Friday, October 21, 2011
So here's my learn-French plan. Well, I should back up. I know some French. I read a lot of French. Tons, actually, for hours and hours every day. But it's all either modern academic French, or it's 17th or 18th century French. Neither one of them is all that useful in day-to-day life. So part of my learn-French plan (the part that doesn't involve watching French cartoons on tv) is to start cooking in French.
French food magazines, MasterChef every Thursday with my Paris best friend and her cat Monsieur Baudelaire Checker-Paws (I'm actually not sure if the 'checker paws' part is hyphenated like a last name, left unspaced like one word or what). Speaking of MasterChef every Thursday night, that show lasts about three hours here. I'm not even kidding. Every time I think they've left it at a high point for the next episode, we're always back after the short commercial break.
My friend and I have also lately been trying to make some dinner for the two of us on MasterChef night. We're both relatively constrained by the size and stock of our kitchens. Since she has a toaster oven, she's winning. But these pears prove you don't need anything fancier than really great ingredients. The recipe is from one of a series of books that seem to be pretty popular here, called Marabout Chef. The book I have from them, "Les basiques de la cuisine française" suggests mostly pretty easy recipes, and the layout of the book reminds me of some of Donna Hay's cookbooks in that each recipe is printed on one side of the page, sometimes multiple recipes to a page, with a simple photograph on the other side.
The Marabout people want you to peel your pears before stuffing them with a mixture of Gorgonzola and crème fraîche. But my peeler totally sucks, so I skipped it. Not very French of me, I realize, but without peeling the recipe takes no time. Just halve the pears, use a spoon to dig out the core, leaving a little pocket into which goes the filling. I bout some jambon de Parme to serve with it, but we forgot it about until after the pears were gone, so that's an option not pictured above.
Poires Farcies au Gorgonzola, or Gorgonzola Stuffed Pears
Adapted from Camille le Foll's Marabout Chef Les Basiques de la Cuisine Française
4 fresh, perfectly ripe pears
75 grams Gorgonzola or really any good blue cheese you have
1 small container (about 8 ounces) crème fraîche
1 lemon, halved
Pepper to taste
Cut the pears in half and use a spoon to remove the core. There should be a little well in the middle the pear. Rub each half of the cut-side of the pears with half a lemon. This prevents browning. Set aside.
In a bowl, use a fork to mash the Gorgonzola into the crème fraîche. It will take a couple of moments, depending on how cold your cheese is. But it should blend just fine. Season the mixture with pepper to taste, then fill the waiting pears with the mixture and serve, either as is or with a few slices of jambon de Parme.