Pears are in season in Australia at the moment and they are just delicious. Packham and Beurre Bosc are the most common varieties, though farmer’s markets may have less common varieties like Winter Nelis or Red D’Anjou. This page has photos and descriptions of pears that are available in Australia as well as uses for the different types. I love Beurre Bosc, as it is the best all rounder pear for cooking, though the Corella pear is lovely to eat.
Last weekend I held a Sunday winter lunch for friends – it was a cooking class combined with a lunch. We used Packham pears to make the salad and Beurre Bosc in the dessert and shared the fruits of our labour over a long lunch in my home. The dessert we made has been on high rotation in my kitchen – a rustic pear tart. What I love about it is the fact that it is rustic (no equipment needed apart from your oven) – so it doesn’t have to look perfect, just taste delicious.
And in case you are wondering about the classes, this has been a dream of mine for some years. My vision has always been to provide an experience which is about the joy of shared food preparation, a shared meal and lots of chatter and laughter along the way – more than just learning the technical side of cooking. I love the idea of using seasonal ingredients and creating an experience of being in a home where cooking, food and conversation are at the centre of life.
I hope to run seasonal lunches regularly, starting with a Sunday Spring lunch in September/October. I have not quite finalised the details but I will hopefully post them on my blog soon. They will be intimate events, no more than five guests, held at my apartment in inner city Melbourne. I hope that each and every person who participates in one of my seasonal lunches feels a part of something special that will become a part of their food memories. Participants will also receive recipe packs to take home – please email me if you are interested in my Spring Lunches on firstname.lastname@example.org
I trust you will enjoy this rustic pear tart, the recipe for which is below – it got quite a lot of interest on Instagram when I posted photos. As with most of my recipes, it is simple and quick – you can have it on the table in just over an hour. It is delicious with double cream on the side and a glass of Pedro Jiminez sherry. It makes a perfect ending to a winter lunch.
Rustic pear tart
125g (4oz) plain flour
30g (1oz) caster sugar
110g (1 stick) butter, cut into cubes, cold from the fridge
1/2 tsp salt
1 tblsp cold milk or water
one to one and a half pears (I used Beurre Bosc), thinly sliced in wedges
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon plain flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
zest of half a lemon
Put the sugar and flour in a bowl. Add the butter and incorporate using the tines of a fork (or use your fingers). The mixture will be crumbly and don’t worry if there are a few chunks of butter visible – this is a rustic pie. Sprinkle on the salt and milk and knead it a couple of times until the mixture is cohesive. Place the ball of pastry on a sheet of cling wrap. Place a second sheet of cling wrap over the pastry and using the heel of your hand, flatten it. Now use a rolling pin and make a rough circle with the pastry, with a diameter of about 30cm. Place the pastry in the fridge (still covered by the two sheets of cling film). Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
When the pastry is resting in the fridge, mix the nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, 1 tsp plain flour and 1 tblsp caster sugar in a medium sized bowl. Toss the thin slices of pear in the mixture and set aside.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and briefly roll it out and shape it further if needed. Working quickly, arrange the slices of fruit in the centre of the pastry leaving a 5 cm (2 inch) border of pastry around the edges. You can make an inner circle of small pear segments as well depending on the size that you have rolled out your pastry. When you have placed all the fruit, fold over the pastry edges and scatter a bit of sugar over the pastry border.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the pastry edges are golden. Cool on a wire rack. It is best eaten at room temperature.
Free form peach tart