Niagara here we come

Excitement is builiding for me. Why you may ask? Well we are heading out to Niagara for the day and going to some new wineries on the weekend. The best part will be spending the day with my husband. Friends will join us but the two of us will be able to hang out and have fun-sans kids.

I love my children and I love that they love us too. Growing up with a family and enjoying them is everything I could have asked for. You know the best part is that they love food-well not all of it yet but I know their time will come.

My palette has grown quite a bit over the years as my husband's has too. Most people enjoy that luxury of enjoying good food that they might not have tasted or liked as a kid but sure do love it now. Which brings me back to Niagara. My love of wine and good food-a great place to share that joy. I never was a big fan of wine until I started to learn more about it and also realize all the different nuances that wine has and hey you can create really delicious recipes with it too!

This is one of my favourites which isn't really seasonal right now but let me tell you truely delicious!!!

Wine Poached Pears with Hazelnut Mascarpone Dollop

The ruby red colour of the wine infuses the pears and then enriches the dessert by being served alongside.

2 tbsp lemon juice
6 large firm, ripe Bosc pears
1 bottle (750 mL) Gamay or Pinot Noir red wine
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 4-inch strip orange rind
4 whole cloves
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, softened
2 tbsp icing sugar
1/4 tsp grated orange rind
1/3 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

Add lemon juice to large bowl of water. Peel pears and using small spoon or melon baler remove core through bottom of pear and trimming bottom to stand flat if necessary. Add pears to water mixture.

In saucepan bring wine, sugar, cinnamon, orange rind and cloves to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain pears and add to wine mixture. Simmer pears, turning frequently for about 20 minutes or until tender. Gently remove pears with slotted spoon onto platter, standing them upright. Boil wine syrup for about 25 minutes or until reduced to 11/2 cups. Discard cinnamon stick, orange rind and cloves.

Meanwhile, in bowl beat whipping cream using electric mixer to soft peaks. Add mascarpone, icing sugar and orange rind and beat on low speed to combine.

Divide reduced wine syrup among 6 shallow soup bowls. Place 1 pear in centre of each bowl. Divide and dollop mascarpone mixture among bowls and sprinkle with hazelnuts.

Makes 6 servings.

Tip: To make the pears ahead of time, pour reduced wine syrup over pears in large container and cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Mascarpone mixture can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.


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