What a delight to combine these lovely Ela Family Farms pears with sour Montmorency cherries, elderberries, dried Stanley plums and local honey in a poaching syrup that is rosy and inviting! And then, infuse dried lemon verbena from my own garden this summer –
in raw cow’s milk from Taft Hill Dairy, thicken the custard with local eggs, sweeten it with a bit of honey, then serve the pears on our family heirloom dishes for dessert! It all began in the kitchen like this:
Lemon Verbena Infused Creme Anglaise
Creme anglaise is a silky, magical classic French dessert sauce that is a delight flavored with vanilla bean as well as this local-inspired garden herb. I adapted Beatrice Peltre’s recipe from the divine La Tartine Gourmande with my locally sourced ingredients.
- 1 1/4 c. whole milk
- dried lemon verbena leaves – a small handful – 2/3 cup
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 c. local honey
- dash salt
Heat milk and lemon verbena in sauce pan just until it boils, then remove pan from heat and cover to infuse flavors for 40 minutes to an hour, then strain the herb from the milk, reheating gently.
Beat egg yolks and honey with an electric mixer until they are pale in color, then pour the heated milk in slowly, mixing well. Pour custard back into saucepan, and cook over medium to low heat, whisking constantly. When it thickens slightly, enough to coat the back of a spoon – the creme anglaise is done. Pull from heat and let cool. Chill in refrigerator.
Foraged Fruit Poached Pears
I wanted to create a rosy poaching syrup to contrast with the white pears, had frozen elderberries and cherries on hand as well as dried Italian or Stanley plums from another summer. This combo together created the perfect blend, and a good dollop of honey created a very nice, locally sourced liquid. Boil it down after the pears are cooked and removed for a wonderful sauce to finish your dessert plating!
- 3-4 pears, peeled and rinsed off
- 1/2 c. local honey
- 1/2 c. elderberries (or other purple fruit such as blackberries)
- 1/2 c. sour Montmorency cherries (fresh, frozen or dried)
- 1/2 – 2/3 c. halved dried plums
In cooking pot, place pears and next four ingredients, adding water to nearly cover pears. Bring to a gentle boil, and poach pears until just tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Last five minutes or so, test occasionally for tenderness with a toothpick or small thin knife. Remove pears from liquid with a slotted spoon and place in bowl. Turn heat in poaching liquid pot on high, and let reduce until the liquid is slightly thickened.
To serve as a group, place pears upright on serving plate, spooning fruit around them, with creme anglaise on the side. To individually plate, place a few spoons of creme anglaise on plate, nestle a single pear a-top, and add a few pieces of fruit with syrup to complete the presentation.
Rich red wine and local coffee + this dessert = bliss.