Thursday, 27 September 2012

Poached Pear Recipe: The Simple Delicious Desert

One of the lovely ladies I work with was telling me all about the dinner party she threw the other weekend. Well, actually, her boyfriend invited the family over and she convinced him that it was simple and cheaper to roast some chickens than buy BBQ'ed chicken. And of course, much more delicious. LOVE! And what I loved even more, was that she said she thought of me when she convinced him to change his mind. Doing this whole blog thing has been quite a surreal experience for me... I write stuff, I put it online and it's just out there in the world. I have no idea if anyone reads it (yes Ed, I look at my stats), who reads it or if anyone enjoys it at all, so when my friends tell me they read it and like it, it's really lovely. Makes me feel like I'm actually doing something good.

Anyway, back to the recipe. So, the chat with Sarah at work made me think about the dessert recipes on the blog. I have plenty of sweet recipes, but I didn't have anything that was super simple and easy to cook even when you're preparing a whole dinner party. Something that was quick, but something that still felt special.
So, after some pondering, I decided upon poached pears and found a lovely Ed Halmagyi recipe. They are always pretty simple. You can prepare it in advance and put it on the stove when you're ready to start cooking, and it's really simple. And it's pretty much in one pot, which is a bonus. I say that, but at the same time I got distracted and buggered mine up, but that may have been because I left the sauce to cook without putting on a timer. Mental note: always put a timer on or you'll almost burn the house down, which I almost did.

I did a few things differently to the recipe though. I didn't add the saffron. I'd like to say that was me being budget conscious, but it was more me thinking I had some at home, but I didn't. Even without the saffron, it still tasted delicious, but was missing that beautiful red colouring. I also added some dessert wine to the liquid up front. That  added a bit of complexity to the sweetness, as opposed to just vanilla and sugar (Dad, if you're reading this...I'm low on dessert wine. Hint hint!)

2 oranges
330g, or 1.5 C caster sugar
1 pinch saffron threads
1/2 C dessert wine (optional)
1 vanilla bean
1 litre (4C) water
4 pears
whipped cream or ice-cream to serve

Start by using a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the two oranges. Try to get as little of the white stuff as possible, as that stuff is pretty tarte. This is the reason you don't just peel it like a normal orange. Cut the orange peel into fine strips.
Peal the 4 pears, and use a melon baller, or whatever you have to hand to remove some of the core. I ended up using a cherry de-seeder.
Cut your vanilla bean lengthways to reveal the vanilla seeds. These things are like liquid gold. You can smell them almost as soon as you start to cut, and they smell amazing. Nothing like proper vanilla they add depth to a recipe. Anyway, usually you'd have to scrape the seeds out, but given your popping them in the water and boiling it, they'll come out naturally.
Put the orange peel, vanilla bean, 1.5 C caster sugar, 1 pinch saffron threads (which I didn't have), 1 litre water and if you're adding it, the 1/2 C dessert wine into a saucepan over a moderate heat. Bring the mixture to the boil and then turn the heat down to low.
Add the 4 pears to the liquid, and weigh them down with a plate. This will help them stay down and all get that lovely red colour from the saffron. Cook gently for about 40mins, until the pears are just tender. Remove them and set them aside.
Turn the heat up and boil the liquid until it's syrupy. This is where I went wrong...I didn't set a timer and the next thing I knew the kitchen was filled with smoke. But if I HAD set a timer, I'm sure the syrup would have been delicious. Luckily, I had some caramel left over from another recipe, so I used that as a substitute. Not forgetting a spoonful of ice cream or whipped cream to top off the dessert. Delicious.


  1. I love love LOVE this recipe. As an alternative I served it with blue cheese - perfect for the (strange) non-sweet tooth guests xx

    1. Awww. Thanks Rosie!! And love the suggestion of blue cheese. I usually have a sweet tooth so don't really ever think about blue cheese, but it's great to mix it up a bit. Or give people the option. Remind me to share with you an amazing blue cheese bruschetta recipe I have. Delish!! xx