Friday, 23 November 2012

The Norman Hole

A couple of weeks ago we had my mum to over stay for the weekend. Knowing that it was one of her favourites, I decided to ingratiate myself by cooking a rather lengthy, and very rich, recipe for lamb and sausage cassoulet. Now I just had to decide what to have for pud.

The Ewing is normally in charge of the sweet stuff in our house, but in a week where she had being working late everyday, and was feeling under the weather, too, I stepped in to take on desert duty. As I had already spent a large part of the week soaking my cannelini, braising lamb, chopping veg and browning sausages, and I wanted a pud that would be simple enough to throw together one evening after work, and light enough to cut through all the pork and beans. 

Keeping with the Gallic theme, I plumped for le trou Normand, or rather less glamorously in English, The Norman Hole. Originally this would have been a shot of Calvados, famously produced in the Normandy region of France, served between the courses of a large meal to re-awaken the senses and stimulate appetite (or knock you into an alcoholic slumber). More recently you may see it served alongside a scoop of apple sorbet as a little palate cleanser before cheese and pud.

As we already had a large box of rather nice locally made truffles to enjoy with coffee (so the Ewing wouldn't miss her chocolate fix), I decided the sorbet could take the place of desert.
Although apples are the most common pairing (Calvados is an apple brandy, after all), I decided to use some seasonal conference pears. I haven't always been the biggest pear fan, but as I've got older I've started to appreciate their sweet, buttery graininess, and they work wonderfully well with rich vanilla and spicy cinnamon. If you don't have Calvados then this would work just as well with brandy, golden rum or even vodka, and if you happen to have some Poire William pear liqueur then that would be perfect, too.
Pear Sorbet with Calvados

1 kg pears, peeled cored and roughly chopped
100g caster sugar
Juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp Calvados

Calvados to serve

Place the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and 100 ml water into a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar over a medium heat, add the pears to the saucepan, then simmer until the fruit is soft.
Allow the pears to cool, then add the lemon juice and blend into a puree.
Sieve the puree to remove any lumps and chill mixture thoroughly.
Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions, then place in a freezer proof container and place back in the freezer to harden further.

Before serving take the sorbet out of the freezer and allow to soften slightly. Serve scoops of the sorbetin glasses with a separate shot of Calvados alongside. (While you can sup the shot of alcohol alongside your sorbet, I like it best poured over the top and mixed in to create a super slushy with a proper kick.)

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