The Mint Shop

The Mint Shop

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A pear encounter

More and more I think it is ethically wrong to find strawberries in January, or cherries in November. And I get really grumpy when I discover that my butternut squash comes from Greece or potatoes from Kenya...without wanting to sound too Daily Mail we-don't- want-foreign- food- here but.... "don't we grow this kind of stuff here?" Humph, humph...

I don't expect people to eat cabbage and parsnips for 6 months a year, but at least that our kitchens get synchronised a bit more around seasons without mobilising planes from God-knows-where.

This week I was supposed to travel to Mozambique but to my joy I didn't - I know, I know, I am really ungrateful to the blessing I have. And this is the worst part because when I say to people "Oh yes I have to give a workshop at a beach resort in Mozambique" then of course everyone says "Oh wow how cool!" To which I feel a complete brat. But the point is that after a while you do it, you don't fancy that much packing again, spending at least 18 hours between planes and lounges (however swish the Heathrow T2 one can be), and stuffing yourself with what my colleague calls "medication" - makes me feel I'm nuts.

In any case, as I happened to be in rainy England I thought of taking advantage of a great spot we discovered last year for a proper back-to-nature harvesting. Within 50 metre distance you literally bump (ok maybe not literally) into walnut, apple, and pear trees. However, to our deep disappointment the walnut tree had already dropped all its shells and the apple tree to make no apples whatsoever. Very sad indeed.

Our search though was not all in vain. The pear tree was in full abundance. A bit high up - and not just for me.... but with some primitive tools that mother nature provided I hit enough branches (as well as almost killing my husband) and caused a generous fall. Our month's provisions has been secured.

Now with such an opulence, I have come up with all unimaginable recipes that involve this key ingredient. I looked through one of my favourite blogs (luculliandelights) and I thought that Pear and pine nut semolina cake sounded absolutely scrumptious. What is great about this cake, isthe crunchiness and coarseness of the semolina; and that is why I would highly recommend that you eat it when it's still warm - shouldn't be difficult if you are as greedy as I can be. Also the longer you leave it, the more the taste of cardamom intensifies.

Pear, Cardamom, Apples and Pine Nut Cake

For a 20cm baking tin

280g semolina;
70g self raising flour;
400ml milk;
3 eggs;
100g butter;
200g sugar;
1 tsp cardamom;
3 tbsp pine nuts;
2 medium soft pears
1 soft apple (cox)

1. Mix the flour with the semolina and the cardamom.

2. Melt the butter (thanks God you don't have to soften it up and mix it with sugar which is one of those horrid things that cake recipes ask you to do) and mix it with the sugar. Then add the milk and bring it to boil.

3. Whisk the eggs and add to the milky mix once it has cooled down a bit or you'll make an omelette. Mix well.

4. Pour the milk/egg mix onto the semolina (I know this will sound very unorthodox but it does work). Leave it for a minute so that the semolina absorbs the liquid and then mix well.

5. Peel, remove stalk, and cut the pears into slices.

6. Grease and flour the baking tin. Pour the mixture in it.

7. Arrange the slices of pear and apple on the surface of the cake, sprinkle the pine nuts all around the surface. Finish with a touch of sugar sprinkled on top which will slightly caramelise.

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