Cider-Poached Puff Pastry Pears

The honor of your presence is requested for an authentic French lunch.


French Onion Soup

Soupe á ´l Oignon Gratinée

Mesclun Salad with Rillioons, Hazelnuts, and Sainte Maure Cheese

Salade Tourangelle

Mussels in Cider and Cream

Moules á la Normande

Rabbit Braised with Prunes

Lapin aux Pruneaux

Buckwheat Crépe with Ham, Egg and Cheese

Balette Compléte

Sole in Butter Sauce

Sole Beurre Blanc

Fried Flounder Strips

 Goujonettes de Flet

Leek and Cheese Tart

Tarte Flamiche

Beef Braised with Beer and onions

Carbonnade de Boeuf

Sautéd French Green Beans

Sauté de Haricots Verts

Glazed Baby Beets

Petites Betteraves Glacées

Sautéed Apples

Sauté Pommes

Apple Tart

Tarte Tatin

Crépes with Butter and Sugar

Crépe Beurre-Sucre

Can you believe it? This was lunch today and WE made it all!

If you haven’t stopped by The Café for the past few days, I’m blogging from Hyde Park, New York where I’m spending the week attending a French Cooking Boot Camp at The Culinary Institute of America.


We studied the history of French cooking yesterday and today was a lesson in geography. France is divided into 22 regions, each one being diverse, not only in landscape, topography, culture and climate, but also in cuisine. We focused today on Normandy, Brittany, Champagne and The North, The Loire, Paris and Íle de France. It was fascinating to learn about the different foods and culinary styles the various regions are famous for and specialize in.

France II

Many of you know that the French take their food and wine very seriously, but you might not know that  they actually have laws (called the rules of appellation) regarding nomenclature and production methods. For example the name “Champagne” is reserved exclusively for sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. The way it is to be produced is also very specific. There are tons of other foods and beverages that are governed by these very unique laws.

After our geography lecture, we headed to the kitchen and began to cook up a storm, a quite proper French storm, that is. We are divided into three teams and we all had our assignments. I have been blessed with a very accomplished chef, Kenneth, from Chicago as my cooking partner. He’s already been to boot camp here at the CIA, so he’s been invaluable the past two days – he steered me in the right direction more times than I care to admit.

The entire day was awesome from start to finish! After cooking all morning and seeing wonderful culinary demonstrations from our instructor, Chef Bruno, we enjoyed the fruits of our labor for lunch. We were amazed at the deliciousness and uniqueness of each of the dishes. After lunch we enjoyed a fascinating talk about French cheese by Chef Bruno, and had the opportunity to nibble and critique 12 different cheeses from France.

You’d think that would be plenty for one day, right?  Nope ………. we were given a three hour break/rest time (this old lady needed it!) and were invited back for dinner in one of the CIA’s fine restaurants, Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici. Our team enjoyed fabulous Italian food and wonderful service all prepared and delivered by the culinary students.

I’m ready to fall into bed, so instead of writing any more, I’ll just show you a few pictures of our day. Oh, and the Puff Pastry Pears, I made them for a dear friend’s birthday celebration one evening last week, but they actually would have fit quite well into our lunch feast today. Pears are beloved and available throughout France, but it seems that the majority of them are grown in the orchards of Normandy. Puff pastry is thought to have originated in France back in the 17th century. So there you have it …………. maybe I should be calling them Pâte Feuilleté Enveloppé Poires …….. sounds much fancier, don’t you think?

Gick at CIA

So you asked for it; here I am in my “chef duds”.

Note- I’ve just given up the idea of trying to look cool and not grin like a Chesire cat, I’m thinking this type of cat might be in my blood lines somewhere, what do you think?

Kenneth at CIA

My new friend and very adept cooking partner, Kenneth.

Students at CIA

Chef Bruno showing us how to cut up a whole rabbit for our Braised Rabbit with Prunes.

Mise en Place (1)

A French culinary term that is foundational to the C.I.A. is Mise en Place (everything in place). I love it!

