In which the world of culinary hedonism is explored with a cup and a half of curiosity, a heaping tablespoon of passion and a dash of clumsiness.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sixth Post - Spiced Pear with Cheese Flight Appetizer

Ah, girl talk... nothing beats it. So when my friend Meg called, we made plans for a full-fledged evening of chatting and food. She'd bring the beverage and dessert (wine and chocolate, of course!) and I would cook dinner. I decided to start things off with an appetizer that actually originated as a sneaky plan of my mom's to get everyone in our family to the table for dinner.

See, during family dinners, we always get carried away with the visiting part, and no matter how many times or how loudly you ask everyone to get to the table, no one will listen. My mom solved that problem by wafting the smell of this appetizer through the air, and magically, everyone turned up at the table to eat it. She could then get the last-minute dinner things prepped while everyone was in one place - eating the appetizer.
Here's what you'll need. Note the flexibility of ingredients - that's what makes this such a nice easy app!
~1 can half pears in heavy syrup
~Brown sugar
~Extract - vanilla, almond, even cherry brandy works
~Dried fruit - cherries, cranberries, raisens, apricots, anything goes
~Small bowls/dessert dishes
~The capacity to not scald yourself with extremely hot liquid

Place a pear half in a dessert dish with a bit of its own syrup. Add brown sugar (a good tablespoon or so) and then add a bit of extract. Place a piece of dried fruit on top. You can even garnish that with a clove or a sweetened nut. Put the dishes on a plate (because they will boil over) and put them in the microwave for about 3 minutes. When they're about the temperature of molten rock, take them out of the microwave. This produces the effect of an intoxicating aroma that will be sure to get everyone to the table. Don't worry - if your dinner guests move as slowly as my family, the pears will cool enough to an edible temperature in no time.


No matter how simple a recipe, there is ALWAYS something that can throw a speedbump into the leisurely road that was your dinner. The trick to this, I've learned from observation and experience, is not to panic, but rather, to take stock of what you have on hand and use it. Creativity as a last-minute fix can lead to some pretty fun inventions.


So I prepared to make this appetizer for Meg tonight, and upon surveying my pear supply, forgot that I had eaten most of the can the other day on my way out the door... leaving the two smallest halves in the can. Well this just won't do. I supplimented the lack of pear by adding two dried apricots and ample almond extract, but still wasn't satisfied. This was supposed to be a dessert dish brimming with fruitful goodness. It just looked scant.

Thankfully, WEGMANS came to the rescue! I had one of their cheese flights for one in my fridge (don't I always?) so I cut a slice of bread (Wegman's hearty potato, naturally) into six small squares (3 for each of us) and toasted them in my toaster oven. I then placed a slice of each kind of cheese on them. The effect was an appetizer consisting of the spiced pear and apricots and three squares of toast with cheese. The cheese in this week's flight was strawberry cheddar, St. Andre (a sheep's milk cheese with a taste that's a cross between brie and chevre) and roqueforte.
So what you'll need for the second part:
~1 slice of bread for every 2 guests
~An assortment of cheeses

Meg brought over the most lovely pinot noir called Gala Rouge by Bon Vivant vineyards. It was the perfect wine for our evening! It paired wonderfully with the pear appetizer and cheese, and then it continued to pair well with the parmesan chicken, tortellini in herbed butter and green beans... and it even went delightfully with the Cadbury dark and milk chocolate bars she brought with the wine!

Dinner with a good friend, wine and chocolate... the triumvirate of companionship!

Yours in the love of good food and wine,


The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.