Friday, October 3, 2008

Poached pears and other endangered species

I promised you pears, and what lovely pears they were. I didn't get a proper picture of the finished product because my friends and I gobbled them up. I do have a meanwhile photo, though:

This gets a little technical, but here goes:

- Grab a few bosch pairs, peel 'em, slice 'em in half lengthwise, and use a melon-baller to scoop out the
seeds. You can also use a paring knife to cut out the thread that runs from the seeds up to the stem. I like to leave the stem in for show.

- Dump some apple cider into a saucepan and turn up the heat. You can also add some spices, like a cinnamon stick and star anise (I love this combination). Here's where we get fancy: break out your handy-dandy candy thermometer and start monitoring the juice temp. When it's hovering between 160 and 180 degrees (meaning there are no rolling bubbles, just a bit of crackling here and there), you can add your pear halves. It's important that they stay fully submerged, so what you can do is cut a piece of parchment paper to cover, leaving a hole in the middle to stick the thermometer in.

- Keep monitoring the temperature and poaching along until the pears give a bit when poked. You want them to be slightly softened but still have a nice bite to them. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool off.

- Now crank the heat up all the way and start reducing the apple juice. This could take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how much you have. You want the juice to become a syrupy glaze. When you've accomplished this, turn off the heat, pour the sauce over the pears and - VOILA - you've got yourself a sweet, juicy healthy dessert.

And to demystify the second part of my post title:

Ambiguous Animal Cookies
(adapted from today's recipe on

I found this random cookie-cutter in one of my dad's piles of junk and couldn't figure out what the hell it was. After having made some two-dozen cookies with it, I'm still not really sure - but I've narrowed it down to either cat or cow. Meeeoooooo.

So you wanna get:

- 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
-1/4 c. walnut or almond meal (just run the nuts through a cuisinart)
- 1/2 c. unsweetened finely shredded coconut
- 1/4 c. extra virgin coconut oil, softened
- 2 tbsp. agave nectar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 large egg, beaten

Mix together the flour, ground nuts, and coconut flakes. In a separate bowl, beat together the coconut oil, agave, and salt. Add the egg and beat until uniform. Add in the dry mixture and mix until incorporated.

Knead the dough once or twice, separate in half, and wrap the two balls and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/8-inch thin, cut out animals, and place them 1 inch apart on cookie sheet. Bake until just beginning to color at the edges, 7-8 minutes. Remove and cool on racks.

And if you think your powers of observation are superior to mine and you can definitely discern what these creatures are, please do share!


Luna said...

how ripe should the pears be? i usually wait until they are quite soft for maximum juiciness + sweetness, but does the same go for cooking them?

Evie said...

nope! it's actually better to cook them when they're a bit under-ripe. Just be sure to wait until you can pierce them with a toothpick before taking them off the stove.