Tag Archives: pears

Caramelized Pear and Arugula Salad

Wow! Do I have a lot to talk about.

First, I really enjoyed not blogging for a week, and staying as far away from the internet as possible. Second . . . I’m glad to be back!

So much has happened in the past few weeks–my band’s first experience playing at a wedding–the marvellous wedding of Kevin and Katina! This included the Chicken Dance, in case you were curious. Jazz was sung. Tambourines were hit repeatedly, and hard. I was also the backup photographer, so there’s a whole ‘nother can of something. A Christmas party for Lydia high school students that I photographed. Our Christmas celebrations. Our trip to Wisconsin. Baby James! A visit with my grandparents (yes, the notorious Mama Kitty). Our New Years party! And the inevitable return to ye squeaky chair in ye Chi-town office.

Wow, wow, wow. Do you know how many pictures await processing? Do you know?? You don’t want to know. Heck, I don’t want to know. Even thinking about opening Photoshop makes me get cold shivers up and down my spine. By indulging in excessive photography, I’ve gone and created a beast.

So my simple solution is to take it nice and easy. Nothing ever happens in January and February anyway, right? So I can take my time and blog about December for the next 6 to 8 weeks?

Oh, good–I’m so glad you don’t mind.

Now let’s talk food.

Do you all know Donna Hay? She’s an Australian recipe developer and food stylist, and I latched on to one of her cookbooks during my first year of marriage. Latched on and didn’t let go. That Christmas everyone got a Donna Hay cookbook for Christmas. The photography and the simplicity of her recipes make her books fabulous–they’ve got the looks and the goods.

So based on the very first Donna Hay recipe that ever graced my table, I bring you an incredible salad. It serves 4 as an appetizer or side, or you can do as I did and simply have it as the main and only dish for dinner (in that case it serves 2).


(Serves 4)

2 oz (4 TBS or 1/2 stick) butter
3 TBS white wine vinegar
1 TBS brown sugar
2 firm brown pears
1/2 cup walnuts
4 oz arugula or mixed greens
5 oz soft blue cheese such as Cambozola

Wash, core and quarter the brown pears. Why must they be brown, you ask? Well, Donna says so. And I think the brown kind are softer than the green kind . . . maybe?

Place the butter, vinegar and brown sugar in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.

When the butter is melted, add the pears (flesh-side down) to the skillet.

Well bless my buttons, it’s a perfect fit! Oh lawsy.

Sprinkle in the walnuts too.

Cook for 8 minutes, until the pears are just softened. Turn the pears halfway so that both sides of the flesh get browned.

Not quite there . . .

But close. We’re looking for this lovely color:

Yes, yes, yes. Make sure you move the walnuts around during this time if they appear to be burning.

Cut the blue cheese into slices or wedges.

Place the arugula or mixed greens on serving plates and top with the pears and walnuts.

As long as you’re not afraid of a little butter, spoon the pan juices over the salad and top off each plate with a slice or two of blue cheese.

Let’s cut into one of these delectable pieces of fruit . . .

Mmmmmm. You won’t know how good this is until you taste it yourself!

So what are you waiting for??

(Sorry, am I coming on a little strong? Because I really love this salad, see.)

Happy New Year everyone! I can’t wait to read about your holiday experiences on all your blogs–I’ll be stopping by to catch up asap!

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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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