Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ladies Who Lunch & A Kick Ass Dessert

It’s the time of year when I begin brainstorming with my BFF Elizabeth for her annual Spring Luncheon. Sweet Lizzie is all about tempting food but ain’t big on cooking; go figure??? My gain as I get to cater the big event. We’re a great team; she’s a nervous wreck & I get to boss everybody around! For me it’s all about an over the top presentation; gotta have that "OMG" factor. Intense pressure here; I have to outdo myself every year & Dramatic is my middle name!

The ladies who gather are Lizzie’s Book Club which has been meeting for 29 years! They are 12 strong; I believe its 27 kids’, 16 marriages & 21 grandchildren among this tight knit circle. Swear to goodness you will never meet a nicer gang! They are soooo appreciative; one reason I keep coming back is they lather me in praise & adoration; y’all know I crave that…. It’s that middle kid thing….

Another perk is Lizzie’s precious & adorable daughter, Elaine; who happens to be one of my biggest fans! Did I tell you how smart she is? The luncheon gives us a chance to catch up & she gets so excited about the menus. Backing into this year’s selections by doing the dessert first as Elaine loves her something sweet (weighs about 90 pounds… how does that work???) She was less than thrilled with the chicken last week & I need to reel her back in; not to fear I got a couple of tricks up my sleeve!

Officially in obsessive/compulsive mode plotting, planning & charting a manic course for the perfect spread for Lizzie’s Ladies! At this point it’s all about choices; I will be presenting the Mother/Daughter duo with 2 butterific desserts & see what they decide.

This week’s selection is;

Caramelized Pears & Stilton Cheese
Serves 6
My version of Americas Test Kitchen Recipe; great video & tips at; Americas Test Kitchen On Demand; see desserts, you have to sign up for videos; highly recommend!

1/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
3 firm pears; slice in half, leave stem on one si
de & scoop out seeds with small end of melon
baller, cut off bottom of pear; do not peel
1 cup cream

½ tsp course ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
8 ounces Stilton Cheese or any Danish Bleu will work
Smidgen of Kosher or flaky sea salt
Large non stick skillet with lid

Heat skillet over medium/low. Add water & pile sugar in middle of pan & shake pan; do not stir ( this will keep sugar from crystallizing) continue till sugar is dissolved & bubbling. Add pears cut side down, place lid on skillet & simmer medium/low slightly bubbling not full bubbles; (continue to check bubbles during this step & keep them small). Cover 10/15 minutes till pears are semi-tender but still firm to touch; do not overcook, (I did first pass….) begin to check pears at 10 minutes. Note; they still have more cooking time after this step & you don't want them too soft in the end.

Take off lid & crank up heat to medium/high to increase size of bubbles; shake pan to move sauce around & caramelize bottom of pears & sauce about 3/5 minutes or slightly longer. Watch for sauce to begin to caramelize; it will turn pale amber. Watch carefully; check bubbles & continue to watch for color change while you continue to shake pan. Once it has reached warm amber cut heat off & pour in cream; loosen up pears from bottom of pan with tongs; they will have a nice caramel bottom. Continue to move pan in circular motion to incorporate cream; you can begin to scrape down sides with a spatula. Turn heat back on & simmer 3/5 minutes to slightly thicken sauce; scraping sides as you go.

Remove pears & place on cooling rack; skin side down. Watch out sauce is very hot; remove from heat & stir in pepper & butter; pour into dish cooling slightly; it will thicken more off heat. Plate up by drizzling sauce over dish & stand pears upright; if they crash, which they might, drizzle some sauce in the hole; YUM!!! Scatter a little salt over top. Adorn plate with cheese; I added star fruit for drama.

Tips; use firm pears; this does not work with ripe pears. Slant back from center of pear when cutting bottom as they will look better on the plate at a slight pitch. When scooping out seeds move as close up to top of pear as possible as this will give you a stronger base for standing pears.

First let me say; This is divine!!! The sweet & salty thing rocks; the savory pepper & stilton are pure manna from heaven. It's definitely got the "OMG" thing going on. Howeva’ the luncheon is in the spring & after indulging I’m thinking this a bit of a wintery (spell check hated this one….) dish. Lizzie’s passion is her spectacular garden, come time for the party it will be breathtaking; want to be sure the feeling of the dish will compliment her celebration of floral & fauna. Sorta’ pissed as I was “gun ho” on this one; we’ll see what the girls think.
Off to contemplate round 2….. Sorry, gotta keep you in suspense; want you back next week! I have an enchanting surprise!!!


  1. pairing fruit and cheese in a dessert just screams "elegance" to me. nicely done!

  2. pear and stilton sounds like a perfect combination to me! Delicious!

  3. the pear dish looks, and i'm sure IS, delicious and perfectly appropriate for a ladies luncheon. you know me, i like me some chocolate- fruit for dessert just doesn't cut it for me. with that said, i will admit i was skeptical about the lemon curd meringues topped with raspberries last year, but managed to finish off the leftovers you so graciously left for me. i am eager for you to reveal option #2.

  4. Your pears and stilton sound delicious! If that's not springy enough, how about using some candied edible flowers on top of little cakes as a nod to the garden?

  5. Buttery pears and creamy stilton. Yum!

  6. My husband will love this. Thank you so much!

  7. This definitely sounds good and fruit is always in fashion no matter the season. When I think spring, I think strawberries. Can't wait to see next week's option!

  8. Wow, what a yummy fare! We've had fresh pears with brie and honey, but this sounds like another level of goodness. So need to try this soon!

    Carolyn of What Now? Tablescapes

  9. Happy Foodie Friday!Looks delicious!


  10. fabulous dessert! i have a pear recipe you would love~

  11. Caramelized pears with stilton...I'm in foodie paradise. I LOVE this recipe and can't wait to make it!

  12. Caramelized pears and stilton...I'm in foodie paradise. I can't wait to make this for my family! I'm with Susan, I can't wait to see what you cook next week!

  13. Mmmm! This does sound good to me....great choice! ~ Robyn

  14. This sounds incredibly good! Can't wait to see how you top it next week. Kathy

  15. This sounds great! Love it! And I love the title of your blog. LOL! Butter is definitely better! ;-)

    Happy Foodie Friday...


    Sheila :-)

  16. Those pears look amazing! I've just started caramelizing pears and putting them into salads, it's delicious!

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  18. So beautiful! Looks delicious and such a pretty presentation!


  19. that pear looks so good! thanks for the recipe.

  20. This is now my favorite dessert! YUM, thanks for sharing!

    Editor and Community Developer


    can i put my link on your site?

  22. A beautiful gluten-free dessert that I can't wait to try! thanks!