Being snowed in, as I was last Saturday, can be a good thing. On this occasion, cooking seemed like the ideal way to spend the day inside as I watched the blanket of snow reach several feet high outside my kitchen window.
First, I began testing TV chef Tyler Florence’s pizza dough for a column I was writing for the Toronto Star about my trip to Miami to attend the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and to escape the snow belt for the month of February.
I ended up with excellent results after three tries. Check this blog for the recipe which will appear soon along with details of that fab Florida feast on the beach.
Next, I began cooking for a dinner party for four I had planned for the following eve.
That meal began with my version of Jamie Oliver’s Easiest Sexiest Salad in the World (see www.jamieoliver.com for the recipe) that I watched him demo with his usual skill and enthusiasm in South Beach.
The main course was butterflied roast chicken (I bought a fresh free-range bird at Zehr’s that was delish) stuffed under the skin with a mixture of feta and soft sheep’s cheese both made by Monforte near Stratford. Sides were baby boiled potatoes and broccoli florets doused in sesame oil and soy sauce.
But dessert took the cake. This recipe is from the excellent Epicurious web site. I used not-quite-ripe Bartlett pears and served them, standing upright on the plate bathed in their poaching liquid and accompanied by Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Caramel Latte ice cream and thawed frozen berries. Wow, what a hit!
Poached Pears with Ginger and Port
I streamlined the recipe a tad and doubled quantities.
3 to 4 cups water
1 1/2-inch piece fresh gingerroot, sliced
1/2 cup granulated or whole cane sugar
1/4 cup port
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 whole firm Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, stem on
Add all ingredients except pears to saucepan just large enough to hold pears lying on their sides. Stir to combine. Add pears. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, turning pears occasionally, until tender but still firm, 20 to 40 minutes depending on ripeness. Transfer to bowl with slotted spoon.
Cook poaching liquid over medium-high heat until reduced to about 3/4 cup and slightly syrupy. Pour over pears.
Makes 2 servings.