Ok, confession time: I don't love raw pears. I mean, I like them okay, particularly bosc, and especially when ripe enough to squish if you handle them too roughly. However, it is the start of pear season in my part of the world and one thing I do love is seasonal produce. Another thing I can easily get behind is spiced poached pears and roasted pears. In fact, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon have such a natural affinity for this fruit that I was thinking it might make a perfect gateway puree to condition my baby to eat the more off the wall combinations that will likely come out of my kitchen when he is older.
I just couldn't resist finishing the pears in the oven to caramelize the sugars. As our son has yet to make his appearance we will be taste testing all of his homemade baby food ourselves and if I had the energy to make it I would recommend serving it with pan seared lamb chops smothered with berry jam (I have some fabulous jam from a Tacoma farmer's market) and warm pearl barley with sliced button mushrooms. Yum. I'm making myself hungry. Too bad the third trimester has robbed me of energy and made getting around difficult, or I know what I'd be having for dinner tonight, even if the hubs isn't exactly sold on barley. I think this combination would make him a convert.
Caramelized Pear Sauce with Vanilla
Yield: 6 ounces (3 servings of baby food)
2 pears, halved with seeds and stems removed
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1. In a medium saucepan combine vanilla paste, cinnamon, pears and water to cover (I used about 4 cups filtered water).
2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove pears from poaching liquid and turn the heat up under the poaching liquid to reduce it. This process should take 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Lay pears in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until you can smell the sugars caramelizing.
5. Remove baking tray from oven and allow pears to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
6. When pear are cool enough to handle, puree them in a blender or pass them through a food mill.
7. Add up to 1/4 cup of the reduced poaching liquid, passing it through a strainer.
Serve to baby or enjoy yourself.