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
I have spoken previously about my abhorrence of food made to look like animals. It’s one of the reasons why Easter isn’t my favourite holiday.
Chocolate posing as rabbits and chickens? Not so much.
Not to mention the Easter Bilbies…
I have nothing against bilbies, I think they’re kind of sweet when they are found in nature where they belong. Where they do not belong is in my Easter Basket.
However, given the time of year and the predilection for animal shaped food items I thought I would have a quick look at two recipes, one from the Party Cookbook (1971), the other from a modern book to see how our tastes have changed.
Let’s start with the 1971 recipe for White Mice in Jelly.
I didn’t make this because
a) It’s food made to look like rodents, and
b) I’m not fond of pears. I find them largely tasteless and a little gritty.
But imagine these sans lettuce leaf and cheese and drowned in a vat of Lucozade and you get the general idea of the White Mice in Jelly.
1971 verdict – I guess they’re kind of cute. If you like eating facsimile vermin and gritty fruit, knock yourself out.
Moving to 2013, I found the following recipe in Luke Nguyen‘s Greater Mekong Cookbook. I assumed his Chargrilled Coconut Mice would be an Asian version of the above, maybe made from a tropical fruit dipped in coconut. A cutesy way to end the book, like the puppy story at the end of the news.
Then I actually read the recipe and..oh….oh…OH! For the love of hopscotching Jesus…no!
Don’t get me wrong Luke, I like you. I think you are charming television host and a great chef. I follow you on social media. But seriously? REAL FUCKING MICE? Have you lost your mind?
I didn’t make this one either because
a) It’s food made of rodents and
b) Telling me to not freak out and use quail doesn’t work. The word mice has already been mentioned. Several times. I don’t give a crap if they are naturally clean I’m not throwing a few mice on the barbie!
2013 Verdict – Is this really what we’ve come to? We’ve had the foams and the bacon ice-cream and the molecular gastronomy, we’re now eating vermin? Bring back 1971!
Just in case the recipe wasn’t bad enough you can watch Luke cooking the mice here: