We are in Boulder this week visiting with family and longtime friends. I lived here for many years as a single mother working in the Natural Products industry. So now, when I return, there the sense of home and belonging.
As I sit in a restaurant with my family eating lunch I see the bright and smiling face of my friend Susie walking towards me and we greet each other with a warm hug. She says she heard through the grapevine that I was going to be in Boulder. This is still a small town where there is less than six degrees of separation. Everybody seems to be connected to each other in some fashion which makes this a warm and inviting place for me to be. I can sit in the Starbuck’s on the Pearl Street Mall and run into an ongoing stream of past co-workers and acquaintances which is such fun. I once met a friend there for a cup of coffee and so many people that we knew walked by that we barely had a chance to catch up with each other.
So today I am reminded of the value of those longstanding friendships that so effortlessly pick-up right where they left off and the joy that I find in simply hanging out with my family who I don’t see often enough.
Here is a wonderful and impressive recipe for poached pears which would make for a lovely ending to a New Year’s Eve dinner.
Wine Poached Pears with Honey Lavender Cream
Poaching the pears:
6 semi-ripe pears
3 cups red wine
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Juice of one lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 ounces mascarpone
1/2 pint heavy cream
3 heaping tablespoons of honey
1 heaping tablespoon of dried lavender
Using a double layer of cheesecloth make two sachets, one with the lavender in it and one with the peppercorns and cinnamon stick in it. Tie them up with a bit of cooking twine. Run both sachets under the tap until they are thoroughly soaked.
Pour the cream into a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the lavender sachet and heat until just before boiling. Remove from heat and set aside letting the lavender steep for 15 minutes. Remove sachet, squeezing out all of the cream and lavender essence and add the honey and stir until complexly incorporated. Chill while the pears are poaching.
Pour the wine, water, vanilla, sugar and the peppercorn and cinnamon sachet into a large pot and bring to a light simmer.
While the wine is simmering, cut off the tops of the pears with the stem intact, setting them aside after rubbing them with some lemon juice.
Peel the pears using a vegetable peeler and rub with lemon juice.
You can serve the pears two ways, either whole or by the half. If you intend to serve them whole, gently remove the core without going all of the way through the bottom of the pear. If you will be serving halves cut the pears in half and remove the core with a spoon or melon baller.
Place the pears into the pot of wine and poach turning occasionally, anywhere from 20-30 minutes depending on the ripeness of the pear. Remove the pears from the wine when they are tender but still slightly firm.
Remove sachet and turn up heat to a soft boil for 15-20 minutes, reducing liquid to a syrupy consistency.
To make the lavender cream, add the mascarpone to the lavender infused cream and whip with an electric hand mixer until mixture becomes light and thickened.
Using a pastry bag, either fill center of the whole pear with the cream and then then top with the reserved stem, or place the pear half on a serving plate and fill the divot left by removing the core with the cream.
Drizzle the wine sauce on the plate and serve on the side.