Croustade of Crozier Blue with Poached Pears, Walnuts & Baby Spinach

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 225 g / 8 oz Crozier blue cheese
  • 110 g / 4 oz light cream cheese
  • 8 slices semi-stale white bread with crusts removed
  • 1 egg beaten with a little milk
  • 100 g / 4 oz melted butter
  • 1 pinch poppy seeds
  • 3 mulled wine poached pears, quartered
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach (washed)
  • 1 drizzle of walnut oil
  • 20 toasted walnuts
  • salt and pepper

Cream the two cheeses in the food processor. Roll the slices of bread with a rolling pin to flatten and spread them a little.Divide the cheese mix amongst four slices of bread, forming a little mound in the centre of each slice. Brush the edges with egg wash. Gently place the other slice over the cheese and press the bread together to form a seal around the edges. Take a large round cutter. Place it over the mound in the middle and cut the bread discarding the edges.

Pre-heat the oven to 180º / Gas 4, transfer your croustades onto a buttered tray and dab the bread liberally with the melted butter. Scatter over the poppy seeds and place in the oven for around 15 minutes until golden and crispy. Take four plates and place three of the pear quarters on each to form a triangle. Toss the baby spinach in walnut oil and put a little pile in the centre of the pears. Scatter over the walnuts and place on croustade on each plate on top of the spinach. Drizzle a little reduced pear juice around the plate and serve.

Poached Pears in Mulled Wine

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 2 tablespoons redcurrant jelly
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 300 ml / ½ pt water
  • juice and peel of one orange
  • 110 g / 4 oz Demerara sugar
  • pinch of peppercorns

This is the base recipe for a lot of dishes I do. I know a bottle of wine for 8 pears seems a little excessive. But you can use the liquid over and over again or reduce it to make a syrup. If you skimp on the wine the colour and flavour of the pears will be insipid

8 almost ripe pears peeled carefully to keep their shape. Place all the ingredients in a deep pan, cover with a layer of greaseproof paper, then poach gently for 20 to 25 minutes until they are soft but not mushy. Leave to cool and refrigerate in the liquid.

The liquid can be reduced a little if you wish to form a syrup. This can be used to pour over ice cream or add some red wine vinegar and olive oil as a dressing for a salad. If you are feeling particularly adventurous you could turn it into a sorbet. You could always freeze it to use at a later date for another batch of pears.

Ref L’Ecrivain Restaurant
Chef Derry Clarke