Tag Archives: mistakes

Food Failure No. 324: Why Do They Always Happen?

FAIL: Poached Pear Tart
FAIL: Poached Pear Tart

No, I’m not really keeping count, but sometimes I feel like some ghost consortium of departed award-winning chefs is checking off the three-hundreth failure mark along a list of my cooking (and food photo) attempts.

I could feel it when I once went chasing after my cat and left a pot of water boiling on the stove so long that the non-stick layer smoked and peeled right off. Felt it when I had to step away from a dish-in-progress to look up the word “julienne” while onions and garlic burned away in a skillet on the stove.

And I felt it again last weekend, when I thought for sure I could pull off a poached pear tart, almost straight out of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.

A few months before, I’d had my first little test with a poached pear after eating a delicious dessert at Seattle’s Le Pichet: a delicate little pear poached in white wine with a dollop of an airy cream sauce. We had gone to the restaurant as part of a book club excursion after reading “My Life in France,” a posthumously published autobiography about Julia Child’s introduction to the country, cuisine and cooking.

After a little trial and error, I got down a passable piece of poached fruit. There is not a whole lot to poached fruit except sugar, water, spices and maybe wine or liqueur. Which is how I got all confident about the poached pear tart.

The rest of the tart requires a sugar crust and a custard bed for the red-wine-poached pears and a currant jelly glaze. The original recipe calls for an almond custard, but since I was bringing the dessert to a friend who is allergic to almonds, I went for a more standard custard recipe offered on the previous page.

Well, it seems that everything I touched for that recipe started out wrong:

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