i wish i could say that fall has hit the west coast. occasionally we get a chilly, cloud filled day - my favorite - and i break out my knitting, a giant cup of milky earl gray (heavily sugared, naturally) and make sure there's something cozy for dinner. but then the next day dawns clear and hot and i find myself putting away my favorite sweater and dreaming of things like deep dish casseroles, creamy soups, hot fruit crisps and warm bread dripping in butter. temps in the 80's aren't conducive to homey comfort food though so i recently found myself looking for something cool to drink that tasted like fall. what better than a pear cordial?
this past summer, our favorite cold drink was a bombay saphire and tonic with lots and lots of limes. i make a good one. strong but easy to drink. ummm...maybe that's not so good. anyway, now that it's fall i was wanting something different and a bit unusual. i love pears and i love vanilla and i found a recipe on pinterest (note: what do you think about a pinterest bucket list? cool, right?), went out and bought the ingredients and gave it a go.
here's what i used:
1 vanilla bean, split length-wise
1 strip lemon peel
4 bosc pears
once again, i'm a walking advertisement for traders. what can i say? i went there for the vanilla beans and the vodka. you can buy the good stuff if you want but it really isn't necessary; with the flavor and sweetness of the cordial, i doubt anyone would notice. i bought the least expensive bottle which was $5.99.
bosc pears. yum. i love their sanding sugar texture and deep flavor. so perfect for this. wash them well, peel and core them and slice them up.
get into your mason jar stash. fill a clean jar with a vanilla bean, a fat slice of lemon peel and enough pears to reach the top. fill with vodka (you could also use brandy), screw on the lid and give it a good shake. store in a dark place for 1 week to 3 months, shaking periodically. i lasted two weeks . if you make this near halloween, like me, buy some gorgeous pumpkins (got mine from traders. where else?) and use them as photo props for the caterpillar that your child brings home from school while you're waiting for your cordial to develop.
when you can't wait any longer, make a simple syrup from 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. add a sliced pear to the mixture. it will add even more pear flavor to your cordial. let it cool.
pour the vodka mixture into a large bowl and use a potato masher to smash up the pears. remove the lemon peel and vanilla bean and strain the mixture into a clean container. i used a nut milk bag to strain but you could use cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
add as much or as little of the simple syrup as you like. mix well and pour into a pretty little bottle or back into mason jars.
this is really delicious and a perfect fall aperitif served over ice on a warm evening. or neat on a chilly night. tastes even more delicious served in sweet little glasses or go rustic and serve it out of small mason jars. a sprig of fresh rosemary or sage with a curl of lemon peel would be a great garnish. aaaannnnndddd...i'm envisioning a pear tiramisu with the lady fingers soaked in this liquid gold.