Spring, at long last. I can’t help but sigh a bit when I say those words out loud; The sun suddenly seems just a shade brighter, the day, a few minutes longer, just because the calendar officially declares it the vernal equinox. It’s as if winter had become an a weight that is now being lifted from my shoulders. The wind may still have a bite to it, and the trees still look as barren as dead twigs, but I know that it really is spring, that there truly is an end in sight to this harsh, difficult period of time.
Marking the occasion, making certain that this is the point of no return, the change of a bad pattern, I couldn’t help but indulge in a quick bout of spring cleaning before heading out to work. So deep and cluttered is my closet that a true cleaning could easily require a full week, minimum, and so neurotic is my need to organize that that time could easily stretch out into a month; it was a safer bet to start in the kitchen. Rifling through the refrigerator, there were plenty of old odds and ends that were in sore need of attention… Although for too many, that attention came a bit too late. Out went the tubs of moldy sweet potato puree, and a cup or two of grayed fruit juice went down the drain. Such a shame that these things went to waste, but better to remove them before they become toxic.
Poking through the freezer after the worst of the fridge had been taken care of, it was like opening up a long-buried treasure chest, brimming with delights waiting to be discovered. It was there, beneath bags of rock-solid cherries and peas, that I found one ghost from the past, still shining with potential. Yes, I had forgotten about it completely, but it all came back to me in a flash; It was the other half of the danish dough I made for a Daring Baker challenge, many moons ago. Defrosted and rolled out thin, I was overjoyed that it bounced back just as a fresh, tender dough ought to.
Lacking the time to bake off a large braid, individual danishes seemed to fit the bill just fine. For filling, it was only natural to reach back into the fridge and use up what had been sitting there for far too long, waiting for the right use- Pomegranate juice! As much as I love the stuff, I could never drink it plain, and it typically gets diluted when baked into things, making it difficult to taste in the finished product. Indeed, it would be a perfectly prominent flavor to poach pears in instead, making for a sweet and tart topping to my little pastries.
Easy as can be, the pomegranate-poached pears were sliced thin and laid over unbaked pastry, and fired off in the oven for a few minutes. Still warm, the flaky crust cradles that juicy fruit filling, just sweet enough to satisfy, but definitely something that one could easily get away with calling breakfast. Best of all, you don’t need any frozen danish dough to enjoy it, either as those poached pears alone are delicious all by themselves… But a bit of caramel or chocolate sauce over the top wouldn’t hurt, either.
Simple Pomegranate Poached Pears
3 Cups 100% Pomegranate Juice
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
Zest of 1 Orange
5 Firm but Ripe Pears
1 Wedge of Lemon
Combine the pomegranate juice, sugar, and orange zest in a medium-sized pot and set it over moderate heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Meanwhile, peel the pears and rub the exposed sides with the wedge of lemon, to prevent browning. Place the naked pears into the pot, partially cover the pan, and simmer over low heat for approximately 25 – 30 minutes. If the pears aren’t completely covered by the liquid, you should turn them ever 10 minutes so that they cook evenly. When they’re done, they should be tender enough that they just barely resist the prick of a fork. Serve warm, or let them cool completely, refrigerate for a few hours, and serve chilled on a warm spring day.