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What’s for supper? Pear beignets by Maria Elia


Ingredients to serve 4-6

For the poached pears

200g caster sugar

1 bay leaf

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped

1 whole unwaxed lemon

4 pears, peeled and cored

For the batter

150g plain flour

3 tablespoons sugar

Pinch of sea salt

1 large egg

250ml lager or ale

Vegetable oil, for frying

Icing sugar

For the pear crème anglaise

120ml milk

100ml single cream

2 egg yolks

10g caster sugar

For the rosemary sugar

2 sprigs of rosemary leaves, dried, leaves stripped

75g caster sugar

Prepare the poaching liquid before the pears as they discolour. Place the sugar, 150ml water, bay leaf, vanilla seeds and pod, bay leaf and the juice and zest of the lemon in a saucepan over a low heat and bring to the boil for 2 minutes.

Cut each pear into 3–4 vertical slices about 1cm thick and add to the cooking liquor. Place a circle of greaseproof paper (a cartouche) on the top and poach until just tender (about 5–7 minutes). Remove the pears from the liquor and leave to cool and drain on a rack or cloth.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, a pinch of salt and the egg. Whisk together and gradually add the lager or ale. Whisk until the batter is smooth. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.

To make the rosemary sugar, blitz the rosemary and sugar in a blender. Heat the oil to 175°C. Working in batches, dip a few slices of poached pear into the batter, then carefully drop them into the oil. Fry until golden on both sides (about 4 minutes). Drain the pear beignets on absorbent paper and dust with rosemary sugar.

To make the pear crème anglaise, place the poaching syrup from the pears, the milk and the cream in a saucepan and gently bring to the boil.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale. Pour a little of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, then gradually pour this back into the hot milk. Cook over a low heat, stirring continuously until the custard thickens. Do not boil or the custard will curdle. Once thickened, pass the custard through a fine sieve and serve with the pears.

Taken from ‘Full of Flavour’ by Maria Elia. (Kyle Books, £19.99). Photograph by Jonathan Gregson