Last time we spoke I was making a mad mix of ginger beer pickled pears for my Christmas Day Pear and Blue Cheese Salad. If you follow my Instagram, you would already know how this turned out. If not, take a look!
I am amazingly proud of this. It looks so pretty and festive and it tasted just as good as it looks!
The ginger beer pickled pears were great. They were so tasteless raw, it was like chewing cardboard. The ginger beer pickle not only added some flavour but also made them taste more pear-y.
For the salad, I used a supermarket bought mixed leaves, toasted walnuts, some crumbled blue cheese and some red currants to add some festivity!
I kept the skin on the pear during the pickling but took it off for serving.
For the dressing I mixed some of the pickling liquid with some olive oil. And then promptly forgot to take it to mum’s. She had some bought dressing which we used on the day but I actually think the one I made was better.
My Pickled Pear and Blue Cheese Salad was inspired by a recipe in the A-Z of Cooking for a Pear and Blue Cheese Salad. I didn’t copy it totally first because of the issue with the pear. But also I felt that the combination of blue cheese and mayo would make my salad too heavy. We have been in a heat wave and so for me the lighter dressing kept the salad more lean and the increased acidity worked well in the heat.
Here is that recipe, you’ll find my recipe for the Pickled Pear and Blue Cheese Salad at the bottom of the page.
I may be am totally biased but I’m calling my 2015 version of a Pear and Blue Cheese Salad the winner in this bout of retro v modern. I absolutely loved it. But you know what? Try them both and let me know what you think!
Meantime, I have half a jar of saffrony-gingery-chilli-ish pickling liquid left over. Fruit and sugar and vinegar = a shrub does it not? I’m researching as we speak. This could be the gift that keeps on giving. It’s a dirty job but someone is going to have to taste test cocktails made with the pear and ginger shrub to find out which booze it goes best with. I think it can go three ways – keep it lean with some vodka, make it sparkle with some prosecco or play to the spicy notes with some spiced rum.That’s where I’m heading anyway.
Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions will be gratefully received.
I’ll try to get it right before NYE. Speaking of which, what are your plans? The fussiest eater in the world is working so it’s me on my lonesome. Which is perfectly fine by me. I am working during the day so will use the evening to prepare a Bridget Jones curry buffet for the following day when my friend Ali is coming over for what has become a New Year’s Day tradition.
Hopefully,the ratio of cooking vs shrub testing stays on the right side and I don’t end up doing the full Bridget Jones couch routine!
Combine the gingerbeer and the vinegar in the a small saucepan.
Add the chilli and bring to the boil.
Add the pears and the saffron.
Lower the heat and poach the pears in the liquid for around 5 minutes. The pears need to be cooked through but not at all mushy. If they are not cooked in the 5 minutes, turn the heat off but keep the pears in the hot cooking liquid until they achieve the right level of doneness.
Once done, drain the pears but keep the ginger-vinegar liquid. Place the pears in the fridge to cool down while you make the rest of the salad.
Spread the mixed salad greens over a plate.
Sprinkle over the walnuts and the crumbled blue cheese.
Remove the peel from the pears and spread the slices over the greens.
Top with the red currants, if using.
Make a dressing by mixing 1/2 tbsp of the ginger-vinegar liquid with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Season to taste and pour over the salad.
Which is pretty much all cook-a-longs. They choose a new book every two months and anyone can cook from the book and post on their own site. Then, Leah shares what everyone posts on The Cookbook Guru. What a great idea!!!
The book for January and February is Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book. First published in 1978, this has become a classic. And very auspicious that I get to start with a book full of retro recipes.
I was even more excited that there were a whole heap of artichoke recipes because the local continental deli had been having a sale and I bought about a ton of artichokes because they were something insane like 50 cents a can.
Then I read Jane’s advice on
How to choose canned artichokes.
Huh….Jane apparently doesn’t mince words. I like her already. But anyway I hightailed it out of artichokes and landed at the very other end of the book at watercress and found this lovely recipe for a very fancy grilled cheese called Locket’s Savoury.
I did have a little giggle when I read the name of this dish. Back in the day, we used to have a footballer by the name of Lockett nicknamed Plugger because….I have no idea why and have sufficient lack of interest in football to be arsed to Google it. Anyway, some time before the Grand Final one year (the equiv of the Super Bowl or the FA Cup Final), Plugger hurt his groin. And I swear for an inordinately long amount of time, it seemed like if you picked up a newspaper, turned on the radio or the tv, all you heard about, all people seemed to care about was Plugger’s Groin. Strangers would approach you on the street and say “So, do you think it will be good for the Granny?”
