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.