French Fridays with Dorie: Spice-Poached Apples or Pears

From my banner photo you might guess that I like poached fruits and you would not be wrong. The picture above is a pan filled with Marsala and vanilla poached pears ready to be baked into a hazelnut cake and glazed with the reduced poaching liquid. Pears have always been a favorite fruit: as a young child, my Nana and Grandpa had a pear tree in the backyard. In good years the pears were so heavy on the branches that the limbs had to be propped up with the poles they used to keep the laundry lines from dragging the ground. My Nana canned pears to store for the entire year. I’m sure that at some point I pouted about eating pears yet again, but I have fond memories of the soft yet slightly nubby texture of canned pears and still love the multitude of ways she used them with jello.  (My favorite? Lime jello surrounding pears halves filled with sweetened toasted nut cream cheese.) Though we never had an apple tree, this summer, when apples were completely out of season, I missed them terribly. With the crisp air of fall descending on us (finally!), I’d been looking forward to biting into the new season’s harvest, and cooking with some heirloom varieties.

This week’s French Friday recipe is fruit, either pears or apples, poached in a sweetened citrus and spice laced liquid. Vanilla bean, star anise, cinnamon, lemon and orange combine to give what could be a bland poached fruit a refreshing lift. I could not make up my mind to use pears or apples, so I did both.  D told me last week after eating up half of the eggplant tartines (which included roasted eggplant & olives, neither of which are favorites) that there will be no more pre-judging Dorie recipes based on titles and ingredients. Not sure if it’s the artful combinations or D’s changing tastes, but several FFwD dishes have become instant favorites in our house.  So with this new perspective, I dove into this week’s recipe which included the dreaded “bark”  in the fruit poaching liquid, which is then reduced to form a finishing sauce.

Overall, the pears with the spiced citrus flavors worked better on my palette than the same flavors combined with apple. Perhaps the tartness of the lemon and citrus amplified the slightly tart apple, but it felt like something was missing. I tried each fruit alone, and with my new favorite treat, vanilla non-dairy no sugar added coconut milk ice cream by Soy Delicious. [I’ve gotten no compensation for promoting their products. I likely could make the stuff myself in my ice cream maker but Kitchen Mayhem is also sometimes Kitchen Shortcut].  D, to my surprise, liked the spiced syrup over regular sugar free ice cream, but was not a fan of the fruit.  In fact, we ate rosemary garlic pork loin roasted with onions, carrots and bacon for dinner (Gourmet Cookbook). D mistook the fruit poaching syrup for a savory sauce, drizzled some over the pork and declared it more delicious than the roast alone.  (So much for worrying about mixing savory and sweet in the future – ha!) The spices were reminiscent of the spiced tamarind fruit compote I made last year that included ginger and lemongrass (Its a long post. Scroll to “Saturday” for a picture and description of the compote.) The vanilla, anise, cinnamon spice mix in this week’s recipe is subtle, and worked with the pears, but something more bold is needed for me to truly enjoy poached apples.


  • The major alteration I made was sweeteners. Since I don’t use sugar or large amounts of honey, I substituted a combination of erythritol (1/3 cup), sucralose (1/3 cup equivalent), Ace-K (one little packet), along with 1.5 tablespoons of honey flavored maltitol and 1.5 tablespoons of agave nectar.  You can read more about no/low calorie sweeteners on my resource page.
  • Don’t you hate recipes that use half of something? I’ve wasted an orchard of half lemons, limes and oranges over the years (and don’t get me started on egg yolks and whites).  These days, if it calls for half of anything I try to figure out if I can use the entire thing rather than risk tossing it out later.  This is a long way of saying there is a whole lemon and orange in my poaching liquid – making it more tart, which could also explain its impact on the tart apple.
  • Pears were Red, Apples were Gala. It’s a little early I think for some local organic heirloom varieties, though I did find some in August last year but not so far this one. The Gala I found were a bit tart and I’d like to try this with something sweeter.

The French Fridays set are not publishing recipes. You can pick up a copy of Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan at fine booksellers everywhere and follow our cooking exploits at French Fridays with Dorie.


About Tasty Mayhem

Love to eat, cook, write. Try to think of witty things to say about the world but my thoughts are consumed by food. Mostly.
This entry was posted in Breakfast, Dessert, French Fridays with Dorie, Low/er Carb and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to French Fridays with Dorie: Spice-Poached Apples or Pears

  1. I thought the exact same thing about the fruits, pears were the winners here! The marsala versions sounds divine!


  2. As I was reading about your dinner I started to think about the sauce going well with pork and I laughed when I read that I wasn’t the only one thinking that! It really is a very versatile recipe!


  3. Ei says:

    I totally get how the poaching liquid would taste great on pork. It’s like a pork chop and applesauce combo. They were made for each other.


  4. Jennifer B. says:

    Thanks for your notes on the sugar substitutes. Your dessert looks great. (Also, that pear and hazelnut cake sounds awesome!)


  5. Teresa says:

    We enjoyed this with apples, but I’m looking forward to trying it with pears. I love the idea of using it over something savoury, too. Pork roast sounds perfect for this.


  6. Pears will always win out here. Always. I too used the whole fruits for the juices and cut down on the water a bit to compensate. Oh, and use the poaching liquid in cocktails! I added it to some vodka and a splash of pear nectar and I’m not sure but I think I invented something. Was delish.


  7. Cher says:

    Apples, pears, it’s all good…
    I like the thought of using this in a savory application…


  8. Poached Pears with Coconut Ice Cream sounds fantastic:) I loved this week’s recipe for FFWD:) Have a great weekend!


  9. I’m drooling over your pears and ice cream!


  10. Piebird says:

    Our ingredients were really different, but we both plated with ice “cream” in a green bowl. I didn’t realize there are so many sugar substitutes for a low carb diet!?


  11. Liz says:

    I’m glad I used pears 🙂 And I wish I served mine with ice cream!


  12. Tricia s. says:

    Good for your for testing both fruits -were I more organized I would have to do the same ! I love the dinner you described and am not surprised to hear the success with it on pork…..though i would not have thought of it myslef 🙂 I also appreciate the sugar conversions/replacements you shared. I could really cut out a huge amount of sugar and was thinking there was so, so much sweet going on I should have been choking on the guilt. But it tasted so good ……..:)


  13. The pears were a winner in my house. I’m loving the thought of coconut milk ice cream…sounds yummy to me! Nicely done!! Have a great weekend!


  14. bevwinchester says:

    Pears are so wonderful in a spiced syrup- yours look beautiful!


  15. betsy says:

    I loved the syrup, though my apples fell apart, so I ended up with apple sauce instead of poached fruit. I just bought some pears to try it again with firmer fruit. Looks great with ice cream. It reminds me of a more seasonal version of the summer peach melba we made.


  16. betsy says:

    Hi there, Tasty! I wanted to tell you about my food mill. Unfortunately, I’ve had it a while, and don’t remember exactly where it came from. I’m thinking Crate & Barrel, but don’t see the same one on their site anymore. It wasn’t that expensive, maybe $30. It doesn’t have a brand stamped on it, but I think it’s Italian. It has 3 removable plates: fine, medium, and coarse. I’ve always had great luck with it, and because it’s simple mechanics, nothing breaks. I originally had an old-fashioned Foley food mill, from the hardware store. It also worked well, except it was all one piece. When the plates don’t come out, it’s harder to clean. It find the food mill to be a useful tool, not one that just sits in the drawer. Good luck!


  17. mmmm…good idea to used with the drizzle on pork roast. I love those little ooops moments that turn into YUM!


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