Making pear dishes with flair in Eagle County
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado Ever wonder why the pears available for sale are always green and too firm to bite into? Pears are one of the only fruits that are picked before they ripen. In fact, they MUST be picked before they ripen. If pears are left on the tree until they turn yellow and soft, the starch crystallizes, giving the fruit a gritty texture. So the trick is to plan ahead! Allow a few days for the pear to ripen on your kitchen counter before you intend to eat it or use it in a recipe.Besides their sublime sweetness and juiciness, pears are packed with Vitamin C and potassium. As an added bonus, an average size pear counts as two servings of fruit according to the FDAs nutritional value system. Parents take note pears are a great fruit to introduce to kids.Many varieties are available now with Bartlett, Bosc and Anjou being the most popular and readily available. Palisade supplies a majority of our local pears, while Washington and Oregon supply other parts of the country. Pears add sweetness to salads, make fabulous desserts, can be simmered into chutneys and infused into delectable cocktails.Capitalizing on the most seasonal and ripe regional fruits and veggies, Jeremy Kittelson, Restaurant Avondales executive chef, changes the menu items to reflect the bounty. A classic combination, he says, is the Pear, walnut and gorgonzola salad. It is the most timeless of all autumn salads.Speaking of classics, Allison Helfer, pastry chef at Avondale claims poached pears as one of her favorites. Her autumn dessert menu features an almond tea cake accompanied by a poached pear and topped with whipped cream. She recommends the texture variation of cake with pears.But a poached pear is a great dessert just topped with ice cream, she said, laughing.Brian Harker, Avondales bar manager, is becoming well known for his seasonal signature cocktails. Make a batch of his pear-infused vodka and try a pearadise martini or create your own specialty.
2 cups mixed salad greens2 ripe pears, sliced1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped1/2 cup gorgonzola or other blue cheese1/4 cup sherry vinegar3/4 cup extra virgin olive oilSalt and pepper to tasteWhisk sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl until combined. Arrange lettuce, pears, walnuts and gorgonzola decoratively on salad plates. Drizzle with dressing. Serves 4.
5 1/2 cups granulated sugarJuice of half a lemon1 bottle (750 ml) White wine2 cups water1 cinnamon stick6 pears, peeledPour the sugar into a cold pan and add a small amount of water and stir, to get the sugar to the consistency of wet sand. Add lemon juice and stir constantly over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and a syrup forms. Continue stirring until mixture boils, reduce heat to simmer and cook until light amber in color. Add wine, water and cinnamon and continue to simmer. Place whole pears in simmering liquid, press down with towel to keep moist and simmer approximately 20 minutes, until slightly soft. Strain, reserve liquid (to poach another batch) and cool pears. Slice pears to fan out and top with vanilla, cinnamon or butter pecan ice cream. Serves 6.
4 pears, peeled and sliced1 liter vodka2 sticks cinnamonCombine in a glass jar and allow to infuse for three days.
3 ounces Pear Cinnamon vodka 1 ounce apple cider1/2 ounce agave nectar1/2 ounce lime juiceCombine in a shaker. Shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin slice of pear. Makes 1.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale and Larkspur Restaurant. Avondale recently opened in The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon. The restaurant features a West Coast inspired, seasonal menu and the chefs use time-honored cooking methods, such as slow roasting and braising, to create simple dishes rich in flavor. The wine program focuses on small production wines to compliment the straightforward cuisine. For more information visit http://www.avondalerestaurant.com.