Not since David Beckham made those underwear ads has an entire nation been so obsessed by the state of a football player’s nether regions. And yes, by the way…we do nickname our Super Bowl/FA Cup etc The Granny. As in a little old lady. That’s Australia for you.
So, all that was Lockett’s Unsavoury, let’s turn to the matter at hand – Locket’s Savoury
So simple. So delicious, and just 4 ingredients.
The original recipe called for white bread. I used this beautiful seeded ciabatta. Jane’s recipe called for the crusts to be cut off. I left mine on because I love the taste of the toasted seeds!
One of my favourite greens. I love the peppery taste of it!
Are probably my least favourite fruit. Will this recipe redeem them in my mind?
Mmmmmm…blue cheese. Happy days….
Stilton is apparently the king of cheeses. Who knew cheese had a royalty. Who’s the queen? And more importantly who is the red headed reprobate prince flashing it’s arse and donning a swastika for high jinks?
I’m betting it’s goats cheese.
This was awesome. It actually made me like pears. And that’s saying something!
There’s a few more totally awesome watercress recipes in this same book and I have a ton of it left so you may get a few more o’ these before the month is through. There is definitely one more I have to do.
Here is Jane Grigson’s recipe:
This was really good. Super tasty, super easy and I wouldn’t change a thing in Jane’s recipe.
Or would I?
The more I thought about it, the more it seemed very unfair that my gluten-free friends missed out on this delight.
So without further ado, meet the pimped up, gluten-free Locket’s Savoury
Basically, scrap the bread, use a slice of pear as the base. Add your watercress and Stilton. Throw in some chopped walnuts. Once done, sprinkle with some chives.
In some ways this was almost better. Those pears got all caramelised and…dare I say it, delicious!!!
I’m so looking forward to doing the Cookbook Guru Cook-a-longs. And you know what would be even better? If you all did it too…
If you did want to, you already know the book for the rest of Feb. March and April is The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert. My local library has a copy of this. Yours probably does too. I also got the Jane Grigson book from the library.
But PS..The Locket’s Savoury is the gift that keeps on giving. Those little bits of blue cheese that slide off as you grill the cheese and go kind of crunchy. So good to eat later!!!
Have a fabulous week!
And I would love to know your royal family of cheese!!!
Pimped Up Locket's Savoury (Gluten Free)
A gluten free version of a delicious watercress, pear and blue cheese recipe from Jane Grigson
As we approach the day of sickening oversentimentality love, it seems fitting to devote a post to the love apple aka the tomato. And just to further add to my bah humbug disdain of the day, I thought I would share another one of my dating disasters from the good old days when I was single (and dinosaurs ruled the Earth). The first which I posted last Valentine’s day can be found here.
But first, tomatoes…..have to be one of my favorite foods. And as much as I love the fancy stuff – if you give me two slices of white bread, spread liberally with butter, some slices of tomato, preferably fresh from the garden some salt and pepper….right there you have a little bit of my idea of heaven.
And speaking of tomato heaven, this salad is one of the best things I have ever eaten. And it’s not just my favourite tomato salad, it is also a mash up of Rosemary Mayne Wilson’s Favourite Tomato Salad and her Superb Blue Cheese Dressing.
Just look at this and tell me it’s not one of the prettiest things you have ever seen? And just to gild that lily? The dressing contains a hefty dose of blue cheese. And a liberal splash of sherry for those of you who, much like myself, like to have a little bit o’ booze with….well pretty much anything.
So tasty and full of yummy deliciousness. But as we celebrate the love apple, let’s also take a step back into my dark, deep dating history for another disaster story.
So, a few years ago, I was dating a someone who…seemed pretty normal. Until.
We were due to meet my mum and her partner for dinner one night. And we had to park a little bit away from the restaurant. As we started walking through the car park, he went to spit on the ground.
Which, is pretty disgusting in, and of, itself. But then came
So. He goes to spit on the ground.
Only thing is…he misses.
Misses the ground that is How you ask? How can he miss the ground? Do you live in a land of anti-gravity?
No, He missed the ground because he spat all over his own shoe.
Feel free to insert massive eyeroll at will.
Bad enough, you’re going to spit on the ground. That’s uncouth. Do you need to add uncoordinated onto that as well?
So now we’re half way across the car park. He has a big gob of spit on his right shoe. Which needs to be gotten rid of pronto because we’re about to meet my parents.
And here comes
He chose to get rid of that big gob of spit by lifting up his right leg and wiping it on the back of his jeans on his left leg.
