Now that I’m back from afar, it’s back to cooking and blogging and vegetables and all of the normal stuff. I actually had planned on continuing to blog while on my trip; the new posts you saw were things that I’d preemptively written in preparation of not being in the kitchen, and I thought that I could continue to write and give you some real-time stories of adventure while away. That whole idea failed though–I emailed Ben when to hit publish for those two posts and quickly gave up any ideas of writing when I realized that typing more than a paragraph on an iPad would be an enormous and practically impossible feat. However, I had gone ahead and prepared a few dishes that I wanted to share, so now I’ll get started on that!
The most pressing thing that I have to share are poached pears. Poached pears, specifically red wine poached pears, are God’s gift to humans. The pears themselves are tasty, but the reduced wine syrup that’s lightly spiced, slightly fruity, and velvety sweet, is what really brings us a little heaven on earth. I dream of using the winey syrup in every way imaginable: Alongside the pears (of course), poured over vanilla ice cream, as a base in which to nestle a slice of flourless chocolate cake, out of a dog bowl so I can lap it up whenever I wish.
Making poached pears also couldn’t be simpler– all you do is bring the poaching liquid, in this case wine, some citrus slices, honey and spices, to a boil and then add pears to the pot for several minutes. Then you let the pears and poaching liquid cool separately, combining them once cool to sit in the fridge for a day or two, which lets the pears absorb more of the liquid and turn a beautiful deep purple.
You can easily make poached pears year round. I have no idea when pear season is (Google just told me late summer through winter, though), but they are always in the grocery store at a reasonable price. And since the normal season is apparently throughout winter, they’re a welcome fruit dessert in the season of heavy (although delicious) cakes, cookies and creamy drinks. I think that you should make them now, though, as you wait for strawberries and asparagus and all of the wonderful spring produce we all love, which the few warm days make it seem like will be showing up soon. Unfortunately, there are still a couple more weeks that we’ll have to survive on the dregs of winter, but red wine poached pears are sure to get you through to the end.
Note: Use cheap wine!!!!
1-750 ml bottle fruity wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
½ cup water
⅓ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup honey
½ lemon, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
⅛ teaspoon ground pepper or a few grinds of fresh black pepper
6 firm pears, such as Bosc, peeled, halved and cored
1. In a large high-sided skillet (or just a large saucepan), bring all of the ingredients, minus the pears, to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat.
2. Once the liquid is simmering, carefully slide the pears in. Bring back to a simmer, then reduce to the heat to medium-low and cook for about 15 minutes, until a paring knife easily goes through a pear. (The time depends on how ripe your pears are. Mine weren’t soft at all before cooking and took about 18 minutes.)
3. Remove the pears from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a bowl. Let the wine mixture cool, and then pour over the pears. Refrigerate overnight.
4. Prior to serving the pears, strain the cooking liquid into a high-sided skillet. Simmer over medium-high heat until the liquid is reduced by half; you’ll have a slightly-thick syrup. Remove from heat.
5. To serve, place two pear halves on a plate. Spoon a tablespoon or two of syrup over the pears, and dollop with a spoonful of vanilla-scented whipped cream, below.
Vanilla-scented whipped cream
makes about 1 cup of whipped cream
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
With a hand mixer on high and in a small bowl, whip together all ingredients until firm peaks form.