I’ve just come back from visiting an old university friend in Stroud, Gloucestershire. While down there we did a tour of the charity shops and I discovered a 1936 edition of Cookery Illustrated & Household Management for the bargain price of £1.50.
There are two things charming about this book. The first is that it has chapters with titles like ‘Entertaining without a Maid’ which, considering when it was published and the growing clouds of war looming, seems a uniquely British eccentricity. The other charming element is how short the recipes are – today we have detailed instructions and pictures for recipes but not in 1936. You’re lucky if you got a paragraph.
I plucked this dish out as it’s a recipe that you can do easily and yet make a great impact. I’ve made these (pictures below) and they go well with some strong soapy cheese (think Cheddar, Gruyère of Apfenzeller) or with a thick salty gammon steak in place of pineapple.
Music to listen to while preparing this dish: ‘Come on in my Kitchen’ by Robert Johnson
Modern additions/clarifications in ()
- 4lb (1.8kg) pears (hard but ripe pears)
- 2lb (900g) sugar (I used golden granulated for flavour)
- 2pts (1.1 litres) vinegar (Pears are an orchard fruit so I used cider vinegar)
- 16 cloves
- 10 allspice berries
- 2″ stick cinnamon
- Juice and rind of 1/2 lemon (use juice from other half to stop the fruit from browning)
- Large piece of whole ginger
- Peel, core and cut the pears into pieces of equal size (I cut in half & quartered length-ways and covered with the remaining lemon juice to stop browning. Alternatively, you can do this step while your syrup is simmering).
- Tie the spices (and rind) loosely in muslin, then put the sugar, vinegar, lemon juice and spices into a saucepan and simmer for 15 mins.
- Add the fruit and cook till tender (this will not take long, maximum ten minutes – you don’t want mush)
- Remove and pack into glass jars, fill these with (cooled) vinegar syrup, and tie down (seal) when cold.
Notes: You can taste the spices but they are subtle, so I’d whack in an extra 50% of each to really make an impression.
It’s vin primeur season, so serve with a Beaujolais – you can go with a nouveau but the 2011 Morgon Henry Fessy won’t cause a sore head in the morning.
Pickled pears in 3 pics
- Preparation of the spices
2) It’s a wrap
3) The finished product