Mark Bittman recently did a feature on fruit desserts that put the fruit front and center - no crust or cake in the way. I was really attracted to this idea because while I do love a good pie, making the crust is sort of fussy and takes extra time (especially if you want to get something in the oven quickly and don't have time for chilling dough in the fridge). I've also had more than one pie crust end up tough, soggy, or even totally melted! Long story short, sometimes it's nice to just focus on delicious fresh fruit rather than messing around with a crust.
I will definitely be trying out more than one of Mark's recipes from this feature, but I started off with this recipe for poached pineapple. It's super easy to pull together - simply simmer together wine, water, sugar, rosemary, and cracked black pepper, and then add in chunks of fresh pineapple until tender. Since the recipe uses almost a whole bottle of wine, don't buy something expensive - it's combined with sugar and water, so you don't want to waste a nice bottle. The poached pineapple has a lovely sweet, herbaceous flavor, with the wine cutting through the sweetness a bit. I couldn't taste the black pepper very much, so you should add lots if you really want that flavor to come through.
The poached pineapple is fantastic over ice cream (just don't add too much syrup or it will melt really fast!), and would also be really tasty over pound cake. It's also flexible enough to serve for breakfast - it was delicious with the pineapple chopped up a bit more and served over French toast. A great bonus of this recipe is the extra syrup, which can be used to make a tasty cocktail with sparking water and vodka or gin.
Pineapple Poached in Wine with Rosemary and Black Pepper (adapted from Mark Bittman)
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups white wine (not too dry, like Riesling)
1 sprig rosemary
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pineapple, cut into chunks
1. Combine sugar, water, wine, rosemary and black pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Add the pineapple chunks to the pan and simmer over medium-low heat, turning occasionally, until tender, 10 to 20 minutes.
3. Transfer pineapple to serving plates.
4. Simmer remaining liquid until thickened and reduced by half. Strain, and then drizzle over the pineapple.
5. Extra pineapple can be stored in the remaining syrup in the fridge and reheated as needed.