You never know what the winner from the previous month will select for us to work with…this month’s Foodie Joust has us using pears, fennel and ginger. Hmmm. This one made me ponder awhile. I played back and forth with which form of fennel and ginger to use…and which pears. This is a great time of year for pears though, so it’s hard to miss no matter which way I go. Finally I settled on my dish…
Pears Poached with Fennel and Candied Ginger
Simple syrup made with 3 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups water
1/2 fennel bulb thinly sliced
3 one inch cubes candied ginger
2 pears, peeled and halved
Simmer the fennel and candied ginger until translucent and soft. Add star anise and simmer until desired depth of flavor has been achieved. Remove the fennel and anise from the syrup, peel the pears and poach. Pears could be poached whole or halved. I chose halved. Set aside the fennel and candied ginger for garnishing the dish later. When the pears are fully tender, remove from the heat, and chill in syrup until cold.
To serve, place pear halves or whole pear in a serving dish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Garnish with chopped sugared fennel and candied ginger, then spoon cold syrup over ice cream and pears. Makes 2 to 4 servings.
I tasted this off and on throughout the prep, because I’m not a licorice fan. I love fennel though…in a savory application. But somehow, I just wasn’t seeing pears and ginger in my favorite Spring Vegetable soup. The fennel alone wasn’t didn’t provide quite enough anise taste, and left one wondering what that flavor was…therefore, star anise was needed to define the flavor a little more. The ginger mellowed the character of the star anise, yet didn’t get too hot because we used the candied variety. The sweetness was lost in the simple syrup. I toyed with the idea of tossing in a piece of a vanilla bean, but didn’t want too many flavors competing, and I’m glad I didn’t . The vanilla in the ice cream was plenty. Neither of us knew quite what to expect, but both of us were pleased with the outcome, and were glad we set ourselves up to have the dessert twice instead of only once. It’s one of those things where you want a little bit of everything in the spoon as you eat to enjoy fully though. Stop by tomorrow night…around dessert time…we’ll share!