GAL­LEY

Passage Maker - - @rest - By Karen Even­den

Culi­nary con­trib­u­tor, Karen Even­den, switches to the sweeter side this is­sue. Find out how a sim­ple, ripe pear can serve as the per­fect dessert fruit.

Chat­ter on the docks is al­ways fun—it’s a time to share sto­ries about se­cluded an­chor­ages, re­cent wildlife sight­ings, fish­ing suc­cesses (and fail­ures), de­tails about in­dul­gent meals in posh restau­rants, fam­ily-fa­vorite recipes, and oc­ca­sion­ally in­for­ma­tive dis­cus­sions about how our gal­leys are equipped and how we use them.

Thanks to these ca­sual con­ver­sa­tions, I’ve be­come more aware that many cruis­ing boats are not equipped with an oven, and I have been set straight on my long-held as­sump­tion that if you were for­tu­nate enough to own a boat that was equipped with an oven you would use it. The fact is there are many ves­sels whose own­ers are en­joy­ing tasty and healthy meals with­out us­ing an oven.

Re­cently those dock­side con­ver­sa­tions trig­gered thoughts about some of my fa­vorite desserts, es­pe­cially those that can be pre­pared with­out an oven. Near the top of my list: poached pears.

Fresh pears are a fre­quent and wel­come ad­di­tion to dessert­time cheese plat­ters. But with a lit­tle ad­vanced plan­ning and a lazy sim­mer in a hon­eyed-wine con­coc­tion, you’ll soon con­sider pears as the per­fect fresh-fruit fin­ish for hearty meals.

POACHED PEARS

SERVES: 6

1 bot­tle de­cent red wine

1 cup su­gar

¼ cup honey

2 cin­na­mon sticks

3 4-inch long strips orange peel

6 firm pears

Com­bine the wine, su­gar, honey, cin­na­mon, and orange peel in a pan that is large and deep enough to hold the six pears. Stir the poach­ing in­gre­di­ents to­gether, bring to a boil, and then re­duce to a sim­mer. Mean­while, peel the pears and slice a small amount of fruit from the bot­tom so that the pear will sit flat. As each pear is peeled and pared, place it into a bowl of cold wa­ter to help pre­vent brown­ing.

Drain the pears and place them in the sim­mer­ing wine pot, keep­ing them sub­merged as much as pos­si­ble. Poach the fruit slowly, ro­tat­ing as needed, un­til the pears are eas­ily pierced with a sharp knife—about 50 min­utes. Re­move the pears from the syrup, cover, and set aside.

In­crease the heat to medium-high and slowly boil the liq­uid un­til it is thick and syrupy. Strain the syrup and re­turn it to the pot along with the pears. Cover and keep warm un­til ready to serve.

When it’s ready to serve, place each pear up­right in a small bowl and driz­zle with some of the syrup. The pears may be served with a dol­lop of whipped cream or a small scoop of ice cream, but they are yummy just by them­selves—or per­haps served with a choco­late truf­fle or two.

Cook’s Note: I hate to waste good food. The left­over poach­ing liq­uid can be used as it is to pour over ice cream or it can be en­hanced to

cre­ate a com­pote for dried fruit. Just com­bine the syrup with chopped dried fruit (cher­ries and apri­cots are my fa­vorite com­bi­na­tion) and sim­mer for 20 min­utes or so. De­li­cious over ice cream or pound cake.

CHOCO­LATE TRUF­FLES

YIELD: ABOUT 40 TRUF­FLES

De­li­cious and easy to make, these truf­fles are the per­fect fix for a se­ri­ous choco­late crav­ing. Al­though the recipe can be re­duced to half, make it all—you can hide some in the re­frig­er­a­tor and they will keep for weeks.

16 ounces semi-sweet or bit­ter­sweet choco­late, chopped into small pieces (Note: the bet­ter the qual­ity of choco­late, the bet­ter the qual­ity of truf­fles)

1 cup heavy cream

2 tea­spoons vanilla ex­tract (or 1 ta­ble­spoon bour­bon or Kahlua)

Choose top­pings:

Co­coa pow­der

Wal­nuts, finely chopped

Al­monds, finely chopped

Co­conut, finely chopped

Finely ground sea salt

In a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat bring the cream slowly to a sim­mer. Stir fre­quently and do not let the cream boil.

Re­move the pan from the heat, stir in the finely chopped choco­late, and add the vanilla or fla­vor­ing of choice. Stir un­til all of the choco­late is melted and the mix­ture is very smooth.

Pour the choco­late into a bowl and al­low to cool. Cover and place in the re­frig­er­a­tor for two hours or un­til you’re ready to form the truf­fles.

Re­move the choco­late from the re­frig­er­a­tor and al­low it to warm enough so that the choco­late can be scooped with a spoon. De­cide what top­pings you will be us­ing and place half a cup of each top­ping on a din­ner plate (you can add more top­ping as needed). Line a large bak­ing sheet with parch­ment. Us­ing two tea­spoons, scoop out small truf­fle-size pieces and de­posit them on the parch­ment-lined bak­ing sheet. When all the choco­late is di­vided, roll each piece in the palm of your hands to form a ball and then roll the ball in the top­ping of choice. Re­turn the com­pleted truf­fle to the pan. (Note: roll the truf­fle balls as quickly as pos­si­ble to keep the choco­late from melt­ing your hands.)

If de­sired, top each truf­fle with a quick grind of sea salt. Trans­fer the truf­fles to a cov­ered con­tainer and place into the re­frig­er­a­tor for at least sev­eral hours. Keep the truf­fles in the re­frig­er­a­tor un­til ready to serve. n

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