Bleu Pears: Pretty Food

I love food. Food is delicious. I’m fascinated by clever people who can think up even more clever combinations. Food is good. Food is delicious. Sometimes food is also GORGEOUS.

I came across a delightful appetizer on a blog called Palachinka. The hubby and I stared at the pictures for about an hour. Drooled the whole time. We had to have them. So we did. And, yes. They were beautifully. They.were.delicious.

I tweaked the recipe a bit, I wasn’t sure I wanted to use bay leaves. Instead I wanted to play up the sweetness of the pears, so I went for sweet aromatics.

Blue Pears
4 pears
2 cps white wine
2 star anise pods
10 black peppercorns, bruised
Vanilla bean pod, about 2-inches
Lemon juice
8 slices bacon, thick
4 oz Bleu cheese, approximately

In a medium saucepan, combine the wine with 2 cps of water, the anise, split vanilla pod and peppercorns. Bring it to a boil, then lower the temperature. Meanwhile, peel the pears, but make sure to keep the stems on. Rub the pears with a bit of lemon juice as you go, that way they will not change color.

Once the poaching liquid has come to a boil, drop the pears in the pan and allowing the simmer for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow them to cool for about 10 minutes in the liquid. Then remove and drain them.

When the pears are cool enough to handle, cut the top of each pear, about 1-1/2 inches into the pear. Set the tops aside. If you have an apple corer, use it to remove the seed pods. I don’t have one, so I used a small paring knife to cut around it, then scooped it out with a small fork.

Fill the holes with crumbled cheese. I found a delicious Italian Bleu, it was slightly brinier than the usual Bleu, almost like a cross between a Bleu and Feta cheese. Don’t overstuff the pears, but do be generous. Replace the tops on each pear and secure them with a toothpick. If the pears aren’t stable, trim a bit of the bottom to make sure they stand on their own.

Preheat oven to 400°. Stretch the bacon out on a cutting board, particularly if you’re using thick-cut bacon. This way you can thin it out and make it more pliable.  Now wrap each pear with 1 or 2 slices of bacon, depending on the size of the pear and the length of the bacon. I only needed 1 slice per fruit. Again, use a toothpick to secure the bacon to the pear.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and the place wrapped pears on it.  Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove and let them sit for a bit, but do serve them warm.

How pretty is that?! Did I mention delicious too?

Cookingly yours,

Get your fruit in.

I’m not a huge pear fan. I’m not especially fond of poached things and I’m not addicted to chocolate. What I CAN tell you about this little dessert is that it makes me a believer in all of the above. 

If you need a better reason: this helps keep the Surgeon General off your back. 1 fruit serving. Check. 1 Antioxidant serving. Check.

Poached Pear in Chocolate Sauce

This is a simple and delicious little treat I tried in Paris for the first time. It really would’ve have NEVER occurred to me to serve pears this way, but it works! The pictures you see are the trial run. I made them again for one of our ‘dinner parties’.

Poaching the pears:
4 Bosc or D’anjou pears
4 cps water
2 cps granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves, whole
Zest from half a lemon

You’ll want to use a medium-sized saucepan, add the water, stir in the sugar and put it over high heat. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds, add to the saucepan together with the cinnamon and cloves.

While you wait for this to come to a boil, peel the pears. You’ll want to trim the bottoms to make sure they stand on the plate. Add them to the poaching liquid once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. At this point it should barely simmer, don’t allow it to boil. Simmer the pears for about 15 minutes; this will vary depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Pierce it with a knife—be gentle—to determine if they’re done. Allow them to cool in the liquid.

Chocolate Sauce
1½ cp heavy cream
½ cp granulated sugar
8 oz unsweetened chocolate chips
2 tsp bourbon (optional)
1 tsp vanilla

Combine ½ of the heavy and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat; you want to heat it up, but not boil. Add the chips, stir to melt. Put the vanilla and bourbon into your blender, add in the chocolate mixture and blitz. Heat up the rest of the cream and add it to the contents of the blender, in a slow steady stream. You’re looking for the consistency of condensed milk.

To serve, pour the sauce onto the bottom of a salad/dessert plate, swirl it around to cover. Take the pear out of the poaching liquid, let it stand on a clean towel to soak the excess liquid, and place atop the sauce. Voila!

PS: I’ve reserved the poaching liquid. Don’t know what I’ll use it for yet, but I’ll let you know when I do!