Monday, 9 January 2017

Spiced pear paste



December was destined to be a downer due to a deadline. So to counter the crankiness of working while everyone else was on holidays, I made a pact with myself that I would see or swim in the sea every day of that month. I'm lucky enough to live within walking distance of three stunning Sydney beaches, and multiple ocean pools. Last year I didn't go once to any of them all summer. My mum had just died and I found it hard to be around beauty like that at a time when things felt so dark. A year on, it felt like the policy needed to change. I'm not sure I felt any more festive but it definitely felt good to be floating, if only for five minutes a day.


I'm grateful for being able to do it at all. And for good friends, one of whom has his birthday on the 25th of December. Being folded into that celebration allowed me to formally give Christmas the flick this year. Instead we ate birthday cake, drank wine and grazed on cheese... and this was what I made to go with it. 


Mum used to make guava paste, which I loved, but I didn't have guavas, so with a bit of inspiration from Maggie Beer's peerless products, whipped up a spiced pear paste, which was wonderful. Here's to horizons.







Spiced pear paste
Adapted from a recipe by CSR

Wrapped in plastic wrap these keep in the fridge for three months. The sweetness of the paste works best paired with a sharp cheese - both blue or goat's are glorious.


600g ripe pears
Juice of 1 large lemon
500g  jam setting sugar
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

 
Line five or six holes in a muffin tin with plastic wrap. 

Peel pears. Remove cores. Weigh pear flesh. You will need 500g of flesh. 

Place pears in a blender or food processor and process to a smooth puree. 

Place purée, lemon juice, sugar, cloves and cinnamon in a large wide heavy based saucepan. Cook, stirring over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to a full rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down). Boil, stirring occasionally for 15 mins or until mixture thickens to a paste and darkens in colour. Remove from heat and set aside for 5 mins. 

Pour mixture into prepared tin. Smooth surface. Set aside overnight at room temperature to allow mixture to set firmly. 

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