Eating Pears with a Knife & Fork
Today’s VeganMoFo topic is veganizing a dish from a sci-fi/fantasy world. This was really difficult for me because I’ve never been a big sci-fi/fantasy film person. Alan is much more into these type of films, but he’s not a foodie and couldn’t come up with anything other than Soylent Green, which really didn’t appeal to me!
So I resorted to searching the internet.
And I found a little reference making fun of a scene in Star Wars 2: Attack of the Clones where Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala Naberrie ate a pear with a knife and fork. I have seen this film, but I honestly didn’t remember this scene, which many people felt was quite ridiculous.
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It got me thinking, though, when would you eat a pear with a knife and a fork? When they’re poached! So let me share my recipe for Wine Poached Pears, a simply elegant dessert that you eat with a knife and a fork!
The pears you choose for this dessert really matter. You want a pear that is crisp when ripe, not soft. Bosc, Anjou, and Forelle are firmer pears, which will keep their shape and not get mushy when poached. I was lucky enough to find some gorgeous organic Forelle pears from Bautista Farms of Mabton, Washington, at my local farmers market in Carnation, Washington.
Because the pears grew in the Yakima Valley, I wanted a wine from the same area. While it’s not necessary for the wine and pears to match, wine and fruit are said to be influenced by their terroir, the environment where it’s grown, including soil, topography, and climate, imparting a unique characteristic taste and flavor. We happened to have a bottle of Airfield Estates 2011 Aviator Red Blend, which was perfect! Airfield Estates produces a lot of vegan wine and not all wines are vegan due to how they are produced. You can learn more about what makes wine vegan and how to find vegan wines in my post, Vegan Wine Tasting in Napa!
If you don’t want to use wine, you can use cranberry, raspberry, or pomegranate juice instead.
In addition, to enhance the pear flavor, I also used some very special Pear-in-the-Bottle Pear Brandy from Clear Creek Distillery in Hood River, Oregon. I’ve had this special bottle of brandy since 2012 after I visited my friends, Craig McCurdy and Natalie Clay, on their farm in the Columbia Gorge where they grow the pears for this amazing brandy.
Did you ever wonder how they got the pear in the bottle? They actually grow it inside the bottle! It’s known as Poire Prisonniere, or imprisoned pear. After the pear starts to develop, they slip a bottle over the little fruit and allow it to grow inside. Bottles are supported by twine from the branches above and shaded with fabric covers to prevent sunburn.
Once the pears are ripe, they pick the bottled pear from the tree, wash the pear and the inside of the bottle, fill with pear brandy, and process as usual. The pear is preserved as long as it is completely covered with brandy. You can top your pear with additional brandy and keep the bottle going for years and years! Isn’t that fascinating?
Carefully peel the pear as not to smash it. Leave the stem intact. You can cut lengthwise and remove the core, but I think it’s much more elegant to level off the bottom so that the poached pear stands up beautifully in the center of a dessert plate when served. Trim the bottom prior to poaching. (And by the way, don’t toss out those peels or trimmed bottom, use them to make pear cider vinegar, substituting for apple cores and peels in this recipe!)
I like to poach my pears in a mulled red wine. So in a heavy saucepan, I combine the wine and brandy with water, sugar, orange juice and peel, lemon juice and peel, lemongrass, bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, star anise, black and pink peppercorns, and sliced fresh ginger. Stir this together and carefully add the pears. It smells so good when you’re simmering this!
Bring to a gentle simmer so that you don’t damage the pears. Simmer, covered, carefully turning them every 5 minutes so they color evenly from the poaching liquid. After 25 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the liquid to cool, still turning the pears occasionally. They might not seem fully cooked, but they will still poach while the liquid is cooling, so don’t worry.
Once cool, chill in the refrigerator overnight (and yes, carefully turn the pears every once and a while).
The next day, pull out the beautiful red pears!
Strain the poaching liquid and discard the aromatics. Pour into a shallow saucepan and bring to a full boil. Boil until reduced by half and syrupy, about 30 minutes.
Let the syrup cool. When time to serve, ladle a bit of the syrup in the bottom of a rimmed dessert plate, add a poached pear, and serve with a dollop of vegan (cashew or coconut) cream, yogurt, or soft cultured vegan cheese, if desired. And of course, a knife and a fork!
It is simply delicious!
You don’t have to be a Star Wars Queen to enjoy this wonderful dessert! But you can eat it with a knife and a fork, just like Anakin and Padmé…well, maybe without the levitation! These are easy and delicious any time of year, so treat yourself and your guests like royalty!
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Wine Poached Pears
- 4 pears ripe but firm. Choose a firm variety, like Anjou, Bosc, or Forelle
- 1 750 ml bottle Red wine or cranberry, raspberry, or pomegranate juice
- 2 cups water
- ¼ cup pear brandy optional
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 orange juiced
- 3 strips orange peel taken off with a vegetable peeler, orange only, no white pith
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- 2 strips lemon peel taken off with a vegetable peeler, yellow only, no white pith
- 4 slices ginger about ¼-inch thick each
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 1 stalk lemon grass cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp pink peppercorns
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- ½ tsp whole cloves
- 1 dollop vegan cream, yogurt, or vegan cultured soft cheese if desired, for serving
- Carefully peel the pears. Leave the stem intact. You can cut lengthwise and remove the core, but it’s very elegant to level off the bottom so that the poached pear stands up beautifully in the center of a dessert plate when served. Trim the bottom prior to poaching.
- In a heavy, deep saucepan, combine the wine (or juice), pear brandy (if using), water, sugar, orange juice and peel, lemon juice and peel, lemongrass, bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, star anise, black and pink peppercorns, and sliced fresh ginger. Stir this together and carefully add the pears.
- Bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer, covered, carefully turning them every 5 minutes so they color evenly from the poaching liquid.
- After 25 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the liquid to cool, still turning the pears occasionally. They might not seem fully cooked, but they will still poach while the liquid is cooling.
- Once cool, chill in the refrigerator overnight and carefully turn the pears every once and a while.
- The next day, pull out the pears, strain the poaching liquid and discard the aromatics. Pour the liquid into a shallow saucepan and bring to a full boil. Boil until reduced by half and syrupy, about 30 minutes.
- Let the syrup cool.
- When time to serve, ladle a bit of the syrup in the bottom of a rimmed dessert plate, add a poached pear, and serve with a dollop of vegan (cashew or coconut) cream, yogurt, or soft cultured vegan cheese, if desired.
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Cindy wants you to be Trimazing—three times better than amazing! After improving her health and fitness through plant-based nutrition, losing 60 pounds and becoming an adult-onset athlete, she retired from her 20-year firefighting career to help people just like you. She works with people and organizations so they can reach their health and wellness goals.
Cindy Thompson is a certified Health Coach, Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, and Firefighter Peer Fitness Trainer. She is a Food for Life Instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Rouxbe Plant-Based Professional, and Harvard Medical School Culinary Coach, teaching people how to prepare delicious, satisfying, and health-promoting meals.
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