Friday, December 21, 2012


Iffigenalp 14 3 best Pears bis
Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more...
- Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
For the majority of people winter is synonymous of bitter cold nightmare, endless suffering and depression. Most of them wish it would never exist and fear it like the pest as during this contemplative period reality tends to look even grimmer and lack of activity forces them reflect on their existence. Artificiality and shameless consumption is what gets them through this difficult period (a form of escapism), hence if it were not for the overly unspiritual end-of-year craze disguised as religious and social celebration which takes place in December, many of them would blow a gasket.

Me on the other hand, I love absolutely everything about the white season, however I don't place importance on such hollow festivities. I know that my straight-forward affirmations might sound a little harsh and nuts to you, but I'd rather stay away from the whole modern time Xmas commercial shebang and be warmly packed in a few layers of clothes than glorifying consumption and sweating like a pig in a blanket! Heat and meaningless jubilations kill me whereas honest meditation and low temperatures fill my soul with light as well as envigorate and stimulate me.

And it's not because I reject what our contemporary society outrageously worships and have heathen-style beliefs (however, I don't belong to any movement) that I can be hastily categorized as an individual who is hopeless, lost, frustrated, cynical or bitter. I mean, why should I accept rapacious greed, bleak materialism, repugnating fakeness and hideous vacuity when these are all negative "values" which dangerously threaten our civilization and are the reason for the human race's deplorable downfall? I could never forgive myself for following the masses and tolerating a way of life that is contrary to (my true) nature and totally disharmonious.
Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't feel. Just because I don't believe doesn't mean I don't understand.
- IAMX, The Unfied Field
Don't misunderstand me, though. Like each of you, I take immense pleasure in covering my loved ones and friends with gifts, spending hours in the kitchen baking cookies as well as cooking up a storm and feasting on good food. I'd be a hypocrite to declare the contrary. It's just that I am less superficial and have a different and more reflective approach to Yuletide than highly conforming folks (read this post and this one to learn more about what it represents to me).

Poached Pears 3 3 + B&W & LL sharper bis
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ring Out, Wild Bells
For me Yule, which coincides with the winter solstice (midwinter), is primeraly a day during which we begin a mystical journey into our inner self and are reminded of the Universe's greatness and of our humble place in it. This is a moment when we should all refocus on our true essence and remember that we are not at the center of everything and that the world doesn't revolve around us. Mankind is not almighty; we are an integral part of the cosmos and occupy a tiny, tiny part in the Grand Design of things. Hence, we cannot "play God" and live like careless inhabitants on this planet or else the cosmic balance will be broken and sooner or later we'll have to face the consequences of our actions...

In my house, nothing exhuberant happens, but joy is at the rendez-vous, Jack Frost is glorified, the return of light is blessed and relaxed birthday carousing takes place. P. and I light candles, rejoice over our traditional English Christmas meal (bacon-basted turkey, Brussel sprouts, sage and onion bread stuffing, creamy mashed spuds and real gravy) and exchange a few presents. A peaceful, intimate and casual fete that reflects my personality.

So, being a person who enjoys simplicity and doesn't need luxury or pompousness to feel fulfilled and overjoyed, the holiday dessert I am presenting here today is in my image too; a graceful combination of sophistication and sobriety. This refined and ambrosial, yet modest as well as fuss-free sweet treat is just perfect for ending a feast on a fresh, light, fruity, gleeful and magical note.

The wish is old, the wish is true:  A merry Christmas to you my friends!

Poached Pears 5 3 Best bis Best bis
White Wine & Tonka Poached Pears With Sablés Bretons And Butterscotch Sauce
Recipe for the "White Wine Poached Pears" as well as the "Butterscotch Sauce" by Rosa Mayland, November/December 2012 and recipe for the "Sablés Bretons" adapted from "La Cuisine De Mercotte".

Serves 6.

