Friday, February 18, 2011

Pretty perfect: Poached spiced pears

For proof that my blog friend Emily and her husband Nick (known in the blogosphere as The Culinary Couple) are adorable, one need look no further than their Seasonal Ingredient Challenge, where Nick challenged Emily to cook a three-course meal using a secret ingredient of his choosing. Emily knocked Challenge: Pear out of the ballpark (to the surprise of no one, I might add), and I've been thinking of her recipes ever since. Although her Pear Pizza with Gorgonzola and Carmelized Onions looks divine, and her Pear Ravioli with Pecorino and Mascarpone delectable, I decided to incorporate her final dish into our Valentine's Day Dinner. Enter: poached spiced pears!

This recipe couldn't be simpler (thank you, Mark Bittman!), and packs loads of flavor without being too heavy or too sweet. Emily featured poached pears with vanilla for her challenge, but we happened to have lots of fresh ginger on hand, a flavor I thought would blend nicely with our curried mussels. The beauty of Bittman's recipes is that he lays out a recipe framework that makes it easy to substitute other ingredients based on your tastes or what you have on hand. We adored these pears so much that we made them two nights later, using vanilla beans instead. Double the pleasure!

Poached Spiced Pears
Adapted from Mark Bittman and The Culinary Couple
Makes 1 serving to share, or increase to serve individual pears

Poached Ginger Pear

1 cup sugar
Large piece of freshly peeled ginger or 1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 big Bosc pear
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Poached Vanilla Pear

Combine sugar and vanilla with 2 cups water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil while you peel and core the pear.

Lower pear into boiling water and adjust heat to a simmer. Cook, turning every 5 minutes, until pear is met with little resistance from a sharp knife, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow pear to cool in liquid.

Remove pear and slice it. Reduce poaching liquid to 1/2 cup. Arrange pears and vanilla ice cream on a plate, and spoon reduced poaching liquid on top.

    1 comment:

    1. Thanks for the shout-out, Maggie! You are too kind. I'm so glad you and T enjoyed the poached pears -- I'll have to try your ginger version. As much as I love chocolate for dessert, I also love this sweet and simple option. Mark Bittman is brilliant, isn't he? We might have to incorporate one of his recipes into our next challenge ... coming soon!


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