Eggs at CIA

One of my favorite demonstrations was for the Pate Brissee for our quiche crust. Chef Bruno showed us his super easy technique.

Pie Crust (1)

He makes whipping up a pastry crust and rolling it seem like child’s play!

Chef and Chris

Our wonderful teacher, Chef Bruno, is a graduate of the CIA . He worked in the industry for many years and is now back at the CIA sharing his experience and skill with students like us!


There are professional CIA students who help us in the kitchen. This is Ricardo who is wonderful and has gotten me out of more than one pinch! Thanks Ricardo!

Pear Closeup

Oh, and these amazing pears. You’ll love them. Pre-packaged puff pastry makes them simple to prepare, and the poaching liquid is used to make the caramel sauce. I adapted my Ridiculously Easy Caramel Sauce recipe, so it’s a breeze to make the sauce once your pears are poached. It’s a lovely presentation, don’t you think?


Cider-Poached Puff Pastry Pears


  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tablespoons Calvados, optional
  • 6 firm pears
  • 1 17 1/2 ounce package puff pastry, thawed in refrigerator
  • Additional ingredients for the caramel sauce:
  • ½ cup butter (4 ounces)
  • ½ cup heavy cream


  1. Peel and core pears. I use a melon baller to core my pears.
  2. Combine cider, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and Calvados in a large pot. Bring to a simmer and stir until all sugar is dissolved. Add pears, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until pears are tender, but not falling apart, just until they can easily be pierced with a small sharp bladed knife. Remove pears onto a plate and allow to cool and drain for 10 minutes. Drain excess cider mixture back into pan and refrigerate pears for at least one hour.
  3. Return cider liquid to a simmer and simmer until syrupy and reduced to about 1/2 cup. Watch carefully towards the end as this sugary syrup can easily burn.
  4. Add butter and cream and return to a simmer. Whisk gently until well blended. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract, stirring to combine.
  5. Mixture will thicken as it cools. If it becomes too thick, just add an extra bit of apple cider or cream. Sauce can be made ahead and warmed at serving time.
  6. Heat the oven to 400°F.
  7. Unfold the pastry sheets onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out the first sheet to a 10″ x 12″ rectangle. Cut the pastry sheets lengthwise into 1/2″ wide) strips. Starting at the top, wind pastry strip around 1 pear, slightly overlapping the edges of the pastry and adding more strips as needed. Use a bit of water on your finger to help a new strip adhere to the previous one.Tuck the end under the pear. Repeat with the remaining pears and pastry strips, cutting more from the second sheet as needed. Cut out leave-shaped pieces of pastry if desired and place on top of pears with a bit of water to adhere.
  8. Place the wrapped pears onto a baking sheet. Loosely cover the wrapped pears with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Spoon the caramel sauce onto 6 plates. Top each with one pear. I like to serve the pears warm and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen custard.

Puff Pastry Pears


37 thoughts on “Cider-Poached Puff Pastry Pears”

  • Cathy, you made me smile with this comment, I’m so happy that you had such a successful day in the kitchen with your Mise en Place! I love it! I’ve too been using it and it makes a huge difference. I’m really bad about going to the grocery store, coming home and not even putting away the groceries before I start cooking but now I’m being much better too! I guess you’re never too old to learn! 🙂

  • Your picture of Mise en Place came to mind today (Sat 11/3) as I started my day of cooking and baking. I was a ‘home ec’ girl of the 70s and learned the rule of ‘mise en place’. However, I have been very much the slacker when it comes to applying it. Today I started the day by making my trusty banana muffins and prepped all my ingredients first. Wow!! After lunch I made a bundt cake for tomorrow, ingredients lined up like soldiers. And then I tried a recipe for a stuffed baked acorn squash, prepping all ingredients first. I have been reformed!!! I think it made a difference in my attitude and my small prep area didn’t seem such a big deal! Thanks for the wonderful reminder in the picture!

  • Thanks MegBeth! I think I was so tired when I was putting this post together that I wasn’t thinking straight! I’ve fixed the recipe.

