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Poached Pear Galettes

Galettes are very thin discs of flaky pastry which have no sides, the pastry is barely there, yet it gives a light, very crisp background to all kinds of toppings, both savoury and sweet. There's no limit to what you can put on top of them (see related recipes below) and you can serve them for a light lunch, as a first course, on a picnic or for a dessert. I often freeze the pastry circles raw, interleaved with foil or greaseproof paper, all ready for an impromptu meal any time at all.

These are exceptionally pretty to look at, and I like to serve them as a sweet ending to a special meal.

 
 
 Poached Pear Galettes

  Serves 6

Ingredients
 3 firm unripe pears, peeled but with the stalks left on
 Quick Flaky Pastry (see related recipe below) using 110g butter, 175g plain flour, pinch salt, a little cold water
 10 fl oz (275ml) red wine
 1 oz (25 g) caster sugar
 ½ cinnamon stick
 ½ vanilla pod
 a little flour for dusting
 1 level teaspoon arrowroot
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Equipment
You will also need two 12 x 10 inch (30 x 25.5 cm) solid baking sheets, lightly greased, and a 4 inch (10 cm) plain pastry cutter.

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book One.

Method

Make the pastry and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge. Meanwhile, find a lidded saucepan that will fit the pears comfortably, laying them in the pan on their sides.

Now mix the wine with the sugar and pour this over the pears, then add the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod.

Put the lid on the pan and gently simmer the pears for 45 minutes, until tender when tested with a skewer.

Turn them over halfway through the cooking time so the other half sits in the wine and they colour evenly. Towards the end of the cooking time, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).

Then roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick and cut it into six 4 inch (10 cm) circles, then arrange them on the baking sheets.

Now lift the pears from the liquid and halve them by first making a slit in the stalk as you press it on to a flat surface.

Then stand each pear upright and cut through the split stalk, halve the pears and remove the cores.

Now you need to slice each half into a fan, so take a sharp knife and, starting from the top of the stalk end, about ½ inch (1 cm) in, slice the pear downwards and at a slight angle so you end up with the slices of pear fanning out but still attached to the stalk.

Now place each half pear on to a pastry base and fan it out, then place the baking sheets in the oven for 10-12 minutes, one on the top shelf, the other on the next one down, swapping them over halfway through the cooking time.

Meanwhile, you need to reduce the poaching liquid, so first remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod, then place the saucepan over a high heat and let it bubble for about 5 minutes.

Then, in a cup, mix the arrowroot with a little cold water until you have a smooth paste, then add this to the saucepan, whisking with a balloon whisk all the time.

This will thicken the sauce slightly, then remove it from the heat and leave it to cool.

When the tarts are ready, remove them from the oven.

Serve hot or cold but, just before serving, pour a little of the syrup over each tart to give them a pretty glaze.

 

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