They say eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away. They should say the same about the pear, as it is also high in dietary fibre and nutritious goodness.
Apples and pears are handy to grab and eat on the run, or to put in the kids’ lunch boxes. Yet we tend to take them for granted, and often leave them to go dry and wrinkly in the fruit basket while we gravitate towards more glamorous fruit such as nectarines and peaches.
Recently, at the invitation of Tru-Cape apples and pears, I attended a lunch at The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek where one of South Africa’s top chefs, Margot Janse, prepared a five-course meal showcasing apples and pears in the most delicious dishes I have eaten in a long time.
Margot’s wonderful meal inspired me to take a fresh look at these fruits. I hope my own savoury and sweet dishes inspire you to give them a starring role in your cooking.
Honey glazed apple cake
1 red and 1 green apple, cored and cut into wedges
60ml lemon juice
10ml grated lemon rind
160ml castor sugar
10ml baking powder
Combine the apple wedges in a small pot with the lemon juice and honey. Simmer over a low heat for about 5 minutes until the apples are tender.
Remove the apples and reserve the cooking juice. Cream the butter, lemon rind and castor sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
Sift the flour and baking powder and add alternately to the creamed mixture with the milk to form a thick dropping consistency.
Spoon the batter into a lined and greased 20cm spring-form cake pan.
Arrange the apple wedges on the batter.
Bake at 180ºC for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and brush with the reserved cooking juices.
Roasted pears with vegetables and bacon
2 pears, cut into wedges
1 brinjal, diced
200g baby marrows, cut into 2cm pieces
1 yellow pepper, cut into 2cm pieces
1 red pepper, cut into 2cm pieces
3 carrots, peeled and cut into batons
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
45ml olive oil
salt and pepper
a large sprig of fresh thyme
250g back bacon
Combine the pears and all the vegetables in a bowl, and add the olive oil and some seasoning. Toss well to coat. Spread the vegetables and pears in an oven roasting pan and scatter over the thyme. Cook at 200ºC for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and arrange the bacon over the top.
Return to the oven for another 15 minutes until vegetables are tender and the bacon is cooked.
Pear and blueberry crumble
6 pears, peeled and cut into wedges
125g fresh blueberries
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
45ml castor sugar
125ml brown sugar
100g butter, chopped
125ml flaked coconut
Combine the pears, blueberries, orange rind and juice in a bowl and mix.
Divide the mixture into six ramekins or use one large ovenproof baking dish.
Top with the crumble and bake at 170°C for 20-30 minutes until the crumble is golden brown.
Remove and serve with some whipped cream if desired.
CRUMBLE: Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl.
Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the coconut.
Spoon crumble over the pears.
Pork chops with apple
60ml seasoned flour
30ml pork rub seasoning
4 pork chops
15ml olive oil
2 red apples, sliced into thin rounds
250ml orange juice
45ml soy sauce
5ml ground ginger
125ml salted cashew nuts
steamed broccoli to serve
Apple and potato rosti
2 medium potatoes
2 green apples
1 large onion, sliced
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying
Combine the flour and pork seasoning in a plastic bag and add the chops. Toss until coated. Shake off the excess.
Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan and fry the chops over a medium heat until nicely browned and cooked through. Remove and keep warm.
Wipe out the pan and add more butter. Add the apples and fry gently until soft.
Add the orange juice, soy sauce, honey and ginger and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes until slightly reduced.
Return the chops to the pan and add the nuts and cook for a minute. Add the broccoli to the pan and heat through.
Serve the chops and broccoli with the rosti.
APPLE AND POTATO ROSTI: Boil the potatoes in water for 10 minutes. Drain and cool. Skin and grate the potatoes.
Grate the apples with their skin around the core. Press through a sieve to remove excess moisture. Drain on paper towel.
Add to the potatoes. Mix in the onion and seasoning.
Heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan and add heaped spoonfuls of the potato mixture to the pan. Flatten slightly with a spatula. Fry over a gentle heat until golden brown on one side. Flip the rosti over and fry on the other side.
Serve with the chops.