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Spiced Poached Pears With Mascarpone Cream & Vanilla Rice Pudding.

Seasonal Fruits

It’s been a long time coming and took a little bit of juggling and re-adjusting positions and schedules but my family is here. My parents, my brother, his wife and my two nieces arrived late Thursday night after a long day of traveling. It’s been nothing but laughter and catching up since then. And it feels good. Real good.. We get to spend a Christmas and New Year’s Eve together. The first time in many many years.


Spiced Poached Pears With Mascarpone Cream

There was no Birmingham in our future when we started planning this family vacation last year. There was no new position in my photography career, no new house, no old house full of moving boxes. No being long distance relationship for me and Bill thrown in the mix. Needless to say, it has taking everyone a lot of giving in, giving up, selflessness to make it happen and have everyone feel good.


Stars & Bubbles

That’s my family. Tight. Together. Tighter after the last year mourning so many close loved ones in short periods of time. Tragedy struck us hard many times over the years. But we came out stronger. We came out better and with such an expanded amount of love and "do – live – go" attitude. I know they give me strength.

Forelle Pears

I had my "this is so worth it" moment this morning when Bill and I took the dogs for a jog on the beach. After the horrendous week that we all felt as a nation and community, sharing the sorrows of so may families, I could not wait to hug mine. My nieces, so beautiful, so young and innocent. Their parents, their fears as caretakers and educators. My parents, for the many many good things and tough lessons they have brought us over the years.

Rice Pudding

The next few days will be all about cooking together for Christmas, hanging out and just be together. We have decided to mix American and French traditions for Christmas dinner and I am looking forward to breaking into the foie gras and at the same time have my nieces have their first go at sweet potato casserole. One thing for sure, there will be Buche De Noel. And Spiced Poached Pears with Mascarpone Cream. And definitely my grandmother’s Riz au Lait, or rice pudding will be made over the next few days.

 I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, filled with good cheers, lots of love and great food. Keep up with traditions or make new ones but most importantly, take care of yourself.


Mr Softie

Spiced Poached Pears With Mascarpone Cream:

Serves 6

For the poached pears:

6 Forelle pears (or other small-ish pears)

2 tablespoon mullingcider spice mix 

juice of one lemon

For the mascarpone cream:

½ cup heavy cream, very cold

6 oz mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ to 1/3 cup chopped shelled pistachios

Prepare the pears:

Peel the pears and place them, spice mix, lemon juice and enough water to
cover them in a tall saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower
the heat and let them simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the pears are just soft
(poke with a toothpick to check).

Remove from the water using a slotted spoon and allow to
cool on paper towel or baking rack.

Prepare the mascarpone cream:

Place the cream in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment
and beat until soft peaks at medium-high speed. Add the sugar and beat until
medium stiff peaks.

Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone cream with a
spatula. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Serve the cooled poached pears with a few spoonfuls of cream
and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.


Vanilla Rice Pudding

Serve 6 to 8

For the rice pudding:

1 cup short grain rice 

1 1/2 cups (315ml) whole milk 

1/2 vanilla bean, split open

1/2 cup (60ml) heavy cream

1/4 cup (50gr) sugar

Pinch of salt

Pomegranate seeds

Chopped shelled pistachios

Prepare the rice pudding:

In a stainer, rinse the rice under cold water for a minute
to remove some of its natural starch.

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the rice,
milk, cream, sugar to a simmer. Scrape the seeds from inside the vanilla bean
and add to the pan with the salt. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally for
about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let cool for a few minutes and
divide the pudding evenly among ramekins. Top with pomegranate seeds and
chopped pistachios.

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Linda December 22, 2012 um 8:21 pm

Beautiful post as always! I love the first photo.
The recipe reminds me of a traditional Dutch dish, called stoofperen (stewed pears). A special type of pears is used, Gieser Wildeman, which turns red when cooked for a while. Red wine, port or berry juice is used to enhance the colour, as well as cinnamon and other wintery spices. It is usually served as a side dish with a main course such as stewed beef or venison, red cabbage and mashed potatoes rather than as a dessert. You should try it 🙂
Happy christmas to you and your family!

