Have you ever had some left-over wine that you’ve poured down the drain thinking it must have gone bad? I have! Back in the days when I hadn’t discovered the pleasures of cooking with wine. I now realise what I was missing out on….because wine can be a wonderful addition to many types of food, adding flavor and color. Wine that is meant to be used for cooking can be stored for upto 10 days in the fridge.
One of my favorite ways of cooking with wine is by poaching fruit in it. So now whenever I have wine left, I store it in a jar in the fridge and poach fruit in it when there’s enough of it. Pears poached in red wine are a classic French dessert. Elegant yet low-fat.
Though both red and white wine can be used to poach fruit, red wine gives it a deep velvety color…..turning it into a beautiful dessert bursting with flavors! When it comes to flavoring the wine, you can really go wild and let your imagination guide you. Vanilla, orange juice/zest, cinnamon, star anise, lemon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, pepper, chocolate, cranberry juice……choose a combination of flavors that suits your fancy….and get ready to make room for some delicious dessert! Of course, don’t go overboard with the flavors….stick to 2-3 different ones. You want to be able to make out each flavor….not be overwhelmed by an army of them!
Pears, apples, and peaches are the most-poachable fruits. Choose fruit that is ripe, yet firm. If using any juice, replace all or half of the water with it, and reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup. I have used vanilla and cinnamon to flavor my peaches, but you can change them to suit your taste.
For 6-8 servings:
2 cups red wine
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pour the wine & water in a saucepan. Add the sugar, cinnamon stick and vanilla extract. Mix well and bring to a boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and halve the peaches, removing the pit. (You could also leave it whole….it makes for a better presentation, but I feel eating it gets more difficult).
Place the peach halves gently in the pan, making sure they are properly covered by the liquid. At this stage, you could also use to parchment paper to cover the peaches, to make sure that they are cooked evenly. Let the peaches cook at a simmer for another 15-20 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time. The peaches should still hold their shape and not be mushy.
Carefully remove the peaches from the syrup and continue to simmer the liquid (another 5-10 minutes) until it reaches the consistency of a syrup. Store the peaches in a jar along with the syrup.
Serve with your favorite cake, whipped cream, ice-cream…..or as it is, with a little drizzle of the syrup.
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