When women get depressed, they shop – generally for shoes. Given that A) I already have about 40 pairs; B) I actually wear only maybe five of them and C) I would need to move house if I bought just one more pair, I decided to give this up. Not the practice of shopping to get my head screwed on straight, heavens no. That would be like giving up wine and, oh, I don’t know… breathing?
No, I have simply given up shopping for shoes. Instead I shop for food, preferably at quirky markets, though supermarkets will do. When things get ugly. And I’m desperate. The way I was a few days ago…
See I’d just given SARS* a few extra orange Randelas* (* foreign readers, see below). Sodding audit. But I shouldn’t be nasty. Others need my money more than I do. Word is Number One needs a tennis court to go with the pool and chicken run at Possie* Number One. All I know, is that I felt quite resentful when I handed the teller that cheque. I needed to shop, and hit Checkers like it’s Jimmy Choo.
I wandered aimlessly, licking my wounds, looking for foodie inspiration. And then I saw him – my food equivalent of Ryan Reynolds… luminous candied ginger nuggets, the colour of amber, swimming in thick gingery syrup. My, my, my. You gorgeous thing. So I took him home with me. The ginger of course, not Ryan. Though that would have been nice too.
What to do with such a sexy beast? I grabbed some new-season pears grown just over the hill in Elgin. I tossed them in the ginger syrup and roasted them until they reached candied-awesomeness stage (this, by the way, is a recognised culinary term up there with soft-peak and sous vide). I served them with rich, salty Gorgonzola cheese, the ginger nuggets and puff pastry pinwheels turned into something interesting with the addition of a generous sprinkling of dukkah. It’s a pretty classy way to end a meal. Your boss/mum in law/Ryan would be plenty impressed.
My what-the-***? guide for foreign readers:
- SARS: the South African Revenue Service. They just love me. It’s not reciprocal.
- Orange Randelas: our biggest money note – 200 Rand. This will buy you maybe a cappuccino on the Champs-Elysées. Here it is a LOT, and will buy you about ten of them.
- Possie: home/crib/pad.
All you need is…
3 firm pears (the ones with red/yellow skin, not green)
bottle of preserved ginger in syrup (I used illovo)
sheet of butter puff pastry (spend a bit more and buy the real thing NOT the cheap veggie fat one, it’s rubbish – Woolies stocks butter puff)
dukkah (this heady spice mix can be found at most major supermarkets and specialist delis – I used Melissa’s)
Cut the puff pastry into strips about 7cm wide. Sprinkle generously with dukkah ensuring that pretty much every bit of the pastry is covered. Roll it up and place in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up. Slice into thinnish rounds (about 3mm) and place on a non-stick baking tray. Bake in the oven (see package instructions for temp) until cooked through and golden.
You can roast the pears at the same time. Simply wash and quarter them, drizzle with lemon juice, drizzle over a few tablespoons of the ginger syrup and roast them until they are soft and caramelised. How long it takes, depends on how firm the pears are, but 15-20 minutes is plenty. Serve pears drizzled with some more syrup, ginger pieces, the dukkah biccies and Gorgonzola. You could try a ripe Brie or Camembert instead. I’ve even served this with Mascarpone for a dish that leans more to the sweet than savoury side. This is perfect for entertaining as you can do all the prep beforehand, and assemble it just before you serve.