March 2, 2010

Baked Pears And "Whine"

It is a stinking hot and humid summers day in tropical Queensland. So what does one do. Turn on the oven of course. I really feel like some of the beautiful dessert that I tried at Philomena's place. My quirky, nutty, totally adorable neighbour has given me heaps of tips so I am armed with all the necessary info. Now it is all in the execution. I bought half a dozen pears the other day and they have been trying to ripen in the bowl. "Trying, but not succeeding" as one famous masked bandit once stated.

Philomena says it is still okay to go ahead, but she specifies the French version she makes basically derived after people needed to use up leftover pears sitting in the fruitbowl. So basically a softer pear is better, but I am giving the 'firmer' version a go. I recall the night we first tried it. Mitch was extremely reluctant to try it as he not a wine connoisseur. Actually he hates the taste of wine. What can I say? He is twenty one and palate developing is in the future.

Having said that he was amazed by Philomena's gorgeous, voluptuous, syrupy, delicious baked pears. I think his first comment went a little like, "I want some more". We all did. Paired with vanilla ice cream it was sensational. I hope I can recreate the dish as the sweet memories are still lingering.

The day is ridiculously hot, but when the memory is hankering as it is right now, it is all "steam" ahead because the result will hopefully be truly worth it.

Take six or seven pears depending on the size of your baking dish.

Halve the pears; remove core and stalk. Do not peel them. I brushed my baking dish with fresh vanilla seeds that I scraped from about one quarter of a pod. Place the pears flesh side down.

Sprinkle five heaped tablespoons of caster sugar over the pears. Carefully pour a whole bottle of a good red over them. Place into the oven. Turn on and bake at 160 or 170 degrees celcius for at least two hours. Baste during baking from time to time.

You may need to remove any "frothy" impurities that may rise to the surface and stick to the pears. My pears took two hours and forty five minutes. Remember they were quite firm. I used Beurre Bosc pears.

The result. Not great actually. No where near as nice as Philomena's. The pears were way overcooked and the very wrinkly skin should been adequate warning. Ooops. I would say next time I will definitely not bake them any more than two hours. I felt the liquid needed more reducing at that time, but now I see that the syrup is way too concentrated and even tinges a little on the bitter side.

The kids 'whined' that the pears tasted a bit too 'winey' so I am not sure how that came about. The more I think about it, perhaps I should have allowed the wine to 'breathe' rather than putting it straight into the oven. That is something to consider next time as well. Next time? The kids look at me nervously. Absolutely. I thought we were supposed to learn from our mistakes.

Actually......topped with a good quality vanilla ice-cream, even my version doesn't taste half bad. No takers? Oh well. More for me.


  1. Ah yes I remember Philomena! your neighbour. I read about her wen I first found your blog. such an interesting person. the pears look magnificent and luscious! I can imagine its taste. so its hot n humid there too? its terrible here as well with teh heat wave and a small kitchen. but we will survive i guess. ^^

  2. You are not wrong zurin - my dear Philomena is a nutcase in the most endearing way. Life is certainly not dull with her and her beautiful husband Romano around. I love them to bits. I really need to post more of her recipes. She has so much cooking knowledge and no children to pass it on to. That is where I come in. She loves that I put her recipe on the computer and when I showed her the post you are talking about, she grinned and giggled the whole way. She turns seventy in April. Tho you would never guess to look at her.

    How on earth do you churn out your amazing recipes in a small kitchen. Your work is extraordinary.

  3. Mariana - you're back! How lovely to have you blogging again. I love this idea, despite the mixed success. If you do make it again, I'd love to hear how you go with it.

  4. I shall let you know the next time I try it Kathryn. Not any time soon though, unfortunately.

  5. They look just so great and I was so disappointed when you said they weren't a success as it sounded just the best but as you say it maybe just too long in cooking the idea though. Yes well Philomena!! Try and do her sponge roll cake with the custard in the middle........mmmmmmmmmmmmm

  6. I know Gayle, I know. would you believe she made one for Mitchell on the day he turned 21. Mitch loved the texture of the cake, and he reckons the custard is to die for. Ahh, that Philomena. What a character she is? I really need to do a post just on her don't I.

  7. Yes that would be fantastic ........I can just see her posing for the photos ....maybe you could do some hidden ones ie when she is up a tree or doing her cooking or I am sure you could come up with some great ideas!

  8. Another story about Philomena! Love that woman!
    Those pears look fabulous too!
    btw, you asked about the keeping quality of the date bars I posted about: excellent! in the fridge, in a tightly closed box. However these were gone in 48 hours. (keep at least one week in fridge or freeze for a month or two)

  9. Thank you tasteofbeirut. I am surprised they would keep that long actually. In the fridge that is. Thanks for getting back to me.