This is the time of year when I start exploring. For what, you ask? Recipes, tabletop ideas and those must-have items and gadgets for the year to come. They’re out there—in ads and stores, and everyone’s talking about them. You look, hunt, gather, and begin the editing process: What stays, what goes and what works? What do you really need, and what do you just plain want? This sifting process is especially true in the kitchen, and I’m not just talking about the latest and greatest countertop item, I am talking about food.
I scour cooking magazines, watch as many cooking demos as possible, and buy a parade of books by my favorite chefs, looking for recipes to make my own. We all have our standard recipes, our favorites, and our specialties, but during the holidays I want new recipes (or variations on a theme) to impress family and guests with dazzling dishes, many of which will become classics during the coming years.
They say the devil is in the details, so make sure your search is well-rounded enough to include great holiday breakfast foods, as well as interesting condiments flexible enough to be passed around at lunch, dinner or even for snacks. A perfect example is poached pears, which can be made in advance and used later in various ways. Try pouring poached pears onto ice cream or spoon them on top of thick French toast. Whatever you do, make sure you take advantage of all the great culinary input this season has to offer.
Spiced Poached Pears
What you’ll need…
3 peeled pears- Comice
2 cinnamon sticks
1-1/2 cups white wine
3 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
7 whole cloves
1 vanilla bean, split bean and scrape seeds
2 star anise
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup raisins
1. Bring water, sugar and wine to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.
2. Add orange zest, cloves, vanilla bean, star anise, raisins and pears and
3. Cook for about 15 minutes or until liquid starts to thicken. Test pears
with a skewer or knife for tenderness.
4. Remove pears. Continue simmering the liquid, adding the maple syrup until
the liquid has thickened.
5. Chop 2 pears into cubes or pulse in a food processor. Slice 1 pear in
half and set aside for garnish.
6. Place the pears on top of the French toast or ice cream and drizzle with
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