There are few things I love doing more than cooking a meal for other people. For one, it’s a time to showcase your skills, of course, but it’s more about bringing people together and having a blast together in the form of the dinner party. I can easily say sayonara to all bar times, club times, maybe not restaurant times, in favor of this type of gathering. The wine flows, the food is abundant, and you’re at your house. Few things could be better than that. Plus, the conversations flow like the wine, inappropriate and open, where nothing is off limits and all facets of life and living are discussed.
But. The dinner party can also ensure panic. What to make, what to ask guests to bring, will there be enough time, should I make a seating arrangement?! Etc, etc, etc. PLUS that’s not even including the dessert! Which in and of itself can cause me to freak out. It’s better to just focus on the meal, focus on the guests, and focus on the wine, more wine.
Use the wine to make what is possibly the most elegantly simple dessert in existence: poached fruit. Not only is poached fruit absolutely delicious, but it takes seconds to prepare and can be made far in advance. It can be served with just a bit of cream or yogurt, cut into a variety of shapes, or left whole. Your guests will think you’ve been slaving, but in actuality, you just donated a bit of the wine you’ve been drinking to calm your nerves throughout the night.Dinner party problems, solved with just a bit of fruit and wine.
Wine poached pears
Adapted from Jean-Jacques Paimblanc
Notes: feel free to use whatever wine you want, and take note that your pears will be flavored and colored based off of the wine you select. Up to you!
If you’re using white wine, use regular sugar and the orange peel. If using red wine, use brown sugar and the lemon peel.
You could also use apples. Proceed as directed.
Easily keep this dish vegan by not adding the cream or yogurt.
6 pears (Bosc, Anjou, or Bartlett, preferably, but really use whatever you have)
2 cups red or white wine of your choosing
1/2 cup white or brown sugar
One orange or lemon
2 whole cloves
1 cup water
For serving, optional
1 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
1 cup greek yogurt
Honey or maple syrup
Zest of orange or lemon
Poach the pears
Using a peeler, carefully peel away 5-6 slivers of the orange or lemon rind (skin). Set the peels aside.
Fill a large bowl with water and squeeze the juice from the citrus in the bowl, set aside.
Peel the pears, trying to keep the stem in tact for presentation purposes. Cut the bottom flat so you can stand them up straight when you serve them. Place the pears in the bowl of water with the citrus juice to prevent discoloration. Using a melon baller, remove the core from the bottom, one by one.
In a large saucepan, place the pears with the wine, water, sugar, citrus peels, and the cloves. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook until tender, about 30 minutes – 1 hour, depending on the size of the pears. You’ll know when the pears are done when a sharp knife inserted in the pear gives little or no resistance.
Remove the pears from the heat, and let them cool in their cooking liquid. Once cooled, the pears can be served immediately. They can be stored in their cooking liquid in the refrigerator for about 3 days.
Once the pears have cooled, heat the cooking liquid over medium heat until reduced by half, and serve this syrup alongside the pears. Also consider serving them with dollops of whipped cream or greek yogurt with a few bits of zest. For a sweetener, use the reduce syrup, honey, or maple syrup.
Consider slicing the pears decoratively and fanning them out. Hold one pear at the top and slice from halfway down to pear to the bottom, carefully. Fan them out on the serving dish.