams unsalted butter
3 large eggs
25 grams granulated sugar
¼ tsp fine sea salt
About 150ml whole milk
15ml brandy or whisky
30ml corn oil, plus extra for the crepe pan
60 grams chestnut flour
40 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
For the pears:
1 vanilla bean
3 large pears (they should be ripe but firm)
30ml lemon juice, or to taste
A pinch of fine sea salt
30 grams muscovado sugar (or another soft brown sugar)
10 grams unsalted butter
Make the crepe batter at least four hours in advance. Melt the butter and leave it to cool to lukewarm. Whisk the eggs with the sugar and salt, then stir in the milk, brandy or whisky, melted butter and corn oil. In another bowl, thoroughly combine the chestnut flour and plain flour. Pour half of the egg/milk mixture over the flour and stir until smooth, then add the remainder. Pour the batter through a fine sieve then refrigerate it for at least four hours.
Take the crepe batter from the fridge and check the consistency - it should be as thick as room-temperature cream; if necessary, stir in more milk. Heat a crepe pan (I make small ones, about 16cm in diameter, but you can use a larger pan) and brush it very lightly with oil, then wipe off the excess with a paper towel. When the pan is hot, stir the batter then ladle in just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook the crepe until it pulls away from the sides of the pan; when you shake the pan, the crepe should slide around. Flip it over and cook the other side briefly, then put it on a plate. Cook the remaining batter the same way, stirring it each time before ladling it into the pan (because the flour sinks to the bottom).
Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the tiny black seeds. Peel and core the pears and cut them into 1cm cubes. Toss the pieces with the lemon juice, salt, sugar and vanilla seeds.
Heat the butter in a skillet and when it sizzles, add the pear mixture. Sauté the ingredients until the pears are tender but not mushy. If there's too much liquid in the skillet, use a slotted spoon to remove the pear pieces, then simmer the pear juices until they reduce to a light sauce consistency.
Lay the crepes on a plate and spoon some of the pears and the sauce over each one. Fold the crepes in quarters. Drizzle with the chestnut honey and serve immediately.
Leftover unfilled crepes can be wrapped in cling-film then frozen.
Pear and endive salad with roquefort and sweet and salty pecans
For the sweet and salty pecans:
100 grams chopped pecans
10 grams egg whites
15 grams granulated sugar
¼ tsp fine sea salt
For the salad:
2-3 large heads of Belgian endive
2 ripe, sweet pears
100 grams (or more) roquefort cheese
Zest of half an orange, removed from the fruit in long, thin strands with a citrus zester
20ml fresh orange juice
10ml fresh lemon juice
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil. Whisk the egg white until frothy, then mix it with the pecans to coat them lightly. Add the sugar and salt and stir well, then spread the ingredients over the baking tray. Bake for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are fragrant and lightly toasted. Cool completely, then break apart the nuts.
Trim off and discard the base from the endive then separate the leaves. Peel the pears and remove the cores. Cut the fruit into wedges. Mix the orange juice and lemon juice with the olive oil, then taste; adjust the ingredients, if necessary.
Place the endive leaves over two or four plates, then top with the pear wedges. Crumble the roquefort over the ingredients, add strands of orange zest, then drizzle with the dressing. Scatter some of the pecans on top, add a light sprinkling of black pepper, and serve. The leftover sweet and salty pecans should be stored in an airtight container.