A winter dessert from celebrity Eva Longoria. "As they simmer, the pears send enticing wafts of fruit and vanilla through the air, a fitting invitation to a supremely elegant dessert. I've also served these at Thanksgiving with the main course in place of traditional cranberry sauce."
8 small pears, such as Seckel, Forelle, or another variety, peeled, stems intact
5 tbsp honey
3 tbsp sugar
1 4"-5" strip orange zest (removed with a vegetable peeler)
1 4"-5" strip lemon zest (removed with a vegetable peeler)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 3" cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise in half
1 fruit tea bag*
2-3/4 cups (10 oz.) fresh or frozen cranberries
* The tea bag adds undertones that complement or highlight the fruit in the simmering liquid — fruity or floral, depending on what you use. Choose a fruit tea that you like — I use tropical green tea or passion fruit.
Step 1: Place the pears in a saucepan large enough to hold them snugly. Add enough water (about 4 cups) to barely cover them. Add the honey, sugar, orange and lemon zests, lemon juice, and cinnamon stick.
Step 2: Using the tip of a paring knife, scrape the vanilla seeds out of the pod and add them to the pan. Toss in the pod and add the tea bag. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer until the pears are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 10 minutes.
Step 3: Add the cranberries and return to a simmer until they burst, about 3 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bag.
Step 4: Transfer the pears to a large bowl and pour over the cranberries and syrup. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.
Step 5: Remove and discard the citrus zest, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean. To serve, arrange the pears on a platter. Spoon over the cranberries and as much of the poaching liquid as desired. Serve.
Reprinted with permission from Eva Longoria's Eva's Kitchen (2011 Clarkson Potter).