Appalling, I know. But you haven’t even heard the worst.
Because even though I know that technically there’s no such thing as a
The worst thing?
Let’s just suppose I had accidentally spat on my own foot…it would never happen but you know…in the realms of absolute fantasy….
I would have hopped about shrieking like a banshee for….I don’t know, at least a good ten minutes…
“OMG, I’ve spat on my own shoe…what am I going to do? I need to get it off, how am I going to get it off…where’s the nearest shoe shop? I need to buy new shoes…” etc.
HE did not even break stride. It was like spit, shoe, wipe…all in one fluid motion. Which only meant one thing….
It wasn’t the first time he had done it.
He was a serial spitter and misser.
That relationship didn’t last the carpark….
This tomato salad should become an immediate part of your summer repertoire. It’s so damn good!!!
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!! Hope it’s fabulous whatever you do!
Favourite Tomato Salad
The name says it all. This will become your favorite tomato salad too!
A few weeks ago Jenny at Silver Screen Suppers invited her readers to celebrate the launch of her book of Joan Crawford recipes by taking part in a cookalong. I was so excited to be a part of this and I set Melbourne Cup Day as the day because strangely enough, I was going to be at the races on the actual day.
Jenny very kindly provided us with three of Joan’s recipes. One was for Crepes Suzette. Having recently had Crepes Suzette expertly cooked for me at the Lotus Blanc in Cambodia, I thought I might give this a miss. I wasn’t sure my attempts at flipping and flaming would compare. However, I was well and truly up for the other two, starting with
Joan’s Crawford’s Danti-Chips
I was so excited about these. I was even more excited when the jars of devilled ham were two for one at the local supermarket.
And then, dear readers, I made a newbie, amateur, doofus mistake. Because logic should tell you that when you are confronted with a jar of pink paste called Devilled Ham, you just need to accept that all it contains is ham and…other….stuff. Don’t ever go wondering what that other stuff might be. For the love of all that’s good in the world….
DO NOT EVER READ THE LABEL ON THE BACK OF THE JAR OF DEVILLED HAM.
And yes, I am shouting at you. Because it was over a week ago and I still feel sick thinking about it. And you know, Deviled Ham was one of my pleasures in life. Admittedly not high on the list but it was there. And now it has gone. Forever. Just like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
I’m not going to tell you what was in it. Just don’t read the label. Even though now you really want to. I know you do. do not give into the temptation. Imagine that jar of Peck’s Paste is local Nazi Colonel and you are an oversexed French Cafe owner hiding some English airmen and a priceless painting of The Fallen Madonna with The Big Boobies and resist!
(And if you had absolutely no idea what that last bit was about, your parents obviously didn’t watch enough British sit coms during your formative years….
You can find out more about that particular tangent here:
So anyway, I chose the vegetarian option. I used a mushroom and spinach tapenade for my chips. He had the devilled ham, Far be it from me to spoil anyone’s enjoyment of life the way mine has been destroyed. Plus, we have two jars of it to get through. Ignorance? Bliss.
These do look really pretty though don’t they? And they tasted really delicious. I added some chopped up pickled chillies to my pickle garnish and they went really well with the other flavours as well as adding a little colour.
We ate these mid’-afternoon whilst watching the races. And believe me, it took no time at all for that plate to become this…
STEAK WITH ROQUEFORT
Later on in the evening it was time for the second of Joan’s recipes and….it’s making my mouth water even as I think about it.
Ooooohhhhh yeah…Steak with Roquefort come on down. (Although technically mine was Steak with Stilton as the local supermarket does not stock Roquefort).
We had this with some kale and beans I also doubled up with a book club recipe and made the Turmeric and Cumin Potatoes from Persiana. Which were also super!
Meal to remember!!!!!
Steak and any sort of blue cheese is amazing. And Joan’s little twist with the….not telling…you need to buy the book to find out….is awesome!
Oh, and if, like me you happen to have some leftover corn chips from the Danti-Chips and some leftover roquefort mixture from the steak you can combine these with any leftover kale and some very finely chopped red onions to create a delicious spin on Nachos the night after!
Hopefully Joan would approve!!!
Thanks Jenny for the wonderful opportunity to be a part of this!!!! I loved the recipes and can’t wait to see the rest of the book!
I think it’s only fair this week to have the sign off to come from the lady herself. Have a fabulous week – maybe think about how you can add some old Hollywood glamour into your life. And buy Jenny’s book! If the recipes I tried are any reflection it will be awesome!!!