Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Poires belle Helene and a book review of The Lost Feast for #LitHappens

Cinnamon poached pears nestled on top of ice cream and drenched in chocolate sauce.  This classic French dessert is elegant to serve and gives your guests the impression that you have been slaving away for them.  No need to burst their bubble and tell them how easy this is.

Poires belle Helene

I was inspired to make this dish after reading The Lost Feast.......

Our Lit Happens group is an on line book club where each month we read the same book and then meet up for discussion on our facebook page.  It is not limited to bloggers and there is no requirement to make and/or share a recipe.  That is just something that I seem to do with every book that I read.  I can always find inspiration for in the kitchen and then I like to share it with my readers along with my review of the book.

The Lost Feast

Our selection this month was The Lost Feast by Lenore Newman, chosen by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  She had heard about the book on NPR and thought it might be interesting.  She asked us and we all concurred that it sounded like a great choice for the month of July.  

Lenore Newman is a Canadian Scientist with a background in food.  During her studies of animal species that have or are in danger of going extinct it occurred to her that many of our plant based foods are also extinct and/or in danger of being extinct.  

She referred back numerous times to Apicius, a slave who became a reknowned chef in ancient Rome.  Apicius wrote a cookbook in which he referred to plants and vegetables that are no longer available having suffered extinction. I first heard of Apicius when reading Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King  which I absolutely LOVED.  

Newman also referred to several of the scientists, botanists and government agents that were in the book The Food Explorer which was more on a par with this current read as far as containing a lot of scientific facts.  

The Lost Feast reads like a science textbook with some personality thrown in.  Much of the personality is the author's who sometimes comes off as holier than thou.  I did think it was interesting that there are foods that were once very popular that no longer exist even though you would think that being plants, society would have just planted more.  I also liked the fact that Lenore and her friend decided to make meals based on the foods they were studying, even if she tried to strong arm him into only making meals that she found acceptable.

I was inspired to make this dessert by the chapter regarding apples and pears.  It seems that apples and pears have evolved quite a bit over the years and that we wouldn't recognize the fruit of our ancestors.  When Lenore made a recipe during this exploration, she served up Poire belle Helene.  I looked up the recipe, finding several versions, finally adapting my recipe from one found on The Spruce Eats.

Desserts, Fruit, Ice Cream, Pears, Poached, Chocolate
Yield: 4 servings
Author: Wendy Klik
Poires Belle Helene

Poires Belle Helene

Cinnamon poached pears are nestled on top of ice cream and drenched in chocolate sauce in this classic French dessert.
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 35 MinTotal time: 45 Min


  • 4 Bosc Pears, peeled and cored
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 1/2 c. water
  • 4 scoops ice cream
  • 1/2 c. chocolate syrup


  1. Place the cinnamon sticks and sugar into a medium sauce pan along with 1/2 cup of the water.  Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Reduce heat and simmer for a couple of minutes until the liquid reduces to a thick syrup and is golden brown.  Whisk in the remaining 2 cups of water.
  2. Add the pairs to the pan and bring to a gentle simmer.  Let cook for 15-30 minutes until soft but still retaining their shape.  Remove from heat and let cool in the liquid to room temperature until ready to serve.
  3. When ready to serve place a scoop of ice cream into an individual dessert cup, top with the pair and drizzle with a Tablespoon of chocolate syrup.


Adapted from a recipe found at The Spruce Eats

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  1. First, THANK YOU for your kind words about Feast of Sorrow! And secondly...thank you for turning me on to this book. I can't wait to check it out. And oh my that pear recipe looks amazing!

    1. Hi Crystal, I loved The Chef's Secret just as much, maybe a little more.

  2. I have yet to finish it! I'm working on it. But I LOVE your recipe and the tie-in with Crystal's book. Thank you for sharing.

    1. The references to Apicius was, no doubt, the best part of the book for me.

  3. The pear dessert is delicious !

  4. That pear with chocolate looks delicious. The book probably not so much:)

    1. Yeah, it wasn't one of my favorites but the August/September CTB selection is right up my alley.


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