Apple and pear purses - a recipe for Christmas dessert that's delicious and easy

24-12-2005

Are you tired of baking the same Christmas cookies year after year? Do you have a sweet tooth and think it deserves a special treat at Christmas time? Jarka Halkova asked Martin Polacko, a young and up-and-coming chef, to come to your aid. He proposed apples and pears wrapped in pastry "purses" - a Christmas dessert that's delicious and very easy to bake. Here's the recipe:

Martin PolackoMartin Polacko "We have sliced apples and pears, we are going to use fresh ginger, honey, a little bit of cinnamon and cloves and we are going to caramelise it on a pan and make little purses like ravioli from puff pastry and bake it in the oven."

What shall we do with this ginger?

"I am going to peel it. I am going to show you a little trick. People usually peel it with a knife or a peeler. What I have learned to peel it with is a little tea spoon. It is like scrubbing. We are scrubbing only as much as necessary because by peeling ginger you take a lot of it. Can you see it? I am just grating it now."

Are you going to mix it together with apples and pears?

"Yes, and then I am going to panzer it on a pan. [Cuts a bit of butter and puts it on a pan] I am adding a little bit of butter and clove and cinnamon. So now it is in a pan, with a tablespoon of butter and all the fruit [mixes it all together]. I am going to caramelise it. It means that you soften the food until it has nice brown colour. When you caramelise vegetables like shallots and onions it doesn't mean you make caramel from sugar. You break vegetables and fruit and draw sugar out of the food you are cooking. When you add a little bit of sugar it gives it nicer colour and flavour. We are making a desert now so we can definitely add some sugar. I am going to use a little bit of honey as well, cinnamon or cinnamon sugar. It doesn't matter. [Pulls me closer to the pan.] See, we were talking about caramelisation. It is already turning brown nicely."

So it all should be all the same colour, light brown?

"Yes, light brown colour. If you use cinnamon sugar it is going to help it."

Apples smell like Christmas.

"Exactly, do you remember we were talking about making a flambéed pineapple? But I thought that we should make something more traditional. I have changed it. I have figured out that apples would be a good choice. We will see how it is going to turn out. [Makes a funny face] "

It has been about four minutes that fruit has been in the pan. Am I right?

"Caramelisation takes about ten minutes. [Opens a package of cinnamon sugar.] I am adding cinnamon sugar. To make it a bit nicer I would like to use raisins and mixed nuts."

Could we add some alcohol to it?

"Definitely. [Agrees enthusiastically.] If you find whisky you can add it. It is going to bring a more attractive flavour. [Smiles] We are going to use medovina which is a herb liqueur."

"[Stirs checking the flavour] So, our fruit is nice, soft and brown."

Could we use some different kind of fruit?

"Absolutely. Use pineapple. It is more oriental. [Drops a piece of apple] I am making a little mess here. It can be used with lime juice, brown sugar. A good experiment can be if you add a little bit of chilly."

Chilly with sweet fruit?

"Yes, it is oriental and it is quite traditional for them to mix flavours sweet and chilly. [Opens a jar with honey.] Let's put in some honey."

One teaspoon?

"Two tablespoons. Why honey? [Explains] It is going to combine everything together. Glaze it all together, that is the right word."

It looks beautiful.

"Are you serious?"

Of course, I am. I really like it. Now a little bit of medovina.

"Exactly. What is a little bit? Hmhmh. It is Christmas time. Let's use a little bit more. [Laughs]."

Martin rolls out puff pastry and makes squares. He fills them with the fruit and makes little ravioli shapes. Brushes them with egg and puts them into the oven.

Let's check our purses, please.

"OK, what have you got in? [Jokes.]"

Those in the oven.

"We have got a mirror here, lipstick. [Laughs.] No, let's see then. They are nice and brown. I think we need ten more minutes to brown them. [Burns a finger] Ow. It is pretty hot. What do you think? Is it enough?"

Five more minutes maybe.

"See you in ten minutes then.[Waves goodbye with a kitchen towel.]"

See you.

Hm, nice smell.

"Yes, it is not only nice smell it also looks very nice. We can turn the oven off. I am quite surprised. It has turned out very nice. "

Big purses - more like handbags - very sweet and delicious. Let's serve them, then.

"So what we do now ... we will it put on a plate with the rest of the fruit. If you don't have it, don't worry. [Puts all "handbags" on a big plate and sprinkles them with sugar powder.] You can serve it with maybe maple syrup."

Yummy! Is it going to be nice cold as well or should it be eaten only warm?

"I think you can serve it any way you want. I am going to take the first bite. [Bites in] It is nice and crunchy. Hm, it tastes like apple strudel or something like that. It is very nice."

It is nice, sweet but not too sweet.

"It is very nice warm or cold."

Very quickly, sorry I am eating and talking at the same time, summarise the recipe please.

"Chopped apples, pears, a handful of mixed nuts and raisins. [Explains while eating] Caramelise it on a pan with cloves and cinnamon sugar with a little bit of butter. We used medovina but you can use any kind of liqueur or alcohol. But you don't have to if you don't want to. We glazed it with honey. We have filled up puff pastry, squares or circles. It is up to you. Brush it around edges with an egg and put it together, to make little purses and brush it with egg again all over. We baked it for 20 minutes in an oven at 180 Celsius. You need to check it out until it is golden brown. There you go. Just sprinkle it with powdered sugar or use maple syrup or even honey."

And we have apple and pear handbags!

"Exactly. And I think we are totally stuffed now."

It is delicious. Thank you for cooking for us.

"It was my pleasure. I hope that it is not the last time. Thank you."

24-12-2005