Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Riesling Poached Pears and Sorbet

If you're like me, you're always looking for something sweet to round off a meal. If you're like me, you also want your food to be healthy, so your body is properly fueled.  But eating healthily doesn't have to mean skipping dessert! Like so many other aspects of healthy living, all you need is a little shift in perspective. I've heard people complain that fruit can't possibly substitute for dessert, and I would agree that an apple won't satisfy a cake craving. But with a bit of creativity, a simple piece of fruit can be dressed up into something truly satisfying.

In the spirit of making simple food delicious, this recipe takes whole pears and makes them into a crave-worthy desert. And if the idea of cutting into a piece of fruit isn't dessert-y enough for you yet, you can take a few extra steps to make a gourmet sorbet to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Poached pear plated

Riesling Poached Pears
You can use any varietal of wine you like here, but Riesling pairs very well. Feel free to substitute fruit juice for wine in any proportion you like. Depending on the sweetness level of your wine or juice, vary the amount of honey added.
Yield: 6 poached pears

6 whole pears (any variety), peeled
1 750ml bottle of Riesling wine
1-2 cups water (as needed)
1/4 cup honey
1 lemon, ends removed, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
Optional, to serve: goat cheese and honey

Poaching pears

1. In a pan large enough to place pears in a single layer, combine all ingredients and add enough water to let the pears float a little.
2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 15-30 minutes, until pears are just tender.
3. Remove pears from poaching liquid. If storing, store with a bit of the poaching liquid so they don't dry out. Reserve lemon slices for serving if you like.
4. Serving suggestion: Combine about 1 oz of goat cheese per serving with a few teaspoons of honey. Place on a plate, and use the cheese to hold the pear upright. Garnish with lemon and honey.

Now, if you'd like to take things a few steps further (or if you have leftovers!), you can make sorbet with these pears following the recipe below. This was inspired by a great ice cream store, Jeni's, who make (surprise!) a Riesling Poached Pear sorbet.

Pear sorbet

Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet
Freezing the fruit before pureeing it yields a sorbet-like texture, rather than a too-solid block of fruit ice. The lemon that was in the poaching liquid lends a tangy note to the finished sorbet, so if you want something that is more purely sweet, you can omit the lemon in the poaching step.
Yield: about 3 cups, depending on the size of your pears.

6 Riesling Poached Pears (recipe above)
Optional: honey, to taste

1. Remove the core, seeds, and stem of the pears. Cut the fruit into 1-2 inch chunks.Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and freeze for a few hours.
2. Place pears in a food processor. Let run until smoothly blended, scraping down the sides several times.
3. If you want to, drizzle some honey over the blended pears, to create a honey swirl when you pack it. It won't stir in because the pears are too cold.
4. Package in an airtight container and freeze. Enjoy!

I mentioned on Twitter that our sprouts are starting to grow, and I'm pretty excited about our windowsill gardening adventure! The sprouts should start looking like baby plants soon.

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