Christmas Stocking Treats: “Chopped” style

Everyone enjoys the show “Chopped”.  
Musing what dishes to concoct.
Why not have fun with stocking treats of your own Holiday version of the popular show.
…and the ingredients are:
pears
figs
a wedge of stilton
walnuts
porto
Maybe this is a no brainer.
But the Menu Shoppe has it covered with some elegant Christmas Eve fare:
Pear and Stilton Soup
Stilton, Port and Walnut Pâté
Figs in Port
Pear and Stilton Soup
Stilton is so exquisite, however the darker, stronger cheese lining the rind ought not be wasted.  Here’s what to do with it:  this savory soup.
50g unsalted butter
1 celery heart, trimmed and sliced
3 medium carrots, trimmed, peeled and sliced
2 leeks, trimmed and sliced
2 pears, peeled, cored and chopped
150ml white wine
900ml chicken or turkey stock
sea salt, black pepper
150g Stilton, crumbled
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the celery, carrot and leek and saute tenderly for 8–10 minutes until glossy and softened. Add the pears and stir, then add the wine and simmer until well reduced. Add the stock and season lightly (bearing in mind the salty Stilton is still to come). Bring to the boil, and then cover and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes.
Stir in the Stilton, cover, and to allow it to melt. Purée the soup in batches.  Taste for seasoning.
Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche, accompanied by shortbread nibbles, and/or your choice of rustic loaf.
Stilton, Port and Walnut Pate


1 small pear, diced
1/3 cup port
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup crumbled stilton
2 tbsp cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp butter, softened
2 tsp minced parsley
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup toasted and finely chopped walnuts
Toasted Walnuts:  In large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast walnuts, stirring occasionally, until lightly brown, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Poached Pear:  Heat a small heavy bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. Add pear, port, water and sugar. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium to soften pear, about 10 minutes. Increase to high heat to reduce juices to a syrup, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Stilton/Walnut Mix:  In a small bowl, add stilton, cream cheese, butter, parsley and lemon juice and mix until well combined. Add walnuts.
Line a 1 cup ramekin or custard cup with plastic wrap and fill with half of the stilton/walnut mix. Then layer with half of the poached diced pear. Repeat steps with remaining stilton/walnut mix and poached pear. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Remove plastic wrap; slice pâté into wedges and serve
Figs in Port
So elegant for the Yuletide…poached figs can be eaten alone or as a simple  dessert with a scoop of ice cream and biscotti.  Or serve them with a wedge of Stilton.
3 cups tawny port
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 (3-inch) strips orange peel
8 whole black peppercorns
12 black mission figs, ripe yet firm
Do not overcook the figs.  Black mission figs often work best.
Combine the port sugar, vanilla pods and seeds, cinnamon, orange peel and peppercorns in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer until the liquid has the consistency of a light syrup, about 20 minutes. You will have about 1 1/2 cups of syrup. Add the figs and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and cool the figs in the syrup. Serve the figs in a bowl and drizzle the retained juices.
If it’s on the menu…the Menu Shoppe has it covered.
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