Can't decide between cheese and dessert? Why not have both!
I absolutely LOVE pears. It's funny, because when I was younger, I never cared for them. Hubby still doesn't, which is why I'm indulging in this while he's gone, hehe.
Poaching pears is a great way to have a healthy and yummy dessert, with minimal effort. All you do it peal and quarter your pears, then put them in a small pot or saucepan with some liquid (see below), sugar or honey, and I throw in a Cinnamon stick. Taste your poaching liquid and season it so that it's to your liking. I usually have some sort of combination of the following:
-White or red wine, or bourbon or amaretto
- Lemon Juice
-Molasses (just a hint, a couple of drops, really)
Basically, you want to play around until you have the desired balance of tart and sweet flavors. My combination usually tend to be about 2 parts wine/alcohol, 2 parts pomegranate, 1 part each of lemon juice, balsamic, and honey, with a splash of molasses or even sambuca sometimes.
Combine everything in your pot/saucepan, bring to a gently simmer, and let it poach for about 5-8 minutes or until your pears are nice and soft. The great thing here is you can also do this ahead of time, in fact, the longer the pears sit in the poaching liquid, the better - they just soak up that wonderful syrup! When you are ready to have your dessert, take the pears out, set aside on a plate, and simmer the remaining liquid until it's a nice thick honey-like consistency.
Now at this point you have some different options. You can plate your pears, drizzle with the syrup, and top with some whipped cream, or toast some broken up biscotti cookies and nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios are all great here) and sprinkle on top, or even add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. All are equally delicious! This time around, I didn't have any of the aforementioned delicacies, but did have 2 chunks of cheese that needed to be finished, so I sliced up my aged Gouda and Iberico, layered them in between the pears, and drizzled with the syrup, a pinch of fresh ground black pepper and some buckwheat honey.
So good! I really loved the combination of sweet pears and salty/savory cheese. And I love the idea of a cheese and dessert plate all at once. Definitely will make again! Only thing that I felt was missing was some color, but I didn't have anything on hand to garnish with - next time I think a really fine chiffonade of basil would really complement the sweet/savory taste and provide a nice pop of green color.