It was supposed to be just a simple Sunday supper -- something I could throw together without much effort and anxiety. I had a busy day planned -- a trip to the gym, church, a two-hour wine tasting at DomaineLA -- and I didn't want the dinner I was preparing for my parents that evening to be a big deal.
But when I sheepishly told Kristin Feuer of BakeLab that I wasn't even going to make dessert, her mouth formed into a horrified round "O." She urged me to do something -- to at least go buy something. I nodded, pushing the curried chickpeas I was enjoying for lunch around my plate with my fork. I knew she was right, knew that a dinner party really isn't complete without a sweet ending, but was already nervous about getting everything prepped and cooked, and my apartment cleaned.
Even so, the image of her disappointed face stayed with me after I'd finished fiddling with my curried chickpeas and the rest of my salad trio plate at Joan's on Third. My plan for a "simple Sunday supper" wasn't going to be enough -- I had to do more.
As soon as I got home, instead of scouring every corner of my apartment lest my parents discover I have dust bunnies and food particles lining the base boards, I began tearing through various websites for an ice cream recipe. During my arduous hunt for something that wouldn't require too much effort, but would still be impressive to plate, I stumbled upon Giada's recipe for Roasted Pears with Brown Sugar and Vanilla Ice Cream. Because she did not include a recipe for the ice cream, I took it to mean that I was justified in picking up a pint of Haagen-Dazs Five.
To, you know, keep things simple.
The best part about these pears is that they really are just that -- simple. The only effort that was required prior to my parents' arrival at 6:15 yesterday was buying the necessary ingredients -- apple juice (I used the apple cider I had in the pantry), dark brown sugar, butter, Bosc pears, and the ice cream. The rest could be completed after we'd finished dinner in less than 10 minutes time.
With a smattering of toasted hazelnuts tossed over the top, it was a sophisticated plate to serve and enjoy. I think even the pastry chef would approve. Or at the very least, keep her horrified facial expressions to herself.
Roasted Pears with Brown Sugar and Vanilla Ice Cream
Lightly adapted from Giada De Larentiis
Serves 6 (when I made the recipe last night, I cut the proportions in half)
1/3 cup apple cider
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 firm Bosc pears, peered, halved and cored
Haagen-Dazs Five Vanilla Ice Cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the hazelnuts in a small dish in the oven while peeling and preparing the pears. Remove the nuts when the skins are starting to crack and they smell fragrant (approximately 5-7 minutes). Set aside to cool and then coarsely chop.
Turn the oven up to 400 degrees.
Arrange the pears cut side up in an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Whisk the apple cider and sugar in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the butter. Pour the sauce over the pears. Bake until the pears are crisp-tender and beginning to brown, basting occasionally with the juices, about 35 minutes.
Spoon the pears onto plates. Top with ice cream. Drizzle with any juices, sprinkle hazelnuts over the top and serve.