Tag Archives: wine

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!

Click here for printer-friendly version: Divine Red Wine Poached Pears

Cooking class: the prep

As with any majorly fun event in my life, I am approaching the recap of the cooking class in installments. For those of you who are new here *waving enthusiastically*, my friend Cassia and I taught a cooking class two Fridays ago to 20 lovely women from our church as part of our Women’s Ministry series. Or was it 18 women plus me and Cassia? Who knows! Anyway, since neither of us are professional cooks and neither of us had done anything remotely like this in the past, we tried our best to ready ourselves by experimenting with recipes on our own, and then coming together to do a dry run the weekend before. But nothing could have prepared us for the fun, chaotic, exhausting, joyous, sweaty, overwhelming and wonderful experience it was going to be.

Today I bring you pictures of the prep work, which started at 12 when Cassia picked me up from work. Full of vim and vigor, we headed to the grocery store. Hundreds of dollars later, we had a cart chock full of goodies:

As you can tell, we were quite excited.

In order to fit all the groceries in the trunk of Cassia’s cute little yellow car, we had to lower the seat. And let me use this opportunity to share my favorite new expression: Cram it in the boot!

‘Boot’ is the Britishism for ‘trunk.’ It’s such a funny expression–really, you should say it out loud. You’ll probably start laughing. Cram it in the boot! Cram it in the boot!

Wow, I am seriously cracking up over here.

With me, it doesn’t take much.

Anyway! Our next stop was a lovely wine shop called Lush.

The woman working there was so helpful, and recommended wine pairings for each of our courses. I never realized you could just waltz into a wine shop and ask them to tell you what wine to get. How convenient!

I don’t know why I didn’t realize this before–after all, they are trained professionals.

By the way, check out those awesome chandeliers made with wine glasses. What a great idea!

Cassia made the final wine selections, including this lovely bottle for our ‘personal use.’

We figured we had hours of work ahead of us, and a nice smooth red would help moves things along, so to speak. After all, the cooks must be taken care of.

Lush had designated shelves full of wines all under $10–perfect!

We arrived at Traci’s house around 1:30. Since the event was scheduled to start at 6:30, we figured we would have oodles of time to spare.


Our first task was to organize all the groceries between the fridge, the pantry, and the counter, chill the wine, and decide what we needed to cook first: we needed a play-by-play game plan.

I thought we would be swimming in space in Traci’s large and gorgeous kitchen, but once the groceries were laid out, the space seemed oddly smaller. But there was no time to contemplate that, because it was time to cook! We started out by making the components for the Fruit Pizza, baking up rounds of sugar cookie dough for each lady to make her own individual pizza, and mixing up a simple cream cheese frosting.

The first small fiasco occurred when I attempted to soften a couple sticks of butter and instead inundated Traci’s microwave with melted butter. Lesson learned: microwave power varies from machine to machine. I wanted to take a picture to show you my misadventure (to encourage the whole ‘laughing with me’ thing), but my hands were covered in grease, and my Nikon was looking at me reproachfully.

Don’t you touch me with those buttery fingers! warned the 18-50mm lens.

I focused on the Fruit Pizza side of things while Cassia started to make a triple recipe of Roasted Red Pepper Soup.

I’ve never seen so many red peppers together in my life–I think we spent about $40 on red peppers alone. Phew!

And that picture only shows 15 of them–there were 24 total. Yowza.

We had six lovely birds to cook up and 1 1/2 ovens in which to accomplish this, so we planned on making 3 in advance, and 3 during the class itself.

Hello, little winged friends!

You’re looking mighty tasty. Let’s stuff this chicken with lemon and garlic.

Cram it in the boot!

While the chickens were roasting, it was time for a 10 minute breather and a cuppa red.

Traci’s precious daughters wandered in and out of the kitchen.

I took a handful of pictures of them that I can’t wait to show you tomorrow. They are the most beautiful and adorable girls–the kind of kids that make me want to have kids immediately. Kids with sprinklings of freckles like Bronagh’s and kids with headfuls of rampant curls like Ashling’s.

Traci and Jamie worked steadily as well, setting tables and making a run to the store for some paper products. Thank heavens for those paper products–there were enough dishes without ‘real’ plates to keep us busy for a couple hours after the event.

Hi Jamie! You were invaluable. And amazing. And you did a great job assembling those little recipe packets. I would also like to take this chance to dub you ‘The Dishes Warrior.’ I think you probably washed over 100 dishes. Maybe 1,000, I don’t know.

As 6:30 drew nearer, Traci and Jamie set three beautiful tables to accomodate the lot of us. Meanwhile, Cassia and I laid the ingredients out in groupings by recipe, gathering all the equipment we’d need to cook them.

We also had some problem-solving to do: where the heck are we going to put 6 roasted chickens without consuming the counter space? How are we going to make 4 batches of brussel sprouts when we only have 2 burners available? How are we going to handle the wine tasting during the meal when there are 3 separate tables but only 2 bottles of each wine?

The stove, piled high with pots and pans, girded its loins as if for battle.

Whoever uses the most burners . . . wins!

I win.

Here’s the ingredient grouping for the polenta and for the rosemary garlic lemon chicken (minus the chicken)–it looks like chaos, but a trained eye will soon see order.

My eye must have un-trained itself between then and now, because all I’m getting from this picture is confusion. Hmmmm. All that comes to mind is . . .

Cram it in the boot!

Sorry, that’s the last time I’ll say it.

If you’re lucky. Heh heh.

The counter was set with a cutting board for Cassia and me and 7 cutting board ‘stations’ for the ladies to share. The brussel sprouts were distributed among the stations, along with carrots and celery for the short, introductory knife skills lesson.

The knives were glinting, sharp and ready to be put to work.

Traci and Jamie set out snacks and finger food–have I mentioned that I eat wasabi peas like an addict?

And finally: everything was ready.

Cassia and I collapsed onto the couch around 6:15 and finished off the wine. (And technically, this picture was taken hours earlier during our breather, but the narrative demanded that it be placed here.)

The hard part is over,” I told myself as I nonchalantly ate another handful of wasabi peas. “The women will do the actual cooking; we just have to tell them what to do. Everything is organized, we’ll just effortlessly float through the recipes, and we should be sitting down to eat by 8:30 at the latest.”


The expression ‘little did she know’ would be quite apt at this narrative juncture.

To be continued . . .