This past weekend I had a wonderful opportunity to make dinner for the cast of the new ABC show "Better With You". It was a wonderful evening and I had a great time coming up with a fall harvest themed menu. I have a few recipes to share from that evening and here is the first. It's a great, easy appetizer combining sweet pears with savory blue cheese and just a hint of honey. I used a wonderful "fall rose" that I found at my favorite wine shop, domaineLA. Any light red wine will do, but I loved the deep pink color it imparted on the pears. One of the best things about the pears (and most of the other recipes I made for the evening) is that they can be done a day or two ahead of time and the flavors only get better over time. I'm going to say this many times over the next few posts, but thanks to JenFinn for letting me come over and cook for this fabulous group. It was really a blast and such a pleasure to cook for such happy, appreciative people. I'm excited to share some of the other things I made for the occasion very soon.
Better With You airs at 8:30pm on Wednesday nights on ABC. Check it out!
Crostini with Poached Pears, Gorgonzola and Honey
(Poached Pears slightly adapted from Boston.com the Crostini is by Esi)
4 cups cold water
Juice of 1 lemon
6 firm, but ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears with stems intact
1 bottle light red wine (I used a 2009 Lioco Rose from Mendocino county)
1 1/4 cup sugar (depending on the wine you use, this amount can be reduced to as little as 1/2 cup. I found the pears to be a bit sweet, but the savoriness of the blue cheese balanced the flavors)
2 strips orange rind
2 star anise
1 whole clove
1 whole vanilla bean cut in half
I baguette, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
Crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Wildflower honey for drizzling
In a large bowl, combine the water and lemon juice. Peel the pears, keeping the stems intact. Slice a small piece from the base of each pear so it can stand without falling over. Drop each pear into the water and set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine the wine, sugar, orange rind, star anise, vanilla, and clove. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the pears. You can place a small plate over the pears to make sure they stay submerged or else turn the pears occasionally to make sure they get poached evenly.
Simmer the pears for 25-35 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a skewer.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the pairs cool in the poaching liquid.
Transfer the pears and the liquid to a large container. Refrigerate for at least several hours or as long as three days.
To make the crostini:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the bread slices to a baking sheet and bake until the pieces are lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Flip the pieces of bread over and bake for another 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
While the bread is cooling, remove the pears from the poaching liquid and slice them thinly.
Lay slices of pear over the cooled crostini. Top with blue cheese crumbles and drizzle the top of the cheese with honey.