Ingredients For The "Poached Pears":
6 Pears,  peeled & cored (from the base)
1200ml Water
250ml White wine (sweet or dry)
1 3/4 Cups Castor sugar
1/3 Tsp Ground tonka
2 Tsp Pure vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean, splitted)
Ingredients For The "Sablés Bretons":
75g Powder sugar
2 Egg yolks
75g Unsalted butter, at room temperature and softened
100g Flour, sieved
5g Baking powder
A pinch of fine sea salt
Ingredients For The "Butterscotch Sauce":
1 Quantity Butterscotch sauce (recipe here)

Method For The "Poached Pears":
1. In a big pan, combine the water, wine, sugar, tonka and vanilla.
2. Bring to a gentle simmer while stirring.
3. Place the pears in the poaching liquid and cover with a circle of baking paper (with a hole in the center - to let the steam escape) that fits snugly over the fruits.
4. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the pears are tender.
5. Remove the pan from the heat and let the pears cool in their liquid.

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Method For The "Sablés Bretons":
6. Using a hand whisk, beat the sugar together with the yolks, until the mixture is foamy, pale yellow and falls from the beater in a ribbon.
7. Add the softened butter and whisk in order to obtain a smooth mixture.
8. With the help of a spatula, incorporate the flour and baking powder and salt (the mixture should be homogenous and ressemble a paste).
9. In plastic wrap, roughly flatten the dough to a thickness of 1/2 cm (0.2 inches) and refrigerate for several hours (at least 2 hours).
10. Cut out 8 rounds of pastry using 7cm (2.8 inches) non-buttered/greased stainless steel rings.
11. Place each pastry round on a baking tray covered with baking paper or a silpat and bake with the rings (!!!) at 170° C (338° F) for about 20 minutes.
12. Cool on a rack and then carefully unmold. 
Method For "Assembling The Dessert":
13. Put one shortbread on each plate, then place a drained pear on top of it and drizzle with lukewarm butterscotch sauce.
14. Serve.

I used "Belle Hélène" pears, but you can also use "Bosc" or "Anjou" pears.
White wines such as "Gewurzraminer", "Riesling", "Sauvignon Blanc", "Champagne", "Clairette De Die" or "Sauterne" are perfect for paoching the pears.
The "Sablés Bretons" MUST be made by hand - no electric mixer should be employed.
The characteristic look of "Sablés Bretons" is obtained by not buttering/greasing the molds.
There is an excess of two "Sablés Bretons". Those might come in handy if one shortbread happens to get broken or looks not very presentable.
Serve the finished dessert immediately, otherwise the "Sablés Bretons" will get soggy.

Serving suggestions:
Serve at the end of your meal with dessert wine (Sauternes, Muscat, Tokaji, etc...) or spakling wine (Champagne, Clairette de Die, Moscato d'Asti, etc...). 

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Poires Pochées Au Vin Blanc Et A La Fève Tonka, Sablés Bretons Et Sauce Anglaise Au Caramel
Recette pour les "Poires Pochées Au Vin Blanc Et A la Fève Tonka" ainsi que pour la "Butterscotch Sauce" par Rosa Mayland, novembre/décember 2102 et la recette pour les "Sablés Bretons" adaptée de "La Cuisine De Mercotte".

Pour 6 personnes. 
Ingrédients Pour Les "Poires Pochées":
6 Poires,  pelées et évidées (depuis la base)
1200ml d'Eau
250ml de Vin blanc (doux ou sec)
210g de Sucre cristallisé
1/3 CC de Fève de tonka moulue
2 CC d'Extrait de vanille pure (ou une gousse de vanille ouverte)
Ingrédients Pour Les "SabLés Bretons":
75g de Sucre en poudre
2 Jaunes d'oeufs
75g de Beurre non-salé, à température ambiante et en pommade
100g de Farine, tamisée
5g de Poudre à lever/pâte
Une pincée de sel de mer fin
Ingredients Pour La "Butterscotch Sauce":
1 Quantité de Butterscotch sauce (recette ici)

Méthode Pour Les "Poires Pochées":
1. Dans une grande casserole, mélanger ensemble l'eau, le vin, le sucre, la vanille et la poudre de fève tonka.
2. Amener à ébullition tout en remuant.
3. Placer les poires dans le liquide de pochage et recouvrir les fruits avec un disque de papier sulfurisé (avec un trou en son centre afin de laisser la vapeur s'échapper).
4. Faire mijoter à feu doux et laisser cuire pendant 20 minutes, ou jusqu'à ce que les poires soient tendres.
5. Retirer la casserole du feu et laisser refroidir les poires dans leur liquide.