ThisGirlBlogs December 22, 2012 um 8:30 pm

I'm not a huge fan of pears but this looks so delicious that I might actually give it a go! 🙂

Monika December 22, 2012 um 9:03 pm

Wish you very good christmass! This year I'll try my first Buche de Noel – I'm polish spending christmass with my french new family…
I love yours photos

Elin December 22, 2012 um 10:35 pm

I love youre recipe and pictures 🙂 Thanks for sharing. Merry christmas to you.

Ms Quez December 23, 2012 um 12:19 am

Mmmm…your dishes and imagery are always so beautiful. Reading your blog makes me want to go to an antique shop to hunt for linens and pretty dishes. Enjoy your family and Merry Christmas!

Helene December 23, 2012 um 12:55 am

Linda: no worries. I have tried it already 🙂
I also have a version on my blog where they are done with saffron.

Emma Galloway December 23, 2012 um 2:12 am

Oh yum! Merry Christmas Helene xx

Christian December 23, 2012 um 9:01 am


I love your blog. Your photography inspires me very much and so do your recipes. The poached pears look just delicious!

Do you peel the pears before or after poaching? Also, do you end up serving them room temperature or cold or warm?

Thanks for much and merry Christmas!

Helene December 23, 2012 um 1:18 pm

Christian: before poaching. Thanks for your comment, it made me realize I forgot to say when.

Happy Holidays!

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures December 23, 2012 um 2:22 pm

What a beautiful post, Happy Holidays!!!

Cristy December 23, 2012 um 2:36 pm

Merry Christmas Helene! Thanks for showcasing the warmth, love and light in this world. Stopping by your blog is like visiting an old friend. Comfortable and beautiful.

For the first time in my lifetime we are not all together for the holiday. Part of my family has gone to your home country for their winter vacation. Miss them dearly but I hope they are enjoying what France has to offer.

carol December 23, 2012 um 2:39 pm

happy holidays, helene!

so very happy for you & bill that you get to spend the holidays with your family at your home…indeed, truly a time to be together and just enjoy… thanks for poached pears recipe, this is a perfect dessert for our dinner party on new years' eve… enjoy your holidays & happy 2013!

Ruthy (Omeletta) December 23, 2012 um 8:17 pm

Beautiful post & photos. The horror of what happened in CT on the 14th will be in the back of minds of many this holiday season I'm sure. You take care of yourself, too.

Jaclyn December 24, 2012 um 12:42 am

Helene, I adore you work. Every time anyone ask me questions about photography I always recommend your book because it's the only photography book I've ever read and I love it! I still have so much to learn but I'm so thankful for all your book, and blog with stunning photos like, this have taught me. Merry Christmas to you!
Jaclyn ~ Cooking Classy

pamela ann meier December 24, 2012 um 9:46 pm

Merry Christmas! Thanks for bringing inspiration and joy into my mailbox! Pam Minneapolis, MN

Unknown December 26, 2012 um 12:40 pm

Beautiful post. Have a lovely holiday season with your family.

Karine December 26, 2012 um 3:17 pm

Joyeux Noel Helene. Meilleurs voeux.

Karine December 26, 2012 um 3:19 pm

Joyeux Noel et Bonne Année Helene. Meilleurs voeux.

Katy Noelle December 29, 2012 um 12:50 am

The poached pears were incredible and just perfect after the heaviness of all the sweets we've been eating the past few weeks!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year with all of your new ventures! =]


Katy Noelle xxo

Unknown December 30, 2012 um 12:30 am

So wonderful to imagine your family together after the sadness of last year. Have a wonderful "American" Christmas with them and can't wait to hear what the nieces thought of sweet potato casserole!!

Cooking Quidnunc January 2, 2013 um 4:27 pm

Beautiful pictures!!

sunday January 4, 2013 um 8:48 am


debbie @healthy eating plan January 31, 2013 um 4:25 pm

WOW! looks so yummy and healthy! Good for my healthy eating plan .

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