Tag Archives: orange

Divine Red Wine Poached Pears

Doesn’t the phrase ‘poached pears’ sound so elegant? To me, it sounds like a dessert that might be served at a fancy party . . . in England. Definitely in England. There would be a table with cut crystal on it, freshly polished sterling silver flatware, wallpaper covered in roses on the wall, and a gracefully aging hostess with a ramrod straight back, who would say “Would you care for a poached pear, my dear?”

“Why yes, I believe I do,” I would assure her, tucking a curl behind one of my ears. Yes, in this vision my hair is a shining waterfall of curls, pinned up in loose poofs, with clusters of perfect corkscrews around my ears and above my alabaster brow.

But back to reality (with my brown hair which won’t hold a curl to save its life and my non-alabaster, quite freckled brow). I do have good news for all of us: besides being delicious, these pears (recipe adapted from this blogger) are a cinch to make. You toss them into a pot with a couple ingredients and they just kind of hang out there for a little over half an hour. After that, slap ’em in the fridge and you can feast off of them all week long. At least that’s what I did.

This is my idea of a perfect summer dessert–flavorful while still light, cool and satisfying on a hot evening, sweet but not cloyingly so, and they’re great either by themselves or with ice cream.


(Serves 6)

6 pears
1 cup red wine
1 cup water
1/2 cup + 2 TBS sugar
1 cinnamon stick OR 1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cloves
Zest and juice of 1 orange

Peel the pears, leaving the stems intact.

In a large pot, combine the red wine . . .

. . . water . . .

. . . sugar . . .

. . . orange zest (man-hand + microplane = I love my life) . . .

. . . orange juice . . .

. . . cloves and cinnamon.

In other words, all the ingredients except for the pears.

Behold our poaching liquid! Heat the pot over medium, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Don’t sweat it if some globs of orange flesh got in there, too. Whatever, say I. It’s bound to add nutritional value, right? Right. That’s what my Mom used to say about bugs. “Oh, you ate a bug? More protein for you.”

Place the pears upright into the pot, fitting them together snugly.

Bring the poaching liquid to a boil . . .

. . . then cover the pot, turn down the heat to low, and cook for 35-40 minutes.

From time to time, lift the lid and spoon the liquid over the pears.

When the lid finally comes off, you will see a thing of beauty–the red wine has soaked into the pears, making them a lovely shade of mauve.

Test the pears for doneness by turning one over and inserting a sharp knife into its–hrngh hrngh–rounded bottom.

If the knife slides in easily with just a little resistance, the pears are done.

Discard the cloves and cinnamon stick, and let the pears and syrup chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Serve the pears cut or whole, alone or with ice cream, with the syrup drizzled on top.

A little French Vanilla is a great accompaniment.

And I say ‘syrup,’ however the liquid is rather thin, as you can see here.

But perfectly flavored! If you’re looking for a thick syrup though, you can continue to reduce the liquid once the pears are cooked. I leave it in your capable hands.

Even though these pictures show the pears whole, I found them much easier and more pleasurable to eat when cut. I made slices along the core and fanned the pieces out on a plate. It was beautiful, and the arrangement looked like a flower–but my camera was far, far away . . . in the other room.

Anyway, toss some pears in a pot and serve these at your next dinner party! Or furtively hide them in the back of the fridge in a place that only you know about and eat them for your midnight snack. Either way, these will hit the spot!

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Spicy Mulled Wine

I can’t stop digging up treasures on Tasty Kitchen, and when I saw this recipe for Mulled Wine, it was all I could do to stop myself from running at a sprint to the nearest liquor store to make it all happen asap. This little brew tastes like the holidays to me. It warms me to my toes, and I’m so excited to share it with you.

Disclaimer: it’s spicy. Not fire-in-your-mouth spicy, but spicy enough that my friend Carrie wasn’t a huge fan. Sorry, Carrie. Our souls may be knit together, but our taste buds are definitely on different tracks at times. If this is too spicy for you, I recommend adding some orange juice to the brew to sweeten the flavors.

Second disclaimer: you will only be bringing the wine to a simmer, and then serving it directly. So don’t operate under the illusion that any alcohol content evaporates! That illusion could quickly lead down a path to accidental drunkenness. And no one wants that! Take it from someone who’s been there. And it was totally accidental. I’ll tell you the story sometime. Or maybe I won’t.

Hey! Don’t be judgin’–it happened to Anne of Green Gables too! Or rather, she accidentally inebriated her friend Diana thinking a bottle of wine was a bottle of Marilla’s famous raspberry cordial, but don’t worry, because she gained back the approval of Diana’s mother months later when she saved Diana’s youngest sister’s life from a bout of croup using something called ipicac. Or something. Really! It all happened!

What? You have no idea what I’m blabbing on about? You mean you haven’t read the Anne of Green Gables books? Or seen the movie? My gosh. You need to get your priorities straight.

Anyway, I need to get my priorities straight and get this mulled wine made, eh? So here we go.


2 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp whole cloves

1 tsp whole peppercorns

peel from 1 orange, removed with a vegetable peeler

1 c water

1/2 c sugar

2 bottles (750 ml) red wine such as cabernet or merlot

1/2 c port

First, let’s peel the orange. Grab a vegetable peeler and do your best to get all the orange part of the peel with as little white as possible.

The white suff if Bitter Central.

Now look at the stripped-down orange and contemplate its nudity for a few minutes.

Preferrably in silence.

Okay! Now grab those spices:

It helps if you have an adorable white ramekin to put them in. Really!

Let’s pour that cup of water into a large pot. I used my pressure cooker.

Now put the orange peel, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and peppercorns into the pot, and bring it to a boil.

As soon as it boils, lower the heat and simmer it for about 15 minutes. The spices will start releasing their aromas and flavors, and the cinnamon sticks should start to unfurl.

Round up the rest of the ingredients:

Something that I love about this recipe is that you can use some dang cheap wine, which may not taste great alone, but via this process is transformed into a lovely subtance.

These bottles were about $5 apiece, and distinctly . . . not delicious. According to my palate. They needed sugar and spices to make them nices.

Heh heh.

Oh, and make sure you have some chapstick on hand at all times.

I always do.

Now add the two bottles of wine . . .

Add the sugar . . .

Add the port with its lovely raisiny flavor . . .

. . . and bring it back to a simmer.

Okay, that was closer to a boil than a simmer. But if you don’t tell, I won’t either! Deal? Deal.

Let’s serve it up!

Simple, eh?

Note: I had much better luck serving this with a large measuring cup instead of a ladle. With the ladle, I got wine drips and splatters pretty much everywhere.

We stored the leftovers in an empty bottle we had saved for just such an occasion, pouring it into a funnel through a strainer to get out the spices.

Once the bottle was full, we strained the rest directly into my mug.


It’s delicious chilled, or room temperature, or hot. But I love it hot. Maybe because there are so few degrees outside these days.


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