Iffigenalp 6 3 best pears bis
Méthode Pour Les "SabLés Bretons":
7. Au fouet et à la main (très important!), blanchir les jaunes d'oeufs avec le sucre en poudre jusqu'à obtention d'un appareil blanc et onctueux.
8. Incorporer le beurre pommade et lisser le mélange.
9. Tamiser dessus la farine et la levure chimique, puis ajouter une pincée de sel et travailler à la spatule pour obtenir une pâte homogène. 
10. Aplatir la pâte grossièrement sur une épaisseur d’1/2 cm dans du papier film ou du papier guitare et laisser reposer au réfrigérateur pendant quelques heures (au moins 2 heures).
11. Détailler 8 disques de 7 cm de diamètre à l’aide de cercles à pâtisserie non beurrés et cuire ces sablés avec les cercles pendant environ 20 minutes à 170° C.
12. Laisser tiédir sur grille puis les démouler délicatement .
Méthode Pour "L'assemblage Du Dessert"":
13. Poser un sablé sur chaque assiette, puis déposer une poire égouttés sur celui-ci et arroser de butterscotch sauce tiède.
14. Servir.

Pour la confection de ce dessert j'ai utilisé des poires "Belle Hélène", mais vous pouvez aussi utiliser des poires "Bosc" ou "Anjou".

Des vins blancs tels que le "Gewurzraminer", "Riesling", "Sauvignon Blanc", "Champagne", la "Clairette De Die" ou le "Sauternes" sont parfaits pour pocher vos poires.
Les "Sablés Bretons" DOIVENT être préparés à la main - pas de batteur électrique doit être employé.
Le fait de ne pas beurrer les moules va donner ce look si caractéristique des sablés bretons. 
Vous obtiendrez deux "Sablés Bretons" excédentaires. Ce n'est pas grave car ils pourraient vous être utiles si l'un de vos shortbreads venait à se casser ou à n'être pas très présentable.
Une fois le dessert assemblé, servir immédiatement car il y a un risque que les "Sablés Bretons" se ramollissent sous l'effet de l'humidité de la poire.

Suggestions d'accompagnement:
Servir à la fin de votre repas avec un vin de dessert (Sauternes, Muscat, Tokaji, etc ..) ou du vin mousseux (Champagne, Clairette de Die, Moscato d'Asti, etc ..).

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  1. Indeed a magnificent dessert, simple yet elegant... I often wonder what is appropriate, as holiday meals can be soooo indulgent and rich.

    Happy Holidays for you, I look forward to one more year of your beautiful writing and photography!

  2. Pears are so photogenic, but that depends on who capture them :)

    Of course the dessert looks so yummy too!

  3. Such a simple ye elegant dessert!
    Just the other day we were discussing how the holiday season has been over commercialized than being much about getting together and spending great time with loved ones..
    You hit the nail on the spot. Agree with you.
    Happy Holidays! Rosa..

  4. J'adore les poires pochées, mais c'est souvent un dessert que j'oublie ... Ta version "complète" me ravit !

  5. Ce qu'ils sont beaux ces beaux sablés bien garnis!!! Les montagnes de ton coin de pays sont vraiment majestueuses avec leur manteau blanc... Par ici, nous avons reçu 40-50 cm de neige cette semaine, c'est tout blanc:) Joyeuses Fêtes ROsa!

  6. Rosa, this is absolutely stunning! I love the flavors!

  7. This dessert looks so magnificent without being too rich. Loved the way you have captured every detail rosa. Happy holidays to you!!

  8. Toutes ces belle photos gorgées de soleil me font penser à une chaude journée d'été.
    L'association des saveurs me fait saliver.
    Bon week-end.

  9. C'est beau Rosa, si beau....qu'on en mangerait !
    bravo et bises, joyeux Noë pars dans ma famille et j'ai peur de ne pas avoir le temps plus tard...alors Belles fêtes Rosa et à bientôt...

  10. bellissimo, bellissimo dessert, bellissima la pera vestita a festa!

    approfitto per augurarti un magnifico Natale, tanta gioia e affetto...
    ed il mio abbraccio :)

  11. that is one heck of a treat, Rose. Simply gorgeous!

