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Ponche de Frutas – Warm Fruit Punch

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It is freezing and wet cold here in Austin, I really needed  a warm drink, so last night I geared up and made this warm fruit punch recipe, it is divine and it works like a charm!. This Punch is traditionally from Mexico and is served, on the cold weather months November, December, January, “Ponche de Frutas” Warm Fruit Punch is a delicious warm drink made with fall and winter stone fruits like apples, pears, crabapples, hawthorns, oranges, mandarines, guavas, prunes, plums, raw sugar cane sticks, tamarind, hibiscus tea, cloves, cinnamon well everything but the kitchen zinc!

Imagine all these ingredients gather in a pot, slowly simmering to magically deliver  fantastic warm aromas and wintery flavors with only one mission: warm you up!

There are no rules when making the punch, the only ingredient that is a must is the Mexican cinnamon. For the rest, you can make it with your favorite fruit combinations, but I will encourage you to use at least 2 kind of stone fruits, 1 citrus and either hibiscus or tamarind they add the acidity background note needed to balance the sweetness.

This drink is not meant to be overly sweet. In fact most of the sweetness comes mainly from the fruits so adding a small amount of sugar is just what you need to balance the flavors.

You can use brown sugar, turbinado sugar, honey, dark agave nectar, monk-fruit sweetener or piloncillo* which its my favorite option in small amounts. Piloncillo is raw-pure unrefined sugar compressed into a cone that resembles in flavor to molasses; some times you can find it with cinnamon, anise and a little vanilla added. It is used to sweeten desserts, drinks and bake goods. So a little goes along way.

Can you imagine the aromas that this concoction will bring to your kitchen? spices, apples, cinnamon, oranges, warming up the house!…**sigh**

This punch is served in mugs and with a little spoon so you can eat the fruits from the bottom as you drink along. It is great for parties and family gatherings kids love it!
For the grownups you can spike it up by adding a little splash-a-rooh of your favorite rum or vodka as you serve it.
Whether you make a large, medium or small pot, this fruit punch will definitely warm you up inside out!…

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For the recipe you will need…

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Spiced Poached Pears

Spiced-poached-pears_and-mascarpone_Yes,-more-please!

Stone fruits are in season, I found beautiful pears at the market, Bosc and Red Anjou.  I will describe the Red Anjou pears as aromatic, juicy, fresh and sweet: while the Bosc pears are crisp, woodsy and  have a honey-sweet light flavor.
I could not decide which ones to bring home for this recipe…so I used both and the characteristics of each pear gave a great flavor to this simple recipe. Poached pears sounds so boring right? A dessert out of the 70’s…well its not and done right and with aromatics and the right cooking method its a great fruit dessert, the perfect end to a rich dinner like Thanksgiving… Or just for a simple treat on a rainy day…

The rum and the spices add warmth and great flavor to the light syrup, which is not overly sweet. The alcohol evaporates leaving all the good woodsy rum flavors in the fruit. A little dollop of whipped mascarpone cheese and honey add the perfect creamy  balance that makes these spiced poached pears irresistible.

This is one of those recipes with plenty of freedom for adjustment, and have the certainty that its gonna come out great. I like the light flavors and the delicate pear flavor is the star of the show. One of the best parts when you are cooking this recipe is the smell that your house is infused with…*sigh*..
Enjoy!

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Spiced Poached Pears

Serves 6

3 Red Anjou Pears peeled, halved, removed the seeds and steam.
3 Bosc Pears peeled, halved, removed the seeds and steam.
4 cups water
½ to 3/4 cup spiced rum…up to you!
4 lime or lemon slices
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
½ cup honey
( you can substitute the total amount of sugar and honey for ¾ agave nectar, or nectrase)

Aromatics:

5 sticks Mexican Cinnamon
6 cloves
5 star anise
6 cardamom pods smashed
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Parchment paper

Garnish with:

Whipped mascarpone and honey
About ½ cup of mascarpone and 2 tablespoons of honey, whip them together until light and fluffy.

Toasted chopped pecans
Ground cinnamon

Directions:

1. Peel, half, remove core and stem in the pears. Keep them in a bowl with water and a few drops of lemon juice to avoid oxidation. (see picture below)

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2. In a medium size pot over medium high heat add water, turbinado sugar and honey to dissolve.

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3. Once the water is simmering and sugar is dissolved, add rum, spices and simmer for 7 minutes.
4. Make a parchment paper square, fold it into a triangle, measure your pot radius and cut. Once you unfold the triangle you’ll have a nice circle to cover the pot.
5. Add Pears into the simmering liquid and cover with the parchment paper.Make sure the paper is touching the water to avoid the pears from any discoloration.
6. Simmer in low for about 20-25 minutes, or until the pears are tender when a knife is inserted.
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7. Turn off the heat and Let them cool for about 30 minutes. Remove pears from liquid. Heat up the liquid and reduce by half. It should have the viscosity of a light syrup. At this point you can adjust the flavors by adding more honey or more cinnamon if you desire.
8. Plate the warm pears individually or on a platter. Keep the syrup on a little serving pitcher to add the warm syrup when served. Top with a dollop of whipped mascarpone and honey, toasted pecans, sprinkle some cinnamon. Enjoy!

Note: This dessert can be made ahead. Just keep the pears inside of the syrup, and reduce the syrup until the next day. The pears will taste even better the day after is made. It’s a crowd pleaser dessert fit for Vegans, if the mascarpone is omitted, gluten-free and a light sweet bite to end a nice dinner…. Enjoy!

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ENJOY!

Music Pairing: Nat King Cole – I love you for Sentimental Reasons

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