Hibiscus Poached Pears
 
Ingredients
  • 4 Bosc Pears, ripe but firm
  • 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers*
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4-6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp orange peel granules
  • ¼ cup or ½ cup honey, plus extra for serving
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup sugar (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp labne* (per serving: 1-2 pear halves)
  • Pistachios, toasted and rough chopped
Instructions
  1. Place all the spices*, hibiscus flowers, and honey (use ¼ cup here if you plan to make a syrup, see below- or ½ cup honey if you aren't making the syrup) into a pot with the water. Boil, then lower to a simmer while you prepare the pears.
  2. Peel the pears and either core and leave whole with the stem intact or slice and scoop out the center with a melon baller or measuring spoon. Some people take out the soft stem that runs through the whole pear but I found that if the pear is cooked enough it isn't a problem. You might cut it out for aesthetic reasons more than anything else. After making these many times, I vote for halving them in advance for 2 reasons: 1.It cuts down on the poach time and 2. It is really difficult to take out the core (and make it look pretty) after you cook them if you decide that you want them in halves. The color will not seep all the way through the pear so you'll still have a nice contrast either way.
  3. Place the pears in the simmering poaching liquid. Cooking time will depend on the ripeness of your pears. I turn them over in the liquid every 4 minutes and begin checking to see if they're done 12 minutes in. I check with a toothpick; if the toothpick slides in fairly easily I know it's done. If there's resistance I turn them and let them cook another 4 minutes before checking again. When you serve them, you want a spoon to cut into it easily.
  4. Remove the pears to a shallow dish to cool.
  5. Strain the poaching liquid and pour a ½ cup of the strained liquid over the pears.
  6. Optional: If you used ¼ cup honey in the poaching: Take two cups of the liquid*, ½ cup of sugar and reduce together on the stove to make a syrup. It won't get too thick but thicker with the perfect sweetness to tart ratio. Reduce about 15 min over medium-high heat.
  7. Serve the pears at room temperature. To assemble the dessert: spread the labne on the plate and place a pear half (or 2!) on top. Drizzle the hibiscus syrup if you made it, sprinkle some pistachios, and finish with honey over the whole dish.
Notes
*You can buy dried hibiscus flowers from most health stores, gourmet grocers, online, or if in NYC: Kalustyan's. If you can't get them you can use 2-3 hibiscus tea bags instead.

*Feel free to edit and play with the spices to match what's sitting on your spice rack!

*Labne is a thick, strained yogurt that you'll find at Mediterranean and/or Middle Eastern markets. If you can't find it, you can substitute Greek yogurt for Labne.

*The leftover poaching liquid and syrup (if you have any left) are great in different cocktails and drinks. Mix it with gin and something bubble for a holiday cocktail or with mint and lemonade for a delicious drink.
Recipe by Herring & Potatoes at http://herringandpotatoes.com/hibiscus-poached-pears/