Dear Reader, I did a stupid thing, and I’m very sorry about it.
I made an entire, rather spectacular Easter dinner – a couple of days before Easter – and did not take one picture of the main meal. Not one.
I guess that’s not really a disaster – it’s not like you need to know everything I eat, let’s be honest.
But this meal, it was spectacular: Leg of lamb in mustard-herb coating (via the ever-fabulous Julia Child); haricots verts in lemon-butter sauce (also Julia Child); and some crispy rosemary-garlic potatoes (via Mark Bittman). It was simple and elegant and everything complemented everything else just perfectly and just this one time I almost managed to time everything to be done all at the same time (it’s a skill … I’m working on it).
It was a special meal, but I don’t think that’s why I forgot to take pictures. I think it had a lot more to do with the rather special dinner guest.
I made (and took a quick picture of) dessert beforehand, though, and since I was a little nervous about this particular guest, I knew that I would do best if I stuck with something tried and true.
I found this recipe for Baked Pears in Wine in a bargain-bin copy of the Best of Food and Wine, 1984 edition. Many of the recipes in it are a little bit fussy (ie, Savory Pistachio Strudel with Sour Cream-Dill Sauce), but I’ve still gotten some real winners out of it, like the “Chili and Beans for a Crowd” recipe that one year, served not only everyone at my own Superbowl party, but everyone from the party next door came over and helped themselves too. And the recipe for pears baked in wine, which I love for its simplicity: Just a few ingredients that are easy to find, toss them in the oven. You can get any kind of pears and use pretty much any dry wine. It’s lovely straight out of the oven, with the sweet wine sauce poured over warm, tender pears. It’s delightful served in sherbet cups over vanilla ice cream (and serves twice as many that way). Or you can make it ahead and just serve it at room temperature whenever you and your guests are ready for dessert.
If dinner is really good, and so is the company, you might realize somewhere around eleven that you forgot to serve dessert, and your guest might linger just a little bit longer to enjoy it with you.
- 1¼ cups dry wine (red or white)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- zest of ¼ lemon
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 medium pears
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- In a small saucepan, combine the wine, brown sugar, lemon zest and cloves, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for five minutes.
- Peel, halve, and core the pears. Arrange close together in a baking dish; pour wine over. Cover the dish with foil and cut a few slits in the top.
- Bake 20-25 minutes, until the pears are somewhat tender. Turn pears over and return dish to the over another 20 minutes, still covered with foil.
- Uncover, baste pears with liquid and turn again, and return them to the oven for another 10 minutes.
- Serve warm immediately; or, let them cool and then serve. Pour some of the pan syrup over them; or put them on top of vanilla ice cream; or do both.