Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring cooking with a faery hand in hand

    I generally put Italian on my table but when searching for the muse - and words, I go to Ireland. There we've hid our fairy vats Full of berries And of reddest stolen cherries. And of reddest stolen cherries. My beloved Yeats. Imagine my surprise when my "coming-of-age" moon play paralleled Yeats' The Stolen Child. Didn't see that coming. Or did I? `

    • Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild With a faery, hand in hand For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. `
    Children - hanging on to innocence. Madrigal, my "faery" from the streets of Belfast.
    I could not get the image of "faery vats of berries" and "reddest stolen cherries" out of my mind. And even though there are indeed signs of spring (my tulips are 1-1/2 inch up from the ground - yes, I measured), vats of berries and reddest stolen cherries are not readily available yet. In honor of the endless winter ending and spring slowly springing, I poached some pears - cherry red. Hailing from Valle d'Aosta - the Italians Alps that borders France and Switzerland, this is a sweetly- spiced dish that lulls you when there's just a wee bit of chill in the air. Valle d'Aosta is said to have a forbidding climate - perfect for warming, spicy concoctions. I suppose if you come from Sicily, you might find it chilly. As an almost-Minnesotan, I may find it warm.
    Pears Poached in Spiced Red Wine* - serves 2
    1. 2 pears, peeled, bottom sliced so the pear can stand on its own (I used bosc pears)
    2. 3/4 cup dry red wine
    3. 1/2 cup sugar 1 cinnamon stick
    4. 3-4 cloves
    5. additional water to cover
    6. *Pomegranate juice and grape juice are good options if you don't cook with wine. Just sugar to-taste - you won't need 1/2 cup.
    7. To finish: I served it with some lemon yogurt and strawberries. Also consider whipped cream or creme fraiche. ` Note: The pears should be ripe - they should not be hard as nails when you buy them. They also shouldn't be over-ripe as they may not hold their shape during cooking. (What a fuss-budget I've become)
    Combine wine, water, cinnamon and cloves in a sauce pan. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add pears and cover with additional water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes until pears are softened, reddened but retain their shape. (You can also use all red wine to cover and skip the water - you decided how alcoholic you wish to be!)

    In honor of the still-to-come green landscape, I turned to wonderful, peppery arugula. (Thank-you Cooking Light.) Combined with cooked barley, chickpeas, salt, pepper and equal parts of olive oil and lemon (just a little), this hearty salad also bids good-bye to the North Wind and welcomes the robin. Vary the amount according to your taste - but do dress lightly and it will stand the test of time (i.e. be ready for your lunch box the next day).


    And the asparagus has returned and I buy a pound every day. From Proud Italian Cook - it's simple: roasted asparagus (asparagus trimmed and roasted in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and grape tomatoes). Dressed (again lightly) with equal parts lemon and olive oil, tossed with tangy feta cheese - half of it was missing before I brought it to the table.
    `
    Lest you think my life is a party of pretty words and endless eating, do know that I spent an agonizing day wondering if one of my young characters should have a Dick Tracy spy decoder ring or a Man from U.N.C.L.E. decoder ring or a James Bond one. What will the kids relate to? And so I return to the age of acquarius and faeries... and "spy" toys that come in cereal boxes. While "In the Year 2525" plays in the background. Does Randy say, "Groovy" or "far out?" And if you need some enchantment in your days - look no further... there's magic in these words.


    56 comments:

    Mister Meatball said...

    Hate to tell you this, C, but we did a batch of whole pears in The Inferno the other night. You'da liked.

    Claudia said...

    Poached pears in Meatball's inferno... I already like.

    Pegasuslegend said...

    I am so curious about these, the wine and fruit with peaches I have had not pears.... this looks fantastic I have to try this... will hope to make it half as good as you did, wonderful gourment pears!

    Mari's Cakes said...

    Claudia, this looks divinely delicious! What a unique, elegant and delicious way to celebrate spring.

    Wish you a blessed week :)

    Magic of Spice said...

    Claudia those pears are stunning, and the rest of these goodies are pretty delightful as well :)

    Chris's Gourmet Fashion said...

    Hmm... Valle d'Aosta what beautiful memories come back ... mostly the wonderful skiing and the polenta concia waiting for you when you're done with the slopes. Spring there is also so very beautiful .... so back to your pears, they look simply delicious!

    Choices said...

    The pears in wine look delicious. Very Gorumet. The video was beautiful and so peaceful.
    Smiles to you!

    Island Vittles said...

    those pears look divine -- I can see that the sky has brightened a bit over your way...the light in the photos is lovely.

