Are there spring berries yet where you live? We're still not seeing fresh, local berries here, so our plans for a dessert with fresh berries was foiled last weekend, and we had to turn to overwintered pears instead.
We also had a chunk of that white Stilton with lemon we wrote about last week; we didn't want to serve it as a dessert cheese again, and we were curious how it would work with the pears. Turns out we stumbled into one of the quickest, easiest, and most elegant desserts we've had lately.
This is a last minute dessert, a dessert to make when you have five minutes or less, when dinner runs late, when guests are early, when guests show up unexpectedly.
Pears and apples do fine in cold storage all winter, and often they last well into the late spring. Pears don't start ripening until they are brought to a warmer temperature, so the red variety we bought was still crisp.
And while this sort of thing is something we associate more strongly with fall, the lemon Stilton and the honey actually gave this a freshness and a slight wildness that suited a rainy, misty spring evening very well indeed.
Also, we've been talking a lot about cooking without recipes and we're going to be looking at that more in depth next week, especially as you prepare for your big end-of-Cure party! There are simple, fast ways to make an elegant dessert, and fruit is your best friend.
Obviously you can adjust this any number of ways - no white Stilton but have blue cheese instead? Use that! It's a classic pairing here anyway. Have almonds? Jam? Try them!
Roasted Pears with Lemon Stilton, Walnuts and Honey
6 crisp yet ripe pears - they should be firm and yield only slightly to pressure, with no large bruises
About 4 ounces white Stilton with lemon peel
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup walnut halves and pieces
Heat the oven to 375°F. Cut each pear in half and scoop out the center seeds and core with a spoon or melon baller. Put in a 9x13 baking pan. Mash the cheese together with the butter and drop a spoonful in the hollow of each pear half. Sprinkle the nuts over top, and drizzle with honey.
Roast in the oven, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until tender and easily pierced with fork. Place two pear halves in each bowl and add a drizzle of whipped cream or a small scoop of ice cream. Eat warm but not hot.
(Images: Faith Hopler)