Most times I enter my kitchen with purpose. I know what I want to eat, what I need to cook or that there’s a bag of Lindt bittersweet chocolate (a good antioxidant!) calling my name.
On occasion I will enter the kitchen not knowing what I want to eat. The other day, while experiencing that dilemma, I was searching through my refrigerator and came across some poached pears I had leftover from a dinner party. The poached pear is very versatile: it can be used in any course of a meal. It adds a sweetness to a salad, balance to a cheese plate and is an almost guilt-free dessert option. The possibilities with this simply prepared fruit are endless.
Here are just a few suggestions:
The traditional: with mixed salad greens, candied nuts (stay tuned for this recipe!) and blue cheese;
The terrine: line a ramekin (small individual baking dish) with plastic wrap and layer slices of poached pear, crumbled goat’s cheese and chopped nuts; drizzle with aged balsamic and serve with olive oil toasted bread. This is a very impressive, simple do-ahead first course for your next dinner party;
The crustini: forget the layering of the terrine! Pile sliced poached pear, shaved sharp cheese and a drizzle of maple syrup on toasted bread and enjoy a real updated version of bruschetta;
Classic dessert: drizzle a whole poached pear with rich chocolate sauce. Pour 1 cup of simmering 35% cream over 1 cup of good quality chocolate (see above!) and stir until silky and smooth;
Decadent dessert: cut poached pear in half, add a scoop of ice cream, drizzle with chocolate sauce and finish with a sprinkling of toasted nuts.
Well, we could go on and on with ideas to tempt your taste buds; now it is time to come up with your own (and please pass them along if you find a winner). We found great baskets of bosc pears at Martin’s Family Fruit Farm retail store on Lobsinger Line, minutes from the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market.
- 750ml good quality white wine, Gewürztraminer or sweet Riesling
- 250 ml water
- 250 ml granulated sugar*
- 1½ inch piece of ginger
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ lemon
- 6 medium ripe but firm pears, peeled and halved
In a heavy-bottomed saucepot, just large enough to hold the pears combine the wine, water, sugar, ginger, bay leaf and lemon. Bring to a boil;
Add pears and turn the heat down so that the liquid is at a very low simmer;
Cover and cook until a knife can be inserted without resistance (anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes);
Remove pears from poaching liquid using a slotted spoon and cool. Poaching liquid can be either reduced further to become syrupy or frozen and used again.
*You may need to adjust the amount of sugar in this recipe, adding more or less depending on the sweetness of your wine.