    I am off to England, Scotland & Wales next week. Alas, not Ireland, but I hope to get a good fill of Celtic in Scotland & Wales! Theresa

    Kim said...

    You've been cooking up all kinds of delicious things. If I could get to the store everyday then I would buy a pound of asparagus daily too:) I love (and will have to try) the asparagus and feta combination. Love that! However, I also am in love with those gorgeous red pears. They're beauties!!

    Velva said...

    Happy Spring to you! Beautiful array of dishes.

    Velva

    Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

    Claudia, you've put me in the mood to visit Ireland again! I saw a wonderful Yeats exhibit at Ireland's National Library the last time I was in Dublin....and I love The Waterboys band and have the CD this song is on!

    Your wine poached red pears look fabulous, as does the arugula salad and the roasted asparagus.
    All look so fresh and healthy.

    I vote for the Dick Tracy ring being in the cereal box. What did you choose?

    kitchenarian said...

    The pears are amazing!

    Proud Italian Cook said...

    You make me believe it will be warm again and spring is really here! Your photos all look beautiful Claudia,new camera? Those red pears are stunning, but I'll be soon grabbing that arugula salad, it looks so good I want to go grab a fork! Glad you like the asparagus:)

    My Little Space said...

    Oh Claudia, how I wish I can jsut put my hands on those berries. Finally, spring is in the air. Hope you'll enjoy every single moment of it. Have a lovely day.
    Blessings, Kristy

    FOODESSA said...

    After having read the efforts you made to measure those explosive tulips...I was disappointed not to have seen a photo of its splendour. LOL

    Alright Claudia, jokes apart...thoses ruby luscious pears does bring me back to a tiny cucina in Val d'Aosta. The charming inn keeper had made a similar delicacy...although nowhere as elegant as your presentation ;o)

    Happy to read that you finally uncovered the Spring in your step after all that longish winter.

    Ciao for now,
    Claudia

    5 Star Foodie said...

    The pears are gorgeous! They sound wonderful poached in red wine with cinnamon and cloves!

    Beth said...

    How could anyone not love a blog that quotes Yeats? Beautiful.

    Claudia said...

    I went with 007 spy-decoder ring - figuring all the young performers know James Bond. Time will tell.

    ann@Apples and Twinkies said...

    Claudia, those pears look so beautiful. And, now I'm craving asparagus.

    Sandra said...

    Did I ever told you how much I love your writing..well I do! Wonderful post and great dishes..
    Have a wonderful day!!!!

    Angie's Recipes said...

    I have been thinking to make some pear desserts...and your wine poached pears seem just the one for me. Those berries :-)) wow... now I am so jealous of you having such gorgeous berries in your garden.

    Rosemary said...

    Beautiful pears, just beautiful. So This is where your muse lives!

    Catherine said...

    Dear Claudia, All of these dishes look so good. I love arugula and the way you prepared it looks like something I would love. The poached pears look so fancy and delicious. I love asparagus. My mom always made it for me growing up. I think that the feta adds that gourmet touch. Anyway Claudia, thank you for stopping by and for your birthday wishes for my daughter. I always do what you said. I prepare something, turn the music on and pretend we are there. (so much less hassle than actually traveling and I get to wake up and make my own coffee!) I so agree with you. I think that we were just more silly and the kids don't have that today. Blessings, Catherine xoxo

    Sonia said...

    All the dishes are looking so good... ! Thanks for stopping by my space.

    michelangelo in the kitchen said...

    What a delightful dessert this is! I'll be poaching pears in the kitchen in no time. I just love your easy enough recipes lately, light and simple and even lose weight in the process! Cheers!

    Torviewtoronto said...

    the dishes looks fabulous wonderful colourful dishes

    That Girl said...

    I've made poached pears in red wine and it is ALWAYS a hit for dessert. And you don't feel as guilty about fruit!

    Lynda said...

    The pears are gorgeous....thanks for the tip about cooking them in pomegranite juice; that sounds good too.
    The salad and asparagus are wonderful too Claudia.
    When I saw the berry bushes, it made me even more impatient for berry season. Can't wait!

    sweetlife said...

    Claudia those pears are stunning, I love the color contrast with the pears, yogurt and berries..I would love to serve this for an spring brunch!!

    sweetlife
    thanks for sharing

    Anna Johnston said...

    So good Claudia! I am seeing Poached Pears back on the menu again, guess that is because it is cooling down here. I tried a fabulous combo of Pears poached in Mulled Wine with dates & a pot of melted chocolate, almost like a fondue. Really interesting and oh so tasty. :)
    Nice touch with the Pomegranate and grape juice combo.

