Friday, April 21, 2006

Asian Pears with Saffron Sherry Ice Cream: SHF#18

...with bonus household hint!


When I was a kid I had a love-hate relationship with Hints from Heloise. I recognized that it was banal, awful, and none-too-relevant to the life of a 7 year-old. But it was right there at the end of the Washington Post Sunday comics every week, so I read it because I didn't want the comics to be over. Now, finally, I can do Heloise proud by sharing a Hint of my own: I used to wind up throwing away half of each purchase of fresh ginger because sprouted green mold before I could use it all. Now, the Human Vacuum and I buy a huge chunk of ginger, peel it and cut it into usable pieces and store them in a sherry-filled jar. The ginger stays fresh and the sherry is a nice added flavor, compatible with sweet and savory cooking.

So, we were between batches of ginger, and I had this jar full of gingery sherry and a bunch of Asian pears. Thus was dessert born. The Asian pears stay crisp, but take on extra flavor and sweetness when poached. And the syrup that results from the poaching has the heat of ginger, a lovely saffron color, and the kick of sherry. And if you don't want to bother with the chilling-and-mixing-into-the ice-cream step, just serve the pears with vanilla ice cream and pour the warm syrup over like hot fudge.

***
Poached Asian Pears with Saffron Sherry Ice Cream

Peel, core, and cut into 12 slices each:
3 large Asian pears

In a pan just big enough to hold all the slices (don't put them in yet), combine:
2 cups ginger sherry (or plain sherry with 1 inch of grated fresh ginger)
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon vanilla sugar (or use plain sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
Pinch saffron threads (turmeric would be an adequate substitute, but if you can spring for saffron, do it)

Bring to a boil, then add the pears and just enough hot water to cover. Simmer until pears become translucent, about 20 to 25 minutes. Unlike normal poached pears, they won't lose their crunch.

Remove the pears and return the liquid to a boil. Reduce until you have a few syrupy tablespoons left in the bottom of the pan. Pour the syrup into a bowl, and chill. Blend the cooled syrup with vanilla ice cream, then spoon it over the warm poached Asian pear slices. The Human Vacuum and I ate this with our fingers, using the pear slices as tiny edible ice cream scoops.

Note: This recipe is a bit fiddly, what with all the poaching and reducing. Still, I hope it's in the spirit of Lick the Spoon's Sugar High Friday Theme: "Candy is Dandy, but Liquor is Quicker!"

++

15 comments:

lucette said...

That's a brilliant hint about the ginger. I'd gotten so far as freezing it instead of keeping it in the fridge, but it tends to get dried out and frostbitten.

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Katherine
I love your post because (a) I love poached pears (b) I do the same with ginger and sherry! I have no idea where I got the hint from. When the ginger is really fresh and tender with almost no skin I also throw it in the food processor with the sherry and chop or puree it and fill up some jars. It saves chopping it each time you want it. I love the leftover sherry tipped into stir-frys.

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giinatribbiani said...

The Asian pears stay crisp, but take on extra flavour and sweetness when poached. And the syrup that results from the poaching has the heat of ginger, a lovely saffron color, and the kick of sherry.