  12. Gosia poaches pears in white wine each year. It'd be more than my life is worth to say yours look even better!

  13. Tout est beau!

    Winter becomes harder Rosa..wen one gets older..
    Sometimes health gets in the way..and sometimes..people that loved winter..end up dreading it for these reasons..

    Just saying..

    Tings can change in a heartbeat..

    Il faut accepter les gens comme ils sont je crois:)

    This is a beautiful dessert..worthy of a magazine..

    Meilleurs Voeux Rosa!
    And I agree..too much commercialism..

    It's the joy of being together..sharing..loving..

    Not everyone is so lucky.

  14. Pears have never looked so elegant as they do here. These look like they came from a fancy bakery.

  15. I coudnt agree more - I love winter. Living in Canada, it's probably a good thing that I do!

    Love those pear photos by the way - what a beautiful way to showcase the fruit!

  16. Simplicity at its best Rosa. Have an amazing Christmas! Enjoy each and every celebration.

  17. I really like the presentation of this dessert. Beautiful pictures. Merry Christmas!

  18. a sublime dessert, sublime like the snowy mountains. Liebe Grüsse

  19. Very elegant dessert Rosa! Have a wonderful festive season, Alli

  20. Quelle jolie présentation!!!! Et toujours des photos magnifiques!
    Joyeuses fêtes de fin d'année

  21. Such BREATH-TAKING and inspiring images, Rosa! A beautiful- simple -elegant dessert... LOVELY. Its such a joy to read your blog! I agree with you.I wish you a WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON filled with love and joy!!!

    HUGS <3

  22. poached pears are a delicious and elegant dessert, and i love your cookie and sauce accompaniments! :)

  23. Ton message me rejoint, particulièrement cette année, où nous tendons davantage vers la simplicité, la rencontre, le partage. Tes photos sont magnifiques Rosa, comme toujours ;-) Que dire du paysage, je suis sans mot. Bonne journée et joyeuses fêtes de fin d'année, Steph

  24. Rosa - Your photos and recipes are always top notch, but your reflections on the holidays approaching are real food for thought. I applaud you for glorying in the quiet solitude of nature and those you love.

  25. Wow Rosa what gorgeous photos! The pears sound divine and would be a great treat for Sunday dinner. I'm not a huge fan of Winter but I do love the beauty of snow. Thanks for sharing & happy holidays. xx

  26. Rosa what lovely dessert and pictures Happy Christmas!!

  27. Rosa! Thats a beautiful dessert. Perfect way to end a holiday meal.

  28. Rosa! Thats a beautiful dessert. Perfect way to end a holiday meal.

  29. What a beautiful, festive looking dessert Rosa! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas! :D

  30. What a luxurious poached pear preparation, Rosa. I love the butterscotch sauce! Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and amazing holiday!!

  31. Wow, such a beautiful dessert...I love the look of these pears, they just look so delicious! Perfect for the holidays, so elegant. And, I love your snow photos! :)

  32. A lovely post and I agree with your thinking. You have chosen a lovely dessert for your celebration. And as always...great photos.

  33. I used to love winter weather. Now? Not so much, although being outdoors in the cold crispness, preferably with snow, can be such an exhilarating feeling. Love the recipe, and that first pear photo (the overhead shot) is wonderful. Thanks for this, and I hope you have a Merry Christmas.

  34. Wow Rosa, both absolutely delicious and stunning!
    Happy Holidays, and happy early birthday :)

  35. This looks so incredible. Happy Birthday :)

  36. Lots of absence on my part...but you've never been forgotton Rosa.

    I'm here today to wish you a very pleasant holiday season and the very best in the coming year.

    Ciao for now,

  37. Your pictures are stunning. Pears never looked more delicious or elegant.

  38. STUNNNIG~~ those pears need to be on the wall of a fine dining establishment, Roda your pics only get better and better my friend!

    Happy Holidays!!

