International eating is what took place in our home tonight. It all started with REB and I wanting to do something with the leftover block of tofu we had. We hadn’t made any kind of Asian food in a while, so we decided to do our recipe of General’s Tofu. We used up some mushrooms we had which made it even more filling and delicious! The problem? No fresh ginger. I don’t dare use ginger powder – call me a snob if you want – when it comes to Asian or Indian cuisine. Fresh grated ginger is the way to go. Luckily we live across the street from a Whole Foods so he ran over there while I started cooking.
When he came back he did come back with a ginger root, but he also came back with two Anjou pears (we already had one Bosc pear sitting in our fruit bowl), vanilla bean and a bottle of Riesling. I gave him a questioning look and all he said was, “Poached pears.” Ah, but of course.
We talked about making poached pears the other night, but we didn’t have all the ingredients we needed. At least not for the recipe he wanted to use. So anyway, after our vegetarian, VERY spicy variation of General Tso’s chicken, we decided to make the pears.
We adapted the recipe from Mr. Alton Brown. Don’t freak out when you see the recipe – you aren’t reading incorrectly. It does in fact take two hours from start to finish. However, this was one of the easiest recipes even if it took that long to make. I don’t think we realized the time frame, but once we started we just had to finish!
It’s a good thing he and I enjoy hanging out with each other ;)
The wait was worth it. Our place still smells like the sweet syrup. The sweetness of the pears was absolutely decadent. Who says you need to fly to Paris to enjoy a really good dessert? I can enjoy something sweet with my sweets right here and just in time for Valentines day :)
Vanilla Poached Pears:
•3 pears (We used two Anjou and one Bosc. You can also use Bartlett)
•1 bottle white wine (Riesling or any sweet wine will work best)
•1 whole vanilla bean, scraped and save the pod
•3/4 cup vanilla sugar
•1 cup water
Start by making the vanilla sugar. It’s nothing scary! Just take 3/4 cup granulated sugar and add in 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and mix well. You could also take another vanilla bean, scrape it, add that and some granulated sugar into a food processor and get it really fine. But the former is the easiest way to go in my opinion.
Next, in a 4-quart saucepan add the water, sugar, vanilla, vanilla pod and bottle of wine and bring to a boil.
Prepare your pears: core the pears from the bottom. The easiest way to do that is to cut off a tiny bit from the bottom of the pear, take a vegetable peeler, poke in, turn and cut out the core. Lower the heat, add the pears to the pot, cover and let the whole thing simmer – a gentle simmer – for 30 minutes or until the pears are tender, but not too mushy. Remove the pears and place in a serving dish and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Increase the heat back to high and let the sauce boil and then reduce until approximately one cup is left – this will take about 20-25 minutes. Pour the syrup into a heat-resistant dish (we used our Pyrex measuring cup) and refrigerate for one hour.
Long process? Yes.
Worth it? Absolutely.
Place a pear on a dish, pour the syrup over it and enjoy!
Are there nights you decide to make dessert last minute?