Moving to a much bigger metropolis has been an adjustment, but I have fallen deeply in love with Virginia and the Washington D.C. area. There are many reasons for this love affair, and among the culture, history, and scenery is the sweet spot that is the produce aisle at my favorite local grocery store. It’s lovely, and I feel like I could live there quite happily, provided I remember to wear a light jacket.
While wandering up and down the aisles a few days ago I found a display of pears, and recognized this variety from one of the many cookbooks I’ve spent my life poring over. So since they were cute as a button and three for a dollar I tucked them into a bag and brought them home for dessert and ended up enjoying them over breakfast as well.
Granted, we are in the late stages of Spring here, and both pears and anise are traditionally categorized as fall fare, but what with the mornings lingering on the edge of chilly, I’m ok with bending the rules a bit. Comfort is on the menu any time of year.
These pears are perfect for poaching, absorbing the flavor of the poaching liquid without turning to mush, and would surely welcome the addition of a few sweet blackberries or slices of orange once cooled and ready for storage.
Sweet-Poached Seckel Pears
3 cups water
¼ cup coconut sugar
2 Tbs. honey
2 whole star anise
½ tsp ground cinnamon
6-8 seckel pears, washed quartered, and cored
Using scissors, cut a piece of parchment into a circle that fits into a medium sauce pot. Folding the circle in half, and then fourths, cut the tip of the cone off, creating a donut shaped parchment circle. Set aside.
In the pot combine the water, sugar, and honey. Add the spices and stir gently to combine; add the pears. Place the parchment circle on top to keep the pears completely submerged during the poaching.
Place the pot on the stove and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Let the pears poach about 15-20 minutes, or until a paring knife easily pierces the thickest part of a pear. Remove the pot from the heat and, using a slotted spoon, remove the pears to small bowl to cool without continuing the cooking process. Remove the anise from the pot to dry out, but don’t discard the poaching liquid.
Once both the pears and liquid have cooled to room temperature, store them together in an airtight container, refrigerated, up to one week. Spoon over a bowl of morning yogurt, stir into steelcut oats, or toss a few into the blender with a cup of almond milk, two or three pitted dates, and a handful of ice cubes for a delightful homemade ‘nice cream’.