Cooking the Books: Rarebits with blue cheese and pear

Cooking the books is a recurring column where we test recipes from some of the cookbooks we sell, and share our experiences with you. Is this all simply an elaborate excuse to cook and eat some delicious food? Maybe. Are we looking forward to doing just that? You bet! In this edition of Cooking the books, Rebecca and Freya are cooking (and eating) rarebits with blue cheese and pear, from Yvette van Boven’s Home Made Winter.

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With the weather in Canberra talking a turn for the autumnal, we find ourselves drawn to comfort food. The best comfort food is hearty but simple, and these blue cheese and pear toasties certainly fit the bill. So we rolled up the sleeves of our seasonally-appropriate tartan shirts and got to work.

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The name ‘Welsh rarebit’ (or ‘Welsh rabbit’) was first recorded in the eighteenth century to describe a dish of melted cheese on toast. The English name may have started as a joke about how the Welsh couldn’t afford rabbit, so had to eat cheese instead, but the joke’s on the English, because rarebit is delicious in its own right!

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There’s nothing terribly complicated about making these rarebits, however the combination of pear and blue cheese elevates this snack above the average grilled cheese on toast. The sweetness of the pear balances out the the sharpness of the blue cheese, while the dijon mustard adds a spicy, warming note.

Pears are in season, so now is the perfect time to cook with them. We favour beurre Bosc pears for their delicate flavour and delightfully russet-coloured skin. Any bread with a nice crust would work for these rarebits. We used four slices of ciabatta loaf to serve two for a light lunch. A miniature version could be served at a party as hors-d’œuvres — try slices of crunchy baguette as perfect bases for mini rarebits.

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With just a few delicious ingredients and a bit of mixing, you too can throw together this tasty snack. Check out this recipe and many more delicious seasonal food ideas in Home Made Winter, by Yvette van Boven. This beautifully produced book is packed full of tasty recipes and elegant photographs that will inspire you to spend some cosy hours in the kitchen this season and beyond. You may also enjoy van Boven’s Home Made Summer, if you’re trying to hold onto summer just a little bit longer.

What have you been cooking this autumn? What’s your ideal comfort food?

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