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Poached Pears With Pineapple Sage

If you have pineapple sage in your garden, this is a great dish.  If you have pineapple sage in bloom, it's a sensation--people flip over eating the flowers.  It should be light and sweet without being cloying, and gently herb-y.  Do not try to substitute regular sage--these salvias are not interchangeable.  Just make it without the sage, and it will be tasty but a little less interesting.

Time 10 minutes day ahead + 10 minutes/pear day served

Ingredients (per Pear)
  1 sprig pinapple sage
  2 T light white wine

  1 t sugar
  1/2 t butter, melted
  1/4 t cornstarch

  1 large, firm, slightly underripe pear

  1-2T heavy cream or to taste (optional)

 For decoration:  a few pretty leaves of pinapple sage or
     better yet, the blossoms
1 day ahead:     strip the leaves and wash the sage.  Cover with the wine and warm slightly in the microwave.  Set to chill, covered, overnight.

Strain out the sage leaves and mix together the wine, sugar, and butter, and cream (if using).

Peel, slice into halves, and carefully core the pears.  Set the halves into a pyrex casserole and pour the sauce over them.   Microwave on high for 5 minutes per pear, or bake at 300 degrees until pears are soft (20-40 minutes depending on how densely you pack them in the dish).

Serve individual pear halves with sauce poured over.  Garnish with extra whole sage leaves, sprigs, or best yet, if you have them, the bright red blossoms--they look spectacular even though they're not particularly flavorful.

NOTE:  this also works wonderfully--even better, perhaps--with quince, although these must be peeled first and require very careful attention in the coring.   The quince is likely to be a lot more tart than the pears, so you may need double or triple the sugar.  

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