Elegant Fruit – Vanilla and Orange Poached Pears

Poaching is a technique used to gently cook what is usually already a tender ingredient.  Chicken and fish are commonly poached in a flavorful broth called court bouillon, which is made by simmering aromatic vegetables and herbs in water.  When used to cook fruit, it’s common to simmer in red wine, another sort of alcohol or a flavored simple syrup.  A simple and elegant method for fantastic results.

Vanilla and Orange Poached Pears

4 pears
2 cups apple juice
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 peels of orange
1 vanilla bean, split
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 inch slice of ginger
1/3 cup crème fraiche (for garnish)

Peel the pears, leaving the stem on.  Place the pears in a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients except crème fraiche and cover with parchment paper.  Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes or until the pears are tender when tested with a sharp paring knife.  Transfer the pears to a plate and remove the solid pieces from the liquid.  Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce until it coats the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes.  Cool the pears in syrup with the parchment paper covering.  To serve, slice a sliver of pear off the bottom to get the pear to stand upright.  Serve either on a platter or individual plates with the syrup drizzled over the pears.  Spoon a dollop of crème fraiche next to each pear.

Serves 4

Elegant Fruit – Vanilla and Orange Poached Pears

Poaching is a technique used to gently cook what is usually already a tender ingredient.  Chicken and fish are commonly poached in a flavorful broth called court bouillon, which is made by simmering aromatic vegetables and herbs in water.  When used to cook fruit, it’s common to simmer in red wine, another sort of alcohol or a flavored simple syrup.  A simple and elegant method for fantastic results.

Vanilla and Orange Poached Pears

4 pears
2 cups apple juice
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 peels of orange
1 vanilla bean, split
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 inch slice of ginger
1/3 cup crème fraiche (for garnish)

Peel the pears, leaving the stem on.  Place the pears in a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients except crème fraiche and cover with parchment paper.  Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes or until the pears are tender when tested with a sharp paring knife.  Transfer the pears to a plate and remove the solid pieces from the liquid.  Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce until it coats the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes.  Cool the pears in syrup with the parchment paper covering.  To serve, slice a sliver of pear off the bottom to get the pear to stand upright.  Serve either on a platter or individual plates with the syrup drizzled over the pears.  Spoon a dollop of crème fraiche next to each pear.

Serves 4

The Fall Bounty – Creamy Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

Creamy Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup onions, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash (or 1/2 butternut squash), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pear, peeled, cored and minced
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup sherry
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, over medium high heat, melt butter and sauté the onions, celery and garlic.  When they are translucent, add the squash, pear and nutmeg.  Sauté until the squash starts to stick to the bottom, stirring frequently and then add the sherry, chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the squash is very tender, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a blender and puree.  Freeze for up to 6 weeks.  When you are ready to serve, bring to a simmer in a medium saucepan and then add the cream.

Serves 8

Fall is in the Air – Pear Tarte Tatin

Pear Tarte Tatin

Pastry:
1 1/2 cups flour
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup ice cold water, as needed

Pears:
8 Anjou or similar pears; peeled, cored and quartered
12 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar

Pastry:  In a medium bowl, sift the dry ingredients.  Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the egg and then the water 1 tablespoon at a time.  The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball.  Form a disc with the dough and wrap in plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator until the pears are ready.

Pears:  Preheat oven to 375º.  In a 10-12 inch cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Remove from heat and sprinkle evenly with sugar.  Tightly pack the pears around the edge of the skillet and then pack the center so that they resemble a fan of sorts.  Return to medium-high heat and cook for about 15 minutes and the butter and sugar are caramelized.

Roll the pastry out on a floured surface into a 12-inch round.  Gently place the pastry over the pears and tuck the edges under loosely between the pears and the wall of the skillet.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pears are tender and the pastry is golden brown.  Allow tart to cool for  5 minutes and then loosen edges and invert onto a round platter.  Serve warm.

Serves 8-12