Saturday, January 14, 2012

Going Pear Shaped

When I was compiling a list of pressie requests to pass on to my Kris Kindel this year, I faced the not-so-easy task of whittling the many cookbooks on my wishlist down to a more reasonable and less demanding one or two. I had been eyeing up Allegra McEvedy's Bought, Borrowed & Stolen ever since I read a review of it when it was first published, being, as I am, a huge fan of her wonderful, user-friendly Leon cookbook. BB&S is a really beautiful book to have on your shelves, more than simply a reference for recipes, but a chronicle of the celebrated chef's travels through the medium, not only of the food she ate, but also the knives that she bought in a variety of locations. I have found myself sitting down with this book on many occasions to pick some recipes to try out, and became diverted, each time, by her stories about the parts of the world she has visited and worked and lived in, as well as the snappy little fact files about each one. The reason why this book made the final cut was, apart from its aesthetic superiority, because the recipes encompass a breadth of cultures, mealtimes and occasions that make it extremely useable. Featuring slightly more unusual gastronomic destinations such as Malawi and Burma, as well as old reliables like Italy and the USA, the recipes range in difficulty and convenience so that you'll find something in there that will make a tasty, handy lunch for one, and also other dishes that you can show off with when you have friends over for dinner. Something that I find particularly attractive is that you can choose any of the chapters and in it put together a meal that will encompass a complementary starter, main course and dessert, something that I frequently struggle to coordinate. I had invited a friend over for brunch one morning for a bit of a catch-up, and chose the Panquecas de Queijo (sweet goats' cheese pancakes) from Brazil as something that is tasty, uncomplicated, hits a few foodgroups and doesn't take a year and a day to make. As I was heading out for my morning run, however, she texted to say that she was just in from her night out. Love it; not that I can do it so much myself anymore, but fair play to her for not being one of those annoying people who moans on about how it's January and they just can't do anything except inhale steamed vegetables and basically act entirely contrary to their nature for the month. I set out for my ten mile run and made this when I came back. Not an indulgence of the out-all-night variety, but as I am now in training for marathon number two I am in virtuous mode, so this may be as exciting as it gets for me for the foreseeable future.

The recipe calls for either pear or guava; there were no guavas to hand, so two pears it was. Peeled, cut into bite-sized chunks and poached in 250ml water with 45g sugar for about 10 minutes.

While the pears are simmering away it's time to get the show on the road with the pancakes. Not those fluffy little pats of American pancakes, but rather the floppy French kind. 80g plain flour, a pinch of salt and a heaped teaspoon of sugar, then one beaten egg and 125ml milk. When it has all come together it might need a little water to thin it out a little - think the consistency of single cream.

And so commences the delicate art of pouring and cooking and keeping in one piece and not burning. 

When the poaching is done pop out the pears, hang on to that water, slide in a tablespoon of honey and let it simmer away to make a syrup. 

Once the pear chunks have cooled a little, mix them gently with 125g soft, rindless goats cheese. Since they will be still at least a little warm the cheese will get creamier and it will all come together very smoothly. 

Line the mixture down the middle of each pancake and roll it up into as neat a tube shape as possible. Bearing in mind that when you put it on the plate you can smuggle the messy bits on to the underside part that nobody can actually see. 

Like so! Bookended by fruit and drizzled with that syrup. Since I used frozen blueberries I'm afraid that this isn't the most appetising picture; they really do look like something I don't care to mention. But they are very, very tasty. Be advised that this Eimear-sized portion would adequately feed two people, but if there is a runner in your life then such a substantial serving will be greatly appreciated after a long run on a Sunday. 

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