  • While this recipe looks delicious, it it missing the quantities of butter and cream for the carmel sauce. Would someone be so kind as to tell me what they are.

  • While this recipe looks delicious, the list of ingredients is missing the quantities of butter and cream for the carmel sauce. Would someone be so kind as to let me know what they are.

  • I got so excited to move on and hear about Day 2 that I didn’t leave a comment on Day 1. (I will return and say something – maybe, “Meow, Meow”) I am grinning along with you. Love your enthusiasm and you are really lucky to have so few students. Your fellow students seem great.

  • I’m from the area you worked with today! I love you in the chef clothes too. What a great group of people. I do need an update on what’s going on with your husband’s photograph classes soon though.

  • Oh Chris you are really beautiful and elegant in the chef outfit!! I love this picture of you.

    What a wonderful experience! You are already chef-level cook and I cannot wait to hear more about your adventure.

    I never imagined that this gorgeous dessert is made with puff pastry! Perfect for holiday time. Saving the recipe!

  • Chris – when I saw you in that hat and white coat it brought a smile to my heart to know you are loving every minute of it – can’t wait for you to teach us all just some of what you learned. I especially like the pate’ brissee for the quiche. Can’t wait for the next post. Scott must be ready and waiting to join you. love, regina

  • Wow! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with all of us. I am part of a small group of couples that call ourselves “Gourmet Club”. I can so see a road trip for us gals to your place in the future…to your cooking classes!???

  • Thank you for all your kind comments and for being a part of this adventure. It makes it even more fun to be able share it with food lovers like all of you! Sorry I haven’t been able to publish these comments till late in the day as I’ve been at school till now but it is so fun to come home and be greeted with all your delightful comments and enthusiasm. To answer the question posed by Foody Cat, Rillons are a specialty of the Loire River Valey and consist of small cubes of high quality pork (typically from a pork belly) that have been slowly cooked in a covered pot – they eventually become golden and caramelized. Quite delicious but not your everyday fare, for sure!

  • Wow Chris you definitely look the part in your ‘chefs duds.’ So professional!

    What a wonderful time you’re having. You’re going to be whipping up even more incredible looking dishes when you get home.

    I wouldn’t worry about the cheshire cat grin. It’s beautiful!

  • Chris, I’m SO glad you are getting to do this! And I’m enjoying “tagging along” especially as you describe the areas of France (Gretchen & I did a 2 week tour of France several years ago, so I recognized many of these regions.) Looking forward to more posts & continuing to try your recipes!

  • Looks like a blast! I’m so glad you got this opportunity and I’m sure we will all benefit from this (me personally because I get to not only look and read about the wonderful food you make, but also eat it! na na nana na)!

  • You look beautiful in your “chef duds” Chris, what a wonderful time you;re having!
    The pears are lovely, I;m doing a similar recipe with apples.
    Hugs and Kisses Chef!

  • WOW! What a fantastic adventure you are on, love the shot of you in your Chef attire! Those have to be the prettiest pears. You are the tops of your class 🙂

  • I really loved yesterday’s and today’s posts! I envy you so! I’m enjoying all the pictures and info you’re passing on – thanks so much. And I’d have a huge grin on my face, too, if I was lucky enough to be wearing those chef’s duds!

  • Chris, thank you for allowing us to all but be there with you. You are the envy of all of would-be French chefs. You look adorable. I want to be the first to sign up if you start a cooking class. Having just visited NYC briefly I found Central Park to be a place where I would want to spend hours. Hope you can find time. God bless, Carol Riley

  • Your pears are stunning Chris. I have to tell you though, after reading the menu I was ready to turn over and go back to sleep and I just woke up.

    You must have been completely exhausted after that day. I can only imagine what today will be like. Looking forward to reading about it tomorrow. Have fun!

  • Hi, you look great in the chef outfit. Thanks for sharing with us, glad to see you are having a good time. Enjoy yourself and share more stories with us.

    Love your pear puff pastry with caramel sauce, it sure look mouth watering. yummy.

    Have a great and fun week.

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