Market Matters- Black Tea Cold Poached Asian Pears

It has been absolutely weeks since I have done a Market Matters post from the Hollywood Farmers Market. Travel, and sickness have kept me “up the hill” and unable to shop there most Sundays lately. I think my last Sunday post from the Market was in November. But don’t quote me on that!

Depending on where you live you might hate me for what I am about to say next, but it is 82 degrees F. (28 degrees C.) today in Los Angeles. Which leads me to the next little statement you may hate me for uttering. The Hollywood Farmers Market runs all year. That’s 12 months or 52 weeks (in a row)… la-dee-dah la-dee-dah!

So on this gorgeous sunny Sunday morning the only weather related issue in my life was whether to wear the new orange cargo shorts or my good old Sunday favorites­­– the camouflage cut-offs. I won’t tell you which I chose ‘cuz that would be too much like rubbing it in.

But just so you know my life is not all sunbeams and lollipops. Nope, I have some cloudy thoughts too. Like this morning, as me and my camouflage cut-offs (oops I let that slip– sorry) plopped ourselves down on the terrace to read the Sunday paper a couple of disturbing thoughts floated through my mind. First, did I remember to put on sunscreen this morning? I did not need another Sunday suntan. My poor skin needs a break. And second, I must admit, I felt a little performance anxiety. It’s been so long since I chose something from the Hollywood Farmers Market to bring to you, my virtual eaters. I was worried that maybe I had lost my groove.

poaching liquid with black teaSo with a bit of trepidation I decided to consult the blogosphere for help. But before I hit Google I checked in with SippitySup to see what lovely messages filtered in during the night.

There was the usual assortment of yums and yikes. The yums I published– the yikes I trashed. Hey, it’s my blog and I don’t need a bunch of downer comments polluting its well-manicured pages. Thems the rules… play nice or don’t play at all. Besides do you really think I am going to change my whole life because a couple of sad lunatics think I am doomed to hell. Darn it… I don’t like to let them get to me. Sorry where was I?

Oh yes, there among the yums was a nice new message from a brand new friend I had never heard from before. That is a very nice way to start the day. The message came from Kristen at Flexy Fare. It was a nice yummy message and it made me smile.

Well, I have a rule. If someone visits my blog and bothers to leave a nice message I always, always, always (well, almost always) visit their blog and leave a nice message too. It just feels neighborly to me. So when my newbie Kristen left a nice yum in my in box. I immediately set off to visit her.

She has a perfectly beautiful blog with an emphasis on healthy eating. Her main topic of the day was a yummy looking Cherry Pie Oatmeal. As I was considering what yummy sounding comment I could leave for Kristen my eyes came to the bottom of the page. There Kristen had a photo of some beautiful apple slices, simply adorned with a sprinkle of cinnamon. She thought they made a nice snack served just like that. I agreed. But it also got me thinking about focusing my attention on a simple dessert for my Market Matters post today. Because lately simple and specatucular seem to go hand-in-hand at SippitySup. Notice I said “simple and spectacular” not “lazy”.

And just like that the recipe popped into my mind fully formed. I hope it’s as simple as Kristen’s which succeeds by presenting fruit with just the barest hint of an accompaniment. I love the idea of letting something as perfect as a few apples slices captivate the palate.

asian pear slicesSo I chose Asian pears for my fruit because they are so seasonal where I live. I decided to “cold poach” them because the greatest feature of an Asian pear is its crisp, juicy texture. A hot poaching liquid would result in a softness that would add nothing to this presentation.

To me Asian pears have a delicate floral taste. So I have decided to dress up the poaching liquid with the barest of flavors– more like the barest of scents really. I felt this was the best way to highlight and augment the floral quality I loved in the pears. But you know me; I needed a surprise element too. So I decided to make the poaching liquid with black tea as the base flavor. The dark peppery notes would be a great foil to the soft vanilla and exotic ginger. That’s like a “well duh” to me. I mean that’s straight from Food Snob 101! (my best class in college)… So along those lines I also chose to make the liquid just barely sweet with some brown sugar.

So here’s to Kristen. Because you never know where inspiration comes from. And that is one of the mysteries that keeps life all sunbeams and lollipops… no matter where you live or what the weather is like.

cold poached asian pearsVanilla-Ginger Black Tea Scented Asian Pears Seves 4 CLICK here for printable recipe

  • 2 medium asian pears, cored and quartered
  • 1⁄2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teabag of a strong black tea such as darjeeling or earl grey
  • 4 c water
  • 1 two-inch piece of ginger thinly sliced into rounds

Bring ginger slices, vanilla extract, sugar, black tea bag and water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Lower the mixture to a simmer and let it reduce by about 15%. About 30 minutes. You want it to thicken some but not become syrupy. Remove the liquid from the heat and allow it to cool about 30 minutes.

Cut each pear quarter lengthwise into 4 slices, and place them in a large bowl. Pour the cooled vanilla-ginger mixture through a strainer and over the pears. Cover the pears with a piece of plastic wrap laid right on top of the surface of the liquid, pressing along the edges of the bowl to attain a tight seal.

Move the bowl to the refrigerator to “cold-poach” at least one hour, or up to three days.

To serve divide the pears among four bowls, spooning a bit of the liquid on top. serve with wafer style cookies or shortbread.


Greg Henry