I love pears. The firm crisp ones that many people think are a bit under ripe. I’m not a soft or mushy fruit kinda guy. It’s a textural thing about me but I like my pears and apples to be firm and have some crunch. I’m not looking for unripe fruit just fruit that I like. So I find myself at the FoodBuzz Blogger Festival Taste Pavillion in early November and I come across the Frog Hollow Farms table and meet Jeff. He offers me a piece of a Warren Pear it was a heavenly experience. The texture was firm and crisp with the sweetness of a Bosc pear and some of the tartness of the D’Angou pear. I had to have another these were wonderful. Then he turned me on to a Taylor pear which had a slightly softer texture yet was sweeter than the other. It too was a great pear but the Warrens had a special place in my heart. Another wonderful find there was their olive oil. It has a buttery texture, smooth with bold olive flavor minus the bitterness or pepper found in other olive oils.
It’s definitely a finishing or dipping oil. Full of olive flavor with a wonderful buttery smoothness. For the rest of the day I couldn’t get these pears nor the oil out of my head. I knew that they were in my future.
When I got back to LA I knew I had to do something with the pears. I had an event coming up in December and decided to use the pears in two of the menu items. One a duck confit crostini with leek aioli, wild arugula and Frog Hollow Farms Warren Pears created the perfect blend of flavors and textures in one savory bite. I also had my pastry chef come up with small dessert. Since the pears we received were very ripe we decided to make pear puree triangles with a marscapone creme fraiche icing on a pate sucre base. The final result was a blend of the pear sweetness and some tart and sour from the icing and the base worked to add crunch and blend all the flavors wonderfully.
The crostini had the perfect blend of textures and flavors, crunch from the crostini, the mild bite and moisture from the leek aioli, saltiness from the duck confit, pepper from the wild arugula and the sweet, crisp juicy flavor of the Warren Pear added the perfect balance to complete the item.
Crostini Recipe – makes about 20 to 30 crostini
2 leg thigh combinations duck confit
20 to 30 wild arugula leaves
2 Warren Pears
For the Aioli
1 Leek with lots of green
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp honey
S&P about 1/2 tsp each
Cut the green part from the leek and lightly blanch in boiling salt water for 30 seconds to 1 minute just enough to soften a bit and make bright green color – remove from water and place in ice bath immediately to stop the cooking process. Then remove them from the ice bath and put on paper towels to absorb excess water.
In a food processor place the egg yolk and white, dijon mustard, garlic, lemon juice, honey, leeks S&P and blend together until the leeks are well chopped up almost a puree. Begin to add oil slowly until it thickens to a mayonnaise consistency. Taste it and if necessary add more salt to bring out the leek flavor. Set aside.
To make the Crostini, slice the baguette into 1/4″ thick slices and place on sheet tray. brush each one with olive oil and season with a bit of salt & pepper put into 350ºF oven for 10 to 20 mins until lightly brown and crisp. Set aside to cool. Note: for even browning turn your sheet tray 180º half way through the cooking process it’s also a good time to monitor the baking of the crostini.
You can either make your own duck confit or buy it premade. Pull apart the meat from the leg/thigh combos and tear/shred into small pieces. Toss with a bit of good olive oil to moisten a bit – Frog Hollow Farms makes a good one.
To assemble – spread a generous amount of aioli on the crostini, top with some duck confit and a slice of Warren Pear top with a nice wild arugula leaf
I always recommend tasting the first one you make so you can get an idea of the proper amounts of each ingredient to create the balance that you prefer.