This past week, even though it’s still rather warm here in Southern California, I’ve definitely noticed the changes that mark the movement of Summer into Autumn. They’re very subtle, and someone who hasn’t lived here for most of their lives wouldn’t necessarily notice–how the morning air is just a few degrees cooler, the afternoon light tilts just slightly casting a warm glow across the skies, even though it’s still 85 degrees outside. With the seasonal nestiness kicking in, my thoughts have been moving to some of my favorite things to make–roasts, braises, and the like. Tonight, I made some last minute plans to have friends over for dinner, so I wanted some uncomplicated dishes that I knew I could put together easily–a Roast Chicken with root vegetables cooked in the pan; a salad… but what about dessert?
Yes, even with living a primal lifestyle, dessert can and does come into the equation. The occasional sweet thing is not verboten, and with a little tweak here and there, you can make something spectacular. Here at El Rancho, I had a bag of pears sitting on my counter that needed some attention, and I KNEW what I had to make.
Taking the firmest of the pears, they got the peeling and coring of their lives.
A vanilla bean was split down the middle and scraped of its insides (wow, that sounds awfully violent, doesn’t it?) and blended with some melted butter and local Orange Blossom Honey. After the pears took a little bath in this magical syrup, they were nestled in one of my favorite roasting dishes and put in the oven for an hour.
What came out:
And I’m not joking when I tell you these smelled amazing when they came out of the oven. The pears with the honey, vanilla and a splash of lemon just works. What’s fantastic is that the juices mix with the syrup and caramelize into this sauce you could pretty much wear as a perfume. It’s so simple, but one of these guys with a spoonful of whipped crème fraiche and a handful of fresh raspberries… okay, words don’t do it justice.
I admit: not the greatest picture. Not gonna apologize for it, either–that pear was warm, the crème fraiche was melting, and I needed to PUT IT IN MY MOUTH.
Honey-Vanilla Roasted Pears
- 4 firm pears, peeled, cut in half and cored
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup butter, plus extra for pan
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Butter roasting dish and arrange pears cut side up
- Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds.
- Add seeds to a small saucepan with the honey, butter, lemon juice and melt on low heat until butter has melted and created a syrup.
- Tuck the remaining vanilla bean with the pears, pour syrup over the pears, making sure some of the syrup is in the core of each pear.
- Roast for about 30 minutes, then turn over and roast another 20-30 minutes until the pears are fork-tender.
- Turn the pears cut side up again, and brush juices over the tops.
- If you’d like a little extra browning like I did, turn broiler on low and broil the tops for 3-5 minutes.
- Serve warm with whipped crème fraiche or if you’re feeling decadent, some great vanilla ice cream.