1/3 Jonelle Weaver
Moscato is not well-known in this country, but this sweet, fizzy wine is very often served at the end of Italian meals, along with dessert or just some cheese and fruit. Here, I use it to poach beautiful whole pears; the cinnamon poaching liquid is then reduced to a syrup.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 (750 ml) bottle Moscato wine (or other sweet dessert wine)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 Tbsp honey
1 piece fresh ginger (3/4-inch), peeled and finely chopped
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 small, firm, ripe Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled and cored Vanilla ice cream or gelato
1. In a saucepan large enough to hold all the pears, combine sugar with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Add wine, cinnamon sticks, honey, and ginger. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the bean to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until honey has melted.
2. Add pears and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until pears are tender when pierced with a small knife. Remove pears from the liquid and allow to cool. Continue to simmer the liquid until it thickens and is reduced by half, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Discard cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean.
3. Place each pear on a small serving plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle with poaching syrup. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings
2/3 Jonelle Weaver
When I was little, my grandfather used to spread fresh ricotta on a slice of bread for me and top it with a thick layer of sugar. I loved it then, and I still love those flavors together. This is a somewhat healthier version of that childhood treat. The bread now plays a starring role rather than a supporting one in the form of sweet, crunchy croutons paired with ripe berries and creamy cheese. Sooo good.
1/4 ciabatta loaf (4 oz), cut into 1-inch cubes (4 cups)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla sugar (Pour 2 cups sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Using a paring knife, slice a vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add vanilla seeds to sugar. Pulse 10 to 15 times, until vanilla and sugar are combined. Put the empty vanilla pod in a glass mason jar. Add vanilla sugar to the jar and seal. Sugar will keep fore at least three months. Shake the jar before using the sugar. Makes 2 cups.)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 medium orange)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 or 2 lemons)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup blueberries
8 strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
3 tsp grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
1 tsp grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1 Tbsp vanilla sugar Fresh mint sprigs or leaves, for garnish
1. For croutons: Preheat oven to 400Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â°F. In a medium bowl, toss together bread cubes and melted butter. Add vanilla sugar and toss to coat. Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely.
2. For berry syrup: In a small stainless-steel saucepan, bring orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar to a simmer over medium-low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Add blueberries and strawberries; simmer until the fruit softens, 6 to 8 minutes. Cool syrup to room temperature.
3. For ricotta: Combine ricotta, orange zest, lemon zest, and vanilla sugar in a medium bowl. Mix well.
4. To serve, divide ricotta mixture among four decorative dessert bowls. Spoon berry syrup over ricotta and top with croutons. Garnish with mint sprigs or leaves.
Makes 4 servings
3/3 Jonelle Weaver
This salad looks like tricolor pappardelle pasta, with vibrant ribbons of pink, green, and orange melon. If you don't want to bother making the melon shavings, just use a melon baller or cut the fruit into cubes—the salad will still be beautiful.
1/2 small seedless watermelon (about 1 lb)
1/2 honeydew melon, seeds removed (about 1 lb)
1/2 cantaloupe melon, seeds removed (about 1 lb)
1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves, finely chopped, plus mint sprigs, for garnish
1/2 cup turbinado or other coarse sugar
1. Cut each melon lengthwise into inch-wide slices. Hold melon slices at the peel end and use a sharp vegetable peeler to shave long ribbons of melon flesh into a large serving bowl.
2. In a small bowl, combine mint leaves and sugar. Add mint sugar to the shaved melon and gently toss.
3. Arrange melon salad on individual salad plates. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs and serve.
Makes 4 to 6 servings