A very short and very blue post, because this world is one rough place. Let’s just start with the fact that it was the President’s Day week, as in no school, yet no vacation, because, as usual, we did not get our acts together. Hence, while everyone else is hitting the slopes or sipping Pina Colada on the beaches of the Caribbean (and sending us happy text messages and instagrams), we are stuck in the gray vortex of the subzero New York City. Normally, I would just disappear to the sanctity of my office and let Dr. V and Miss Pain play Monopoly all day, but it is Ice Age out there, our car is trapped under an icy monolith, and since Dr. V and moi could not agree whose turn it is to dig it out, I decided to work from home. Ten years of yoga and meditation practice have not prepared me for the intensity of the experience. Have you ever tried to write a scientific paper amidst a loud dispute regarding the price of a plastic red house on Park Lane? Or endure calls with the office, while your offspring is singing in front of the mirror in the manner of Carly Rae Jepsen, for seven non-stop hours? I will need at least ten more years of meditation to recover, and another ten to achieve spiritual mastery required to deal with my current living conditions.
I did make a brave decision to leave the apartment once. Given that humans do not last long on 10F, I had to make a choice between: A) a brief trip to the market to buy must needed food for the family, or B) somewhat longer and less necessary expedition to Bergdorf, to find a replacement for my cherished brick red lipstick, which MAC brutally and very unwisely discontinued. At this time of the year and at this temperature, market is brown and cold and empty, hence, I made the logical choice and went to Bergdorf. Once at Bergdorf I was attacked by an army or sales assistants -- at least two or three at every boot; did you notice how they cunningly block your way as you navigate through the floor, spraying you with perfumes with no shame until you develop one gigantic headache, or how they pull your sleeve mercilessly, offering the new miracle cream for your eyes? I was offered a miracle cream 7 (seven) times. As if I do not have a mirror at home, and as if I do not know that I have dark circles under my eyes, and the lines are beginning to show. I was also offered neck cream 4 (four) times. Hello Bergdorf people, ruining ones confidence into oneself might boost the sales of eye creams, but it is not the most appealing sales strategy, hence I am taking my business to the Saks from now on. And, did I mention that I forgot my lipstick at home, which left me with no benchmark to compare other lipsticks against? Now I have no coloring to put on my face, no self-confidence, and no food to eat.
Miss Pain, bless her heart, can live happily on maple-spiced oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But Dr. V and I cannot. And since we could not agree on whose turn it is to put on the coat, and the boots, and the gloves, and the cap, and the scarf and the facemask and go to the supermarket to buy much needed food, we were left with four Bosc pears and a bottle of booze. I might not cultivate food in the fridge, but I always have Bosc pears -- they are such a wonderful subject to photograph. And we always have the booze. (Come to think about it, probably not something to brag about.)
And that is how, with a loving touch of spice, a lovely dish practically prepared itself.
Sweet Wine Roasted Pears with Vanilla and Cardamom
* 2 firm Bosc pears
* 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
* 4 tsp of mild honey
* 3/4 to 1 cup Muscat wine
* 1 1/2-inch long piece of vanilla bean
* 5 cardamom pods
* heavy cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving
* 9-inch round baking dish
Position the rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
Peel and halve the pears. Remove the core with a melon baller, small ice cream scoop or working gently with a tip of a small pairing knife. Cut the vanilla bean in half, first length-wise, then cross-wise. Crush two cardamoms and take out the seeds, discard the pods. Keep three cardamoms intact.
Grease the baking dish with butter. Place the pear halves with their cut side down in the dish. Drizzle one teaspoon of honey over each half. Pour in 3/4 cup of the wine around the pears. Add the vanilla, cardamom seeds and cardamom pods to the liquid. Place the dish in the oven and roast for about an hour. After thirty minutes baste the pears with pan juices. Repeat once or twice more. (Keep an eye on the liquid, if it becomes too thick, add a little bit more wine to the pan.) The pears are done when they are very tender and golden, and the wine has reduced to a thick syrup. Remove the pan from the oven. Drizzle the syrup over the pears. (The syrup will thicken some more as it cools.) Serve slightly warm with heavy cream or vanilla ice cream on the side.