Cape Town - Autumn produce is adding vibrant colour to local supermarket shelves and street vendors’ pyramids. Apples and pears lead the way, with bursts of pink and red and green and yellow, promising delectable, healthy bites.
These seasonal favourites will be abundant for several months as later varieties are harvested, giving us plenty of time to try out new recipes as well as presenting old favourites.
Look out next month for a very pretty pear with a long neck and rounded base that is delicious raw and is also useful for baking; called Abate Fetel, it has a six-week season and will be stocked by Checkers and Shoprite stores.
Owing to the severe hail damage suffered earlier this year by fruit farms in the Ceres area, many pears and apples have skin damage, although their flesh is as firm and delicious as their picture-perfect cousins. Marketing corporate Tru-Cape has dubbed these fruits with the Hash Tag #UglyPretty and you should find packs featuring this logo in some supermarkets soon.
They are expected to be cheaper than regular fruit, so make the most of them while stocks last.
Both apples and pears make delectable ingredients in salads and savoury dishes: classics like pears with blue cheese and crisp red apples with mature cheddar are hard to beat. At a recent lunch held at De Grendel restaurant, Tru-Cape asked chef Ian Bergh to create a menu starring these versatile fruits – and his appealing starter and sublime dessert enjoyed rave reviews from the diners. Try his recipes.
Chef Bergh’s prawn, apple and cream cheese salad
Make your own avocado mousse by mashing the flesh, seasoning and stirring in a little lemon juice to prevent discolouration.
8 prawn tails, peeled, cleaned, blanched and finely chopped
4 tbs (at least 60ml) cream cheese
1 tsp fresh coriander, chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
4 tbs (at least 60ml) avocado mousse
salt and crushed black pepper
4 small bunches baby leaf greens
2 crisp apples, very thinly sliced
1 red pepper, cored, seeded and ribs removed
¼ cup (about 60ml) water
2 tbs castor sugar
2 tbs red wine vinegar
¼ tsp fresh red chilli, chopped
Make the dressing first: Combine the pepper, water, sugar, vinegar and chilli in a blender and pulse until fine, then push the mixture through a fine strainer.
Transfer the liquid to a small saucepan and reduce until syrupy. Remove from heat, leave to cool and season to taste.
Combine the chopped prawn, cream cheese, lemon juice and coriander with the avocado mousse in a mixing bowl, add a pinch of salt and crushed black pepper, and mix well. Now roll the mixture into cylinders within the sliced apples. Slice the rolls carefully in half.
To serve, divide the rolls between four plates and add a quarter of the leaf salad on the side. Dress the salad with the red pepper dressing.
Pear and blue cheese pizza
This makes one large pizza that will feed either a hungry diner or two with smaller appetites. An Abate Fetel pear would be ideal, but you can use Packhams Triumph variety as well. The recipe is from Too Good to be True, published by Tru-Cape.
1xpkt 400g frozen puff pastry, thawed
80ml tinned chopped tomato
40ml fruit chutney
70g blue cheese, crumbled
1 Abate Fetel Pear, peeled and cored
Rocket leaves to garnish
Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Roll puff pastry out into a rectangle and transfer to a baking dish. Fold the edges of the pastry over inwards by 1cm. Prick the base with a fork, avoiding the folded edges. Bake at 200ºC for 8 minutes, then remove and flatten parts that have puffed up. Combine the chopped tomato and chutney and spread over the base of the pastry. Using a vegetable peeler, shave off thin slices of pear and scatter over the tomato. Crumble the blue cheese over. Bake for 15 minutes, and sprinkle rocket leaves over before serving.
Nutty pear fools
An easy, no-cook dessert that makes a delicious finale. Find the recipe in Too Good to be True, published by Tru-Cape. Use salted butter and/or other crisp biscuits if preferred. Any fresh, crisp, ripe pear can be used in place of Abate Fetel and any tall glasses can be used for the dessert.
60g unsalted butter
100g Nutty Crunch biscuits, crushed
200g peanut brittle
80ml white sugar
250ml Greek yoghurt
120ml boiling water
2 Abate Fetel Pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced.
Additional pear slices and peanut brittle, or peanuts, chopped, for garnish
Melt the butter and stir in the crushed biscuits.
Beat the cream until stiff, then fold in the yogurt.
Melt the peanut brittle over low heat with the boiling water and sugar until melted and syrupy. Carefully stir in the pear slices.
Using 2 martini glasses, layer the ingredients in the following order: biscuit, cream, pear slices, cream and then top with shattered peanut brittle or peanuts and a few pear slices as garnish.
Chef Bergh’s chocolate fondant, apple and berry salad with mint cream
This impressive finale can be garnished with an optional berry compote and almond crumble that can be sprinkled over the fruit salad, as shown in the photograph.
If you are using frozen berries, defrost them at room temperature, gently, shortly before required.
If you prefer measuring your liquids in millilitres rather than grams, do so using the same quantities as given below.
140g castor sugar
2 egg yolks
450g quality dark chocolate, at least 70percent cocoa
420g unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla essence
Berry and apple salad
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and diced
1 tbs raspberries
2 tbs blueberries
2 tbs strawberries, chopped
2 tbs blackberries
15g mint leaves
Make the fondant:
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and leave at room temperature. Heat the milk over a medium heat, do not bring to a boil.
Cream the sugar and egg together, pour a little of the hot milk into the egg mixture, stirring, then pour the egg mixture into the hot milk stirring continuously.
Bring to a simmer, stirring, until mixture thickens to a crème anglaise consistency.
Strain the mixture over the chocolate, whisk until smooth, add butter in small cubes gradually, whisking, then add the essence.
Transfer to small moulds and leave to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
For the berry and apple salad combine all ingredients, mix gently and set aside.
For the mint cream, combine the mint leaves with the milk in a processor and chop until fine. Whisk the sugar and cream together until medium peaks form, then gently fold the two mixtures together. Chill until needed.
When ready to serve, unmould the fondants and divide between 4 plates, along with with the salad and mint cream.