    Angela said...

    I love it that you are so ready for spring you are measuring your flowers! I am there with you. Bring on the summer!

    Amy said...

    Those pears look delicious! I especially love the beautiful color the red wine gives them and that you have combined them with strawberries!

    spcookiequeen said...

    Thank you for your wise, I agree, I'm the winner to have met such wonderful people such as yourself. I've heard from my mom that area of Italy is cold. I'd hoped to have been traveling there this Spring, but I'm on hold for a few years. I will just have to dream and talk about it a while longer. I love poached pears, pears where my grandpa's favorite fruit. Spring is on it's way, I promise.
    Have a great weekend.
    -Gina-

    tasteofbeirut said...

    I enjoyed your post full of poetry and dreamy musings; Love the shot of these berries in the wild, reminded me of the berries we would pluck at the side of the road in our Lebanese mountains; also the pears look great and this idea of making a light and tasty dessert always appeals to me.

    Anna's Table said...

    Claudia, I've been out of commission recently, and realize how much I've been missing since last visiting your blog. Love your intro to your recipe, and the stunning video you've attached to the post. The accompanying photos are also a pleasure to view. Love the poached pear presentation.....ever so elegant!

    Katy ~ said...

    Gorgeous ruby color on the pears. YUM YUM YUM

    Your intro photos were just breathtaking!

    Winelady Cooks said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Winelady Cooks said...

    I always find your posts interesting and your recipes are wonderful.

    I have been given an award which I'd like to pay it forward to you. You can view it at:
    http://wineladycooks.blogspot.com/2011/04/blog-award-share-love-and-pay-it.html

    Thank you for sharing,
    Joanne

    Eva said...

    What beautiful words. I love poems about spring, they just get me so excited for all the flowers and greenery around the corner. The poaches pears look simply gorgeous, too. What a great idea to pair them with lemon vanilla yogurt, yum!

    Fresh Local and Best said...

    Spring is one of the most inspiring seasons!

    I love wine poached pears, the spicier the better! These are a terrific way to welcome warmer days.

    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

    I'm so glad spring is here for you. You've had a harsh winter. I love poems about spring.

    I find buying pears the most frustrating fruit of all. Yours looks fabulous and I like the idea of spicy.
    Sam

    Mary said...

    You are featuring some of my favorite foods today. I love poached pears and I have an obsession with asparagus. Your photos have made me hungry. Have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

    natalia said...

    Cara Claudia, what a wonderful array of delicious food ! Un bacio

    Miri Leigh said...

    Great recipe! The pears look delicious!

    Jen_from_NJ said...

    I just love your posts Claudia and yes spring is finally here! Arugula, asparagus and those pears - all fantastic ideas!

    Rebecca from Chow and Chatter said...

    wow love those pears and what a cultured and smart lady you are hugs

    Reeni said...

    The pears are stunning! And I love the chickpea salad and asparagus - I'm going to market to stock up on them tomorrow. This is a first for me as I never really liked them before. The video is sad!

    Claudia said...

    Oh Reeni - the video is sad and beautiful together - letting go of childhood innocence has sadness. Those of us who are fortunate do find joy in our adult lives. But we always know it will not to constant joy. Best to enjoy the sweetnesses while we may.

    casalba said...

    I haven't been back here for some time - what a mistake! This is a beautiful post.

    Ruth said...

    I have to say I got a quite a shock when I first when to Ireland on holiday. I kind of expected the food to similar to the one we got in England but oh boy was I wrong. The Irish love their fresh ingredients, fresh fish and breads, heaven. Poetry on a plate. Hmm this post really makes me feel in the spring mood. Fresh vibrant colours and flavours and those pears do look like they're melt in your mouth!

    Ciao Chow Linda said...

    I always enjoy your writing - Why not harken Yeats? Are those berries actually growing in your yard? Cooked pears in wine is one of my all-time favorite winter desserts - but that salad is beckoning too - and of course any of Marie's recipes are fantastic.

    fromBAtoParis said...

    What a colourful menu! When I read your posts, you remind me of my times as a teacher..I miss that a bit too!
    Thanks!

    Rebecca from Chow and Chatter said...

    sorry the blog talk radio gave you problems

    Graal77 said...

    CIAO PIACERE DI CONOSCERTI!!!!!!
    COMPLIMENTI PER TUTTO!!!!!
    BUONA CUCINA.

    Alessandra said...

    Those pears look perfect!

    ciao
    A.

    Now Serving said...

    That looks truly delicious!!!