Parmesan foam with pears and hazelnuts
In the middle of Turkey Month, otherwise known to some as November, I had the good fortune to be invited to a Parmigiano Reggiano event called Parmigiano Reggiano Academy. At first I wasn't sure I could go. I mean, I was busy researching shipping logistics and fine tuning details for the launch of a particular cheese club (ahem, read here!), trying to work with chefs schedules for writing articles, and, selling wine for Turkey Month at the shop whose wine bar I manage. I was a tad zonked. But then I thought, if I can't take a break for Parmigiano Academy, who am I, really?
If I said no to a night of wine pairing, eating, and tasting the difference between 12, 18, and 36 month-old Parm, I was sure the people handing out cheese geek cards would ask me to turn mine back in. A bigger fear was that they would ask me to turn back in the cape and leotard I plan to wear to CheeseCon (i.e. the American Cheese Conference). So,... I said yes.
And it was delicious.
My favorite part of the event was the eating. Drinking- also lovely. I arrived, was handed a glass of wine, and we were sent around tables to explore the different Parm ages. I may have hit one table three times.
And then they passed the hors d'oeuvres. Cue holiday party.
Chef Jordan of Jordan's Kitchen created three dishes for the night. My favorite, and my Facebook and instagram followers favorite (says the "like" buttons), was sliced pears, rosemary, hazelnut, and parmesan foam.
This would be a fabulous dish for a holiday party served while people are walking around with a glass of sparkling in their hand. Chef Jordan served it in a ramekin, but I think I might serve it in a shooter glass, and small dice the pears after searing so a spoon isn't needed.
Thank you Parm Academy and Chef Jordan for sharing the recipe! Winter parties are calling.
Sliced pear with hazelnuts, rosemary and Parmigiano foam
2 pears, ripe but firm to the touch
¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
1 ½ teaspoons rosemary, very finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
2 cups Parmigiano, coarsely grated
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of freshly cracked black pepper
¼ - ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy lecithin (INYIB note- deemed optional, but helps keep smooth, if don't use, make as close to serving as possible)
In a saucepan combine the cream, milk, cheese, nutmeg and black pepper and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the cheese is completely melted. Pour the mixture into a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the cheese sauce and season with salt to taste. Measure one and one half cups of the cheese sauce and return it to the saucepan. Stir in the soy lecithin and keep warm (INYIB note- soy lecithin is optional, but helps keep sauce smooth, if don't use, make as close to serving as possible).
Halve and core the pears and then slice them into one-quarter inch pieces (you should have about twenty four slices). Heat two sauté pans over medium heat and coat them with olive oil. Cook the pears on both sides until golden brown, about two minutes per side. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and remove to a paper towel to blot any excess oil. Using a hand held immersion blender, froth the cheese sauce until a nice, frothy foam develops. In a shallow bowl plate a teaspoon or two of the foam and top with a piece of the pear. Using a pastry brush, glaze the pear with a touch of Balsamic vinegar and top with chopped hazelnuts, and a pinch of rosemary.
All photos by Stephanie Secrest.
Lastly, have you heard I launched the "It's Not You, It's Brie" cheese club with Scardello Cheese? True story. Read more here.