Not all holiday appetizers have to be overly rich.
One of my favorite dishes during the holidays is poached pears. It’s a super simple and elegant dish to serve guests. And prosciutto will always be a win with anyone. If one of your friends doesn’t like prosciutto, time to replace them with a better, more tasteful friend.
Blow the socks off your guests at your next holiday cocktail party.
Eiswein and Maple Poached Pears Wrapped in Prosciutto
Servings 45-55 Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 2 hours
2/3 cup eiswein
1 cup water
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
6 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, halved and cored
1 lb prosciutto (sliced extra thin)
1 bunch of watercress with small leaves
- In a large Dutch oven or soup pot combine the eiswein, sugar, water, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce the heat so that the poaching liquid can be at a medium simmer. Add the pears and the maple syrup and bring back to a simmer. If needed, adjust the heat so that it stays at a gentle simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes until the pears are tender. Once tender, lay them out in a jelly roll pan to cool.
- Bring the poaching liquid to a boil, about 45 minutes.
- While the poaching liquid is reducing, carefully dry off each pear half with a paper towel.
- Cut each pear half into 3 or 4 wedges keeping the pieces as equal as possible.
- Once you have cut the pears, roll each pear in one slice of prosciutto and with one or to sprigs of watercress.
- The poaching liquid should reduce to 1/3 or less of its original amount. Once it has cooled to room temperature, pour over the prosciutto wrapped pears.
Notes about this recipe: The pears can be poached the day before. Make sure that you store the pears in the unreduced poaching liquid in the refrigerator. If your prosciutto is really wide, cut each strip in half lengthwise.
This recipe is adapted from Frank Dodd’s Maple Pears and Prosciutto. His recipe can be found here: Maple Pears and Prosciutto
Back away from the mayo and the raisins…
There are some major problems with salad these days. Most salads suffer from so many ingredients that any one component cannot be identified. The general practice just seems to be “cover up all the lettuce”. This approach misses all the potential that a good green salad has! The key to a great salad isn’t more stuff, it’s just balance. A perfect balance of sweet, tart, and earthy creates a perfect first course or side.
Seriously, this is super easy and looks fancy AF.
Modern Waldorf Salad
Serves 4 – 6 Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 0 Total Time: 30 minutes
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp sea salt (to taste)
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 apple (Fuji or Braeburn) peeled, and sliced at 1/8 inches on a mandolin
2 celery ribs, cut very thin on the bias (you can cut it normally, but bias is prettier)
1 bag of Romaine lettuce, pre-washed and pre-cut
1/4 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
6 oz good quality Stilton
1/2 cup raw hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and roughly chopped. Toast over medium heat (Takes about 4 – 6 minutes. Toss often to prevent scorching. Pull off when they smell really nutty and the skins split. Rub in a towel to remove the skins. If some skin is left on, it’s not a big deal)
- Whisk honey, extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar together. In a large bowl, toss the apples and celery together with the dressing. Let stand 5 – 10 minutes. The longer it sits, the more dressing the apple and celery will absorb making it more potent and soft in texture.
- On each plate, create a small bed of Romaine. Sprinkle even amounts of parsley over the lettuce. Split the apple celery mix evenly between all plates and add on top of the lettuce mixture. Then top with hazelnuts and Stilton. Add another couple of teaspoons of dressing to each plate of salad, to taste. Serve immediately.
This recipe was inspired by the folks at Cook’s Illustrated – https://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/1726-salad-with-apple-celery-hazelnuts-and-roquefort.
* Note about this recipe – you can substitute any cheese from the blue cheese family. I prefer Stilton as it is one of the driest blue cheese varieties. Be mindful that if you pick a traditional or Danish blue cheese that it is creamier and will coat your mouth. This may dull some of the bright flavors in this salad.
Happy cooking, everyone!