Tu Bishvat: Pears with my Peers
Tu Bishat, the Jewish Birthday of Trees that is celebrated in Israel will take place this year between the eve of Feb 9th to the eve of Feb 10th, 2020. Similar to last year, I was invited to an early Tu Bishvat party based on pears that are now in season and am happy to share with you the recipes.
Our congenial hosts were Yuval Bar-Ner, known as "The Pear Man" from his cooking show together with Oren Shaked, both representing the American Pears Council, Inbal Amir a clinical dietician who specializes in emotional eating and Chef Chagai Lerner from the Danon Culinary School.
Pear Facts and Tips
Israel is considered a global force when it comes to pear consumption, so much so that the local supply does not meet with demand. About 35,000 tons of pears are marketed each year of which about 25,000 tons are grown in Israel and the remainder are imported, both increasing the variety and keeping prices down.
There are about 100 varieties grown worldwide. The Spadona and Costia are the main varieties from in Israel, whereas the Bosc and Anjou are the main varieties imported from the EU and USA.
Pears, like bananas or avocados, do not ripen on the tree. After harvesting, they have a ripening period at room temperature of about one week to 10 days.
It is recommended to buy the pears when they are hard and place them at room temperature checking the pear neck from time to time. Softening of the neck is a sign that pear has ripened and that it is time to place the pear in the fridge.
The shelf life of a ripe pear is relatively short. A ripe pear will be kept in the refrigerator at its best for about a week.
For accelerated ripening, the pear can be put into a paper bag at room temperature. It is not advisable to keep or ripen pears in an airtight plastic bag because they secrete materials that cause the ripening to accelerate beyond what is desired.
It is also not desirable to store pears near strong-smelling food products as they absorb odors.
A medium-sized pear contains on average about 108 calories, about 24% of the recommended daily dietary fiber intake, about 13% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, 8% of the recommended intake of vitamin K, 5% of the recommended intake of magnesium and potassium, and about 16% of the recommended daily intake of copper.
Pears are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber that are essential for digestive health, help maintain the regularity of the bowel movements and provide a long lasting feeling of satiety.
The antioxidants and dietary fiber are in the fruit peel and so, the dietary recommendation is to eat pears in their entirety and in their natural form. However, even if pears are eaten without the peel and are cooked or baked, several of the nutritional benefits are still retained.
ROOT SOUP WITH LEEKS AND PEAR CHIPS - 6 SERVINGS
2 pcs celery root, peeled, cut into cubes
2 pcs parsley root, peeled, cut into cubes
2 pcs washed leek, sliced
Teeth from one head of garlic peeled
3 peeled potatoes, cut into cubes
100 grams of butter
500 mL milk
300 mL water
Salt and pepper
For the Pear Fries
4 American Bosque pears
500 mL water
200 grams of sugar
Juice from half a lemon
Make pear chips by boiling water with sugar and lemon juice. Slice the pear lengthwise using a mandolin. Transfer the pear slices to the hot syrup and cook for a few minutes till nearly boiling. Drain the pears from the syrup and transfer to a tray lined with baking paper. Dry in the oven at 100 degrees for three to three hours until crispy fries are obtained. Serve with a little blue cheese alongside the soup.
Make soup by melting the butter in a medium saucepan. Fry the leeks and garlic for a few minutes until softened. Add the roots, potatoes, salt and pepper and continue to fry for a few more minutes. Add the milk and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the flame and cook for about half an hour, until the vegetables are tender. Grind the broth into a smooth texture. Taste and correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve hot.
PEARS & CRISPY FISH WITH CELLOPHANE NOODLES IN LETTUCE ENVELOPES - 4 SERVINGS
Grilled fillet of a sea fish (e.g. tuna, halibut, mackerel, bream, herring and cod)
Oil for deep frying
For the batter:
200 grams of flour
150 mL cold water
A little salt and pepper
Half a teaspoon of baking powder
1 Iceberg lettuce
2 Pears Cut into thin strips "Julienne"
A handful of parsley leaves
A handful of mint leaves
50 grams of thin bean noodles
50 grams of chopped roasted peanuts
For the sauce:
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons of demarera sugar
1 crushed garlic tooth
Juice from 1 lemon / lime
Half a red chili chopped
Prepare the batter by mixing all the ingredients until smooth. Prepare the sauce by mixing all the ingredients until the sugar dissolves. Pour boiling water over the bean noodles and pause for a minute, until softened. Drain, rinse in cold water and strain well. Pour a few drops of oil to prevent stickiness. Heat oil for deep frying. Cut the fish into strips of finger width. Dip in the batter and fry in oil until golden and crisp.
Break the lettuce into "bowls" and place a small bunch of cooked noodles in it and a few slices of pears. Place a fried strip of fish over them. Sprinkle mint leaves and parsley. Pour sauce and sprinkle a few chopped peanuts. Serve fresh.
OPEN BOUREKAS WITH PEARS, SPINACH AND FETA CHEESE - 4 SERVINGS
400g of thawed flat puff pastry
600g spinach, washed and roughly chopped
150 grams of feta cheese
1 onion, chopped
Two tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 whisked egg for brushing
Fry the onion in a wide pan with olive oil until lightly golden. Add the spinach and cook for a few minutes until all the liquid has evaporated and softened the spinach. Cool slightly. Cut the puff pastry into 10 * 5 cm rectangles. Cut the pears in halves, cut out the core and kernels with a small knife and slice each half into thin slices. Spread the edges of the dough with the whisked egg, bake at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
SALMON ROLLS WITH PEARS AND GREEN ONIONS - 4 SERVINGS
12 Rice Pages
300g fresh salmon fillet
2 Anjou pears
3 green onions
A little Hoisin sauce
Roasted sesame seeds
Some sesame oil
Cut the salmon and green onions into strips. Cut the cucumbers and pears with a Julienne.
Dip the rice leaves lightly in lukewarm water and place on a work surface. On each page, spread a teaspoon of Hoisin sauce and place a strip of salmon, two pear sticks, two cucumber sticks, green onions over it. Roll into an open or closed roll. Lightly brush with sesame oil and sprinkle a little roasted sesame seeds on top. Serve.
PEAR GOULASH - 8 SERVINGS
8 Bosc pears, cut into quarters.
2 kg back rib (cut #5), cut into medium cubes
4 peeled, roughly cut carrots
3 onions, peeled and cut into quarters
2 celery sticks
2 bay leaves
4 thyme stems
1/2 head of garlic
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon spicy paprika
1 hot pepper (to taste)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper
A little olive oil
Season the meat cubes with salt and pepper. In a wide saucepan, heat olive oil and fry the meat cubes for a few minutes. Remove the meat from the pot. Add the chopped vegetables and herbs and fry for a minute or two. Add the paprika and two tablespoons of olive oil and fry a little, then the tomato paste. Be careful not to scorch it. Add the meat cubes back to the pot and add water almost until the meat is covered. Scrub the bottom of the pot well with a wooden spoon. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook over a small flame or in the oven at a heat of 170 °C until the meat is tender. Add the pears and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Serve with white rice or mashed potatoes.
5 MINUTE PEAR ICE CREAM DESSERT - 6-8 SERVINGS
6 green and mature Anjou pear cubes
1 sweet cream container (not whipped)
1 large tablespoon of frozen lemonade concentrate
Cut the pears into cubes that will fit into a food processor and freeze them in the freezer.
Put the frozen pear cubes into a food processor and crush. While the food processor is running add a container of sweet cream and a heaping tablespoon of frozen lemonade concentrate. Process until you obtain a smooth and homogeneous ice cream.
Serve with a cookie or hot chocolate sauce.
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