Have you ever poached pear, or for that matter, any other fruit? Until recently, I never had. But after tasting the wondrous results of humble home poached fruit, I am obsessed. I admit that I am showing symptoms of another obsession – crostinis! But they’re just so dam good, its kinda hard not to.
Since we are talking about obsessions, strawberry season is back! Over the weekend I experimented with some jalepeno infused strawberry margaritas from How Sweet It Is’s new book, Seriously Delish. And can I just say, it was just ah-mazaing! It was made up of pureed strawberries, fresh jalepeno, cointreau and of course, some good old rum. You could totally swap the rum for the originally called for tequila, but I found this incredibly delicious (yet not too sweet) cocktail to be am amazing spin on a bloody-mary meets a daiquiri meets a caprioska.
Back to my pears.
Poaching (pears) as a concept always seemed daunting, mundane, time consuming and well – for some reason – just way too complicated. Whenever I see a recipe with an ingredients list is never-ending, it stresses me out, and basically throws out any chance of me attempting that recipe. But this time I told myself not to chicken out, follow it through just this once, so see whether it is actually worth the hype.
It starts with melting down some sugar in water, adding a few good glugs of any not-so-amazing red wine you have at home and then mixing it up. I added a small bark of cinnamon, some orange peel and juice of that very same orange. One time I even added come clove. You peel the pear (core them if you want, but for the crostinis you don’t need to, since we just slice off some fat slivers), and place them carefully in the poaching liquid, and cover and let the liquid do its magic. All you need do do is turn the pears after about 15-20 minutes.
After carefully removing the poached pears, I hate to throw away all that amazing rich wine bath, so I like to just let it reduce until almost syrupy – which works so beautifully as a salad dressing or even as a dollop on top of the crostini.
For the crostinis, I layered some slightly sweet chilli jam, peppery rocket leaves, slices of poached pear, a small knob of blue cheese or gorgonzola and some balsamic syrup or the reduced poaching liquid, to finish. Thats it!
Most of the work is done by the poaching, which honestly, was not even a fraction as difficult as psyched myself out to believe! Definitely a crowd pleasing appetiser, even for those who don’t usually enjoy blue cheese. The richness of the pears, the sharpness of the roquette and the contrasting blue cheese just makes for a perfect combination. Add some caramelised walnuts if you want, but don’t be surprised if this platter full gets wiped out in minutes!
- 1 Baguette (8″ should be fine)
- 50gm blue cheese or gorgonzola
- 2 pears, peeled
- 375ml red wine (1/2 a bottle)
- 200ml water
- 100gm sugar
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 orange (one 3" peel and juice)
- 1/2 cup roquette leaves
- 1/4 cup balsamic syrup or reduced poaching liquid
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Bring the sugar and water to a boil, add the wine, cinnamon, orange peel and juice. Carefully place the pears into the liquid, bring down to a simmer and then cover with a lid. Turn the pears after 15-20 minutes (they should have taken on a fair amount of the wine colour). After 15 minutes more, remove the pears and of desired, reduce the poaching liquid until syrupy, about 20-30 minutes.
- In the mean time, slice the baguette into 1cm discs, and toast under the griller slightly till crisp but not browned. Leave to cool and then transfer to an airtight container, to the bread remains crisp.
- Layer the bread with roquette leaves, a few slivers the cooled pears, a little crumble of blue cheese and some dressing. You can then season, to taste.
- Even if you assemble an hour in advance, these crostinis tend to remain crispy, making it an ideal appetiser when you’re planning to entertain!
- The pears can be made up to a day in advance, provided you leave it in its poaching liquid and leave in the refrigerator.