  39. All of this is so stunning my friend ~~~ Happy holidays to you and yours :) XO

  40. beautiful dessert and i agree with just keeping it simple and giving loved ones a big hug

    Merry Christmas Rosa

    hugs Rebecca

  41. Bonsoir Rosa, je te souhaite avec un peu de retard un Joyeux Noël. J'espère que ces Fêtes se passent bien pour toi. Pas trop présente pendant ces fêtes de fin d'année, je profite d'un petit moment de répit pour t'écrire ce petit mot ;). Je t'embrasse bien fort et te dis à la prochaine :)

  42. I agree with your thoughts Rosa. As a kid I loved Christmas for the presents, no doubt, christmas is disguised as a religious celebration but its more of a consumer and business celebration, isn't it?

    Here people don't gift presents so much for Christmas. It's more of a rarity.

    Gorgeous Pictures Rosa! Btw I was looking for a Sablés Bretons recipe.

  43. Rosa, stunning as always. Love your words too. Merry Christmas.

  44. Merry Christmas to you Rosa and a Blessed New Year 2013 :D

    I shared your sentiment about being simple. I love parties and used to organised BBQ/Party for friends and relatives but over the years as I grew older, I just want to soak in the peace by just having simple meal with my love ones :D

    Cheers :D

  45. Ton dessert est juste parfait Rosa - simple, frais et d'une grande elegance.
    J'espere que tes fetes de Noel se sont passees sereinement comme tu le souhaitais et je te souhaite une douce fin d'annee.
    Je t'embrasse.

  46. Such an elegant looking dessert.

  47. Amazing photos! The dessert looks so delicious, I just love any dessert that has pears!

  48. Lovely pears Rosa. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and wishing you the best in 2013.

  49. These poached pears sound so delish and perfect for the holiday season.
    Hope you had a lovely Christmas my friend. Happy New Year

  50. I seriously thought I had left a comment on this post days ago...
    These poached pears look marvelous! I like the idea of using white wine to poach the pears.
    Happy New Year, Rosa!

  51. What a great, simple dessert. Your photos are gorgeous, as usual. You are right on spot about keeping it simple. I'm not crazy about winter, and even more so with the commercialism this time of year. Happy New Year, my friend!

  52. Rosa, this is very sophisticated dessert. I love every picture you have here. Happy New year to you and your family! Hugs-)

  53. Happy new year Rosa, love your pictures always!!

  54. I share your sentiment of Christmas.

    And wish that the meaning of the season brings you comfort and joy, on this day, and always.

  55. What an exquisite sounding and looking dessert. I agree, it can be too easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the holidays and miss the point.

  56. The Dessert looks to yummy. Awesome pictures. Winter is a nightmare for me too - I somehow cant make myself like winters.I live in the coldest part of the US and winter drives me crazy.

  57. Very belated wishes. I love the way you break the rules about the lighting....I love that interplay of dappled sunshine on the pears. Gorgeous recipe - brightens up a harsh winter (although it isn't where I live!)

  58. My goodness, Rosa! What an elegant dessert! I've seen red wine version but never seen white wine...and I love the Sabres Brentons. I've never seen it or heard it before and it helps stand the pear straight up. Absolutely gorgeous dish!

  59. Your pictures are truly exceptional!The dessert looks sexy, classy and so elegant.

    Then other day I saw a bumper sticker which read"Let's keep Christ in Christmas." I do feel as well the true essence of the festivity gets lost admist all the fanfare. Not to say I don't like it but we should keep the philosophy alive in it.


  60. What beautiful pears - and what an elegant dessert! I hope you and your loved ones had a peaceful and bountiful festive season.

  61. Gorgeous selection of flavours here Rosa. I had some poached pears last week, but with some left over mulled wine instead :)

    Happy New Year!

  62. Beautiful.
    I haven't been back here in a very long while. Love the beautiful photos and the simplicity of this dessert.
    Wishing you a wonderful 2013. Bonne Anne!

  63. Such a beautiful dessert, very elegant. I think I just found the dessert for my next special occasion. Great idea indeed.

  64. I always find desserts with pear so elegant and this is no exception. The photographs are just so pretty. love the play of light and shadows. Love the flavors you have used here.

  65. The poached pear looks so elegant sitting atop the shortbread. Like a little statue!

  66. 68 comments! no wonder with this wonderful recipe. Congrats, your photos are marvelous.
    Liebe Grüsse aus Zürich,